The Road to Reconciliation (Eph. 2:11-18)
· Please turn once again to Ephesians 2
· We’ve been looking at the great gift of salvation that is ours in Christ alone. It is a free gift. And why did he save us? So that we could walk in good works which he prepared beforehand. In v. 11, he begins with the word “Therefore.” This is an important connecting word. It indicates that Paul has been building an argument. He is not dealing with a completely new subject, but is building on what he already said. He is saying that in light of the free gift of salvation, and the good works that God wants you to do, I want to talk more about the new people that God has created.
· This is in fact one of the key themes in the book of Ephesians. The Church of God. Different books have different focuses. Some letters focus on Salvation, or are Soteriological in Nature. Romans, 1&2 Cor, Galatians. Some books focus on End Times, and are primarily Eschatological in Nature. E.g. 1&2 Thess, Revelation. Some focus on the Church, or are Ecclesiological. Certainly the Pastoral Epistles. I would put Ephesians in this category as well.
· You will remember that I pointed out in verse 10 that there is one workmanship, but that the “we” is plural. We are saved not only personally, but corporately. The transformation includes the whole people of God, and the community of faith. Seems to be a corporate identity here. Now, in this second half of this chapter, he explains what the people of God look like. Let’s read it now…
· Read Ephesians 2:11-22
· Notice the focus on unity. We see words like “Peace,” “together,” and ‘reconcile.” The word “One” appears 5x in these verses.
· We are living in a very divided time. Politically divided. Divided over the handling of COVID. The George Floyd incident and protests and riots were a vivid demonstration that that there are still deep racial challenges to overcome. Some believe we are more divided now as a nation than at any time since the civil war. Jesus said that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” And Abraham Lincoln rightly applied these words to America as well.
· But conflict does not just plague a nation. It infects our personal relationships too. Some of you are in a marriage that didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Every conversation seems to turn into an argument and you wonder if it’s worth trying any more at all. Some of you have a child who has grown distant and estranged, you still love them and pray for them, but they simply no longer want to talk or be around you. Some of you are in a tough work situation. The boss is on your case, and your co-workers or customers are insufferable.
· This passage could really help to get you back on the right path. In it, Paul shares THREE STEPS ON THE ROAD TO RECONCILIATION: Remember where you came from, Realize who makes peace possible, and Rejoice at what God is building.
Remember Where You Came From
Remember Where You Came From
· Notice how Paul describes the Gentiles: “Separated from Christ (12), Alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (12), Strangers to the covenants of promise (12), Having no hope (12), Without God in the world, Far off (13, 17), Strangers and aliens (19)
· In Romans 9, Paul lamented the fact that the nation of Israel had as a whole rejected their Messiah. He pleaded that God would save them, and he catalogues how God has done so much to bless them. Romans 9:4–5 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Well, by extension, these these did not naturally belong to the Gentiles. If Rom 9 describes the advantages of being a Jew, Eph. 2 describes the disadvantages of being a Gentile.
· Have you ever felt completely out of place? Like you didn’t fit in, or felt like you belonged? It’s the sensation we often get when we entered a new grade in school, or started a new job. We may be very self conscience, insecure. Well, that was the Gentiles.
· In the ancient world, the only way to be fully right with God was to be a Jew. The only way to receive God’s blessing was through covenant. And God had chosen to establish his covenant first through Abraham, and then later through Moses. You say, well what if you weren’t a Jew? Then you had to essentially become one. So you were either a Jew by birth, or you were a Jew by conversion, or becoming what is called a “proselyte,” all the way down to getting circumcised and following the Law. The NT also speaks of many who were God-fearers, a somewhat broad term that described those who had trusted in the God of the Bible and were at various stages of faith and walking with the Lord. But God made clear he wanted all who followed him to be circumcised.
· I tend to take this for granted – born into a Christian home, went to a Bible believing church, godly parents, saved at a young age. Most of my earliest childhood memories have to do with being at church or with God’s people. Life was very good. But I’m not a Jew. This kind of testimony would not have been possible for a Gentile were it not for the New Covenant. It is good for me to hear Kenny’s Testimony, because it reminds me what I was saved from. I told Kenny ahead of time that his testimony is more like Paul’s, while mine is more like Timothy’s. “But for the grace of God go I.”
· Do you remember the vision that God gave to Peter in Acts 10, and how surprised Peter was? Something like a great sheet descends down with all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. Acts 10:13–16 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Not just the meat, but the people. Acts 10:34–35 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
· There was tension between Jews and Gentiles, for both religious and racial reasons. This could easily turn into a church split. So Paul, writing to a primarily Gentile audience in Ephesus, says to think back and remember where you were before Christ saved you. I think this is a good starting point for all of us. Remember your former ignorance, your sinful lifestyle, all that guilt, the mire of sin you once waded in. It cultivates a spirit of gratitude and grace that will make unity possible. None of us have gotten what we actually deserved, so we must be willing to show a little more grace toward others. ut secondly…
Realize Who Makes Peace Possible
Realize Who Makes Peace Possible
· Isaiah 9:6–7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
· Peace is not a program. It’s not in politics. It’s in a person. “For he himself is our peace.”
· An important implication of our union with Christ. Union with Christ -> each other.
· Reconcile (v. 16) – a beautiful word. Gk. apokatallasso. Complete reconciliation. Only here and Col. 1:20-21. More general word in 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Rom. 5:10.
· 2 Corinthians 5:18–20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
· His ministry of peace – did not try to spark a revolution. Arrested by night because he had done nothing wrong. Healing the ear of Malchus.
· His teaching of peace – Beatitudes. Love. Would often Broke down social barriers, visit a Pharisee, touch a prostitute, ask help from a Samaritan woman.
· Did not mean there would not be division. But love.
· Kindgom of peace. Swords into plowshares – Is. 2:4; wolf and lamb graze together Is 65:25. The Olympics are a time of peace, but it is only temporary.
· Horizontal peace important. But we must have vertical before the horizonal.
· Review: Remember where you came from, Realize who makes peace possible
· Point #3 - Rejoice at What God is Building. We will look together at this next time!