Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 8 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #177)
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 2:19-22:
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Benjamin Franklin, writing on the revival brought about by George Whitefield’s preaching, said, “It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants…From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that Christians today are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Initially, church members in Northhampton were deeply committed to both Christ and his church, but their children and grandchildren tended not to share their parents’ and grandparents’ zeal for God. That lack of faith presented a social as well as a religious problem: In these communities, to be cut off from church communion because one was unconverted meant being cut off from society as a whole. In an effort to deal with this dilemma, a novel approach to church membership was developed. Advocates of the new way called it ‘the Half-Way Covenant.’ They argued it was better to have unconverted people in church where they could hear the gospel and be converted, than to cut them off because they were unconverted. Men such as Solomon Stoddard, a widely respected preacher of the gospel, urged their fellow pastors to let morally upright people participate at the Lord’s Table even though they were unconverted. While some still opposed the idea, it was hard to convince their brethren to resist the plan once someone of Stoddard’s stature endorsed it.”
The Bible Exposition Commentary says, “Israel was God’s chosen nation, but they rejected their Redeemer and suffered the consequences. The kingdom was taken from them and given to “a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof”. This “new nation” is the church, “a chosen generation … a holy nation, a peculiar people”. In the Old Testament, the nations were reckoned by their descent from Shem, Ham, or Japheth. In the Book of Acts, we see these three families united in Christ. In Acts 8, a descendant of Ham is saved, the Ethiopian treasurer; in Acts 9, a descendant of Shem, Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle; and in Acts 10, the descendants of Japheth, the Gentiles in the household of the Roman soldier, Cornelius. Sin has divided mankind, but Christ unites by His Spirit. All believers, regardless of national background, belong to that “holy nation” with citizenship in heaven.”
The unified church is built on a firm foundation — the “foundation of the apostles and prophets.” The twelve disciples of Christ were faithful to God and to the church. They did not let their differences get between them; they were each striving for the same thing — the success of the church of Christ.
Scholars believe that the “prophets” Paul is speaking of are New Testament prophets — other significant leaders in the early church. Some of the prophets we read of in the Gospels and in the book of Acts are: John the Baptist, Anna, Simeon, Zechariah, Ananias of Damascus, Barnabas, Lucius of Cyrene, Simeon of Niger, Silas, Philip the Evangelist, and Philip’s seven daughters. Some scholars consider Paul to be a prophet although he never calls himself that and is more commonly referred to as an “apostle.”
All of these early church leaders and followers of Christ are a part of the foundation that the church stands on. But, even more significantly, is the fact that “Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner stone.” Wiersbe notes that “the Cornerstone binds the structure together; Jesus Christ has united Jews and Gentiles in the church.” In other words, Jesus is the glue that holds us all together.
Any time our differences threaten to pull us apart, we only need to look to Jesus who is the chief cornerstone. In ancient building practices, the chief cornerstone was the most important part of the structure. All other stones, all other parts of the foundation, all other parts of the building are positioned in alignment with the chief cornerstone. If everyone in the church commits to aligning with Jesus Christ, we would not have to worry about disunity and discord, because if everyone is right with Jesus, everyone will be right with everyone else.
Never forget our firm foundation…
How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?