Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.
The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.
Click here: Ephesians 1:15-23, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Ephesians 1:15-23, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.
Ephesians 1:15-23, God’s Power Displayed in the Ascended Christ:
• We have spent a lot of time in Mark’s Gospel, learning about Jesus, understanding His teachings, and living out His truths! Recently, we’ve started studying through Ephesians, and majority of our focus has been on Jesus’ power in salvation.
• And so, we might know a lot about Christ’s death & resurrection and what it accomplishes, but what about the Ascension? Many of us tend to over-look the Ascension and even treat it as an afterthought.
• But here in Ephesians 1:20-23, the Ascension of Christ is presented as the ultimate proof of God’s power working in, through, and among us. Therefore, we’ll be looking at four ways God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ, and how it should assure us of His work in our lives!
1. God Raised Him from the Dead:
• Text – 1:20
• Explanation – the beauty of the Resurrection is that Christianity is the only religion whose believers go to the burial site of its leader only to confirm that His body is not there.
• See, after Jesus rose from the dead, He “presented Himself alive” (Acts 1:3) to the women near the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10), to His disciples (Luke 24:36-43), and to more than 500 others (1 Corinthians 15:6). Which is to serve as prove that Christ has overcome death.
• Illustration – This is the measure of God’s Power at work is beyond our understanding! He works this out in the raising up of Jesus. Jesus didn’t just get up, but God raised Him up!
• Application – But why does God raise Him? God raised Him to prove that Jesus is the only begotten Son. To declare His approval of the atoning and substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross. And God raised Him to accomplish and complete the acclaim of Jesus Christ as the Lord of all!
• So God’s raising of Jesus proves to us who believe, that He has the power to change our lives! Here’s how Romans 6:3-4 puts it, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
• Conclusion – Therefore, we need to understand that God’s power, the same power that raised Christ, empowers us to walk in the newness of life. Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
• So God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ through raising Him up, and this should assure us of His work in our lives, as we have the guarantee of His empowerment.
• Bridge – Our response should then be that of 1 Corinthians 15:58, to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” The second way God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ is…
2. God Seated Him at His Right Hand:
• Text – 1:20b-21
• Explanation – The beauty of this reality is that the rest of Scripture affirms this truth. Hebrews 1:3 says, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand.
• He is not standing next to God as a servant, or kneeling at God’s right hand as a slave. He is seated on God’s right hand as a Son!
• Illustration – Now, the right hand of God is a biblical idiom for divine strength, favour, and majesty. And this is where Christ is seated! He is enthroned in sovereignty with almighty God.
• We can affirm this reality as we look at His prayer in John 17:5; He prayed “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
• Application – In Ephesians 1:21, Paul reveals two truths about Christ’s enthronement being seated at the right hand of God. 1) Christ has universal authority. His authority is far above all rule, power and dominion, and above every name that is named!
• This means there is no place where Christ does not reign! He is seated far above all powers. 2) Christ’s authority is unending! Paul says His power isn’t just effective in this age, but also in the one to come.
• Conclusion – So it doesn’t matter what age we’re in, or the era, or period, or season – the sovereign authority of Christ never changes as He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
• God has raised Him, and has seated Him at His right hand, more so Paul says God “has raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
• Bridge – The comfort is that if you are in Christ, what God has done for Christ, He has also done for you. We were dead in our sins, but God raised us up in Christ. We were hopeless, but God seated us with Christ in the heavenly places.
• So God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ through seating Him at His right hand, and this should assure us of His work in our lives, as we have been seated with Christ. And so the third way God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ is…
3. God Put All Things Under His Feet:
• Text – 1:22
• Explanation – God has placed everything that exists in the created world under the feet of Christ. This means that all creation has been placed under Christ’s direct authority!
• Illustration – It is nothing like the royalty in Great Britain. You see, Queen Elizabeth sits on the throne, but the prime minister runs the government. This means that the Queen’s authority is only ceremonial.
• Application – God putting all things under Christ’s direct authority means He personally reigns and rules over everything in creation! We are even reassured of this reality by the Messianic prophecy in Psalm 2:7-9, “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.””
• Conclusion – Furthermore, in Philippians 2:9-11 Paul writes that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
• This doesn’t mean that everyone will be saved, but it does mean that there will come a time where there will be a universal submission to Christ’s Lordship. Every knee will bow, whether you want to or not.
• Bridge – at the end of the day, as 1 Corinthians 15:27 says, “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” God’s power is displayed in the ascended Christ through putting all things under His feet, and this should assure us of His work in our lives, as we have been placed under His reign, and not under His judgement! Now lastly, the fourth way God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ is…
4. God Gave Him as Head over All for the Church:
• Text – 1:22b-23
• Explanation – Yes, Jesus is the Head of the Church. In Matthew 16:18, we Jesus’ words as He says, “I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” So the Church belongs to Christ! Paul encourages the Church in Colossae writing that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church. He is the first born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Col. 1:18).
• But that is not what Paul is referring to here. Christ is the sovereign ruler of all, and this is for the Church’s benefit! If the church feels powerless in comparison to the opposing evil powers, we should be reminded that we share in His power!
• Illustration – You see, my head may rule over my body. But it doesn’t control what happens to me. It cannot prevent the bullet flying towards my chest, it cannot predict the future dangers I might be caught up in!
• So too, if Jesus was only the head of the Church – He would only have the right to say what happens in the Church. But He is head over all things to the Church!
• Application – In fact in verse 23, Paul says the Church is Jesus’ body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all! This is our union to Jesus Himself. John Calvin commented on this verse, saying; ‘this is the highest honour of the Church, that until He is united to us, the Son of God reckons Himself in some measure incomplete.’
• Conclusion – This is the empowering grace God has given to us in Jesus, that the church may be the fullness of Him who fills all! This is Christ’s love for us! And therefore, the power work of God, as it works in Christ, is on display throughout the church despite what persecution, or obstacles are put in her way!
• Bridge – Amen! So we’ve seen 4 ways God’s power was displayed in the ascended Christ. 1) through raising Him up, which should assure us of His work in our lives, having the guarantee of His empowerment.
• 2) through seating Jesus at His right hand, assuring us of His work in our lives, as we’re seated with Christ.
• 3) through putting all things under His feet, assuring us of His work as we have been placed under His reign. And 4) through His authority over all things for the Church’s benefit, which assures us of His work in our lives as the Church is the fullness of Him who fills all in all!
• Friends, these truths should encourage us to trust that the power of God in Christ is at work on our behalf so that we may live out the Gospel message to the glory of God!
• Let this be our hope today and tomorrow, and forevermore – as the ascended Jesus is always our hope, our strength, and may He always be our Joy!