Sermon Detail

Strength for the Journey All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name! (Or How to Fight the Wild Beast)

November 19, 2023 | Buster Brown

“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."  Ephesians 1:15-21

"What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.' Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.' Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame."  1 Corinthians 15:32-34

This prayer, with its ringing note of confidence, would prove to be especially comforting to believers in Ephesus. Many of them were converted out of a background of magic, the Artemis cult, or astrological beliefs. This letter was given to a group of people who needed help in developing a biblical perspective on demonic powers and encouragement in their ongoing struggle with the forces of darkness (i.e. “rule, authority, power and dominion”). In his book Powers of Darkness, Clinton Arnold states that “these believers live in a milieu characterized by flourishing magical practices, the renowned Artemis cult, and a variety of other Phrygian mysteries and astrological beliefs” (p. 167).

The common feature in the midst of this religious diversity was that people had an extraordinary fear of hostile, spiritual powers. This prayer strongly underscores the supremacy and greatness of Christ.

1. To build hope, affirm our standing in Christ, and to rejoice in the power of faith, the Apostle Paul runs to the historical resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no hope. 

2. In fighting the “wild beast” in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32) Paul runs to the resurrected and all-powerful Jesus. 

3. The all-powerful, resurrected Savior orders my days, conquers the darkness within and without, and ushers me into an eternity of joy. 

"This sanctification (holiness) is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of sin in every part; From this arises a continual and irreconcilable war…"  Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 13, article 2 & 3

Although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the empowering Spirit of Christ, the believer does overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace.

Fighting the Wild Beast: LAUD

L = We LOAD our minds with biblical truth.

“Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from some information of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual knowledge… Knowledge is the key that first opens the hard heart, and enlarges the affections and so opens the way for men into the kingdom of heaven.”  Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections (p. 192)

A = ASK God to give you holy affections.

“That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference… In nothing is vigor in the actings of our inclinations so requisite, as in religion; and in nothing is lukewarmness so odious.”  Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections (p. 27)

U = Rejoice in the UNQUENCHABLE love of Jesus for his people.

The one who says “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden” (Matthew 11) never turns away his eternally-loved and repenting people.

This unquenchable, insatiable love breaks through the shame/despair/alienation (withdrawal) cycle.

D = Our DESTINY; because Jesus has resurrected and ascended and reigns in power, our destiny is in eternity with him.