The Only Road to Real Happiness

Live Look at the Book | Portland

Okay. Ephesians 2:11–22 is all about one thing. What it does in its contribution, just like in Ephesians 1 you have fourteen verses about God’s electing, predestining, redeeming, sealing, work, followed by a prayer.

In Ephesians 2, you have Ephesians 2:1–10 which are a description of how in we were to our own sin and the Devil, and how God miraculously made us alive, and destined us to walk in good deeds. And the last section of the chapter says, what I have just described is valid for Jew and Gentile alike, because Christ has undertaken, in his cross, to destroy the hostility and the dividing line between them.

It is the classic go-to text on racial reconciliation or racial harmony. Or if you’re oriented on global missions, it should be a classic go-to text for all tribal hostilities, anywhere, that would say, “Here’s the chosen people of God, and here’s the aliens outside.” That’s what this is about.

This, Ephesians 2:11–22, are about how all the glories of election and all the glories of predestination and redemption and sealing and being made alive and being new creations are not a tribal deity or a tribal theology. This is for us, and nobody else.

This text is about God, in Christ, exploding the walls, and drawing all ethnicities, all races, not all religions, into one man, new man, in Christ. So, let’s read it and just see that one big thing, and then we’ll do Q&A.

Alienation and Reconciliation

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh [who have all these two thousand years of Jewish history felt like on the outside of God’s redemptive purpose], called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands — remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. (Ephesians 2:11–12)

There’s the key. The commonwealth of Israel is where salvation happens. God is choosing a Jewish people, bringing salvation through a Jewish messiah, now to the world. So, you were alienated. You weren’t part of that commonwealth of Israel. You were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” all those Old Testament beauties and glories, that Isaiah 55 text we began with, where we’re going to end in just a minute. That’s not yours, yet.

“Having no hope and without God in the world. But now,” this is just like the “but” in Ephesians 2:5, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12–13). So, all the Gentiles who have felt so alienated, so distant from the commonwealth of Israel, so cut off from the covenants of promise, by the blood of Christ, all that barrier, all that alienation, broken down, brought near.

Christ, Our Peace

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both,” so he’s now thinking of Jews and everybody else, “us both one and has broken down in his [own] flesh,” by dying on the cross, “the dividing wall of hostility,” all the hostility that was engendered by the Jews having a Law and the others being passed over, is over (Ephesians 2:14–15). That’s over, in Jesus Christ.

“By abolishing the law of commandments,” that is, these commandments are not how you come in to favor with God (Ephesians 2:15). Christ is how you come into favor with God. What a message we have for the world. Christianity is a universally relevant religion. There’s nothing in the essence of Christianity that makes it unintelligibility in any culture on the planet. There are overlapping human needs and divine realities that correspond in every culture. He’s torn away everything that would make it impossible to do global evangelism.

One New Man in Christ

“That he might create in himself one new man in place of the two,” just thinking of Israel, and then the world. That’s not the way to think about it anymore. “So making peace, and might reconcile us both to God,” that’s got to happen first, “in one body through the cross” (Ephesians 2:15–16).

Picture it like this. Here are these two camps, Israel and the world, and here’s the cross, and here’s God. And Israel and the nations are alienated from God. I suppose I can draw it, here. Here’s the world. Here’s those little people. Here’s the cross. Here’s God. And this, right here, is broken, for both of them. Notice, “one new man.”

“That he might create in himself one new man in place of two, so making peace, and reconcile us both to God.” The Gentiles have to reconciled to God. Israel had been rebellious all their history. They’ve got to be reconciled to God. That reconciliation happens here. No end run around the cross, like, “Oh. God can get reconciled to God, Mr. Gentile, and have your nice little tribal religion. And Jew, you can get reconciled to God, and have your little tribal religion.” No, no, no, no, no. That’s not the way it works.

Jesus Christ comes, and you go to God like this, and you go to God like this, so that, here you have become one new man. Massive implications, all over the world, today. Most wars in the world are ethnic-driven, religion and ethnic, religion and ethnic. And if this message were made more clear, perhaps there would be more understanding of what Christianity is all about. Because Muslims, all over the world, don’t have a clue what Christianity is about.

Trinitarian Implications

And might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. [We both needed it, Jew needed it, Gentile needed it.] For through him we both have access in one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:16–18)

So, not just one cross and one Savior, but, “one Spirit to the Father.” You know what I haven’t done is drawn out all the Trinitarian implications and pointers in the text that we’ve looking. I apologize. Because I heard a great message on Ephesians 1 from Bruce Ware, and the whole thing was drawing out Trinitarian pointers and implications. I thought, “Oh! That’s gorgeous.” I haven’t done any of that. But here, I’m doing it, for one little minute.

The Household of God

“Through him,” that is, Christ, “we have access in one Spirit to the Father.” That’s the Trinity, right there. One, two, three, and if you go back and just read Ephesians 1, asking that question, you see it again and again and again, the inter-workings of the Trinity to bring about our salvation.

“So then you are no longer strangers.” No longer strangers and aliens. “But you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). God has a family, and those who were strangers and aliens are members now of the family. That means most of the people in this room, I presume.

Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20–22)

So, not only are Jew and Gentile brought together and given access to God, in one Spirit, in one cross, but we now are like a temple, and God himself is inhabiting that Jew-Gentile, people from every tribe and tongue, temple — end of Ephesians 2.

Invitation to the God of Grace in Isaiah 55

You remember, I said I was coming back, to ask who that is, right there. This is where we began, last night. “For you shall go out in joy,” and all the more now, I hope, “You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it,” I think, all of that glorious working to give us joy and peace and singing and clapping, and a new world, all of it, “shall make a name.” “And it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

And this relates to the Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Michael Prowse, Erik Reece issue because making a name for himself would sound ego-ish.

“I’ll make a name for myself.” And you say, “Okay, how are you going to make a name for yourself?” “I’m going to make you happy, off-the-charts happy, this kind of happy. That’s how I’m going to make a name for myself. That’s going to be my name. My name is going to be, ‘I am the God of vesuvius grace that makes my people happy in praising me, forever.’”

Who is that? Are you there? Who is that? Who is that? And the answer, this is why I would love for you to read and memorize the whole chapter, the answer’s given in the beginning of the chapter.

Come, everyone who thirsts,
     come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
     come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk

There’s a name for that. It’s called “grace.” You have no money? Come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk
     without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
     and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
     and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
     hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
     my steadfast, sure love for David. (Isaiah 55:1–3)

The covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7: “There will be an heir to sit on your throne, and he will reign forever and ever.” Luke 1:35 — that is Jesus. “And I’ll make a covenant with you, because you’re going to sit on that throne with him.” That’s astonishing. And who? Who? Everyone who thirsts and comes.

You walk out of here. There’s not a person you will meet in your life for whom you cannot say this to. “Ah, everyone. You’re thirsty? You’re thirsty? Come, and Ephesians is yours.” That’s what we offer. We offer the whole package of sovereign salvation. And anybody who will thirst and come to the waters and admit they don’t have any money to buy with. You can’t negotiate with this God. You can have wine, you can have milk, without price, and just stop spending yourself and all your efforts on things that don’t satisfy. Throw yourself on God who satisfies, forever, and it’s yours. End of story. End of history.