Ephesians 2-11-22 (audio file for download)
FYI I diverted from my notes quite a bit on this message, so don’t try to figure out the notes as you listen.
Last week we looked at Paul’s reminder to us that we who are in Christ were dead, we were children of wrath and we are made alive in Christ.
Remember, in this letter to the Ephesians, Paul front loads it with theology. Before he gets to any instructions for the believers in Ephesus, and for us, he wants to make sure we are understanding who we are in Christ. Anything that we do as Christians must flow out of who we are in Christ. It cannot work the other way. This text falls under the heading of we have a family, if you recall from a few weeks ago, our identity in Christ is that we have hope, a family, and power.
So lets look at what Paul has to say next:
He parallels last weeks message, with a different angle. Now he begins this text with the word “therefore” which is one of those key words that we look for when reading the bible. When we see that word, we are being clued in on the fact that what he is about to say is connected to what came before it. So we need to be reminded of what came before. Lets look quickly at verse 8-10 to see what the connection is for this text…
So, there is a connection between us being saved by grace and having works set out for us to do. Hopefully we can make that clear as we study this text today.
Now after the Therefore, he has an instruction for us, what is that? He wants us to remember something. What is that? Well, he reminds us that we were once far off.
This may be a foreign concept for most of us since we do not live in the time of Paul. Let me explain. You see, the Gentiles and Jews did not get along, at all. That is well documented in scripture. There was even a wall in the temple dividing the Jews from the Gentiles. The historian Josephus recorded the message on the wall, it read, “Any non-Jew who trespasses beyond this perimeter will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”
We don’t have real walls like this today, but I think that makes it harder for us to get to the heart of this text for us.
I want to ask us all this question: What makes are the dividing walls we have around our church?
Let me ask it this way, what are the cultural practices and ordinances that people must comply with to be a part of the family here?… What pressures do we put on people who come here?… Here is another question, is there something that you do as a Christian that you cannot imagine your life without? What is untouchable for other people?
I will say as a disclaimer that all churches have them, and they are usually blind to them. But wise churches will try and discern them and move away from them.
The Jews had lots of ordinances, extra biblical rites and rituals and things that excluded others from being accepted into the family of God, and they were hostile towards those on the outside. We too can have extra biblical requirements for people, so that they might meet our standards for acceptance. What is that for you?
What you need to remember is that you were far off. You were not always on the inside,and nothing you did brought you near.
You were far off: think back to before you were saved, if you are… The words in this text used to describe us before Christ are these : Gentiles, uncircumcised, separated, alienated, strangers, having no hope, without God, far off.
You were not always on the inside… All that you are in. Christ: brought near, one, one new man, reconciled, peace, one body, access, fellow citizens, saints, members of the household of God, structure,holy temple, dwelling place for God. You weren’t always that way. Remember, don’t forget.
Nothing you did brought you near. All of the descriptions of what we are now came from what Jesus did for us. He she’d his blood, he brought peace, he killed the hostility, he is the cornerstone, he holds it together.