How the Gospel Removes the Evil Ethnic Tensions We Find in Every Society: Ephesians 2:11-14

Ephesians 2:11-14

Two important Questions:

  • Why are the truths found in Ephesians 2 so transforming?
  • How should these transforming truths impact our thinking and living today?

Truth 1: It has always been God’s desire to save people from every people group.

  • God’s covenant with Abraham: Genesis 12:3 in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
  • God’s purpose for Israel: Isaiah 42:6-7 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
  • God’s ministry through the Messiah: Isaiah 49:6 I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
  • Simeon’s testimony: Luke 2:30-32 Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Truth 2: The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s grace toward the Gentiles.

  • Rahab: A pagan prostitute living in a condemned city whose life is spared, marries a Jew and later becomes a member of the line of the Messiah.
  • Ruth: A Moabite, idol worshipper who marries a faithless Jew who does leaving her a young widow, who later moves to Israel and in God’s gracious work is married
  • Ninevah: A wicked city known for its ruthless practices is spared by God when they repent at the preaching of God’s rebellious prophet Jonah.

Truth 3: Israel ignored God’s plan and proudly isolated themselves from their pagan Gentile neighbors.

  • The Samaritan woman: John 4:9 How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
  • A Canaanite woman: Matthew 15:21-28 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.  But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
  • Gentiles at meals: Acts 10:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
  • Paul’s response: Galatians 2:11-13 When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Truth 4: The blessings of the Gospel put every believer on equal ground before God.

  • The gospel removes the classic societal distinctions: Galatians 3:26-29 Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
  • God’s Kingdom has a beautiful diversity: Revelation 5:9-10 And they sung a new song, saying…thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
    • We are blessed to have equal access to God!
    • We are blessed to be citizens together in His Kingdom!
    • We are blessed to be members together of God’s household!
    • We are blessed to be the building blocks together of His temple!
    • We are blessed to be joined together into one body in Christ!

So why does Paul pen these words: He wrote these words to people who were steeped in culturally acceptable yet serious and ungodly divisions, so that they would see that the gospel that has saved both Jew and Gentile removes the stigmas that separates these two bodies. This gospel makes both groups equal before God, members of the same body and family. We to must see that what cultures may accept, God may actually detest!

Applications: The gospel is the answer!

  • It removes the stigmas of cultural differences?
  • It removes the stigmas of racism?
  • It is the cure for gender superiority?
  • It removes the stigmas that separate rich and poor?
  • It makes every human equal before God no matter his education, status in society, or family background?
  • It makes enemies brothers?
  • It replaces hatred with genuine love?

1 John 4:19-21 We love him, because he first loved us.  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Final thought: Let’s live in the light of the gospel we have professed faith in!

The Significance of the Resurrection: John 16:16-22

Occasion Sunday Worship 5th April 2015

Illustration: Every child comes into this world with tremendous pain and suffering to the mother. There are no exceptions. Those nine months leading up to delivery are often very difficult for the mother. At the end of her time, the baby comes with many birth pains, but the end result of the pain is unspeakable joy. When the mother holds her new healthy baby in her arms, she quickly forgets the pains she felt that brought that little one into the world.

Text: John 16:16-22

Purpose: In the events leading up to the cross, Christ wanted to prepare the disciples for the things they would experience; therefore, He made the following statements about His coming death and resurrection.

Proposition: God wants you to understand the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Interrogative: How can we do this?

Truth 1: The cross brought confusion and sadness to the disciples: 16:20 …ye shall weep and lament…

Picture the setting of these events and the way the people living these events would have responded:

  • The disciples were devout Jews who were looking for the Messiah: John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
  • The disciples had given up nearly everything to follow Christ: Matthew 19:27 Peter said, we have forsaken all, and followed thee…
  • The disciples lived under harsh Roman occupation and anticipated a physical delivered: Luke 2:1-3 There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed…And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
  • The disciples had listened to Christ’s preaching and seen His miracles, so they were convinced that He was the Messiah: Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
  • The disciples had a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s ministry: Matthew 16:21-22 Jesus began to show his disciples, how he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
  • The cross, to them, likely meant the end of everything they thought would happen, the end of their dreams of a Jewish Kingdom, and now their own lives are in danger: John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews.

Truth 2: The cross brought joy to those who hated Christ: 16:20 …but the world shall rejoice…

  • The religious leaders saw Christ as a threat to their comfortable position. John 11:47-50 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said…it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
  • The religious leaders saw Christ’s message as radical and abrasive.
  • Christ bluntly and harshly rebuked the religious leaders: Matthew 23:27-34 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?  Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
  • They wanted nothing more than to get rid of Christ, and to make a public example of Him in His death, so His followers would fear and disappear.
  • When Christ died, the religious leaders mocked Him and rejoiced in His death:  Mark 15:29-32 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross.  Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

Truth 3: The resurrection brought joy to the disciples that could never be taken away: 16:20 but your sorrow shall be turned into joy…

1 Corinthians 15:21-23 By man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

  • The resurrection meant forgiveness of sins was now possible.
  • The resurrection now meant God would eventually establish His Kingdom through Israel and Christ.
  • The resurrection meant everything the disciples had forsaken to follow Christ had been worth the sacrifice.
  • The resurrection was the triumph of God over sin, death, and eternal destruction: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Application:

Why did Christ have to come?

  • Man sinned in Adam, and now all of the creation is under God’s curse: Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
  • We were born spiritually dead: Ephesians 2:1 You were dead in trespasses and sins.
  • We have sinned and are building up God’s wrath which will be revealed and poured out on us for all eternity in the Lake of Fire: Romans 2:5 After thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
  • God determined even before the foundation of the world, to send a redeemer: 1 Peter 1:18-20 Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

Why did the cross have to take place?

  • On the cross, Christ became a curse for us. Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
  • On the cross, Christ took our sins on himself. 1 Peter 2:24 He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.
  • On the cross, Christ fully satisfied the Fathers wrath against our sin. Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.

Why did Christ have to rise from the dead?

  • When Christ rose from the dead, He demonstrated His power over sin, death, and the grave.
  • When Christ rose from the dead, He demonstrated His claims to be the Messiah were true.
  • When Christ rose from the dead, He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah
  • When He rose form the dead, He gave His own the guarantee, that they will rise form the dead in the same way that He rose form the dead.

How can blessings of the Gospel become mine? By faith alone! Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9

Illustration: The merciful actions I took to rescue a helpless chick from certain death in the gutter.

  • This faith involves repentance toward God: a thinking change that changes the way I view myself, this person Jesus of Nazareth, God’s righteousness, justice, holiness, and the seriousness of my sin.
  • Genuine repentance will leave you with an overwhelming sense of your helplessness and your complete inability to make yourself righteous before God.
  • Genuine repentance will leave you with only one saving hope, and that is Christ.
  • Genuine repentance will leave you believing that God is just, holy, and righteous, and that He cannot overlook even one of your sins.
  • Genuine repentance will leave you believing that the very best works you can give God are filthy rags; therefore, God can only accept a righteousness that is as perfect as His own.
  • Genuine repentance will point you to His finished work alone, and will leave with no other choice but to turn from all other hopes and place your full trust in the work of Christ not your own.
  • Saving faith rests in one object, Christ alone. No other object can be added to His finished work and perfect righteousness.
  • Have you repented of your self-righteousness and pride placing your faith alone in Christ’s finished work and righteousness? May God through the preaching of the gospel, turn your heart to Him! May we see many people today; place their faith in Jesus Christ our crucified and risen savior!

Conclusion: For those who have trusted in Christ, let us worship God with great joy for His wonderful plan of redemption. For those who have not yet placed their faith in the finished work of Christ, I pray that today will be your day of salvation. I pray that today, you will place your faith in the finished work of Christ!