Wednesday, March 4, 2009
God Has a Covenant for You
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the common wealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 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 and 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” (Ephesians 2:11-12). “Peace in our time! Peace with honor!” Those were the words of British Prime minister, Sir Neville Chamberlain, when he returned from conferences in Germany in September 1938. He was sure that he had stopped Adolph Hitler. Yet one year later, Hitler invaded Poland, and on September 3, 1939, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Chamberlain’s great peace mission failed. From 1500 B.C. to A.D. 850 there were 7,500 “eternal covenants” agreed upon among various nations with the hope of bringing peace, no covenant lasted more than two years. The only “eternal covenant” that has lasted—and that will last—is the one made by the eternal God, sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. It is Christ’s peace mission that Paul explains in the following section. Note three very important words that summarize this great work. First, the word without, this is what the Gentiles were (2:11-22). The one word that best describes the Gentiles is without. They were without Christ (v. 12). The Ephesians worshiped their famous goddess, Diana. Those who claim that pagan religions are acceptable to God will have a problem here. Every unsaved person, Jew, or Gentile, is outside Christ. They were without citizenship (v. 12). God called the Jews and built them into a nation. Israel was God’s nation, in a way that was not true of any Gentile nation. They were without covenants (v. 12). While the blessing of the Gentiles is included in God’s Covenant with Abraham, God did not make any covenants with the Gentile nations. The Gentiles were “aliens” and “strangers”-and the Jews never let them forget it. Every good Pharisee prayed daily “O God, I give thanks that I am a Jew, and not a Gentile.” They were without hope (v. 12). Historians tell us that a great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. Their philosophies were empty and their religions were powerless to help men face either life or death. Only Biblical Christianity can do that. They were without God (v. 12). It has been said that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens. But the pagans did not know the true God. The first 11 chapters of Genesis; and from chapter 12 on (the call of Abraham), it is the story of the Jews. The Jews were in God’s favor 2,165 year; the Gentiles have been for the last 2,000 years. Second, enmity is the key word in this section (3:13-18). There was enmity between Jews and Gentiles (2:13-15). God had put a difference between Jews and Gentiles so that His purposes in salvation might be accomplished. Once those purposes were accomplished, there was no more difference (v. 14). The cost of destroying the enmity was the blood of Christ (v. 13). In Jesus Christ, Jew and Gentile become one (v. 14). The verb to make in v. 15 means “to create,” The Church, the body of Christ, is God’s new creations. There was enmity between sinners and God (2:16-18). Not only did the Gentiles need to be reconciled to the Jews, but both the Jews and the Gentiles needed to be reconciled to God (v. 16). As the Judge, He could have come to declare war, but in His grace, He came with the message of peace (v. 17, 18). Third, the word one, what Jews and Gentiles are in Christ (2:19-22). Paul gives three pictures that illustrate the unity of believing Jews and Gentiles in the Church. One nation (2:19a). Israel was God’s chosen nation, but they rejected their Redeemer and suffered the consequences. The kingdom was taken from them and given to the Church. In the Old Testament, the nations were reckoned by their descent for Shem, Ham, or Japheth. In Acts we see these three families united in Christ. Acts 8-Ham-Ethioian treasurer. Acts 9-Shem-Saul of Tarsus. Acts 10-Japheth-household of Cornelius. There is one family (2:19b). And one temple (2:20-22). Today God dwells in every believer, we are the temple of God. Have you personally experienced the grace of God? If you are a true believer in Christ, are you helping others to trust Him? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.