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.

Jesus is the Plan

With the grand sweep of biblical history stretching from before the beginning of world all the way to recreation, it is easy to miss the overarching plan of God. The Bible is thousands of pages and covers thousands of years. A lot happens between creation and the coming of Jesus. It is easy to mistake Jesus’ coming as a second try, a do-over of sorts. But is that the case? Is Jesus’ ministry, His sacrifice, His resurrection, the salvation He provides a do-over? Is it plan b?

Peter clears this up for us in one of his first speeches in the book Acts. During Pentecost, the Spirit of God was poured out on Jesus’ disciples (Acts 2:1-13). Some were amazed that they could hear what the disciples were saying in their native language, while others chalked it up to them being drunk. Peter responds with a message that links back to the book of Joel, explaining that the event was a fulfillment of prophecy and everyone should take note. He also issues a warning about the coming day of the Lord (Acts 2:19-20). The warning is followed up by an offer of salvation. All people’s everywhere who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. Salvation is not just for the Jews, it is for all people’s everywhere (Acts 2:21).

How does salvation come to all people’s? Peter reveals it is through Jesus. His crucifixion at the hands of lawless men provide salvation, as well as His resurrection (Acts 2:22-24). It is in this section that our question is answered.

Peter writes in Acts 2:22-24

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

Do you see it? In verse 23, we are told Jesus was delivered over to wicked men who would kill Him as part of God’s definite plan. It wasn’t a plan concocted on the spot, instead it was foreknown by the Lord. He knew it would happen. He planned for it to happen all so that you and I could experience salvation in Jesus?

How amazing is our God? He gives Himself for us not by accident but according to plan.

Praise and worship God today! He is a promise keeping, grace extending, good and loving God who desires we experience salvation so that we might bring Him glory and enjoy Him forever!

God’s Speech is purposeful and brings results

““For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is 55:10–11)

Talking is not a bad thing, but when you talk just to hear yourself talk, what’s the point. I am sure you know people like that – they love the sound of their own voice. Instead of talking with you in conversation, they talk at you.

God is not one to talk at us. He doesn’t just talk to talk. His speech is purposeful. It brings about results.

In Isaiah 52-55, God speaks in regard to salvation. He promises redemption through a suffering Servant. We know that servant to be Jesus. The One who was led to the slaughter like a lamb. The One who gave Himself on our behalf. The One who is our Redeemer.

The redemption Jesus provides didn’t just happen. Nothing took place in regard to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf by happenstance. Rather, Jesus’ death on the cross, His giving His life on our behalf was purposeful and a part of God’s plan. He died in accordance with the Scriptures, as well as He resurrected in accordance with the Scriptures. His death on our behalf actually accomplished something. It accomplished exactly what the Father had purposed – redemption and vindication for His people.

God does not talk to hear the sound of His voice. His speech is purposeful and accomplishes that which He purposes. Praise God for His purposeful speech. Praise God He has the power and will to bring about that which He proclaims.

Do not harden yourself against the Lord, He is God almighty. Instead submit your life and purposes to Him and Him alone.

The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:5)

The Exodus event is a rich biblical motif of God’s power over all. Through the plagues God shows both Egypt and the world He is Lord of all. There are no other gods greater, stronger, and mightier. The God of Israel, YAHWEH, is the one true God who rules the world. 

To be sure there are a host of counterfeit gods. God’s that are not real but seem to be so for they operate under the control and power of dark forces. They are a part of the Satan’s deception. They lure man in through copy cat practices but are no match for the Lord. In several instances through the plague narrative, Pharaoh’s magicians are able to work the same miracles as Moses and Aaron, but in the end their power is shown to be no match for the Lord as they are not able to continue to go toe to toe with Moses and Aaron. 

In their first encounter with Pharaoh, Aaron throws down his staff and it becomes a serpent (Exodus 7:10). The wise men and sorcerers of Pharaoh’s kingdom where able to do the same (Exodus 7:11-12). However, God shows Himself dominate when Aaron’s staff swallows up the other staffs (Exodus 7:12b). Throughout the narrative, similar instances occur. The wise men’s and sorcerers are able to produce the same miracles. Eventually, however, their power runs dry. Man can only compete with God’s power for so long until He triumphs over them. Our power is no match for the Lord. He is the all-sovereign Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe.

Pharaoh is not able to see God’s position. Pharaoh’s servants do. They see they are no match for the Lord. But Pharaoh doesn’t. He allows his pride to get the best of him. Even at the counsel of his people, pharaoh does not give in and let the Israelites go (Exodus 10:7). He continues in steadfast opposition to the Lord, even though those around him are telling him otherwise (see also Exodus 8:19).

You would think Pharaoh would eventually relent. He would recognize his place in God’s creation and turn from his sinful rebellion to obey the Lord, but Pharaoh doesn’t. He doesn’t because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. While there is dispute as to who hardened whom’s heart first — did Pharaoh harden his own heart and then God seeing Pharaoh would not relent harden it so he could not relent, or had God hardened Pharaoh’s heart from the first. I believe the narrative makes it clear the latter is true. Whichever way you lean, it is evident the Lord is using Pharaoh to prove a point — He is the all-sovereign Lord of the universe. No man is more powerful than He. It is our duty to submit our lives to the Lord, allowing Him to call the shots. Shot caller, like Pharaoh, do not win in the end. Instead they pay a hefty price. Pharaoh not only lost his nation but, as we will see next time, he also lost his life. 

Do not harden yourself against the Lord, He is God almighty. Instead submit your life and purposes to Him and Him alone. 

There is no escaping the Lord’s Judgment

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

There is a day coming from which no one can hide. One day the fabric of the cosmos as we know it will roll back like a scroll to reveal the Creator and Judge of all the earth (Rev 6:14). A time of judgement will come. A time where the Lord’s wrath will be poured out.

What, when, and how this will take place is hotly disputed, but the most interesting aspect of the Day of the Lord is that no one can escape. Notice the text highlights “everyone” from those who are in power to those who are slaves. Kings and wealthy oligarchs and influencers will face the same wrath as those who are enslaved, used, and abused by those who wield power.

At the judgment seat, as well as at the foot of cross the ground is level. The ground is level because all are sinners. Sinners are not just those who miss the mark from time to time, or those who fall short of God’s commands, even though that is true. Sinners do fall short of God’s commands. We fall short because we are rebels. Not just because we messed up at that moment. No, we are rebels. We want to call the shots. We want to be King. We want to be Creator. We are rebels. As rebels, we all deserve God’s wrath.

Thankfully, there is a Lamb who was slain for our rebellion. The precious blood of Jesus was spilt on our behalf. Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are united with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. The Father’s wrath passes over Christians, not because we are better or more righteous than another, but because Jesus is better and more righteous.

There is a judgment coming. The only way to prepare for it is to believe in Jesus. We cannot build a bunker or run far enough away. There is no escaping the Lord’s judgment.

We have more than we deserve, bless the Lord all His saints

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pe 1:3-5)

We are such a blessed people. Not only has the Father given His only Son so that we might experience salvation from His wrath. But He has caused us to be born again to a living hope. A hope that will not perish or be defiled. It will not fade. Instead, it is kept in the most secure place possible — it is kept in heaven.

When Jesus returns, He will bring His kingdom with Him. A kingdom that is perfect. One that will never be defeated. One that will last for all eternity. Finally, when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, we will be able to experience life as God designed. There will be no sickness, no death, no disunity, no racism, no winter storms. There will be nothing that hinders our ability to live as God has designed.

We can trust that will take place because Jesus was raised from the dead. After three days in the grave — there was no way He was just faking it — He rose from the dead. After interacting with well over 500 people for 40 days, He ascended into heaven in front of the disciples. He promised to come back. His promise is guaranteed because we have been sent the Holy Spirit who works in our life day in and day out.

We are a blessed people. As blessed people, we should bless God. We should praise Him. We should submit our lives to Him giving Him His due worship by allowing Him to guide and direct our lives instead of trying to guide and direct it ourselves.

Blessed the Lord all those who have experienced God’s blessing. We have much more than we deserve.