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2012.02.12AM.ROOTED.in.Christs.Community.Eph2.11-13

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Rooted in Christ’s Community Preached by: Matthew S. Black Text: Ephesians 2:11-16 Series: Rooted in Christ Date: February 12, 2012, 10:30am Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, IL Introduction: Open your Bibles to Ephesians. We are continuing our series: “Rooted in Christ”. The title of the message is: “Rooted in Christ’s Community”. Our outline today is simple: If you are “in Christ” you have: I. An Old Hostility (vs. 11-12) “separated…alienated… no hope…without God…” II. A New Hope (vs. 13-15) “create in himself one new man. III. A New Humanity (vs. 16-18) “reconcile us both to God…” IV. A New Community(vs. 19-22) “members of the household of God…” I. The Old Hostility (vs. 11-12) “separated…alienated… no hope…without God…” Ephesians 2:11–12 (ESV), “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— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Explanation: There was a great war going on in the churches of the first century. Jews and Gentiles were at odds. The brilliant Greeks where there were all the philosophers said that anyone who was not a Greek was an ignorant Barbarian, including the Jews! And the Jews said that anyone who wasn’t a son of Abraham was a dog. We all have our divisions and disagreements. The questions is: Why can’t we all get along? The answer is clear from our text! We don’t remember where we came from. Ponder how far you were away from Christ Normally, you would think Paul would say, “Listen, based on all this great stuff, REJOICE!” He doesn’t say that. He says the opposite. He says “Remember.” He says, you need to remember (ponder, let it grip you) that not too long ago, you were on the side of the great cliff on the edge of hell, and every breath you took was enough to cause you to lose your balance and fall into the abiss—you were that close to hell! You were “without Christ” and without “hope” and “without God in the world”. You were so far away from Christ. The World says, “Don’t Remember” Our culture today says in essence, “Don’t remember”. “Don’t worry, be happy”. Your happiness is all that matters. That philosophy, my friends, is the death knell of your happiness. If you try to please yourself, you will most certainly be miserable. Your flesh cannot be pleased. You were not created for you. You were created for God. If you want to be really, really happy, you need to see how far God has brought you to Himself. A. Remember our Hostility with Each Other (vs. 11). Verse 11, “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”. There was a great division between the Jews an the rest of the world. They were to be separated from all the other nations. They were to humble, holy, and hungry for God. The sign of this was circumcision. Circumcision: Sign of the Covenant Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant. Everyone part of the covenant community was to be circumcised. It was an outward sign of an inward reality. It was to show that the hard heart was cut out and new heart was put there. It was a sign that the people were sensitive to God, that they were cut and circumcised in their heart. The Jews were to be a blessing to the world. They were to bless all nations with the message that Messiah was coming. Did the Jews Bless All Nations? Did they bless all nations? Think about Jonah. The last thing he wanted to do was give hope and life to those Ninevites! The Jews were given the Word of God in order to bless all nations and to bring them to God. Instead they were overcome by spiritual pride on one side of the spectrum and by becoming like the pagans in their idolatries on the other side. The Uncircumcised Gentiles: A BAD Name The Jews called the Gentiles “uncircumcised”. That was a derisive name. That was like calling them trash. The Jews of 2,000 years ago actually taught that it wasn't lawful for them to help a Gentile mother at childbirth because that would be helping to bring another dog into the world. If a Jewish daughter or son married a Gentile the family held a funeral service. They never recognised their own children again. The children were in effect dead. The Point of Circumcision The Jews were called out of this world to be holy, but they were also to be humble! They lost that, and trusted in the outward sign instead of the inward reality. You trust in the outward, and you will become proud. They trusted in their outward circumcision, but they missed the whole point. Look at a few places in the Scriptures: Deuteronomy 10:16 (ESV), “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” Deuteronomy 30:6 (ESV), “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Before Christ – Division & Pride Before we knew Christ we were divided against our family. Many of us were racists. Some Christians still lean toward racism. The most segregated time of the week is Sunday morning in most churches. That’s sad. Where ever there is division, there is pride and division. And God doesn’t dwell with the proud. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 5:5). B. Remember our Hostility with God (vs. 12). Verse 12, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” If verses 1-10 tell us we were helpless, our text today tells us how hopeless we were. In every conceivable way, we were far away from God. There was a time when as Gentiles we were: · Separated from Christ · Alienated from His Kingdom (the commonwealth of Israel) · Strangers to His Covenants · Without Hope · Without God in the World · Separated from Christ We did not know the warning of Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” The Gentiles were totally separated from the Savior. The Jews were waiting for Christ to come. They were sacrificing bulls and goats as a picture of Christ’s covering of sins. Believing Jews were truly united to Jesus Christ. Application: Remember When? Remember when you thought Christians were crazy and ignorant? Remember when for the life of you, you could not understand why they wanted to go to church. Maybe Christmas and Easter. Maybe once a month. But once, twice, three times a week? What? Do you live at church now? What’s so attractive. You couldn’t understand. Verse 12, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ”. · Alienated from His Kingdom (the commonwealth of Israel) Out of all the heathen people in the world, God chose Abraham and made of him and his children a commonwealth, or in other words, a Kingdom. The word commonwealth means “citizenship”. The Jews were citizens in God’s Kingdom with God Himself ruling over them. God was in the business of saving Gentiles. In order to follow the Lord in the Old Testament, the Gentile had to follow the Lord by uniting in some way to the Kingdom of Israel. So though Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel”, it is also true that God saved many Gentiles in the Old Testament. Think of some of them: God Saved Some Gentiles in the Old Testament Caleb was not an Israelite but a Kenizzite. Ruth was a Moabitess. Rahab the harlot was from Gentile Jericho, and she was the great Grandmother of David. Naaman was a General in the Syrian Army. Remember Elisha cured his leprosy in the river, and Naaman became a believer in the LORD.We think of Nebuchadnezzar and the 500,000 Gentile Ninevites who put their faith in the Lord!! Yet these conversions were not the norm. For almost the entirety of the Gentiles, they were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” They worshipped Zeus and Diana and gods of stone made with hands. Outside of God’s Kingdom And this is how so much of the world is today. Outside of God’s Kingdom! You remember when you were not part of God’s covenant people? You remember when you were building your own kingdom? You were not concerned about souls all around you that were headed straight to hell? You were not concerned to tell them of our Great Substitute, our Savior, our Sovereign, and our Great God and King, King of kings, and Lord of lords? · Strangers to His Covenants –We didn’t have His Word! Remember when you were outside of God’s redemptive favor? · Remember when even if you had a Bible you didn’t want to read it? It was foolishness to you? The Bible tells us about how He calls people out of the world and into a covenant and relationship with Him. · Remember when you had no idea of the covenant with Noah, with Moses and Israel, with David as King, and all of those pointed to our covenant relationship with Christ? · Remember when we never thought of how Christ loved us and died for us? Remember? My ancestors in Scotland were strangers to God’s covenants. They worshipped rocks and trees. · Without Hope · Without God in the World There was a time when we were without God, and therefore we had NO HOPE!! So remember the way we were… · Separated from Christ · Alienated from His Kingdom (the commonwealth of Israel) · Strangers to His Covenants · Without Hope · Without God in the World Transition: We may be hostile toward men, but it is because we are hostile toward God. We cannot make peace with God on our own. He must come after us! He must seek after us! And He has! But God has given us a new hope. We were dead in trespasses and sins. We were outside of God’s plan, we didn’t care about His Word, we hated each other. We fought. Our marriages were falling apart. We were destroying ourselves and destroying others! II. A New Hope (vs. 13-14) “create in himself one new man…” Ephesians 2:13-15 (ESV), “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,” Who is it that can turn all this HOSTILITY into HOPE? Jesus! God is all about turning Hostility into Hope! How? Peace between People Paul must have marveled at the great unity that was in the Ephesian church. There was a massive division between Jews and Gentiles in his day. Paul was a Jew and he knew the deep division from all sides. There was cultural division, social division, and spiritual division. Historically, this is a division that had existed as long as Israel had been a people. But now you have both Jew and Gentile together, worshipping the same God, bowing their knee to the same Lord, and loving each other. How did this happen? Through Jesus Christ! Through His Propitiation, His Power, and through His Peace. A. We have hope because of Christ’s Propitiation. Verse 13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Sacrifice and Temple This is the language of the Temple and sacrifices. For years God taught them that there was a price to be paid for sin! And there is! Each of us is going to have to pay for our sins, or there must be a sinless sacrifice to pay. Someone has to pay that price! You can pay it yourself, or you can let someone else. But who would be that kind? Who would pay that price for you? The Old Testament saints sacrificed the innocent lamb. The only worthy sacrifice that God will accept on your behalf is Jesus. John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” One day all of us are going to bow our knee! You can bow the knee now and be Christ’s eternal servant or bow the knee later and be His eternal enemy. Which will it be? Can you say “I once was his enemy”… “but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (vs. 13). Brought Near “… you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (vs. 13). His Power, and through His Peace. B. We have hope because of Christ’s Reconciliation. Verse 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,” The Walls of Division There various walls outside the temple that separated various peoples.  The priests from the people, then the people were divided Jews first and then Gentiles. Jews were separated Male and Female.  One thing was in common though. They were ALL outside of God’s presence!  None were allowed!  This wall of hostility may separate us from our neighbor, a family member, a boss, but ultimately the wall separates us from who?  From God!! Made Both One Our text says that God has made both groups here, both Jew and Gentile, to be one in Christ. Now this distinction doesn’t mean much to us today, but it was massive in the ancient world! Jews saw Gentiles as dogs! If a Jew saw a Gentile mother giving birth, they could not help that young mother because they did not want to help bring another Gentile dog into the world. Talk about conflict! So in Christ’s day, in the Temple, there were barriers. Of course, the main emphasis in the Temple was in the very center, · GOD - The Holy of Holies. Outside of that was that was: · PRIESTS - The court of the preists · MALE JEWS - Then there was the court of Jewish men · FEMALE JEWS - The court of Jewish women · GENTILE DOGS! - On the very outside there was a five foot wall where you had the court of the Gentiles. They could not pass that wall or they would be put to death. There were signs that said this in Greek and Latin. When Christ died, he destroyed that wall of distinction! You see there was a false distinction at this time. The point God was making in the Temple is that we are not able to approach him! Only the high priest, a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, could go into the Holy of Holies on our behalf! Neither the Jews or the Gentiles could approach God on their own. The Jew was certainly closer because he had the Word of God, he had the promises of God, but those promises were not applied for the majority of the Jews. Most of them lived and died in self-righteousness and in unbelief. They had a spirit of slumber! In His Flesh But in Christ, all the walls of division have been torn down! How? “In His flesh” Verse 14, “Christ… has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. He became flesh and substituted His life for us! III. A New Humanity (vs. 15-18) “create in himself one new man …” Ephesians 2:15-18 (ESV), “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. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” An Eschatological Hope Ephesians 1:9-10, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Reve: Behold I make all things new A Perfect Humanity – He had to Abolish the Law Christ has done it all!  Christ has come and abolished the hostility between you and God.  You can’t fulfill the Law, but Christ did! You cannot live holy without Christ!  If you want to be reconciled to God you must turn to Christ.  If you want to be reconciled to men, you must turn to Christ! A Peaceful Humanity – 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. A Personal Humanity – Christ brought you into this New Humanity 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. The Father wants us to hear the voice of the Son of God this morning. At the transfiguration, in the presence of the two greatest prophets, God says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear him" (Matthew 17:5). 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”  Human Hostility. And we have all our divisions. There so much envy and strife, jealously and pride, hurt feelings and bitterness and even rage. When we have a conflict we think of it on an earthly level like the hostility between the Jews and Gentiles with walls of separation and partition outside of the Temple. Divine Hostility. God is put off by us. But the conflict of Jews and Gentiles was not primarily on an earthly level! The sins of Jews and Gentiles separated them from God. The Jews and Gentiles were all outside of where the mercy seat was in the holy of holies. They may have been separated from one another, but their biggest problem is that the vast majority of them were separated from God! IV. A New Community (vs. 19-22) “members of the household of God…” Ephesians 2:19–22 (ESV), “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [foreigners], but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” A. God is building a City --God’s paradise. Paul tells us we were once strangers and foreigners, but now we are “fellowcitizens with the saints.” He says in Phil 3:20 that our “conversation” or literally “citizenship” “is in heaven! You know your destiny! You are a citizen of heaven! You are now seated in the heavenlies! You are called Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. You are the city of God! You are the city where God reigns and rules. Jesus Christ rules you as your King! Remember Paul tells us that once we were citizens of this world. 2:2, We “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”. We were “children of God’s wrath”. When you are a part of a city or a Kingdom have Ø a common language. We have a language of the heart that loves God. Ø We have a common allegiance. When you are a citizen of a country, you have your allegiance to it. Ø We have a common heritage. Those in Christ have a story to tell. The day they came into the kingdom. You see Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” You and I are part of the city of God. It is a city whose walls are the presence and lordship of Christ! We are all hidden and sheltered in the cleft of the Rock!! B. Secondly, God is building a Family --God’s people. You always belong! He says, you are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; Ø In a family you have Identity. Ø In a family you have a resemblance. You resemble the Father. 2 Corithians 3:18 tells us we are changed into the image of Jesus Christ more and more every day as we walk in the Spirit. Ø You have a true family here. Ø You may not be accepted by your family here on earth. But what does Psalm 27:10 say? When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. C. God is building a Temple --God presence. You are God’s habitation! Verse 21-22, “ in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? What we were: Foreigners to the Grace of God! To be part of God’s kingdom and family, you have to bear His likeness. We don’t look like Christ, we look like Adam!! I do not know who it is, but we all could call ourselves the “Chief of Sinners” for to break the Law in one point is to be guilty of all. Imagine, being guilty of breaking all of God’s commandments at once. That is what every act of your sin and my sin is. Wickedness today is great in the earth. It is great in our hearts! Conclusion:  When a person come to know Christ, he sees this lost world in a new light! Christ is all about tearing down those distinction in the lost world. The barriers and fences of my control and your control and putting every one under His control Think about the distinctions in this lost world. In the lost world, among people who have not experienced the new birth, earthly distinctions matter. · In the world culture matters. · Male and female matters · Rich and poor—your social standing matters · Educated or non-educated · What title do you hold? · Are you a religious or non-religious (Jew or Gentile) · What position you hold is important in the world system · What family did you come from? But you will know whether you are being pushed into the world’s mold or whether you are being transformed by the renewing of your mind by this—does it still matter to you as a believer. \
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