Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sermon Notes Ephesians 2:14-22

Ephesians 2:14-22
He is Our Peace
September 7, 2014
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Paul goes to great length to assure the Ephesians that they have full privileges in God through Jesus Christ. There is no longer any room for a sense of superiority on the part of the Jews who were chosen as God’s people, or inferiority on the part of the Gentiles who lived outside of God’s plans.
         In Jesus Christ, there is one new man. This is meant to give peace to both Gentiles and Jews. Keep in mind the high theology that we have already discussed. God comes to us in the Spirit of His own accord. He chooses us and because He chooses us, we become His workmanship in Jesus Christ.
         There is no room for boasting in this because it is a gift. The Jew does not boast that he was chosen because he was so good. God makes it clear that the Jews were a stubborn and stiffnecked people. Perhaps God chose them to prove that if He could save them, He could save anybody. The Gentiles do not get to boast as if they figured out God’s goodness to them in Jesus. The Apostle says that they were without God and without hope in the world. God revealed Himself to them and they responded in faith. So, both Jew and Gentile are in the same place when it comes to God’s revelation. Without God initiating His grace and kindness to them, they are lost.
         Keep in mind also, the immediate problems that cropped up soon after the Fall of mankind. Adam and Eve hid from God so there was division between God and men. Adam and Eve were also divided in their marriage, Adam refusing to be accountable in accusing Eve and Eve failing to take her own responsibility. Furthermore, their children, Cain and Abel, were unable to get along. Cain killed Abel and we see the essential problem of man against man.
         So, we remember that in Christ, we are restored to God and to one another. This one another part is very important. If we say that we love God but hate our brother, then we are liars. The enemies of God will know us by our love for one another. Why? Because they are unable to fulfill this law of love. They are children of disobedience and one of things that so clearly marks them this was is strife between brothers.
         Now, when I say this, I want us to understand that, in Christ, we still have a choice, whether to be sowers of discord, or spreaders of peace. Christ is our peace. In Christ, we are to be a people of peace. We are expressly called to peace among the brothers, all those who are in Christ. The things that divide us should pale compared to the person that unites us. For Jesus Christ, Himself, is our peace.
         The peace principle is a big one. It should be one of the great marks of faith. If a man is not peaceful, then this is a good sign that he does not have Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is our peace. Those who have Jesus, have peace.
         As I usually do, I want to make a small qualification. We grow in grace and sanctification. Baby peace does not look like old man peace. Jesus is our peace but we can grow in Jesus and thus grow in peace. Second, a temporary loss of peace does not mean that we do not have peace. A man may be unsettled by circumstances for a moment, such that he forgets who he is or whom he serves. He may find himself out of sorts. Out of sorts from what? From Jesus, from his brothers and sisters in the Lord, from peace. So, if you are out of peace, then the needed things is to remember who you in Christ Jesus and that He is your peace.
         Then you can settle back in and rest in peace. You can be joined together with God again and with that brother, or sister in peace.

14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Root word for peace means, to join. Peace is a joining together.
This is a significant picture. Jesus is the one in whom we are joined together. We are joined at several levels.
In Jesus, we are joined to God. Jesus is our peace with God. Our sin is nailed to the cross in Christ and therefore there is no standing debt against God to keep us from Him.
Furthermore, we are joined man to man. This context talks about the joining of Jew and Gentile. There is a sense in which these two disparate parts can be joined, then anyone can be joined. These pieces, Jew and Gentile, don’t fit together. There are too many discrepancies. There is too much division. There is too much history. They simply cannot go together. And yet, we are told that Jesus is the peace between Jew and Gentile.
Furthermore, they are not simply joined. You can take some really good superglue and join things that ought not be joined together. At times, you can make this look good. At other times, it looks like a monstrosity. But that is not the case here. Two unlike things are joined together and we are told they are fitly framed together.
That is a great picture. These two disparate things cannot be fitly framed in their original condition. The Jew had the law of ordinances. The Gentile was without God and without hope in the world. The Jew would never forsake Yahweh. The Gentile could not remake himself into a Jew. So, God had to do something miraculous by remaking both men into one new man, Christian.
The law and ordinances are fulfilled in Jesus. The barrier of entry into the inner temple was removed for the Gentile. Thus, one new man can worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Thus, God joined them together in peace.

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 
How did Jesus abolish the enemy and slay the enmity? The enmity was the law of commandments in ordinances. This was a barrier to the Jew because the Gentile could not fully practice the law without becoming a Jew. It was barrier to the Gentile because this law in ordinances was expressly for the Jewish people. The Gentile would have to become a Jew outwardly to participate. This system was only temporary until Christ. Thus, when God abolished the system in Christ, it removed the barrier to peace so that Jew and Gentile could be joined in Him.
The enmity was abolished in that it was no longer necessary. This was a benefit to the Gentile.

16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 
The enmity was slain in that it no longer prevented the Jew from entering the holy of holies. Because Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the sacrifices, there was no barrier to full fellowship with God in the inner sanctuary. Both Jew and Gentile could now enter into the holy of holies with boldness, the same way, through Jesus.

17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 
Both the Gentile and Jew need peace preached to them. This is the good news. There is nothing that now separates man from God for God has become man and has ascended to God.

18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 
We have access to God the Father through Jesus. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is also the same Spirit that brings us near to the Father and binds us together in peace.
This is significant because the Jew thought they had access by the law and the sacrificial system. But in Jesus, the sacrificial system is ended. So, there is no access to God that way. Furthermore, if one thought he had access to God, the Father, through the law, even the law of commandments, he was mistaken. The law did not give one access to the Father. It was God’s graciousness, whereby one’s faith was considered righteousness, that gave one access to God.
So, the law without the sacrificial system, is an absolute barrier. It can then only condemn.
Three Uses of the Moral law
1.   Reveal Sin- see ourselves in reality.
2.   Restrain Evil- deacon of God to punish the evil-doer.
3.   God’s will for obedience.
Note- None of these uses are for salvation!

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 
The Gentiles are not strangers or foreigners. Strangers and foreigners can be brought closer to God but they cannot enter the holy place. The point here is that they do not have to be naturalized, that is, they do not have to become Jews. There is a new nation, a new people of God, that they can be joined to. This is what he now calls saints. These are the new citizens of the kingdom of God. In Him, in Christ, there is no longer Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female but one new man, Christian.
Galatians 3: 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 
Gal. 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
No longer Moses’s house. But the household of God in Christ Jesus.

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 
Jew and Gentile are built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets but Christ is first in this foundation. He is the Chief Cornerstone. The household of God cannot be built without Jesus. But it also cannot be built without the Apostles and Prophets. These are all necessary building materials to erect the household of God.
This building, Jesus as cornerstone, Apostles and prophets as part of the foundation, Jew and Gentile as building stones, fits together perfectly. It is fitly framed. This can only be done supernaturally.
This is why all attempts to build a superstructure of the brotherhood of man fail. They attempt to build with stones not fitly framed. Only in Christ can we be fitly framed. We cannot build a one world order. There can be no peace in science, or modernity, or education. Only in Christ, can man be fitted to God and man to man.
Without Jesus, there is no peace. Only in Jesus can the dividing walls be broken down.
So, the enemies of Christ claim that He is divisive. To demand only peace in Jesus, without peace with others, is itself seen as divisive. How can you have peace in Jesus if a large portion of the world rejects Jesus as the Messiah? If you insist that He is the Messiah, isn’t this created unrest and lack of peace?

22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
In Christ, in His Church- This is the place where we, too, are fitly framed together through the Spirit.
What are we doing in Christ in His Church? We are the new Holy Place. We are the Temple of the Lord where the Spirit dwells.
This house of God is meant to be a place of peace because Jesus is our peace. This is the place of peace between God and man and between man and man.
This is why peace is something that ought to be considered important. Do you have peace with God? Do you have peace with your brothers?

If you do not have peace with your brothers, are you fooling yourself about peace with God?

Reconciled to God and Men

It is wonderful for us to participate in the movement of our worship service from beginning with confessing sins to now sitting down with Jesus. The ministry of God in Christ is certainly a ministry of reconciliation. We have been brought near, in peace, with God and with each other.

       This peace only happens when we humble ourselves in Jesus. If we make ourselves small, then we do not have any reason to be at odds with God or men. That is why we confess ongoing sins. But God does not leave us small. He raises us up and seats us with His Son in glory at the honored place at the Table. We do not swell up with pride at this. It is God’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. We simply give thanks.

Dividing Walls

We are good at building walls of division. We do this most notably by taking offense. We do this next most notably by refusing forgiveness. When we take offense or refuse to forgive, we are hoarding the building materials of division. We must repent of this. We need to learn to look over sins committed against us and to readily forgive sins against us when forgiveness is sought. We must never hold a grudge or nurse a wound. Such grudges and wounds always fester and need amputated.
God has torn down the walls that divide us. He abolished them and slew them and then set us together, fitly framed, in peace in Jesus Christ. Let us be glad at this and not rebuild those torn down walls.
         We are to be people of peace, peace in our hearts with God and peace with our brothers in the Lord, for Jesus, Himself, is our peace.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Ephesians 2 Sermon Notes

Sermon Notes- 8/31/2014

         We are making our way slowly through Ephesians without any apology. There is so much here that although we are going slowly, it feels like we are going much too quickly.
         I often feel this way as I drive through parts of Virginia, especially when it involves going up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is always a nice path where you can cruise right on up and over the mountain. On the way up and the way down, there are beautiful vistas. At times, you get a glimpse as you zoom past an viewing site. But it seems that we are almost always in a hurry to get somewhere and almost never stop and really look. Even the times that we do stop and look, it is always just a minute or two and off you go. Pile up and move em’ out!
         I feel this way in Ephesians. There is so much here to see and know and yet we do have to keep moving. Maybe we won’t stop but let’s be content with slowing down.
         What is our destination anyway? To know God and to make Him known. So, it is worth it sometimes to simply sit at His feet and get to know Him before we get on to making Him known. This way of thinking fits perfectly well with the way Ephesians is laid out for us. Some slow driving time getting to know God and then some slow training time in learning to obey Him. To know God and to make Him known, go slow.
1.   Able to sin, able to not sin.
2.   Unable not to sin.
3.   Able to not sin.
4. Unable to Sin- The Resurrected state. We will be perfected and protected from falling into sin.

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Your times past- This spirit still alive in the sons of disobedience. But we should not be drawn to it as in times past because we are ‘in Christ.’
The world- course of this world
The flesh- lusts of the flesh
The devil- prince of the power of the air

Lusts- desire for the forbidden. This is part of the transformation of the Christian mind to change us from desiring that which is forbidden to desiring that which is given.
By nature- ordinary generation, born into sin and God’s wrath.
Wrath- can mean desire. The context seems to encourage the thought that we were born into lustful desires. That is we were born wanting what is prohibited and thus an object of God’s wrath, like Adam.

Prince of the power of the air- the devil. He now works in the children of disobedience. But he does not govern the lives of the faithful. This letter is to make it clear to us that the principalities, that is the prince of the power of the air and his cohorts, have been overthrown.
Among Whom- the children of disobedience. We are no longer among them but have been transferred unto the children of God.

Eph. 2:4   But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 

A proper view of God, the Father, for saints.
God, the Father
1. Rich in mercy. He has loads and loads of mercy. If we were counting all of His treasures, a great heap would be mercy.
2. God loved us with a great love. God loves us because God is love. The Father’s great love. The Reformed tradition should understand this as well as we do His Holiness and hatred towards sin.
He hates sin because sin brings death. Death is the enemy of God’s people and is the reason that God sent His Son to deliver us from darkness to light, death to life.
3. His love was towards us even when we were dead in sins. This makes perfect sense. He is the life giver. He saw us dead in sins, loved us, showered us with mercy and love and made us alive together with Christ.

Hath quickened us together with- suzwopoie÷w suzoopoieo, sood-zo-op-oy-eh´-o- The idea here is that God made us alive in and with Christ. This was done by grace. This refers back to Christ being raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God the Father. God made us alive with Jesus.
         By grace ye are saved- God did it. He quickened us together in Christ. He saved us
from sin, from death, from the realm of the prince of the power of the air, from the life among the disobedient
         to righteousness, to life, to the realm of the kingdom of God, to the kingdom and submission of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the life of the saints in Christ’s Church.

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 
He has not only quickened us together with Jesus, he has connected us in such a way that what happens to Jesus happens to us. Where the living saint is, there is Jesus. Wherever Jesus is, the living saint is with Him, for the two have been made alive together.
We have discussed this verse in some detail concerning the fact that Jesus is raised and seated. This means that He is alive and it also means that Jesus is in the seat of authority. He is seated as a King over all the Heavens and over all the Earth. This has far reaching implications. There is no place in Heaven or on Earth where Jesus Christ does not lay claim to absolute ownership and full authority.
Jesus could immediately demand all His enemies be executed or submit to Him. If it were not foreign to His character, He has the power and the authority to act like ISIS, now calling themselves the Islamic State. He could be like the Islamic State but He is not like that. This should help us understand how the Church is to act, for we are also seated with Jesus ruling Heaven and Earth.

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 
Exceeding- huper ballo, throw over the top. Hyperbolic riches of his grace in kindness. God went over the top on this one.
So His over the top kind. This reveals his extraordinary grace. This is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Keep in mind those things I said last week. God is extraordinarily kind to us in Christ Jesus. The depths of His grace and kindness cannot be plumbed. We cannot even imagine how far His kindness and grace go. We can have some idea. Monsters like the Apostle Paul can be saved from sin and death.
But even amidst God’s extraordinary kindness, there is still judgment for sin. He gives us the way out in Jesus but like Lot’s wife, we are not to turn back, like a dog to its own vomit, but rather to press on to our high calling in Christ Jesus. Were sin abounds, grace doth much more abound. But there is a reality of apostacy. Keep looking to Jesus and be filled with the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
But let us now look to God’s grace and respond in thankfulness. Our blessings are overflowing. Do we see that and respond in thanksgiving?

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 
How are we saved? By grace through faith. The main point here is that we are saved by grace. Our faith does not save us. This is an important point. If we think our faith saves us, then we might wonder how much faith we need to be saved?
Synechdoce- A part for the whole. Faith saves you is a great example of synechdoce.
Christ saves us through the grace of God. This grace is apprehended by us when we believe God, that is, when we have faith.
But we cannot even claim to be doing anything when we have faith. Sure, we do something, we believe. That belief is active. But we are not giving God anything but ourselves. And the saving value of ourselves is zero.
And our faith is simply taking God at His Word that we need a savior, that we fall short, that we have nothing to give God, that we are dead in our sins.
Not of Yourselves- The phrase, and that not of yourselves, is not totally clear in what it belongs to. The three words preceding it are all feminine in the Greek but the amplifier is neuter. It could amplify the entire phrase by grace are ye saved through faith, meaning that none of this is your own, it is all given. Or it could refer to grace, or salvation, or faith. But in the end it is all one and the same. This grace, this salvation, this faith is all gift. It did not derive from your dead heart. That would be impossible. God gave you life. God gave you the desire to seek Him. God gave you the ability to believe. So, it is all gift.

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 
We did not work our way up to this belief, this salvation, this grace. If we were smarter than other people, we might have something to boast of. If we were more holy than other people, we might have something to boast of. No, we are just as lost outside of Christ, as everyone else. We are no smarter. We are no more holy. We are not prone to right decisions or wisdom. Our wisdom is in Christ. Thus, there is no room for boasting.
Incidentally, this is true of all the subsequent blessings that have come to us in Christ. These include some of what we call the distinctives of our church or denomination. Things like big families, Christian education, Covenant Renewal Worship, raising and disciplining children, a Covenantal view of Scripture. These are all areas where we tend to boast or look sidelong at our neighbor. But these are gifts to us, not reasons for boasting. So, act like they are a gift. Be thankful and do not boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
It is not we who worked this all out. God worked it out. He worked us. Get his point here? If we worked, we could boast. But we did not work. God worked. Now, God is not a braggart. He is not saying that God is the one who gets to boast. But we should look at the One doing the work and marvel and give thanks.
What kind of work did God do? He called us to Himself gracefully and then changed the direction of our lives towards Him. This means that we have a new orientation away from self and towards our Savior. Thus, we now work, not a work to earn God’s favor but a work of thankfulness for the One who did all the hard work. Thus, he worked, got everything all set up and then we just walk in and marvel at it all and work in the midst of His work. Okimoto labs.
This is not a cooperation in salvation. This is simply working out of us what God has worked into us.


Verse 12, having no hope and without God in the world.
         No hope but in Christ. Not in my family, my upbringing, my testimony, my prayer card, my baptism, my catechism. No, there is no hope without Christ. And Christ is a gift to us who believe. There is no reason for boasting of any kind, only thanksgiving.

         You were dead but you are now alive.
         You used to live after the flesh but now you live after the Spirit.
         You were without God but now God is in you.
         You were without hope but now you have assurance in Jesus Christ.
         You were far away from God but now have been brought near.

Eph. 2:11   Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:  13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Exhortation- It has been said that one of the jobs of the preacher is to move people from this place to that one. Through good preaching, a man should feel compelled to do something, to change, to repent, to make some new commitment.
But this passage helps us realize that there is almost nothing that we can do. It is clear from this passage that it is almost completely about what God has done.
Of course, God calls us to a new way of living in Jesus. A man who was dead but is now alive has to breathe. But the life is from Jesus, the breath is from Jesus. It is all God’s work from first to last.

So, what is our response? What should this cause us to do? The only thing I can think of that is eminently appropriate is gratitude. God truly is awesome and when we consider all that He has done in us through Jesus Christ, we simply gape in awe stuck wonder. And then we wake up and are filled up with gratitude. No place for pride in gratitude. Just humble reflection on God’s glory.