"ONE HABITATION OF GOD"
(A Series on Ephesians)
C.R.3/1/87a.m. Ephesians 2:11-22
PROPOSITION: We who were once alienated from God and
from one another, are now made into one habitation of God through what Christ has done, creating a single new people.
- MANAGEMENT hates labor.......calls them lazy and freeloaders.
- LABOR hates management....calls them scabs, especially when a strike is on.
- PROTESTANT Irish hate Catholic Irish......and the feeling is mutual as they bomb and kill each other in the political struggle for Ireland.
- IN some places in this country, white people hate black people, putting on white robes and hoods, and in the name of Christianity, embarking on campaigns of terror.
- IN other parts of the country, black people hate white people....and it is unsafe to drive through certain neighborhoods.
- IN San Diego, all the jokes are about how many Mexicans it takes to put in a light bulb.
- IN Cedar Rapids, all the jokes are about how many Czech's it takes to put in a light bulb.
- AND if you watch much television , you may hear about the hatred that women have for men.......depending if you are listening to Gloria Steinam or Archie Bunker.
- IN my office, sometimes, it is husbands hating wives, or visa versa.
- IN Pastor Mark's office it is often teenagers hating parents.
- IN the apostle Paul's day, it was Jew versus Gentile....they were the hated dogs, forbidden in the courts of the temple at point of death.
- IN Hitler's day it was the German's versus the world, especially the Jews.
- WHAT am I talking about this morning? I am talking about alienation. Man alienated from man....over employment, over race, over sex, over nationality, over religion, over neighborhoods, over politics, over just about anything man can find to fight with man over.
- ALL of it is traced back to one thing.....alienation from God.
- IF man is at peace with God, alienation from others in his family or neighborhood or city is not possible....Jesus said that we are to even love our enemies.
- DO you know when this became glaringly evident to me?
- THE first morning after our very first early morning prayer meeting, June 13, 1983.
- YOU see, I inherited something from my Dad. I sometimes have been known to speak in rather harsh tones to other motorists....of course, being a man of God, I do it from behind a closed window.
- COMING from California, and being used to California freeways and fast-moving traffic, I get irritated at slow traffic and have been known to holler things like, "Move it Granny!".........and as I pass, Rita will say, "It's a man driving dear", through clenched teeth.
- WELL, that first morning, after prayer meeting, where we had really experienced a touch of God's presence on our lives, I pulled out on to 42nd Street to go to Spring House for fellowship, and some wonderful driver pulled out in front of me from a side street, doing 15 miles an hour.
- THE strangest thing happened. I opened my mouth to complain, and nothing came out. It wasn't in my heart.
- WHY wasn't it in my heart? I had been with the Lord that morning. I wasn't alienated from Him....so I felt no alienation from others, even erratic drivers.
- MY attitudes towards other people, my dealings with others, my conversations with them and about them are a direct barometer of my relationship with God.
* Want to get along better with your husband? It is not so much that he needs to change. You need to take care of the alienation between you and the Lord.
* Having trouble with your relationship to your boss? It is not so much a change of employment that you need. You need the inward work of Christ, changing you.
* (Tell story of Pat Garwood and boy who killed her daughter...and meeting him in the Mall.)
- THIS is the subject that Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:11-22. READ.
II.WHAT WE ONCE WERE (vv 11-12)
- FIRST, in this passage, Paul talks about what we were. He is talking to the Christians in Ephesus, reminding them about what they had been before they received Christ in their lives as Savior.
- HE called attention to the alienation that had existed between the Ephesians and the Jews. He said;
"remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (v 11)
- IT is interesting to me, that the man who wrote in Philippians 3:13, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead...", used the word, "remember", twice in verses 11&12.
- REMEMBER the alienation that you have left behind.
- WHAT is he doing here? He is trying to get them to really appreciate the unity in Christ that the family of God is to enjoy.....to remember the alienation that they came from.
- HE is saying here that the "names" we call each other are not important; "black, white, Babtist, Irish, Union member, crazy driver..." These don't mean a thing.
- THERE is a serious CAUSE for all alienation and it springs from alienation from God.
- PAUL spells it out in verse 12.
- THERE are five elements to the cause of alienation, and they are not labor disputes, crossing picket lines, irreconcilable differences, racial tensions and the other labels we put on to our problems with each other.
- PAUL says in verse 12;
* We were separated from Christ.
* That's what sin does. It cuts us off from that life-giving flow of God, with no forgiveness from sin, no peace and no hope of eternal life.
* We were excluded from citizenship in Israel.
* We had no part in the future of Israel.....not so much the physical nation of Israel that we know today....but the people of God, the only nationality that will count when this old world is destroyed forever.
* We were strangers to the covenants of the promise.
* All the promises that God made to Abraham concerning His blessings on them....that He would be their God and they would be His people.....that He would care for them, protect them, heal them, love them.
* None of these promises were ours before.
* Remember that, Paul said.
* We had no hope.
* The reason that we had no hope was that God had planned and promised all His best for us but we didn't know it and didn't accept it.
* All that the future held for us was the best that the world had to offer.......inflation, sickness, old age, divorce, selfish children, retirement, a nursing home and, eventually, death.
* Lastly, we were without God.
* Oh, God had revealed Himself to them through nature, but they had turned, instead, to worshipping idols instead.......so they were without God.
* Now that is the sadest indictment that I know.
* Oh, the Greeks had plenty of gods....but they were without God....no personal fellowship with Him.
- NOW can you see why people put up barriers like the Iron curtain, the Berlin wall, divorce; barriers of race, religion, class?
- IT is a constant characteristic of every community and individual without Christ.
- REMEMBER, says Paul, and don't forget what you were before God's love reached down and changed you.
III.WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE
- NOW, Paul moves on from what we were to what Christ has done.
- HE says in verse 13,
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."
- "YOU were dead", Paul said in verses 1-3. "You were alienated", he says in verses 11-12.
- NOW he says, "You were once far off."
- BUT now the blood of Jesus has made you near......and when you become "in Christ" you are given instant fellowship with the Father.
- GOD isn't distant, like some ancient potentate, but is near those daily who are in His Son.
- IT is not some universal amnesty for the human race, but it is a nearness to God achieved by those who are "in Christ".......a vital personal union with God.
- VERSE 14 says,
"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,"
- HOW did He do it?
* Verse 15 says that He did away with the law and its comandments and regulations......as a way of salvation. This, itself, removes barriers between us.........barriers of achievement in pleasing God.
* The only thing that please God is Jesus...in us, through no work of our own.
* Verse 15 also says that His purpose was to create in Himself, one new man out of two.
* In Colossians 3 Paul says that "in Christ" there is neither Greek nor Jew, slave or free man, male nor female......we are all one in Christ.
* Human differences are not removed....but inequality before God is abolished.
* Verse 16 says that Christ reconciled both to God through the cross.
* Hostilities between God and man are removed by the cross.......God's judgment is removed....man's rebellion is removed...all at the cross.
* We can come before Him now without fear....because Jesus came and spoke peace
IV.WHAT WE HAVE NOW BECOME (vv19-22)
- PAUL has reminded us of what we were, and explained to us what Christ has done.
- NOW, he leaves us with a description of what we have now become.
- NOW we are fellow citizens with God's people.
- WE are members of God's household.
- We are His holy Temple.
- AS God's temple we;
* Have a foundation that is built on the New Testament scriptures......unviolable, unchangeable.
* Have a cornerstone against which the rest of the building is measured....Jesus Himself.
* Are indivudual stones.
- WHAT is the purpose of this temple?
- IT is the dwelling place of God....around the world....all those washed in the blood of Jesus.....who came to God through Jesus Christ alone....the dwelling place of God.
- AND the shekinah cloud that used to fill the temple is replaced by the Holy Spirit who fills the dwelling place of God.
- THIS is what we have become.
- AGAINST this backdrop of the church of Jesus there can be no alienation.
- IT is an offense to the cross of Christ.
- WE have been reconciled through Christ.
- THE barriers have been removed by His death....we cannot erect them back in place.
HOLY GOD MAKE ME HOLY