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Sermon #34 — Ephesians Sermons

 

      Title:                                 “One Body”

 

      Text:                                  Ephesians 2:11-22

      Subject:               The Spiritual Union of God’s Saints

      Date:                                Sunday Evening — April 3, 2016

      Readings:           Rex Bartley and Mark Daniel

      Introduction:       

 

All of God’s elect are one with Christ.

Š      Eternally One

Š      Mystically One

Š      Vitally One

 

O wondrous, gracious mystery!

O height and depth of love! —

With Christ we died upon the tree,

With Him we live above!

 

The Son of God a Man became,

That He might live and die,

That He might righteousness bring in

And justice satisfy.

 

Our sins and guilt He made His own, —

He took the cup of wrath!

And with our Surety we were one,

When He accomplished death!

 

Ascended now in glory high,

Still one with Christ we are.

Enthroned with Him we cannot die.

None can His body mar.

 

Christ lives in us and we in Him,

For we with Christ are one;

And as He is we are in Him,

For He with us is one!

 

All God’s elect are one with Christ. And in Christ all God’s elect are one in Christ “One Body.” That is my subject — “One Body.” Our text will be Ephesians 2:11-22.

 

God’s church, His family on earth,

Though by the world unknown,

Are people of a heavenly birth,

And in our Savior one.

 

Our Father is the God above,

The Sovereign on His throne.

And Christ, our Brother-King, in love,

He claims us as His own!

 

Indwelt by God the Spirit we

Are one in faith and love,

And one with Christ eternally,

Our home — Heaven above!

 

Oh, let us keep the unity,

The blessed bond of peace,

A loving, caring family, —

All sinners saved by grace!

 

(Ephesians 2:11-22) “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. (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.”

 

Christ’s Delight

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ delights to see his people walking together as one spiritual body.

Š      One reason for his death at Calvary was that he might reconcile all his elect to one another in one body.

Š      He came to this earth as the Good Shepherd in order to gather his sheep into one fold.

His desire for his church was very plainly expressed in his high priestly prayer for her, just before his death. — “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one….I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”

 

Oh, how it must grieve the Spirit of God, how it must grieve the Son of God to behold the church splits, denominational divisions, strife, and carnal schisms that are prevalent in his church today.

 

I wish that we could truly learn, in a practical way learn, by the grace of God, that all true believers are “one body in Christ!” We are all members of one church universal. We are all of the same royal family.

Š      We have one Elder Brother.

Š      We have one Heavenly Father.

Š      We are all redeemed by one Sacrifice.

Š      We all have one Head.

Š      We live by one Spirit and in one Spirit.

Š      We are all members of one spiritual body.

Š      We have one Hope.

Š      We have one Name.

Š      We have one inheritance.

 

It is my soul’s desire to promote the spiritual unity of God’s church and kingdom.

Š      Any who know me know that I have no intention of denying by baptism, nor my Baptist heritage. Certainly, I must and am determined to continue to uphold the great doctrines of the gospel commonly known as Calvinism.

Š      And I must denounce as heresy any rival doctrine.

Yet, I am bound under God, and by the love of Christ, to regard and treat as brethren all who confess Jesus Christ alone as their Savior and Lord, trusting the Son of God as their only hope for heaven. I must let nothing divide me from any of my brethren.

 

Church Universal and Local

 

This must be our attitude universally, but it must also be our attitude in the local assembly. In this assembly, we all are members one of another. We all profess the same faith. We all have been baptized with the same baptism. Let all who long to walk in obedience to Christ and honor him walk in love with one another! So long as anyone professes faith in Christ he is to be embraced as my brother and shown the same love Christ has shown me.

 

We can do nothing about the attitude and conduct of others. We are not responsible for another person’s actions and attitude. But, we are responsible for our own. The commandment of Christ is that you “love your enemies.” Do good to those that abuse you. “Pray for them that despitefully use you.” When you do, you will find peace in your own soul. And you will lead others in the way of peace. If that is how we are to treat our enemies, how much more our brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

One Body

 

Coming now to the text. — Our text teaches us that all of God’s people, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, black or while, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, all are “one body in Christ.”

 

The church’s one Foundation

Is Jesus Christ our 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.

 

Elect from every nation,

Yet one o’er 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,

With every grace endued.

 

Though with a scornful wonder,

Men see her sore oppressed,

By schisms rent asunder,

By heresies distressed,

Yet, saints their watch are keeping,

Their cry goes up, “How long?”

And soon the night of weeping,

Shall be the morn of song.

 

Mid toil and tribulation,

And tumult of her wars,

She waits the consummation

Of peace forever more;

‘Till with the vision glorious

Her longing eyes are blest,

And the great church victorious

Shall be the church at rest.

 

Yet she on earth hath union,

With God the Three in One,

And mystic sweet communion,

With those whose rest is won.

O happy ones and holy!

Lord, give us grace that we,

Like them the meek and lowly,

On high may dwell with Thee.

 

Proposition: All true believers are “one body in Christ,” through the blood of his cross; and it is our duty and privilege to live and serve him as one.

 

The church of Jesus Christ is not a building, made of wood and stone. It is not a denomination. It is all of God’s elect, redeemed by the blood of Christ and called by God the Holy Spirit.

 

Divisions: Let me show you three things in this portion of Holy Scripture.

  1. Our Sorrowful Past (vv. 11-13).
  2. Our Savior’s Performance (vv. 14-18).
  3. Our Satisfying Privileges (vv. 19-22).

 

OUR SORROWFUL PAST

 

1st — Since all divisions in Christ’s kingdom are caused by pride, Paul begins by once again stripping us of all grounds for human pride. He would have us to remember what we were in times past. Nothing helps us to overcome our pride and inspires sympathy like the remembrance of our past. — What a sad, sorrowful past it is we are here called to remember.

 

We were members of a divided race (v. 11).

 

(Ephesians 2:11) “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.”

 

Since the tower of Babel, all the human race has been divided and at war.

  • Division is the curse of the earth.
  • Unity is the mark of the new creation.

 

Our divisions are manifest in many ways, but the root and essence of them is all pride.

  • The Jew despises the Gentile.
  • The rich despise the poor.
  • The white despise the black.
  • The black despise the white.
  • The learned despise the unlearned.
  • The unlearned despise the learned.

 

We were desperately and hopelessly ruined (v. 12).

 

(Ephesians 2:12) “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.”

 

God created a perfect race in our father Adam and blessed him with all things needful. But, through sin, the human race was ruined. Notice how Paul describes our ruin and poverty by nature.

 

We were without Christ. This does not mean that before conversion Christ had never been gracious to us (Ephesians 1:3-4). Yet, though loved of God and redeemed by blood of Christ, though blessed of God and accepted in the Beloved from everlasting, before God saved us we were without Christ. — What does that mean? What does it mean to be without Christ?

  • We were without righteousness.
  • We were without forgiveness.
  • We were without peace.
  • We were without favor.
  • We were without strength.
  • Dead in trespasses and sins.

 

We were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. — This cannot mean that we had no part in the Jewish race; for even after conversion we are not made Jews in a physical sense. Paul means that we had no part with the people of God The Israel of God.

  • We were opposed to God’s people.
  • We had no inheritance with God’s people.
  • We had none of the privileges of God’s people.

 

We were strangers to the covenants of promise. Here Paul has reference to the covenant of grace. He speaks of it in the plural, because it was reaffirmed from patriarch to patriarch, and from generation to generation. We were strangers to the blessings and promises of God’s covenant (Ephesians 1:3-14).

 

We were without hope. In Adam we lost all hope. We were without the hope of life, and filled with fear and despair, filled with a sense of dread, dreading death, dreading judgment, dreading eternity.

 

We were without God in the world. Paul does not say that we were abandoned by God, for God had not cast off his elect. Paul’s meaning is that we were among the mass of fallen, sin-laden, lost, doomed, and damned mankind. And, being of that race, we were Godless…

  • We had no knowledge of God.
  • We had no desire for God.
  • Everything in us was opposed to God.

 

But now, in Christ Jesus, we are divinely reconciled (v. 13).

 

(Ephesians 2:13) “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

 

Now we are in Christ, by a living experience of faith. — Now we who were far off from God and the blessings of God are brought near to him. — Now we are drawn nigh and reconciled to God by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Next, I want to show you how this was done. How were we are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Look with me at these next verses, as Paul describes —

 

OUR SAVIOR’S PERFORMANCE

 

2ndRemember your past; and remember my brother, remember my sister what Christ has done for us.

 

(Ephesians 2:14-18) “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.”

 

Christ is our peace. He is our peace with God. He has reconciled us to God. And Christ is the peace of our own hearts.

  • He gives us peace by giving us faith in himself.
  • He speaks peace to our hearts.
  • He gives us a peaceful confidence in God’s goodness.
  • He gives us a peaceful rest in God’s promises.
  • He gives us peace with God’s providence.

 

And our Lord Jesus Christ gives us peace one with another. He has made all true believers one in himself. And he has made us one body through the cross (vv. 14-16).

 

He has broken down the wall that separated us. — This refers to the ceremonies of the law which divide the Jew and Gentile. But in the new creation of grace Christ has destroyed all walls of separation.

  • Walls of religious prejudice.
  • Walls of racial prejudice.
  • Walls of social prejudice.
  • Walls of political prejudice.

 

Christ has broken down the wall that separated us from God by his death at Calvary, “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments.

  • He has broken down the wall of divine justice against us.
  • He has broken down the wall of our sins.

 

And all who are redeemed by the blood of Christ are one in him. Christ has made us one body through the gospel (v. 17).

 

(Ephesians 2:17) “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.”

 

When our Lord Jesus Christ died at Calvary, he accomplished our peace with God.

  • In him we were fully justified.
  • In him we were perfectly reconciled.

 

Now, by the preaching of the gospel, he comes to us, both Jew and Gentile, and proclaims peace by his blood.

  • He does this through his Word.
  • He does this by the Spirit in our hearts.

 

Christ has made us one body by the mighty operations of his grace in the new birth (v. 18).

 

(Ephesians 2:18) “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

 

In due time he sends the Spirit of adoption into our hearts.

  • We all have the same Spirit. — All who are born of God live by the Spirit, live in the Spirit, and have the Spirit of God living in them.
  • We all come to God in the same way. — By faith in Christ.
  • We all have liberty as sons in Christ.

 

In verses 19-22 the Holy Spirit shows us some of...

 

OUR SATISFYING PRIVILEGES

 

3rd Behold the great, soul-satisfying privileges of grace that are ours as one body in Christ. We are Christ’s new creation. We are his church, his kingdom, his spiritual Israel, his heavenly Jerusalem. All grace is ours through his cross. Here Paul shows us the blessed results of us being “one body in Christ.”

 

We have a satisfying fellowship (v. 19).

 

(Ephesians 2:19) “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”

 

We are one with all of God’s people. — Christ is ours. — We are made partakers of the divine covenant. — All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are to us yea, and amen. — We have a blessed and sure hope. — We have God and all that is his!

  • God’s love is mine.
  • God’s grace is mine.
  • God’s power is mine.
  • God’s wisdom is mine.
  • God’s holiness is mine.
  • God’s justice is mine.
  • God’s world is mine.

 

We have a sure Foundation (v. 20).

 

(Ephesians 2:20) “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”

 

Our Foundation is the doctrine of the apostles and prophets, and their doctrine is the doctrine of the gospel.

  • Ruin by the Fall
  • Redemption by the Blood
  • Regeneration by the Holy Ghost

 

We have the same Foundation as the apostles and prophets.

  • The Foundation of the prophets was Christ alone.
  • The Foundation of the apostles is Christ alone.
  • The Foundation of the church is Christ alone (Isaiah 28:16).
  • Christ is the Foundation upon which we are built.
  • Christ is the Foundation that joins the walls of his church.
  • Christ is the chief, or pre-eminent Cornerstone of his church.
  • Christ is the tried Foundation.
  • Christ the sure Foundation.

 

We have a spiritual formation, being fitly framed together (v. 21). God the Holy Spirit graciously forms and fits every member of Christ’s church in its proper place.

 

(Ephesians 2:21) “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”

 

We are God’s holy temple. The temple is not yet complete. But John gave us a picture of the church and temple of God when it will be finished.

  • It will be a city four square, and fully inhabited — 24 Seats and 24 Elders Around the Throne — 144,000.
  • In the midst of it is the glory of God and of the Lamb!

 

We have a splendorous future (v. 22).

 

(Ephesians 2:22) “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

 

What can be more blessed than to dwell in God’s house, with God’s people, “an habitation of God through the Spirit?”

  • The Local Church
  • The Church Universal (Hebrews 12:22-24)
  • The Triumphant Church in Glory

 

God’s church shall be made perfect in one. We are the habitation of God. Soon, we shall be complete in the Lord.

  • All division will be ended.
  • All strife will be over!
  • Christ will be all.

 

Application

 

Some of you are yet ruined, without Christ. May God enable you to fall upon him and be built upon Christ our sure Foundation.

 

Children of God, we are one body in Christ. Let us then labor for the unity of God’s church and labor together, keeping “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

(Ephesians 4:22-5:2) “Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (25) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (26) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil. (28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

 

Children of God, rejoice in this. — Now in Christ Jesus, ye are made nigh. Lay hold of your blessed privileges in him.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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