“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” (Eph 3:14-17; see also vs 18-21; 1:7-14).
There is a phrase at the end of the third chapter of the letter to the Ephesians which I feel we are led to consider: “…the power that works in us.” If you look back to verse 16 you find these words: “…that ye may be strengthened with power through his spirit in the inward man.” There is a very great deal hanging upon that clause, “the power that works in us.” It is something which is called upon to carry a very great responsibility; but, blessed be God, it is well able to carry it.
The connection, as we see from these passages to which we have referred, carries us into things eternal. Mark the phrase in verse 11: “According to the eternal purpose.” Mention is made of Divine purpose more than once in this letter. Again, mark the words in verse 19: “…that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.” There you have some intimation of what that eternal purpose is.
Then, as within that great compass, there is a great deal of need, a many-sided need. That need in its various aspects is touched upon in the two prayers of the Apostle [Paul]; the need for the spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may know–and what things they are to be known! What immense things to be known!–and then in relation to that knowledge, that vast, wonderful, spiritual knowledge, which is the content of the eternal purpose, and in relation to all the fulness of God, one central need, namely, to be strengthened with might, not only to know, but to do. So we are led to what form the first words of chapter 4: “I… beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called.” What a context! If we spent all the rest of our days, even though they were many, we should never fathom these wonderful intimations, all that hangs upon this little phrase “the power that works in us.” As we have said, it is well able to carry that burden.
Before going any further, I want to make this observation, that this power transcends all His other power. This is what is termed “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” It is the power that works in us. That “us” relates to a particular people, and there is a particular power related to that particular people, and that particular power is the exceeding greatness of His power, that which exceeds in greatness all His other workings of power. I think that must lie behind the superlative terms employed. It is a comparative term. “The exceeding greatness of his power” means that there are other expressions of His power, but this one is its exceeding greatness; and it is to us-ward who believe, it is the power which works in us.
Now that is a great statement, and it leaves us with much to think about, if it be true; and it is true: “…the power that works in us,” which is, as we have seen, power through His Spirit in the inward man; and that is the power and the means by which God reaches His end [goal] in us. God has a great end in us, even that we should be conformed to the image of His Son: “foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son…”[Rom. 8:29]. This is the means by which that end is reached in us. God is doing something in us by the exceeding greatness of His power, deeper than our senses, deeper than our recognition, than our perception. There is something there which God has done, and is doing, which is settled beyond the interference of all the fluctuations and variations of our more superficial life.
[“…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” – Phil. 2:14.]
Part 1 of 2. First published in A Witness and A Testimony magazine, Mar-Apr 1939, Vol 17-2. Courtesy of http://www.austin-sparks.net/ “THEODORE AUSTIN-SPARKS (1888-1971) left behind a treasury of writings filled with the Wisdom, Life and Revelation of Christ.”
Bracketed references added; “worketh” changed to “works” throughout article.- JBW
Graphic by www.Heartlight.org