Ephesians 3:20, 21
Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,…
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. The passage leads us to consider the subject of exultant praise. Worship is praise; it is a higher service than prayer. It is in truth the highest end and. the completest answer to prayer. In the preceding verses Paul Trays; here he praises. He passes from asking to adoring. The passage leads us to consider religious praise in relation to the Object, the Church, the Redeemer, and the ages.
I. In relation to the OBJECT. He is here represented in his absolute and relative capacity for helping man.
1. In his absolute capacity. "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."
(1) Men can ask for much. They can ask for ages of blessedness, paradises of beauty and of bliss.
(2) They can think of more. Imagination transcends desires. We only ask for what we desire; but we can conceive of a universe of things which it has never entered into the heart to crave for. But the Divine capacity to give is "exceeding abundantly" beyond the power of asking or of thinking, Nay, it is "beyond all things:" all things that ever have been. It is greater than the universe. All things that ever will be; the possible with God will always be greater than the actual. How great is God's capacity for helping! What a God does the gospel give us to love, worship, and adore! And yet, strange to say, finite though we be, no God of meaner type could match the measure of our souls.
2. In his relative capacity. "According to the power that worketh in us." Infinite as is his capability to help, his power to help us is determined by the nature and measure of those spiritual aspirations and cravings which the power of his grace within us has produced. Unless we desire knowledge, he cannot enlighten us; purity, he cannot purify us; pardon, he cannot pardon us; spiritual strength, he cannot strengthen us. Our moral contractedness limits his power to help us. His communications will be according to our receptivity. As the indolence of the farmer limits those fructifying influences of nature that would yield to him a golden harvest; as the stolid ignorance and base sensuality of the people limit the influence of the genuine reformer to raise the millions in the social and political scale; as the dullness or idleness of the pupil limits the power of a great teacher to enrich him with the treasures of knowledge; so the moral contracted-ness of the heart limits the power of the Holy One. He cannot do many mighty works for us, because of our unbelief. It is "according to the power that worketh in us" that God's power to help us is determined.
II. In relation to the CHURCH. "In the Church," etc. The Church is a company of redeemed men, part of which is in heaven and part in various portions of the earth. Why does Paul single out the Church to praise and. adore the great God? Because the Church is under special obligations to do so. All things in heaven and on earth, from the lowest to the highest creature, should praise their Maker. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord." But the duty of redeemed souls to do so transcends in urgency that of all others. He has not only created them and preserved them, but he has redeemed them, and redeemed them not with "corruptible things" - such as silver and gold - but with the "precious blood of Jesus Christ." For them his only begotten Son became incarnate, suffered, bled, and died. For them the Holy Spirit is in constant operation. "All things work together for their good." None have engaged so much of the Divine attention as they; none have been recipients of such Divine mercies as they; none are so deep in debt as they. Their hallelujahs ought to be more fervid, more enthusiastic, more incessant than any that echo through the hierarchies of heaven.
III. In relation to the REDEEMER. "By Christ Jesus." Why should Paul identify the work of the Church with Christ? Why does he ascribe glory to the Eternal by him or in him? Two reasons may be suggested.
1. Through Christ man is made to see the glory of God. He is the Revealer of the moral glory of God to the soul. "We beheld his glory," says the apostle, "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He himself is "the Brightness of the Father's glory." Where but in Christ can man see the moral glory of God; the glory not of mere intellect, power, or outward goodness which you have in nature, but the glory of tenderness, mercy, forbearance, purity, rectitude, faithfulness, boundless compassion? Where Christ is not, God's glory is not seen.
2. Through Christ man is brought into sympathy with the glory of God. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." He it is that inspires, enamors, and transports the soul with the glory of God. Human worship must ever be in connection with Christ. "He loved us, and gave himself for us."
IV. In relation to the AGES. "Throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." This implies:
1. That God will be forever. Were he not to be forever, worship would not be forever. He is eternal. "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God? "He inhabiteth eternity." "One day with him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
2. That the Church will be forever. The redeemed will never cease to exist. They are to live from generation to generation, through endless ages.
3. That the reasons for praise will be forever. God's infinite excellence, his redemptive and fatherly relation to the Church, and the communications of his love are the grand reasons for praise, and these will be forever.
CONCLUSION. What a sublime destiny is that of the redeemed! Genuine religious praise is the heaven of the soul. It is that in which all the "powers find sweet employ." It is that which brings the whole spiritual man within the glow and the sunshine of the fatherhood of God. Praise is not the "service of song," as it is called; it is the spirit of life. It is not until all the activities of our being chime in one triumphant and succeeding psalm that our destiny is realized. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,