A few good articles:

This is a really good article by John Piper regarding the confederate memorials and souther culture. Piper is from the south:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/charlottesville-confederate-memorials-and-southern-culture?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Email%208292017&utm_content=Daily%20Email%208292017+CID_3f13264b43026256de9cea31632a522b&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=Read%20John%20Pipers%20careful%20and%20extended%20treatment%20on%20the%20removal%20of%20monuments

 

 

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Eph. 4:1-6 on the unity of the Church

Ephesians 4:1-6: be united in humility, gentleness, patience showing tolerance in love.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, August 27, 2017

Introduction:

Writing about Ecc. 3:1-8 Chuck Swindoll writes:

Kids are nutty.

Some friends of ours in Texas have two little girls. The younger child is constantly on the move, rarely winding down by bedtime. So the nightly affair has become something of a familiar routine. A story from her favorite book. A drink of water. A prayer. A song. Her doll. Another drink of water. A kiss. A hug. A third sip of water. A trip to the bathroom. A warning. Another kiss. You know, the whole bit.

One night her dad decided he’d be Mr. Nice Guy, the epitome of patience and tolerance. He did it all. Not once did he lose his cool. When Miss Busybody finally ran out of requests, her daddy slipped out of the room, heaved a sigh of relief, and slumped into his favorite chair by the fireplace. Before he could stretch out and relax, however, there was a piercing scream from the jitterbug’s room. Startled, he dashed down the hall and rushed to her bedside. Great tears were rolling down the little girl’s face.

“What’s wrong? What happened?”
“I burnt my tongue.”
Baffled, he tried again, “You what?”
“I burnt my tongue!” she yelled.
“How in the world did you do that?” he asked.
“I licked my night-light.”

That really happened. She couldn’t control her curiosity. She simply had to discover how it would feel to lick that little thing that glowed so warmly and serenely by her bed. Rude was her awakening to the fact that lights are strictly for lighting . . . not licking. And tongues are made for tasting . . . not testing. You and I realize that the best thing our little friend could have done was to stay in bed, keep her tongue to herself, and allow the light to fulfill its appointed function.

But she didn’t—and she got burned.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, Solomon, the wise, passes along to us a list of various types of “appointed times” on earth. Among them he mentions

a time to heal . . . a time to shun embracing . . . a time to give up as lost . . . a time to be silent

I see in these words of counsel one strong undercurrent of advice: BACK OFF! It is often wise to relax our intensity, refuse to force an issue, allow nature to take its course, “let sleeping dogs lie.” Backing off, says Solomon, provides opportunity for healing to occur, opportunity for perspective to break through the storm clouds of emotion and illuminate a difficult situation with a fresh understanding.

When the time is right, things flow very naturally, very freely. To rush or force creates friction-scars that take years to erase. Take it from one who has learned this difficult lesson the hard way—keep a tight bridle on your tongue, relax, and settle for a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, you’re going to get pushy, you’re going to get caught with your tongue in the wrong place . . . and you’re going to get burned.

Sometimes it’s best to back off, remain silent, and settle for a good night’s sleep.

 

I read that recently and I thought of it with today’s passage. In Ephesians 4 Paul begins exhorting the church to walk worthy of their calling. He is writing about their calling as Christians. But the focus in Eph. 4:1-6 is on unity. Many times we are pushy with other people, overly curious, not recognizing seasons and times, we get our tongue in the wrong place and we ruin the unity that we are called to. Now, let’s move from devotion to sermon.

My theme and challenge is: be united in humility, gentleness, patience showing tolerance in love.

 

  1. Paul challenges and exhorts the church to Walk in a manner worthy of their calling.
    1. Notice how first he writes that he is a prisoner for the Lord. He had written that in chapter 3:1 as well.
    2. Paul implores them with this material. That is a strong word.
    3. Notice that we are called. We all have a calling. It is not only pastors and missionaries who have a calling. Jesus calls us all as Christians.
    4. How do we walk in a manner worthy of our calling? What does this look like? Or, at least right here what is he writing about?
    5. The answer is unity.
    6. This unity should be shown in:
      1. Humility: One writes: Humility” is a term not found in the Latin or Greek vocabularies of Paul’s day. The Greek word apparently was coined by Christians, perhaps even by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. Humility, the most foundational Christian virtue (James 4:6), is the quality of character commanded in the first beatitude (Matt. 5:3), and describes the noble grace of Christ.
      2. Gentleness: gentleness. “Meekness,” an inevitable product of humility, refers to that which is mild-spirited and self-controlled (cf. Matt. 5:5; 11:29; Gal. 5:23; Col. 3:12).
  • Patience: The Greek word lit. means long-tempered, and refers to a resolved patience that is an outgrowth of humility and gentleness (cf. 1 Thess. 5:14; James 5:10).
  1. Showing tolerance for one another in love: one writes: bearing with one another in love. Humility, gentleness, and patience are reflected in a forbearing love for others that is continuous and unconditional (cf. 1 Pet. 4:8).
    1. I have one more word about tolerance. We tolerate the smell of the outhouse, right? We don’t desire that smell, do we? I hope not.
    2. Society has changed the meaning of this word. To tolerate means that even though we have a problem with something, or someone, or even though some idiosyncrasies annoy us we still love them.
    3. Tolerance does NOT mean condoning sin. But in love we tolerate them.
  2. Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  3. The church is called to unity.
  1. Paul gives the perfect illustration of Unity
    1. One body: The church is ultimately one body. We are all part of the bride of Christ. People say, “I don’t go to church becomes of hypocrites” yet that call themselves Christians.” Who are we going to be with in Heaven? The church.
    2. One Spirit: The Holy Spirit. Get this, we all have the same Spirit. Praise God!
    3. Called in one hope of your calling: We all have the same hope.
    4. One Lord: We believe in one Lord.
    5. One faith: We all have the same faith. All Christians have the same faith.
    6. One baptism: We are all baptized into Christ. This could be referring to spiritual or water baptism.
    7. One God and Father of us all who is over all and through all and in all. MacArthur shares: He focuses on the Trinity—the Spirit in v. 4, the Son in v. 5, and the Father in v. 6. His point is not to distinguish between the Persons of the Godhead but to emphasize that, although they have unique roles, they are completely unified in every aspect of the divine nature and plan.

Conclusion:

 

In Ephesians chapter 4 Paul gets into real practical matters. In the first three chapters he wrote about deep theology. But now, that theology is related to the practical. God has united Jews and gentiles, what God has united, let no man tear apart.

 

So, going back to that Swindoll devotional: let’s be careful to not rush in and lick light bulbs. Actually, let’s tolerate those nightlights. Let’s love them. Let’s have humility. Let’s be united in humility, gentleness, patience showing tolerance in love.

 

Let’s pray.

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

Eph. 3:14-21: God’s Love

Ephesians 3:14-21: Paul’s prayer and doxology

Introduction:

About nine years ago an HBO miniseries came out called John Adams. This was based off of the biography called John Adams by David McCullough. I read that book fourteen or so years ago and I watched the HBO miniseries after it was available on DVD. There is a scene towards the end of the 6th episode where President John Adams confronts his son Charles who is addicted to alcohol. John says to him, “I renounce you!!” with that President John Adams walks away.

I want you to know that we serve a God in Heaven who loves us and His love for us is so great that He will never renounce us. Once we truly know Jesus Christ nothing can separate us from His love. God’s love is far beyond our understanding. In that respect today’s sermon could be titled, Why the Cross? God’s Love. Now, I know I preached about God’s grace a few weeks ago. God’s grace is the way God gives us salvation. God’s love is different as God’s love is the reason behind God’s grace. However, there is still a dilemma, God loves us, but God must punish sin and that is why the cross event happened.

My Theme:

Understand God’s Great love for you and the strength you receive through the Holy Spirit.

Application:

Be energized by the power in you through the Holy Spirit.

  1. Paul prays, notice that first.
    1. Paul gets down on his knees and prays. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
    2. Paul says, “For this reason…” and that must look back. That looks back to what he had been writing about. He had been writing about salvation and unity to Jews and gentiles alike. Remember Ephesians chapters 1-3 are all about our great and awesome and glorious salvation. This made Paul pray and praise.
  2. Paul desires us to have strength.
    1. See that in verse 16: 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man
    2. You see that? Paul wants us to have strength in the inner man. How do we get strength? Through the Holy Spirit. Notice the wording: “Riches” of “His glory” that you would be strengthened through His Spirit.
    3. John MacArthur preached on this passage and talked about being charged up by God. He preached about starting your engines.
  • So, Paul also prays that we would know, or comprehend.
    1. See the next few verses: so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; andthat you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
    2. Paul prays that Christ may dwell in our hearts…. How does Christ dwell in our hearts? Through faith. Then Paul prays that we be rooted and grounded in love.
    3. The word used for dwell in our hearts is the same type of word which would be used to live in our hearts. The word literally means to settle down and feel at home. Do you think that Christ feels at home in your heart right now?
      1. There is a little booklet titled “My Heart Christ Home.” It is really good. It is written about Christ going through your life as if it is a house and cleaning it up. Is Christ at home in your life?
      2. We want Christ to live with us, to live within our hearts.
  • Paul goes on to pray that we be rooted and grounded in love.
  1. A root needs to go deep down in order to get the water. That means that our root must go deep down to get water from the well that doesn’t go dry which is Jesus.
  2. Grounded would be comparable to a foundation of a house. We want to a have a solid, a firm foundation in love.
  1. Verses 18-19 speak of the love of God. So Paul had prayed that we be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ will feel at home in our hearts through our faith and that we are rooted and grounded in love, and now Paul prays that we understand the love of God which we cannot understand.
  2. Verse 18-19: How wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of God
  3. This is simply showing how vast and complete the love of God is.
  4. When believers accept Jesus Christ’s revelation of the mystery of the church, they are able to comprehend that God’s love is broad enough (“breadth”) to embrace both Jews and Gentiles in the church. They can appreciate that it is long enough (“length”) to reach the far off (Gentiles) as well as the near (Jews), and to stretch from eternity to eternity. They can see that it is high enough (“height”) to raise both Jews and Gentiles into the heavenly places. They can understand that it is deep enough (“depth”) to rescue both kinds of people from sin’s degradation and from Satan’s grip. (Dr. Constable, Dallas Theological Seminary)

I read the following about an old hymn:

There is an old hymn written by a man whose last name is Lehman. He was a man who lived before modern psychology and its medications, and seems to have been bi-polar or manic depressive. There were times of lucidity and times he would lose his grip on reality. Not surprisingly, living in the early 20th century he was institutionalized. Now the man was both a musician and a devout Christian. Despite his institutionalization he wrote some wonderful joyful hymns, and the most famous of which has a story behind it. The most memorable verse of this hymn was the last thing Mr. Lehman ever wrote, for it was found scrawled on the padded wall of his cell, in which he was found dead. It reads as follows:
“The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can tell; it goes beyond the highest star and reaches lowest hell…Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies a parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole if stretched across the sky.” Should we then despair of ever loving like God loves, or as God has commanded us to love?

God’s love is immense.

  1. Now look again at verse 19: Paul prays that we know the love of God that surpasses knowledge
  2. Can we know the love of God if it is so complex that it surpasses knowledge? I think we can. It surpasses knowledge in the world; however, through the Holy Spirit as God’s children we can know the love of God. We experience the love of God in a spiritual way!
  3. If we do know the love of God we will be filled with the fullness of the Spirit. So, this passage is saying that God loves us. God loves us so much that he will never renounce us. God loves us so much that we can’t comprehend that love without the Holy Spirit. God loves us so much that we can only experience His love.

Close:

My Jesus I Love Thee

Author:      William R. Featherston

1       My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee, all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, My Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

3       I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

4       In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
And singing Thy praises, before Thee I’ll bow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.[1]

Let’s pray.

[1] Logos Hymnal. 1995 (1st edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Paul’s Stewardship

Introduction:

There was a little girl walking beside her mother in a pouring rain and loud thunderstorm. Every time the lightning flashed, her mother noticed she turned and smiled. They’d walk a little further, then lightning, and she’d turn and smile. The mother finally said, “Sweetheart, what’s going on? Why do you always turn and smile after the flash of lightning?”

“Well,” she said, “Since God is taking my picture, I want to be sure and smile for Him.”

Think with me about unity in diversity, are we very good at it?

Can a football team win if they are not united?

Can society be united with different cultures blended together?

I don’t think our society has been too successful at this lately. It seems like people naturally segregate themselves, but that is not how it needs to be. I don’t know that it is always wrong as long as it is not done with hate. If we can still come together in love for a common purpose then that is wonderful. That is exactly what happens in family. When a family is successful there is unity in diversity. Actually, in marriage there is unity in diversity. Male and female come together and they are now a family. There can be, and should be, mutual submission in family. There should be self-sacrifice in family. Marriages fail for many reasons, but a major reason is that there is diversity, but the unity does not last.

 

So, with society we can have unity in diversity. I have one example now and another at the end of the sermon. Chuck Swindoll writes the following:

The first is WWII:

I was the youngest of three children born to parents whose lives had been shaped mainly by work. Hard, honest labor. They met and married during a difficult time in the United States, on the heels of the Great Depression. As giant walls of dust rolled over Texas, blown east from the Dust Bowl, fear of unemployment haunted every hardworking person in America. In 1934, one out of every four people couldn’t find work, crops withered, banks failed, and families in every neighborhood risked foreclosure and homelessness. That’s when I came along. Actually, I was a “mistake.” I know this because my parents told me. My father escaped unemployment, and, as the nation recovered, he thrived in the insurance business—business— in no small way due to his strong work ethic and positive mental attitude. Then, while he was driving to enjoy a few pre-Christmas days of vacation at my grandfather’s bay cottage near Palacios, Texas, a startling announcement came over the radio in our new 1941 Ford. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor; the United States had declared war on Japan; and on top of all that, it was announced that we would also enter the fight against Hitler in the carnage of Europe. My father immediately turned the car around and headed for home. “This is no time for a vacation,” he said quietly as my mother began to weep. A short time afterward, he resigned his job selling insurance, and we moved from my sleepy little hometown of El Campo to Houston, where he began work in a defense factory in support of the war effort. Too old for military service, this was my dad’s way of serving his country. He said it was the least he could do. He supplemented the lost income by working double shifts.[1]

 

I was not alive during World War II, I don’t know if you know that. I know I look much older than I am. What I have learned and been taught is that America came together. We were diverse, but we were united. Everybody came together for the common cause of defeating the axis powers.

Can the people of God be united? As we continue through Ephesians we see the idea of the unity of God’s people. I am speaking mainly of the unity of Jews and Gentiles. God has called us together as one. Paul called that a mystery that was hidden in the past.

 

Let’s talk about God bringing unity to His people. This is not merely about fellowship. This is bigger than fellowship. This is the phenomenal idea of God bringing all human races together into Judaism. This is God bringing gentiles into His covenant.

 

My theme:

Paul is given stewardship of the mystery of the Gospel to take the Gospel to the Gentiles

My application:

Search yourself to make sure you are helping with the unity of the church.

 

  1. Paul writes that he has a stewardship. Let’s read verses 1-7.
    1. Ephesians 3:1-7: For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
    2. Notice that Paul begins with “For this reason…” This means that he is making an inference based off of the previous material. Paul had been writing about salvation in Christ which we receive freely, not by works, but by grace. Paul wrote extensively about the unity between the gentiles and the Jews. Paul is about to review.
    3. Paul says that he is in prison. Paul was under house arrest in Rome for preaching about Christ.
    4. I don’t think Paul means to blame the Gentiles when he writes that he is in prison, “For the sake of ‘you’ Gentiles.” He comes back to them in verse 14.
    5. Verses 2-13 are like a parenthesis. Paul reviews his stewardship and calling to reach them with the Gospel. You can see that verse 14 begins “for this reason” just like verse 1.
    6. In verses 2 and 3 he writes about the stewardship given to him. Paul was called as a missionary to the Gentiles, we can read this in Acts 22:21 among other passages.
    7. Verse 3 Paul writes about revelation making known to him the mystery. Ephesians writes about Revelation a lot. God was revealing things of Heaven to him. What is the mystery?
    8. There is debate with this but it seems that the mystery has to do with gentiles and Jews being united together. Though if you do cross reference there are many places where Paul talks of the Gospel being a mystery.
    9. In verse 4 Paul writes about the mystery of Christ.
    10. Verse 5 is wonderful: in the past, this mystery has not been made known to the “sons of men” or we could just say to humanity.
      1. Do you realize that God has made known to us things that in human history He had not revealed before?
      2. God does not have to share anything with us, but He chooses to.
  • Deut. 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
  1. Notice verse 6: The Gentiles are:
    1. Fellow heirs
    2. Fellow members
  • and
  1. Fellow partakers
  2. In Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
  1. All tribes and tongues are now God’s people.
  2. This is why Billy Graham could take the Gospel all over the world. This is why Thomas, the Apostle, could go to India. This is why Hudson Taylor could go to China. This is why we can be here right now. But even though God opened the door to Gentiles, we can still be divided within, can’t we?
  3. God’s people can have and should have unity.
  4. Quaker theologian Elton Trueblood once spoke “of consciously inadequate persons who gather because they are weak, and scatter to serve because their unity with one another and with Christ has made them bold.”
  5. I suspect John Baillie was thinking in that direction when he wrote: “It is impossible for men to meet with God and love him without at the same time meeting with and loving one another.” That sounds like community.
  6. Elton Trueblood reflects on the power of community: “Simple people can be amazingly powerful when they are members one of another. As everyone knows, it is almost impossible to create a fire with one log, even if it is a sound one, while several poor logs may make an excellent fire if they stay together as they burn.”
  1. Let’s look at verses 8-13.
    1. Ephesians 3:8-13: To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This wasin accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
    2. Notice how Paul writes about preaching the “Unfathomable” riches in Christ?
    3. Here we go again, Paul is writing about how rich we are in Christ.
    4. Notice Paul’s modifiers. Hidden in God, “who created all things.”
    5. Verse 10, Paul references rulers and authorities in the “heavenly places.” This would be referring to demons and angels. This is really cool, the angels, even the demons are made known to the wisdom of God through the church. The church is all tongues and tribes and people groups.
    6. There is so much more here: verse 12: we have boldness and confident access through faith in Jesus.
    7. Verse 13: I like what one person shared: Just as a mother endures the pain of childbirth in order to bring new life into the world, Paul endured the pain of persecution in order to bring new believers to Christ. Obeying Christ is never easy. He calls you to take up your cross and follow him (Matthew 16: 24)— that is, to be willing to endure pain so that God’s message of salvation can reach the entire world. We should feel honored that others have suffered and sacrificed for us so that we might reap the benefit.

 

Close:

We have unity. I love Revelation 7:9-11:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches werein their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God…

 

Isn’t that awesome? God brought people together again. At the tower of Babel in the Old Testament (Genesis 11) He separated the people groups, but He has brought us together again.

 

My theme:

Paul is given stewardship of the mystery of the Gospel to take the Gospel to the Gentiles

My application:

Search yourself to make sure you are helping with the unity of the church.

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. (2012-02-02). Saying It Well: Touching Others with Your Words (p. 143). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

Eph. 2:11-22

Ephesians 2:11-22: Unity and Peace in Christ

Prepared and preached by Rev. Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Introduction:

God’s view of Christ is the only accurate standard by which to measure Christ’s worth.

I once read about a conversation in the Louvre Museum in Paris. One of the curators of the museum, a man with great appreciation for art, overheard two men discussing a masterpiece. One man said to the other, “I don’t think much of that painting.” The curator, feeling obliged to reply to the man’s statement, said to him, “Dear sir, if I may interrupt, that painting is not on trial; you are. The quality of that painting has already been established. Your disapproval simply demonstrates the frailty of your measuring capability.”

Similarly, Jesus is not on trial before men; men are on trial before Him. He has already been approved by the Father. Those who arrogantly dismiss Him as unworthy of their devotion simply demonstrate their inability to recognize the most precious treasure of all.

Let’s begin to look into what Jesus has to share with us today from His Word.

Remember the Berlin Wall? Remember President Reagan saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” I am amazed by the separation created by the Berlin wall. Families could be separated for life. A society that was once the same country was now separate. I have thought about that because my family is in western, Ohio. If we were invaded and the other country set up a wall in Columbus, I would likely not see them again. Unless… I make a hot air balloon. True story. In 1978 the Strelzyk and Wetzel families began sewing and creating their own hot air balloon to escape. After a few failed attempts and almost being arrested on September 16, 1979, attempted escape from East Germany to West Germany in a homemade hot air balloon and they succeed. They wanted to get out of the dividing line created by the Berlin Wall.

 

Today, I wish to talk about the unity amongst Christ’s people.

My theme is that we have unity and peace in Christ.

My application: Let us act like we are one people group. Bring down our Berlin Walls.

 

Let’s read Ephesians 2:11-22:

 

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. 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.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.

 

There are three subsections:

 

  1. Unity of Christ’s People 11–13
    1. I love how Paul begins this section writing with some sarcasm.
    2. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which isperformed in the flesh by human hands—
    3. MacArthur Shares: Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) experienced two types of alienation.
      1. The first was social, resulting from the animosity that had existed between Jews and Gentiles for thousands of years. Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, objects of derision, and reproach.
      2. The second and more significant type of alienation was spiritual, because Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in five different ways: 1) they were “separated from Christ,” the Messiah, having no Savior and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny. 2) They were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefited. 3) Gentiles were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which he promised to give his people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom, and a King—and to those who believe in him, eternal life and heaven. 4) They had “no hope” because they had been given no divine promise. 5) They were “without God in the world.” While Gentiles had many gods, they did not “they did not recognize the true God because they did not want him (see notes on Rom. 1:18–26).
    4. But notice the contrast in verse 13:
      1. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
    5. We see the idea of unity as a common theme in Paul’s letters.
    6. 2:11-12 is good: 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; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
    7. Ro 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
    8. 1 Co 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
    9. Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
    10. Col 3:11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
  2. Christ Our Peace (14-18)
    1. Read with me these verses again: 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups intoone 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.
    2. There was an inscription on the wall of the outer courtyard of the Jerusalem temple warning Gentiles that they would only have themselves to blame for their death if they passed beyond it into the inner courts. Paul may or may not be alluding to this wall, but it well illustrates Christ’s reconciliation of all people into a new humanity (see v. 15
    3. Barclay: “The Jew had an immense contempt for the Gentile. The Gentiles, said the Jews, were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. God, they said, loves only Israel of all the nations that he had made. The best of the serpents crush, they said, the best of the Gentiles kill. It was not even lawful to render help to a Gentile mother in her hour of sorest need, for that would simply be to bring another Gentile into the world. Until Christ came, the Gentiles were an object of contempt to the Jews. The barrier between them was absolute. If a Jewish boy married a Gentile girl, or if a Jewish girl married a Gentile boy, the funeral of that Jewish boy or girl was carried out. Such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death.”
    4. Chrysostom’s illustration of the two becoming one: “‘Let us imagine that there are two statues, one of silver and the other of lead, and then that both shall be melted down, and the two shall come out gold. So thus He has made the two one.'”
    5. Jesus brought us unity.
    6. Jesus brought us together. The more I studied this the more awesome this became in my head.
    7. Remember the show Get Smart? They had this “Cone of Silence.” If Maxwell Smart was talking to the chief they had the bubble that would come over their head to block any sound from escaping. The problem was usually they could not even hear themselves. It created a division, a barrier between them and the outside world. Likewise, we had a barrier between us and God. Then there was an added barrier between the gentiles and the Jews, but Jesus took care of it.
      1. Jesus made both groups, Jews and Gentiles into one.
      2. He abolished in His flesh the enmity.
  • Through the cross He reconciled us.
  1. He made us into one body.
  2. We both have our access in One Spirit to the Father.
  1. IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary: 2:14–16. Paul writes this letter from prison because he has been falsely charged with taking a non-Jew inside the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 21:28). Taking a non-Jew beyond a particular dividing point in the temple was such an important breach of Jewish law that the Romans even permitted Jewish leaders to execute violators of this law. Paul’s readers in Ephesus and Asia undoubtedly know why Paul is in prison (Acts 21:27, 29); thus for them, as well as for Paul, there can be no greater symbol of the barrier between Jew and non-Jew than “the dividing wall” of verse 14. But Paul says that this dividing wall is shattered in Christ. “He is our peace” might (but need not) reflect the Hebrew of Micah 5:5.
  2. “Access” translates a Greek word that only appears three times in the New Testament. In ancient Times a related word described the court official who introduced strangers to the king, thus providing access to the Monarch. Before Christ, only Jews had limited access to God through the sacrificial system, which offered gentiles none at all. But Christ’s sacrifice on the cross gives believing Jews and gentiles free access to the Father forever (John 10:9; 14:6; Romans 5:2; Hebrews 4:16) (David Jeremiah Study Notes).
  3. We are united in Christ.
  4. This is an awesome Theological Truth.
  • Christ Our Cornerstone 19–22
    1. Paul uses three metaphors to illustrate the unity of the body of Christ.
      1. As fellow citizens Jews and Gentiles have become part of the same Kingdom.
      2. As members of God’s household, all believers become part of one spiritual family.
      3. And as a holy temple, all believers together become a habitation for God (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17).

Conclusion:

So, think with me about the value of unity.

Christians, Jews and Gentiles, every tribe, tongue and nation are united in Christ. “In Christ” is a powerful term in Ephesians and in the New Testament. We are one because of Christ. All this happened in Christ.

If we are In Christ, we are one and we have direct access to God the Father. We are part of His family.

I think we need to act more united. We need to love more, we need to share more, we need to be more united. Christ makes us united.

The Bible says a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12) and you know that I knew someone who had a rope making machine. The irony, it takes multiple people working together to make rope.

Let’s be encouraged as we are united and let’s act like it.

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray