Brought Near By the Blood of Christ

Ephesians 2:11-13

First dentistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless
And carriages were horseless
And many laws, enforceless.

Next, cookery was fireless,
Telegraphs were wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless
And coffee, caffeinless.

Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy hatless,
The proper diet, fatless,

Now motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religions, godless.

This is a poem by Arthur Guiterman’s book Gaily the Troubadour.  The remarkable thing about this poem is that it written in 1936! We live without God in the world. By and large, that is how people act. As Charles Colson says, “Men and women may assert that God exists or that He does not, but it makes little difference either way. God is dead not because He doesn’t exist, but because we live, play, procreate, govern, and die as though He doesn’t. ” We are a godless culture. In our small society in North Dakota, we can see it in many ways: the way greed makes us blind to the coming heaven, and intent on securing heaven here and now; the way we trample on other people’s rights and think we have a right to do that; the way we hate one another. This is exactly what Paul is talking about.

Paul wants us to remember something. He starts out in verse 11 with the word “remember.” Obviously, he is writing from a Jewish perspective. He uses the word “you” to describe the Gentiles. Therefore, he is writing from a Jewish perspective. And this is important, because his point is not so much that “he’s Jewish and you’re not, and he’s much better.” The point is rather a contrast between the situation before the Gentiles had Christ and the situation after the Gentiles have Christ.

So what was the situation like before Christ? Well, the Jews and Gentiles were not getting along very well. Jews had a rather nasty term for the Gentiles. They used to call the Gentiles “the uncircumcised.” That was one way that the Jews were distinguished from most of the pagans surrounding them, although we must note that the Egyptians were circumcised as well. However, when Paul speaks, he makes sure to include the Jews in the same boat. Remember what the OT says about circumcision? It says that the important thing about circumcision is not the physical sign so much as the thing to which it pointed, which was the circumcised heart. So when Paul goes on and on about the fact that the Jews only had the circumcision made by hands, he is implying that the Jews did not have that heart circumcision. Paul did the same thing in Romans in the first three chapters, when he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jews just as much as Gentiles were under sin.

However, it is equally important to notice here the privileges that the Jews had. Paul also emphasizes those privileges. the Jews were the people of God. They expected a Messiah. They were ruled ultimately by God. They had the covenants of promise. They had hope. And they had God. These five things are just what the Gentiles did not have. The Gentiles did not have a Messiah; they were not ruled by God; they didn’t have the covenants of promise; they didn’t have any hope. And, as the poem has it which I just read to you, they didn’t have God. One can have many gods. But they didn’t have the one true God. This is what is so ironic about what Paul says here. The Gentiles accused the Jews of being “atheists,” because the Jews only had one God. However, the word “atheist” is the very word Paul uses here to describe the Gentiles, who had hundreds of gods! So Paul tells us that unless we have the one true God, we are really and truly without any god. Only the one true God has a Son. Only the one true God sent that Son into the world. Only the one true God commanded His Son to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Only the one true God can reconcile what is seeming irreconcilable.

And that is the burden of what Paul says in verse 13. The structure of this passage is the very same as in the first 7 verses. You will remember that the first three verses of the chapter tell us about how we were dead in sin and transgressions. Then, the next four verses tells us about what God did to save us. Verse 4 is the turning point in that great contrast, “But God.” Here in verse 13, we have a similar situation. Verses 11-12 tell us about how we were alienated from God because of our sin. We were cut off from the true Israel. We did not have the covenant promises for us and for our children. BUT NOW… things are different. We were once far away. A great illustration of this is in the temple. The temple had a court for Gentiles. It was nowhere near the Most Holy Place. We could never have entered. However, Christ has done what we could not. He has brought us into the Most Holy Place. That is the significance of the tearing of the veil at Christ’s death. Christ is our Great High Priest, who brings us into the very presence of God. He has done this by His great sacrifice of Himself on the cross. The new temple is the flesh of Jesus Christ, as John says. We can partake of the body of Christ when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We are now near to God. God has reconciled us to Himself by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Is this your hope? Is this the covenant of which you are a part? Is this your Messiah? Is this your God? If this is not true of you, then you need to repent of your sin, turn to Jesus Christ, and entrust your life to Him. For in Him can be your only hope in life and in death. Is your religion godless?

Do you live as if God did not exist? There is a large difference between saying that God exists and living before the face of God, as the Latin has it, coram Deo. Do we live every minute of every day before the face of God? When we have secret sins, do we remember that nothing can be hidden from God? Do we take encouragement from the amazing sacrifice of our Lord?

The one great application that Paul is going to take from this great truth of reconciliation is that we should reconcile with one another. If we are reconciled vertically with God, then we should be reconciled horizontally with one another. As Paul says in verse 14: God has made the two one. We are one body in Christ. So let us not bicker amongst ourselves, and hold long grudges against people. Let us forgive one another because God has forgiven us. Then we will no longer be living as if God does not exist. But rather, we will taste and see that the Lord is good.

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