AS STRANGERS TAKEN IN – PART 3

Intro: Paul wrote and lived in a world that was vastly different from our own on many levels. Paul's time was markedly different from ours in terms of culture, language, and way of life. However, that world and the one we call home share a striking similarity. Barriers existed in their world as well as in ours!
Between masters and slaves, walls were erected to create social barriers. The majority of slaves resented their masters, and their masters frequently treated their lives as things rather than people. Problems arose when members of these two groups began to enter the church. It was difficult to convince these two vastly distinct groups that they were one in Christ. The employee-employer relationship is the modern equivalent of the master-slave relationship, which does not exist today. The relationship between those in authority and those who are subordinate to that authority does share some similarities. The wealthy were on one side and the poor were on the other when it came to money. The rich treated the poor with condescension, and the poor lusted after the rich. It was also difficult to bring these two groups of people together in Jesus from their respective places on the social ladder. These distinctions between classes persist today. People who don't have enough sometimes feel resentment toward those who do. People who have a lot can come to judge those who are struggling to make ends meet on a day-to-day basis. There were obstacles within the family. It was common in the early church for a woman to be saved while her husband was still lost. This was addressed by Paul in 1 Cor. 7. The husband grew increasingly resentful of his wife's conversion to Christianity, and the wife frequently caused friction between them by insisting that he be saved. The early church members faced challenges as well as domestic strife. Additionally, this issue still exists. The spiritual journeys of parents and children, as well as husbands and wives, frequently diverge. While some members of the family do their best to live for the Lord, others have no relationship with the Lord. Both the family and the church can suffer as a result of this. The ancient world was divided by barriers. This was especially true when it came to how the Greeks viewed the outside world. "As the Greeks say, all men are divided into two classes, Greeks and Barbarians," Cicero said of the Greeks. Because they were unable to comprehend the languages of other people, the Greeks referred to them as barbarians. All other languages sounded like someone was saying, "Bar, bar, bar" to the Greeks. As a result, they dubbed them "barbarians." The Greeks were of the opinion that they spoke a "language of the gods." Everyone else was looked down on by them. The culture in which Paul is writing is this one. The Ephesians lived in a culture like this. All people received the Gospel regardless of their race, nationality, ethnicity, language, social status, or sex at the time it was preached. The "Good News" of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection for sinners is the Gospel. Additionally, that whoever believed in Him would be saved. People were also greatly leveled by the Gospel. The person who believed the Gospel was united with all other believers in Jesus Christ, regardless of who they were. People are greatly unified by the Gospel! So, when the Gospel came out, it had to break down the barriers between men and women that made them feel like they were in a lower class than women. It had to break down the barriers that separated slaves from their owners. It was necessary to tear down the barriers that separated the nations. It was necessary to break down religious barriers. Paul was aware of this fact. He was aware that the Gospel was explosive. It brought people together and made them believe in Jesus when it exploded in the hearts of individuals, families, and cities. It tore down all barriers between them. “I owe both the Greeks and the Barbarians; I am in debt to both of them; both to the learned and the foolish. As a result, I am prepared to share the gospel with you who are also in Rome. Because the gospel of Christ does not shame me: because it is the power of God to save anyone who believes; to the Greeks as well as the Jews first," Rom. 1:14-16. "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian or Scythian, bond or free: However, Christ encompasses all things. 3:11. Paul also knew that the divide between Jews and Gentiles was the greatest barrier of all. In previous messages, we discussed the division that existed between these two groups of people. Allow me to remind you that one group could stand the other. Gentiles were regarded as "filthy dogs" by the Jews. They were only deserving of Hell and death. An ancient Jew believed that a dead Gentile was the only good Gentile. Because they were different, the Jews were despised by the Gentiles. They weren't like anyone else in the world in terms of how they looked, ate, or behaved. Natural disasters, epidemics, etc., were attributed to the Jews by the Gentiles. They detested the Jews and desired their annihilation. The Jewish people and the Gentiles were separated by high, wide walls. Geographical distance was one of them. In Isa. According to Isaiah 57:19, "I create the fruit of the lips; The LORD says, Peace, peace to those who are far away and those who are near. and I'll make him well. The phrase "to him that is far off, and to him that is near" caught your attention. The Jews were the ones who were "near." They were close to the Temple and Jerusalem. Those who were "far off" were those who were not within Israel's borders. Did you notice that God said to both groups "peace"? Spirituality was another one of those barriers. The Gentiles were not saved, while the Jews were. As a result, a barrier appeared to be insurmountable. The Jews' attitude and the gap between them and the Gentiles are put into perspective by an incident from ancient Israel. A Gentile woman came to Rabbi Eleazer and told him that she wanted to be righteous and that she was a sinner. She inquired whether she could be accepted into the Jewish faith. Bring me near, Rabbi, she said. The Jews referred to being saved or being close to God in this manner. They discussed "being close." She was told by Eleazer, "No, you cannot come close." Additionally, he shut the door in her face. [i] This was the Jewish attitude toward the Gentiles. The barrier that separated them was similar to this. Paul is writing to us and the Ephesians to inform the church that Jesus has removed all barriers. There is no master or slave in Jesus. There is no gender distinction. Rich and poor do not exist. Greeks and Barbarians do not exist. Additionally, neither Gentiles nor Jews are present. Jesus Christ unites all of us! The whole point of these verses is that. I. In verse 11, Paul brought the divisions of the past to our attention. He makes us think of the wall that separated us from the Jews. II. Paul calls our attention to the destruction of the past in verse 12. We are brought back to the dire state of affairs on our side of the wall by him. Paul reminds us of our five major issues in that verse. 1. We were "devoid of Christ" We were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," as the saying goes. We were "strangers from the promises of the covenants" 4. We lacked "hope" number 5. We were "without God"—we were cut off from God in our lost state. Without Jesus Christ, we were hopelessly lost and headed to Hell. We were in a precarious situation that we were unable to escape. Paul describes how the wall that separated Jews and Gentiles was torn down in the verse that we will examine today. He explains how those of us who were on the wrong side were brought "near." Paul brings the past's destruction to mind in verse 13. Take note of these facts today with me. I. THE POWER OF THIS DESTRUCTION According to Paul, "ye who occasionally were far off are made nigh" We, as Gentiles, were excluded. We were outsiders observing the Lord's blessings on His people Israel. Without Christ, without hope, and without God in the world, we were lost. We were miserable and unable to improve our situation. However, God came to us through His grace, won us to Himself, and saved us for His glory. He entered us into Himself when He did. Aside from that, the Lord tore down the barrier that separated the Jews and Gentiles. In terms of our ways of life and religions, we were "far off," but Jesus Christ has brought us together. God does not intend for people to divide; He is all about bringing people together and tearing down barriers. God has united us in Christ, making us one in Him, by graciously taking the Jews and the Gentiles in one hand. He wiped out our past! He tore down the barriers of separation (Ill. Eph.) 2:14, that stood in our way and created a single church in which Jews and Gentiles are treated equally by God! The fact that God was able to unite two groups of people that would never have come together on their own through Jesus demonstrates the power of God in the destruction of our past. That demonstrates God's power. Grace has that kind of power! As we progress further into this chapter, we will discuss this convergence in greater detail. Ill. Epaphroditus and Paul – Phil. 2:25. Grace has that kind of power! You'll fall in love with people you used to despise. You'll come to love those who hurt you. It brings people together in Jesus Christ by tearing down barriers between them. If your wealth does not unite you with your brother, it is not from the Lord! “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren,” 1 John 3:14-16. Whoever does not love their brother will die. A murderer is anyone who despises his brother: And you are aware that no murderer possesses eternal life. Because he gave his life for us, we see the love of God in this: and we ought to sacrifice our lives for the sake of the brothers." "If a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar," 1 John 4:20-21. Because if a person doesn't love their brother or sister whom they have seen, how can they love God if they haven't? We have received this commandment from him: "He who loves God must also love his brother." I. The Might of This Devastation II. THE PLACE OF THIS DESTRUCTION According to Paul, "in Christ" our pasts are destroyed. By adhering to the law, we do not escape the past. Good deeds do not free us from the past. Being "in Christ" frees us from the destruction of the past. How does a person become "in Christ"? The response is the same whether you are a Jew or a Gentile: the saints are "created in Christ Jesus," Eph. 2:10. Through the work of God's saving grace, we become "in Christ." We are drawn to Him. He makes us aware of both His holiness and our sins. He makes it clear to us that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He gives us the faith to believe in Jesus, and when we simply look away in faith, he places us "in Christ" and saves us for eternity. Acts 16:31, ill.; Rom. 10:13; Rev. 22:17. We are "made nigh" when we are saved by God's grace. That is, we are brought closer to God without our own efforts. He demolishes the barrier that divides us. While we are still in our sins, He reaches down to us, saves us by His grace, and draws us to Himself. God is the sole author of this! Grace is at work everywhere. Because of this, He is deserving of all praise and glory for who we are in Him! Do you follow Jesus? If so, you are in a good position. You have been freed from your sin and brought nearer to God. You now possess His righteousness and have been freed from sin. You have been raised from the dead and given a share in His life. You have been delivered, transformed, changed, adopted, forgiven, and saved. There is nothing like it was, and there never will be again! You are becoming like Him if you are in Him. Your sins are gone if you are in Him. You are a work of grace, a monument to His love and power if you are in Him; You are a declaration of God's grace and love for sinners! The wall is gone forever if you are in Him, and you are one with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and all the saints! You must be in Him if you are not already. By His grace, Jesus Christ will save you for His glory if you come to Him by faith. John 6:37 says that if you come to Him, He will not turn you away; rather, He will knock down the barrier that separates you from Him and bring you closer! Our past and all barriers to communication have been torn down "in Christ!" I. The Strength of This Devastation II. the location of this destruction's third phase. THE COST OF THIS DESTRUCTION According to Paul, "are made nigh by the blood of Christ," The Son of God had to die on the cross of Calvary in order to unite Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish people had their customs and laws. Millions of goats, sheep, bulls, pigeons, and turtledoves were offered by their priests as temporary atonement for their sins. They didn't get rid of any sins with their rituals. They were only moved forward by one day and one year. Jesus accomplished something that the blood of bulls and goats could not when He died. He paid a price that none of the ages or religions could bear when He died. In order to pay for the sins of the lost, He gave His precious blood when He died. When He died, He fulfilled God's righteous demands for sin and offered eternal salvation to all who would believe in Him. The Bible says what it does about Jesus' blood because of this. "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth," Rev. 1:5–6. To the one who loved us and shed his own blood to redeem us from our sins and made us kings and priests of God and his Father; Glory and dominion forever belong to him. Amen.” · 1 Pet. 1:18-19: "For the reason that ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with Christ's precious blood, like the blood of a spotless lamb:" · Heb. 10:10–14 states, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Additionally, every priest performs daily ministry by frequently offering the same sacrifices, which cannot atone for sins: But this man sat down at God's right hand after making a once-for-all sacrifice for sins; Expecting his enemies to become his pawns from now on. He has sanctified them forever through a single sacrifice." · Heb. 9:11–14 states, "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this building;" He entered the holy place once, obtaining eternal redemption for us, not by the blood of goats or calves but by his own. Because if the ashes of a heifer sprinkle the unclean and the blood of bulls and goats sanctifies the flesh: How much more will the blood of Christ, who gave himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit, cleanse your conscience of sins so that you can serve the living God? · Heb. 9:24–27 states, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true;" but into heaven itself, to present himself to us before God: Not only that, but also that he should offer himself frequently, just as the high priest annually brings the blood of others into the holy place. Because then he must have suffered frequently since the beginning of time: But once at the end of the world, he appeared to atone for sin through self-sacrifice. And since men are only destined to die once, the judgment follows: Thus, Christ was once offered as a substitute for many people's sins; and he will return for the second time without sin to bring salvation to those who seek him. God be praised for the precious blood of Jesus, which unites us as one in Jesus! Conc: A group of American soldiers were firing at a German-occupied farmhouse in Europe during World War II. To the barn, the family had fled for their lives. The Germans opened fire across an open field as they approached the house in pursuit of the Americans. There were bullets everywhere. A two- or three-year-old baby girl who was in the barn all of a sudden escaped and began to run across the open field. She ran into that torrent of fiery lead right away. An American soldier saw the child right away and started yelling, "Cease fire!" on the German side, the same thing took place. Both armies suddenly stopped firing because that little girl was crossing the field. What none of the generals, leaders of the various nations, or soldiers could accomplish; She brought peace for a brief moment. Jesus went beyond that! We had erected barriers of rebellion and sin between Him and us, and He tore them down. He graciously reached out to us and drew us near. Not only did He bring us, but He also brought all of those who believe in Jesus near, and He has united us in Christ. We now have the responsibility of walking in the unity that God has created! Eph. Ill. 4:17–13: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forgiving one another in love;" striving to preserve the spirit's unity through peace. In the same way that you are called in a single hope of being called, there is one body and one Spirit. One God and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in you all... until we all come in unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to the measure of the fulness of Christ. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. That is, after all, the Lord's plan for His church! "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world," says John 17:18–23. In order for the truth to sanctify them as well, I sanctify myself for their sake. I also pray for those who will believe in me through their word, not just for these; so that they might all be one; as you are in me and I in you, Father, so that they may also be one in us: so that everyone would think you sent me. I also gave them the glory that you gave me; that they might be one and the same as us: In order for them to become one, I in them and you in me; and that the world might be aware that you sent me and that you loved them just as much as you loved me.

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