SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 22 November 2020
Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
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I. Hostility is broken down and peace is established
II. One new man in place of two
III. Altogether aim toward the one and same goal
We’re continuing with the series, ‘Life in the Father’s House,’ and re-examining what it means to be and continue our life as a member of the Lord’s Church. The first topic we considered was on the nature of a local church as God’s family. Last Lord’s Day, we were reminded of the significance of worship. And, in worship, we confidently enter the holy place where God resides and welcomes and meets His worshippers. The blood of Jesus enabled us to do so.
Today, we focus on ‘unity’ in the Father’s house and see the basis and the implication of our oneness in church, the body of Jesus. This is about what it means to come to church on Sundays, what it means to sit in the midst of this congregation during the worship service, and what it means to greet each other and share fellowship with all in the congregation. Today’s topic, ‘unity,’ explains why we engage ourselves in these activities and why we love doing them. I pray that, hearing this message, we altogether grow in loving the Lord, first, because He enabled us to be united with each other, and second, grow in loving one another more because it is the Lord’s will in His calling and uniting us all as one family in Him.
When our children were in primary school and I was a student at the theological college, one day we went to a park with friends from the same church we attended. As others were enjoying the beautiful park, I was cooking BBQ at a public grill. A man came to me and asked whether I was a Christian. I think he saw my t-shirt with a Bible verse on. I said, ‘yes,’ and he said he was a Christian too and asked a few questions. Then he told me that he wasn’t attending any church and not willing to find one for himself. I asked why. He said, he could perfectly be a Christian without attending a church, nor having fellowship with other Christians. He said that he disliked seeing a bunch of ‘hypocrites’ in churches. He seemed to have lost interest in knowing and having a relationship with the ‘forgiven sinners’ in the Father’s house. But sadly he seemed to miss the important reason for God’s calling and why Jesus he claimed he believed had died. The Lord’s calling is for a sinner to be reconciled to God and, as being reconciled to God and become His child, be united with fellow members of God’s household. Sadly, the man I spoke to in a park missed this important truth and I still pray for him, seeking the Lord to open his heart and see this truth.
The point I want to make is that our understanding of our ‘unity’ in God’s church characterises our life in the Father’s house. Your realisation of your ‘unity’ with other Christians affects your commitment to Christ’s church and deepens your joy as you take part in worship and fellowship and all aspects of your life in the Father’s house.
I. HOSPITALITY IS BROKEN DOWN AND PEACE IS ESTABLISHED
So, let us begin with the basis of our unity – I mean, how we have been united as one. We’re united in the Father’s house, in Christ’s church, as ‘hostility among us is cancelled and peace is established.’ Previously, each of us were divided from one another by the wall of hostility and enmity. We didn’t trust each other and were at war against one another. But, that wall of hostility is broken down and peace is established. This peace established is the sole basis of our unity and we no longer are at war with each other.
A WW II Japanese soldier was found in 1972 in a deep jungle of the island of Guam. The year 1972 was 27 years after the end of the WW II in the Pacific region, but that Japanese soldier was still carrying out the war because he had never heard of its end. At the moment he was found, he was extremely hostile toward others, but once the news was communicated and he himself saw the evidence of the end of the war, he cried firstly, then, rejoiced because peace came into his heart. He enjoyed the long-waited peace with all people he had once fought fiercely. The wall of hostility was broken down when the message of peace reached his heart!
The Lord Jesus declared that enmity, hostility was cancelled and peace established. And this is the very foundation of our union in God’s household which is the greatest news to all descendants of Adam. Jesus the Son of God came to us in flesh and, though sinless, died on the cross, tearing His flesh and shedding His blood, thus, broke down the dividing wall of hostility among us and established peace in us as He reconciled us to His Father and our Father. This is the very foundation of our union in the Father’s house. And among us believers, no longer is there a wall of hostility.
Therefore, there’s no need for you and me to keep fences or walls or locks in our hearts toward others in God’s house. There’s no enmity between us who believe in the Lord Jesus because Christ ‘killed’ it as v. 16 of our text passage says. In Jesus, we’re in peace and harmony with one another.
This means that, if any Christian holds hostility in his heart toward another fellow believer, he is, in fact, rejecting what Christ has established. And no Christian can do that because Christ has already purchased him, purchased her, with His blood. Therefore, you and I must understand that we have peace with one another in Christ and this is why Jesus says in Mt. 5:9 that “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Saying, ‘peacemakers,’ Jesus means not anyone who fights to establish peace, but those who keep and uphold and enjoy peace that is already established. If you and I understand our unity Jesus established among us, we’re ‘peacemakers’ and, this is why we’re ‘sons’ or ‘children’ of God.
II. ONE NEW MAN IN PLACE OF TWO
This is not all; our unity with each other is much deeper than simply having peace among us. Our union means that we’re ‘one new person,’ as Eph. 2:15 says. In other words, I am you and you are me and he is she and she is he. And I’m far from speaking of ‘sexual confusion’ which is a great evil of the present generation. What I mean is that we’re thoroughly and inextricably interwoven with one another in this union; thus, no individual believer can claim self-sustenance or independence from other Christians. Christ died and rose from the dead to unite us as a ‘new person in place of two.’
Some of you might say, ‘Ah, that’s an ideal model; but, in reality, that’s not going to happen.’ But brothers and sisters, consider what the Bible describes our status in Christ. Gal. 6:15 and 2 Cor. 5:17 say in one voice that we’re a ‘new creation’ (or ‘a new creature,’ as some other English translations put). Also, Rom. 6:4 tells us that we were buried and raised with Christ when we believed and baptised in His name, and we now walk in ‘newness of life.’ This ‘newness of life’ means, we live and be not in our former way, but in this union with one another in Jesus. In this sense, we’re a ‘new creation’ as a ‘new person in place of two.’
Jesus prayed this to the Father, as recorded in Jn. 17:20 and following. This is what He prayed: “They [all who believe] may all be ONE, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us … I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one.” If this is our Lord’s prayer for us made to the Father, you and I should never consider otherwise. Each of us are not independent individuals, but one united church as if we’re one new person altogether.
Then, a question arises – ‘How can we who are many be one and remain as one?’ Surprisingly, our Father has given to us numerous examples to understand the nature of our oneness in Christ. The union of husband and wife through marriage is one of them.
Another interesting example that explains the nature of union in Jesus is the very foundation of God’s creation – I mean, the molecules. It’s chemistry. But, believe me, it’s not a complicate matter as chemistry wasn’t my favourite subject in school. Molecule is the term that describes the smallest particle of a substance, like oxygen or carbon or iron. Each molecule consists of two or more atoms. Whereas an oxygen molecule is the smallest with two atoms, the largest molecule in the world is called PG5 which has about 200 million atoms. This means, if a hydrogen molecule which is the smallest was the earth, then, PG5 molecule could be compared to the Galaxy. Or, if a hydrogen molecule is the size of our church building, then, PG5 could be about the size of all Australia. In size, it’s extremely big with so many atoms connected to one another, but in terms of retaining chemical and physical property, this gigantic molecule functions as one and single molecule – all 200 million atoms interwoven to one another function as a single molecule.
Likewise, we who belong to Christ through faith in Him are one united body. Each one is so inextricably united to another, and altogether we exist and function as one and single body of Christ. In this sense, I am you and you are me and he is she and she is he. Our union is more than simply having peace established among ourselves; we’re ‘one new person’ in and through Christ Jesus. So, it’s wrong for any Christian, any member of the Lord’s church, to consider himself as independent, apart from his fellow members of the Father’s house; and it’s true for all Christians to greet each other with the love of Christ and strive to keep this peace Jesus has established on our behalf.
III. ALTOGETHER AIM TOWARD THE ONE AND SAME GOAL
So far, we heard about the basis of our union and our being ‘one new person’ in our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, our third and last point to consider is the purpose of our being one new person in Jesus, namely, ‘to aim altogether toward the one and same goal.’
Our text passage for today, that is, Eph. 2 and especially vs. 21-22, tell us that this ‘one and same goal’ is ‘to be built together into a dwelling place for God.’ On the street where our church’s manse is, a house is currently under construction. Every day, the building is added with more construction materials. It seems progressing well and beautifully. Bricks and beams are laid, aiming toward one goal, that is, to form a dwelling place for a family.
Likewise, our Lord’s purpose of uniting us is to build a dwelling place for God or to grow us into a holy temple in the Lord. This might sound vague to some of you. How could we be a dwelling place for God? Could the God of the universe who created the heavens and the earth dwell among us, considering us as His temple? It seems to be an enormous exaggeration. But not at all is this an exaggeration; it is true!
Consider vs. 17-22 and follow the point made in those verses. First, Jesus came and preached peace to us; so, we have access to the Father; then, we’re the fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household. Then, what comes next? We altogether are being built up to be God’s temple, having Jesus as the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets as the foundation. This is simply what is taking place in His church. We gather together as the Lord’s church and hear His voice through reading the Scriptures and hearing the preaching of the word. We learn from the Spirit and grow and be mature in our faith. Not only in our knowledge, do we grow, but also in our fellowship with one another, we become mature. And all these take place in our midst for one purpose, that is, to become a fully functioning body of Christ, to become a dwelling place for God! After all, this church on earth is the shadow of heaven, a foretaste of what we’ll enjoy eternally in the Lord!
Jesus explains this in Mt. 18:18-20, telling us that this earthly body of His is the outpost of heaven. Let me read you what He says in Mt. 18:18-19: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Do you see what the Lord means here? He means that we are directly connected to heaven and heaven comes down in our midst. This is what the Lord continues and says this in v. 20: “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” Jesus who sits on His throne in heaven now also dwells in the midst of us who bind and loose and agree in Jesus on earth.
Numerous passages of the Bible teach the same. For example, Eph. 4, especially in vs. 11-16. That passage talks about our unity and building up to the fullness of Christ so that ‘we may speak the truth in love, to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ.’ In another word, to be heaven on earth, to be the dwelling place for God and Christ!
So, what you and I altogether do in the Father’s house is to grow in faith and love, and be the Lord’s temple on earth until we all be called to enter the true and eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus. This is possible not by our strength or wit or merit, but only by God’s grace and power, as the very last verse of our text passage points this out, saying, “In [Christ] you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
What is the message for us, then, to remember and apply? First and foremost, we must know and consider each other as our dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. Having understood this truth, we must learn to live in peace with one another, breaking down any remaining hostility or grudge against one another because Jesus our Lord has already broken it down for us. Then, we must start loving each other and always strive to increase and deepen our mutual love. Meanwhile, we must continue seeking the Lord’s guidance and help because, without them, we’ll soon fail in loving and embracing one another.
This is why we ought to forgive each other. Jesus forgave our sins; He forgives us even now in heaven, interceding for us; then, we must also forgive one another’s sins! So, our loving and forgiving each other is the beginning of our being built up to the fullness of Christ.
Then, we must meet together as often as we could. In this sense, setting the first day of the week for us to gather together and worship God and rest in Jesus is God’s great blessing. After all, by meeting often, we have a better chance to grow in faith and become a better temple of God! ***