The Glorious Gospel Brings Us Together

Ephesians, at least the first several chapters, highlights the glories of the gospel.

The Glorious Gospel

Paul desires the Ephesians and, in turn, God desires we see the greatness of the gospel as well. Indeed the good news that we are saved by God Himself through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf is amazing. It is unfathomable. God experiences a condemnation He doesn’t deserve so that we might escape the condemnation we do deserve.

The gospel didn’t just happen. It wasn’t an afterthought. We are told it was God’s plan from before time began (Eph 1:3-14). How amazing it is thatGod thought of us before the world even began and purposed to provide us with salvation!

Breaks Down Hostility Bringing us Together

While the gospel redeems us from God’s wrath, which is no light activity, it does more, much more. It redeems all of life, including our relationships with one another. In Ephesians 2 beginning in verse 14 we read,

[14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [15] by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Ephesians 2:14-16

In these verses, Paul is referring to the Jew / Gentile relationship. He reveals that Jesus makes peace between the two people’s. He does what nothing else in the world could, he breaks down walls of hostility that spans millennia.

Not only does Christ break down walls of hostility, but He brings the two together so that they no longer exist as two separate people but as one. In Christ, their is no longer a Jew / Gentile divide. In Christ, there is one new man. A singular people of God who are able to live together with one another in love and care.

The gospel does what no political message or law could. The gospel breaks down hostility between people of different races and nationalities. It is the gospel that creates unity. It is the gospel that brings us all together.

Several points of application:

(1) The gospel is what will heal our country, which means we need to preach Christ to our communities.

(2) The gospel is what will heal our churches, which means we need to focus on preaching the gospel to one another in the body of Christ.

(3) The gospel is what brings us together in community with one another.

Not that affinities aren’t important. They are important. But it is ultimately the saving grace of God and our desire to understand, apply, and share it that brings us together as a people. Yes, we want all want to be a part of community with which we connect. But are affinity connects the end all be all?

While we might not have everything in common with those in the local church to which we belong, we do have the one thing in common that matters and that brings us together — we have the gospel in common. We have the hope of Christ in common. We should have the desire to understand and apply God’s Word in common. The gospel is what brings us together.

When you are looking for a church with which to join, find one that preaches the gospel, that seeks to apply the gospel, and share the gospel with the community. Find one that is faithful to God’s Word and wants to see you grow in the understanding and application of God’s grace. Don’t look for the one that can meet all your needs or checks all your affinity boxes.

Your walk must match your confession

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 Jn 1:6)

Not as much today, but certainly in days past, cultural Christianity was dominate, especially in the Bible Belt. As time has progressed, cultural Christianity has waned, even in the Bible Belt. While that might mean Christians don’t experience as much favor in society as we once did, I don’t believe the death of cultural Christianity is a bad thing. For one, it has actually strengthened the church. Those who profess the name of Christ are actually believers and churches operate less like Country Clubs and more like, well, the church.

While Christianity has begun to lose its pull on culture, another form of Christianity, one just as detrimental, has increased. Progressive Christianity is filling the vacuum of cultural Christianity. But while cultural Christians were still exposed to the true gospel, progressive Christians are not. The true gospel is replaced in progressive churches with a different message.

While the difference between cultural Christianity and progressive Christianity is stark, neither represent the truth and neither provide true life change. Both are false gospels that keep one walking in darkness.

As we learn from our verse this morning, those who continue to walk in darkness, even if they say they have a relationship with Jesus, are liars and are not practicing the truth. Those are strong words, but they are true. Those who adhere to progressive Christianity and cultural Christianity need to hear those words. As well as those who attend a gospel-centered, Bible believing and preaching church need to hear those words. Our life much match our confession. If it doesn’t, we do not have fellowship with Jesus. We are not Christian. We don’t have hope.

In saying our life must match our confession, I am not saying we should live a legalistic lives. That is one of the major mistakes of cultural Christianity. The idea that we can clean ourselves up is a false one.

If we can’t clean ourselves up, how can our life be a test of our faith?

Our life can be a test of our faith because a life lived for Christ springs out of a heart changed by Christ.

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our heart has been changed. Our heart, in biblical language, refers to our will, wants, and desires. Those have been changed to match God’s. When our heart is aligned with God’s heart, we live in manner consistent with the light. We won’t want to walk in darkness. We will instead desire the light. We will desire the things of God.

Whether you are on the more liberal or legalistic end of the spectrum or right in the middle, your walk must match your confession or your confession is not true.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)

There are no Lone Ranger Christians. We cannot live the Christian life on our own. We need one another. If we believe we can live the Christian life alone, we are sadly mistaken. Jesus and our Bible is not all we need. We need one another.

Not only do we need one another, but we need others who will be honest with us. We need brothers and sisters in Christ who will speak the truth in love into our life (Eph 4). If all we surround ourselves with are people who refuse to stick their neck out to tell us the truth, we are no better off than living the Christian life on our own.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

In saying that we should prioritize community, I’m not saying it will be easy. Living in community with others is difficult. It is even difficult to prioritize the time to be with one another. We must be intentional and purposeful. Community doesn’t just happen it is planned and fought for.

Be a refreshment to others through your love

“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” (Philemon 1:7)

We should seek to refresh one another in the faith, being a blessing to them. We should be a joy for others to be around. We should love others in such a way that they are reinvigorate them rather than deplete their energy.

Philemon was a refreshment for Paul so much so that Paul gained much love and comfort from Philemon’s sacrificial love for him. Oh, how we should should long for someone to say the same about us. That we refresh them. That they derive much joy and comfort from our love.

May we be refreshing brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim 1:15)

Jesus did not come as a good example or to blaze a trail to the afterlife that we can now follow. No, Jesus came to save. He came to save because we are sinners who need saving. We don’t need good examples. We don’t need trails to follow. We need to be freed from our rebellion, freed from the grip of sin, freed from the blinding thoughts and desires that cause us to run from God instead of to Him.

It is fruitless for Jesus to blaze a trail to the afterlife because we don’t want to follow the trail. We run from the trail seeking to blaze our own. Sin causes us to believe we are capable of pleasing and reaching God in and of ourselves. We believe we somehow have the inside track and everyone else doesn’t. Sin causes us to think much better of ourselves

Instead of believing we are worth saving, we must see ourselves through God’s eyes — we are wretched sinners who don’t deserve salvation. Notice Paul ends the verse by admitting he is the chief of sinners. We must admit the same as well. When we are willing to admit we are the chief of sinners we can rest knowing Jesus is at work in our lives. We should praise Him for His work in saving us from an eternal life outside of the presence of God. As well as freeing us from the effects of sin on our life now.

Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

Pastor, please the Lord, not self or man.

”For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:3-4)

True workmen for the Lord do not have ulterior motives. They should not be greedy. Their desire should not be to amass wealth, status, or position off the backs of those they are to serve and to whom they are to preach the good news. One should not enter ministry for riches or acclaim.

Ministers are entrusted with the gospel. They are speak the truth in love, not to please man, but to please God. Here in lies the difficulty. God is our boss/master not man. Sometimes those two are at odds. When they are at odds with one another, our default should not be to please man, rather our default should be to please God, trusting He will care for us.

Pastor, why do you preach? Why do you serve? Is it for your own gain or the gain of others? Do you trust God to provide or do you fear man? As Pastors, we serve an audience of One (God) to the pleasure of many (the congregation). Our focus must always be on pleasing the Lord not self or man.