Ephesians

Ephesians 2:14 – 18 – PEACE: God-ward and Man-ward (Vertical and horizontal)

Ephesians 2:14 – 18.

PEACE: God-ward and Man-ward. (Vertical and horizontal)

———————————————————————————

INTRODUCTION.

 

There is a clear parallel between the 1st half and the 2nd half of Eph.2.

Verses 1-3 ( ” … dead in transgressions and sins…”) and 11-12 (“…. without God and without hope…”) stress our alienation from God — both passages are followed by a “BUT”. V.12 uses the words “separated … excluded…. BUT now….”

 

Our position {before we responded to Christ} as individuals and as a group of people i.t.o our relationship to God and God’s people is summarised well by William Hendriksen.

“We were Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless”.

 

CHRISTLESS:

– ” … separate from Christ …” as opposed to being “in Christ”.

 

STATELESS:

– ” … excluded from citizenship in Israel (the people of God) …”

 

FRIENDLESS:

– ” … foreigners (strangers) to the covenant of promise …”

God’s promises to Abraham, the friend of God.

 

HOPELESS:

– ” … without hope … ”   no assurance of salvation.

 

GODLESS:

– ” … without God …”   many gods but no knowledge of the True God.

 

 

……………   but now in Christ Jesus …….

 

Now in Christ all these situations have been reversed.

 

Paul has been careful to show that this salvation in Christ is available to both Jews and non-Jews. Remember that Paul was a Jew and the Jews had been chosen by God but instead of fulfilling their mandate to be a blessing to all nations they had become exclusive and aloof and over the centuries the nationalistic and racialistic barriers had become higher and higher.

 

It was into this divided world of the first century that Christ came – to bring about a change in the relationship between people and God and between people and people.

 

It is into this divided world that Christ comes today – into broken relationships and broken lives – and he brings peace.

 

What is this peace that is? Vv.14-18 give us an insight into the kind of peace that the NT speaks of.

 

  1. THE MAN OF PEACE (Prince of Peace).

 

Ephesians 2:14

14 For he himself is our peace, …….., (NIV)

There are many different ways peace is defined – the dictionary has many different descriptions but none of them describe peace as a person.

 

Here, however, Paul is clear that peace (real peace) is only to be found in a person. The NIV translation is correct to add “himself” because that is the emphasis in the original text.

 

True peace is not obtained by negotiation – it is not a truce – it is not a case of live and let live – nor is it obtained by following rituals and regulations. The place of peace in the Bible is in a person – “in Christ”. He is the embodiment of peace.

 

Isaiah 9:6

6 For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

 

The worldly system is charaterised by conflict and division – the history of the world is primarily a history of conflict. The important dates in history usually reflect a war of some kind — 1066 – Battle of Hastings — 1914/18 – First World War — 1917 – Bolsohviek Revolution — 1939/45 – WW2 …… 1967 six day war …

 

But not just conflicts between nations but between individuals and within individuals ….

 

Conflicts in the home …. 5/10 marriages break down – conflicts between neighbours. The essence of all the conflicts is sin – selfishness is at the root – we cannot always have what we want without infringing on what others want. Our way often infringes on someone else’s way and then we stand up for our rights and more often than not our so called rights conflict with someone else’s right.

 

Between the Jews and Gentiles there had been a long and formidiable hated barrier. The Jews considered the Gentiles to be “dogs” – a Jewish woman was not strictly allowed to help a Gentile mother during child birth. They considered the Gentiles to be fit only to feed the fires of Hell!!

 

The Gentile attitude to the Jews was not exactly friendly either. A Jew was considered an enemy of the Human race —

 

Racial hatred and prejudice is very strong and very deep and is not rational – but sin blinds and distorts our view of other races and nations and we very quickly see patriotism change to nationalism and racism – Examples of this are all over the world even here in the UK.

 

One of the things that Christ did when he came to earth was to make it possible for these barriers to be broken down.

 

Ephesians 2:14

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (NIV)

When the Jewish Temple was originally built it was designed to have a court of the Gentiles – the purpose was not to exclude the Gentiles but rather to make it possible for them to come to God – this was inherant in the covenant that God make with Abraham — ”

 

 

Genesis 12:3

3 I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.” (NIV)

 

The Temple was meant to be a place where the Jews evangelised the Gentiles – “a house of prayer for all people/nations …” [Lk. 19v46]. In stead the Jews turned it into a market where money-changers and thieves operated and the Gentiles were excluded.

 

There was actually a physical wall in the Temple beyond which the Gentiles were not permitted to go – the sign on the wall read:- “No Gentile may enter the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.” Not something that would encourage the Gentiles to worship God.

 

In AD 70 this wall was actually destroyed by the Roman armies BUT long before the physical Temple wall came down God had removed the the barriers between Himself and man and between Jews and Gentiles by creating a new humanity – his church – his people

 

As people came into a relationship with Christ and experienced peace with God the hostility toward God was dealt with and the hosility toward other people was dealt with.

 

ILLUS.: For years the eyes of the world were focussed on SA and its aparthied policies. It was held up as the example of racial hatred and conflict BUT long before the politicians thought of change God was at work amongst his people.

 

Joyce Scott [a white South African] who was a missionary to Kenya has written a little book _”Three colours of hate” – She write about racial tensions in SA and Kenya – she writes how she returned to SA in the 1970’s and saw changes coming – multiracial youth camps – where the Word of God was taught and pierced the hearts of young people – God began to work and these young people began to share with one another {I was one of them} — The hatred, bitterness and resentment of Black, Asian and Coloured people hissed and boiled over into words. The smugness and pride of the whites also boiled to the surface — the ugliness on BOTH sides was recognised — there was a deep sense of shock…

 

It is a difficult time when God puts his finger on some ugly areas — it is painful — many tears had to flow to wash away the blindness. BUT a miracle began to happen and there was a moulding together of his love. And a genuine love began to grow as the wall of hostility began to crumble.

 

” Here in microcosm was the comfort my beloved coutry was crying for. One-ness in Christ which is many coloured. The whole family of God made up of people who would confirm one another in their varied rich heritages and cultures and in Jesus name know that they were one…..

There was now the beginning of a new family solidarity which meant more than the restrictions imposed by tradition. Blood is thicker than water. And the blood shed by the Son of God is the cosmic revolution which made us one blood family in His name, binds men and women together in the family of God for eternity.   What is the colour of the body of Christ – it has many shades but the colour is love.”

 

Christ destroys the barriers and creates one new humanity>>

HOW???

 

Ephesians 2:15-16 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (NIV)

  1. THE MAKER OF PEACE. (The price of Peace).

 

The first thing Paul mentions as to how Christ accomplishes this peace is – He abolishes the Law. What does this mean??

 

Are the 10 commandements no longer true? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said he came to fulfill the law!!! How are we to understand this verses?

 

There is a difference between the rules and regulations of the Jewish leaders [pharisees] together with the ceremonial law and the moral law of God.

The Sermon on the Mount is about the moral law – the rule of love for God and neighbour and all things associated with these.

 

But Paul is referring to all the rules relating to material sacrifices, to dietary laws, to ritual cleanliness etc…..

Jesus did away with all petty laws and established a law of love. Many of the laws in the OT where signs pointing to the coming of the Messiah – the whole OT sacrificial system is no longer necessary because Christ is the ultimate sacrifice – one for all! Those laws are therefore obsolete!! They had serves there purpose.

 

As Christians therefore we had better be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of demanding from people anything that lays legalistic burdens on them or ourselves. We dare not insist that our style of worship is the only true way or our form of Church government is the only way – unless you behave like us than you are not acceptable…………. Whenever we do this we are re-instituting the ceremonial law which Christ came to do away with and also we aresaying that salvation is by grace plus …. and that is totally unacceptable and unbiblical!

 

While the moral law is not abolished by Christ we must remember that this moral law is not a way of salvation. Salvation is through Christ alone who has by his life and death fulfilled all the legal demands.

 

The moral law shows us that we are under God’s condemnation but Jesus took that condemnation on himself and fulfilled the moral law [and abolished the ceremonial law] — from that time onward he set about creating a new humanity made up of Jews and Gentiles. It is not that God raised the Gentiles to the same status as Jews — NO!! – he created a new – unique – a never before existing – body of people! People from every nation under heaven!!

 

Christ abolishes the old and creates something new and far better! What the law could never do Christ has done by his death and resurrection. This new creation does not only span the divide between Jew and Gentile but also between many other groups:

 

Colossians 3:11 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (NIV)

 

Galatians 3:28 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Not that racial and sexual difference is removed . Men are still men and women, women!! BUT inequality before God is abolished. There is a new unity for those who are in Christ.

 

It is through the cross – the death of Christ – that people are reconciled to God and can have peace with God. Without the cross a person remains helpless, sinful and an enemy of God!

 

Not only does the cross reconcile people to God BUT also people to people.   “The cross is God’s answer to Judaizing, racial discrimination, segregation, apartheid, anti-Semitism, bigotry, war, and evry oter cause and result of human strife.” [Mac Arthur].

 

Does this mean that Christians never have relationship problems?? Sadly NO!!

It discredits Christ and his gospel when people who claim to be Christian refuse to be reconciled to each other – when Church members fall out — when Christian marraiges break down — …..

 

Is there something between you and a fellow believer?? I am not talking about agreeing about every minute detail of life!! But is there a spirit of hostility and division? It should not be – it is a discredit to the name of Christ and a hindrance to your fellowship and spiritual growth! Jesus died to bring reconciliation and if you refuse to be reconciled to your fellow believer then God will not hear you.

 

 

Matthew 5:23

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (NIV)

 

 

  1. THE MESSENGER OF PEACE. (The preaching of peace).

 

Ephesians 2:17-18 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (NIV)

Christ is our peace – he is the maker of peace AND he is the messenger of peace.

 

First He achieved peace and then he announced it! The announcement follows the achievement so this must refer to his post-resurrection message “Peace be with you” – these were the first words he spoke to his disciples after the resurrection – this message of the gospel of peace to the world was preached by his disciples and every generation of Christians that followed right up to today. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached…

 

Acts 2:38-39

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (NIV)

Jesus is still preaching peace through his body, the church .. we are part of that church. We have the gospel of peace and we have the responsibility of spreading that message to those near and far.

 

The Church is God’s agent of peace – sadly the church has not always been true to its calling – when church leaders water down the gospel – when sin is no longer wrong but simply inadvisable – when Jesus is placed into the supermarket of religion and no longer the only way to God — then the Church has failed to be the Church of Christ and has been reduced to a religious institution – where peace with God through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ has become a wishy-washy “live and let live” tolerance which simply pats people on the back as they head for hell.

 

Before we get too critical of the Church out there let us examine our own hearts and lives – What are we doing? What am I doing? What are you doing? To take the message of the gospel of peace to our family, friends and neighbours!!

 

Yes it is costly – effort, time, – rejection, embarrassment, feeling foolish – — It is no good praying for people to come to Christ unless you are prepared to do something about it. How committed are we to the cause of Christ and the gospel

 

Even the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, who had no belief in God at all, says “You will never find peace and happiness until you are ready to commit your self to something worthy dying for.”

 

Can you sa with the Apostle Paul:     Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

Obedience is what Jesus wants:     Matthew 7:21

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ ………….., but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (NIV)

We are Christ’s messengers of peace and reconciliation:

 

2 Corinthians 5:18-6:7 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

The message of the gospel of peace with God is still to be preached to those far and near – the wonderful fact is that where it is proclaimed there people respond and are reconciled to God through the cross.

 

Reconcilation is an event and because of it we have access to God the Father :

 

Romans 5:1-2

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (NIV)

ILLUS.: It is almost impossible for you and I to gain access to the Queen at Buckingham Palace but there are those who can walk in and out and have free and unlimited access to ERII – her family.

 

In NT days when a shepherd had put his sheep in the enclosure at night he would lie down accoss the entrance – he was the door/gate.

 

 

John 10:7

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (NIV)

It is through Jesus alone that a person can gain access to God.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION.

 

Biblical peace is not found in an uneventful trouble-free life – it not a tranquil English country garden in the sunshine of summer. There are times when there is a lack of trouble and war and conflict BUT — Peace is not determined by external circumstances – As individuals we shall never find peace until we are at peace with God – The world will never know peace until the Prince of Peace returns.

 

He is the Man of Peace.

He is the Maker of Peace.

He is the messenger of Peace.

 

 

Benediction.

Philippians 4:7-9 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (NIV)

 

CHRISTLESS:

      – ” … separate from Christ …”

      [as opposed to being “in Christ”]

 

STATELESS:

      – ” … excluded from citizenship in

      Israel (the people of God) …”

 

FRIENDLESS:

      – ” … foreigners (strangers) to the covenant of promise …”

      [God’s promises to Abraham, God’s   friend]

 

HOPELESS:

      – ” … without hope … ”  

      [no assurance of salvation]

 

GODLESS:

      – ” … without God …”  

      [many gods but no knowledge of the True God]

 

……………   but now in Christ Jesus …….


Ephesians 2:14 – 18.

 

  1. THE MAN OF PEACE.

     (The Prince of Peace)

 

     He embodies peace

     He destroys hostile barriers

 

  1. THE MAKER OF PEACE.

     (The Price of Peace)

 

     He abolishes useless ceremony ..

     He creates a new community ..

                     … by his death

 

  1. THE MESSENGER OF PEACE.

     (The Preaching of Peace)

 

     the scope of his message is  

          global

     the result of his message

        accepted is peace with and

           access to God

 

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