Rooted in Christ’s Identity Preached by: Matthew S. Black Text: Ephesians 2:13-22 Series: Rooted in Christ Date: February 12, 2012, 10:30am Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, IL Introduction: Open your Bibles to Ephesians. We are continuing our series: “Rooted in Christ”. The title of the message is: “Rooted in Christ’s Identity”. Our outline today is simple: If you are “in Christ” you have a new identity. I. We have a new Position in Christ (vs. 13-18). II. We are a new People in Christ (vs. 19-22). Illustration: Identity Crisis… Recently I read an article in the New York Times of a lady (Alex Kuczynski) who decided to test the dependability of our consumer credit system. He bought some diapers at the local CVS and upon being asked for his signature at the credit card terminal, she signed: “Kim Jong Il”. This lady was not a dictator, neither was she North Korean. She experimented at various stores. She signed – “Steve Wozniak” “Benjamin Franklin” “Hillary Clinton”. Once he even signed in block letters: “THIS IS NOT MY SIGNATURE”. All the transactions went through. She writes: “One’s signature used to have meaning, acting both as proof of personal identity and, in financial and legal transactions, as a promissory device. However, in recent years the personal signature has become essentially meaningless, especially in consumer transactions. Scrawling my name on credit card terminals at department stores and the like does nothing to prove my identity.” “Identity Crisis” by Alex Kuczynski http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/identity-crisis/ It seems like that’s the case in some churches. Many no longer understand the marks of true regeneration. Few in the churches understand what it means to be a Christian and to be part of a community of believers. The church is becoming increasingly like the world, adopting the world’s signature while still calling themselves “Christians”. Many churches have become events or social clubs where there is no accountability to walk in the ways of Jesus. “Blatthew Mack” Sometimes when things go wrong around here I like to blame it on “Blatthew Mack”. I like to create another identity to shift the blame to him! Of course, there is only one of me! I have no evil twin! Layout of Ephesians All humor aside, the book of Ephesians is laid out in the indicative and the imperative. The first three chapters are our identity in Christ, and the final three chapters are our responsibility in Christ. You cannot do what God has called you to do, until you are what God has called you to be. Doing always comes from Being. Your actions always proceed from who you are. So who are we in Christ? We have a new position in Christ. We are a new people in Christ. Paul in Ephesians 2:11-13 tells us to remember who are. We are not what we once were! Ephesians 2:11–22 (ESV), “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” What has changed? I. We have a new Position in Christ (vs. 11-18). -Brought near by the blood of Christ Paul begins his description of the Gentiles’ former position using the language any Jew might to point to their ‘outside’ status. Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Eph 2:11–22). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press. Yet he is clear that Jews need salvation. These are those who “call themselves the circumcision”. Most are not saved. They need Christ. · Romans 2:28–29 (ESV), “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit…” · Colossians 2:11–12 (ESV), “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” We were circumcised when we were brought into Christ through regeneration, when we died to the old life. A. Our position is obtained because of a divine Treaty. Christ is our ticket of admittance. He settles the war and gives us entrance. Verse 13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” Outside: Temple – Drama of Redemption So the language in verses 11-12 is that we are on the outside. Remember how the Temple was lined up? Inside the Temple you had the Holy of holies, then, just outside you had the court of the priests, then the court of Israel for male Jews, then female Jews, and finally on the outside you had the court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles were “far away” from the Jews and far away from God. The Temple in this way was a drama of redemption. Gentiles could not enter the inner courts to worship. In Greek and Latin were posted signs of “no trespassing” upon pain of death. The actual signs were discovered in several archeological digs, one in 1871 and another in 1934. The signs read, “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death”. These inscriptions are now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul and the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. These walls were literally torn down in 70AD by the Roman army, but long before that, when Christ said, “It is finished”, he tore down those walls spiritually! 1. Christ settled the hostility between us and His Father. He did this by keeping the Mosaic Law perfectly. He obeyed the law actively and passively for us. Listen to verse 15, We’ve been brought near… Christ Himself was our peace… in what way? How did it happen? He did it… “by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. The hostility God had towards us was put on Him. The hostility we had with God was fully satisfied for you and all who come to Him by faith. Do you realize how great a hostility it was God had toward you? Think of eternity with His holy wrath fully fixed against you. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV), “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christ abolished the law and ordinance to bring a peace. He completed the Law perfectly by fulfilling all the types and shadows of the Old Testament. · All the sacrificial laws · All the dietary laws · All the ceremonial laws · All the moral law Christ did it all. He Himself is Our Peace (vs. 14) Christ is our Peace! He is our Mediator. He is our Advocate. His nail pierced hands settle the argument in God’s courtroom. Satan cries out against us day and night against the saints of God (Revelation 12:10), but Christ has cast Him down! Christ has conquered Him! All that Satan says is true about us, but it’s all been put on Christ. We have peace with God. Christ Himself is our Peace! It’s an emphatic statement! Christ settled our hostility with the Father. 2. He settled the hostility between Jew and Gentile. No longer do ethnic divisions divide us. There are no socio-economic divisions. We are one in Christ! He has torn down the wall of hostility! · Galatians 3:27-28, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” · Most of the Jews rejected him. John tells us in 1:11-13, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him [WHETHER JEW OR GENTILE, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Only One thing Matters: In Christ? Regenerate? Application: No longer do we look at people by the amount of pigment in their skin tone. No longer do we see people according to socio-economic status. There is only one thing that matters: Are they in Christ? Listen, Christ is our peace! Jesus is our peace! (vs. 14) Marriages that were falling apart are fixed because of Christ! We who lived purposeless lives now have purpose. Enemies are reconciled. Christ has done it! B. Our position brings us a new Reality (vs. 15) Ephesians 2:14–22 (ESV), “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace”. No longer do we have the shadow of: · sacrificial laws · dietary laws · ceremonial laws No longer do we have the condemnation of the moral law! “Christ is our peace”. And He fulfilled all of this (vs. 15): “that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace”. We spoke last week of the eschatological hope that we have. We are the beginning of the new creation! We are the “one new man”, the “new humanity”, the “new race”. Application: No longer are we to look at our children as having obtained success because of a great job or a nice family. Do they know Christ? C. Our position brings us a new Harmony (vs. 16) Verse 16, “ and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Notice both Jew and Gentile needed to be reconciled to God. They were both out of sorts with God. The Jews had religion, but for most of them, they didn’t have Christ. They were also alienated from Him, even though they were near. They had the Word, but their hearts were unchanged. I know this verse is about soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, how we are reconciled to God. Christ killed the hostility of the law on the Cross. He killed the hostility of all the ceremonies by bringing us together in the church. Get our Eyes off Each other! Start Evangelizing and Discipling! But what does this look like when it is lived out in the church? When we have our eyes on each other, there is always hostility. When we turn to God there is harmony. The more we get our eyes off our selves and onto the needs of others and helping them walk with Christ, the more harmony is in the church. D. Our position comes with Impartiality (vs. 17). Verse 17, “And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” Romans 3:9–11 (ESV), “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.” E. Our position brings a new Accesibility (vs. 17). Verse 18, “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Access to Everything! Everything the world has to offer is at our fingertips. Right here, right now—it’s all yours. o Through the television you can access any sports arena in the world. You can experience the Olympics across the world or view a press conference in Europe. o Through the telephone we have access to anybody on the planet. o We live in an age of amazing access. We have access to journey the entire world. Through mass transportation, I can hop on a plane tonight and be in Barcelona tomorrow morning. We can travel to India or Africa and be back in a few days. o And today, you can have access to it all whether you can afford it or not. A credit card grants us access. Don’t worry, if you’ve been turned down, you’ll have five more offers in the mail tomorrow. All this access feels like its free, but its not. 19% interest is way more than any of us can afford. Why are so many so willing to pay such a high price? Because access is important. People want immediate access to whatever their heart desires. o You want a book, a car, a house? You don’t even have to leave your home. It’s all available from Amazon or EBay. o Think about all the access we have. We have access to the best medical advances in the history of the world. You can have major surgery without scars! 100 years ago it was unheard of for diabetics to live beyond a few years after diagnosis. Now we have tests for everything and specialist doctors for every ailment known to man. Today through new medical advances deaf people are getting their hearing back, doctors are transplanting hearts, and o Through the internet, you can look through the lens of the Hubble telescope and see hundreds of thousands of light years from your back yard. Or you can look right in your own back yard. We have access to satellite maps of the entire globe. o We have access to more information today than in the history of the world. Things that used to take days and weeks to find can now be accessed in a matter of seconds. o We live in an age of unprecedented access. Every one has a car, a computer, an iPod, a cell phone. We’ve never been more connected. We’ve never had more access. Missing the Most Important Connection And yet, as connected as we are to our world, we are missing the most important connection of all. Money can buy just about anything, but it cannot buy you a ticket to heaven. You cannot buy access to God on the internet. People are so connected, but most of our connections are amazingly superficial. Earthly Access Will One Day End You see, no matter how connected you are in this life, no matter how much information you can put into your head, no matter how many cell phones, laptops, and iPods you have, all this access will one day come to an end. We are all part of the ultimate statistic. Ten out of ten people die. In Adam Access was Cut Off With all the access we have, we are missing the ultimate access we need. You see death is coming. It’s ugly. Death is a result of sin. You see Romans 5:12 tells us “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Every sickness, every heartache, every pain, every bout of depression is all a very small taste of what is coming. Death is coming. And as ugly and stale and tasteless as your worst day on this earth was, death is infinitely worse. We were created for GodWithout access to God, we will be eternally separated from God. A person who does not have a relationship, this access with God will live that way for ever away from God’s presence. How then do we gain access? Verse 18, “For through him [Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Through the Triune God! A. Through Christ. 1. Our sins are nailed to the Cross of Christ. · Verse 15, “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity”… · Verse 16, “having slain the enmity thereby”… · 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV), “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” · Colossians 2:13–15 (ESV), “God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” 2. Christ pleads for us—intercedes for us. B. By or “in” the Spirit. Brings us in union with God. 1. By the Spirit there is strength in the Joy of the Lord 2. By the Spirit there is life in the Presence of the Lord C. To the Father. Are you in union with the Father? Can you cry “Abba, Father”? Because of His Plan! Vs. 18 – “we have access… to the Father” People Willing to Do Anything For Access Have you ever wanted a ticket to something and it was sold out? Do you realize if the Bears go to the Super Bowl, there will be people sleeping outside all night to gain tickets? What do they want? They want access to some game where 22 men chase a ball around for 60 minutes. It might be fun to watch, but it will not matter one iota in eternity. Much more important is our need to be banging on the doors to Heaven for access. Do you have access to heaven? If you die without access, you will never gain it, if you gain it, you will never lose it. Eternity is too long to be separated from God. Do you have access to God? Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” II. We are a new People in Christ (vs. 19-22). Verses 19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” God Has Made a New Community! Verses 19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”. Look around you this morning. God’s done this. He’s put us together as one body in Christ. Not only could we not accomplish this, but none of us would have wanted it in our old, selfish nature. Aren’t you glad God knows a whole lot more than us?! God is calling out a people for His name. He is saving one person at a time and putting them together into one Body for His purposes. God takes a group of sinful people—people like you and like me—people who have loved their sin, and He cleans them up. He makes them holy through the blood of His Son, and He makes them desire holiness—hungering and thirsting after righteousness. He puts them together to serve Him and to do His will on this earth. That’s why we are gathered here together this morning. We are here together. We are united by the Spirit of God. We are one body in Christ today. God is putting this masterpiece He calls the church together. A. A New City Verses 19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”. A stranger is a person who finds himself among a foreign people. There was a time when we were strangers and foreigners in the church. But now we are strangers and pilgrims in the world! Philippians 3:20, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” B. A New Family Verses 19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”. Then, what makes the family of God so special? · There is a Family Language: Praise and prayer! Day and night we pray to the Lord with out ceasing! And we say, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” · There is a Family Likeness: Christ in us! As part of God’s family, bear His likeness. We no longer look like the sinful selfish Adam! · There is the Family’s Location: heaven and earth! · There is a Family Love: in Christ and for one another! · There is a Family Legacy: the Name above all names! C. A New Temple Verses 20-22, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 1. You are built on Christ and the Apostles – the Word of God! Jesus is the foundation. 1Corinthians 3:11 “…No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” But Eph. 3:20 gets more specific, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone”. The cornerstone was the most important stone of the building and of the foundation. All the other stones got their direction from the chief cornerstone. 2. You are joined to fellow believers. Verse 21, “in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” The idea is that God has put you in the place you are! He gifts Being Joined: This is in the passive tense. It means God picked you out and chose you. Anyone who is a builder knows. Yet he chose us not based on our fitness, but on our unfitness. He came not to save the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance. Being Joined: Jointed—shaped. God has made you and gifted you for service to him. Together. You can not please God alone! You need the rest of the body. Now what you can do is hide your sin and come to church and not grow, or you can be vulnerable to other people and grow and change! 3. You are God’s home. Atmosphere is important. Atmosphere changes everything. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” God has moved in to your heart and soul! You ought to be different now! Illustration: If you take a fish out of water, what happens to the fish? Atmosphere is important! Have you ever gone into a nice restaurant, and the only table available was smoking? Atmosphere is important! Conclusion: Bachelor Illustration: Hey listen, do you want to know what the atmosphere of my house was when I was a bachelor? Let me tell you about a visitor I had one day to describe what it was like. I was not yet married to Jill, but I was to go over to my future in-laws home. I can’t remember what we were doing that night. I told them I would meet them outside at a certain time. Well, one thing I learned that night was that my father-in-law is always early! And he decided he would come inside my bachelor pad. He didn’t even knock! I was pretty horrified because my floor was filled with dirty laundry and books. My sink was filled with dishes. Saturday was cleaning day for me, and it was only Friday. Can I tell you something that when I got married the atmosphere of my home changed? It never looks like a bachelor pad! You are God’s Temple! Put the treasures of His Word in your heart. Be filled with the Spirit. Be filled with His What is the atmosphere of your life? Is Christ your chief corner stone? Is everything in your life directed toward Him? Identity Changes Everything When Jill and I got married she took on my name. We have now begun a legacy that our children will carry on. As Christians we are not what we once were. We are in a new position and part of a new people!