Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – the Exaltation of Christ
September 7, 2014
Ephesians 1:15-22 – 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, 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, 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. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Today, we move to the final verses of chapter one. This section of scripture focuses on the power of Christ that is at work in our lives. We saw last week that the power of Christ is revealed through the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ is the hallmark of Christ’s work here on earth. It is the resurrection that sets Christianity apart from all other all religions in the world. By way of the resurrection we have power over sin. We have power over death. We are assured eternal life, as Christ is the example of what is to come on our behalf.
As we look at the last few verses, we find the focus turns to the exaltation of Christ. In this section, we find three key aspects of Christ’s exaltation. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He has authority over every power on earth and in heaven. He is the head of the church and the fullness of what the church needs.. It has been noted that without the exaltation of Christ none of the blessings that Paul outlines for us in the earlier verses would be possible. It is exactly because He is at the right hand of the Father that we are blessed the way we are.
The first aspect of Christ’s exaltation is that the power of Christ is revealed through the position of Christ at the right hand of the Father. The wording here is significant because to sit on one’s right side was always a sign of honor in Biblical times, as it is today in many circles. If you were to read the Book of Hebrews, you will find several references to Christ being seated at the right hand of the Father. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:4). Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man (Hebrews 8:1). But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 110:12-13). These verses remind us of the purpose of Christ’s position with God and for us which is to establish His authority on earth and in heaven. Paul in Romans 8 reminds us that He, Christ is at the right hand of God making intercession for us. He is praying for us. He is standing in the gap on our behalf.
It is notable that Christ was not only positioned next to the Father; but the power of Christ is revealed through the authority that Christ has over every known and unknown power. There is nothing more frustrating than to be given a position without any authority to accomplish what is necessary to finish the task given. We find here that God not only positioned Christ in the place of honor but He also gave Him the authority He needed to accomplish His goal and His purposes in light of redemption.
As I prepared this message, I was reminded of a story involving General Robert E. Lee who is one of my favorite historical characters. I admire him because throughout his life he presented himself as a man of character and integrity, even in the midst of difficult times. One of the stories I found interesting, and in many ways connected to this lesson, was in Charles Flood’s book “Lee, the Last Years.” Flood details a time that, after the war, an insurance company offered General Lee a job where he would make more than $10,000 a year. This salary would be three times his current salary at Washington College, where he was president. But Lee, being a man of integrity and vision, stated that he did not wish to leave the post at the school he had just started. The agent for the insurance company responded to him by saying “Sir, we do not want you to discharge any duties. We simply wish the use of your name; that will abundantly compensate us.” Lee’s response without hesitation was “Excuse me sir, I cannot consent to receive pay for services I do not render.” In essence, Lee did not desire to receive a salary without some authority and being tasked with some responsibility that would make him worthy of His pay. He did not want to be a figure-head. Neither did Christ. He wanted His position next to God to mean something and so did God.
Imagine, if you will, any power or force that is out there. No matter the power or the force, Christ is positional and authoritatively over that power and every other power that has been or ever will be created. Let me ask you, this morning, what holds you back from the freedom in Christ that you desire? Is it fear? Is it past failures? Is it people who have let you down? What about your mistakes? The group that went with us to see Moses heard a clear message that God overcomes all of these things to bring us to the place He desires for us to be.
This verse is a direct fulfillment of Psalm 110:1 where David proclaims The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. Christ is seated next to God 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. Notice that his ottoman is all evil and every power in the world.
What are these powers as listed by Paul? It would be easy for us to define each of these powers but rather than doing that I will simply say that if there is a force or a power that impacts us, Christ has been empowered through the resurrection, ascension, and authority of God to deal with that power or force. Not only has he been given power to do so, but we are also empowered by Christ through the Holy Spirit to have power over the works of darkness. These powers could be defined as anything that is at work against God and anything godly. These powers were released in full force at the time of Adam’s sin.
But in Christ, these things are powerless to effect us unless we allow them to or we live a life punctuated by sin, evil, or the rejection of God’s will and His ways. To work against us, we must give ourselves over to the evil domain for them to effect us spiritually. Paul had a glimpse of this reality when he wrote these words to the church at Rome. Romans 8:31-39. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Notice here in this language that we would not be immune from the issues of life but that they were powerless to diminish the love Christ has for us.
Paul clearly states For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
And finally, the power of Christ is revealed through the relationship Christ has with the church as He is the head of The Church. A couple of things stand out here in this regard. Notice the verbiage that is used. Christ is the head and the church is the body. Without Christ the church is like a body without a head. It is walking aimlessly and hopeless in darkness. It is moved by emotion but does not have much wisdom and direction. This idea of Christ being the Head of the Church has a two-fold implication; His dominion over every power on earth and our union with Christ. Christ is also all that the church needs to accomplish its task. Through Christ, the church is filled with everything it needs. This view of the church is two fold.
I can remember growing up that my dad was the head of our home. In that headship came protection, safety, wisdom, and direction. I did not see it when I was growing up but as I have matured I release the power of headship in the home. The problem today too often is that we do not want to have an authority over us. We want to run our own game. We want to do what is right in our eyes and not what is being projected onto us by God.
Sometimes we tend to think that it is our faith that is the problem but it is not our faith as much as it is our view of God. We think that the problem is that our faith is not big enough or used enough but it is that our understanding of God is too small. When we have a small view of God and an expansive view of ourselves we are destined to failure. God wants us to have a right view of who He is and what he has done and for that matter continues to do for us.
The question for us this morning is do we recognize what God has done on our behalf, do we know that Christ is at the right of the Father intervening on our behalf? Do we know that he has authority and power over everything? Do you know that is the head of the church? Understanding these ideas are critical to our success as believers.
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