Summary: God destroys the barriers that divide us. In Him there are no insiders or outsiders.
EPHESIANS # 4
Last week I took the text for the message from Ephesians 2:1-10. That passages hinges on two words in v. 4 – “But, God...” With those words darkness is turned light, hopelessness is thrown aside for favor, a desperate situation is changed to one of amazing destiny! We were dead, ‘objects of wrath,’ but because our merciful loving God intervened, we are now SPIRITUALLY alive and destined for HEAVEN.
TEXT - Ephesians 2:11-22
Almost every one of us has the unpleasant experience of being an "outsider" at some point in our life.
Ever been ‘shut out?’
Discrimination, that is, choosing to accept or reject people based on color, sex, or religion is a "skill" which we learn fairly early in life.
Little boys form their clubs and put the sign over the door of the clubhouse, "no girls allowed!"
As early as first or second grade, kids have already decided who is cool and who isn't, who is an insider and who is an outsider.
The little kid who was born with bigger ears than other people, who has clothes that are last year's style, is marked an outsider and shunned fiercely!
Big people play the same games, just not as openly.
When the black man shows up to apply for the job, a company isn't hiring, but when the foreman's son needs a summer job, one is suddenly available.
When a woman of skill and training wants to move into management there is a freeze on promotions, but somehow when that classy young guy makes it known that he might move on if he doesn't move up, the company finds a place.
Our text is about being invited ‘in.’ Paul expands on the grace message in the first 10 verses. He lays a foundation of theological unity for us, reminding us that ‘in Christ,’ the barriers come down.
Principle- There are no ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’ in the family of God.
Before we read the text - another great one - that stirred me to heights of worship as I studied it again this week, we have to know some of Bible history. The Lord called Abram, out of Ur, invited him to faith, and seeing his obedience, made a covenant, an agreement, with him.
"The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran." (Genesis 12:1-4, NIV)
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless." ..."I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you." (Genesis 17:1,7-11, NIV)
God promised Abraham that his descendants would be His very own people! What a calling, what a privilege! They would represent the Lord before the world. Curiously, the mark of their uniqueness was circumcision. Every Jewish boy, on the 8th day following his birth, would be circumcised, physical mark on his body for life, signifying that he was part of the privileged people of God.
But, He did not set out to create an exclusive club. What did He say? That the descendants of Abraham were to be a blessing to the whole world, showing the world the one true God and his ways.
Human nature being what it is, the ancient children of Abraham closed their society and regarded the rest of the world contemptuously as the "uncircumcised." They (not all, but most) assumed Gentiles were excluded from the promises of God.
TEXT- "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility."