Sermons

Summary: How to get opposing groups to agree

INTRODUCTION:

Many people feel loneliness, isolation and alienation today. Some feel lost in the crowd, a nameless face in a sea of faces. Many people feel isolated, they may want to break out of this isolation, but they are paralyzed by the very idea of pulling down their masks and becoming real to others.

We were created to have companionship, we need love. Clubs, fraternities, societies of all types, and perhaps bars and their happy hours are the world’s ways of capitalizing on humanity’s need for fellowship.

Despite its outward appearance, worldly fellowship is rather thin and short lived. Let’s look at Ephesians 2:11-22 to see what the Church has to offer:

I/ START WITH TWO OPPOSING GROUPS

---> Ephesians 2:11-12

Wherefore remember, that ye 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:

A/ "Therefore remember" The "therefore" refers to the previous verse where we were declared to be "His workmanship". In order to be soft and pliable in the hands of God, we should "remember" from whence we came. In verse 4 Paul had said "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which He loved us" made us "alive together with Christ".

Here in verse 11 Paul reminds them of one of the visible distinctives that formerly had divided Jew and Gentile. Circumcision set the Jew apart from the Gentile. Yet in the new order through Christ, circumcision and uncircumcision had been rendered irrelevant.

Galatians 5:6 "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." In Christ the physical sign had been replaced by the circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 2:11 "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:"

B/ "Separate from Christ" The Gentiles were separated because they weren’t part of the nation to whom Christ was born. They were also separated by their unbelief.

"Excluded from the commonwealth of Israel:" In the first century most Jews believed God’s people were limited to the descendants of Jacob and were found only within the borders of Israel.

"Strangers to the convenants of promise" The covenant promises were given to Abraham. Genesis 12:2 "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:" then, reaffirmed to Isaac.

Genesis 26:2-3 "And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: {3} Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;" The Gentiles had no experience with these covenant privileges.

"Having no hope and without God in the world" Paul was picturing people in a desperate condition. A great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. Their religions and philosophies were empty and meaningless. So much so, that some felt it necessary to build a statue to the "Unknown God".(Acts 17:23). The phrase "without God" translates from the Greek word from which we get "atheist".

II/ BRING THEM TOGETHER IN CHRIST

----> Ephesians 2:13-15

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. {14} For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition ; {15} Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, making peace;

The contrast between "in the world" and "in Christ" could hardly be more pronounced. In the world the Gentiles were without hope and strangers to the covenant. In Christ they experienced what had seemed impossible. The Gentiles were brought near to God by the blood of Christ, and the barrier separating Jews and Gentiles had been knocked down.

"For He is our peace" It not so much that Christ brings us peace or gives us peace; He is peace. Since He is our peace, if we are truly "in Him" we are at peace.

"Who made both groups into one" How did He do this ? The traditions of the Jews made them different from the Gentiles. God’s desire is to bring people together "in Christ". Because of hurt feelings or differences in priorities, walls of division, separate people, then they began to mistrust each other and finally they dislike each other.

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