And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,…
1. Be it never forgotten by us that the salvation of a soul is a creation. Now, no man has ever been able to create a fly, nor even a single molecule of matter. No human or angelic power can intrude upon this glorious province of Divine power. Creation is God's own domain. Now, in every Christian there is an absolute creation. "Created anew in Christ Jesus."
2. In the regeneration of every soul there is a destruction as well as a creation. The old man has to be destroyed.
3. The work of salvation is most truly a transformation. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." You who have been made anew in Christ Jesus, know in your own hearts how great that transformation is.
4. Remember, too, as if this were not enough, that the conversion of a soul is constantly compared to quickening — the quickening of the dead. How great the miracle when the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision suddenly became a great army!
I. CONSIDER THE ANALOGY WHICH THE APOSTLE HERE POINTS OUT. You have to conceive of the power by which the dead body of Christ is brought to all that preeminence of honour, and then to remember that just such power is seen in you if you are a believer.
1. In examining the wonderful picture before us, we begin with Christ in the grave, by noticing that it was in Christ's case a real death. So with us; by nature we are really dead. Our heart is dead in trespasses and sins.
2. Among the dead. Our outward life was just like that of other ungodly men.
3. A heavenly messenger comes. There is a Divine mandate for our resurrection, as much as for that of Jesus Christ.
4. There came with that messenger a mysterious life.
5. An earthquake.
6. The stone being removed, forth came the Saviour. He was free; raised up no more to die; He stood erect, beheld by His followers, who, alas I did not know Him. And even so we, when the Divine life has come, and the Divine energy has burst our tomb, come forth to a new life.
7. In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a Divine power. It was not angelic or arch-angelic, much less was it human. It is not the ministry, it is not the Word preached, nor the Word heard in itself; all the power proceeds from the Holy Ghost.
8. Observe again, that this power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb. Irresistible is the power put forth, too, in the Christian. No sin, no corruption, no temptation, no devils in hell, nor sinners upon earth, can never stay the hand of God's grace when it intends to convert a man.
9. Observe, too, that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. reflected great honour upon God and brought, great dismay upon the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner.
10. Lastly, it was everlasting power. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him." So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. The parallel will hold in every point, however minute. "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."We have only proceeded so far as to see Christ raised from the dead; but the power exhibited in the Christian goes further than this — it goes onward to the ascension.
1. If you will carefully read the story of the ascension, you will notice first that Christ's ascension was contrary to nature. How should the body of a man without any means be borne upward into the air? "While He blessed them He was taken out of their sight." So the Christian's rising above the world, his breathing another atmosphere, is clean contrary to nature.
2. You will observe again, that the disciples could not long see the rising Saviour. "A cloud received Him out of their sight." So in our case, too, if we rise as we should rise, if the Spirit of God worketh in us all the good pleasure of His will, men will soon lose sight of us. They will not understand us; they will be certain to run hither and thither, wondering at this and marvelling at that; they will call us mad, fanatical, wild and enthusiastic, and I know not what.
3. Jesus Christ continued to ascend by that same Divine power, until He had reached the seat of heaven above; He was gone, really gone from earth altogether. Such is the Christian's life. He continues to ascend, the Lord makes him dead to the world, and the carnal multitude know him no more.
4. See, beloved, we have stretched our compass somewhat wide now, when we say that there is as much Divine power seen in raising the Christian above the world, as in raising Christ from the grave into heaven. But that is not all. When the Master had come to heaven, we are told in the text that He was made to sit down at the right hand of God. Sitting at the right hand implies honour, pleasure, and power. Conceive the change! — from depths of reproach to heights of glory; from fearful deeps of sorrow to glorious summits of bliss; from weakness, shame, and suffering, to strength, majesty, dominion, glory. Such is the change in the Christian too.
5. Complete triumph. "Far above all principalities and powers." As Christ, so Christ's, for we are in Him.
6. You will not fail to observe that He has also universal dominion. Follow the passage — "And hath put all things under His feet." And so hath the Lord put all things under His people's feet. Their sins and corruptions, their sorrows and afflictions, this world and the world to come, are all made subject unto us, when He makes us kings and priests, that we may reign forever.
II. Now we must note, in the second place, THE REASON OF THIS. Why does God put forth as much power towards every Christian as He did in His beloved Son? Well, my brethren, I believe the reason is not only that the same power was required, and that by this means He getteth great glory, but the reason is this — union. It lays in the word — union. There must be the same Divine power in the member that there is in the head, or else where is the union? If we are one with Christ, members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, there must be a likeness.
1. Note, first, that there cannot be a body at all — I mean not a true living body — unless the members are of the same nature as the head. If you could conceive a human head joined to bestial limbs, you would at once understand that you were not looking upon a natural body. If here were a dog's foot, and there a lion's mane, and yet a man's eyes and a human brow, you could never conceive of it as a body of God's creation; you would look upon it as a strange monstrosity, a tiring to be put out of sight, or to be shown for fools to gaze at as a nine-days' wonder; but certainly not as a thing to display Divine wisdom and power. A body of God's making will be of the same material all the way through.
2. If all the members were not like the head and did not display the same power it would not be glorious to God. Some of the old tapestries were made at different times and in different pieces, and occasionally the remark is heard, "That part of the battle scene must have been wrought by a different needle from the other. You can see here an abundance, and there a deficiency of skill; that corner of the picture has been executed by a far inferior hand." Now, suppose in this great tapestry which God is working — the great needlework of His love and power — the mystical person of Christ — that we should say, "The head has been wrought, we can see, by a Divine hand; that glorious brow, those fire-darting eyes, those honey-dropping lips, are of God, but that hand is by another and an inferior artist, and that foot is far from perfect in workmanship." Why, it would not be glorious to our Great Artist; but when the whole picture is by Himself we see that He did not begin what He could not finish, and that He has not inserted a single thread of inferior value.
3. Note again, that it would not be glorious to our Head. I saw the other day a cathedral window in the process of being filled with the richest stained glass. Methinks the great person of Christ may be compared to that great cathedral window. The artists had put in the head of the chief figure in the most beautiful glass that ever human skill could make, or human gold could purchase; I have not seen it since, but imagine for an instant that the workers afterwards found that their money failed them, and they were obliged to fill in the panes with common glass. There is the window, there is nothing but a head in noble colours, and the rest is, perhaps, white glass, or some poor ordinary blue and yellow. It is never finished. What an unhappy thing, for who will care to see the head? It has lost its fulness. There is the head, but it is strangely circumstanced. If you complete it with anything inferior, you mar and spoil it; it is the head of an imperfect piece of workmanship. But, dear friends, when all the rest of the picture shall have been wrought out with just the same costly material as the first part, then the head itself shall be placed in a worthy position, and shall derive glory from as well as confer glory upon the body. Ye can read this parable without an interpreter.
4. I must add, that if anything, the power manifested in the member should be greater than that manifested in the head — if anything, it should be greater. A marble palace is to be built. Well, now, if they build (and oh, how many people do this kind of thing in their houses) the front with costly stone, and then erect the back with common stock bricks; if the pinnacles be made to soar with rich Carrara to the skies, and then down in the walls common stone is seen, everybody says, "This was done to save money." But if the whole structure throughout, from top to bottom, is of the same kind, then it reflects much honour upon the great builder, and declares the wealth which he was able to expend upon the structure. But suppose that some of the blocks of marble used in the foundation have lain in a very dark quarry, and have been subject to damaging influences, so that they have lost their gloss and polish, then surely they will want more polishing, more workmanship, to make them look like that bright cornerstone, that noble pinnacle which is brought out with shoutings. Christ Jesus was in His nature fit, without any preparing, to be a part of the great temple of God. We in our nature were unfit; and so, if anything, the power should be greater; but we are constrained to rejoice that we find in Scripture that it is just the same power which lifted the man Christ Jesus to the throne of God, which now shall lift each one of us to live and reign with Him. Moreover, to conclude this point, the loving promise of our Lord will never be fulfilled (and He will never be contented unless it be), unless His people do have the same power spent upon them as He has.
1. What a marvellous thing a Christian is.
2. Why should I doubt God's power for others? If He has put forth so much power to save me, cannot He save anyone?
3. Why should I ever have any doubts about my ultimate security? Is this irresistible power engaged to save me? Then I must be saved.
4. How doleful the state of those who are not converted. But God may have pity on you yet.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,