Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 3 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #172)
A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 2:11-17:
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Henry Blackaby said, “When Holy God draws near in true revival, people come under terrible conviction of sin. The outstanding feature of spiritual awakening has been the profound consciousness of the presence and holiness of God.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “There are two kinds of people in the world—only two kinds. Not black or white, rich or poor, but those either dead in sin or dead to sin.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Though some church historians think of the celebrated English Baptist missionary William Carey as the father of modern Protestant missions, the Moravian outpouring and hourly intercession that grew out of it gave birth to missions half a century before Carey sailed to India. Within twenty-five years, a hundred missionaries had been sent from Hernhutt to various parts of the world. Carey himself was inspired by mission reports published by Moravian journals, and he challenged British Baptists to follow their example.”
In our last two homilies, we have looked at how the Gospel of Jesus Christ broke down barriers and divisions between Jews and Gentiles. This subject matter is very appropriate to what is going on in our society and in the church today. Many Christians in America are waking up to the fact that, despite our calling to be unified in Christ, divisions still remain among the body of believers — divisions of race, divisions of class, divisions of economic status. We talk about black churches vs. white churches, diverse churches vs. homogeneous churches, conservative churches vs. liberal churches, urban churches vs. suburban churches.
The wall of division between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians may be gone, but we have erected numerous walls in its place. Many are asking, How do we overcome these divisions? We overcome the divisions in the church today the same way the first century Christians overcame their divisions: through Jesus Christ who is our peace.
Verse 15 of our passage says that Jesus has “abolished in his flesh the enmity.” Abolished: it means to get rid of, to do away with. Jesus did away with the enmity between Jews and Gentiles “in his flesh” — that is in His bodily, physical death on the cross. Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “Through Christ, the far-off Gentile is made nigh, and both Jew and Gentile are made one. The consequences of Christ’s work are: the destroying of the enmity by the abolishing of the Law and the creating of a new man — the church, the body of Christ.”
The verse goes on to state that Jesus ‘made in himself of twain one new man, so making peace…’ Jesus brought two very different groups of people together — the heathen nations who had no knowledge of God and the proud, religious Jews who had much knowledge of God. He brought them together in Himself and made peace between them. Not only did He make peace between them, but He made them one new body.
The fact that they became one in Christ is important. Two nations can be at peace, but can still have their walls of division built up. In Jesus, and in His church, the walls of division must be torn down. Because these walls of division are built up in the human heart, social programs cannot do this, government intervention cannot do this, even churches striving in the flesh to be more “diverse” or “inclusive” cannot do this. We must collectively confess the sin of disunity, allow Christ to tear down the walls in our hearts, and choose to love our fellow man — no matter the race, ethnicity, class, or economic status — the way we love ourselves.
As John Oxenham once wrote:
In Christ there is no East nor West,
In Him no South nor North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.
Join hands then, brethren of the faith,
Whatever your race may be;
All who serve my Father as His child
Are surely kin to me.
In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet South and North;
All godly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.