A Power that Builds Up

Natural disasters display some serious power.  They remind us how fragile and weak we truly are.  We’ve seen images of the unimaginable devastation with the recent Haiti earthquake.  Louis St. Germain, a pastor who runs an orphanage in Haiti, said in an interview with ABC news that within fifteen minutes of the quake, “the city of Les Cayes, Haiti was in the street.”  The January 12, 2010 Haitian earthquake was nothing less than a display of raw, natural power.  In Ephesians 1:19 we find a power that exceeds that of a mighty earthquake and builds us up rather than tears us down. 

Ephesians 1:19, “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might”*

There are actually four words for “power” in v. 19: “power” (dunameōs), “working” (energeian), “great” (ischus), and “might” (kratos).  The idea of power is emphasized to “enforce the idea of God’s abundant power available to all believers” (Harold Hoehner, Ephesians, 271).  In other words, this is some extraordinary power that’s at work within us! 

God’s power is not a luxury but a necessity for the believer.  When it comes to living the Christian life, we are like a battery without a charge apart from the power of God.  We cannot live the Christian life in the flesh.  Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  We need God’s power.  God’s power is indispensible to live the Christian life because living the Christian life means exerting great energy, as the images of the Christian and the Christian life indicate.  Here are some examples:

Images of the Christian

  • A soldier (2 Timothy 2:3)
  • An athlete (2 Timothy 2:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25)
  • A farmer (2 Timothy 2:6)
  • A worker (2 Timothy 2:15)

Images of the Christian Life

  • A wrestling match (Ephesians 6:12)
  • A race (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26; Hebrews 12:1)
  • A boxing match (1 Corinthians 9:26)

Interesting.  No Christian couch-potato metaphors.  As you see, these images are not for the kinetically-challenged soul.  We are always dependent on God’s power.  “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years, was right to say that “were it not for the power of God, we would never accomplish anything, we would not stand for a moment, we would be undone” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose, 418). 

We should make one more important observation concerning God’s power.  God does not work for the naked display of power but for His glory! 

  • Isaiah 40:25-26, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. [26] Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?  He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.”
  • Psalm 106:7-8, “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works;
    they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. [8] Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.”
  • Romans 9:17, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth’.”

It is good for us to glorify God with our lips by offering words and songs of praise but it is even better when we glorify God with our entire being.  In this way we reflect God’s glory to those around us.  His power is at work in us as we grow in holiness and in our love for Him. 

I sing the mighty pow’r of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.
(Isaac Watts, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” 1715)

*Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permissions.  All rights reserved.


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