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Sermon #21 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: The Power of Faith
Text: Ephesians 1:15-23
Subject: God’s Gift of Faith in Christ
Date: Sunday Evening — October 4, 2015
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Cody Henson
The title of my message tonight is — The Power of Faith. How often we hear people talk about the power of their faith or the power of someone else’s faith. Let’s see what God says in his Word about The Power of Faith.
We hear much talk about faith. Everyone is encouraged to exercise his faith. Preachers and religious leaders everywhere tell us that everyone has the power in himself to believe on Christ and be saved. We are assured that all men can, somehow or other, muster faith from within and cause themselves to be born-again. We are told that faith and the new birth are the result of man exercising his will. That all sounds very good to the ears of proud worms who like to think they control God. But it is completelt contrary to Holy Scripture. What does the Word of God say?
Š “All men have not faith.”
Š Men and women receive Christ and are born-again “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Š “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.”
Š “So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
In short, the religion of the world — (Conservative, Liberal, Fundamental, — Papist, Protestant, Pentecostal, — Baptist, Buddhist, Jewish, — Islam, Hinduism, Voodooism) — The religion of this world is Arminian, freewill/works religion. The whole world is drunk on the wine of Babylon’s fornication! The religion of the world, the religion of Babylon, the religion of antichrist exalts man and brings God under subjection to man’s will. Whereas the Word of God debases man and exalts the power and grace of God. Modern fundamentalism makes salvation partly a work of man and partly a work of God, thereby robbing God of his glory. Whereas, the gospel of Christ makes salvation altogether the work of God, and gives all the glory for it to him alone.
If men do not have the power and ability to repent and believe the gospel for themselves, where does faith come from? That question naturally arises when we assert the helplessness of dead sinners. And it deserves an answer. Open your Bible to the Book of Ephesians. In the first chapter of this great epistle. the Apostle Paul, writing by Divine Inspiration tells us that we believe, “according to the working of his mighty power.”
Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God has given
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to heaven.
The sovereign will of God alone,
Creates us heirs of grace:
Born in the image of His Son,
A new, peculiar race.
The Spirit, like some heavenly wind,
Blows on the chosen dead;
The ransomed soul is born again,
In union with its Head.
Partakers of His nature, we
Are one with Christ our Lord!
(I live in Christ! Christ lives in me!),
The pow’r of faith in God!
(Ephesians 1:15-23) “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) 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: (18) 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, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all our heart is one of the simplest things in the world. To trust Christ, to depend upon his power and faithfulness is such a childlike act that one sees no great difficulty in it. Yet, to bring the human heart to exercise simple faith in the Savior is the work of most astounding power. Before any man will come to Christ by faith, he must be the subject of Divine power. His pride must be brought down. His will must be broken. His passions must be subdued. Otherwise, he will never accept the mercy and grace of God in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ the Lord.
This is a work that only God can perform. God the Holy Ghost is the Author and Giver of faith. It is not of ourselves. It is the gift of God. Twice our text uses the strongest possible language to show the almighty power of the Omnipotent God that is exercised in bringing a human soul to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and in bringing that believing soul to heaven at last. Notice carefully the first expression — “The exceeding greatness of his power.” In our English translation these expressions seem almost redundant. But Paul’s purpose is to use the most emphatic language so that his meaning could not be missed by any except those who are willfully ignorant. The first expression — “The exceeding greatness of his power” – is a very amazing one. It might read, “The super-excellent, sublime, overcoming, or triumphing greatness of his power.”
The second phrase – “According to the working of his mighty power” – is even more emphatic. It is a Hebrew manner of speech, forced to do the duty of the Greek tongue. We could be read it — “The effectual working of the might of his strength,” or “The energy of the force of his power.” Calvin made this observation, “Strength is like the root, power the tree, and efficacy the fruit of the stretching out of the Divine arm which appears in action.”
It seems that Paul was not content to say, “You believe through the power of God,” or “through the greatness of that power,” but, “through the exceeding greatness of his power.” He was not satisfied with declaring that the salvation of man is the result of God’s power. He stretches language as far as possible and says, “Salvation is the result of the efficacious activity of the power of God’s might.”
Proposition: No amount of straining can ever get rid of the grand doctrine which this text contains. — The bringing of a soul to simple faith in Jesus Christ, and the maintenance of that soul in the life of faith, displays an exercise of omnipotence such as God alone could put forth.
Divisions: I want to do three things in this message.
Before coming immediately to our text I want to give you a brief definition of faith in Christ. — Faith is an act of the heart, giving credit to the testimony of the gospel. It is the desire, expectation, and confidence of eternal salvation by the righteousness of Christ, and his shed blood. — Before any of us can have the knowledge of Christ, our eyes must be enlightened. Before any of us can grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, we must continually be enlightened by God the Holy Ghost. — “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”
Saving faith has three parts. These three things are required if a man truly has faith in Christ.
Faith in Christ is a most precious gift of God’s grace.
The second thing I want to do, as we come now to our text, is to show you that faith can only be produced by the power of God. Our text says that we “believe according to the working of his mighty power” (John 6:29; Matthew 16:16-17; Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8; Colossians 2:12; Hebrews 12:2).
(John 6:29) “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
(Matthew 16:16-17) “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
(Romans 12:3) “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
(Ephesians 2:8) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
(Colossians 2:12) “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
(Hebrews 12:2) “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We should not be surprised read in the Book of God that faith is God’s work and not man’s, when we remember what the work of salvation really is.
The salvation of a soul is a creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
(2 Corinthians 5:17-18) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Salvation is more than a creation. — Salvation involves destruction. There must be a destruction. The old man must be destroyed. The stony heart has to be taken away. In the physical creation there was nothing to oppose God’s work, but in the new creation much fights against him that must be destroyed.
The work of salvation is a transformation (Romans 12:2).
(Romans 12:1-3) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
You who have been given faith in Christ know, in your own hearts, how great this transformation is.
Š The bloodthirsty wolf feeds quietly with the lamb.
Š The lion eats straw like an ox.
Š The desire of your heart becomes the garden of the Lord.
Š The stones of the brook become the children of Abraham.
Š The Lord takes a man who is like a leopard, covered with spots, and washes him whiter than snow.
Š Christ takes one whose heart is black like the Ethiopian, and cleanses him with his own precious blood, so that he becomes fair and lovely.
Can this be the work of any but God?
Remember also that the conversion of a sinner is constantly compared to the quickening of the dead. The new birth is the resurrection of the dead, the first resurrection (Ezekiel 37:1-6; John 5:25-29; Ephesians 2:1; Revelation 20:6).
(Ezekiel 37:1-6) “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, (2) And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. (3) And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. (4) Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. (5) Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: (6) And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”
(John 5:25-29) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, (29) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
(Ephesians 2:1-10) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Š We were dead sinners.
Š We had been dead a long time.
Š The Spirit of God came in sovereign power gave us life.
(Revelation 20:1-6) “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. (4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Thirdly, I want to explain the analogy that Paul gives us in this text between faith in Christ and our Savior’s own resurrection from the dead.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ was really dead, and so were we by nature.
2. Christ Jesus was among the dead in his tomb, and we also were among the dead. — “Children of wrath even as others.”
3. When Christ was raised from the dead God sent a heavenly messenger, clothed with power to take away the stone from his tomb. Whenever God saves a sinner from his sins, he sends a messenger, clothed with the power of the Divine Word, to take away the stone.
Š The Stone of Ignorance
Š The Stone of Error
Š The Stone of Pride
Š The Stone of Self-Righteousness
Š The Stone of Morality
Š The Stone of Despair
4. The stone being removed, Christ our Savior came forth from among the dead. — He was raised to die no more. So it was with the heaven-born soul! We were resurrected by the power of God from among the dead. We were brought to life, never to die again (Revelation 20:6).
5. Our resurrection from the dead was by Divine, sovereign power. — “As the Father raiseth the dead, and quickeneth whom he will, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” — What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free-will of man, who ascribe man’s salvation to his own disposition or willingness of heart? When I see the dead in the cemetery walking by their own power, then I will expect ungodly sinners to turn to Christ by the power of their will!
Š The resurrection of Christ came by irresistible power, and so did ours.
Š The resurrection of Christ was glorious, and so was ours.
Š The resurrection of Christ is everlasting, and so is ours.
6. But there is more in our text than Christ’s resurrection. — He also ascended and was made to sit down at the right hand of God. — So have we! — “Quickened together with Christ!”
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
1. The power of faith, the power by which we believe, is the power of God!
2. A Christian is a marvelous creation of God.
3. We should never doubt God’s power for others.
4. We should never have any doubts about our own security. — We should live confidently before God, trusting Christ for all things.
5. How sad is the state of all unconverted souls. — Let us go to them with the everlasting gospel and take away the stones from their graves. We cannot raise the dead; but we can take away the stones.