Riches of His Peace
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Even within the body of Christ there can be division. There was division in the early church in Ephesus and Paul is addressing this issue in our passage today. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, did not forget his Jewish roots, Jewish heritage. He shows a contrast in our passage today between life of the Gentile and life of the Jew.
Jews had contempt for Gentiles. They considered them basically to be fuel for the fires of hell. A Jew would not even help a Gentile in the birth of a Gentile baby, for that would be considered bringing another Gentile, a dog, into the world and further defiling the world.
Does contempt bring division? (expand)
A Jew marrying a Gentile resulted in a funeral. If there was a wedding there would be a Jewish funeral of the death of the Jew who married the Gentile for the Jews would consider the person to be dead to them.
A Gentile entering the home of a Jew would defile the home of the Jew. Or if a Jew entered the home of a Gentile the Jew would be considered defiled, or unclean. Jews avoided Gentiles to the point many would not even go through Samaria but go around because of the Gentiles.
As you can clearly see there are some serious barriers there. Barriers that needed to come down for there to be lasting peace.
Most peace accords fail because they depend on man, but the peace of God and peace with God through Jesus Christ is a peace that is eternal. Our passage today, the riches of His peace can be seen in.
Separation, Reconciliation and Unification
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Written mostly to a Christian who were previously Gentile audience, our focus today is Paul speaking to the heart of the Christians who were previously Gentiles, after he had already dealt with the salvation of sinners in general (Eph2:1-10)
The contempt of the Jews for the Gentiles was a century old thing, though physical circumcision was physical proof of the covenant between Jew and God, but it was no proof of faith.
Physical circumcision was no proof of faith (Rom2:25-29)
25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Faith brings about spiritual circumcision (Col2:11)
11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Circumcision of the flesh avails nothing, it is circumcision of the heart that makes peace with God so you can have the peace of God. Those who have put their trust in Christ have received the Spiritual circumcision.
From Creation to Adam, from Adam to Abraham there was no difference, there was no separation. With Abraham God made a covenant for all nations to be blessed (Gen12:1-3)
1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
From Abraham on there was the covenant, it was never meant to be forever, the division was not forever. The Jews were chosen to bring the Messiah and they were God’s chosen people for this. They believed the chosen people was for all time, here in our passage we see division is still happening, even in the church. The Jews were to be the channel to bring salvation to all nations as promised to Abraham (though word blessing) is used. Salvation was not to be exclusive, but inclusive.
The separation noted in our passage is pretty clear.
Without Christ (Eph2:12; Act19:28)
There were many gods of the Ephesians but one was exalted more than the others, the goddess Diana of the Ephesians .
28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
There are many today who claim there are many gods and many ways to God, but without Christ you are without your citizenship in heaven and you are condemned.
Without Citizenship (Eph2:12)
God called the Jews, set them apart, made them a nation, gave them His Laws, and His blessings. No other people had been called “God’s people” So without being God’s people people were without hope, with no citizenship in heaven.
Without hope (Eph2:12, 1The4:13-18)
What a great hopelessness there is when philosophies were empty. Traditions were disappearing, religions where powerless to even help people face life, or death. People wanted hope, but there was none.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
People want a hope and without Christ there is no hope for they do not have God.
Without God (Eph2:12; Act17:16-23; 1Cor8:5; Psm115; Jn14:6)
There were god’s a plenty in Athens, you can read about it and how Paul used it in Act17:16-23 in his sermon on Mars Hill.
Then there is the reference in 1Cor8:5, in fact let me give it to you.
5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,
Without God, many gods was not anything new, Psm115 you can see the contrast of the heathen god’s and the Lord. Is that not the problem, the plight today? Too many supposed God’s and not enough of the Lord Jesus? Jesus is not another way, He is the way (ref to Jn14:6).
The Gentiles plight was not caused by God, it was due to their own sinful behavior, choices. For God has always made Himself evident (Rom1:18-23). Some points in the passage are
Men who were suppressing the truth (Rom1:18)
God had made himself evident by creation, eternal power and divine nature (Rom1:19-20)
They did not honor God though they knew Him (Rom1:21)
They claimed to be wise, but exchanged the incorruptible God for the form of a corruptible man. (Rom1:22-23)
Love what commentator Warren Wiersbe says
“Religious history is not a record of man starting with many gods (idolatry) and gradually discovering the one true God. . . it’s a sad story of knowing the truth and deliberately turning away from it. It is a story of devolution not evolution!” - Bible Exposition Commentary
Salvation is “of” the Jews (Jn4:22) but not just “for” the Jews, it was for all nations, all people who come to believe.
God deposited His Word, and through the Jews He gave us the Savior of the world. The Jews were to be a light (see Rom9:1-5 inferred) but unfortunately they were a dim light and did not shine out.
Plight of the church today is being a dim light instead of a lighthouse warning and guiding people to safety today!
Being separated, without God, without hope, well God knew it and brought them the way of reconciliation.
II. Reconciliation - What God did
II. Reconciliation - What God did
God stepped in, God and His grace stepped in for the lost sinner.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
To those who were formally far off (Eph2:13)
Those who were an enmity (Eph2:15)
He made a way of reconciling and making peace (Eph2:15-16)
look at the word enmity for just a minute.
Enmity: noun; the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
There was an enmity between Jews and the Gentiles (Eph2:13-15)
There was an enmity between man and God (Eph2:16-18)
Christ does not just reconcile man to God, but man to man too. Why? To form one body the church!
Jesus work on the cross abolished the enmity between Jew and Gentile, between lost sinners and God.
The enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles was part of God’s plan of salvation. When the plan was complete, when it was finished on the Cross the enmity was done away with.
After generations of the barrier between them, the enmity it was not an easy transition. There were battles along the way (Act15), the Jerusalem counsel, is about some of the battles, and you can also look at (Act11) when it came to Peter and his battle.
The cause of the battle was the law according to (Eph2:15)
There was a literal wall in the temple with signs that 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.”
Jesus fulfilled the laws demands by His righteousness and by bearing the curse of the law by His death on the cross. He abolished the legal barrier, tore down the separation between the Jew and the Gentile (Gal3:10-13)
10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”
12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—
Richness of God’s peace through Christ Jesus is available to all who call on HIs name (Rom10:12-13)
For He is our peace (Eph2:14)
He brings peace to those who are far off (Eph2:13, 17)
He abolished the law and created a new man “the church” (Eph2:15-17)
Can’t stop there, let me summarize before moving on
Previously without Christ; now in Christ (Eph1:3)
Previously aliens; now a holy nation (1Pt2:9)
Previously strangers; now they are “no more strangers” (Eph2:19)
Previously without hope; now called in One hope (Eph4:4)
Previously without God; now with God the Father (Eph1:3)
(Other scriptures referenced; Eph1:3; 1Pt2:9; Eph2:19; Eph4:4)
Regarding the enmity between the sinners and God (Eph2:16-18; Act15:9-11; Rom3:22-23; Col2:13-14)
Reconciliation between man (Jew and Gentile) was important, both needed to be reconciled to God, and that was the utmost importance.
At the conclusion of the Jerusalem conference it was agreed that Jews and gentiles were the same, there as no distinction.
9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”
A Jew, a Gentile in the same class, no distinction, this is a really big deal, but in reality they are both sinners and there is no distinction.
22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
See our God, the God of love, the God who is love, wants all sinners to be reconciled to Himself. But God is just and God is holy and sin must be judged. Hence why the God of love send the beloved son to be His perfect and acceptable sacrifice so that sinful man could be reconciled to holy and just God.
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
The message today is entitled the riches of His peace and in our passage we can see God is the God of peace.
Christ is our peace (Eph2:14)
Christ made peace (Eph2:15)
Christ preached peace (Eph2:17)
Because of all these things, Christ being our peace, making peace for us and preaching peace by the reconciliation we then can be unified in Christ and be the Church.
III. Unity in Christ - as the Church
III. Unity in Christ - as the Church
God’s grand plan to save sinful man has always included the Church. God’s grand plan was for all people. God’s grand plan brings unity between all people and all people can, should be the church.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
IF you have not noticed yet, “one” is a big word for Paul he has used it a few times in the passage already and still a few more now. (just reference all the below scriptures, don’t insert, time is short)
One nation (Eph2:19; Mt21:43; Php3:20-21)
One family (Eph2:19; Col1:13; Eph3:15)
One temple (Eph3:20-22; Gen5:22; Exo25:8; 1Sam4; 1Kngs8:1-11; Eze10:18-19; Jn1:14; 2Cor6:19-20; Psm118:22)
Want to expand just for one minute on the “One temple”
Man that went from walking with God (Gen5:22)
To dwelling with God (Exo25:8)
To God departing (1Sam4)
To dwelling in a temple (1Kngs8:1-11)
To again, God departing (Eze10:18-19)
To the dwelling place in Christ (Jn1:14)
To being collectively the temple
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
The churches foundation is built on Jesus Christ, the work of the Apostles and the N.T. prophets; Jesus Christ Himself is our cornerstone fulfilling the prophesy.
22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.
The temple when fit together has not division, no enmity, we are one body, we are the body of Christ!
(Lead to invitation)
The body that is saved by grace (Eph2:8)
The body that is seated in the heavenlies (Eph2:6)
The body that was reconciled (Eph2:16)
The body that was brought near (Eph2:13)
The body that was fit together to be a holy temple (Eph2:21)
The body that is a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Eph2:22)
Have you come to personally experience the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus (expand)
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If you have and you are a child of God, then are you sharing the hope in you (1Pt3:15) helping others to walk in newness of life (Rom6:4), helping to assure people there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Rom8:1) are we sharing the apostles doctrine of reconciliation (2COr5:18) shod with the gospel of peace (Eph6:15).
Go be blessed, be a peacemaker (Mt5:9)
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Personal notes: ______________________________________________