The Power of the Exalted Jesus

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(Ephesians 1 & 3)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 3

The Power of the Exalted Jesus

(Ephesians 1 & 3)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: For many years I drove cars that I found for sale during one of my exercise walks. These vehicles were great values, but not very attractive, and not very powerful. Today is different. In the old days when I faced an emergency situation on the road, I had two options: turn or brake. Today I have another option, use all that power and accelerate out of the situation. You, my reader, have the “power out of problems” option when you invite the Holy Spirit into your life. Let’s study about this as we turn our attention back to Ephesians!

  1. Power and Prayer
    1. Read Ephesians 1:13-15. What does having the Holy Spirit in our life bring about? (Ephesians mentions not only the guarantee of our inheritance (meaning heaven and the earth made new), but that we will have a notable faith in Jesus and love towards other Christians.)
    2. Read Ephesians 1:16-17. Paul tells the Ephesians that he has heard of their faith and love, and he is praying for them. What is the first thing he mentions about them in his prayer? (He is grateful for what God is doing in their lives.)
      1. What other blessings does Paul request for the Ephesians? (That the Holy Spirit will give them wisdom and knowledge.)
      2. Are you aware of Christians who know a lot about God but do not seem very wise? (As we learn more about God, we need to seek wisdom to go with this learning.)
        1. This is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. Do you make this same prayer for yourself? Your family?
    3. Read Ephesians 1:18. My heart does not have eyes in it. My head holds my eyes. What can Paul be talking about? (The Alexander MacLaren commentary warns the “English reader” that this verse does not refer to our “affections.” We are not asked to see with our emotions. Rather, “the heart” refers to “the whole inward life.” What does your core, informed by the Holy Spirit, tell you about this situation?)
      1. Notice that this verse prays that we will know what is the hope to which God has called us. How can you know a hope? How can your core know a hope? (We have to experience it by making this hope our own. We have to have this hope.)
      2. Notice also that this hope involves the “riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” What are these riches which you and I now possess to promote our hope? (Have you heard the old saying that “money is power?” This tells us that we have riches in what God has given us. God has given us our salvation in Jesus. We also have the power available to us from the Holy Spirit.)
    4. Read Ephesians 1:19. If you believe, how much power is available to you? (That power is so great that it cannot be measured.)
      1. Do you recall from the Introduction that my current car gives me another option - power. You have this option in life. Do you use it?
    5. Read Ephesians 1:20. When people discuss powerful cars they compare the amount of horsepower the engine produces. What is the point of comparison for the power given to you through the Holy Spirit? (The power that raised Jesus to life. The power that seated Him at God’s right hand.)
      1. What good is power if you do not use it?
      2. Have you thought about how you can use this power that is available to you?
    6. Read Ephesians 1:21-23. Have we made a transition from the power available to us to the power of Jesus? (We have transitioned to a discussion of Jesus being above all other powers in the universe. But notice that “the church” is “the body” and “the fullness” of Jesus. That means this power is available to the body of believers.)
      1. So how does this work? In a car you just press your foot on the accelerator and the power is there. How do we assert this power? (An obvious guideline is that all power is subject to Jesus. The power seems to be exercised through the church. We need to seek to know God’s will for His power and exercise this power with fellow believers.)
        1. Some of you may challenge the idea that we need to work with fellow believers. Perhaps they lack a sufficient level of faith. What is the answer to that? (Fellow believers are a check on our plans. How many times have I heard someone say that the Holy Spirit told them to do something when I’m rather certain the Holy Spirit said no such thing.)
  2. Prayer and the Assertion of Power
    1. Read Ephesians 3:14-16. What is the first thing we are told to do to access the power of Jesus? (We get down on our knees and pray for power through the Holy Spirit.)
      1. What is meant by strengthening our “inner being?” (The first order of business is making you more spiritual.)
    2. In Mark 9 we find a story about a boy who is demon possessed. Read Mark 9:18-19. Jesus then heals the boy. Read Mark 9:28-29. What does this story have to do with our discussion about our inner being and spiritual power? (The disciples were not up to the task of performing a miracle. They lacked faith and they did not have an understanding of using the power of prayer.)
      1. When I think about all of the power that is available to us, I think about grand ideas - performing miracles, converting thousands, building a church, amazing the pagan world by creating something from nothing. Do you agree that I have the cart before the horse? (The first order of business is strengthening ourselves spiritually.)
      2. How does the previous conclusion work with the idea of righteousness by faith? (So often Christians look at righteousness by faith as authorizing the least amount of effort on our part. After all, we cannot save ourselves or live a perfect life. This misses the fullness of the Christian life. This misses the power that is available to us.)
    3. Read Ephesians 3:17-18. Is this a group project? (Once again we see a reference to us working with fellow believers to understand this power.)
    4. Read Ephesians 3:19. What is the “inner being” (see verse 16) goal here? (To be “filled with all the fullness of God.”)
      1. We are constantly told by the world to love and not hate. Does the world know what it is talking about? (Apparently not because this text says that the love of Christ is beyond knowledge. This is a love that arises from the power of God strengthening our inner being.)
    5. Read Ephesians 3:20-21. I suggested earlier that we should contemplate how we can use this incredible power of God. What does this teach us about our grand plans for using God’s power? (God has much greater things in mind.)
      1. Has this happened to you? Have you asked God for one thing and He gave you something much greater? (About twenty years ago I decided that I wanted to change the focus of my life from litigation to teaching. My plan was to pursue college teaching in one of our church schools. God worked it out so that I’m teaching in law school in my areas of litigation expertise. I get to educate the next generation of lawyers to defend religious liberty!)
    6. Look again at Ephesians 3:21. In all of the grand plans for your great spiritual power, who should be glorified? (God and the church.)
      1. We think about giving glory to God. How often do you think about giving glory to the church?
    7. Friend, will you pray that God will give you power? Power that is beyond what you can imagine. Power that will make you a spiritual giant. Why not, right now, make that your goal?
  3. Next week: How God Rescues Us.