Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – Being Built Together for a Dwelling Place for God
October 26, 2014
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
As most of you know, Michelle and I had the privilege of being at a pastor’s conference in Dallas Texas this past week. During the week, we received great teaching and encouragement from some of the nation’s top pastors and leaders. This morning, I must admit to you that we are in overflow mode which means that throughout the next few weeks I am sure that you will hear many of the truths we were presented in my messages and in our conversations.
This morning we pick up with our series in Ephesians. As we review the passage before us this morning, we find that we belong to Christ and we are connected with others. It is noteworthy that Paul begins this section with the idea that we are no longer strangers or aliens but that we are fellow citizens. He also notes that we are no ordinary citizen, we are citizens of the household of God. We are connected and we belong to God and with those who are believers in Christ.
From the beginning of created time, there has been a innate desire for man to belong and to be apart of the group. Even for the greatest of all introverts there is still a desire to connect and belong. In the world today, there are many who have a desire to connect to others. They want to feel connected. They want to feel they are a part of something. If is for that reason gangs and false religions seem to gain so many followers. They present a platform where people can feel connected and welcomed as a part of the group. They are accepted by those in the group. But too often, this feeling of acceptance is exchanged for a price that is exacted against the members.
As believers, we have had the dream of connecting fulfilled. We are now a part of the body of Christ. We are connected with one another. We are a part of something bigger than we are.We can belong and be a part a great family. And yet there are many who do not feel connected. They feel they are disenfranchised and rejected. They feel condemned and judged by their sin rather than the church being a place of grace and love. This should not be a result of our actions.
Secondly, we are built together on the unmovable, unshaken foundation of the apostles and prophets. You see we are not just connected, but we are built on something that is solid and secure. This foundation assures us that we remain connected. This foundation is one that focuses on the biblical teaching of hope and life. It is the life of Christ. We need to recognize and be sure to understand here that the foundation is not the apostles and prophets. That would be foolish. We do not build on a man’s idea of God but we build on Christ. Paul later helps us see that the foundation being discussed here is that of the apostles teaching that point to Christ. He notes, in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, that there is no other foundation to be laid but that one which is laid in Jesus Christ. He is the foundation.
Listen to Paul’s words. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. You see, what one builds on determines what one becomes. What one builds on will determine how one lives their life.
Thirdly, we are identified with the cornerstone which aligns us to His word and His ways. The cornerstone was the principle stone placed at the corner of the edifice. The cornerstone was usually one of the largest, the most solid and the most carefully constructed of any in the edifice. The cornerstone in essence held everything together. The cornerstone also helped to align the rest of the building. The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. It is an important stone since all of the other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. As a body of believers, we are built on the foundation of Christ and we are aligned by the cornerstone of His word and His example. Both of these are focused on the work of Christ in us.
Notice too what David said in Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. You see what the world rejects as the answer, has become the answer for all mankind, but He is the connecting factor when it comes to believers. For those without Christ, they attempt to reject Christ as an answer to their problems. They try to align themselves with false ideas and social concepts that they believe that will guide their lives. But we must remember that Christ is the only cornerstone.
You see all of this occurs because we have been joined together for a purpose. We are made to be a place where the Spirit dwells. You see the main purpose for coming together as a body is that we are a dwelling place for God’s presence. The purpose of the Old Testament temple was two-fold. It brought honor to God and provided a place for God’s presence to dwell.
This is in reality what God wants to do in our earthy temple as well. Too often we invite God over when we need him, but when He is no longer needed, we ask him to leave or at least we live like he has no place in our life. How sad is that. But God wants to dwell in us. He wants to dwell in our church. He wants to be an active part of our lives.
This passage reminds me of the prophecy in Ezekiel 37. The prophecy takes place in the valley of the dry bones. The bones were disconnected and strewn about, therefore, they had no purpose. They were without life and they could not accomplish anything. But the Bible says the prophet commanded them to come together. The Bible says there was a rattling taking place and the bones began to be reunited and joined together.
One of the interesting things here for me is that the bones came together as they should be and not as disconnected madness. The ankle bone was connected to the leg bones and the leg bones were connected to the knee, and so on, and so on. The point is they came together as they were intended. It was not God’s will that they be disconnected because in this state they were useless. After that the bones were united the realization came that they still did not have life. You see we can be in the same room with other believers. We can go to church but we can still miss out on life because God has not breathed his life into us. This life represents the Spirit of God. In Ezekiel, the prophet prayed and the breathe of God was breathed into the lifeless form and it lived.
God wants us to be a dwelling place for His Spirit. He wants to dwell with us. Someone has posed the question? If the Holy Spirit left the church, would anyone notice? If our doors were to close would we even be missed in the community? If He we were to abandon us, (and I am not suggesting He will or could) would we know it or would we continue to live as we have without any knowledge that Christ has departed. Remember the story of Samson? He was a strong man. His strengthen was a result of his commitment to God’s way. But when he compromised, and shared with Delilah the secret to his success, he lost his power. The saddest part of the story is that he arose and went out as he always had and did not even know the spirit of God had departed from him. He was no longer empowered by God.
The question that is raised then is how do we maintain the presence of God in our lives? First, we must be a people of prayer. Prayer changes things but it also changes people. Be a people of the word. We hide the word of God within our hearts so that we do not sin against Him. Be a people of worship. Worship invites God’s presence. Be a people who are resolved to keep a short list of wrongs. Be a people who will practice the presence of God in their lives, by living like He is in you. Be a people who understand what they have been called to do for God and for others. Be people who live out grace and mercy.
We must also realize that by being joined together, we are to take the Spirit into every part of our lives. We are to effect our community for Christ. We are to effect our sphere of influence by carrying with us the Holy Spirit. When this occurs we are positioned for people to see Christ in us. We are able to present Christ through our words and by the way we act.
When the Spirit is dwelling in us, we will treat people differently. When the Spirit is dwelling in us we will live with a greater level of integrity, even in the little things. When the Spirit is dwelling in us, we will be sensitive to the needs of others. When the Spirit is dwelling in us, we will be burdened for the lost.
Is the Spirit dwelling in you or is He a guest that comes and goes?
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