Summary: A sermon on being citizens of heaven from Ephesians 2:11-18 (Outline taken from Truth for Today)
Sermon for 7/12/2009
A. “In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." Theodore Roosevelt - (1858-1919) 26th President of the United States
A. It is the same way in the church. Either we are Christians or we are not. There can be no divided allegiance here. (Phil 3:20 NIV) But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
C. I love to read the story of Jacob’s marriage. Jacob was a man who felt that the rules were to be broken. He spent much of his life trying to make things work his way, rather than the way they were supposed to work. When Jacob saw Rachel at that well it was love at first sight. And after seven years spent working for this woman, the day of his marriage arrive. As was their custom, Jacob took his bride into his tent. At the marriage ceremony in those days, the woman was heavily veiled, so that she couldn’t be seen. I guess the bride never removed her veil. Their sexual union consummated the marriage. What a shock it was for Jacob to wake up in the morning, with the sun streaming into his tent, illuminating the face of his wife—Leah, the older sister of Rachel! (Gen 29:25 NIV) When morning came, there was Leah!
D. With the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the church was born. Suddenly, Jewish Christians found themselves “married,” as it were, to Gentile believers. It was as much a shock to them as it was for Jacob to wake up and find Leah at his side.
E. In our Scriptures this morning Paul talks to the Gentile Christians in Ephesus. He is basically telling them that they are not second class citizens. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not on equal footing with them because they are Jews. There are no second class citizens of the church. Either we are a citizen of heaven or we are not.
Thesis: Let’s talk about our citizenship in heaven.
1. We grow in our appreciation of our citizenship by remembering our past.
A. One word that describes that former life is alienation- from God and others.
B. People in this world do not get along. Strife exists between nations. In our big cities, gangs mark off their boundaries and kill those who cross them. In our homes, struggles abound. The divorce rate gives evidence of this. Even in the church, lines are drawn and some people are cut off from others.
C. Paul addressed this problem by tackling the biggest of divisions: the Jews and the Gentiles. It is said that a prominent rabbi, when asked why God created so many Gentiles, replied, “So there might be fuel enough for the fires of hell.” It was unlawful for a Jew to help a Gentile who was giving birth, thus helping to bring another Gentile into the world. If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish family had a funeral service for them and the one who married a Gentile was dead to them. For Gentiles, the feeling was mutual; they despised Jews.
D. Paul sent this letter to let these Gentile Christians know that they had become part of a new nation which included both Jews and Gentiles. Within this new nation, all racial hatred, dislike, and mistreatment should end.
E. This begins by making things right with God. Ephesians 2:12 gives 5 descriptions of the Gentile alienation from God.
1. Separate from Christ- Without spiritual blessings Without light Without peace
Without rest Without safety Without a Prophet, Priest, or King
2. Excluded from citizenship in Israel- The Gentiles did not receive the natural citizenship rights that belonged by birth to the descendents of Abraham.
3. Foreigners to the covenants of the promise- on the outside looking in.
4. Without hope- Over a hundred years ago, a 16 year old lad was singing happily at his work on his father’s fishing boat. Some time before, he had become a Christian. He loved to sing of Christ and His precious love. Now, he was singing: “I’ve anchored my soul in the haven of rest, I’ll sail the wide seas no more; the tempest may sweep o’er the wild stormy deep; In Jesus I’m safe evermore. Just as he finished singing the last line, “In Jesus I’m safe evermore,” the heavy sail swung round, knocking him overboard, and he disappeared without a trace. After searching in vain, the father, sad at heart, turned the vessel round and headed back to the port where the family was staying for the summer months. The poor mother was grief stricken. Although the family members were filled with sorrow, their hearts were comforted that the boy had Jesus Christ and because of that he would be fine.