Ephesians: Made to fit together 05/15/22

Series Title: Our Identity in Christ

Message: ‘Made to fit TOGETHER’     Text: Ephesians 1:2:11-22

Introduction: PP: Legos, we’ve played with them for years. This is usually how we see them… piled up or spread across the floor.

We’re so familiar with them that we can miss the brilliance of this child’s toy. Here’s what’s so cool about them:

  • PP: They’re not made to stay an individual lego piece.
  • They’re made to fit… together! PP:

Followers of Jesus, our text this morning will show us that we were not made to live a solitary life as a Christian, but instead we were made by God to be connected to each other, to fit together as one.

  • When we fail to live that way,
  • we fail to fulfill our purpose for being a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Transition: Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2:11. Paul will begin our text by reminding us what we were at one time…

  1. Ephesians 2:11-13 At one time…
  2. vss 11-12 You were…

PP: 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 commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Gee Paul, don’t pull any punches when you describe what we once were apart from Christ. Let’s break it down:

First, PP: Paul is addressing Gentile Christians, not Jewish Christians. Again, Gentiles are a generic term for anyone who is not Jewish.

  • Everyone here this morning is a Gentile… unless there’s something I don’t know about your ethnic background.

Second, PP: the Jewish people had a derogatory nickname for Gentiles… the uncircumcision.

  • Circumcision had to do with what God called Abraham and later all Israel to do as part of God’s covenant. You know what it is so I don’t have to talk about it.

What the Jewish people were actually saying was that all Gentiles were not part of God’s covenant with Israel. Paul clarifies that in this passage as being strangers to the covenant of promise.

  • PP: separated from Christ. That means they were not in Christ as we’ve previously learned about..

they were not saved by God’s grace, they were dead in their sin and destined to experience God’s judgment and wrath.

  • PP: alienated from the commonwealth of Israel means they were not a part of the nation of Israel, there was no connection to the community of people God choose for Himself.
  • PP: strangers to the covenants of promise as I mentioned earlier they were not part of the covenant made between God and Abraham that included many wonderful promises particularly God’s faithfulness to Israel, His people.
  • PP: having no hope means there was no way they could be made right with God, no way to experience His grace, mercy, love, kindness and forgiveness, no way to be accepted by God or to have access to His presence.
  • PP: without God in the world means they lived their lives w/o any concern for or responsibility to God for their actions, or thoughts.

PP: Look, all of this put together reveals that all Gentiles have no purpose, no future to look forward to, while the Jewish people had the promise of the Messiah, the one who would make them right with God.

  • That left the Gentiles… w/o God in their lives. And that meant their future was w/o hope.

It’s seems all of chapter 2 has been dedicated to reminding the Gentile Christians just how bad their life was before being placed in Christ, by God’s amazing grace. Why?

  • It’s humbling… it reminds us that we’re not God and He doesn’t like it when we try to take His place.
  • It’s to be thankful to Him for all that He was done in and for us.
  • It’s to comprehend and experience the deep, deep love God has for those who are His.
  • It’s to understand that at one time, we didn’t fit in to God’s family, we could not connect with Him or with those who were His.

What a sad, sad state to live in…

  • BUT… God didn’t leave us that way.
  1. vs 13 But now you are…

PP: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

But now…

  • Words that shout out a great contrast,
  • Words that comfort that bring great hope.
  • Words that bring both immense thankfulness and inexpressible joy to the heart.

 This is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News Paul mentions so many times in all of his letters. To those original Gentile Christian readers, it was the Good News of life, eternal and blessed life:

All because they were made in Christ, by God, as a result of Jesus shedding His blood on the cross, by which those who were far off, near to God.

Near doesn’t mean almost. It means near to His presence as in Hebrews 4:16

  • Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Through Jesus, God, made us fit together with Him. That’s what verses 14-22 are all about. Let’s look.

  1. Ephesians 2:14-22 One…
  2. vs 14 One wall

PP: For He Himself is our peace, Who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility

ILL: Rich Cathers tells the following story: PP: A story is told of two unmarried sisters who had so bitter a ruckus they stopped speaking to each other. Unable or unwilling to leave their small home, they continued to use the same rooms and sleep in the same bedroom. A chalk line divided the sleeping area into two halves, separating doorway and fireplace, so that each could come and go and get her own meals without trespassing on her sister’s domain. In the black of night each could hear the breathing of the foe. For years they coexisted in grinding silence. Neither was willing to take the first step to reconciliation.

  • Does this describe any of your relationships?

PP: The relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the Apostle Paul’s day was… horrible.

When Paul speaks of the dividing wall of hostility, it’s believed he was referring to a very specific wall in the temple in Jerusalem.  PP: Gentiles could not go beyond that wall in the temple.

There was an inscription of that wall that said: Any foreigner and stranger and Gentile what enters beyond this wall is under the penalty of death.

That wall represented the hatred/hostility the Jews had for the Gentiles and vice versa. It represented the fact that they had no connection to each other.

  • It was this wall that Jesus broke down by His blood that was shed on the cross.
  • It was this hatred/hostility that He removed by His sacrificial death.
  • It was these waring two people groups that reconciled to one another.
  • It was both these 2 sinful people groups that He reconciled to God.

PP: That’s why the Apostle Paul described Jesus this way: For He Himself is our peace. The meaning is clear:

  • Only Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross can bring peace, true and lasting peace, where there was only hostility/hatred.

And He did it, not by making Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians, but instead making BOTH Jewish and Gentile Christians… ONE before God AND before each other.

Meaning, no one (Gentile or Jewish Christian) is superior to the other,

  • no one (Gentile or Jewish Christian) is more worthy of God’s grace.
  • No one (Gentile or Jewish Christian) is more loved by God.

NO.. Jesus has made us both one, the same, before God and before each other.

  • So… he’s telling us as Christians, to live together with one another in peace… with no divisions, no prejudices, no hostilities.

Look, in the world around us there has always been walls that divide us and perhaps there has never been such a division between people as there is today: We are divided by:

  • Race, culture, gender, religion, age & political affiliation to name a few.

In the church it’s not much different. We are divided by:

  • Color of skin, language, education, finances, how we worship, how we pray, how we dress… and I believe God is not happy with any of that.

Faith in Jesus.. listen Christian, has made us one people.

Transition: In verse 15 Paul makes our oneness a bit clearer.

  1. vs 15 One new man…

PP: 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

 This was radical… Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was saying that:

  • The Jewish Law of Moses, specifically the ceremonial laws, were abolished, nullified, taken away, no longer relevant.

No more Gentile Christian, no more Jewish Christian… just Christian! Amen?

God opened up access to His presence for all… apart from following the Jewish religious, ceremonial laws that the Gentiles were never a part of.

Look, before Christ, we didn’t fit together because we were separated from Jesus. But now, Jesus has made us one new man/person.

 PP: And this newness included our purpose to fit together, not unlike Lego pieces that were made to fit together.

Friends, that’s 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

  • The old is the two people groups, the hatred, the hostility, the sin, the law, the separation from God and each other.
  • The new is one man, one people group. It’s unity, oneness, togetherness, peace.

The… new… is being pieces that now fit together and that… is our purpose.

Transition: In verse 16 Paul even further expands upon our oneness in Christ.

  1. vs 16 One body

PP: and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Through His death on the cross, Jesus reconciled, made us right with God, when we were once His enemy.

He did that in the very same way for individual Jews and Gentiles whom God saved by His amazing and abundant grace through faith in Jesus.

Then… God made them/us a new creation, a new man/person individually…

He joined ustogether, He made us fit together with other Christians, to form one body, one new race, one new people for God.

  • And this new people, this new race, this new body… lives lived, so surrendered to God
  • that there’s no envy, no pride, no hatred, no bitterness, no jealousy, no division, and no hostility within the body.

PP: It’s like God takes the individual lego pieces and glues them together with all the other lego pieces so that we’re one unit, one house, one body… forever.

Transition: And what’s the glue that keeps us bound together? The Spirit of God.

  1. vss 17-18 One Spirit

PP: 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.

 Jesus spoke the same words of peace, the same words of life, to those who were far off (Gentiles) and to those who were near (Jews).

By God’s gifts of grace and faith,

  • He forgave our sin
  • He placed us in Christ
  • He made us a new creation.
  • He caused us to fit together as one body.
  • And sealed us together as one, by His indwelling Holy Spirit.

It’s through the same Holy Spirit that indwell each and every Believer, that we have access into God’s presence.

Transition: The idea is we come into God’s presence as members of one family of God, as we’ll see in verses 19-20.

  1. vss 19-20 One household

PP: 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

 Think about this…You will do things for family that you wouldn’t normally do for others who aren’t family.

  • You make sacrifices, offer forgiveness, go out of your way to help, love, even when they might not be so loveable.

I believe God wants us to know that we share those same responsibilities because as Christians, God has made us part of the same household… the same family.

  • Paul reminds us that before we were saved, we were strangers and aliens of God’s grace and forgiveness.

But, by God’s grace, we were saved individually, yes, but not meant to stay individuals. He intended us to be part of His forever family, the text says fellow citizens (of God’s Kingdom) and members of the household of God.

Friends, listen, this oneness, this unity, this end to hatred, bitterness, prejudices and envy, this fitting and being glued together by the Spirit, is not an intellectual or theological idea that we discuss and teach.

  • No matter how hard and painful it gets,
  • it’s something we Christians must live out, everyday as the world around us get more hostile towards each other… and towards us.

Paul reminds us that this household, this citizenship is based on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.

  • You can’t be a citizen of God’s Kingdom, a member of God’s household, you can’t have God as your eternal home…
  • Apart from the truths that we read in the Bible: the prophets of the OT and the apostles of the NT.

All of them speak of One, the Messiah, Jesus, God Himself who will come and die

  • to bring forgiveness, grace and mercy
  • to bring acceptance by God
  • to bring access into God’s presence
  • to bring adoption by God as His children
  • to make us citizens of God’s kingdom
  • to make us members of God’s family
  • to make us, as Christians, fit together as one

Jesus, is the cornerstone, the most important part of the building. w/o Jesus all of this falls apart and is nothing.

Transition: Paul gives us one more picture, analogy of this new life that causes us to be fit together with other Christians. He uses the term temple.

  1. vss 21-22 One temple

PP: 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.

Speaking of Jesus, Paul continues to explain how we as Christians fit together.

He’s referring to the temple, perhaps likening it to the one in Jerusalem.

The Temple in Jerusalem is where God said His presence would dwell. That is, until Israel rejected the One True and Ever Living God, to follow the gods of the pagan world around them.

 Here’s the picture as I see it.

  • Paul is describing the temple as the Church with the big C: All Christians, for all times from every where.
  • He declares that the whole structure of the big C Church is being joined together, built by Jesus when he says, in Him.
  • Not only that the Church is also being formed, as a dwelling place for God. The idea, this new temple of the Church replaces the temple where God’s presence dwells

with God’s people.

  • He also adds that individual Christians are being built together… God is working in us to make us a perfect place for His dwelling.
  • And that all of this is the continuing work of the Holy Spirit living in us.

The essence is this.

  • Not only has God made us individually to fit together to other Christians.
  • He’s in the process, by His Spirit, of making us together, to fit as one building in His kingdom.
  • It’s there that God dwells with those who are His.

Simply put:

  • You, Christian, are being worked on by the Holy Spirit, to fit you together with other Christ followers, to make the dwelling place of God. Wow!

Conclusion: PP:  Friends. If I could hope to leave you with one truth to remember and hold on to, it would be this:

  • As Christians, we are a new man/person, fit together… regardless of our ethnicity, culture, gender, educational level, financial success, age or any other thing that would divide us.
  • Christians, we fit together,
  • We are one in Christ, because of Christ, for Christ.

Let’s not allow prejudice, pride, bitterness, discrimination, hatred, envy be found here at CBC.

To help us remember that wonderful truth, I have a couple of lego blocks for each of you, to remind you that

  • Christians we fit together, we are one in Christ
  • For the purpose of being the place where God dwells.