Behind every New Testament command (often issued in an imperative) is the assumption that God’s Spirit is present in us to empower our will to act. It is by the Holy Spirit’s strength that we fulfill God’s righteous requirements for holy living (Rom 8:3-4; 13-14). In fact, without the Spirit’s presence one cannot be a genuine believer (Rom 8:9). The Spirit of God is the presence of God in us and where God’s presence is so too is his power to live for him! Christian, do you know who you are?
In Eph 1:13-20 Paul clearly alludes to God’s powerful presence in us as we look up and lean forward
- Eph 1:13: Note the progression of events that led up to you receiving the Holy Spirit: “you heard,” “believed,” “were sealed.” One does not receive the Holy Spirit apart from faith. Hearing is necessary but not sufficient. You must believe!
- In Eph 1:14 the Holy Spirit is referred to as a “guarantee,” or “pledge,” like a deposit, earnest money, or “down payment” (see also 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5). God’s initial installment of the Spirit guarantees our inheritance of eternal life. Note it is “God” who makes the guarantee, not us. Paul just proclaimed in Ephesians 1 that God is the one responsible for our salvation, not us. In vv. 3-9, “he blessed us,” “he chose us,” “he predestined us,” “he has freely given us,” “he lavished on us,” “he made know to us.” Moreover, Rom 8:29-30, Tit 3:5-7, and 1 Pt 1:2 insists that it is God who actively pursues us in salvation and I submit to you that God continues to pursue us in our sanctification. We need Christ at every turn subsequent to salvation because “apart from me you can do nothing” claims Jesus (Jn 15:1-5). Praise God that he has put a down payment on our lives guaranteeing our inheritance!
- When does this guarantee expire? “Until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (NIV). It is God who is the ultimate Promise Keeper and he has promised you eternity with him! Christian, do you know who you are?
- In Eph 1:15-19 Paul prays that we may have a kind of “spiritual eyesight” whereby we may know a) the hope of our calling, b) the riches of our inheritance, and c) the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” Specifically, the power Paul has in mind is God’s life-giving power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph 1:20; see also Rom. 6:4-8; Philip 3:10). For the Christian, the Resurrection means:
- Death does not have the final word. The resurrection of Christ assures us that we will some day be raised and that something better does indeed lie beyond our existence here on earth (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:54-57; Philip 3:21).
- Not only is our future resurrection guaranteed, but we will be reunited with our believing loved ones (1 Cor 6:14; 1 Thess 4:14).
- The world is not merely a product of mundane principles of cause and effect, physical laws of nature, and social interaction between humans, but an open system where miracles of God are not only possible but actual in history!
- Because Christ rose and ascended to heaven the bestowal of spiritual gifts for authentic Christian service empowers you, the Church, with purpose (Eph 4:7-10). A purpose driven life is a Spirit empowered life!
- Christ’s resurrection demonstrates God’s power to transform history’s greatest injustice (the crucifixion of Christ) into the greatest glory of the entire universe.
Listen to me! The greatest display of God’s power was not at creation nor is it in the daily sustaining of the universe. God’s power was comprehensively and supernaturally displayed in Jesus’ resurrection. It showed not only God’s ability to reconstitute your material body thus demonstrating his power over your mortal life (Rom 8:11), but the resurrection shows God’s power to wholly refashion the immaterial order of the universe thus demonstrating his power over your moral life as well. This is so important for us to realize that Paul asserts elsewhere regarding Jesus’ resurrection “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin…But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:54-56). And so Paul can appeal to you “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory” (Col 3:1-4, NLT). The same power that raised Christ from the dead is present in you right now to live the life God has called you to live. Christian, do you know who you are?