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Dynamic Power


and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV)


We continue reading Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians today. This prayer is all about knowing God. Paul has already prayed that the Ephesians would know the future God has waiting for them and that they would also know how valuable they are to God.

The final thing Paul wants the Ephesians to know is the great power that God uses on behalf of His people. The Greek word translated “power” here is δυναμισ (pronounced: doo’-nam-is). We get our English words dynamic and dynamite from this word. Something that is dynamic stimulates change or progress.

God uses His power only “toward” those who are His children [John 1:12]. In this opening passage of this letter Paul is describing some of the many benefits those who are adopted into God’s family receive. Anyone who is not yet one of God’s children does not have the mighty power of God working on their behalf.

Notice also that this power is referenced in the present tense thereby indicating that God’s power is working for us right now. We do not have to wait until this next life to experience it – we have it right now as we live in these earthly bodies [2 Corinthians 4:7, Colossians 1:29, Philippians 2:13].

This power is the very same power that God used “when He raised [Christ] from the dead”. I think its safe to say that it takes quite a bit of strength to raise someone who is dead back to life. Certainly no mortal human being can do that. Hossein Rezazadeh, of Iran, holds the Olympic weightlifting record in both the snatch (478 lbs) and the clean and jerk (579 lbs). He is very strong. But he is a weakling compared to God.

Many Christians, myself included, have a hard time remembering this concept. Too often we think we can’t do something because we think we don’t have enough physical and/or mental strength to pull it off. But that is not true. Anyone who is a born-again believer, and therefore is a child of God, has the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead at his/her disposal.

This does not mean that we can accomplish anything we want. God isn’t a genie that will empower us at our will. But it does mean that when God calls upon us to do something for Him or for others (such as tell others about Jesus), He will not let us do it in our own feeble strength. He will be with us, giving us the power we need to accomplish it.

Anytime we doubt that and use our own lack of strength as an excuse to avoid doing God’s will we are falling into one of Satan’s traps and are also insulting God.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Values You Highly


that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(Ephesians 1:17-18 ESV)


Yesterday we read Paul request that God grant us the ability to know Him. The Greek word for “knowledge” is επιγνοσισ (pronounced: ep-ig’-no-sis) which means “precise knowledge”. God wants us to know details about Him.

But God wants that knowledge to be more than in our heads. He wants it to be in our hearts (“having the eyes of your hearts enlightened”). He wants that knowledge to shape our character and be our motivation for how we treat others and how we view the world.

In our culture the term “heart” (aside from being an anatomical organ) refers to emotion. We give heart-shaped gifts to each other on Valentine’s Day to express our love for them. But that is not how the ancients used this term. The actual Greek word translated heart means “bowels”. When speaking of one’s heart, the Greeks were referring to someone’s deepest being.

God never appeals to our emotions. He always appeals to our mind. The way God designed us is for our emotions to follow our thoughts. First comes knowledge. Then, from that information, emotions flow.

As we have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we will “know” several things. One of those things is “the hope to which He has called” us. God is not out to get us. He is not up in heaven looking for reasons to punish us. Just the opposite is true. God wants to bless us. He has offered every human being a future [Jeremiah 29:11]. Notice that God called us. He went first. He reached out to offer us a future with Him.

The word “hope”, when used in the Bible, is not a fingers-crossed-waiting-to-see-what-the-future-holds way of thinking. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “hope” as “to desire with expectation of obtainment” or “to expect with confidence”. There is certainty about it. God wants us to “know” – for certain – the future He has planned for us.

But also, God wants us to know that we are God’s inheritance (“His glorious inheritance”). Despite our spiritual poverty, God values us. This is not an emotional appeal. Paul is not offering us some philosophy that makes us feel good about ourselves. He is offering us facts.

Whatever price you pay for something is the value you place on it. If you perceive that something is too expensive to purchase you are saying that you don’t value it at that price. We have value because God paid a very steep price – the death of His only son – to redeem us from sin.

God paid for your salvation with the life of His only Son. Because you’re worth it.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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It All Starts With Knowledge of God


that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(Ephesians 1:17-18 ESV)


One of the things I enjoy reading most in the Bible are the passages in which Paul prays for other believers. When I read them I am convicted about my own prayer life. My prayers are nothing like Paul’s. His are so thoughtful. The things he wants for his readers display a deep understanding of what God wants for His children.

Paul desires that God give the Ephesians (and us) a knowledge of Him through wisdom and revelation. First and foremost we need to know God. Every human being needs this. That is why Paul starts his prayer with this request. Nothing good can come of anyone’s life if they don’t know God. And the only way to know God is to have Him reveal Himself to us.

There are many philosophies in the world that purport to be able to bring us closer to some higher spirit. But what these philosophies offer is nothing more than an emotional experience that extends from our own pride. Not to mention, their definition of god is nebulous and ill-defined.

But the God of the Bible is knowable. And He is knowable because He has chosen to make Himself knowable. Certainly our limited human minds cannot comprehend all that God is. Nor can our finite brains contain all the information there is about our infinite God. But there are some precise attributes that God has revealed to us in the Bible. They are verified by human experiences throughout history (some of which are recorded in the Bible also).

Notice that wisdom comes from the Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Just like a person’s thoughts are known only to that person unless she chooses to reveal them, so too are God’s thoughts only revealed through His spirit – the Holy Spirit. As an aside, here is another verse that clearly equates God and the Holy Spirit thereby debunking those who deny the existence of The Trinity.

It is arrogance for created human beings to suppose they can discern the mind of their creator on their own. As far as heaven is from the earth is how much higher God’s thoughts are from ours  [Isaiah 55:8-9]. This is why any religion or philosophy that attempts to explain God apart from the Bible – God’s revelation of Himself – is useless.

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians opens with a request for wisdom. God is deep. He isn’t always easy to understand. But His goal is not to be mysterious. He will give wisdom to anyone who asks for it [James 1:5].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Only Source of True Love


For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
(Ephesians 1:15-16 ESV)


Paul has just explained to the believers in Ephesus (and believers today) that they have been given every spiritual blessing by God. This included predestination to be like Jesus, adoption into His family, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of what God is doing, an inheritance, and being sealed by the Holy Spirit. That’s a lot of great things. But even so, Paul still felt the need to pray for them.

Paul was lead to pray for the Ephesians after he had heard about the “faith” they had for Jesus and the “love” they had for each other. Believers have received a lot from God, as we just learned. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more that we need. Everyone – from the atheist most distant from God to someone who has walked with Jesus for decades – needs prayer.

“Faith” is the expression of trust in God – our vertical relationship with our creator. “Love” is how well we treat each other – our horizontal relationship with our peers. Notice that Paul first mentions faith, then love. True love can only be expressed by people who have a proper relationship with Jesus. Faith must come first. Love then comes from that faith.

We learned yesterday that God indwells each believer in the form of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul tells us that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that people can exhibit certain characteristics. Its no coincidence that the first of these is love. The only way to love other people is by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the only way to experience the power of the Holy Spirit is to have faith in the work of Jesus, who is Lord.

This is the only source of true love. When we remove God from our lives there can be no love. Love is not an emotion. It is action. What the world calls love is actually lust. Lust is self love. It seeks to serve self. Love, on the other hand, is sacrificial. It is focused on others, not on self. Human beings in their natural, sinful state cannot love anyone but themselves.

Truly loving others requires faith in Jesus as Lord. Its not enough to acknowledge Jesus’ existence or even His death. Jesus must be recognized for who He is – God in the flesh.

Salvation only comes by recognizing that Jesus is Lord. Only then can God’s Holy Spirit allow us to love others [1 John 5:1]. When we have love for God we will have love for other people. And it is by this love that others will come to know Jesus too [John 13:35].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Holy Spirit Seals The Deal


In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV)


Thus far in this letter to the Ephesians we’ve learned that God came up with a plan to cleanse us from our sins and adopt us into His eternal family. [Ephesians 1:3-5]. We also learned that Jesus executed that plan and through Him we have an inheritance of blessings waiting for us in heaven [Ephesians 1:5-11]. Today we learn that the Holy Spirit – the 3rd person of The Trinity – guarantees that inheritance.

The Greek word translated “guarantee” is αρρηαβον (pronounced: ar-hrab-ohn’) and means “something (usually money) that is given as a pledge that the full amount will be paid in the future”. We still have this concept today. When we purchase a home we make a down payment as proof that we will go through with the transaction.

God gives believers the Holy Spirit for the same reason. At the moment a person is adopted into God’s family as a result of believing in the work of Jesus’ [John 1:12], he or she receives the Holy Spirit, which is God living inside that person [Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16].

At the moment a person “believes in Him”, God seals that person with the Holy Spirit and gives Him to him/her as His pledge that he/she will inherit all the blessings of heaven for all eternity [2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5].

A seal in biblical times was usually made of hot wax, impressed with a signet ring or other official insignia. It represented ownership and security. Being sealed with the Holy Spirit means the same thing.

Believers who are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” are owned by God. Much like a brand on cattle, the Holy Spirit in a believer indicates that person belongs to God. Believers are also secure – they will never be taken away from God. No believer ever need worry about losing their place in heaven. Once a person is saved he/she is forever saved.

God offers everyone eternal life through His son. First a person must “hear the word of truth” and then believe. When he/she does, God seals the deal with the Holy Spirit. That person forever belongs to God.

The Holy Spirit is also a down payment – a pledge – from God as proof that He will complete the transaction in the future by making us 100% holy and taking us to heaven.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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We Need God To Glorify Himself


In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV)


Yesterday we learned that one of the spiritual blessings that God gives to His children (born-again believers [John 1:12]) is an inheritance. That inheritance (as well as the other blessings) are all part of the plan (“the purpose”) that God had for the universe before it was even created (“having been predestined”).

The Greek word translated “works” here is the verb ενεργεο (pronounced: en-erg-eh’-o) and is the word that gives us our English verb “to energize”. This is very interesting. God not only has a plan but He energizes that plan – He brings it about. Our God is not a lazy God who stands idly by watching the events on earth. He is actively involved in them. And He uses them – all of them – to accomplish His goal.

The plan that God has for His creation was made intentionally “according to the counsel of His will”. He gave it much consideration and planned it out. And now He is working all things towards that plan. No matter what happens on this earth God can, and does, use it to achieve His purpose which is to bring everything under the control of Christ [Ephesians 1:10].

The ultimate goal of all this is “so that” those who place their hope in Christ (for the forgiveness of their sins) will bring glory to God. God is doing all this to bring glory to Himself.

This is a concept that human beings have trouble with because we label other people who seek glory for themselves as arrogant and selfish. This is true when it comes to human beings since none of us truly deserve to be praised. But not when it comes to God.

God is trying to draw people to Himself in order to save them from an eternity in hell. A phrase I often use is a quote from a pastor in Toronto: “God is creating a family and He wants to adopt you into it”. God glorifies Himself so that we would be attracted to Him and want to join His family (by placing our faith in Jesus).

God wants us to be drawn to Him like moths are attracted to light. In order to do that He needs to present Himself as the most attractive option in the universe. If God did not bring glory to Himself – if He glorified anything or anyone else – we would be drawn to that other thing or person. But that would be to our eternal detriment as there is no other way to be saved except by His grace [Acts 4:12]. Everything God does is for our benefit – even seeking His own praise and glory.

When God brings glory to Himself it is not arrogance. It is a necessity – our necessity.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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An Inheritance Awaits


In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV)


The other day we read how those who believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins are adopted into God’s family. An adopted child has the same rights and standing within the family as any natural born child. This includes sharing in the inheritance.

Jesus is God’s only begotten son. All other believers are God’s adopted children [John 1:12]. But we are not treated any differently by God. All that God is He shares with us [Romans 8:17]. In fact, the very reason God saved us is to share Himself with us – to give us an inheritance [Titus 3:5-7].

On earth an inheritance is received when a parent’s wealth is dispersed among his/her descendants. This usually happens at death through a will but can happen earlier if the parent desires. In either case, the child has to wait to receive this inheritance.

Likewise, a believer’s inheritance is stored in heaven. While we will experience certain parts of the inheritance on this earth – namely the blessings Paul has delineated in this letter – sin prevents us from experiencing this fully this side of death. It is not until we get to heaven that we will truly experience the full inheritance – the presence of God in our life and the absence of sin.

Notice that the inheritance comes through Christ. The words “in Him” point back to a previous verse referring to Jesus. There is no other way to get this inheritance. The inheritance is waiting in heaven. Since the only way to heaven is by faith in Jesus [Acts 4:12; John 14:6; John 3:16, 36, et. al] the only way to receive the inheritance is through Jesus as well.

This is consistent with the way God has always worked. In the Old Testament God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham as an inheritance. The only thing Abraham had to do to receive this inheritance was believe. He simply had to believe the promise that God made to Him.

Belief in God is rewarded. In the case of those of us living today, under the New Testament, that reward is eternal life.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God’s Goal: Unify All Things On Earth


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
(Ephesians 1:7-10 NIV)


Yesterday we learned that God has given His children – born-again believers [John 1:12] – insight into what He is doing with the universe. God has a goal and everything that is happening in our world is moving toward that goal. And that goal is to unite “all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

Someday everyone will be under the authority of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of people will experience Jesus as their judge and will be banished from His presence forever [Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23] in a place known as hell. The rest will experience Jesus as their savior and will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

But even before that, Jesus will rule on earth for 1,000 years. This is known as The Millenium. When Jesus returns to earth at some point in the future He will defeat the antichrist, bind Satan, and establish a global government over which He reigns supreme and with never-before-experienced benevolence [Revelation 19:19-20:3]. He will be the first, and last, fair and selfless ruler on earth.

Jesus first came to earth as a sacrificial lamb to be slain for the sins of mankind. But when He comes the second time He will come as a king. He will establish peace on earth for the first time since the early days of the Garden of Eden. This is pretty hard to imagine especially for those of us living today who are seeing our world become less and less peaceable seemingly every day. For those who are alive during this time it will be an incredible experience.

Its important to note that this passage clearly teaches that all this will happen at a certain point in the future – “when the times reach their fulfillment”. No one knows exactly when this will happen, not even Jesus or the angels [Mark 13:32]. Nevertheless, the world is moving closer to these events with every day that passes. At some point God will declare that “time is up” and will send Jesus back to earth.

Until that time life on earth will continue to be tough and will only get tougher. God tells us that all of creation – this includes animals, plants, and inanimate objects like rocks and the planets – are groaning and waiting with expectation for this day [Romans 8:18-22].

For on that day everything will be liberated from the bondage that man’s sin has placed it in. Isn’t it interesting that our sin has affected all of creation, not just the human experience. Our behavior affects more than people. Our sin has caused pain and suffering for everything – living or not – in the universe. That is pretty serious.

Believers are already free from the penalty of sin (we aren’t going to hell). But someday we will also be free from the presence and power of sin too. That is God’s purpose for us. And that will happen when Jesus is installed as ruler over all.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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The Thing Unknown Which Is Now Known


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
(Ephesians 1:7-10 NIV)


As previously stated, verses 3 through 14 in this first chapter of Ephesians are one long sentence in the original Greek. In this sentence Paul mentions blessing after blessing that God graciously gives to those who accept His offer to be adopted into His family.

Wisdom and understanding are two more of these blessings. The word “wisdom” in Greek is σοπηια (pronounced: sof-ee’-ah). This is general intelligence about eternal things. “Understanding” is πηρονεσισ (pronounced: fron’-ay-sis) which means intelligence about day-to-day living. This means that God has given us the ability to comprehend Him (to some extent) and what He is doing in our lives.

People who lived under the Old Testament did not have this knowledge. They did not see the big picture. But now God has revealed this information to those who believe. God shares what only He knows with those who are His children [John 1:12]. How cool is that?!

The word mystery here is important. Our culture misunderstands this word. When we think of a mystery we think of something secret and dark – something unknowable. We think of a mystery as something to be solved such as in a Sherlock Holmes story.

But the original Greek word, μυστεριον (pronounced: moos-tay’-ree-on), means something that was not previously known but which has been revealed. The mystery is not the thing unknown. It is the thing that was once unknown but is now known. The difference is subtle, but important. God’s purpose for the world (which we’ll read about tomorrow) has been revealed to New Testament believers.

Nonbelievers cannot know this truth [2 Corinthians 4:4] as it is only revealed through Jesus [2 Corinthians 3:14]. What seems right to the world is actually wrong [Proverbs 14:12; Matthew 7:13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, et. al]. Before anyone, such as myself, came to know Christ, they think incorrectly. But at the moment they are born-again God gives them insight into what He is doing. And it is “His good pleasure” to do so.

God enjoys revealing truth to us. If you have children you know what joy there is in watching them learn to walk and talk and ride a bike. We are made in God’s image. Just like any parent, He enjoys teaching His children and seeing us learn too.

To that end, God does not hold back. He is willing to give more wisdom to any of His children who ask for it [Proverbs 2:6; James 1:5].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Is Not A Tightwad


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
(Ephesians 1:7-10 NIV)


In the passage we’ve been studying over the past couple of days Paul is listing some of the many spiritual blessings that God has bestowed on believers, who are His adopted children [Ephesians 1:3, John 1:12]. Yesterday we learned that one of those blessings is the forgiveness of sins that can only come through Jesus’ death.

Some people may think that their sins are too great to be forgiven. Not so. The forgiveness God offers isn’t a pittance. The forgiveness God offers is “according to the riches of His grace”. If a billionaire gave a homeless person a few dollars he would be giving “out of” his wealth. But if he gave thousands of dollars he would be giving “according” to his wealth.

The forgiveness God offers is proportionate to His grace, which is infinite. God has infinite grace and He gives accordingly. Even a small percentage of infinity is still infinity. Therefore, it is wrong to conclude that there is any sin that you can commit that God cannot, or will not, forgive.

This abundant grace is another of the spiritual blessings that God bestows on believers. God is described as having “lavished [that grace] upon us”.

The definition of “lavish” in my English dictionary is “bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.” In Greek the word is περισσευο (pronounced: per-is-syoo’-o) which means “to provide in abundance, to the point of excess”.

God is not a tightwad. He pours out His grace upon us in such quantity that it could be considered reckless. Whether in the Greek or in English the word lavish paints a very strong picture. Imagine filling a cup up with water but the pouring continues even after the cup is full. This is how God gives us His grace. He keeps pouring it on so that we are awash in it.

The first sin that man committed in the Garden of Eden was because Eve believed that God was holding back from her and Adam. She believed this because Satan tricked her into thinking this [Genesis 3:1-6].

So many people think this same thing today. They think that God cannot love them or that He will only parse out His love when we perform well. Every major world religion teaches this, as we learned recently. But this theology is wrong. People think this because Satan still uses the same lies he used in the Garden with Eve. The reason he still uses the same lies is because we keep falling for them. If something isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

The antidote to this false belief is to read the Bible. In the Bible we see the true nature of God. By reading it – and studying it – we see that the problem isn’t God, the problem is our own faulty thinking.

God was not holding back from Adam & Eve. And He is not holding back today. As rich as God is is how forgiving He is.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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