Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: In Ephesians 2:12-18, the Apostle Paul shows how believers are One in Christ through a 1) Peaceful Body (Ephesians 2:13–17) and 2) Access to God.

This week saw the visit of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Canada. He is regarded as such a unique individual because he comes from a low caste. His family belonged to the Ghanchi (oil-presser) community, which is categorised as an Other Backward Class by the Indian government (Illaih, Kancha (27 October 2002). "The Rise Of Modi". Outlook.) The caste system in India is a system of social stratification which historically separated communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called jâtis, usually translated into English as "castes". In India, many people believe that your social standing should result from the social strata, or caste that you were born into. To this day, separation and discrimination exists based on social strata. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India)

It is a part of sinful human nature to build barriers that shut out other people. In Ephesus some of the greatest barriers existed between slaves and the free, men and women, Greeks and those they considered barbarians. These barriers manifested in disunity among the people of God which was a special heartache to Him (Jn. 17:11-23; 1 Cor. 12:12-13)

Just as a physical body has a common principle of life flowing through it, so does the Body of Christ, His church. The Spirit of God puts the life of God in the soul of every person who trusts in Jesus Christ and unites that person with every other believer in the same eternal realm. In the kingdom of Jesus Christ all barriers come down. In Him there are no walls, no classes, no castes, no races, no gender, no distinctions of any sort.

That is the kind of unity Jesus Christ gives to His people and that He commands them to maintain (Eph. 4:3-13). In Ephesians 2:12-18, the Apostle Paul shows how believers are One in Christ through a 1) Peaceful Body (Ephesians 2:13–17) and 2) Access to God.

1) Peaceful Body (Ephesians 2:13–17)

Ephesians 2:13-17 [13]But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [14]For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [15]by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16]and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. [17]And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (ESV)

Those who once/formerly were far off were the Gentiles who had come to Christ. Far off was a common Jewish term used in rabbinical writings to describe Gentiles, those who were far away from the true God (cf. Isa. 57:19; Acts 2:39). Jews, on the other hand, considered themselves and their converts to be brought near to God because of their covenant relation to Him and the presence of His Temple in Jerusalem. But in Christ every person, Jew and Gentile alike, is brought near to God by the blood of Christ. And that nearness is not an external, national, geographic, or ceremonial nearness—but is a spiritual intimacy of union with the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 1:24). The sins of both Jews and Gentiles can be forgiven because of his death, and both can be brought near to God as never before, and so brought near to each other. Divisions are overcome, not by an approaching or a receiving on either side, but by Christ coming and making peace for both (Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, pp. 88–89). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).

The root cause of strife, discord, antagonism, enmity, hate, bitterness, fighting, war, conflict, and every other form of disunity and division is sin. The reason there is always perfect harmony in the godhead is that there is no sin in the godhead. Perfect holiness produces perfect harmony. And the only solution for divisions among people is the removal of sin, which Jesus Christ accomplished by the shedding of His own blood. Those who trust in His atoning work are freed from sin now in their new nature and will be practically and permanently freed from sin in their new bodies when they meet the Lord. The cleansing value of the blood of Christ immediately washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately washes away even its presence. Christ’s sacrifice atoned for the sins of all kinds of people—Jews and Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles alike could be guilty of spiritual pride—Jews for thinking that their faith and traditions elevated them above everyone else, Gentiles for trusting in their achievements, power, or position. Spiritual pride blinds us to our own faults and magnifies the faults of others (Barton, B. B., & Comfort, P. W. (1996). Ephesians (p. 52). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)

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