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Remember, Remember (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2022 4:00 am

Remember, Remember (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 28, 2022 4:00 am

God wants us to have days of celebration, because they give us a chance to remember! On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg explains the value of observing what God has done in the past.


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Alistair Begg

The third division in your church. Apostle Paul fostered unity in the local church by exhorting Christians to remember today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg explores Paul's letter to the Ephesians to find out what he was encouraging believers to remember why that still important for us today. Ephesians chapter 2 verse 11. Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the un-circumcision by what is called the circumcision which is made in the flesh by hand. Remember that you wear 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 but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought nearby the blood of Christ, for he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross thereby killing the facility and he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but your fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the spirit gracious God, we turn now to your word word is fixed in heaven. Your word is a lamp that shines upon our pathway you've exalted above all things, your name and your word, and so with a great sense of expectation returned to it now speak, Lord, we pray for your son's sake how men or you will notice I think that verse 11 and verse 12 contain the call to remember to remember. It seems fitting that we should be responding to Paul's exhortation to remember on a weekend when by dint of them memorial celebrations remembrance is on our minds. People have thought throughout the years that perhaps this would be the war to end all wars. And yet it wasn't and it would be one thing this morning.

If we could look back is aware and say it must've been a very difficult time in which to live. When people were at war with one another and yet we know that this morning I letter all kinds of wars and difficulties that are part and parcel of our world is virtually no place that we can turn without being confronted by strife and by bloodshed by the reality of oppression and of injustice and we realize that our world is in amazing need of repair. Thoughtful people of always identified that folksinger's. I was thinking along these lines, just yesterday. I suppose it was Memorial Day weekend and brought it home to meet.

As I drove past the cemetery and chagrin, and I was humming along to myself, Pete Seeger's where all the flowers gone. Remember the song where all the flowers gone, gone to young girls where all the young girls gone gone. The young man where all the young men gone gone. The soldiers where of all the soldiers got grounded graveyards. Everyone, when will they ever learn when will he ever learn where all the graveyards, gone to flowers.

Everyone, when will we ever learn when will he ever was a protest song and I understand I was. If you like the plaintive cry of somebody who decided that it wasn't a good idea to do any of these things. That's not the reason I mention the reason I mention it is because is not a person on the face of the earth doesn't recognize that in the brokenness of our world. Somewhere, somehow somebody has got to come up with a fix. And here we are at this point in history, and we realize that unless we learn from the Bible.

The plaintive refrain just hangs in the air. When will we live or the ever ever learn will know Ashley will never learn never learn until we're prepared to bow down before God himself and Paul in writing this letter to the Ephesians is writing into a world that was just as broken as ours relationships were set against one another parent's war with their children, husbands with their wives colleagues with one another in the practices of business nations and ethnic groups, and so on and so he writes this letter and he makes it clear in chapter 1 that the purpose of God. The mystery of God's will, as he puts it, which has had hints all the way through the Old Testament has now he says in the fullness of time being made absolutely clear in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and fight. He says the purpose of God. A mysterious purpose to us from our perspective, all of eternity was not actually in creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But the ultimate purpose of God was the Lord Jesus Christ in the story of the gospel that it was in Christ that he was going to unite all things in heaven and on AR in the person of Jesus, so perhaps you've had the idea that somehow or another, God had a plan a and it went wrong and so he had to quickly come up with something else that would be to miss read the Bible and to misunderstand it know God's purpose always was in Jesus and it is in Jesus that the fragmentation and the fracturing of our world is actually addressed these songs like Seeger song and linens give peace a chance. They're all understandable longings are in the mean nobody wants to live in hostility with the person next. But how do we get this fixed is the refix and what Paul is saying in Ephesians and particulars. We are about to see in the second half of chapter 2 is that God's purpose for his people is that his people united in Christ in the community of their friendships with one another should be something of a microcosm that shows to the world, God will ultimately achieve in a new heaven and in a new era and he is pointed out in the first part of chapter 2 that it is by grace through faith that we have been reconciled to God.

And now he's going to say, having come to him if you like individually as you now live in him corporately. One of the evidences of God's eternal purpose is to be seen in the absence of cute hostility in the presence of harmony in the breaking down of the barriers and the building of bridges, bridges which are over all kinds of troubled waters and of the heart of the Bible stories are good friend Christopher Ash is pointed out to us at the heart of the Bible story is the church, not least of all the local church because church with the big C has to find his expression in some tangible way and that is in local churches and we are a local church. The local church contains within itself the seeds are if you like the DNA of a remade world contingent itself the seeds of the DNA of a remade world.

I will come back to this as we close, but in case I forget to come back, let me just say it now and that is that the world is supposed to be able to come in. Cleveland is supposed to be able to come amongst us in all kinds of contacts where it is at the VBC whether it is in a life group in someone's home, whether it is in one of the services here. The society is supposed to be able to come in and say oh so this is an indication that a perfect manifestation but this is an indication of what God has planned from all of eternity to do and that is why there are Chinese people and Indian people and black people and white people in bright people and silly people and fat people in thin people and Toby will ensure people and so on. And somehow or another. They're all in there together.

Why all of the normal fragmentation all of the normal evidences of a fractured world. The seeds of the remade world are present in the community of faith. That is what Paul is pointing out and that it is God's purpose from all of eternity to unite everything under Christ.

Now, given that he's writing in the first century and is writing to these people in Ephesus, one of the first areas in which that needs to become apparent is in the division that exists between the Jews and the Gentile.

How are you going to tell the world that God's plan to unite all things in his son. If you folks are going to keep calling each other names.

If you want to sit as separate sides of the church. If you're going to show up late for events because you don't want to talk to one another.

That's the issue that he's dealing with is an issue which is usually the acts of the apostles is clearly there, and understandably so that's the first thing I need you to note that this division he is addressing is a division between Jew and Gentile. So when you look at this. Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh.

In other words, Paul is not saying I am writing this myself and my companions are writing this to you. The Ephesians in this instance he saying I am addressing you as Gentiles, I write to you as a Jew who has been made new by Jesus.

Now let me remind you Gentile folks who are reading this letter or to whom this letter is being read that these things were characteristic of you and a big barrier of facility existed out William Barclay. His commentaries are pretty good. Usually on historical stuff has a has a quote that I want to give to you in order to drive this home because we are a long way away from this book geographically in historic the barrier, he writes between Jew and Gentile was absolute. If a Jew married a dent Gentile. The funeral of that Jew was carried out such contact with the Gentile was the equivalent of their even to go to a Gentile house rendered a Jew unclean.

It was not even lawful to render help to a Gentile woman in childbirth for that would be to bring another Gentile into the world.

That is the world out of which Jew came. I thank you God that I'm alive this morning and that you have not made me a woman or a Gentile.

That was a morning prayer by a Jewish man quite a staggering thought. If you find it very far removed from you try and dig in the recesses of your mind, go back to fiddler on the roof. One of the scenes in fiddler on the roof is when Tabula I think I remember he's pulling something a cart behind it. It's on the end of a rope and as he pulls this card away his daughter who is a going to marry a Gentile is calling out to him and he refuses to turn back. He just keeps walking away from her tears are running down both of their faces. You are dead to me. He says you are dead to me that is the extent of the division between the Jew and the Gentile in first century Ephesus, and when we understand that then we realize what a drama it is for that world, then to say how come you guys get along. How is it that you actually are worshiping together. Who or what has brought about this change does it have something to do with Jesus of Nazareth, will you send us remember David when he was talking to the soldiers because the Philistine Goliath was proving to be a real challenge to them. Remember his terminology. He says who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God is using that as an epithet. You see, he understood that God had entered into a covenant with his people. He had called out Abraham he was making the people of his own.

They were to be a light to the nations and garden his kindness had given the man in the nation. Circumcision as a mark upon them to remind them that they belong to God and to live as his people while they were very proud of this and they recognize that the Gentiles had no such baggage of the covenant on their bodies and the Jews were not about to let them forget so they used the very reality of that as a point of division and is going to take some time as the early church unfold.

You can read acts 15. For example for them to reach the point where as Paul writes to the Galatians. Neither circumcision nor un-circumcision means anything.

What counts is a new creation going to take a long time for that to John and it was vital that it dawned because of the purpose of God to deal with this wall of hostility as we go on into Ephesians 2 will will see this even more forcibly the court of the Gentiles were separate in the temple precincts from the Jewish people's place and a big sign said you enter beyond this on peril of death. If you proceed where you have no access, you will die get out and that was a distinguishing feature of life. Now these Jewish people and these Gentile people are sitting together breaking bread together and calling each other brother and sister so church that community of God's people was clearly not about attending services or signing up or fulfilling duties. It was about the fact that they had been made a new creation and some people continue to think of church as either an obligation or something you need to do art outright, one out of four or whatever it might be you don't understand church that's your problem until you understand what is happened to you in Jesus.

If this happened to you and Jesus you never get beyond that. But when you realize what is done usually the Jewish people then began to rely on the market. Circumcision as what it was all about Jesus the son is not what is all about. We have Abraham as our father John chapter 8 we where the true people. He says listen if you have Abraham as your father you would do what Abraham did that in believe me and recounted to for righteousness. But you do have a father and your father is Satan last a very nice visit that was Jesus. He wanted to point out to them. Yeah, you got an external mark in your body but you need your heart circumcised.

That's what Jeremiah the prophet was talking about so that the cleansing that needed to take place, which was pointed to in the mark of the covenant. I was not present in their lives. Well, that's enough on that. That's the first thing that we need the first line of approach we need to realize that the division that is addressing here is a real division is a significant division and they were calling each other names Jew and Gentile now. Secondly, notice the condition of the unconverted Gentile.

What is the condition of the unconverted Gentile while he starts verse 12. Again, remember number one separated from Christ.

Paul when he is up charge before the Roman authorities why the Jews who were antagonistic toward sin, who were saying this man has opposed our Judaism. This man is disrupted everything. He then says to Hephaestus into Agrippa. Listen, that's not true. The reason I am up here on a charge is because the things that I have been saying are directly related to quotes the whole of Israel and what is that hope of Israel it is that the Messiah who will come is the very Messiah of God and that was a Jewish expectation but it wasn't a Gentile expectation. It was a Gentile hope. Remember, he says, you were separated from Christ, you anonymous you are looking for any of that.

Not secondly, were alienated from the Commonwealth of this will.

They neither had the badge of the covenant, nor do they enjoy the blessings of the covenant because those blessings were blessings of belonging and they didn't belong you to belong in here. You had no part in this separate alienated. Thirdly, and he just really builds on this does make strangers to the covenants of promise, in other words, they had no knowledge of and no right to the promises that God had made to his people in Paul's writing is as you know you Gentiles who are reading this letter you had no access to any of this forcefully, you have no hope.

Having no hope, resentment that they didn't have anything to look forward to a tall, no, not ultimately, but the Jew was always going somewhere.

The Jew was a pilgrim. The Jews sense of history always had a destination in view, but the Gentiles had none of that for them history was heading nowhere faced with the futility of death. Their existence was essentially meaningless. Having no hope and fifthly without God in the world and on turning their back on the living God is he's made himself known didn't believe nothing started to believe everything they believed all kinds of things they created all kinds of God's gods that suited their fancy gods that would apparently do as he asked the same remains true today. If we reject God's revelation of himself in Scripture.

If we suppress the truth of God, then we will find that we are very quickly taken up with superstition and with novelty.

We will find that we have in ourselves as Calvin said, you know that the heart of man is is an idol factory that we have within ourselves an immense capacity for creating God's of our so the 21st century Western culture rejects God by way of revelation, turns his back on his commands and his guidelines for living doesn't find itself isolated and atheistic. No surrounded by all kinds of notions and superstitions and ideas plan will they ever learn plan.

Will he ever learn is the answer. Just blowing in the wind is no when we are united together with fellow believers in local church. We are giving the world a tiny peek into God's eternal purpose to have everything united together under Christ were listing to Truth for Life that is Alistair Begg with part one of a message titled, remember, remember, you're the conclusion tomorrow your Truth for Life. We are passionate about proclaiming the good news of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our mission is to see unbelievers converted believers established in their faith. Local churches strengthened if this resonates with you. We want to encourage you to come alongside us in this mission.

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