Ephesians 3:14-21(ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
The church at Ephesus was dear to Paul. His ministry among them spanned three years. The church there began with just twelve believers (Acts 19:7), but through faithful effort they experienced amazing growth. Knowing the success in Ephesus, Paul desired them to remain focused on the Lord, while maintaining their priorities. Verses 14-17 speaks about the Holy spirit. The indwelling of Christ is not a consequence of the gift of the Spirit; it is identical with it, for the office of the Holy Spirit is to dwell in us and help us to bear the likeness of Christ.
Colossians 1:27(HCSB)27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The promise of the Holy Spirit is the one who dwells within you. The Spirit of Christ.
John 14:15-18(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.
The same Spirit that dwelt in Jesus and raised Him from the dead, dwells within us and this is our hope of glory.
Romans 8:8-11(HCSB). 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.
If I were to ask you to describe God what would you say? That He is Spirit? Truth? Love?
Transcendence describes how God is above or superior to everything in creation, and immanence describes how God is involved in creation. Some people see them as contradictory—how can God be outside and above everything and yet be involved in everything?
God is higher above creation than we can even imagine, Look at the verse again: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think
What is it that God can do? He can do exceeding (the Greek word is “hyper” as in hyper-drive) abundantly more than we can ask or even think. In other words God can do way more than even the most complex thoughts our minds can muster. Now if He can do more than we can imagine then He must be way more than we can imagine.
Think about some of these verses:
Isaiah 55:8-9(HCSB)8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration.9 “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 40:13-14(HCSB)13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?14 Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?
The difference between God and man is as great as the distance between outer space and earth—it’s infinite! God is beyond teaching. He doesn’t ask us what we think, and He doesn’t seek our approval or our advice.
God is independent from and above everything else: He doesn’t need to eat or drink, He doesn’t need oxygen, He can’t die, He doesn’t age, He can’t be sick or injured, He doesn’t fail, He doesn’t seek wisdom, and He isn’t fooled. He always accomplishes His purposes and He knows everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. He ordains it!
He is superior to everything and exceedingly far above it. You can’t explain Him or define Him even if you used every word in every language and tried it for eternity. By His own definition He is: “I AM THAT I AM.”
Exodus 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”
God is above all, Yet, God still indwells His people and is active in His creation
Colossians 1:17(HCSB)He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The relationship between God and His saints is a very personal and intimate one. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son[c] from the Father, full of grace and truth.; the Spirit fills and seals us; the Father has called us and holds us in His hand (John 10:29(HCSB) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.).
This God who’s so high above us is yet involved with us. No one and no thing has any life, movement, or being without it coming from the transcendent God!
His involvement is for His own eternal glory
The Westminister Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Many of us know the answer. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” While this is not a phrase drawn directly from Scripture, the wisdom behind it surely is. The Bible tells us with great clarity that man was created in order to bring glory to God. Thus the chief end of Christians and of the church is to bring glory to God.
There’s a trend in modern Christianity that basically says the purpose of God is to satisfy man. He reigns in heaven so that we can have a wonderful and happy life. He saves us so that we can have assurance in the afterlife and peace in the present one. Most people don’t come right out and say it like that, but that whole idea that God is here to love me and serve me is at the heart of their doctrine.
Why do we go and witness? Is our primary reason so that people can be saved? Or is it that God is glorified? Do you see the difference? We’re not going to help God out—He doesn’t need anything from us. We go and witness because God is worthy to be praised and our witness brings Him glory.
And when we think of missions in this way there’s no chance for failure as long as we preach. “Unto Him be the glory.” That’s the whole point of our entire existence—He must increase and we must decrease. John 3:30(HCSB)30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” And on earth this glory is in the church—that is, He is glorified by the fact that He loves us and has redeemed us. Remember when Jesus prayed for the disciples and for everyone who would believe through their word?
John 17:23(HCSB)I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
God is Sovereign and His providence
Sovereignty describes God’s absolute control over everything, always and forever. He is not dependent on anything outside of Himself, never has been, never will be. (This is why His creature, man, cannot initiate his own salvation by his, man’s choice).
Providence is from latin, pro videre, seeing in advance, and also means God really establishes, ordains whatever comes to pass.
Just suppose next Sunday Day morning you were showering and listening to the radio. The newscaster announced that the night before at exactly midnight every house of prostitution, every porn shop, every gambling casino, and every house of any kind of sin very mysteriously collapsed and were totally destroyed. Your reaction would probably be, “Praise the Lord.” When you went to Sunday School somebody would ask you, “How do you account for that? What do you think happened?” I am sure you would reply, “It was the hand of God. God was surely in that.” Of course, you’d be right. The unbelievers may not accept your explanation, and the newspapers and TV newscasters may be inventing all kinds of theories, but you would attribute the whole thing to God and rejoice in His sovereign work.
Now just suppose the following Sunday morning you were again shaving and the same newscaster said, “Last night at exactly midnight every single Bible-believing church in the country very mysteriously collapsed and was totally destroyed.” I wonder what you would say then? Would most Christians say, “Bless the Lord,” or would they say, “It was the devil”?
Why would anyone blame – or rather, credit – God for the first situation (the destroying of the bad places), and then credit the devil with the destruction of the churches? If we understood the Scripture clearly, especially texts like Romans 11:36(HCSB)36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. and Romans 8:28(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. we would be forced to acknowledge the hand of God both times. God sovereignly controls every single thing that happens, whether it be “good” or “bad.” God is involved, in one way or another, in every event and each minute detail of that event. This is what we mean by “The Sovereign Providence of God.” If this is not true, then we really have no sure hope for our lives in this confused generation.
When people blame all the good on God and all the bad on the devil, they are guilty of an ancient heresy called “dualism.” Dualism basically sees God and the devil (good and bad) as two independent and sovereign powers struggling for ultimate control of this world. We earnestly hope “our side” wins, but at times it does not look too good. Unfortunately most Christians today are guilty of believing that very heresy. This is especially true of the charismatic movement as well as anyone else that emphasizes health and wealth as the birthright of every Christian, and blames the devil for everything that hinders our “personal happiness”. This is the heresy of dualism at its worst.
Why do sincere Christians do this? Why do they blame the good on God and the bad on the devil, unconsciously denying the sovereignty of God? It is probably because they are trying to “protect” God. They are trying to make it easier to believe and love Him by exempting Him from anything that appears to be bad and crediting Him with everything that appears to be good. A young nurse who worked in the emergency ward of a hospital told me that when anyone from a particular church in that town had an accident, the pastor would rush down to the hospital. His first words to the victim and family were, “Remember, God had nothing to do with this.” I suppose the poor man was afraid the people might desert the faith. If you’ll just think that preacher’s statement through for a moment, you can see it is ridiculous. The man may have been trying to “protect God,” but in reality he was laying the groundwork for despair and unbelief. He was leaving the injured person totally in the hands of either Satan or blind cruel fate. He was unconsciously moving God right out of the picture when the person needed most the assurance of God’s sovereign control.
We must stop looking at life as positive or negative. This is not buddhism there are no positive and negative energy.
God not only has a plan, but He also carries out that plan. God is always in total control of all things and is constantly at work in accomplishing His plan.
Isaiah 10:5-11(HCSB)Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger—the staff in their hands is My wrath.6 I will send him against a godless nation; I will command him to go against a people destined for My rage, to take spoils, to plunder, and to trample them down like clay in the streets. 7 But this is not what he intends; this is not what he plans. It is his intent to destroy and to cut off many nations. 8 For he says, “Aren’t all my commanders kings? 9 Isn’t Calno like Carchemish? Isn’t Hamath like Arpad? Isn’t Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand seized the idolatrous kingdoms, whose idols exceeded those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 and as I did to Samaria and its idols will I not also do to Jerusalem and its idols?”
Sometimes God’s plan calls for revival and there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands of souls will be swept into the Kingdom of God. There are other times that His plan calls for judgment. Isaiah calls God’s judgment His “strange work,” but it is nonetheless God’s work. Just as there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands are saved, so there will be a day of judgment when a universal flood sweeps nearly the whole human race into everlasting damnation. We must see that God is just as much the author of one as He is the other. Whether it is Pentecost or whether it is the Flood, whether they are the events of Acts 2 or the events of Genesis 6, God is in total control and is working out His own plan. The rain and full harvest, as well as the drought and empty barns, are from the hand of the same sovereign God. We must learn to praise Him under both circumstances (Psalm 34:1(HCSB)I will praise the Lord at all times;His praise will always be on my lips.
In working out His own plans, God uses everybody, even the devil. Now at first that shocks some people: “What! God uses the devil?” That is exactly right. Everybody, even the devil, serves God’s purposes. Remember Satan is God’s Satan, he is His puppet. He cannot do anything that God does not allow. If he could then that would make him sovereign and not God. Now a servant may serve through gritted teeth, and he may hate his servitude; but he is, nonetheless, a servant. So it is with the devil. The devil has never done one thing out of love or obedience to God. He has never done one thing in order to knowingly bring glory to God. Everything the devil does, he does because he hates God and because he is trying to frustrate the purposes of God. However, in the end, everything the devil does will surely further the purposes of God. If ever there was a born loser, it is the devil, himself. In the final day, it will be shown that the devil never won a single time. And that includes the Garden of Eden!
There is alot of truth in this classic statement from one of the Puritans. “What God sovereignly decrees in eternity, man will always demand in time.” Man’s “free will” will always freely choose the very thing that God has sovereignly ordained and God’s purpose will be fulfilled; just as surely, man will be responsible for his every act of sin. I know of no passage that sets forth this truth as clearly as Matthew 27. The whole chapter is loaded with vain attempts by men to deny personal responsibility. First, Judas tried to deny his responsibility for the death of Christ by pleading Christ’s innocence and giving the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. They, in turn, replied, “What is that to us? That was your responsibility.” Was it not their duty to be certain that Christ was, indeed, guilty and worthy of death? Certainly it was!
We are not responsible for the results of what God does with our acts; we are totally responsible for the acts themselves. That, and that alone, will be the basis upon which God will deal with us.
An elderly lady was praying out loud in front of an open window. She had neither food nor money, and she was pleading with God to supply her with something to eat. Two boys heard her and decided to mock her faith. They went down to the store and bought a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. Then they stealthily put the milk and bread through the window. When the lady opened her eyes and saw the food, she praised God for hearing and answering her prayers. The boys stuck their heads up above the window sill and said, “Woman, you are stupid. God did not send those things. We put them there, and we did it just to prove to you how dumb you are. God did not bring that milk and bread; we brought them.”
What would you say in a case like that? The lady smiled, thanked the boys for the food, and then said, “Thank You God for getting me these groceries and getting the Devil to pay for it!” I am sure you see the difference. When the mailman brings an electric bill for two hundred dollars, you do not get upset with him. He did not send it; all he did was deliver it. This is the principle that we must see in all of the difficult things that happen. Thomas Watson was a Puritan with the ability to put great truth into short, concise statements. If you understand the following quote, you have the whole message: “God always has a hand in the action where the sin is, but He never has a hand in the sin of the action.” It does not matter what happened, where it happened, when it happened, or to whom it happened. If it happened, then God had a hand in it; He controlled it. However, God is not guilty of the sin or hatred in the hearts of men that caused the sin in the situation.
Few people realize how important this particular principle is in our Christian life. We are told in Scripture to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” and to submit to Him. However, we are also told to “resist the devil” and never to yield to his wiles and temptations. The problem lies in knowing and recognizing the difference between these two things. Many Christians, under the guise of “resisting the devil,” may well be actually fighting the sovereign providence of God. Other believers, under the guise of piously “turning it all over to God,” may be deliberately ignoring their personal responsibility to obey clear principles and fight temptation. Until we learn to see both the hand of Satan and the hand of God, we may be fighting God when we think we’re “resisting Satan,” and vice versa.
Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Even though all sickness and affliction are under God’s control and are part of His purposes, it is NOT true that they are all chastisement for sin. Some affliction is definitely chastisement for sin and is sent to bring us to repentance and effect specific change in us; however, that is not true all of the time. Sometimes God allows His people to suffer just to demonstrate the power of His grace. It is wrong for a Christian to ever feel that God is “getting even” and punishing him when affliction comes. God only punishes sin in one of two places: he either punished it in Christ and the penal debt is totally paid, or else He punishes it in the sinner in hell. Even when affliction comes into our life as chastisement, it is never penal [that is, from God as judge], but the chastisement is always remedial [that is, from a loving heavenly Father]. Our Father teaches us through affliction, but He never punishes (penally) us.