Friday, October 2, 2015

Power of Life Proven in Christ (Ephesians 1:20-21)

“which He brought about 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 every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet,” (Ephesians 1:20–22a, NASB95)

There are many things that man can point to as accomplishments and over which others might gawk in amazement. There are heroic actions which speak of great sacrifice as people have stepped in to save the lives of others. There are incredible medical advances where new surgical procedures are developed that years before were not even imagined or new vaccines are invented that heal millions who previously would have died. Before computers were anything close to what we have today we sent men to the moon. All of these and many others have given man cause to step back and say, “Wow!”

In some of these cases the person responsible has gloried in the credit, while in others those individuals have humbly acknowledged that they did what others would have or that what they did was indeed a gift from God. But every single one of these is within the realm of what we might consider the power given to man. But there is a power not given to man, and that is the power over life—eternal life. Sure, a judge may sentence a person to death and a duly appointed individual may carry out the sentence, but in the end all that they really had power over was the ability to affect one’s physical life. In Scripture we know life to be more than merely flesh and blood. We know that short of Christ coming first that every single one of us is going to die. This is the way of man since the Fall, and there is no other way. It is an inevitable reality. And once that happens we also read in Scripture, “then comes judgment” as we read in verses like Hebrews 9:27. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27, NASB95)

There is one notable exception to this and that is Jesus Christ. He is the only one in history ever to lay His life down and to take it back up again. Death had no hold on Him, and the reason for this is that Jesus is not mere man. Jesus Christ is God from eternity past being one as the Son with the Father and the Spirit. It is through Him that all things were created and it is His who holds all things together according to the will of the Father. Were He merely a man He would have gone the way of all others when He died, but this is not the case. He came as man with the express purpose of laying down His life as a sacrifice for the payment of the sins of man and then to take that same life back up again and in so doing give life to all who believe.

Paul, writing about the humility of Jesus said, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11, NASB95) This is what God the Father accomplished in His Son who being God submitted in humility to the will of the Father to do what needed to be done in order to bring about the salvation of man, and when it was all accomplished the Father exalted Him and put Him above all things—the very things which through Him according to the will of the Father were created.

Jesus being God makes all of the difference. Only God could fix the mess we are in, and continuing from the previous verse we read together, “and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about 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 every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:19–21, NASB95) God did this for us!!

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul summarized the gospel message with these words, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared ….” (1 Corinthians 15:3–5, NASB95)

Paul went on to write that the resurrection of Christ is the central important truth in which we have hope. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:13–17, NASB95)

He then added, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead….” (1 Corinthians 15:20, NASB95) And he concluded this incredible chapter on the resurrection with these words, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:56–58, NASB95)

In Ephesians and with us it is important to know that Jesus Christ did what the Father sent Him to do, that He lives, and that He reigns. Everything about our being called and held onto by Him rests in Him truly being who the Scriptures declare Him to be. Paul encouraged the believers with this knowing that God is powerful to do all that He intends, that He loves us, and that He will do it. Rest Assured.

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