Two important Questions:
- Why are the truths found in Ephesians 2 so transforming?
- How should these transforming truths impact our thinking and living today?
Truth 1: It has always been God’s desire to save people from every people group.
- God’s covenant with Abraham: Genesis 12:3 in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
- God’s purpose for Israel: Isaiah 42:6-7 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
- God’s ministry through the Messiah: Isaiah 49:6 I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
- Simeon’s testimony: Luke 2:30-32 Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Truth 2: The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s grace toward the Gentiles.
- Rahab: A pagan prostitute living in a condemned city whose life is spared, marries a Jew and later becomes a member of the line of the Messiah.
- Ruth: A Moabite, idol worshipper who marries a faithless Jew who does leaving her a young widow, who later moves to Israel and in God’s gracious work is married
- Ninevah: A wicked city known for its ruthless practices is spared by God when they repent at the preaching of God’s rebellious prophet Jonah.
Truth 3: Israel ignored God’s plan and proudly isolated themselves from their pagan Gentile neighbors.
- The Samaritan woman: John 4:9 How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
- A Canaanite woman: Matthew 15:21-28 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
- Gentiles at meals: Acts 10:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
- Paul’s response: Galatians 2:11-13 When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Truth 4: The blessings of the Gospel put every believer on equal ground before God.
- The gospel removes the classic societal distinctions: Galatians 3:26-29 Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- God’s Kingdom has a beautiful diversity: Revelation 5:9-10 And they sung a new song, saying…thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
- We are blessed to have equal access to God!
- We are blessed to be citizens together in His Kingdom!
- We are blessed to be members together of God’s household!
- We are blessed to be the building blocks together of His temple!
- We are blessed to be joined together into one body in Christ!
So why does Paul pen these words: He wrote these words to people who were steeped in culturally acceptable yet serious and ungodly divisions, so that they would see that the gospel that has saved both Jew and Gentile removes the stigmas that separates these two bodies. This gospel makes both groups equal before God, members of the same body and family. We to must see that what cultures may accept, God may actually detest!
Applications: The gospel is the answer!
- It removes the stigmas of cultural differences?
- It removes the stigmas of racism?
- It is the cure for gender superiority?
- It removes the stigmas that separate rich and poor?
- It makes every human equal before God no matter his education, status in society, or family background?
- It makes enemies brothers?
- It replaces hatred with genuine love?
1 John 4:19-21 We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Final thought: Let’s live in the light of the gospel we have professed faith in!