Mother Theresa once wanted to build an orphanage, but she had only three shillings, and someone jeeringly said to her, “What can you do to build an orphanage with only three shillings?”
“Theresa with three shillings,” was the answer, “can do nothing, but with three shillings and with God to help her there is nothing that Theresa cannot do!”
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, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-22 (KJV)
I have preached these verses for many years and yet until this morning I have never spoken of them in their rightful context. I have used stories like that of Mother Theresa to inspire others to realise God can make their lives so much better.
I have read of these verses being used for some ‘name it claim it’ mantra. I have heard that God can do more physical healings than we can ever imagine and that He can give us more physical riches than we could ever ask for. Of course He can. But that is not the context of these words. This beautiful doxology of Paul’s prayer ends 3 chapters of revelation. If we want to embrace these 2 verses then we must also embrace the truth of the 3 chapters.
Let me explain.
The 3 chapters that we have journeyed through leave us with questions:
Can I survive this prison? Is my position really in the heavenly realms? Has He redeemed me? Will I be there in the new heaven and new earth? Is there hope? Can I make the right decisions now? How do I know what to do? What does He want me to do? What about my sin? Will racism end? Will division leave the Church? Can equality ever be known? Will God dwell in me? Will I be able to love as He does? Here is the answer:
He is able.
He is able to do all of that.
He is able to do above all of that.
He is able to abundantly above all of that.
Then Paul makes up a new word which we translate as:
He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that!
That’s the context where the doxology sits.
How? According to His power in my life. No. In ‘us’. In community. We will know none of the 3 chapters outside of community.
Where will it be seen? Paul closes with a song or a shout, it is the crescendo of the prayer with all of the thoughts he has written so far:
It will be seen, the glory of it will not be my life, individually. Yes, Paul could have said that. The world needs to see this in our personal lives.
No. We are too small for this glory. We cannot contain or carry this glory.
It is in the Church. But wait. Even the Church is too small to contain the glory of what He is able to do.
In Christ Jesus!!!!!!! Can you hear the explosion of praise?!
Wait there’s more, even more!
Not just in my generation Paul says but in every generation, for ever and ever ….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.”