It is time to start our service, and we are so glad to have you with us. I greet you all in Jesus’ name. I extend my greetings, especially to all those who have reached out over the past week, including our friends at Faith Assembly and the various churches we fellowshipped with for many years. It’s always wonderful to hear from you.
I acknowledge that many of you have been going through a tough patch lately, and things seem to be going from bad to worse. More and more people are being targeted, attacked, harassed, and thrown out. Homes and lives are being upended and destroyed by wicked men, driven by an evil desire for power. It’s important to note that these men don’t even truly believe the message they proclaim, as they openly admit from the platform.
There is a sadistic element at play, deriving pleasure from hurting people. It saddens me to say this publicly, perhaps the first time I’ve done so, but you are in danger. There is a man I believe has purposefully been causing harm, and he shows no signs of stopping. Your life is genuinely at risk if you stay. At a certain point, there might be nothing left to restrain him. I want to encourage you; if you can’t turn things around quickly, those who are still reaching out, you may need to leave for the sake of your safety.
Despite what some may tell you, I care deeply for you. I have never sought to turn anyone into a follower of mine, and I have never pressured anyone for anything. If not for the persistent wickedness directed towards me, I would have left quietly, and you would have never heard from me again. However, I am here now, warning you for your safety.
What has unfolded over the past few months has shown that there is almost nothing left to restrain this wicked man. He orchestrated everything that has happened recently, and it’s essential to communicate this clearly. Disturbing things are being heard, and I want to emphasize that you need to plan your escape because, at some point, it might be too late.
If you are wondering why a sermon begins with such a statement, most of the listeners here are formerly members of a doomsday cult based on the teachings of William Branham. This cult has become increasingly dangerous over the past few years, and thousands of us have made our escape in the last five years or so. Some of us are trying to throw a lifeline to our friends, family, and loved ones still trapped in the cult. My name is Charles Paisley, formerly the associate pastor of the second oldest continuously operating message church in the world, located right in Jeffersonville and descended from the original first families of William Branham’s followers. We appreciate your prayers and support for all those in deep need of deliverance from this doomsday cult.
Turning to our lesson today, we are back in the book of Ephesians as we continue our series, still in chapter 2. Today, we move into the second half of the chapter, examining verses 11 to 13. Let me begin by reading those verses:
“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— 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”Ephesians 2:11-13 ESV
Let us pray.
Lord God, we thank you for the Bible and the inspiration you placed in the Apostle Paul to write these verses. We acknowledge that Paul wrote this letter from prison, unable to visit the Ephesians in person, yet in his hardship, you allowed him to write this book that has blessed Christians for thousands of years. Like the millions of Christians before us throughout the ages, we turn our attention to these verses.
We know we don’t have Paul with us today to explain these things more deeply, but the same Holy Spirit that moved on Paul as he wrote is still here with us today. Speak to us today, we pray, that we may better understand you and your great plan for us. In Jesus’ name, we ask. Amen.
Well, praise the Lord!
I am thankful for another week and another opportunity to look into the scripture with you.
When we approach the scripture, it is a lot like when Jesus fed the 5000 with the loaves and fishes. It doesn’t matter how much we tear off and consume from the word, there is always more there. There is always another helping to be had. I could preach you a hundred sermons on the book of Ephesians, and there would still be more to be had. I feel that way as we go through this book. There are different things which, I, we could stop and linger on for three or four messages.
And this passage may be along that line. There is just so much packed into these few verses. I think it would be easy to spend several sermons just on what we have read here.
I see three important points Paul is making here in these verses, that I want to draw your attention to. And we will just be looking at the first one of those main points today. And we will save the other two for the next couple of messages.
And before we begin to dive into this section, let me just remind you of what came before these verses we have read today. Paul opened chapter 2 by explaining that we are being redeemed from sin and from our fallen nature. And then in verse 4, Paul went on to give one of the most beautiful explanations of the gospel message to be found in the entire bible. He explained how we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And he ended in verse 10 by explaining that God is working in us to totally redeem us. And Paul drove home the point that the transformation happening in the lives of Christians is a product of God’s work. Not a product of our work. But a product of God’s work.
And as we come to verse 11, Paul makes a bit of a transition in topics. He started off verse 11 with the word “therefore.” So this is connected. But it is a transition. Paul turns his attention towards an explanation of how it is that the Gentiles gained access to all these wonderful blessings. How is it that Gentiles were offered salvation, and redemption. And how the Gentiles also have an inheritance in the glory to come.
Jew and Gentile
And that is the primary theme of the second half of this chapter. It is a reflection on how the Gentiles became partakers of the plan of redemption. As Paul walks through that, there are a lot of gems of understanding embedded in it, and we will look at some of those individual little nuggets. But the broader theme is how the Gentiles became partakers of the promises of God.
And that was an important topic in Paul’s day because, at the point in time that Paul wrote this book of Ephesians, the church was majority Jewish. The church was majority Jewish for many decades, maybe even the entire first century of the church. A lot of times, because of the places we come from, we have the impression that there was this hard transition where the church went from a Jewish Church to a Gentile Church. But that really is not true. The church started out in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and the church started out as 100% Jewish people.
The church only had Jewish members in the beginning, and it was that way for about the first five years. When the church was about five years old, Peter was sent to Cornelius’s house by the Holy Spirit, and starting there, a few Gentiles began to join the church. But the Gentiles were just a tiny minority within the overall church.
The early church mainly spread among the Jewish communities that were scattered around the Roman Empire. Today, the majority of the world’s Jews do not live in Israel. The same thing was true back then during Roman times. The majority of Jews have lived outside of the land of Israel for thousands of years, and when Christianity first spread, it spread out through all the different Jewish communities spread all over the ancient world.
Now, it was when Paul went out on his missionary journeys that the Gentiles really started to join the church in large numbers, and that began to happen in the middle of the first century when the church was about twenty years old.
Paul always made it his priority to start preaching the gospel to the Jewish community wherever he went. Whenever he arrived in a new city, he always gave the Jewish people of the city the first opportunity to hear the gospel. He would go search out the local synagogues and preach to the Jews of the city first. And then after he finished sharing the gospel with the Jewish community, then he would preach to the Gentiles of the same city.
And that was the pattern for Paul’s entire ministry. There was no point at which he abandoned that pattern. Now there are preachers out there who will go to the scripture in Acts chapter 18 where Paul said, “I will go to the Gentiles,” and they will falsely tell you that is the start of a Gentile church age. And from that point forward, Paul only went to the Gentiles after that, and God stopped dealing with the Jewish people. But that is false. There is no point at which Paul stopped going to the Jewish people, and there is no point at which God stopped offering salvation to the Jewish people.
God did stop working with national Israel; we see that Jesus told the priests in Matthew 22 that the kingdom would be taken away from them and given to another people, which was the church. But God did not take the kingdom from Jews and give it to the Gentiles. He took it from Israel and gave it to the church, and Israel was made up of Jews, and the church was made up of Jews too. There has never been a time in history when there were not Jewish people in the church.
The idea that God rejected all the Jews and stopped offering them salvation is just an antisemitic idea used to persecute and segregate Jewish people. God still loves the Jewish people, and he has always offered them salvation, just like the rest of us. There was never a point that they were ever cut off from access to salvation. We talked about that somewhat when we walked through the book of Romans, and I am not going to go into that at length here. But you can go back and listen to the lessons on Romans chapter 10 and 11 if you would like to look into that more deeply.
And in Acts 18, when Paul said, “I will go to the Gentiles,” he said that because he had finished up with the Jews in one particular city. He was not saying that he would stop going to the Jews in general, just to the Jews of that particular city. He was just following his normal pattern. And after he said, “I will go to the Gentiles,” then he went to the Gentiles in the same city, just like was his pattern.
You can read the rest of the book of Acts; he never stopped his pattern. He continued to always go to the Jewish community first. In fact, it is in the first half of chapter 18 where he says, “I will go to the Gentiles,” and he did. And then in the second half of chapter 18 – guess what? Paul went back to the Jews again in the next city. So even in the very chapter where he said, “I go to the gentiles,” the chapters prove that was just a temporary statement for that particular city he was.
My point here is that at the heart of almost every church you read about in the New Testament was a set of Jewish believers. Almost every congregation you read about in scripture was a mixed congregation of both Jews and Gentiles: the Ephesians church, the Roman church, the Galatian Church, the Antioch Church. In the time that Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, all of those were mixed churches, both Jew and Gentile.
Most churches of the first century, especially when Paul was writing this letter, were mixed congregations made up of both Jews and Gentiles. And this was a new phenomenon. Jews and Gentiles sitting together was something that had not really happened before, and that brought with it some tensions and some issues. It made this topic an important one to the early church, and so, that is why Paul is delving into the issue of Gentile-Jewish relations here in chapter 2.
The Jewish people and Gentile people come from very different backgrounds. They had very different lifestyles, and they were in very different places when they came to faith in Christ.
But now, for the first time, in the early church, there are these two very different groups of people, Jew and Gentile, sitting side by side in the same churches.
At One Time You Were Separated
It is, in some ways, a miracle and was a miracle that had been prophesied about in the Old Testament, how the Gentiles would be brought to faith in the true God. In the early church, in the days of Paul, they were witnessing prophecy fulfilled right there in front of their eyes. It was a miracle that this thing was even happening.
Because many Jewish people regarded the Gentiles as unclean, and for a Jewish person living under the law of Moses, to go around a Gentile, they believed the uncleanness of a Gentile would rub off on them. If a Gentile touched a Jew, then the Jew became unclean. So if a Jew had dinner with a Gentile, then the Jew became unclean, or if a Jew got too close to a Gentile, they became unclean. Jews avoided Gentiles like the plague.
You see that throughout scripture; for example, when the priests were trying to get Pilate to crucify Jesus, the priests would not go into Pilate’s house because if they did, they would become unclean. You see that repeated throughout scripture: the Jews did not like to get too close to the Gentiles.
The same with Peter when the Holy Spirit sent him to Cornelius’s house; Peter was concerned about becoming unclean. But the Holy Spirit gave Peter a vision to let him know that the Gentiles would not make him unclean. That was a hard idea for the Pharisee-minded Jewish people to let go of. It was not easy for them to realize that the Gentile people, who were not keeping all their special rules, would not make them unclean.
The Pharisee-minded Jews did not want to be caught under the same roof as a Gentile. But now, here in the church, Jews and Gentiles are sitting side by side. That was something revolutionary, something incredible. It was a miracle that this thing could have happened.
But it also led to tensions. It led to tensions between the Jews and the Gentiles because they had very different convictions. Even though they were side by side, some of the Jewish people really struggled to let go of their traditional understanding of uncleanness and sin. They still struggled with the idea that Gentiles, who didn’t keep all their rules, were somehow still unclean, and that maybe their uncleanness could rub off on others.
The friction that created still existed to some degree within different churches. And as you read through this second half of chapter 2, Paul is touching on both of these aspects of this new relationship in the church between Jews and Gentiles. Paul is touching on the miraculous aspect of how these two very different groups have come together, and he is also saying things to try to deal with the tensions between the two groups.
In verses 9 and 10, Paul was telling them all, Jew and Gentile, that they were all the workmanship of God. They had all, Jew and Gentile, been saved by grace, and they were all the workmanship of God. Then he comes to verse 11 and says:
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— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel…
Paul points out that there was once a time when a Jew would rather be caught dead than sitting in a building next to a Gentile. They were alienated from the people of Israel and separated from God.
Paul describes the condition a bit, and verse 11 is worded very cleverly. Paul says quite a bit in this one verse.
The first thing I want you to catch is that Paul is telling the Gentile Christians that they are still Gentiles in the flesh, even after they are saved. And that is something important to remember. As Christians, we are children of Abraham, spiritually. Spiritually we are part of the commonwealth of Israel, which Paul mentions in verse 12. But in the flesh, we are still Gentiles. Most all of us listening here are Gentiles in the flesh. That is a matter of our parentage. It’s a matter of our genealogy. And although we are spiritual children of Abraham, in the flesh, we are still Gentiles.
There is no room in what Paul is saying here to form an idea that once we are saved, we become Jewish people because we are not. There are people out there; they think that because they are a Christian, they are more or less fully a Jew now. But that is not right. In the flesh, we are still Gentiles. Being a natural Jew or a natural Gentile, in that sense, is a matter of the flesh.
There is still a distinction between Jews and Gentiles, in the flesh, even after we are saved. Just like when we are saved, we are still European, or we are still African, or we are still Asian, or we Native American, or whatever it may be. In the flesh, we are still the same ethnicity we were before. So that is the first part of verse 11. We are still in our flesh Gentiles, even though we are children of Abraham now.
But the second part of verse 11 tells us that it’s not a distinction that really matters. These distinctions in our flesh, Jew, Gentile, or whatever else you want to put in there, they are not something truly meaningful now that we are in Christ. If we went to Galatians, Paul wrote that when we are in Christ, there is neither free nor slave, neither rich nor poor, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Barbarian nor Scythian or Greek or Romans. But in Christ, we are all the same.
It’s not because when we are saved we have all become Jews. But when we are saved, we are all in Christ now, and what we are in Christ is something new. It’s not Jew. It’s not Gentile. It’s not Roman. It’s not Greek. It’s not barbarian. We are something altogether new. We are Christians, and we will see that as we read on. That is what unites us – is the fact that we are all in Christ. Not that we all become ethnically the same.
And those ethnic distinctions which you and I may look at in the flesh
They are not something that is meaningful to God when we are in Christ.
Our race, our ethnicity, our cultural background—that is irrelevant as a source of division when we are in Christ. By irrelevant, I mean it is irrelevant in terms of making one person better or worse than anyone else. Those sorts of things do divide a lot of people in the world today. There are a lot of people in the world who do believe people are better or worse based on those sorts of fleshly things.
But those kinds of ideas are not compatible with the Bible, and those sorts of things should not become divisions in the church. And they won’t be divisions in the true church. The true church will unite in Christ and realize those sorts of divisions have no place.
The true church is a place where all the things that divide the world around us cease to be barriers—race, class, wealth. These sorts of things are not barriers in the church. And Christianity, true Bible-based Christianity, is where the solution to the world’s divisions can be found. It is in the Christian church where Jew and Gentile, black and white, man and woman, rich and poor, powerful and powerless all sit together as equals in Christ Jesus. The church is where all those divisions disappear.
And Paul here is describing how this works, especially as it relates to Jew and Gentile relations. In verse 11, Paul points out that the Gentiles are Gentiles in the flesh, and then in the same verse, he points out just how meaningless that really is. Let me read it again:
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 hand.
Paul here is pointing out that the Gentiles are Gentiles in the flesh, but he also points out that the Jews are Jews in the flesh. And that those distinctions are really just the work of man. Those distinctions are just a matter of the flesh, and it is silly for one group to magnify their flesh over the flesh of another group. That is the ultimate point of verse 11. It is silly for someone to say, “My flesh is better than your flesh.” That is just plain silly.
The Gentiles were called the uncircumcision by the Pharisee Jews, and circumcision is something in the flesh. Circumcision is part of the ethnic identity of the Jewish people, and Paul is pointing out here how the Gentiles were Gentiles in the flesh and that the circumcision were also circumcision in the flesh. These differences are nothing more than skin deep. The Jewish people’s Jewishness was just skin deep, and the Gentile people’s gentileness was also just skin deep. It was just in the flesh. And in verse 11, Paul wants his readers to see that allowing differences in our flesh to form barriers and divisions is just silly.
But as we read on into verse 12, we will find what the real problem was. What was the legitimate reason for this barrier between Jews and Gentiles? Paul writes:
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.
There you see the problem. Gentiles were separated from Christ. That is what caused them to be strangers, that is what caused them to be alienated. The Jewish people were in Christ, but the Gentiles were not in Christ.
Abraham was in Christ; it was his faith in the coming Messiah that justified him. And the same with all the righteous Jews down through the ages of time. It wasn’t the law that saved the Jewish people; the law can’t save anyone. Paul made a long explanation of all this in the book of Romans. Circumcision didn’t save the Jews, keeping the law of Moses didn’t save the Jews. What saved the Jewish people was their Messiah, their Savior. There is only one way to be saved, and that is through our Savior Jesus Christ, and there has never been a point in time when you could be saved another way. Faith in the Savior always was and always will be the only way to salvation. And the righteous Jews had faith in their Savior.
Jesus said, “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced in it.” Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” David said, “the Holy One will not leave my soul in the grave.” It wasn’t their law-keeping that saved them; it was their faith in the Savior that all those symbols of the law were pointing to. It was always the Savior that saved them and never anything else.
The righteous Jews were in Christ Jesus even before they knew his name. The righteous Jews had faith in their coming Messiah. And here in verse 12, Paul lays his finger on the root cause of the Gentile’s separation and alienation—it was because they were not in Christ.
When we are not in Christ, it causes some alienation from people who are. When we are separated from God, it leads to separation from the people of God. Even though we may not want a barrier to be there, there is naturally a barrier between the righteous and the unrighteous because we have different interests, different priorities, and different lifestyles. These differences can and do lead to a degree of a relationship barrier between those who are in Christ and those who are separated from Christ. That doesn’t mean there is no relationship at all, but it’s not what it could be.
As we read verses 11 and 12, Paul very clearly lets us know the barrier is not something of the flesh, but the barrier was a result of separation from Christ. Let me read it again:
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— 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.
So there we get the fuller picture—the Gentiles were without God, strangers to the covenants and the promises. They didn’t even know what the promises were. And because they were without God, they were also alienated from God’s people—not because of differences in their flesh but because of their relationship with God.
What Paul describes here is the state, not just of a Gentile, but the state of anyone who is separated from Christ. If you are separated from Christ, you will be a stranger to the covenants and promises of God. If you are separated from Christ, you are without God. If you are separated from Christ, you have no hope.
What Paul describes there fits anyone, Jews or Gentile, who is separated from the Savior, because if you are separated from the Savior, then you will not be saved.
Hollow Symbols – Whited Sepulchers
Paul brings this into focus in verse 12 because there were many Jews in the flesh, Pharisees, who had all the symbols of holiness pointing to the Savior. However, they were actually separated from Jesus Christ. Despite having symbols of the Messiah, they rejected the Messiah himself, choosing symbols over the genuine article. Accumulating symbols is meaningless without the Savior those symbols point to.
Symbols are just that—symbols. You need the genuine article, and the truth is, if you have the genuine article, you don’t really need the symbols. Many people, even today, are stuck in the delusion that symbols of holiness make them holy and symbols of righteousness make them righteous. Their hope for salvation is in the symbols they have accumulated rather than the Savior those symbols are pointing to. They are separated from Christ and without God, unaware of their condition.
It’s a sad deception and one of Satan’s clever tricks to convince someone that symbols confer holiness or righteousness. You can have all the symbols of holiness, righteousness, and understand types, shadows, and patterns, but without true hope and faith in the Savior, it amounts to nothing.
If you find yourself in this situation, where your hope and faith are in symbols rather than the Savior himself, it’s crucial to understand that you are in trouble. Just as symbols couldn’t save the Pharisees, they can’t save you. You need Jesus Christ. Without Him, you are living in the state described in verse 12:
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.
The problem is separation from Christ, but verse 13 provides the solution:
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
In verse 12, separation from Christ makes you a stranger without hope, but in verse 13, union with Christ brings you near, healing the rift and restoring the relationship.
Separated No More
When we are in Christ, we are connected with the body of Christ, with the church. Our flesh remains the same—Jewish, Gentile, Roman, Greek—but now we are connected to the commonwealth of Israel. We become children of promise, spiritual seeds of Abraham, with access to the same covenants, promises, and hope that the righteous of Israel had.
What brought about this change? It wasn’t the symbols pointing to the Savior, holiness, righteousness, or the knowledge of unraveling mysteries in types and shadows. It was Jesus Christ, the Savior to whom all these symbols pointed. Paul emphasizes that Jesus is enough. He isn’t instructing the Gentiles to adhere to Jewish rules, get circumcised, or obtain symbols. Instead, he asserts that the blood shed by Jesus on the cross, His payment for sins, is sufficient for reconciliation, salvation, unity with believers, and the assurance of salvation and unity.
Let me read verse 13 again:
“But now…”Ephesians 2:13 ESV
Not 100 years later, not after jumping through hoops, but now, immediately, right away.
“But now in Christ Jesus…”Ephesians 2:13 ESV
As soon as you are in Christ, Jesus said that he who believes in Him has already passed from death to eternal life and will never be judged. As soon as we are in Christ Jesus, these things are true. Jesus, in His prayer for the disciples, emphasized unity through belief, being one with the Father and the Son. It’s all in Christ; we must be in Christ, united with Him, to achieve true unity.
What is it when we are all made one in Christ?
It’s unity, not a false, latter-rain message cult unity but real unity with a real Savior.
“It’s not a 25-step plan to get there, but it is now, immediately, right away. It is immediately true if you are in Christ Jesus.”
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”Ephesians 2:13 ESV
The blood of Christ, which paid for our sins, and our faith in Him as our Savior make us one. Saving faith in Christ brings unity; we become one with Him, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and brought near by the blood of Christ. No longer strangers, no longer alienated, we are united with Christ, the true church, and in unity when we are in Christ. Divisions of the flesh are destroyed in Christ, and we are brought near to each other. Our union and unity are not based on something other than Christ; it is Jesus Christ Himself. In Him, we, who were once far away, separated, disconnected, and disunited, are brought near to each other, united, and not alienated from each other anymore. Divisions and barriers do not exist between us in Christ Jesus.
Let me point out once again, Paul is using the phrase “in Christ” in verse 12 and 13.
As I have pointed out to you several times now in this series on Ephesians, that phrase has been Paul’s refrain: “In Christ.”
If you add up the second chapter and the first chapter, you will see Paul has repeated this thing 23 times so far. Twenty-three times he has said “In Christ” so far, and he’s not done yet. Because, as I have pointed out in past lessons, this is all building into Paul’s explanation of Unity and union with Christ.
And that is true unity—being united in Christ.
I want to read just a little more of chapter 2 with you, and we will examine this in more detail in the next lessons. But I want to make sure you see how Paul is tying all of this together into the package of unity.
13 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 (that is unity) and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (whatever would separate us, is abolished by Christ, he is the source of our unity. And he that…) 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself (there is that phrase again, in Christ) [that he might create in himself] one new man (that is unity..) [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. (This is how we are brought into unity, this is how are divisions are eliminated) 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. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,Ephesians 2 ESV
I hope you can see how Paul is tying all this together. Jesus Christ is our unity. He is the basis of our connection to each other, the means of our union, and he is our peace – not just with God, but with each other. He is the one who breaks down our hostility towards one another, whether it’s Jew and Gentile or any other division of the flesh man might come up with. In Christ, those divisions are eliminated, and in Christ, we are all one body.
And we have peace with each other because we have peace in Christ. Come back next time, and that is what we will look at next week. We will look at how these verses tell us that Jesus Christ is the peace between us.
And as we bring this lesson to a close, I hope you are encouraged to know that in Christ, we are strangers no more. This was something important to the early church, where the divisions were very much along the lines of Jew and Gentile. The division was between people with a long rigorous religious background and who were attached to a whole lot of traditional ideas that were just symbols pointing to the savior who was to come. And then, on the other hand, people who were newcomers and who had none of that baggage, so to speak. These two very different groups of people were coming together in the church and partaking together in the wonderful grace of God. The grace that saved the lawkeeper was the same grace that saved those who had been total strangers to the covenants. And in Jesus Christ, they became one—not one in the flesh, not one in their convictions, and not one in their traditions. But they did become one in their union with Christ.
And that is the threshold for true unity in the church—it is union with Christ. It’s our mutual acceptance and faith in the gospel message that is the basis of the unity of the faith and the unity of the church.
And I look forward to going over that more as we get deeper in the book of Ephesians. God bless you all. Let me close in prayer.
Great and Holy God, the truth of scripture causes my heart to rejoice. I rejoice in the knowledge that in Christ Jesus, all the divisions created by the flesh of man are broken down and cast away. I rejoice to know just how powerful the gospel message really is, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes it. Lord, bless all of my brothers and sisters. Break down the walls of division and let them all embrace the unity which we have in Christ Jesus.
I ask it in his name. Amen.