Last Things First - Part 2

Bible Book: Ephesians  6 : 10
Subject: Last Things
Series: Last Things First

We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Power That We Want To End Up With


Today, we’re continuing our new series of sermons that I’m calling “Last Things First.”  And we’re drawing upon some of the occurrences of the word “Finally” as it is used in the New Testament.

In several of these occurrences, the word “finally” has been translated from a Greek word that forms a transition to something else.  In other words, it is moving the hearer or reader’s attention from one point to another point; from one line of thought to another line of thought.  (According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Last week, I told you that it’s a word that really expresses the same thing that the old TV character, Lieutenant Columbo, would always say when he was uncovering the plot with his murder suspect: “Just one more thing.”

Adam Clarke said the word means, “All that remains for me now to write is.”

So several times when, for example Paul, used this word “finally,” he is saying, “Let me just say one more thing (or one last thing) before I finish this letter.”  Now as the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, he put these “finally” lessons near the end of the letters that he was writing.  But as I have meditated on these “finally” statements, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until the end of my ministry here at Piney Grove to share these lessons with you.  These lessons are so important that I wanted to share them with you towards the beginning of my ministry here.  I wanted to give you these “Last Things First.”

I came across a web log for someone named David Burrowes.  On January 19th of this year (2006), the title of his blog was “Putting Last Things First.”  In it he said, “Presenting the conclusions first often makes a document more interesting to read and actually helps orient the reader, though it may take more effort to create.”

So we’re presenting the conclusions and the “finally’s” first.  We’re basically trying to begin with the end in view.  And in this series, we will hopefully discover the fact that…

(As we saw last week…)

1. We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Principles That We Want To End Up With

(2 Corinthians 13:11)  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Then too…

3. We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Praise That We Want To End Up With

(Philippians 3:1)  Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

4. We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Positives That We Want To End Up With

(Philippians 4:8)  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

5. We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Prayers That We Want To End Up With

(2 Thessalonians 3:1)  Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 

6. We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Partnership That We Want To End Up With

(1 Peter 3:8)  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

This morning, our “Finally” teaches us that …

2. We Need To Be Presently Pursuing The Power That We Want To End Up With

(Ephesians 6:10)  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Throughout this whole division of the epistle a great deal has been said about practical Christian living.  In this paragraph, the walk of a Christian is described as a warfare, a deadly conflict in which he is engaged against the power of Satan and his hosts.  Because this walk is a warfare, as it is here described, a Christian must be prepared and equipped.  (From The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

We need the Ability that God can give – strength, power, might.  And we need the Armor that God can give.

I. Let’s Notice The Recipients Who Need This Power

(Ephesians 6:10)  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

A. Those Who Are Part Of The Family Need Power – The Brethren

            1. “Brethren” Is A Word That Puts Us In A Common Rank With Paul – There Is A Common Nature

“Brother” is a word of equality; in calling them “brethren,” he makes himself equal unto them, though he himself were one of the principal members of Christ’s body, one of the eyes thereof, a minister of the Word, an extraordinary minister, an apostle, a spiritual father of many souls, a planter of many famous Churches, yea, the planter of this Church at Ephesus; and though many of them to whom he wrote were poor, (common) men, such as laboured with their hands for their living; and many also servants, and bondmen; yet without exception of any, he terms and counts them all his brethren, and so makes himself equal to them of the lower sort.

(William Gouge from The Biblical Illustrator)

2. “Brethren” Is A Word That Puts Us In A Common Relationship With Paul – There Is A Common Need

Paul reminds his readers of their relationship in the Lord.

(From The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

Some of the language experts and commentators indicate that the phrase, “my brethren” should not be in the text.  And while I have not studied the original manuscripts to make this determination, I must confess that I like the phrase being used in this verse.

B. Those Who Are Part Of The Fight Need Power – The Battalion

(Ephesians 6:12)  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

            1. Consider The Description Of This Fight

wrestle – Greek NT:3823. palee, palees, hee; (from palloo to vibrate, shake), from Homer (900 B.C.?) down,

wrestling (a contest between two in which each endeavors to throw the other, and which is decided when the victor is able to bring his antagonist to the ground, and hold him down with his hand upon his neck;  the term is transferred to the struggle of Christians with the powers of evil: Ephesians 6:12. *

(From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

2. Consider The Dimensions Of This Fight

Rulers… powers… world forces of this darkness… and spiritual forces of wickedness describe the different strata and rankings of those demons and the evil, supernatural empire in which they operate.  The demonic categories are not explained, but rulers no doubt reflects a high order of demons (linked with “authorities” in Col. 2:15), powers are another rank (mentioned in 1 Pet. 3:22), and world forces of this darkness perhaps refers to demons who have infiltrated various political systems of the world (see Dan. 10:13; Col. 1:13).  The spiritual forces of wickedness are possibly those demons who are involved in the most wretched and vile immoralities.  Paul’s purpose, however, is not to explain the details of the demonic hierarchy but to give us some idea of its sophistication and power.  We are pitted against an incredibly evil and potent enemy.  But our need is not to specifically recognize every feature of our adversary but to turn to God, who is our powerful and trustworthy source of protection and victory. (John Macarthur – New Testament Commentary: Ephesians)

C. Those Who Are Part Of The Faithful Need Power – The Believer

(Ephesians 1:1)  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

            1. The Word “Faithful” Has To Do With The Believing Of The Saint

In fact, that seems to be the primary interpretation of the word.

The word “faithful” here is not used in the sense of “trustworthy,” or in the sense of “fidelity,” as it is often employed, but in the sense of “believing,” or “having faith” in the Lord Jesus.  (From Barnes’ Notes)

2. But The Word “Faithful” Also Has To Do With The Behavior Of The Saint

faithful – Greek 4103. pistos, pis-tos'; from G3982; obj. trustworthy; subj. trustful;--believe (-ing, -r), sure, true.

It doesn’t take strength to be unfaithful, but it takes a lot of strength to be faithful.

II. Let’s Notice The Resources Of Power That Is Offered

(Ephesians 6:10)  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

A. We Can Be Strengthened With His Channeled Power – “Strong”

            1. There Is An Enabling Strength Involved Here

be strong – Greek 1743. endunamoo, en-doo-nam-o'-o; from G1722 and G1412; to empower:--enable, (increase in) strength (-en), be (make) strong.

2. There Is An Exclusive Source Involved Here

NT:1743. to make strong, endue with strength, strengthen:  en kurioo – in union with the Lord, Ephesians 6:10;

(From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

B. We Can Be Strengthened With His Complete Power – “Power”

power – Greek NT:2904. kratos, krateos, (kratous) (from a root meaning “to perfect, complete”)

It means 1. force, strength.  2. power, might:  to kratos tees ischuos autou, the might of his strength, Ephesians 1:19; 6:10;  (From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

            1. This Power Completely Energizes Us In Its Working

(Ephesians 1:19)  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

exceeding – Greek 5235. huperballo, hoop-er-bal'-lo; from G5228 and G906; to throw beyond the usual mark, i.e. (fig.) to surpass (only act. part. supereminent):-- excel, pass.

His power certainly throws beyond the usual mark – it heals the sick, it raises the dead!

greatness – Greek 3174. megethos, meg'-eth-os; from G3173; magnitude (fig.):--greatness.

working – Greek 1753. energeia, en-erg'-i-ah; from G1756; efficiency ("energy"):--operation, strong, (effectual).

1756. energes, en-er-gace'; from G1722 and G2041: active, operative:--effectual, powerful.

Illustrate:  The Energizer Bunny doesn’t have a thing on the child of God.  If you can’t keep going and going then you’re tapping into the wrong energy source.

2. This Power Completely Equips Us In Our Waiting

(Colossians 1:11)  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

strengthen – Greek 1412. dunamoo, doo-nam-o'-o; from G1411; to enable.

might – Greek 1411. dunamis, doo'-nam-is; from G1410; force (lit. or fig.); spec. miraculous power (usually by impl. a miracle itself):--ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work.

Enabled with miraculous power

            dy·na·mo (dº“n…-m½”) n., pl. dy·na·mos. 1. A generator, especially one for producing direct current.

God’s strength at work in our lives is like a patience generator.

patience – Greek 5281. hupomone, hoop-om-on-ay'; from G5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:--enduring, patient continuance (waiting).

longsuffering – Greek 3115. makrothumia, mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah; from the same as G3116; longanimity, i.e. (obj.) forbearance or (subj.) fortitude:-- patience.

joyfulness – Greek 5479. chara, khar-ah'; from G5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight:--gladness, X greatly, (X be exceeding) joy (-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).

C. We Can Be Strengthened With His Conquering Power – “Might”

might – Greek NT:2479. ischus, ischuos, hee; ability, force, strength, might; to kratos tees ischuos, power (over external things) afforded by strength, Ephesians 1:19; 6:10 (Isaiah 40:26);

(From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

(Isaiah 40:26)  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

            1. Through His Strength, He Conquers Forgottenness

He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might

2. Through His Strength, He Conquers Failure

for that He is strong in power; not one faileth

III. Let’s Notice The Reasons Why We Need This Power

(Ephesians 6:11)  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

A. We Need Power For The Purpose Of Standing

(Ephesians 6:11-17)  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. {12} For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. {13} Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. {14} Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; {15} And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; {16} Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. {17} And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

stand – Greek NT:2476. histeemi; to stand, i. e. continue safe and sound, stand unharmed: to stand ready or prepared:  The word is used of one who does not hesitate, does not waver, in a figure, of one who vanquishes his adversaries and holds the ground, also of one who in the midst of the fight holds his position against the foe

(From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

1. To Stand Against The Wiles Of The Devil

wiles – Greek 3180. methodeia, meth-od-i'-ah; from a comp. of G3326 and G3593 [comp. "method"]; travelling over, i.e. travesty (trickery):--wile, lie in wait.

2. To Stand In The Wickedness Of The Day

(Ephesians 6:13)  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

evil – Greek NT:4190. poneeros; full of labors, annoyances, hardships; pressed and harassed by labors; bringing toils, annoyances, perils: the word speaks of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness, (From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

B. We Need Power For The Purpose Of Supplication

(Ephesians 6:18)  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching (to be sleepless – waking) thereunto with all perseverance (persistence) and supplication (petitioning) for all saints;

            1. We Need Power To Pray At All Seasons

Praying always with all prayer and supplication

2. We Need Power To Pray For All Saints

supplication (petition) for all saints

C. We Need Power For The Purpose Of Speaking

(Ephesians 6:19-20)  And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, {20} For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

            1. Paul Realized The Bondage Aspect Of Speaking The Gospel

I am an ambassador (representative) in bonds

2. Paul Realized The Boldness Aspect Of Speaking The Gospel

that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak


Team Hoyt is a father (Dick Hoyt) and son (Rick Hoyt, b. 1962) in Massachusetts who compete together in marathons, triathlons, and other athletic endeavors.  Rick was disabled at birth by a loss of oxygen to his brain because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and he also suffers from cerebral palsy.  Dick carries him in a special seat up front as they bike, pulls him in a special boat as they swim, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run.

Thanks to his parents, who ignored the advice of doctors that he would be a vegetable, and Tufts University engineers, who recognized that his sense of humor indicated intelligence, at the age of 12, Rick was able to learn how to use a special computer to communicate, using movements from his head.  The first words he typed were, “Go Bruins!” and the family learned he was a sports fan.  They entered their first race in 1977, a 5-mile benefit run for an injured lacrosse player who was a schoolmate of Rick’s.

As of June 2005, Team Hoyt had participated in a total of 911 events, including 206 Triathlons (6 of which were Ironman competitions), 20 Duathlons, and 64 Marathons, including 24 consecutive Boston Marathons.  They also biked and ran across the USA in 1992 — a 3,735 mile journey that took them 45 days.

When asked what one thing Rick wished he could give his father, his reply was “The thing I’d most like is that my dad would sit in the chair and I would push him once.”

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races.  And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming.  Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk.

For the past twenty-five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines.  When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing.  When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike.  When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain.  Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

“It’s been a story of exclusion ever since he was born,” Dick told me.  “When he was eight months old the doctors told us we should just put him away — he’d be a vegetable all his life, that sort of thing.  Well those doctors are not alive any more, but I would like them to be able to see Rick now.”

The couple brought their son home determined to raise him as “normally” as possible.  Within five years, Rick had two younger brothers, and the Hoyts were convinced Rick was just as intelligent as his siblings.  Dick remembers the struggle to get the local school authorities to agree: “Because he couldn’t talk they thought he wouldn’t be able to understand, but that wasn’t true.”  The dedicated parents taught Rick the alphabet.  “We always wanted Rick included in everything,” Dick said.  “That’s why we wanted to get him into public school.”

A group of Tufts University engineers came to the rescue, once they had seen some clear, empirical evidence of Rick’s comprehension skills.  “They told him a joke,” said Dick.  “Rick just cracked up.  They knew then that he could communicate!”  The engineers went on to build — using $5,000 the family managed to raise in 1972 - an interactive computer that would allow Rick to write out his thoughts using the slight head-movements that he could manage.  Rick came to call it “my communicator.”  A cursor would move across a screen filled with rows of letters, and when the cursor highlighted a letter that Rick wanted, he would click a switch with the side of his head.

When the computer was originally brought home, Rick surprised his family with his first “spoken” words.  They had expected perhaps “Hi, Mom” or “Hi, Dad.”  But on the screen Rick wrote “Go Bruins.”  The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season, and his family realized he had been following the hockey games along with everyone else.  “So we learned then that Rick loved sports,” said Dick.

In 1975, Rick was finally admitted into a public school.  Two years later, he told his father he wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.  Dick, far from being a long-distance runner, agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair.  They finished next to last, but they felt they had achieved a triumph.  That night, Dick remembers, “Rick told us he just didn’t feel handicapped when we were competing.”