We ought not to be promoting a godless agenda, but done based on truth and righteousness, not based on race and culture. Dr. Tony Evans says if we want to support God's agenda, we need to see one another through His eyes.
You are simply a sinner saved by grace no matter what color you are. One new man. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. Well, Dr. Evans, you've titled today's message, Heaven's New Community. We all look forward to heaven as the place where there's justice and fairness and equality. What about here on earth?
Is there a way we can see more of that in our society today? God doesn't want us to wait to heaven to experience heaven, or at least pieces of it. You know, in the Lord's Prayer, He says, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And in heaven, God will have people from every nation, every tribe, every kindred, and every tongue worshiping Him.
Without losing their uniqueness, they're going to be around the same throne. Well, what we are supposed to be today is a preview of coming attractions. You know, in movies and television, they show you clips of what's coming up. Well, we're supposed to be God's people, the church, heaven's new community operating on earth as a preview of what heaven is to look like.
And that must happen intentionally. We can't just hope that it occurs. And that means that churches are going to have to take the lead cross-culturally, cross-racially, cross-socially, cross-class to bring people together and model the kingdom of God in the midst of the kingdom of men. And that's what we'll learn to do today as we turn to Ephesians 2 for a look at Heaven's New Community.
Three words will help you to appreciate this passage. Separation, reconciliation, and unification. Remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are also called uncircumcision by the so-called circumcision, which is performed in the flesh by human hands, remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. He tells these now new believers that they were separated. Verse 11 and 12 talks about two kinds of separation that existed in the church that Paul wants to address.
One, the social separation, as seen in the words uncircumcision and circumcision. He calls them Gentiles in the flesh. That is, as people look at other people, this is who you are.
It would be like calling somebody black or white or Hispanic or Asian. That is, according to the flesh. As men recognize differences, that's who you were. And he says that was an unenviable position to be in because Gentiles were scorned by Jews. Galatians 2, verse 11 and following, after Peter had learned his lesson from God, guess what happened? He was eating pork chops with the Gentiles. Some of the men of the circumcision came in. That means Jews. They came in and saw Peter, their pastor and fearless leader, fraternizing with the Gentiles and said basically, how dare you eat with them? We got to go to heaven with them.
And when we get there, we'll fellowship. But from now till then, they belong on this side of town and you belong on that side of town and nobody crosses these tracks. These are two separate worlds. That text says that Peter was so intimidated by the circumcision, the Jews, by his own race, that he backed up from the Gentiles.
Can you imagine how they felt? And went to the Jews because he could not associate with them and keep his Jewish friends. They're part of the church, but they're bringing into the church the old standards of measurement, the old standards of adjustment, the old standards by which social acceptability is measured. But the point here is that they were separated socially, but that was really because they were separated spiritually. Please notice the lines here that we are given in verse 12. They were separated from Christ.
In other words, they had no hope of a Messiah. Now this separation led to the need for reconciliation. And this is where our Savior comes in.
But now, verse 13 says, in Christ Jesus, you were formerly afar off, have been brought near by the death or by the blood of Jesus Christ, referring to his sacrificial death. Now let me tell you why you have disharmony between races, between couples, between friends, between anybody. The reason why you have separation always is related to sin.
Why? Because sin is driven by selfishness. You see, people sin because they want to satisfy self. That's why you sin. You want to do something that pleases you, even though it doesn't please God. And the thing that pleases you that doesn't please God is sin. Now, if you get two people living in the same house and both are selfish, you will automatically count on it, erect the wall of separation.
You can bank on it. Once you introduce selfishness to a relationship, you will automatically bring separation in the relationship. To conquer division, you must conquer the sin that divides.
All you can do is set up laws to keep people from killing each other. But what you cannot do is inaugurate authentic relationship unless you deal with the spiritual issue of sin. So what God did in Christ by his blood was deal with sin. Now notice verse 14. He himself is our peace. He himself is our peace.
Notice what he says in verse 17. He came and preached peace. He came and preached peace. What he is saying is that Jesus Christ brought harmony, or the basis for harmony, where there was division. Now this is very important what I'm getting ready to get into now, because what Jesus came to do was erect harmony where there was hostility.
His death was about bringing things together. Now, you remember in World War II, Europe was divided. It was divided from the Warsaw Pact and NATO, and Germany was split right down the middle. And to separate East Germany from West Germany, they erected the what? Berlin Wall.
Two different lands, two different philosophies, communism versus democracy, two different peoples, always on the verge of either a hot war or a cold war. That wall represented hostility. Now notice what Jesus did in verse 14. He himself is our peace. So our peace is a person who made both groups into one, Jew and Gentile, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. You see, in the Jerusalem Temple, one built by Herod, there was the wall of the Gentiles. It separated the Gentile court from the Jewish court. A Gentile better not try to climb over that wall. This was serious stuff.
This was death stuff. That's how much the hatred was into Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ's death on the cross, he says, obliterated the wall, the Berlin Wall, spiritual Berlin Wall, that separated people who were separated for years. Now the implication of this is staggering, as you'll see in a moment. But what Jesus did was he broke down the barrier.
That is what that wall represents by doing what? Turning two groups into one group. Now, you can't turn two into one and still have two, all right? This new group that would incorporate Jews and Gentiles is called the church. That's the unique entity. This thing called the church, Heaven's New Community, would be a new race, almost like a third race.
A third race of people who would be brought together in one family based on one person, Christ, who did one act, and that was, by his blood, tear down the hostility. You're not going to heaven because you've never sinned. You're going to heaven because Christ has covered you with his righteousness. You see, I'm not going to heaven because I've never sinned.
I'm going to heaven because I have been covered by the blood. Because Christ was righteous, God is now credited to the account of every man, woman, boy and girl who has trusted Jesus Christ, the righteousness of Christ. And guess what he did with our sin? He credited to the cross our sin that we committed, and what happened to that sin?
It was judged on Calvary. Then he took the righteousness of Christ and put it in our spiritual bank account, and that's what our bank shows in heaven, perfect righteousness in Christ. And even though we're not perfect, our imperfections are covered by the blood. Every time God looks at me, he runs into Jesus Christ because Jesus covers me with his blood. I am not perfect, but God has credited perfection to my account, and he made the two, verse 15, into one new man establishing peace.
Now, let me tell you why this is important. This is important because if you don't see yourself as part of the new man, you'll keep functioning like you're part of the old man. So racism will stay, classism will stay, culturalism will stay, all kind of divisions based on a lot of things will stay, both on the personal level, family level, church level, and certainly societal level, because you do not see that you're part of this new race that God's established, his heavenly new community. In Christ, things that separate men have been erased.
There is no spiritual advantage. Look at Galatians 3, verse 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male or female, for you are all one in what? Now, is he saying there's no such thing as a man, no such thing as a woman?
No. What he is saying is those human distinctions in the family of God are irrelevant in terms of spiritual relationship, spiritual development. A white man has no advantage over a black man. A woman has no advantage over a male, vice versa. An employer has no advantage over an employee, that when you come into the family of God, you come on equal terms before God. Yes, there are recognitions among men, but they are never to be used to overrule somebody's status with God.
You cannot say that because of who you were or are or the money you have that you somehow are a privileged kid. You are simply a sinner saved by grace no matter what color you are. One new man. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with more of his lesson on Heaven's New Community. Right now, though, I encourage you to follow up on what you're hearing today by requesting a copy of our current message compilation, Faith, Hope, Unity.
This tribute to Black History Month explains how to dig up the root of personal prejudice, how to build authentic relationships with other believers, and as we're hearing today, how to set an example for the world of what real community looks like. We're making it available as a thank you gift to everyone who comes alongside our ministry with a financial contribution. And as an added bonus, we'll even include a copy of Tony's powerful and newly revised book, Oneness Embraced. Don't put it off.
This is the final day for this special combo offer. Visit us at TonyEvans.org or let one of our team members help you when you call us at 1-800-800-3222. Our resource center is open 24-7, so there's no need to wait.
Again, dial 1-800-800-3222. Well, Dr. Evans will return with more of today's message right after this. We want to tell you about a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of Alaska with Tony Evans and the urban alternative on an unforgettable cruise happening from August 6th to 13th. You'll enjoy life-changing teaching, worship and performances from gifted musicians, as well as the opportunity to spend time with people like you who have a passion for God and the truth of His word. You'll also have plenty of time to rest and relax in luxurious accommodations and enjoy top-notch meals from amazing chefs.
Those dates are August 6th to 13th, so book your trip today because rooms are filling up quick. Reserve your spot at TonyEvans.org. That leads to the third thing, unification. Unification.
Let's look at it very quickly here. First of all, new citizens. So then you are no longer stranger than aliens.
Now what's that? A foreigner, right? That's a foreigner. A stranger or an alien is a foreigner. You are no longer foreigners. Gentiles used to be foreigners even though they lived there to the Jewish world.
You are not a foreigner. Anybody who joins our church, no matter what their background, is not a foreigner. No matter how few of their group that's here or how large their group that's here. If I walk into an Anglo church and I am spurned as I have been because of the color of my skin, that is to attack the death of Christ because He didn't just come to gain us peace vertically. He came to grant us peace horizontally.
Then why don't we have peace? Because we want to live in the flesh and not in the spirit. He says you are no longer foreigners in the church. You're no longer those people, them. It is a we deal now if you're committed to Christ and you're established in His family. Not only that, but it's a new family. He says fellow citizens with the saints and are of God's household. Citizens speaks of a new nation. 1 Peter 2, 9 says we are a new nation. But here it speaks of a new family. He's bringing an intimacy now.
That's a new relationship. 1 Timothy 3, 15 says that we are God's household. And then in 1 Timothy 5, 1 and 2 Paul tells Timothy to treat the older women like mothers, older men like fathers, the younger men like brothers, the younger women like sisters. Why do we call each other brother and sister?
That shouldn't just be a quaint term. That's because this is another family. This is another family.
Let me tell you something. You are technically closer to your brother or sister in Christ who's a different race than your brother and sister in the flesh who are not Christians. Because your brother and sister in the flesh, if they don't become Christians, when they die, you will never see them again. Your brother and sister in the spirit who's of a different race, if they are Christians, you will be with forever. So when it comes to family, there is ultimately a new family, he says, and it's God's household.
How dare you ridicule another brother when you both have the same daddy? Final illustration is a building having been built. He uses a building motif. He says three things about the building. One, the building is on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
What does that mean? Well, they were responsible for recording and proclaiming the word of God. See, the apostles and the prophets laid the biblical foundation for the church. So what he is saying is that the church is situated on Christ and his word. For Christ is the foundation, but their job is to take the truth of Christ and record it and communicate it. So that's why 1 Timothy 3.15 says that the church is the ground and pillar of the truth. It is the foundation of truth that is the word of God is the standard by which we measure our relationships. The word of God is the standard. Secondly, he's the cornerstone, Christ himself being the cornerstone.
That's a picturesque word. Let me tell you what the cornerstone was. The cornerstone related to the architectural design of the building, and the cornerstone was the alignment stone by which the unity and symmetry of all the other stones would be measured.
In other words, the cornerstone was so situated that in order for the building to be straight and be positioned right, all the other stones had to properly align themselves to the cornerstone. So Jesus is the alignment stone. We ought to all be in line with him. And if you're out of line with him, I'm supposed to be out of line with you.
And if I'm out of line with him, you're supposed to be out of line with me because we're all supposed to be in line with Jesus Christ. He is the leader. So we must be aligned to him. So he is the cornerstone. And then finally, we are the bricks in whom you are being built together. This gives the imagery of putting bricks in their proper place in order that there might be a properly built building.
Now what does this say? He uses the word temple. You know what the temple was? It was where God hung out. Old Testament tabernacle. The glory of God came in the tabernacle. They found a permanent place. The glory of God came into the temple.
Where is the glory of God hanging out today? The new temple, the church. Your body is the temple of God, but so collectively we represent the temple of God. And if we are unified as a body, that doesn't mean you agree or we agree about everything, but it means we're moving in the same direction. That's unity. Unity is the same direction.
It doesn't mean you don't have disagreements and different personalities and different backgrounds, different histories, different classes, different cultures, different races. But they're all coming together in this one new man, pulling in this one new direction. Then guess what we will be? We will be the hangout of God. We will be where God's hangout was. That was his glory.
That was where he hung out. And God is not hanging out in a lot of churches today because they're using false criteria. Jesus is not the cornerstone, the apostles and the prophets, that is the word of God, is not the standard, and every brick is not fitting in. We've got bricks that want to isolate themselves from the building, yet hang around the neighborhood.
Every brick has been positioned to fit in. Unity is what he's talking about, moving in the same direction. Let me close with this passage. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 18. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Verse 20. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were entreating through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God. God in Christ has not only been the reconciler. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation. You have a job to do, and that is to be a reconciler.
You know what the problem is? A lot of us are not reconcilers because we keep the divisions going. We keep mess going.
He says, you are my ambassador, and you are to be the reconciler. We ought to be the promoters of racial harmony, of class harmony. We ought to be the promoters of families staying together and not breaking up. We ought not to be promoting a godless agenda, but done based on truth and righteousness, not based on race and culture, because sometimes people are wrong, and they do need to change.
But the standard is we must promote reconciliation. And God has given this preacher the ministry of reconciliation based on the word of God. So my job is not to please everybody, and my job is not to be so black that I stop being biblical. And I'm going to say that having said I'm proud of what God has made me, He knew what He was doing when He made me, and I don't want to be anything other than what He made me. But whenever I get so proud that Jesus and the cross have to adjust to me, man, I didn't develop the theo-ego.
I got a God complex. I must adjust to the cross, and so must you. When we adjust to the cross, we'll be God's new hangout.
And He'll feel at home with us, because we're doing His thing, not our thing. Then you'll see some answered prayer. You'll see some powerful presence. You'll see some supernatural activity.
Why? Because He can trust us with what cost Him His Son, His life. And that is reconciliation up, and reconciliation up. That's heaven's new community. That is the church.
Well, Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a closing prayer of reconciliation, so you want to make sure to stay with us for that. First, though, today's teaching is an important message for our churches. So if you feel motivated to do something toward building heaven's new community, consider passing this lesson along to your friends, family, or church leaders.
It's available on both CD and downloadable MP3s, and includes more material than we've been able to present on the air. Just visit tonyevans.org, where you'll find a link on the homepage for this collection called Faith, Hope, Unity, a tribute to Black History Month. And if you contact us at tonyevans.org today, then along with the audio messages from this series, we'll also send you a bonus copy of Tony's signature work on Christian unity, the newly revised Oneness Embraced. This special package is our gift to you when you make a donation to help support the work of the Urban Alternative. Again, the details are waiting for you at tonyevans.org.
Or let one of our team members help you by calling us any time today or tonight at 1-800-800-3222. Superheroes give us hope and inspiration and can always be counted on to do the right thing. Well, Dr. Evans says God has created a plan for ordinary men that gives us real-life characters to be inspired by. Join us tomorrow as Tony kicks off a series of messages on biblical manhood. Right now, though, he's back to wrap up today's program with a word of prayer.
Dr. Evans? Dear Lord, may the reconciliation that you paid for on the cross that brings us into right relationship with God also transfer to bring us in right relationship to one another. We cry out to you to make us one so that your glory may be manifested. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen. And as you seek to develop those right relationships with one another, be looking for opportunities to show each other kindness for the benefit of our culture, our communities, and the glory of God. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
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