An exposition of Ephesians 2:11-22. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 12, 2009.
Sermon Notes »
Once again, as it has been throughout history, Israel is in the news. Controversy abounds. Disputes over land persists. Blogs and prophecy programs speculate whether this could be the beginning of the end. Could the current crisis in the Middle East draw Russia into a conflict involving Iran and Israel? Where should the U.S stand on all of this? What is our role in this unfolding drama? How does this fit in with Old Testament prophecies and the book of Revelation? Is the Rapture of the church on the horizon? Are we about to enter the “Great Tribulation?” I don’t know! I’m not even sure we are asking the right questions. Contrary to popular opinion the Church is not unified in its understanding of last things. The doctrine of Eschatology is much disputed. Good, godly, dedicated, Bible-believing folks have very different opinions about how this whole thing is going to play out. While you and I may have a difference of opinion on the how and when of the end of the age I’m confident that we agree that Jesus is coming again – visibly, physically to this earth. That He is coming for His church. That there will be a judgment to follow and we had best be ready when He comes and be about His business when He gets here. Of those things I’m certain. Beyond them I have opinions and beliefs but I’m not dogmatic about them and I will not draw a line in the sand because of them. I can love, fellowship, worship and work with those who disagree with me on the details.
I do want to deal this morning with a related question. The question is about the relationship between Israel and the church. Does God have two people? Israel and the church? Are there two separate covenants or agreements? Is there one purpose or destiny for Israel and another for the church? It seems there is a common perception today that God has two plans to bless people. One is the Jewish covenant the other is the Christian covenant. Jews don’t have to become Christians and Christians do not have to become Jews to be blessed. Both can get to God their own way – with Jesus for Christians and without Jesus for Jews. But is that what the Bible teaches? Is that consistent with the message of the Bible? I don’t believe it is and I want us to begin in Ephesians chapter 2.
Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
In Ephesians 1:23 Paul states our destiny as the church is to be the fullness with which Christ fills all in all. The key to understanding what that means is found in Ephesians 3:10: …so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. We are to be the showcase for the glory of God! God will fill the universe with the glory of His Son by putting the church on display. He will hold up the church and say to heaven and hell, “This is the glory of my Son, his bride, his body, his church.”
Do you get that picture? The church is to reveal the glory of God. This is an amazing thing coming from Paul the former Pharisee. He knew the Old Testament well and he knew that was Israel’s destiny. God had made these promises to Israel now Paul is saying that the church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, will be God’s people, the glory of God’s Son and the fullness of the Messiah’s glory in the world.
God chose Israel from all the nations on the earth as His own special possession. In addition He gave them promises unlike that to any other.
Israel is to be God’s glory. The church is to be God’s glory. How do we reconcile that? I’m convinced the answer lies in the fact that there is now and has always been only one way to be made right with God and that is by grace, through faith because of Christ. Not one system under the Old Covenant and another system in the New Covenant. Abraham believed God and it was “credited,” it was “counted” as righteousness. He was declared righteous by God’s grace because he believed. Further in Romans Paul speaks of Gentiles being grafted into the olive tree (representing the people of God) not planting a different tree – one people.
It has taken us awhile but let’s look at our text beginning with verse 12 as we consider our condition as Gentiles before Jesus the Messiah came. This is all possible because of the work of Christ.
The Bottom Line
There are not two saving covenants. There are not two saved peoples. There is one way of salvation and that is found in Christ and in Christ alone. By His work on the cross the Lord Jesus removed the enmity between God and Jew and between God and Gentile. In the process He reconciled Jews and Gentiles.
The shadows and types of the OT have be fulfilled in Christ. Jews and Gentiles are now one in the true Israel – the church of the Lord Jesus. The church is the showcase of God’s glory and no one who denies Jesus is the Christ will be found walking the streets of gold.