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December 30, 2020 7:00 am
What comes to mind when you think about church you picture a large building with stained glass windows. Maybe recall memories of childhood Sunday school classes today on the Bible study are Dr. James Boyce explains with the book of Ephesians has to say about plot for more accurately, who the church should be welcome to the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically from the beginning of time. God is been laying out the course of history.
And it all leads and points to one thing, the fulfillment of his kingdom. But what does that really mean what is our part to play in this great plan.
Let's turn together to Ephesians 2 verses 19 through 22 and listen into the teaching of Dr. Boyce, the great theme of the letter of quality Ephesians is the church. But Paul has not been attacking this theme directly.
He's been dealing with an indirectly matter-of-fact.
The word church has only occurred once.
Thus far in the letter the end of chapter 1 where Jesus is said to be head over everything for the church yet is doesn't mean that theme is far from Paul's mind. On the contrary, he has been building toward it, and in the sense everything he has said thus far has contributed to the discussion that is going to come in third and fourth chapters in great detail in chapter 1 has approach this matter at the church from God's perspective that is speaking of God's great plan and history going back to the beginning and starting with his electing grace then carrying forward to that great exultation of Jesus Christ. As I said, as head over everything for the church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Chapter 2 looks at the same thing. From our perspective, the plan of salvation as it affects us. It begins with our being dead in trespasses and sins. It shows how we have been made alive in Jesus Christ brought into God's family and to add with a consideration of the church. Most of the verses to which we come now verses 19 through 22 of chapter 2, I wonder if you can remember when you were a child being given book of puzzles for children of a special kind. They were the kind of puzzles where you had a picture made up of black and white wines. Most of them wavy and in the midst of which certain things were hidden via picture of fields, trees, leaves, and fluffy clouds floating across the sky and then underneath that would say can you find the 33 animals that are hidden in this picture you look at it very carefully and often the clouds there would be a horse upside down and talked end of the leaves of the tree would be an elephant and hidden among the roots of the trailer would be three fish so on. Well, Paul's talking about the church of these verses and he's doing it bike images, pictures. I wonder as you look at these verses. If you can pick out the pictures that are hidden there may help you. There are three of them.
First of all he talks about the church, his kingdom, or as may be the case of city state, which in that they are virtually kingdoms is what is talking about in the first half of verse 19 when he says, consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people. Let's first picture.
Secondly, he portrays the church as a family. That's what's hidden in the phrase members of God's household. And thirdly, in the most developed picture of all he talks about the church as a building which is C develops. The image turns out to be a temple remainder of the passage deals with that build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone in the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord and in him you two are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his spirit is he doesn't use the word kingdom or family or building really I was hidden in the language but he brings these things forward as images upon which our thinking is the center. Let's look at this one time. The first of the three images as of the church is God's kingdom soon as we point that out a whole mine of biblical imagery opens up to our thinking, we remember, for example, the Old Testament theocratic state of Israel which was literally God's visible kingdom on this earth.
Or we think of the early preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus himself, because John the Baptist went out preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, and Jesus himself said that repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Later on in his ministry, Jesus changed the tense, slightly instead of speaking of it is something that was coming. He spoke of it is something that was already here.
He said the kingdom of God is in the midst of you referring to himself or we think of the words of the Lord's prayer, in Matthew's version of that where we pray your kingdom, and scholarly circles.
There's been a great deal of debate about the kingdom and the question has been asked whether the kingdom is something that has a past tense primarily something that is been done, whether it has a present aspect, primarily, or whether it's future weekend. Think just of those verses.
I've already mentioned and say they already fit into those categories when you talk about God's rule in Israel on earth. In the past. That's the past tense of the kingdom, and there's a sense in which God in the past, fences rule over everything or when you find John the Baptist proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven is at hand in Jesus Christ, saying, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you, that's obviously something present and yet at the same time, we pray your kingdom, so there's the future aspect to sort out as various aspects of the kingdom. Probably the best way to do it is to realize that the kingdom of God is something bigger and brighter even than those temporal aspects that they have to be fit into it when we talk about the kingdom of God. The most important thing to be said is that the kingdom of God is where God rules so it obviously has a past aspect because God is the kingdom of Kings God rules over his creation. Things don't catch God by surprise. No kingdom arises. But the God permits that go kingdom falls, but the God brings it down on a very general sense, we can speak in the past tense. But the chief thing is the rule of God or the same thing is true in the presence in the present God's kingdom comes wherever Jesus Christ in a personal way establishes his role in human hearts.
When we look to the future. Of course, it's exactly the same thing we have in mind were thinking of God's great triumphant rule when all evil will have been put down forever, and God's saints, the members of the church will rule with him. As it says several places in Scripture we will do this is really a revolutionary thing when the apostle Paul wrote this he obviously got to this image by coming to it. From what he's just said before what he said in mind in these earlier verses is this new thing that is happened in God reaching out beyond the community of the Jews which had been the focal point for God's kingdom before the coming of Jesus the Messiah to the Gentiles in order that they might be included as well. Before this, you see, the kingdom was Jewish how the kingdom is going to be something which embraces people from all over the world is not great dividing wall that separated you from Gentile is broken down is really a marvelous thing you have to remember that when the apostle Paul wrote this. The apostle Paul was living at the height of Roman territorial expansion and glory had begun to come along historically of the weaknesses of the empire that would eventually bring it crashing down all all-powerful Roman roads linked up old known world. Roman armies kept the peace and administer justice. One Emperor Roman Emperor ruled over the whole here's Paula looking at that empire Paul Lewis to send us another bottle understood very well. Thinking of, and not as some glorious divine entity is the Empire eventually came to think of itself, but is something cruel and pureness that held people down and produce divisions, but merely between Jew and Gentile, but between rich and poor in bond and free, male and female in Greek and Roman. Everything else in its place. Apostle Paul saw this great kingdom that God was building no visible kingdom centered in an earthly Emperor, but a spiritual kingdom centered in the Emperor of heaven that reached out to people of every race and every time every nation bringing them into a loyalty to Jesus Christ and the blonde one another, which would transcend anything that had been known in human history. Previously that's the way it worked. Roman empire rose but the Roman Empire fell the empires of Europe rose in the empires of Europe fell the United States has risen as time passes. The United States itself will fall, but the kingdom of our God. The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ doors forever second image or picture that Paul introduces here to describe the churches nature is the least developed talks about Christians as being members of God's counsel now that Greek word that occurs there can refer to a household in a broad sense Roman householder Greek household would involve many people there were those who were directly related to the family that owned the property, but there would also be relatives and those who were not directly related enslaved workers and all of those things household could include that view of what Paul has been saying earlier in this chapter and I think 20 is doing is picking up in these closing verses on all the themes he's developed earlier in view of what he said earlier in this chapter about our being. Dad and transgressions and sins being made alive in Christ that is being born again and therefore being brought into God's family. I think what he has in mind is this idea of a household in a more narrow sense, that is, those who were directly related to the father by birth or as may perhaps be the case by adoption. Interesting isn't it that the Bible uses both of those words to describe what has happened to us when we become a member of the church and are saved from sin. Most common is the idea of rebirth. This is what Jesus said to Nicodemus, he said you must be born again what Peter was talking about in his first letter when he said you're born again, not of corruptible things such as silver and gold by an incorruptible thing that is by the word of God which lives and abides forever. God, by the power of his spirit takes that word and uses it to bring forth new life in the human heart and that life which is created in the human heart is like a God. That's why the church has to be holy and unholy churches. An anomaly see the nature of God is holy.
We speak of genetics we mean by that.
The characteristics of the parents are passed on in some way to the children. This is true spiritually to God's holy and if the church is not holy that is separated on the him and growing and practical holiness that is practical righteousness. The church is not the church. I would may have that name. It may say all we are the great body of Christ, but it isn't really less the life of Christ is within getting to express itself in that way than the Bible uses the image of adoption also and when it uses that image is Paul particularly does no doubt because he was writing. The Greek and Roman audiences for whom this was an important concept, but he stresses is our privileges because an adopted son brought into a Roman family hidden joy to all of the privileges that a natural born son would enjoy. Think of all the privileges we have the family of God.
We have what we would call the mutual support network of brothers and sisters within that family. We have the privileges of baptism and the Lord's supper in the regular instruction in the word and then perhaps above all, we have the privilege of coming to God our father in prayer, laying all our requests before him understand what has happened with those two images Paul has made a progression when he talks about the church being the kingdom of God that says significant image. It involves all kinds of important things. But when he talks about the church as a family. He intensifies and personalizes. He says it's not just as if you join the club, but you join the family and have the benefit of all those personal interactions. In this third image in this third picture is the one he developed most extensively talking about the church as a building and then eventually is a temple built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone in him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. Other things he talks about parents were thinking about them. Each one personally talks about the foundation. We know that in first Corinthians in the third chapter where uses the same image he refers the foundation is being Jesus Christ know the verse he says no other foundation can man lay except that which is laid mainly Jesus Christ here is talking about the foundation, as the apostles and prophets, and when we look at that on the surface.
At first we perceive a contradiction we say what is it is the foundation of the apostles and prophets are is a foundation Jesus Christ while as I say it's only an apparent contradiction, because when you ask a bit more deeply what the foundation which is the foundation of the apostles and prophets is it's quite evident that it's not the men themselves slip. Paul is thinking of, but rather their teaching, which is centered in Jesus Christ, namely the same thing. Lord said to the apostle Peter upon this rock any man himself on this rock I will build my church, and that's what Paul is saying as well this matter of the foundation is very important because unless we have strong foundation. We don't have a strong building of a strong foundation you can put up a great building. The other week foundation.
Not only can't you put up a great building any building you put up is in danger of falling down foundation you see the teaching of the apostles, the prophets is basic rock truth of Christianity. And it's important to realize that because we live in an age whether so much concern for Christian unity.
Some churchmen have made whole career out of the so-called ecumenical movement and were not against unity. Unity is a good thing it's it's a tragedy. A sad thing that the church is as divided as it is when you begin to talk about the unity of the church you want to be careful that you understand what kind of a unity. It is the people are talking about is it a unity of the lowest common denominator.
While then eventually you just keep lowering what it is you believe in until you get everybody in. But when you've done that you don't have anything in that you got them into it's just all disappeared before your eyes. That's obviously not what we mean is that the unity of conformity where everybody is forced would hear something above all a political system where ecclesiastical tyranny prevails of the church of Jesus Christ. Not that either of the unity that matters, which is to say, the only unity that is real. Unity is a unity of the truth. Unity based upon the doctrine of the apostles and prophets centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ where that foundation is laid there churches blast God, who is the architect through the preaching of his ministers builds a great temple to his own glory.
Paul talks not merely about that foundation. But about a cornerstone as well. And here is where he brings Lord Jesus Christ in the cornerstone was part of the foundation. But in addition to that it had the great task of being the stone by which the angle of the building was set, and did, in accordance with which the architect would construct the walls of the various arches Jesus Christ. Paul says feels that function here.
You have to think again of the wealth of biblical imagery that is being drawn on back in the 20th chapter of Isaiah. In the 16th verse you find so far as I know the first great text in the Bible that develops this truth.
Isaiah is giving a prophecy there and he says, speaking for God. See, I lay in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone of the one who puts his trust in him will never be dismayed. Then go a little further on, the solvents for the back actually to the hundred and 18 Saul and there you find reference to cornerstone that's based upon an incident that apparently occurred at the time of the building of the great temple under Solomon stone had been quarried, cornerstone or And It Had Been Set up in the Builders Did Know What to Do with It. So It Was Laid Aside Somebody Thought Well They Must've Made a Mistake in the Quarry. But Then, As the Building Went on There Came a Moment When They Needed the Capstone and They Sent down the Quarry and the Glories That We Already Set It up.
They Looked around. There Was That Stone That Had Been Rejected Became the Capstone and the Psalmist Refers to That Saying the Stone the Builders Rejected Has Become the Capstone in a Prophecy concerning Jesus Christ. Obviously, Referring to His Crucifixion When He Was Rejected by His People and His Resurrection by Which He Became the Capstone of the Whole Temple of Revealed Religion.
It's Interesting That the Apostle Peter in His First Letter Is C Thinks along Paul's Lines Developing the Same Image Back to the Old Testament and Picks up These Two Texts Plus Isaiah 814 As Well and Wraps It in the One Great Whole. Peter Wrote You Also, like Living Stones, Are Being Built into a Spiritual House to Be a Holy Priesthood, Offering Spiritual Sacrifices Acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In Scripture It Says See, I Lay in Zion, a Chosen and Precious Cornerstone Want to Trust in Him Will Never Be Put to Shame. How Do You Believe the Stone Is Precious to Those Who Do Not Believe the Stone the Builders Rejected Has Become the Capstone in a Stone That Causes Men to Stumble in a Rock That Makes Them Fall. They Stumble Because They Disobey the Message Which Is Also What They Were Destined for. We Look at Tax like This Scattered throughout the Bible and We See One Great Garment Made up of All These Different Texts That Points to Jesus Christ and His Key Foundational Place in the Church, Which by God's Grace. We Also Are Made Members Then Paul Talks about Us As Being Stones Building That Simply Doesn't Actually Use the Word Stones That Certainly What He Has in Mind When He Says in Him the Whole Building Is Joined Together and Rises to Become a Holy Temple in the Lord. This Is an Image It's Really Worth Developing View Can Go on and on about the Significance of Us Being Stones Built into the Temple, but Let Me Just Briefly Suggest Some of the Things That Are Involved. First Stones That Are Placed in This Great Structure Are Chosen in Shape for Their Position by God Himself. The Architect and the Builder See, We Don't Invite Ourselves in and We Don't Determine Where It Is Going to Be Placed. That's the Work of God Himself, and That's Involved in the Image. Second, the Stones Are All Placed in the Relationship with Jesus Christ Is the Cornerstone We Fit into Relationship to Him That Society If We Are Joined to Christ That Were Part of the Building Were Not Going to Christ, and Were Not Part of That Building a Report of Some Other Building but It's Not the Church of Christ.
It's Not the Temple of Our God.
Thurgood Stones You Have To Think Now of an Ancient Building, Not One Made Out Of Brick. The Way We Do Today but Native Normal Stones. Is There Found the Stones of Different Shapes and Sizes, Even Different Material and Are Employed for Different Functions in the Building after That Is of the Church of Jesus Christ We Have a Tendency Always to Want People to Fit into Exactly the Same Old God Is God of Great Variety and I Must Say When I Look at Some of Us Got a Great Humor As Well Because He Thinks People with Different Backgrounds and from Different Walks of Life with Different Abilities and Gives Them Sometimes the Most Bizarre Things to Know, but It Contributes to the Whole Really That Variety Forth. The Stones Are Linked to One Another.
Stone Doesn't Just Stand There All by Itself Mortared the Whole We Don't Stand Individually. We Stand Together with Other Christians. You Can Even See All the Other Stones Which Are Linked up to Them Eventually within That Great Temple Fifth Stones of the Tumbler Chosen Shaped in Place Not to Draw Attention to Themselves but to Contribute to a Great Building in Which God Dwells out Here in the Church to Be Superheroes for Stars. We're Here to Be Part of Something in Which Men and Women Can See God Which They Can See Jesus Christ Six Placing of Each Stone Is Only Part of a Long Work Begun Thousands of Years in the past in Which Will Be Going on until the Lord Jesus Christ Comes Again This Church. According to Paul's Language Is Being Built, Which Means It's Not Finished yet and There's More Work for God and Also Work for Us to Do Its Mysterious Work Is Marvelous How God Doesn't Know Back in First Kings Six Verse Seven Something Interesting Told Us about the Building of the Great Temple under Solomon That Text Says Only Block Stressed at the Quarry Were Used, No Hammer, Chisel or Any Other Iron Tool Was Heard at the Temple Site. While It Was Being Built.
That Means That That Temple Was Built so Far As I'm Aware Is No Other Building in the Whole History of the Human Race Was Ever Built. That Is, It Was Built Silently on the Site with Stones Previously Quarried the Church of Jesus Christ Is like That Thought Adds a Member Here.As a Member There and You Can Hear How It Is That God Does That, As God Works Internally, Spiritually within the Heart and Mind of the Individual, but It's God's Work and God Doesn't Mean He Takes One Here and One There and He Adds Them Is in His Own Great Mind That Temple Rises Is Something Which Is Glorious and Brings Glory to Him That Is Been Going on throughout All of History. We Look to the past We See in the Old Testament Times How God, through Abraham and Moses, David and Isaiah in All the Great Old Testament Saints, and How at the Time of Jesus Christ Lord Himself and Present on the Earth Began to Draw Peter and James and John and Nathaniel and All the Others in and Form That Church and Then Has the Gospel Expanded Gentiles Began to Be Included. Luke Was a Gentile, and Phoebe and Lydia and Eventually These Christians Who Are Here at Ephesus and to Whom the Apostle Paul Is Writing in Christians from Other Greek Cities and Other Roman Cities and Got Added.
The Early Church Fathers within the Later Fathers in the Time of the Reformation the Golden Martin Luther and John Calvin Carolyn Buser Melanchthon and over in England, Cranmer and Scotland, John Knox, Gospel Expanded in the Church Grow and down in Our Own Time. God Began to Add People Who Minister Here in Our Country. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield and Early Pastors and Teachers, and Theologians in God's Carrying on That Work Today. God Is Doing That at This Moment God Master Builder Craftsman Draws Men and Women to Himself. Maybe This Is the Day Which Is Drawing You. You've Heard These Things, You Known about Them Intellectually in a Certain Sense God Is Been Shaping You Shaping Your Thinking of the Place That You're Occupying This Temple and I Was Quickening You, Making You Alive by His Spirit Attend Sitting You in Respond to That. That's What He's Doing. Rejoice That You Have a Parts in That Building That Family That Kingdom Which Is Going to Endure Forever Spray Father We Ask You to Bless the Study to His Suite. Think Often We Know What the Church Is Just Because We Common and We Are, We Say Well That's My Church. I Thank You for These Images Which Stretch Our Minds to See Something of the Glory of What the Church of Jesus Christ Really Is, How It's Meant to Glorify You and Grant the We Might Be Increasingly Aware of Our Parts in It and We Pray That You Will Land through Our Testimony in Our Worship Here, Such As It Is Your Good Purpose to Save Jesus and You Are Listening to the Bible Study Hours with the Bible Teaching of Dr. James Boyce Listener Supported Ministry of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The Alliance Exists to Promote a Biblical Understanding and Worldview. Drawing upon the Insight and Wisdom of Reformed Theologians from Decades and Even Centuries Gone by. We Seek to Provide Christian Teaching That Will Equip Believers to Understand and Meet the Challenges and Opportunities of Our Time and Place. Alliance Broadcasting Includes the Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boyce Every Last Word with Bible Teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible Featuring Donald Barnhouse. For More Information on the Alliance Including a Free Introductory Package for First-Time Callers or to Make a Contribution.
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