RE Verse reading–Ephesians 2:11-22 (day seven) “In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” (v 21) It is something that the world has been unable to do. For all of our efforts and hopes, the goal of unity has eluded us. The world is divided. Shia against Sunni. Black against white. Congress against the President. Long, sad story of the planet. Only Christ can heal the human heart and create peace. He joins people together, builds people together into a temple for the praise and presence of God. It is the unique vision of New Testament Christianity, those who surrender ego and pride to Christ, discover and experience a supernatural and beautiful peace with others who have come to God in the same way. “Peace on earth, good will to men”, the angels sang on the first Christmas Eve. What people had dreamed of so long was finally possible. In Him.
RE Verse reading–Ephesians 2:11-22 (day six) ”For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” (v 18) Paul’s vision for peace is Spiritual. Not something that comes to nations or families or churches by our own efforts. As people move into the Father’s presence (access) via the Spirit, they discover a deep solidarity with others who have done the same. Peace is a marvelous byproduct of walking in the Spirit. It is good news for a world torn by division and animosity. Later, Paul calls this “the unity of the Spirit”. He urges us to guard this precious gift from God. (see 4:3) “Father make them one”, Jesus said in John 17 on the night of His arrest, “that the world may believe.” As we walk in the Spirit, we come to know the Father. As we come to know the Father, we experience unity. As we live in unity, the world believes in Christ. Spirit, anyone? Unity?
Re: Verse reading – Ephesians 2:11-22 (day four) What was it that separated Israel from the Gentiles? What was the barrier of the dividing wall (v. 14)? What was the enmity between them? Verse 15 says it is the Law of commandments. Moses received the law following the exodus and preceding entry into the promise land. It was the Law that established Israel as the people of God. What was it that reconciled the two groups and put to death the enmity? Verse 16 says it was the cross…Christ’s death on the cross removed the barriers and made available to both Jew and Gentile access in one Spirit to the Father. In this scenario, we have the old covenant giving way to the new covenant. One more question…what was the most important characteristic of the new covenant believers? It was love. Read ahead to Revelation 2 to see if the church at Ephesus maintained that characteristic. How about you?
Re: Verse reading – Ephesians 2:11-22 (day three)
“You are no longer foreigners and strangers.” The reality of God’s nearness keeps repeating throughout scripture: “God with us;” “Here are my mother and my brothers;” “The word is near you.” This nearness involves God’s drawing near us as well as God’s drawing us near one another. When God said “It is not good for the man to be alone,” he spoke the truth about a particular instance, and the truth about the entire human race at all times. It seems as if fellowship with others is but one of many good ideas about Christianity, but it is only in the community of God’s people—when you draw near to others—that you will draw nearest to God.
Re: Verse reading – Ephesians 2:11-22 (day two)
“In him the whole building in 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” (vs. 21-22).
This is an incredible metaphor that creates a marvelous picture of how we all fit together in the unity of faith. Imagine this as a real structure, Jesus is the chief cornerstone (vs. 20) and those who have joined in this legacy of faith have helped to construct this temple in which God will reside. Each of us, with our unique gifts and backgrounds are knit together to create the Church. Unity doesn’t always mean SAME, it means together. God knows what he is doing, we don’t look the same, talk the same way, prefer the same things, but we all have the same God who uses that uniqueness to create his beautiful Temple.
Re: Verse reading – Ephesians 2:11-22 (day one)
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” (v 14) Paul is detailing what God has done for us in Christ (chose us in Him–v 1:4, redeemed us–v 1:7, sealed us with the Holy Spirit–v 1:14, made us alive, raised and seated us with Christ in heavenly places–v 1:5). He turns eventually to PEACE. In Christ, Gentiles and Jews, who formerly hated each other, were standing together in unity. It was an undeniable miracle, one that spoke volumes in a divided, prejudiced ancient world. Still true today. When Jesus is Lord (and only when He is Lord), He breaks down barriers that divide people from each other. Isaiah saw it. “He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, PRINCE OF PEACE.”–Isaiah 9:6. And our Prince has instructions for us. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”–Romans 12:18.
Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 2:1-10 (day seven)
“For by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (v 8)
Grace. Unmerited favor. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Paul’s own experience helped him to understand this truth. (Theology is always biography, at least in part) Without doubt, Paul knew that he had not earned the attention and kindness of Christ. Just the opposite. He had resisted and blasphemed and harmed others in his irrational anger. “Who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” Paul will later describe himself and the world of men. (Romans 1:18) Why is God kind to any of us? Nothing in any of us deserves this mercy. Grace is the only explanation. It flows out of God’s heart as a free and infinite gift. “According to the greatness of YOUR compassion, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1) So long as we look at ourselves, we will be hopeless. Grace is the true story. Amazingly sweet sound.
Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 2:1-10 (day 6)
“God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. . .and raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms.” (v 4-6)
If you were asked to describe the taste of chocolate, could you? What if someone asked you to describe salvation? The scripture struggles to find adequate metaphors and words for such an assignment. In John 3, Jesus compared salvation to physical birth. We must be “born again”. In Ephesians 2, Paul describes our experience in terms of Christ’s resurrection and ascension. With the Lord, we are “made alive and raised up and seated in heavenly places”. A few verses later, Paul likens salvation to “creation” in Genesis 1. ( v 10) All of these descriptions are inspired by the Spirit of Christ and, therefore, reliably true. Each, however, is only a part of the full description of what God does for those who trust Christ. ”Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”–2 Corinthians 9:15.
Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 2:1-10 (day five)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)
God = Rich in Mercy (not giving us what we deserve)
God= Great in Love/Grace (giving us what we don’t deserve)
Do “born-again” souls feel and express the life He has given? Do the hearts of His Children celebrate the love He has bestowed? Do the eyes and lips of “the saved” proclaim Thanksgiving for His mercy? Do these attributes of God shape the way we will sing, serve, study, and surrender this week?
Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”
Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 2:1-10 (day four)
Verses 8-9 say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Boasting is based on pride, so we have here a contrast…grace vs. pride…gift vs. works…God vs. man. Paul is teaching that salvation is all God’s doing. Since the Garden of Eden, man…in his pride…has sought to supplant God with himself. It is the same battle today. We are His workmanship…God made us to respond to Him in good works. But we are not saved by our good works. All too often, we evaluate our good works against the good works of another person. When evaluated against God, where they should be, they are not capable of paying the price of our salvation. Paul is giving the church at Ephesus a course correction in theology…do you think he could be talking to us too?