One body made mature in Christ through God’s love
We began venturing into chapter 2 in Ephesians last week where we read that even though we had been dead in our trespasses and sins and existed under God’s wrath, there was something even greater than God’s wrath and that was His love.
The Bible tells us that our love for God was instigated by His love for us. It is the reason why anyone loves God. The source of all real love is God. So, coming to know and believe the love God has for us is both the motivation and reason for our pursuit in coming to know Jesus more relationally and intimately.
Jesus said it Himself in the giving of the 10 commandments and in His earthly teaching – loving God self sacrificially and our brothers fulfills everything God is looking for in us.
If we did that and lived it with perfection it could be said that the bride has made herself ready.
The place we started seeing this last week in Ephesians is chapter 2 verse 4.
It says, “But God, Who is abundant in mercy, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE that He had for us, (5) made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved!”
“(6) He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus,”
Our passage makes the claim that, even though our situation was so grave and our hearts, lives and actions were so demonically base – even though we were spiritually filthy and reveling in it – In stark contrast to the anger and wrath God had for us… these thoughts, actions and situation stirred in God, something even greater than His wrath and that was His love.
We are told that while we all were in such a condition, God reconciled us to Himself. What was His motive? Love!
Also we were made to sit with Him in heavenly places, which in order to appreciate what that means we must see what it meant to Him…
He told us in chapter 1…
“(18) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, (19) and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.”
“(20) He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens– (21) far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (22) And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, (23) which is His body, the fullness of the One Who fills all things in every way.”
He raised us with Christ and seated us together with Him so that…
“(7) so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
(8) For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift– (9) not from works, so that no one can boast.
(10) For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
So we were created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS. Works which God has prepared for us – paths if you will – to walk in.
That path includes being united with the Jews in one body. Now this was more of an issue back then, though it still is today.
Those who hold on to their “Jewishness” do so with great tenacity but, we are more concerned with those who are IN CHRIST.
Today there are many completed Jews who still live as if they were under the law in many ways. They observe new moons, sabbaths, festivals and such. They believe it was all completed in Christ, but that the obligation to continue on in these traditions is still incumbent upon them.
This was a division which was more prevalent in the early church than most modern Christians know today. We saw a glimpse of it in Acts last year when Paul was “encouraged” to participate in a Jewish ceremony of ritualistic cleansing. Because it did not point to any saving efficacy Paul submitted to it so as to not offend, but it is VERY clear from his writings that he did not agree with the need for such observances. [See message – Mosaic purification laws & Paul’s visit to Jerusalem]
There appears therefore to have beena mild disagreement between Paul and some of the other apostles, which is so very odd! Yet, Paul is the man God called and inspired to write the greatest portion of what we know and understand of the New Covenant in the letters of the New Testament. As such it would seem that God’s approval was on the message Paul taught.
So this next section may seem unnecessary to you in some ways, since from a Gentile perspective, there is no hostility nor division, but for many Jews there is – even today.
There is almost an elitist snobbery about being a. Jew, but that is without merit. Their ancestors rejected God and Messiah so that He hardened them for a time and turned to us. We are the strangers invited to the wedding feast who came!
So, what any flesh born Jew who comes to Messiah now sure so in our dispensation and is a Jew before God not because of his physical genetics but because of his faith. He stands before God with no more of a footing than we have.
“(11) So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh–called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” done by hand in the flesh.”
(12) At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world.
(13) BUT NOW in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
(14) For He is our peace, Who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.
In His flesh, (15) He did away with the law of the commandments in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace.
(16) HE DID THIS SO THATHe might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it.
(17) When Christ came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away [Gentiles] and peace to those who were near [Jews].
(18) For through Him we BOTH have access by one Spirit to the Father.
(19) So then you [Gentiles] are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints [Jews], and members of God’s household, (20) built on the foundationof the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. (Remember our studies in Ezekiel even this past Wednesday. The twelve foundations of the city are different stones which represent the twelve apostles of the Lamb.)”
Rev. 21:14, “(14) The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
Remember on Wednesday when I pointed out to you that the city so many Christians believe is “heaven” is really the body of Christ itself. It is a metaphor of who we are in and for Him. I also told you that the metaphor of us being a city or a building is used throughout the New Testament as an illustrative aid to our understanding. Here is just one of those places…
“(21) The whole building is being fitted together in Him and is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, (22) in Whom you also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.”
This all connects with what we are going to be reading in Ezekiel with the new temple.
Peter tells us “(4) Coming to Him, a living stone–rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God– (5) you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (6) For it stands in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and valuable cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! (7) So the honor is for you who believe; but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected–this One has become the cornerstone, and (8) A stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that trips them up. They stumble by disobeying the message; they were destined for this. (9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (10) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1Peter 2:4-10
We collectively – Jews and Gentiles in Christ are ONE body – ONE people!
As I reference moments ago, John tells us in Revelation 21:1-3, 9-10,
“(1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer.
(2) I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. (3) Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
(9) Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me:
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
(10) He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,”
Since these things are in our future, Peter asks us, what kind of persons ought we to be… how should we conduct our lives here on earth?
2Peter 3:10-18, “(10) But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.
(11) Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness (12) as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be on fire and be dissolved, and the elements will melt with the heat.
(13) But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
(14) Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found in peace without spot or blemish before Him.
(15) Also, regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you. (16) He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.
(17) Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of the immoral and fall from your own stability. (18) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
And so we reconnect with the roots of this study. Since ALL OF THIS IS TRUE – don’t fall from your stability in Him, but rather – “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“(1) For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— (2) you have heard, haven’t you, about the administration of God’s grace that He gave to me for you?
(3) The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. (4) By reading this you are able to understand my insight about the mystery of the Messiah.
(5) This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: (6) the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-participants in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
Notice that a core or FOUNDATIONAL doctrine in Christ which was revealed to the apostles and prophets is that we – as Gentiles are co-heirs and members of the SAME BODY and co-participants in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel!!!”
Remember this past Wednesday we saw in Ezekiel 47:21-23 when God was speaking of the age to come, He said to the Jews…
(21) “You are to divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. (22) You will allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners living among you, who have fathered children among you. You will treat them like native-born Israelites; along with you, they will be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. (23) In whatever tribe the foreigner lives, you will assign his inheritance there.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”
“(7) I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of His power.
(8) This grace was given to me–the least of all the saints!–to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, (9) and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God Who created all things.
(10) This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.
(11) This is according to THE PURPOSE OF THE AGES, which He made in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord, (12) in Whom we have boldness, access, and confidence through faith in Him.
(13) So then I ask you not to be discouraged over my afflictions on your behalf, for they are your glory. (14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father (15) from Whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named. (16) I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, (17) and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith.
I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, (19) and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(20) Now to Him Who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think–according to the power that works in you– (21) to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
So what ties all this together with out topic of the pursuit of knowing Jesus? Well our perfection into Christ’s image, being a primary goal of our knowing Him intimately cannot be achieved in a body that was MADE ONE in Christ, but who functions in division. ALL WALLS of division – regardless of what they are – have been removed in Christ.
“(11) Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh – who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands – (12) that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (13) But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (14) For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, (15) when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, (16) and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed.”