23-12-19 THE POWER
OF HIS GLORY
Published 23rd December 2019
By John Aldworth
As far as we know the Apostle Paul never met the saints at Colosse, nor those at Laodicea (Col. 2:1). But he prayed a series of prayers for them that are among the most powerful found in scripture. Indeed, the whole epistle to the Colossians is full of how believers, both then and now, can receive and walk in the might of ‘his (that is Christ’s) glorious power’. The Apostle also desires that these believers who, like us, have never seen his face in the flesh (Col. 2:1) ‘…might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding… that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God’ (Col. 1:9-10).
But it is verse 11 (in the KJV) that we now focus on because here the apostle prays for believers to be:
‘…strengthened with all might according to his (Christ’s) glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness’.
The Interlinear Bible translates the passage more strongly:
‘…being empowered with all power according to the might of his (Christ’s) glory to all patience and longsuffering with joy.
The New Heart English Bible says:
‘…strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all endurance and perseverance with joy.
The Aramaic Bible in Plain English states:
‘And that you would be empowered with all strength according to the majesty of his glory with all patience, endurance and joy’.
Clearly then the power of Christ lies in his glory and his glory is that of his majesty, the position God has set Him in as the king of heaven and earth and ‘and put all things under his feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church’ (Eph. 1:22). And Paul is praying that believers who have never seen his face (and that includes us) may receive this power of Christ’s glory now.
There is no reason to believe that God did not hear the apostle’s prayer and answer it, nor that his plea for those who love Christ to be empowered with his might was not granted. But there is a problem. Paul himself writing to the same Colossians in the same letter says: ‘Ye are dead’ and the Lord and our (future) life with Him are at present ‘hid in God’ (Col. 3:3). He then states (Col. 3:4):
‘When Christ who is our life shall appear then shall ye also appear with Him in glory’.
Question: If the full glory of Christ – always God but once a man to die for our sins and now a man declared to be God in glory - is yet to appear, then how come we as believers can receive the power of this glory now? Answer: by way of a special dispensation of God’s grace thanks to the prayer of Paul. Remember that Paul was the last of the apostles to see the Lord but he saw Him as ‘one born out of due time’ (1 Cor. 15:8).
Simply put, ‘out of due time’ means that while the other apostles saw the resurrected Jesus before his ascension, Paul saw him after his ascension and indeed saw Him as the glorified Lord. In fact Jesus, now having been given ‘all power in heaven in earth’ (Matt. 28:18) appeared unto Paul, then Saul, his arch-enemy on earth, in such a blaze of glory from heaven it outshone the midday sun (Acts 26:13).
Now, when Christ eventually appears in in his full glory as King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6: 14-16) the light will be even stronger. It will be light ‘that no man can approach unto’ for when our Lord is revealed at this time it will be in ‘the fullness of the Godhead bodily’ (Col. 2:9). And we are told that his appearing (Col. 3:4, Titus 2:13, 1 Tim. 6:14) is our ‘blessed hope’ that we should be earnestly seeking and looking for.
And if all that is so how is it that we can have a foretaste, a real experience of the power of his glory right now, even before the ‘due time’ for the manifestation of his kingdom at his appearing (2 Tim. 4:1)? The answer, in my view, can be found in two words: God’s grace. For in the grace of God provision is made for the power of God.
Today then believers saved by grace are truly empowered by God Himself with power that really works. God’s Word says so. Romans 1:16 states that the “gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”. Please note, it says “is”, not “was”, meaning that this power is for today. This gospel of grace has enough power to save everyone on the planet should they believe but God promises even more power to those who trust His Word.
MORE POWER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE
For example, in Eph. 1:19 Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles speaks of the “exceeding greatness of His (God’s) power to us who believe”. Think about it. He is saying that however “great” you imagine God’s power is toward us believers, in fact it is far, far greater. We know that is true because in Eph. 3:20 we learn that God the Father is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” – and look out, here it comes – “according to the POWER that works within us”.
Believer, God says you’ve got more POWER at work in you than you could ever imagine, pray for or dream about. What’s more both God the Father and the Apostle Paul want you to try it out – to see how it works through you and for you – just so that you know how great that POWER is within you. Thus in Eph. 1:17 Paul prays:
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (the Father): The eyes of your understanding being enlightened: that YE MAY KNOW what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
And what is the EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER to usward who believe, according to the WORKING OF HIS MIGHTY POWER, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but in the world which is to come. And hath put all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”
Do you see how this POWER works? In answer to the Apostle Paul’s prayer the Father Himself gives us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him – Him being the Father Himself but revealed only through the Son. The result of that prayer is that the “eyes of your understanding” are opened so you can KNOW three things:
1. The HOPE of His (that is the Father’s) calling.
2. The RICHES of the glory of His (that is, the Father’s) inheritance in the saints.
3. The EXCEEDING GREATNESS of His (that is the Father’s) POWER to usward who BELIEVE.
And that’s not all. This POWER that is EXCEEDING GREAT is according to the WORKING of His MIGHTY POWER. Note well, this is not just God’s POWER at work. That would be stupendous enough but this POWER is more. It is God’s MIGHTY POWER at work IN US who believe.
THE GREATEST POWER OF ALL
And even that is not all. Actually this MIGHTY POWER of God is at work in us in the same way it worked back when God exerted more of His POWER than on any other occasion we know of from Scripture. That, of course, was when He raised His precious Son Jesus Christ from the death which He died when He bore our sin on the cross. You see, however much POWER it took to create the heavens and the earth – and that was heaps – it took much more to raise Christ from His death for our sin. It is this EXCEEDING GREAT POWER that the Father wants you and I to know as a real experience in our lives.
Look, how much spiritual POWER do you personally need to live and love for the Lord? However much it is God has more. More POWER than the supposed Big Bang scientists falsely claim exploded the universe into being. Far more bang in fact than a billion supernovae exploding at once. And that EXCEEDING GREAT POWER needs to be as powerful as that because it is the very POWER of the new creation (for which see Matt. 19:28 [regeneration] and Acts 3:21 [restitution]). Yes, believer, it takes much more of God’s POWER to conform us to the image of God’s son (Rom. 8:29) and make us a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) than it did to bring a billion stars unto being.
This POWER raised Christ when He had been crushed to death by our sin and God’s punishment for it that He took on our behalf. From death God the Father’s MIGHTY POWER lifted Him high into the heavenlies. Then this POWER placed Him higher still, far above all principality, power, might and any name in either this world or the world to come (Eph. 1:21-22). That means any evil power that is in you or comes against you when you seek to do God’s will is powerless to prevent, alter or hinder anything God through His MIGHTY POWER does in your life. This POWER has also made Him Head over all things to us, His Church. No wonder Paul says: “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
MADE ALIVE IN HIS POWER
It is through this POWER, flowing from the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we have been made alive. What’s more we have Christ Himself alive in us “the hope of glory”, the inner man who cannot sin. However, as Paul says, we have this “treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).
Do you get it? There is more enough POWER from God to give us hope (and in the Bible that means “certainty”, see Heb. 6:11) that we will arrive in GLORY. However, the POWER, like the GLORY, must be of God and not of us. It must also be of love since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). And it is and it does.
Amazing grace, isn’t it? And yet, perhaps, like me you sometimes feel all this is a little too good to be true? After all, here I am, still a sinner, still struggling with some aspects of life, not to mention having difficulty achieving godliness. Why is that when so much of God’s POWER is available, we sometimes feel very defeated by sin and Satan, rather than rejoicing in the scriptural fact that that in Christ we are "more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37)?
POWER FOR OUR SPECIAL NEEDS
Ah, perhaps like me, you’re a “special case”, one that struggles with sin, one that needs further empowering to see all that God has done and is doing for you. If so, then I have good news for you. You see, amazingly, God’s word offers even MORE of God’s POWER to meet the need in such a case. That’s right, there’s further POWER over and above all that we’ve talked about thus far and it’s there especially to meet the needs of poor sinners such as you and I. To find it we go to Eph. 3:14-16). Here Paul writes:
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in earth and heaven is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be STRENGTHENED with MIGHT by His Spirit in the INNER MAN: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith …”
Here are some weak believers. Yes, they are saved. Yes, they have been baptised by God’s Spirit into His (Christ’s) Body. They’ve experienced God the Father’s saving and raising power and, yes, they have each put on the “new man” (Eph. 4:24) who is holy – that man who is, in fact, Christ Himself dwelling by His Spirit within us. But they need strengthening to stand in the battle for truth – don’t we all? That is precisely why Paul asks the Father to strengthen us with MIGHT by His SPIRIT in the INNER MAN. You see the Apostle knows who he is ministering to, i.e. us Gentiles. He knows what we are like. He knows, and God knows, we can receive the benefits of the wonderful “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), yet still fail to “grow up into Him in all things” (Eph. 4:15).
HOW TO BE STRONG THOUGH WEAK
Why is it we don’t fully grow up as we should? Answer: Because we are weak. Paul found the answer to this problem was not to pretend to be strong but to admit he was weak. Christ told Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul’s response was: “Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities (weaknesses) that the power of Christ may rest on me.”
Now, here in Eph.3:14-16 Paul prays that we weak believers may strengthened with the Father’s MIGHT in the inner man. We really do need strengthening with that special POWER of God, his EXCEEDING GREAT MIGHT. And where do we need strengthening? Not in our flesh but, oddly enough right in the INNER MAN where you might think such POWER was needed least, since the inner “hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4) is said to be holy and righteous.
POWER FLOWING FROM THE INNER MAN
Ah, but it is precisely in the outworking (working out) of that inner man, through our daily thoughts and deeds, that we Gentiles have such difficulty. This is why God, speaking through the Apostle Paul, knows and prescribes what is best for us – strengthening with His MIGHT in the inner man. Our inner man must become stronger, not in and of himself - he doesn’t need to – but in the effect, he has upon and in our lives. This is why Paul prays especially prays for you and for me, grace-saved believers, that we might be STRENGTHENED with MIGHT by His (the Father’s) Spirit in the inner man. Notice that it is the Father’s SPIRIT that strengthens us just as it is His POWER that is at work within us. So let’s be weak that we may be strong and let his power flow in love through his Son.