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HE IS OUR PEACE
Intro: Our world is a world differences. There are political differences that result in war, division, and strive, both in America and around the world. There are social differences in areas like homosexuality, abortion, and different ways of living. These differences cause division. There are differences in the home. Sometimes there is fighting between spouses, between children, between parents and children, and between extended members of the family. These differences translate into divisions.
Sadly, there are also differences in the church. Differences in styles of worship, doctrinal beliefs, types of music, dress codes, and countless other differences, cause divisions in the church.
In this chapter, Paul is attempting to teach us that in Christ, all our differences are put to death. While the world may fight their wars, society may argue over their different agendas, and homes may be divided, the church is a place where unity and peace should prevail. In Jesus Christ, there is a oneness that that brings all believers together on common ground of faith in Jesus Christ.
Having told us in verses 1-12 about the richness of our past and our loss condition, Paul tells us in verse 13 that we who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. I would remind you, that this section of chapter 2 is dealing with the body of Christ. It is doing with the fact that the body of Christ is made up of both redeemed Jews and Gentiles. These two groups were the avowed enemies of one another. This is illustrated in verse 11. The differences between the Jew and the Gentile are driven home clearly by the words of verse 12. Then, verse 13 gives us the glorious news that Jesus, through shedding of his blood, has reached out to those who were lost in sin, and has brought them near to God.
In the passage before us today, Paul teaches us that in Jesus, there is no more Jew or Gentile; there is only Christ and those who are in Him. Many years ago one of the early church fathers named Clement of Alexandria said, We who worship God in a new way, as the third race, are Christians. Paul wants us to know that in Jesus, those who were formally at war made to be at peace. We have peace with both men and with God in Jesus Christ.
I want to take this passage, and preaching the thought He Is Our Peace. These verses teach some lessons then we need to take to heart.
I. v. 14-15 WHAT JESUS DESTROYED
Paul tells us that Christ is our peace. when the prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Christ, he called Him, the Prince of Peace, Isa. 9:6.
When Paul says, He is our peace, he is telling us that Jesus is the ground of peace for both the Jew and the Gentile. In other words, the Jews could never earn peace with God through their rituals, their sacrifices, or their attempts at keeping the Law. Regardless of what they did, they would still be sinners in His sight. By the same token, the Gentiles had no way to even approach God, so they had no hope of securing peace with Him through any means.
What the Law could not do; what the sacrifices could not accomplish, what works of the flesh could not make a reality; Jesus did accomplished when He died on the cross. We are told that Jesus hath broken down the middle wall of partition. The phrase broken down means to dissolve something coherent into parts; to destroy. In dying, Jesus brought some things to an abrupt end. Notice what He destroyed when He died.
A. He Destroyed A Social Wall - Paul mentions the middle wall of partition. This refers to the wall that stood between the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of Israel in the ancient temple. This wall was about 4 feet tall, with several openings. Archeologists have recovered a sign that once hung on that wall. In fact, history teaches us that the same sign hung beside every entrance into the Jewish area of the Temple. Those signs were written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The signs said: No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.
That sign was symbolic of the division that existed between the Jew and the Gentile. They were on opposite sides of a great social wall, and there was no common ground between them. When Jesus died, He dismantled that wall and brought the Jew and the Gentile together in Himself.
For those who do not know the Lord Jesus, those old walls still exist. Having been to the Western Wall on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, I can testify to the fact that the presence of Gentiles in that area considered so sacred by the Jews is merely tolerated, and not encouraged. Those Jews came to that ancient wall to pray and to insert prayers written on tiny slips of paper into the cracks in the stones. They were there in their traditional garments, their robes, with the Scriptures in leather boxes on their foreheads and their forearms. We were required to cover our heads before we approached the wall. Some of us came near that wall and prayed for the Jews and for the peace of Jerusalem. As soon as we walked away from the wall, Jews came in behind us and prayed over the spots where the Gentile dogs had dared touch the sacred wall. Those divisions still exist, and will until Jesus comes.
But, for those who know the Lord, they have discovered that all the walls of division have been torn down forever. In Jesus, there is no Jew and there is no Gentile. There is only the Christian, the redeemed believer in Christ.
Notice a couple of powerful verses that teach this truth.
· Col. 3:11, Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
· Gal. 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
This does not mean that we lose our national, religious, social or sexual identity in Christ. It simply means that no person has any advantage over any other person. In Christ, there is only believer and unbeliever! That should cause us to examine our prejudices a little more carefully. We are better than no one else in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus Christ destroys social walls!
B. He Destroyed A Spiritual Wall - Verse 15 says, Having abolished in His flesh the enmity. the word enmity means hostility. The source of the enmity between the Jew and the Gentile rested in the law of commandments, contained in the ordinances. The Jews despised the Gentiles because they dishonored and disregarded the Law of God. The Gentiles despised the Jews because they sought to keep the Law. The Jews with their strict dietary laws, their laws of dress, and their laws governing every aspect of their social and religious lives hated the Gentiles who lived outside the Law and did as they pleased. The Law stood as a great wall of division between the two groups.
While there was great hostility between the Jew and the Gentile, and between all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons for that matter, the greatest hostility existed between God and man. All men, regardless of whether they were Jews or Gentiles, were sinners and stood guilty before a Holy God, Rom. 3:10-23. They were all guilty of violating His Law, thus they were all destined to face His wrath, Rom. 6:23.
Here is what the Jews never considered, and what the Gentiles never knew, For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. 3:10.
When Jesus Christ came and died on the cross, He tore down the social walls between the Jews and the Gentiles, and He tore down the spiritual walls between lost sinners and holy God. Jesus Christ takes both Jews and Gentiles to make in Himself one new man. The Lord took these two people groups who were so opposite, and so opposed to one another, and created a brand new person. He takes sinners and makes from them the Body of Christ.
Chrysostom, the great preacher of the early church said that it is as if God took one statue of silver and another of lead, threw them into a furnace and they came out a statue of gold. Not only have they become one, they have been made better.
In Christ, our differences disappear. We are made right with God, apart from the deeds of the Law, and we are made right with one another. In Jesus, everything that stands between people is destroyed. In Jesus, everything that stands between sinners and God is destroyed.
Paul says that Jesus Christ abolished in His flesh the enmity. The word abolished means to render inoperative; to deprive of force or power. In other words, by fully keeping the Law of God, Jesus fulfilled the Law of God. Now, ...Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, Rom. 10:4.
Through His death, Jesus has rendered the Law inoperative. It holds no claim over us any longer. We are free from its power to condemn. It serves the purpose of exposing our sins. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died, Rom. 7:7-9.
The Law serves as a necessary teacher to bring us to Jesus, But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Gal. 3:23-27. And, in Jesus, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus..., Rom. 8:1. In Him, we are freed from the Law! Ill. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace, Rom. 6:14.
Illustration: In 1961 the East Germans built a wall around West Berlin, Germany. This wall cut West Berlin off from the rest of Germany. Families and friends were separated for a generation by this wall. East German guards patrolled the wall and killed hundreds, including whole families, who tried to cross the wall to freedom in the West.
On Nov. 9, 1989, the East German government announced that East Berliners could pass through the wall to visit people in the West. A celebratory atmosphere broke out with both East and West Berliners climbing onto the wall. In a short time, souvenir hunters began to chip away at the wall. Before long, the governments of both East and West Germany dismantled the wall completely. This led to the reunification of Germany in 1990.
If you were watching television when that wall came down, you have a small glimpse of what Paul is trying to teach us here. When the wall fell, the people from both East and West crossed the no-mans land where the wall had stood. these former enemies embraced one another in a spirit of unity.
When Jesus broke down the walls between the Jew and the Gentile, He made it possible for long time enemies to be brought together as friends. He made it possible for lost, wretched sinners to be embraced by God. He made reconciliation possible on every level of life! Praise His name!
I. What Jesus Destroyed
II. v. 16 WHAT JESUS DID
Having told us what Jesus destroyed, Paul now tells us how He did it, and what He did when He for us in what He did.
A. He Accomplished Our Reconciliation - The word reconcile means, to bring to a state of harmony. The Lord Jesus, in His death, destroyed the walls of separation that stood between Jew and Gentile, and between man and God. He was able to take all warring parties, and bring them together, in Himself, making eternal peace.
He has brought man together with man and He has brought man together with God. The ultimate goal of the Lord Jesus was not to settle a dispute between warring human parties. His ultimate goal was to reconcile sinners to God. His ultimate goal was to take lost, Hell bound sinners, and make them one with God, in Himself. He accomplished this when He died.
B. He Accomplished Our Redemption - Jesus did all this when He gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin on the cross at Calvary. In giving His perfect life for sinner on the cross, Jesus has slain the enmity. The word slain means, to kill, to utterly abolish. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He delivered all those who believe in Him from the power of the Law and from the penalty of sin.
He did this by:
1. By becoming subject to the Law – But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, Gal. 4:4-5.
2. By bearing its penalty - Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree, Gal. 3:13.
In His Own Body, Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed, 1 Pet. 2:24.
On the cross, And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight, Col 1:21-22. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross, Col. 2:13-14.
3. By offering Himself in the place of sinners - For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. 5:21.
Thats what He did and what it cost Him to do it!
I. What Jesus Destroyed
II. What Jesus Did
III. v. 17-18 WHAT JESUS DELIVERED
A. v. 17 He Delivered A Message Of Peace - The word peace appears in this passage three times, vv. 14, 15, 17. Peace between people speaks of harmony, unity and concord. That is what Jesus accomplished between the Jew and the Gentile. In verse 17 it speaks of the peace between man and God. It refers to a tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing Him and content with its earthly lot, of whatever sort it is.
The word preached is the same word often translated Gospel. Literally, it is The Good News. Paul is telling us that the Lord Jesus Christ secured peace with God through His death on the cross, and that He has gone out to both the Jew and the Gentile declaring the Good News that they both can be saved from their sins.
That Good News still stands today! Those who come to Jesus Christ for salvation always find a willing Savior, John 6:37. Those who come to Him will be brought into a state of perpetual peace with God Almighty. They will experience complete forgiveness for and freedom from their sins. They will find that they are reconciled to God and adopted into His family. They will experience His power to forgive them, save them, deliver them, secure them and change them forever. That is the Good News preached by the Lord Himself. By the way, unless He preaches that Good News to the lost heart, that soul will never be saved, John 6:44.
B. v. 18 He Delivered A Message Of Permission - through Jesus, and through what He did on the cross, we have access to God. The word access means, the act of moving to; or of bringing to. In other words, when we come to Jesus Christ by faith, we are placed in a position of being brought to God. This word is used three times in the New Testament, Rom. 5:2; Eph. 3:12. Each time, it refers to the believers access to God. The word refers to a court official who was responsible for introducing people to the monarch. That person controlled access to the king.
Jesus Christ is our access to the Father, John 14:6. He controls access to God. Jesus Christ is able to take us where we could never take ourselves. Our sins stood as an impossibly high barrier between God and us, Isa. 59:2. When Jesus died on the cross, He tore that wall down. He reached out and claimed us, and He brought us to God.
Illustration: Many years ago in England a young boy by the name of William stood at the gate of Buckingham Palace. He stood there for most of the day, wanting to see the King of England. He didnt really want to ask for anything, he merely wanted to meet the King.
There were several obstacles that stood between young William and the King. There was the wall around the palace. There were the gates, and the guards. There were the policemen who stood nearby. All those things conspired to prevent William from getting a glimpse of the King.
After a while, a policeman told William it was time for him to leave and go home. William pleaded to be allowed to see the King. The policeman told him that it was impossible; he could not go in.
About that time, the policeman snapped to attention, and the gate swung open. A young man walked passed the policeman and took William by the hand and together they walked through the gate.
The young stranger showed William all the highlights of the palace. After a while, they came to a door and walked in. William could not believe his eyes! There, right before him, was the King of England.
The young stranger said, Father, I have here a young boy who wants to meet you. Meet my friend William. William, meet the King.
William didnt know it, but his new friend was Edward, the Prince of Wales. By meeting the son, William had access to the father.
That is exactly what Paul said in Eph. 2:13. We could never get to God own our on. Left to ourselves, we would have continued to wander around in the blindness, deadness and lostness of our sin. But, came to us and took us where we could not go on our own. He brought us to God! Now, He welcomes us at any time. Ill. Heb. 4:16, Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Conc: I am thankful for what Jesus did in bringing us to God. I praise Him that He has made us one with Him and with one another. That is a message the whole world, Jew or Gentile, saved or lost, needs to hear!
Another reason we so desperately need this teaching is because artificial barriers often divide the church, just as they do the world. We allow issues to divide us. Many in the church, especially here in the South, are racist and prejudiced against others because of their skin color or their ethnic background; this should not be. Some believe that anyone who isnt exactly like them is absolutely wrong, and this is an attitude that should not be tolerated in the church.
Jesus died to erase our distinctions. He died to take us out of Adam; He died to take the Jew out of Abraham. He died to make us one in Him. Until we come to the place, we are willing to walk as one in Jesus, the church will never experience His presence or His power in the way we need those things. Until we come to a place of unity, we will always be less than Jesus saved us to be.
If you know there is peace between you and God, you should come before Him to praise Him for His grace in your life. But, if you know there is still a wall of partition between you and God, you should bow to Him today and be saved.
If you know that there is a division between you and a true brother or sister in Christ, you need to deal with that both horizontally and vertically so that God and His power might be revealed through your life.