MUSINGS CONCERNING SPIRITUAL INTIMACY
Above All We Can Ask Or Think
“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.” (Eph. 3:20) This is the last of the “ACCORDING TO” verses we will note in this work. There have been nine (9) in all and each one leads to a greater and more glorious portrayal of God’s incomprehensible grace.
Ephesians 3:16-20 is the epitome of Christian desire. To be strengthened with might by the Holy Spirit (verse 16) describes the power of the believer’s standing. The Lord Jesus dwelling in the heart by God wrought faith, and being rooted and grounded in Biblical love (verse 17) declares the attributes which make faith work. Comprehending the immeasurable scope of the love of Christ which passes knowledge (verses 18-19) expose the wonder of Gospel grace far beyond finite understanding. Still all has not been stated, yes! There is yet more. The elect of God can know the fullness of God and an intimacy which gives true meaning to completeness as described in verse 19b. Is there yet more? Is this the end? No there is even more as the surpassing magnificence of the Godhead leaps even further beyond the already awesome catalog of blessings, gifts, grace, and mercies which are expressed as possible. Announced as “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think” by the power that in verse (16) strengthens the chosen with might. And all of this is ascribed as “ACCORDING TO” the glorious will of God. (verse 20)
Who could conceive of anything more? Believers have at their disposal power, presence, gifts, and mercies so replete that they are not able to ask for or think of their engulfing value or expanse.
“Now to the (one) being able beyond all things to do super-abundantly of which we ask or we think according to the power operating in us.” (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament; Nestle-Marshall)
What the God of Scriptures is able to do is subject matter which the finite mind is unqualified to interrogate to its extremity. His vastness exasperates human comprehension. All the combined wisdom of centuries is not able to render an accurate account of His greatness and marvelous wonders. That men, who are encompassed in abounding nothingness, can call into question or limit the power of God, is proof indisputable that we still possess inherent active depravity, the cleaving distortion which accelerates and magnifies our vicious corruption. Because men are still infested with this congenital wretchedness, we are naturally prone to put boundaries in the path of omnipotence and seek to frame God as one altogether as ourselves. (Ps. 50:21)
May it please God in His abundant mercy to pardon our frailty and instruct us to reside confidently in the Scriptural declaration that the heavenly Father is past total discovery. Remember the utterance of Job 11:7.
In the most illuminated sphere, though it is coupled with intimacy so precious, our daily discharge would still of necessity fall into the realms of ‘seek ye instruction from God.’ I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number.” (Job 5:8-9)
Many of the assertions of Scripture are so awe inspiring, that what they communicate swallows up even the most grounded faith in an ocean of amazement. Likened unto an empty vessel, we, by God’s favor, must be filled with substance before we begin to realize its actual existence. Having been brought this far, we now begin to see desires materializing; but soon they are checked with diabolical interference, and we find our expectations shrouded with human reasoning. Oh, unbelief has not Jehovah declared that Spiritual aspirations, in their purest form, fallen desperately short of the super-abundant virtues that He alone possesses? Only when Christ dwells in the heart by faith can the redeemed draw into their bosom and remains steadfast while pondering the infinite contents which drip from Deity’s Throne. The most holy longings, permeated with reverence so grand, must still confess these things have I asked; these things I can conceive. Oh eternal and Holy God, what cans’t Thou do? The Biblical answer staggers the supplicant, as his senses are stunned when the Almighty God accentuates His power. “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.” “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (Eph.3:20; 1 Cor. 2:9)
The Almighty God has spoken, advancing the truth as it is in Jesus, contained in the Word, confirmed in the inner man by the Holy Spirit as He resides in the believer. But there is other verbiage, language of the baser sort, injecting its faithless objection – no, -no no, these things cannot be. To enjoy these blessings is for future days – in times eternal. So as it is, these are but the ever present recurring paragraphs of unbelief – the core, the root, and the offspring of spiritual wickedness – which sterilizes, retards and all but destroys what once was a delight to our being and was the melody line to the songs of deliverance. So we be shaken, yes even molested by the wicked one; nonetheless, God in mercy will forgive our unbelief. Refresh thyself, unbelief does not make the promises of God of non-effect. Our father once again makes His approach and reinforces the sifted child. You can trust me now and forever. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye; I am your hiding place; I will preserve you from trouble; you shall be compassed with songs of deliverance. (Ps. 32:7-8)
Believers can have more than the common acknowledgement that they believe in God, for there is a power “ABOVE” finite conception. We can conceive of a closeness, even an intimacy, that will reveal to us the secrets of the Lord because we have been taught to fear Him; and in this position, He will show the redeemed His covenant. (Ps. 25:14)
Oh! glorious thought, we can ask these things; yea, perhaps we have, but God can go beyond that – far above, abundantly, superabundantly, exceedingly great, more, much more! “For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
Unbelief is a taking of the name of God in vain. It is a turning back. It demonstrates, in effect, that we have not the ability within ourselves to apply the encouragements dispensed by God, nor to rejoice in the comforts when in His mercy, He condescends all our iniquities and lays before us the healing ointment. “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps. 78:41)
Dispense with reason and enter in with boldness. God help us not to stagger in unbelief, but rather enable us to believe in the eternal catalogue of abundant mercy. “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Eph. 3:12) The abc’s for the believers approach to God: Access, Boldness, and Confidence. God I believe , help Thou my unbelief. Allow me to limit and tempt you no longer. Remember my frame that I am but dust. When we seek to enter in with boldness, pause to remember that Satan will be there. Through Christ Jesus, we approach the Father, seeking forgiveness for innumerable iniquities. Our desires are fresh. Lucifer begins to chide, drawing into the arena of our mind the immense portion of our evil deeds. The arrogant commander sought to hinder Joshua’s position before the Almighty God. He was there to withstand him. Therefore, when the vulgar varmint makes his appearance, as we lay before God our necessity, may we be comforted in the fact that the uninvited intruder shall once again be effectually rebuked. “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spoke unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Zech. 3:1-4; Heb. 4:14-15)
Jesus is familiar with our case and understands infinitely our position. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
Thus far, we have asked nothing. Rather than prize our prayers as the venerable outflow of Christian conduct, we should understand that hitherto, we have had a loving Father’s parental rebuke. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)
The most celebrated saints of days behind have much publicized the conviction that nothing is too hard for God. Because they were men of like passions even as we, we often feel their weaknesses repeated more notoriously in our frame. They be but men, and for that cause, we often balk at their announcement, “nothing is impossible with God.” When these proclamations are advanced by the very God of heaven, however, we should soon expect the Red Sea to open, the mountains to melt, the heavens to tremble, and the earth to be shaken; for the Almighty God makes not these statements to impress skeptics or to convince atheists, but rather to comfort His children and magnify His infinite greatness. “And the Lord said unto Abraham, wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, ‘ACCORDING TO’ the time of life, and Sarah shall have s son.” (Gen. 18:13-14)
Our belief is seasoned in weakness – to the point of daily distraction. Nonetheless, we may still bow before God in thankful adoration. Our unbelief does not make the promises of God of non-effect. He and He alone, through His abundant mercy and for the sake of His great name, will effectuate all of the wonders He has proposed to display. Nothing fills the soul like the gratuitous portion of the Almighty. Men may declare, with the most well meaning fervent desire, that these superabundant workings of God are not exhibited in our day. How utterly unsatisfactory is such a menial petition. Suppositions of such a nature contribute nothing for the craving soul.
Jeremiah exalts the unfathomable splendor of God, only to have it reiterated to him once again by the very One whom he addressed. “Ah, Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and THERE IS NOTHING TOO HARD FOR THEE:” (This was Jeremiah’s prayer; and the answer of Jeremiah’s God, “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: “IS THERE ANY THING TOO HARD FOR ME?” (Jer. 32:17, 26-27)
We should pause to remember that when we make supplications known, it is not a finite benefactor whom we address, who is hindered by various and sundry circumstances; but rather let it reinforce our prayers with this conclusion – seeming impossibilities and distressing obstacles are by His appointment. Well could we more readily extinguish the rays of the sun and obliterate its existence, than envision God the least bit perplexed, deterred, or even moved by the seeming improbabilities which cause us temporal discomfort. Finite problems are as nothing when absorbed by an infinite solution.
“But there may be thoughts too sweeping for expression, there may be unutterable groaning prompted by the Spirit (Rom. 8:26); Yet above and beyond our wildest conceptions and most daring expectations is God able to do. God’s ability to answer prayer transcends not only our spoken petitions, but far surpasses even such thoughts as are too big for words, and too deep for utterance. And still those desires that are dumb from their very vastness, and amazing from their boldness, are insignificant requests compared with the power of God. For we know so little of His promises, and so weak is our faith in them, that we ask not, as we should, for their universal fulfillment; and though we did understand their depth and power, our loftiest imaginations of possible blessing would come infinitely short of the power and resources of the hearer of prayer.” (John Eadie)
This stupendous stimulating insurgence of power abides in the believer, and through the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, God has wrought these infinite blessings in Christ Jesus our risen Redeemer. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who believe, ‘ACCORDING TO’ the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Eph. 1:19-21) With all these precious promises, should not boldness be our approach, His faithfulness our stay, and superabundant transactions our expectations! “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us, Selah.” (Ps. 62:5-8)
“. . . We must not measure His power by our sense of conceiving; we must not stint Him, and circumscribe Him, saying, can this or that be?..When God hath undertaken to do it; our span may compass the heaven and a spoon contain the sea, more easily than our reason can fully measure the power of God.” (Paul Bayne)
“God can do for us not only more than we ask in our petitions and intercessions, but even more than we are able to think and conceive in our minds.” (R. C. H. Lenski)
With the guarantees of heaven undergirding our weak substance, we should appropriate these privileges as benefits freely given to those laden with corruptions, which through Christ have had their iniquities purged, their transgressions forgiven, and their sins covered. “For thy name’s sake. O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.” “I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Ps. 25:11, 32:5-8)
Casting aside all merit, for wisdom would teach us there is none, save Christ the Righteous. In Him we find such abundance and the glory of the same funneling down from the heavenly cistern which has in it the infinitely holy balm that mingles with the blood of the Righteous One, which of necessity, must render our filthy leprosy as cleansed and our position forever shall remain eternally blessed by righteousness inaugurated and sustained in the sovereign good pleasure of the three times Holy God.
Oh, may we be taught of God to bless, yea even fall in love with, the God whose excellence we cannot begin to express. “Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.” “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” (Ps. 28:6, 116: 1-2)
Being taught of God, the resolutions should be final. Believers may entertain and believe the declarations of sacred inspiration. “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.” (Eph. 3:20) “That might, being God’s, can achieve in us results which the boldest have not ventured to anticipate.” (John Eadie)