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Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 36
Now, let’s look again at Ephesians chapter 2. We looked at verse 12 quite in depth in the last lesson, that the lot of the Gentiles before the age of Grace, was they were without God in this world. They could not be partakers of the covenant promises of Israel, but now it’s a whole new ballgame. God has now fulfilled the last part of the Abrahamic Covenant through Abraham, through the nation of Israel, through the Messiah, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, by now the letters of Paul in particular. The Gospel has gone out to the whole world, and it’s free for nothing. Every thing that needs to be done has already been done. So that’s what the next verse talks about then when it says were without God in this world.
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
In our closing remarks in our last lesson I took you back to the night of the Passover in Exodus. The nation of Israel was instructed to apply the blood of the Passover lamb on the two side posts and the lentil of the door, and I think my closing statement was, as those Jews stood in their little huts around their kitchen tables, did they shake in their boots with fear? No. Because they knew they were safe with the blood on the door. But, what was the heart attitude behind the door with the blood applied that God based Him saving them? Their faith! See it’s always been by faith. Hebrews chapter 11, beginning with Abel – let’s see what it says.
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous,..”
All the way up through history it’s always been by faith. But you just can’t say, “Oh I have faith.” That doesn’t amount to anything. But where is your faith placed? Now for that answer come back to Romans chapter 3. And remembering what Paul said here, in Ephesians 2:13b “That we’ve been made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Also remember in our last lesson I used one of the absolutes in Scriptures, and what was it?
“…and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
Denominations can throw the blood out of their doctrine, and they’ve got nothing. They can take the blood out of their hymn books and again they have nothing to sing about. Because it is still an absolute that without the shed blood of Christ, there is no remission. Now let’s turn to Romans chapter 3, and start at verse 23.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Everybody is in that boat, Jew and Gentile, black and white, Oriental or western, it makes no difference. The whole human race has fallen short of the glory of God. Now verse 24.
“Being justified freely (without any demands) by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (our everything)through faith in his blood,…”
Now His blood couldn’t be shed until He died for the sins of the world. His shed blood and His death are synonymous, they mean the same thing. So we have to place our faith in the fact that the blood of Christ literally became our Passover. We are now free from the fear of death and eternal doom, because now we’re under the blood. But it isn’t just the blood by itself, it’s coupled with our faith in it. And that’s why we have to know what the Bible says in order to have faith. “What has God said? God has said in so many words “When I see the blood I’ll past over!” And death can’t touch us, and it hasn’t changed. The whole Old Testament format just comes marching along and comes to fruition then when we get to Paul’s Gospel based on His death, burial, and His resurrection.
“…through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
All the way up through the New Testament Scriptures we have that constant reference to the blood. Now I’m going to take you all the way over to even Peter’s little epistle.
I Peter 1:18-19
“Forasmuch as ye know (it’s not “I hope so”, it’s not “I think so”, but rather it’s a “I know so”.) that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conservation (or manner of living) received by tradition from your fathers; (and my how many people are soaked with tradition today, and I guarantee you it’s going to fail them) 19. But with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
What was the whole process leading up to the killing of the Passover lamb? They had to take it out of the flock, and isolate it for three days. And in that three day period they were to look at the lamb real good to see if there was any kind of a flaw or blemish. And if the lamb wasn’t perfect they couldn’t use it for the sacrifice. Well the analogy again is, How long was Christ on public view? Three years. And there was no sin found in Him, so what could He fulfill? The Passover lamb. And as His blood was shed and applied to the door of our hearts the death angel passes over us. We don’t have to shake in our boots when death faces us. We don’t have to wonder, “Am I going to make it?”
My goodness I’ve heard some of the most horrible stories about that. One gentlemen told me that his father-in-law was an evangelist for a particular denomination for twenty-five years, and yet as he faced his own death, he paced the floor worrying out loud, “Am I going to go to heaven when I die?” Now isn’t that sad? Oh that’s so sad, and then I have to think about the people that he preached to. They must have been left with that same dilemma. But oh listen, that’s not what the Scripture teaches. The Scripture says, “that we know” John writes in his little epistle, “we know we have passed from death unto life, when we love the brethren.” There’s that change in attitude. Now let’s come back to the Book of Ephesians chapter 2.
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
The blood of Christ makes all the difference in the world, and it’s our faith in that shed blood, as well as we saw in our last lesson, The power of His Resurrection, which brings about new life, and from that new life God is looking for fruit. Now verse 14.
“For he (Christ) is our peace,…” Oh you see the world is so hungry for peace tonight, personally, as well as between nations. That’s the whole scope of all the politicians, the United Nations, the efforts in the middle East is peace. Hey on the world front there will be no peace in this world until the Prince of Peace Himself returns.
But to bring it down to the individual’s quest for peace, the same thing applies. There can be no peace until we have peace with God, and that can only come by believing the Gospel found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. After all that is where the controversy lies, Man has been alienated by his sin, and this whole Book has been written to bring us back into favor with God, to be reconciled to God. When we’re talking about peace, you have to go back to Romans. Romans is the foundation of our Christian doctrine, and that’s why I’m sure the Holy Spirit placed the Book of Romans exactly where it’s at.
While you’re turning to Romans let me also remind you again as we’re studying the prison epistles of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians you won’t find a single quote from the Old Testament, or a direct reference to the nation of Israel or the Jew. All that is now behind and we’re in whole new territory of basic doctrine concerning God and salvation. It’s not just Israel, it’s not just Gentiles, but rather the whole human race. As we believers are united in Christ and become members of the Body of Christ, as a result of that finished work of the cross. Now that was all free for nothing. So let’s turn to chapter 5 verse 1 of the Book of Romans and look at “peace” the reason we’ve come to Romans.
“Therefore (because of what he had written in the previous chapter) being justified by faith, (that’s all Paul knows. Faith + Nothing, and as soon as we’re justified by faith) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
That’s what the world is looking for. “Peace with God.” When you have peace with God then you have peace with everyone else. Now verse 2.
“By whom (the Lord Jesus and His finished work of the cross) also we have access by faith (taking God at His word) into this grace (or this condition of unmerited favor) wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Now that’s our future. Now coming back to Ephesians once again. We’re making a little headway this afternoon. So here in verse 14,
“For he is our peace, (by faith having entered into that relationship of being redeemed, and justified, and declared righteous, and all those things that accompanied our faith) who hath made both one, (now who are the both? Jew and Gentile do you see that?) and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
The Jews and Gentiles, during this Church Age have lost their separateness, they have lost their individual identify as Jews or Gentiles. Paul never again refers to that, but here they have come together and Jews and Gentiles are now one. In fact let’s turn to I Corinthians chapter 12 for a moment. It says almost the same thing, only a little more basic language, and that’s why, again, all these early letters were ahead of Ephesians because Ephesians is simply building on these original foundations of Romans, Corinthians and Galatians. Now starting with verse 12.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (the human body) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (or the Body of Christ, The One True Church.)
Now verse 13, and I always make the emphasis here. This is the only Holy Spirit baptism that we as believers enjoy today. In fact Paul says in Ephesians 4:4-5 that there is only one baptism. This is the only one and here it is.
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit are we all (not just some of the elite, but all are) baptized into one body, (the Body of Christ) whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all (whether he’s at the bottom or the top of the social totem pole, we’ve all been) made to drink into one Spirit.”
So each of us who are the Body of Christ have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into that Body. There is no water involved in this process, but placed only by the Holy Spirit into the Body. We’ve been placed into a unique position that God reserved for us from eternity past. Knowing that we’d be saved, He had this place ready for us. That’s why when we get a little further in Ephesians we’re going to see that we are a building that has been fitted, and fitly put together. Now coming back to Ephesians, looking at verse 14 again.
“…and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” (Jews and Gentiles)
Now we know that in the temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed in 70 AD there was a dividing wall that would keep the Gentile proselyte from worshipping in the same area as the Jews. I always say a proselyte is best described in the word of the Lord Jesus Himself when He told the Jews this is Matthew 23 and verse 15.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” But nevertheless they embraced the religion of Judaism, but they were separated from having any contact with the Jew by that dividing wall. Now look what Paul says happened to that wall. “That dividing wall has been totally dismantled. It’s destroyed, it’s broken down – now verse 15.
“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity,…”
Now we know Romans chapter 8 speaks of enmity with God, but I don’t think Paul is speaking of that here. I think here he’s talking about enmity between Jew and Gentile. I think it was a couple of programs ago, but I’m not sure everyone caught what I was talking about, when Paul was addressing the Jews in Jerusalem in Acts chapter 22, and rehearsing his conversion experience.
“And he (the Lord Jesus) said unto me, Depart for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles, 2. And they gave him audience until this word, (Gentiles) and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.”
I mean these Jews wouldn’t even say the word Gentile. But now when a Jew becomes a believer he is as much in fellowship with a Gentile as a Gentile with a Gentile, or a Jew with a Jew. It’s all been broken down, because you see it’s because of the work of the cross. Now looking at verse 15 again.
“Having abolished in his flesh (the death of the cross) the enmity, (that was between Jews and Gentiles) even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”
Paul speaks of the new man often as a believer. When we become a believer we are a new person in Christ. But that’s not what he’s talking about here. Here Paul is talking about the new person, the Body of Christ, a whole new concept made of Jews and Gentiles. So that He could make by virtue of the work of the cross, twain one new man, and consequently making peace. Alright turn to Colossians chapter 2. I like the way this says it. And remember the Colossians were what kind of people? Gentiles. So the language is the same as it was to the Ephesians as he writes to these Gentile believers.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, (what did He do with it?) and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross:”
Can you imagine what it would be like for a Gentile to live under the rules and regulations of Judaism? There was no way they could cope with that. Because you see that was one of the problems that Paul had with his new believers. They were used to the immoral activity of the pagan idolatrous community. They had no compunction about the dietary laws of Israel and so forth. And so for a Gentile to come under that, man that was something they couldn’t even think about. So what does Paul say? “All of that was nailed to His cross.” And like I said in the last lesson, “What did the cross do? It killed. So His cross killed all of these demands of the law. It was put to death, it was ended there.”
We always have to be careful saying that, because since we are now under Grace that doesn’t give us a license. Come back to Romans chapter 13 for a moment. Just because we step into the Grace of God does not mean that I’m free to do as I please, for after all God will wink at my sin. And after all I’m under the blood, and I’m forgiven. No. No. You see that kind of thinking goes contrary to the Word. And if I understand the Greek here, it doesn’t mean that you can’t borrow money to buy a home, or car, but rather it means to defraud no one. Don’t take advantage of someone and cheat him.
“Owe (or defraud) no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (that is the Ten Commandments! And Paul goes on to list them.) 9. For this, (since love is now the key) Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shall not kill, Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Who in the world can do that but a believer? The unsaved world can’t. They can try, but they will fall flat on their face before too long, but the believer is empowered to do that. We are empowered to love our neighbor. We have the capability now to love the neighbor because that is the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments.
Always remember the law as Israel practiced it was always under the terrific threat of punishment if they broke them. We don’t have to worry about death if we break the law for stealing. Does that mean we go ahead and steal? No way. We are still under these moral laws that the Holy Spirit empowers us to keep, but the basis for it is love. After all what put Christ on the cross? His love for the human race! He loved us so much that He died for us, and that love is supposed to be promulgated through you and I as believers in the everyday world. So as we enter into this complete freedom of Grace, that doesn’t mean that we can be lawless, but it’s that the Ten Commandments are not hanging over us like a noose or like a yoke, which the Scriptures says was too heavy to bear.