Ephesians – Reconciled to Reconcile


Peninsula Community Church

October 12, 2014

Ephesians – Reconciled to Reconcile

Ephesians 2:13-22 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 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, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 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.

I am sure that you would agree this morning that we have all experienced a time in our lives where we were at odds with someone. In the process, we felt distant and alone. Quite often there was no known reason for the hostility, other than it existed and that is all you knew. Sometimes there is that hostility that comes as one feels they have been wronged, hurt, or abused. Regardless of the reason, this feeling of hostility can have great negative results. The Jews and Gentiles had just such a hostility between them. It is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the hostility, although many reasons could be given. It appears that most of the issues were religious in nature.

Paul begins this section with the amazing words, “but now in Christ Jesus.” This phrase provides a transition between what was, what is, and what could be. As we witnessed earlier, Paul paints a desperate picture of mankind without Christ that is contrasted by the life committed to Christ. While Paul in verse 11-13 paints a desperate picture of one without Christ, he transitions here to paint the masterpiece of one who accepts Christ as their personal Savior and the effect it has on our relationship with other members of the body of Christ.

One of the keys here is that Paul opens the window into God’s heart to see that God is not a respecter of persons. He does not pick and choose who will be with Him and who will not. He is open for all to come to Christ. In fact, in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (Genesis 12), for those who have accepted Christ, God has united our hearts together as one body. Jew and Gentile. Male and female. Slave and free. The boundaries that separated man from God and God from man have been destroyed by the work of Christ.

Let us look at the words of Paul together. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. What Paul is saying is that in our sin we were once distant from God and from one another without any way to approach God or others. In this is evidenced the great question of the centuries. How does a sinful man approach a holy God? The issue at hand is how does one approach God, because in doing so they were to be consumed by God’s holiness. That was the penalty of approaching God because sinful man could not face a holy God without a negative effective (Exodus 33:20). But in Christ the gap between sinful man and the holiness of God was bridged once and for all. What man could not do, Christ did by tearing down the wall of separation by His sacrifice upon the cross.

In our journey with Christ, we can feel distant and disconnected from God. This is a difficult place. It is perhaps one of the most lonely places to be. Think back to one of your first dates. How did you feel? Your palms were sweaty. Your heart rate was up. And then she or he slipped his hand into yours and you fell in love. How awesome was that moment? There is another moment that is just as exciting. It is that moment that we realize that we are loved by a heavenly Father and He wants to draw near to us. Paul notes that those who were once a far off have now been brought near to Christ.

You see the separation between God and man and thus between man and man began in the Garden of Eden when man fell (Genesis 3:8-11). Prior to man’s disobedience Adam and Eve would walk with God on a daily basis. They had a unique fellowship with God, but all of that changed the day man fell into sin. Notice that when God showed up for His daily stroll with man, man could not be found. He was cowering in fear and guilt because the relationship he had with God had changed. It is critical to note that nothing with God changed, but man’s attitude and his heart changed.

With Paul’s words it strikes me that there is no one that is too far from God or any relationship that is beyond the touch of God. Such spatial language of near and far was not uncommon in the Old Testament. It reminds me of Sesame Street where the children watching the show would learn spatial depth by the character on the show proclaiming the two comparisons: “Near,” “Far.” Here in this passage, Paul paints a picture of the one who is far from Christ, but now has the privilege and the right to draw near to God. Through the death of Christ, who took on man’s sin on man’s behalf, man now has entrance into the ways of God. Man, once regulated to a distant relationship, is now brought near to God in this new relationship.

Paul gives us two reasons for this being worked out for us. First, Paul states that this occurs in Christ. This represents our personal union with Christ. Christ became the bridge that would span the chasm between a holy God and sinful man. The second aspect is that this work is accomplished through the blood of Christ or the cross. It is through the cross that the door has been opened for us to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. Without this personal relationship, we cannot experience the reduction of hostility and separation against mankind. We cannot be close to God without coming to God through Christ.

Through this act, several important things took place. First, the partition that separated man was removed. It is interesting to note that in the previous verses that one of the reasons given for the division between the Jew and the Gentile was the ordinance of circumcision. In Christ, the need for the ceremonial law was removed. What was removed was the impediments the law brought, in that the law was great about pointing out one’s sin, but had little power to deal with the sin. Rather than relying on a man focused act, we now focus on Christ’s work which has the power to save and change lives. This today remains a problem. We often look to outside sources to remove sin from our lives, but it is only through the work of the cross that true freedom comes.

The second aspect here is that the work of Christ on the cross has made it possible that mankind can be reconciled. The Jew and the Gentile were simply representative groups. You see in Paul’s day the division was not just between the Jew and the Gentile but between the rich and the poor. It was between the those who had much and those who had little. It was gender related. It was against those who were in places of authority and those who were servants. It was recognized between the slave and the freeman.

You see the body of Christ is where Christ’s work of reconciliation is best witnessed. God has called us into a reconciling relationship with other believers to assist the nonbeliever to come to a reconciled relationship. John Piper has stated that “We must be a reconciling people because we are a reconciled people.” It is for this reason that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are to help others come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The story is told of a missionary that was officiating a communion service in a remote section of Africa. Sitting at the table next to the missionary was tribal chief of the people called Ngeon. He was known as Manly Heart. The chief shared with the missionary that he remembered a day before they met Christ that the warriors of Ngeon would send their fighters to bloody their spears with the blood of the neighboring tribes, the Sanga and the Timbuka. They would return with a trail of blood behind them, their villages were burned and they raped the women. But the chief said all of that is different because sitting to his left were the elders of the church from among the Sanga and the Timbuka tribes. Tribes once thirsting for one another’s blood were now one in the blood of Christ. How awesome is that. That is a testimony to the reconciling work of God. It is a testimony of what is available to us all in Christ.

For an audio version of this message go to PCCministry.org.

Copyright © Robert W. Odom All Rights Reserved

For an audio version of this message go to PCCministry.org.

Copyright © Robert W. Odom All Rights Reserved

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