Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 4 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #173)
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 2:11-18:
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.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
E.M. Bounds said, “To look back upon the progress of the divine kingdom upon earth is to review revival periods which have come like refreshing showers upon dry and thirsty ground, making the desert to blossom as the rose, and bringing new eras of spiritual life and activity just when the Church had fallen under the influence of the apathy of the times.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by his Spirit to move ourselves his way.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “One result of the Moravian revival was “\’a joyful assurance of their pardon and salvation.’ This was the message they took to all who would listen. It crossed social, economic, and cultural barriers with similar effect. Through this message the Moravian revival had its greatest impact. Though many of the poor received the Moravians’ message gladly, their converts were found in all classes of society. For example, one popular European countess found herself dissatisfied with her affluent life. In the midst of her despair, she met a humble Moravian shoemaker and was puzzled with his cheerfulness. When she asked him why he was so happy, he responded, ‘Jesus has forgiven my sins. He forgives me every day and he loves me, and that makes me happy through all the hours.’ That answer was the beginning of the countess’s own spiritual pilgrimage. She discovered for herself ‘the same joyful faith’ and had a profound impact as she shared her newfound faith among the titled families of Europe.”
From this passage, we have talked about how the Jews and Gentiles were divided one from the other by the barrier of the Law. But now we see that both Jews and Gentiles were divided from God. Paul says Jesus died “that he might reconcile BOTH — Jews and Gentiles — unto God.” Technically, it might be accurate to say that the Jews were closer to God, but since God’s standard is that of perfection, we are really in the same boat. When the early Christians had their debate on whether or not the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles and how saved Gentiles should be integrated into the church, this was the conclusion they came to.
They realized what Paul says here: that Jesus “came and preached peace to you which were afar off [the Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [the Jews].” The only way Jews and Gentiles were able to get along in the first century church is by both groups admitting that they were sinners who needed a Savior. And that is the only way we will overcome our racial, class, political, and economic divisions in the church today. We must realize that, before God, we are all on level ground. We are all sinners in need of salvation.
When the Gospel is applied to our divisions, what takes place is not an equalizing of status. It is not about the poor being raised to the level of those who are wealthier, or about whites suddenly realizing that “black lives matter”, or about one group changing its political views to align with another group. Jesus did not come to take sides like that. Jesus came to turn the whole system on its head.
Notice: Paul said we ‘are reconciled in one body by the cross.’ Jesus made ONE NEW body out of Jews and Gentiles. He made ONE NEW body out of all races, culture, languages, and ethnicities. Scholars tell us that early Christians called themselves a “third race” or a “new race.” They were no longer Jews or Gentiles, but a new body that includes all who are in Jesus. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “As Chrysostom explained, it is not that Christ has brought one up to the level of the other, but that he has produced something greater — ‘as if one should melt down one statue of silver and another of lead, and the two together should come out gold.'”
Samuel John Stone wrote the following hymn:
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.
She is from every nation,
Yet one over all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
Calling all to wash in the blood.