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R351 Unity in Christ

Encouraging Word / Don Wilton
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2021 8:00 am

R351 Unity in Christ

Encouraging Word / Don Wilton

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May 28, 2021 8:00 am

The Daily Encouraging Word with Dr. Don Wilton

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God has an encouraging word for you and me today through the Bible-based preaching of Paul. Please take a copy of God's Word and turn with me to Paul's letter to the Ephesians in chapter 2. Paul's letter to the Ephesians in chapter 2. We're going to read from verse 11 as we continue our study. And before I begin to read, I want to say something about the first word of verse 11. Therefore, you see, up until this point, the Apostle Paul has been telling us, telling the church at Ephesus, telling believers who they are in Christ.

He's made some remarkable statements that God has told him to tell us. For example, that we've been seated together with Christ at the right hand of the Father. And so from verse 11 through to verse 22, here in this remarkable letter, the Apostle Paul begins to say what he is about to say based upon what he has already said. Paul is beginning to tell us some things about ourselves that need to be said based upon what we already know about ourselves. This is a consequence of our having been seated in Christ. If you please, the Apostle is looking back now at this particular point in time, and he's saying, therefore, having come to understand what it is that God has done for us because he has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, therefore, we are now able to have a fresh understanding about some things related to our lives.

Now, friends, I've got an apology to make to you this morning. There is a real sense in which every word in the next several verses ought to be exegeted. That means that as I have begun to prepare, and I know as some of you have been reading and studying these passages, there is a real sense in which we could spend literally weeks upon almost every word that is said. That's how rich God's word is. There is a sense in which we should be coming back here six weeks from now, if not six months from now, if not six months from now, and you all walk in here with your Bibles and say, oh, no, he's still on the same word. I remember as a boy, my father preaching a 12-week series on John 360. I thought, how positively laborious. And it's only as I have begun to grow in God and as I began to understand the depth of God's grace that I'm beginning to understand how far away I am from the riches of His grace, how little I really do know, and how deep and eternal God's grace really is.

So I want to read it for you, and we may stop once or twice, I'm sure. Ephesians 2 and verse 11, therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves the circumcision, that is that done in the body by the hands of men. Now, Paul here is talking about two different classes of people. And the outward mark of that class distinction between the Jew and the Gentile was the physical mark of physical circumcision. That's what separated them outwardly, physically in the body. But as a consequence of that physical separation between the Jew and the Gentile that marked them apart, the parameters and the lands that were drawn from that juncture carried all the way into the Jewish interpretation of who and who was not in a right relationship with God.

We're going to discover some remarkable things here about this. Look at verse 12. Now, those of you that are uncircumcised, those of you that are Gentiles, those of you that are Gentiles, those of you that are non-Jews, if you're not a Jew, you fall into this category. Remember that at that time, you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenants, note it's in the plural, I'm going to talk about it, the covenants of the promise without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ, Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ, for he himself is our peace, who has made the two which two, the Jew and the Gentile.

According to the Jew, the religious and the non-religious, they weren't right about it, but according to them. What has God done? God in Christ has made the two one and has, here it is, are you ready for this? He has destroyed the barrier. Now listen how he describes that. The dividing wall of hostility.

How did he do this? Verse 15, by abolishing in his flesh. Now folks, listen to me, circumcision is of the flesh. Listen to what God's word is saying here. This is very important if we're going to understand what it is that God is teaching us here today. By abolishing in his flesh, that is in Christ's flesh. Why in Christ's flesh? Because he gave himself in his flesh, he was beaten and bruised for our transgression. He died in the flesh as man, but 100% as God by abolishing in his flesh, the law with its commandments and regulations.

That's incredible. The Jews said, wait a minute, there are laws and rules and regulations and the laws and the rules and the regulations are going to be the means by which you are going to come into a relationship with God. And Jesus Christ says, absolutely no way. That is not the way you come to know me.

I've abolished that. It doesn't matter which side of the fence you sit on. Well, let's see what he says halfway through verse 15. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, out of who? The Jew and the Gentile, thus making peace. And in this one body to reconcile both of them to God, how did he do this? Through the cross. Why through the cross, my friends? Because it is through the cross that he abolished the law with its commandments and regulations. It is through the cross that he has set us completely free.

And what happens in verse 16? And in this one body, that is the body of Jesus Christ, to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility. He put an end to the nonsense that existed amongst mankind in their separation from one another.

What did he do? He came and he preached peace to you, who were far away in peace to those who were near. For through him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, what's the result? You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and the members of God's household. Isn't that amazing? God said that. That's what he's told me right there. You are no longer a foreigner and alien, but you are a fellow citizen with God's people and a member of God's household.

How's this happen? It is built in verse 20 on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. May the Lord write his word upon our hearts. People, you and I, past and present, part of our sinful nature is to create barriers between people.

No question about it. Here it was between Jew and Gentile. It was between slaves and their masters.

In their time, it was also between husbands and wives. Women in these days didn't have any rights. Like many countries today, especially in the Middle East, the women have no rights whatsoever. They have to cover themselves up and hide away. They are nothing more than objects of pleasure. They are nothing more than people who give birth to children.

They are nothing more than workers, but they have no rights as human beings. Such it was here in the time of the apostle Paul. What was he saying here? I think the apostle Paul was beginning to head toward a point, my friends, that he gets to in chapter four and verse three.

And we're going to get to that at some time later. But Paul is trying to say here, my friend, that disunity among God's own people has always been a special heartache for God. That's what Jesus' prayer in John 17 is all about, that we studied some months ago. You see, friends, unity in Christ has been achieved positionally.

Why? Because we are one in Christ. It's like some people say to me, well, I think that I'll make Jesus Christ Lord. You don't think about whether or not to make Jesus Christ Lord.

He is Lord. Now in the same way as Christian men and women, you don't think that you are going to be one with every person of every color of every nation. You don't think you're going to be one.

You are one. If you're a born again believer, friend, it doesn't matter what the color of your skin is, you are one in Christ. It doesn't matter whether it's a he or a she, you're one in Christ.

It doesn't matter whether you come from this side of the tracks or what you happen to think about it. Positionally, in Christ Jesus, we are one. But practically in the human mind, it is still one of the greatest tragedies in the world today. Positionally, God has settled the issue. Practically, mankind is resisting the righteousness of God.

Mankind is saying no. That's why in Ephesians 4 and verse 23, be diligent. That's what the word says, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Why through the bond of peace? Well, you go back to verse chapter two, verse 11 through 22, and you see that he is our peace.

And because of the peace of God, we have received his peace. Now, I want us to try and study this in two ways. I know we got a short time to look at it.

So listen quickly. We're going to try and understand what Paul is trying to say here by looking at the world without God. And then I want us to look here in this passage at the world with God. There are six facts that Paul tells us about the world without God. Number one, a world without God is separated and is unaccepted socially.

It is unaccepted socially. Look back at verse 11. Here the apostle Paul talks about the physical right of circumcision on man, on men literally, who became the symbol of what society was all about. Now in Africa today, in tribal Africa, there is a ceremony that is still as strong today as it has ever been. All young men from the age of 13, 14, or 15 go through a ritualistic rite into manhood. The first thing they do is that they are circumcised in the flesh. They are taken by witch doctors and by the elders and they are circumcised in the flesh. If you want to read about it, read President Nelson Mandela's famous biography and he'll tell you about what he went through as a closet tribesman near Umtata in South Africa. They talk about it is a very important part of a ritual in African tribal custom.

He's circumcised. He's then put into a little grass hut for about three months with his friends. They paint themselves in white kind of mud.

They literally, it's a white mud that they put all over themselves. They stay in that hut. They're not allowed to see any women for those three months.

They're not allowed to look upon strangers. They feed off the land at the end of the three months. The witch doctors come. They take those young men. They put them into a little pond or a dam nearby. They wash off this mud and while they're washing it off, they burn that grass hut that they lived in. And the young men are not allowed to turn around and look back at that hut. If they turn around and look back at their hut, it means that the evil spirits are literally going to accompany them for the rest of their lives because they are looking back on their boyhood and it symbolizes the burning away of their childishness, of their child likeness, of their boyhood. And once a young man, by the way, they are known as the Amaqueta, if you're taking notes, they're known as the Amaqueta.

That's A-M-A-K-W-E-T-H-A, Amaqueta. And when they go through these rituals, the Amaqueta then are qualified to become men. Now you can imagine when a young black man in tribal Africa has led to the Lord Jesus Christ and these things are no longer important. Why are they not important? They're not important, my friends, because the Bible says that Jesus Christ in the giving of His flesh has done what? He has abolished all regulations and commandments and rituals. I've heard people say to me, we need to have more rituals in our service. Uh-uh, uh-uh.

God forbid. You don't come into God's presence through rituals. What a powerful challenge from the pastor. As we move away from ritual and into relationship, we have wonderful resources that will help you grow in your walk with Christ. I pray you've signed up for the daily encouraging word. Email from Dr. Wilton. It pops out into my email box about six o'clock every morning and will literally jumpstart your day. Sign up at T-E-W online dot O-R-G or if you'd like to have a physical copy, we have it in quarterly form by calling 866-899-WORD.

It's absolutely free at 866-899-9673. Now back to today's teaching. The way in which you sing, the way in which you walk, the way in which you do, these things are absolutely unimportant to God. They have their place at certain times, but they are not the means by which you come into the presence of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And what is a world without God?

It is unaccepted socially. It means that outside of God, in the family of God, you are kept away from the very social atmosphere that God has created for His own. But He goes on from there and He says they were separated from Christ.

What an ultimate consequence. Look at verse 12. Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ and that word separate means that you are apart from, you have no connection with God who is the author and finisher of life. In other words, Paul is saying yet again, how lost is a lost person?

They are completely and totally 100% lost. There is no such thing as a sort of lost person. Just the same as there's no such thing as a sort of saved person. I've spoken to people from time to time and I've said to them, do you know Jesus Christ?

Well, I think so. There's no such thing as an I think so I know Christian. Not according to what the apostle is saying. You either know God or you don't know Him. You don't think you know Him. And if you don't know God, you're lost. You're completely lost, all the way lost.

You are totally unaccepted socially. You are totally separated but in the third place, they were excluded from citizenship. Did you see that in verse 12? Now there is a sense folks in which I'm standing at the top of a mountain here and I've got a little ball of snow and it's wintertime and I start rolling that snowball and when it rolls down, it gets bigger and bigger and it collects all the stuff. This is what's happening here. You see from verse 11, it's as it were that the apostle Paul is saying because you were of the uncircumcision, because of the physical mark in your body that excluded you, because you have been kept outside of the grace of God, I want you to know something.

It has a snowball effect and what is that snowball effect? You're unaccepted socially. You're separated from Christ. You're excluded from citizenship. What does it mean to be excluded from citizenship?

It means the sphere in which God has made Himself known to you is not available to you. The sphere, the exclusion of the citizenship in the King James Version, the authorized text, the word right there is that you are an alien from the commonwealth of Israel. You're kept apart but he goes on and he says you're not only excluded from citizenship but you are a foreigner to the covenants. Look at that in verse 12, foreigners to the covenants of the promise. What is the covenant? What was the covenant? That was the covenant given to Abraham when God came to him in Genesis chapter 12 and said to him, Abraham, I'm going to be with you, I'm going to watch over you, I'm going to bless them that bless you, I'm going to curse them that curse you and in you will all the nations of the earth be blessed. But from that moment on God began to pour out the covenants of His promises upon God's children. What does God say? God says, one of my covenants is that I will never leave you nor forsake you. What is God's covenants of promises say? If you pray to me I'm going to hear you. If God says to me, come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn of me, lean upon me, give yourself to me. This is the covenants of God's promise and what is happening here is that a world without God is excluded from citizenship and they are complete foreigners to the covenants of God's promises.

They have no part of it. Now that's pretty serious. Means that you and I can walk down this aisle until we blue in the face and ask God to answer our prayer but if we don't know Him we are excluded.

That's pretty tough. You see friend, any relationship with Jesus Christ has got to begin. With Jesus Christ at the cross.

It is the beginning point of our relationship. Salvation is paramount. I have people say to me all the time, Pastor, I need to go and talk to people about how good they need to be and how this and that. I want you to know these things are important but it is absolutely paramount according to Scripture that we've got to understand that it is Jesus Christ who has abolished in His flesh the law with all its rules and regulations and that there is no other way to the Father but through the Son. Isn't it amazing what God does?

And then of course He climaxes this. He says not only are they unaccepted socially and separated from Christ and excluded from citizenship and foreigners to the covenants but they are without hope and they are without God. That's how He closes out verse 12. What incredible statement and when He says they without hope He's not saying they did not have aspirations and goals and dreams.

He is saying simply this that hope is a blending of desire with expectation and that expectation is rooted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. When He said they were without God He didn't say they were godless. They were not a godless people. They had many gods. They served all kinds of gods. If anybody served the God of athletics it was in the time that Paul wrote. In fact I'm convinced that Paul really loved athletics because he uses athletic metaphors and similes all the time to illustrate what he was saying. The games that were held in Smyrna and at the church of Ephesus would have boggled the mind. They would have put Atlanta 1996 to shame but the Apostle Paul is saying listen they are outside of a personal relationship with a living God.

That's what he's saying. Well that's a world without God. How does he juxtapose this against the wonderful joy about the world that is in God, the world with God? What does the Bible say? Number one, the world with God is united. Look at verse 13 through 18. I'm not going to read it again but they are united together.

They are brought together. What does he say? For example in verse 14, He Himself is our peace. He has made the two one. He has destroyed the barrier. I love this phrase the dividing wall of hostility and you know where that dividing wall of hostility begins? It begins between man and God. The Bible says that when sin entered into the world a dividing wall of hostility came and stood slap bang between God and His maker and it was only because of Jesus Christ that we're able to remove that wall of hostility and that is why Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life and no man can get through that wall of hostility but by me. Only man can come to God because of Jesus Christ.

That's what He says. They were united. Secondly, they gained peace. Verse 17, they gained peace. He came and He preached peace to you who are far away and peace to those who were near. You just have to open the newspapers to understand that our world is not at peace folks but I'm going to say to you my friend we can cry peace peace and there will never be peace unless Jesus Christ is at the center of that.

The world without God is united and gains peace but note in the third place the world with God enjoys access. I want you to look with me at verse 18. For through Him, who's the Him?

This is Jesus Christ isn't it? The one who abolished in His flesh the law. For through Him, the one who abolished the law, we both, who's the both, the Jew and the Gentile, the black and the white, the Chinaman and the American, the African and the Australian, we both, the male and the female, the this side of the tracks and that side of the tracks, the rich and the poor, the big and the small, the tall and the short. He says we, through Him, both of us have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Jesus Christ doesn't even make us wait down at the desk with an old fuddy-duddy security guard. He says come on up. Come on up.

He says come on up. You are somebody. Indeed you are somebody God loves, someone God sent His Son Jesus to die for. Before we get away, the pastors stepped out of the pulpit and into the studio to share His heart. Are you ready to give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Why don't you pray this prayer with me right now? Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner and I know that Jesus died for me on the cross. Today I repent of my sin and by faith I receive you into my heart. In Jesus' name. My friend, I welcome you today into the family of God. This is exciting news. And by the way, don't go away because I'll be right back in just a minute.

If you just gave your life to Christ, welcome to the family of God or rededicated your life. Oh, we have wonderful resources absolutely free. Dr. Wilton wants you to have if you'll call us at 866-899-WORD. That's 866-899-9673 or meet us online at tewonline.org. We really would love to hear from you. You know, I'm so glad that we've been able to share together by means of radio today.

You just mean so much to me and how thankful we are for the Word of God together. You can call right now and connect with me at 866-899-9673. Did you get that? 866-899-9673. Call and connect with me right now. Our time's gone for this week, but oh, I pray you'll join us over the weekend. Find ways to watch and connect on our website at tewonline.org. Thank you so very much. The Encouraging Word is sponsored by good friends like you and your prayerful and financial support.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-12 08:57:20 / 2023-11-12 09:07:08 / 10

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