Sabbath School Lesson for July 8-14, 2023

Overview of Lesson 3, The Power of the Exalted Jesus

Memory Text: Through the Holy Spirit, believers may know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:19, 20 NKJV

What to expect:

  • Sunday: Praying and Thanksgiving–Why is praise and thanksgiving so important in our prayers?
  • Monday: Experiencing Insight From the Holy Spirit–What are some of the things the Holy Spirit helps us understand about God?
  • Tuesday: Participating in Resurrection Power–How do we participate in Christ’s resurrection and ascension powers? What do they mean for us now and in the future?
  • Wednesday: Christ Above All Powers–Over what kind of powers did Christ help the Ephesians overcome, and how can He still help us be overcomers today?
  • Thursday: Jesus, All Things, and His Church–What kind of powers does Christ give His church? How can we experience His power?

Human beings have always been impressed with power, whether it be acquiring power over other people, their own addictions, or even acquiring material things like faster, more powerful automobiles. One fascinating power we often neglect to recognize is the power of God over every aspect of our lives, when we ask Him into our hearts.

In the first chapter of his letter, Paul wants us to see that we can have confidence in God’s power, because of the power that was manifested when the Son of God was resurrected. But also, when He ascended into heaven and was exalted at the right hand of the Father. Both these salvation events have made Him the Head of the church, our worthy Mediator in the heavenly courts above.

Sunday: Praying and Thanksgiving

Like Paul’s prayers to God, which begin with praise and thanksgiving for His mighty power, justice, and love, Paul likewise extends praise and thanksgiving to the many Ephesian believers who had continued their support of him and others in their community. He calls them faithful saints, chosen by God, accepted by the Beloved, before moving on to his requests for them to grow even more like Him in their Christian walk.

Paul said specifically in Ephesians 1:16 that he unceasingly gave thanks for them, making mention of them in his prayers. This idea of praying without ceasing was also mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Obviously, we can’t always be on our knees in prayer, but we can always be open to God’s presence and power, being in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, which makes us open to His divine guidance. We, too, can intercede for others as Paul did, as the Holy Spirit brings people to our minds to pray for.

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21

  • How would you summarize Paul’s prayers?
  • Why are praise and thanksgiving important tools for communication with God and even with people in general?

Ephesians 1:16, 6:18, Philippians 1:3-6, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 5:16-18

  • What does it mean to “pray without ceasing”?
  • Why is it important to pray for others?

Monday: Experiencing Insight From the Holy Spirit

It’s important for us to see what God is doing in our lives, but Paul prays that our understanding of God will be deepened to include what He has done for us in the past, and what He will do for us in the future.

God has made us His inheritance. We are valued by God to the extent that He has made us His children, and thus the benefactors of His vast kingdom. We benefit from our adoption by God. And He benefits from our faithful service in expanding His kingdom by showing others the true character of God.

We, therefore, not only receive an inheritance from God, but we are His inheritance at the same time. What a powerfully glorious relationship is possible with God when we experience the kind of insight from the Holy Spirit that Paul prays for.

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 1:17-19

  • What kind of spiritual wisdom is possible when we become God’s inheritance?
  • What does Paul’s prayer request reveal about the power of God?
  • Why do we need His power? And how do we receive it?

Tuesday: Participation in Resurrection Power

Paul expanded on the insight from the Holy Spirit he wished they would receive. He prayed they would have a fresh, deep understanding of the power of God. Evidently many of them had previously held great hope in the power of their pagan deities. But, he wanted them to see how much greater God is.

Two salvation events help us see that power:

  • Christ’s resurrection from the dead (witnessed by many of the disciples)
  • Christ’s ascension to heaven, to sit at the right hand of God (also witnessed by many of His followers)

Both of these occurrences verify that Christ is in a position of cosmic proportions that qualifies Him to be head of the church, and the giver of many spiritual gifts to those who love and have accepted their Savior.

When Christ returns, we will also be resurrected and will ascend to heaven with Him to be with our Lord forever. What glorious love that makes such a thing possible. It’s a divine-human relationship like no other the Ephesians had experienced with their former deities.

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 1:20-23 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

  • Why were Christ’s resurrection and ascension so important?

Psalm 110:1

  • Why do you think this is the most frequently-cited verse found in the New Testament?
  • What does Christ’s ascension to heaven mean to you personally?

Wednesday: Christ Above All Powers

Ephesus was a center of the magic arts; in other words, the occult. The Ephesians were familiar with many supernatural, mystical beliefs and practices, and respected the powers of these deities.

Paul’s prayer, therefore, often mentioned the supreme powers of Jesus Christ, the power above all powers. As God’s co-regent, He far surpassed any of the gods they had respected before Paul’s preaching changed their lives.

The name of Jesus was all they needed to defeat their enemies and live their lives peaceably and well. Paul never missed an opportunity to remind them of this power and to call on Christ’s name to come to their defense and give them spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 1:21 and Philippians 2:10

  • What does Paul mean when he says that Christ’s rule applies “not only in this age, but also in that which is to come”?

Ephesians 2:2 and 6:12

  • What kind of powers are these, and why was Paul so concerned about them?

Acts 19:13-15 and Exodus 20:7

  • Why should we treat the name of Jesus so carefully?

Thursday: Jesus, All Things, and His Church

Ephesians 1:22, 23, the last two verses of this chapter, sum up Christ’s power. It sounds similar to the ending of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13, “For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

Paul, too, declares Christ to be over all things in the universe, including the church. When He fills the believers, they become the body of Christ. How amazing that we can be so united with our victorious Lord that we become an extension of His divine calling and mission.

Psalm 8:4-9 reaffirms this transfer of power. Through His Son, God’s followers are given dominion over things pertaining to this earth. The church is under His leadership. He is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18).

Bible Verses:

Ephesians 1:22, 23, Matthew 6:13, and Colossians 1:18

  • How would you define “all things” that Christ has power over?
  • Why is it important to recognize who is the Head of the church?

Friday: Final Thoughts

It was evident from Paul’s opening prayer in the book of Ephesians that he wanted them to experience the wisdom, hope, and faith needed to feel the power of Christ in their lives (Ephesians 1:17-19).

The first disciples felt that power mightily after Christ passed within the heavenly courts at His ascension. “According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.” The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 38, 39

Another token of His power has been promised for God’s church at the end of time (Acts 2:17). Once again, the Holy Spirit will descend from heaven and provide many spiritual gifts to enhance our preaching, just like what was done for the disciples at Pentecost.

Next Week: How God Rescues Us

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