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Thought # 14 – “Identification: Who We have Now Become” (Eph. 2:19-22)

November 21st, 2017

Thought # 14 – “Identification: Who We have Now Become” (Eph. 2:19-22)

The Apostle Paul summarizes the reconciling work of Christ by saying the Gentiles are now joined together with the Jewish Christians in a new community, the Church. To illustrate our identity, Paul uses three word pictures: citizens, family, and stones in a temple.

Citizens of God’s Kingdom (Eph. 2:19).  Paul tells the Gentiles that they are now, along with the Jewish Christians, are a part of the kingdom of God. They and we are no longer second class citizens in someone else’s territory. The Gentiles have the same rights as the Jews in a relationship with God.

Paul says in Phil. 3:20 that “our citizenship is in heaven…” As his subjects, we have privileges to enjoy and responsibilities to be carried out. Paul contrasts this citizenship with Roman citizenship, which was greatly prized in his time. Roman citizenship was prized and we must be striving to be live   according to our spiritual constitution, the New Covenant Scriptures and serve, honor, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

The hymn writer writes these words: “I love Thy kingdom, Lord, the house of Thine abode…” We are in both the kingdom and the church.

Members of God’s family (Eph. 2:19b) One might imagine Jew and gentile together in a secular kingdom, to not in the same family. That would be stunning. In 1 Tim. 3:15, Paul says we are “God’s household.”

How are we one family? We have the same Father.  We have free access to Him.  The church so made up of adopted children. We have family responsibilities which are to bring glory to our heavenly Father.  In 1 Tim. 5:1-2 Paul says that we should treat one another like family. Every member of the family has responsibilities and a role in God’s household.

Stones in God’s Temple (Eph 2:20-22)   the third metaphor that Paul uses would have been vivid for his audience.  The Jews were used to a physical temple in Jerusalem. Except for the Babylonian captivity and the early part of the Persian Empire there had been an earthly temple for nearly 1,000 years.

Paul says that the foundation of the temple is God’s Word. The church of the Lord Jesus stands or falls upon its faithfulness to God’s Word.   Next we see the mention of the cornerstone. As the hymn writer says:  “The Church’s One Foundation IS Jesus Christ, Her Lord…”

Paul likens people to stones. Peter calls us “living stones” (2 Pet. 2:5). Each member is added to the church.  Both Jew and Gentile are now a dwelling place for God by the Holy Spirit.  We are joined together and built together. We are related to each other and are growing together in Christ.

We need each other’s time, talent, treasure, love, resources, encouragement and rebuke. We are to live   the Christian life together, entered in Christ and rooted in the teaching of Scripture.

-Larry Miles, August 14, 2015

Camp Cilca, IL

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Thoughts From Ephesians – Number 13

November 20th, 2017

As we had in Eph. 2:4, we have the word “but” here in Eph. 2:13. This is a word of contrast. It changes the tone and emphasis of the passage with which we are dealing. He informs the Ephesians and us that we, who have been estranged spiritually from God, are now, through the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross, are now in fellowship with God.

In verses 14-18 Paul emphasizes how Christ is the means by which God was able to bring Jew and Gentile together, making peace. Paul stresses the importance of the work of Christ in salvation. He shifts from “you” to “we” and “our” in this section because both Jew and Gentile alike now have the same hope: Christ’s atoning death. There are at least three things the Savior has done for ‘us” through His reconciling work on the cross.

He has brought us peace. (Eph. 2:14a) Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. Paul tells us that peace is found in a person, the Lord Jesus. We have this thought described in the Old Testament (Isa. 9:6; Mic. 5:5), affirmed in the Gospels (Luke 1:79; 2:14; 19:42; John 14:27), and explained in the Epistles (Rom. 5:1; Col. 1:20; 3; 15).
He has made us one. (Eph. 2:14b-16) Christ’s death tore down the dividing wall and His blood obliterated the long-standing division between Jew and Gentile. There was literal wall in the temple dividing Jew and Gentile but Paul may also be referring to the fact that at the cross Christ fulfilled all the shadows and types of the ceremonial law system. A person is only accepted by God through the work of Christ. He did this to demonstrate the work of Christ and that He might reconcile us to God. Jesus’ death ended the hostility.
Christ preached peace (Eph. 2:17). Christ proclaims peace through His followers today. The only true peace comes from the Prince of peace. The whole world needs the gospel. Let’s be faithful in sharing it.
Christ has given us access to God (Eph. 2:18). Those who respond in faith obedience to Jesus’ work and message now have access to God. In this passage we see all three parts of the Godhead in view.

This is what prayer is all about. The ongoing benefit of Christ’s reconciliation is that we have access to God. We can come to God in and with boldness. Jew and Gentile alike can approach the Throne of Grace freely.
-Larry Miles, August 12, 2015, Camp Cilca, IL

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Thoughts From Ephesians – Number 12

November 19th, 2017

Alienation: Who We Once Were (Eph. 2:11-12)

Verses 11-12 follow the  pattern of  verses  1-3. They  paint  for us the dark picture of  what  life  apart from  Christ involves.  Praise  God that  our Father loved us  so much that He sent His  Son to  redeem us.

Paul wants his readers and us to  remember  how separated they were from God’s people and  His blessings and  what it  took to bring them back into a  right  relationship with Him.

“You were  Gentiles in in the flesh.” Paul is  highlighting the physical difference  between a  Jew and a Gentile.  In  verse 12 Paul goes on to  elaborate on the pre-Christian past of the  Gentiles.  Paul  gives  us  5  ways that the  Gentiles were separated.

Guy Orbison, Jr., writes these  words, “[1] separate-no national hope of a  Messiah and  what the ‘anointed One’ would  accomplish; [2] excluded from the  commonwealth-Israel was the  covenant name and the Gentiles were  not  included; [3] strangers, i.e. is foreigners to the covenants-they had no access to the arrangements and promises  God made through the  chosen people; [4] having  no  hope-no expectations of future glory or  exaltation by  God; [5] and  without  God in the world– no meaningful relationship with  the  living God.”

Before  we became  Christians we were in the same tragic position as these Ephesian Gentiles.  We need to  reflect  and remember how things  were  outside of Christ. By remembering where we came  from, we will live with  constant gratitude toward God and love towards  His people. Praise  God for the  word “but” in  verse  13.

-Larry Miles, May 2, 2015 in Mangum, OK

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