Our Services:

North Campus
9:15   11:15

St. John Campus
9:15  11:15

West Campus
9:15   11:15

South Campus
9:15   11:15  

Downtown Campus
9:00  11:15  5:00  

 
 

Believing the Power of God

Matt Carter    /    Sep 07, 2014

Description:

Matt Cater teaches on believing the power of God using Ephesians 3:20

Series: Far More

SHARE SERMON:

Related Sermons:




Sermon Transcript

Today, I want to look at Ephesians 3:20, which is really a verse about the power of God. We’re going to look at it piece by piece and as we do it, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I believe God is as powerful as Ephesians 3:20 says He is?
  • If I do, does my life reflect it?

God Is Able To Do

Let’s look carefully at the first thing Paul says when he’s describing the power of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (ESV, emphasis added)

Paul begins the verse with a very simple statement about the power of God. He simply reminds us our God does things. With those eight words, Paul is reminding us our God is alive, active, and at work. It’s simple, but profound.

If our God is a god that does things, what is it that He is able to do?

Far More Abundantly

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (ESV, emphasis added)

Paul shows us God is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think.

The word abundantly in the Greek is a very descriptive word. The English language limits it. It doesn’t just mean more. It means super abundance in quantity and quality. So a more descriptive picture of what Paul is saying about what God is able to do would be, “Now to Him who is able to do far more super abundantly in quantity and quality than all that we can ask of think of.”

Why does Paul use this over the top, hyper descriptive language when speaking about the power of God?

First, I think he’s attempting to describe the indescribable. Have you ever been to the mountains or seen a sunset that just blew your mind? You try to put words together to describe to other people what you saw, but those words never fully paint the picture.

Second, I think he’s trying to describe his confidence in just how powerful God really is. If I were to come up to you and ask if you could do ten push-ups, what would you say? If you were confident in your ability to do ten push ups, you would say, “Yes, I can do ten push ups.” But if you were really confident you would say, “Yes, I can do more than ten push ups.” But if you were really, really, confident you would say, “Actually I can do far more than ten push ups.”

But how confident would you have to be for your response to be, “Matt, I can do far more super abundantly in quantity and quality than ten push ups.” You’d have to be pretty stinking confident in your push up ability to make that kind of statement.

Paul doesn’t come to us and say God can do more than anything you can ask or think of. He could have made his point with that statement. He doesn’t come to us and say God could do far more than anything you could ask or think of, because that would have definitely made his point too. No, Paul is so confident in the power of God he says He is able to do far more super abundantly in both quantity and quality than you could ask or think of.

All That We Ask Or Think

Then Paul tells us what God is able to do far more super abundantly in quantity and quality.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (ESV, emphasis added)

Last week Tyler walked us through the word ask. He taught us that we have access to this super abundant far more power of God, but we’ve got to ask for it. Prayer is what allows us to have access and to experience this power of God in our lives. But there’s another word here in this phrase I want us to focus on.

It’s the word think. Paul is making the claim God is able to do far more abundantly than all that you can ask or think. That’s a powerful phrase.

For the believers, think about yourself and your past. Has there ever been anything you’ve ever dreamed or imagined God could do through your life? A lot of you guys are young. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself how God wants to use your life for His glory? Have you ever imagined what He can do through your life? Some of you are older. Have you ever stopped and imagined how God could use the rest of your days for His glory?

If we’re honest, the answer would be no. My guess is that most people don’t spend a ton of time thinking about or imagining how God could use their lives powerfully for His glory. This is because deep down inside a lot of us struggle to believe the claim of Ephesians 3:20.

Our Struggle To Believe

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)

We don’t spend a lot of time imagining how God could use us powerfully, because we struggle to believe the truth of this claim. When we read the Scripture about the power of God, we believe it. But at the same time, we struggle to believe that same power applies to us.

If I asked you if you believe God has the power to bring revival to your neighborhood, the vast majority of you would answer yes. But if I asked you if you believe God has the power to bring revival to your neighborhood through you, how would you answer? I think most of us would be more hesitant to say absolutely.

If I asked you if God has the power to bring revival to your entire dorm, or apartment complex, or place of work, I bet everyone in this room would raise their hand and say absolutely. But if I asked you if you believe He’ll do it through you, most of us would be more hesitant to say absolutely.

Because we struggle to imagine and believe God can do great things through us, we don’t ask Him to do them.

Have you ever asked God to use you to end sex trafficking in Austin Texas? Have you ever asked Him to use you to end the orphan crisis in Central Texas? Have you ever asked God to use you to bring the name of Jesus to an unreached people group who have never heard His name that live on the other side of the world? Have you ever asked God to use you to raise up your children so that they’ll change the world? Have you ever asked God to raise you up to be a preacher of His word that’s going to speak about his name to an entire generation? Have you ever asked God to bring revival to your workplace and do it through you?

I think too many of you have never seen God do powerful things through you, because you’ve never asked Him to.

I wonder how often God hears our prayers and the stuff we ask of Him and thinks they’re just wimpy prayers. We pray, asking Him if He would bless us, or keep us safe, or to have a good day. I wonder how often God hears those prayers and thinks they’re great, but too small.

It would be like if Bill Gates were sitting outside the door here and said after the service every single person could come up to him, the richest man in the world, and ask him for anything you wanted. He may not grant your request, but he wants you to ask him for anything, because he has the power and resources to make it happen. If that were the case, first of all most of you would leave right now to get in line. Secondly, I have a hard time believing you would go and ask, “Bill, I don’t want anything, I just want you to bless me. Would you just bless me?” Or, “All I want is for you to help me have a good day.” Or, “I brought my lunch, will you just bless my lunch?” I think Mr. Gates would probably look at you and say, “You know, sure! I can bless you and your lunch. I can help you have a good day, but I can do more than that!”

I wonder if God ever hears us pray like that and thinks, “I can definitely help you have a good day, but did you know that I’m a God who can do far more abundantly than anything you can ask or think of?”

Too many of us in this room have missed the unbelievable joy and privilege of being used powerfully by God in our lives simply because we’ve never asked Him to. The reason we don’t ask Him is because we don’t believe He can or will.

Who You Are In Christ

I want to read some verses to you where the Bible describes who you are in Jesus and what the Bible says you would look like once you trusted in Christ. This is who you are and what you’re going to do and look like when you come to Christ.

  • “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 (ESV)
  • On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38
  • In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-12
  • We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
  • He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:15-18

The Bible says you would be a light shining, new life living, darkness overpowering, praise producing, river of life flowing, and hell’s gate trampling, victorious, unstoppable force in this world. That is what you will be in Christ Jesus!

Does that describe you?

Help Our Unbelief

If it doesn’t, something’s wrong. Either you’re not a believer, or you desperately need discipleship. If you are a believer and you’re getting discipled, then it’s quite possible you’re lack of belief is hindering the power of God through your life.

If you’re a Christian, but you never ask God to use you in power, because you struggle to believe He will or can, I want to read to you a quick story.

And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:17-23 (ESV)

I love the father’s response. It’s so appropriate for where many of us are right now in believing the power of God.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 (ESV)

I wonder how many of us need this to be our prayer today. God I believe You have the power to do far more abundantly than anything I could ask or think, but I’m struggling to believe it’s true for me, so would you help my unbelief? God I would love to see five of my unbelieving friends come to Christ this year and I believe You can do that, but would You help my unbelief that You can do it through me? God I’d like to see my co-workers, or my teammates come to Jesus in droves, God I believe You can do that, but help my unbelief that You can do it through me?

Church, do not be shocked when our God, who is able to do far more super abundantly in quantity and quality than all we could ask or think of, begins to answer those kinds of prayers in your life.

Our Time Is Limited

I keep three pictures in my office to remind me of things.

One is a picture of me catching a quail with my bare hands out of the air. It’s to remind myself of my amazing redneck skills.

The second is a picture of Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the 1850s. Under his picture it has an actual page of his sermon notes he wrote with his own hand. It’s one of my most prized possessions. It’s called Faith and Repentance. It says, “If I die in the pulpit, I pray that I would die preaching faith and repentance in Jesus. If I die outside of the pulpit, I pray I would die practicing faith and repentance in Jesus.” I keep that to remind me what the calling is on my life, to preach faith and repentance in Jesus.

The third picture was taken in the early 1900s in Cedar Creek, in East Texas. It's a church holding a baptism in the river. The pastor was a distant relative of one our partners. I keep this picture because it reminds me of something. Most of the people in the picture are young. They’re just doing church and have their whole lives ahead of them. But even though they’re all very different, there is one thing they have in common. They’re dead. Every single one of them has died and gone home to be with the Lord.

Every day as I have quiet times, answer emails, write seminary papers, and prepare sermons, those people stare at me and remind me that my time on earth is like a breath. They remind me that the time I’ve been given to make a mark on the Great Commission is going to come and go in the blink of an eye.

Do You Believe Ephesians 3:20?

Our time to experience the far more super abundant power of God is so limited. In light of this, I want to say something that might upset some of you. But that’s okay.

If you’re here and you’re not a believer, I want you to know we’re glad you’re here. We’re thrilled you’re here. We want you to stay as long as you need to here in this church to get your questions answered and come to the place where you believe or don’t in the person of Jesus.

If you’re here and you’re a young believer and you need to be discipled and you’re growing and maturing in your faith, I want you to know we’re glad you’re here. Stay as long as you need to grow and mature and be discipled in your faith.

If you’re a college student and you’re checking out church for the first time, we’re glad you’re here. Hang out and figure out if this is where you want your home church to be.

If you’re in a wounded place and you’re hurting, or have been hurt by the church, or somebody and just need a moment for your life to heal, I want you to know we’re glad you’re here. Stay as long as you need to heal.

But, if you’re here and all you’re doing is punching the church card on Sunday and then living your life the rest of the time and have absolutely no intention whatsoever of getting in the fight, or living your life on mission for God, or asking and begging God to see the truth and reality of Ephesians 3:20 lived out in your life, I want you to know we would like you to strongly consider leaving our church. I’m sure there are a lot of churches that would love to have you. I’m sure they’d love your money and for you to take up one of their seats.

If that’s where you’re at and where you’re planning on staying, we love you, we really do, but we don’t need your money and we could really use your seat.

I don’t know how much time I have left. I don’t know if I’ve got ten days or fifty years. But I do know I want to spend the rest of that time with people who believe and act on the truth that God is able to do far more abundantly than anything we could ask or think.

I asked you the question at the beginning of the sermon, do you really believe God is as powerful as Ephesians 3:20 says He is? If you do, are you willing to let your life reflect it?