Near To God, Built On The Rock

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

This morning we studied the first part of Ephesians Chapter 2. Tonight we’ll be looking at the last half of this same chapter. Let’s start at …

Ephesians 2:11-13 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Gentiles Remember!

Word Study: We start out with the word wherefore. Anytime I see a wherefore I always ask myself, “What is it there for?” The wherefore points back to what we saw this morning:

We were hopelessly and helplessly lost, unable to come to God. Then God reached out to us, opened our eyes, and called us to salvation through Jesus. Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works”. We are to be the Light of Christ to a lost world.

Word Study: We just looked at wherefore. The wherefore looks back at the text that we previously studied. The second word remember is the Greek μνημονεύω mnēmoneúō, {pronounced mnay-mon-yoo’-o}, which means “to think back, be mindful of”. Jesus used this word to remind His disciples of spiritual truths. He said:

Matthew 16:9 … Do ye not yet understand, neither remember (mnēmoneúō) the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot’s wife …

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you …

Paul is telling the Gentiles, “think back how Israel treated you”. Now, I love Israel. It is through Israel that the Messiah came. The early Church of Acts chapter 2 was nothing but Israelites. Those 120 praying in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost were all Israelites. The original twelve Apostles were all Israelites. Do you follow that?

Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His Apostles:

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Matthew 28:19 … Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy {Spirit} …

Jesus was speaking His commission to JEWS.

Jesus wanted the Jewish Church to witness His Gospel in Jerusalem (Jews), to then spread to Judaea (Jews), to go outward to Samaria (near Gentiles), and also to “all nations” (far Gentiles). What did the early Church do? It reached out to Jews. Did it go toward the Gentiles? No, other than a few isolated incidences (like Philip & the Ethiopian Ruler), Israel kept the Gospel for the Jews.

Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

The Gentiles were known as Uncircumcision, a term of derision. The Church that Jesus built was suppose to be reaching out to “all nations”, but the Gentiles were being excluded.

God the Son is not pleased when His Church
does not reach out to all.

It was always God’s intent to save whosoever will by the Gospel, regardless of skin tone or ethnic background. When the Prophet Simeon saw the baby Jesus in the Temple, he prayed over the Child these words:

Luke 2:29-32 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Though Jesus Christ is the glory of {God’s} people Israel, He is also a light to lighten the Gentiles. The Prophet Isaiah said of the Messiah:

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Our Lord Jesus quoted this text in Matthew 12:17-21. The Gentiles were the “uncircumcised”.

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Word Study: Paul reminds us how far away from God we Gentiles were. We were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. We were aliens” {ἀπαλλοτριόω apallotrióō, [pronounced ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o]}, “shut out from fellowship and intimacy” that Israel as a people had with God. We were strangers”, {ξένος xénos, [pronounced xen’-os]}, “foreigners” to the covenant promises God made to Israel. Though it was God’s intent that Gentiles be reached with the Gospel of the Messiah, Israel kept her own country and to herself. We were without hope and without God.

Illustration: Every Jew in those days was familiar with the Temple of God. In the Temple there is a sanctuary, beyond the first veil. “And after the second veil, the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, a place that only the High Priest went once a year to offer a Blood sacrifice for himself and Israel” (see Hebrews 9:1-8). The Holy of Holies was where God’s Shekinah Glory was, His manifest Presence on the earth. Oh, only the High Priest could go there! And then there is the Court of the Priests, just outside of the Holy of Holies. Here the Levites, the courses of priests came, to make sacrifices for the people. Beyond the Court of Priests was the Court of Men, where male worshipers could go. Then there was the Court of Women. Each Court in the Temple moved farther away from the Holy of Holies.

The Outermost Court was the Court of the Gentiles. The Lexham Bible Dictionary notes:

“{The}‘Court of the Gentiles’ is a later name not found in {the writings of the historian} Josephus, the New Testament, or Middoth {early treatise on the Temple}(Votaw, “Temple,” 176), the book of Revelation refers to “the outer courtyard … given to the Gentiles” (Revelation 11:2 NET). This court was where buying and selling of sacrificial animals took place … On its east side, the Court of the Gentiles had a 49-foot-wide covered walk called the Porch of Solomon or Solomon’s Portico (John 10:23; Acts 3:11; 5:12)…”

Anyone could enter the Court of the Gentiles or the Outer Court. It was the farthest from where the Holy of Holies or “God” was reckoned. But though far separated, the “Solomon’s Portico” or Solomon’s Porch was where out Lord Jesus routine taught classes while on this earth.

The Court of the Gentiles was where Jesus did His public teaching (Matthew 21:23; 26:55; Luke 19:47; John 7:14) and might also have been where Simeon encountered Jesus as an infant and took Him in his arms (Luke 2:27; Bock, Luke, 92–93).”

As Gentiles, we were far from God. But God did not want us far from Him. Jesus taught on Solomon’s Porch in the Court of the Gentiles, reaching out to us who were considered so far away from God.

When The Early Church Would Not Reach Out
To The Gentiles, Jesus Forged A Way

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Word Study: Sometimes the King James Translation obscures our understanding of the text. Look at the word translated sometimes. When I hear sometimesI think of something that only happened periodically. That’s not what the text is saying. The Greek is ποτέ poté, {pronounced pot-eh’}, which means in time past. Now, that makes sense. In time past we Gentiles were {μακράν makrán, [pronounced mak-ran’]} a long way from God”. But now, we are not. Why?

Because of the Blood of Christ.

When the Blood of Sheep and Bullocks and Goats was being shed in the Temple, the Gentile could not even get to the priests. The Gentile could not enter the Court of Women, nor the Court of Men. The Gentile could not enter the Court of Priests. No Blood could be shed to make payment for our sins. Jesus changed all that. Jesus taught in the Court of the Gentiles. And Jesus went to the Cross, shedding His Blood not just for the Jew, but for the Gentile who was without hope and without God in this world.

Jesus Christ became our High Priest and our Sacrifice for sin. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:11-14 … Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, … 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Though the early Church was slow to reach out to the Gentile, Jesus intervened, and forced it to do so. Jesus started by converting a Rabbi named Saul on the Damascus Road. This Saul would become the Apostle Paul, the man God used to write the text we are studying today. Jesus said of Paul:

Acts 9:15 … {Paul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel

When the Church will not do what Jesus commands, Jesus will make the Church do His command. He is Lord! He is Lord, I say! His Church will do His will, our Jesus, “the Only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Right after calling Saul to be Paul, Jesus addressed the Head of the Apostles, Simon Peter. In Acts 10 we are introduced to a Gentile named Cornelius:

Acts 10:1-6 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

Cornelius knew there was God, and loved God, but knew nothing of Jesus. As He is praying an angel of God comes to Cornelius and tells him to send for Simon Peter. Once Peter came, he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. Cornelius does this. He sends two of his soldiers to find out Peter, and to bring him back.

Now here’s a question: WHY didn’t the Angel of God just tell Cornelius to believe on Jesus? WHY have Cornelius send a delegation to Peter? Or, WHY not just tell Cornelius, “You go find Peter and he’ll tell you what you need to do”? WHY? WHY? WHY?

I’ll tell you why.

It is Jesus’ command that His Church
tell others about His Gospel.

This Jewish Church needs to be reaching out to Gentiles, just as Jesus commanded at the beginning. Jesus did not command the seeker to come to us, but for US to go to the SEEKER. Cornelius sends two soldiers to tell Peter to come see Cornelius. Love demands this!

But Jesus is not done. He wants to prepare Peter’s heart.

Acts 10:9-16 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Peter has a vision on his rooftop about the sixth hour. He sees a sheet lowered from Heaven, with all manner of creatures in it, both “clean” and “unclean” creatures according to the Law of Moses. The Lord tells Peter, “Rise and eat!”, but Peter, a good Jewish man, will not eat anything unclean. Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. Jesus said,

15 What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”

Three times the Lord does this. This all occurs at the sixth hour. What is significant with the sixth hour, which would be roughly around noon? When Jesus went through Samaria and met a Samaritan woman at a well:

John 4:6 … Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Jesus witnessed that He was the Messiah, the One Who gives Living Water to this Gentile woman. But what else happened at the sixth hour? As our Lord Jesus hung on the Cross of Calvary, suffering, dying for our sins, the Bible tells us:

Matthew 27:45 (also Mark 15:33 & Luke 23:44) Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

I’m sure Peter would never forget this. He who would never betray Jesus, ran away while our Lord went to that terrible Cross. And as Jesus hung on the Cross – at the noon hour till around 3 pm – what should have been the brightest time of the day, there was darkness over all the land. From the midst of this darkness our Jesus cried out:

Matthew 27:46 … Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Preach!: Jesus did not just die for the Jew. Jesus died for the Gentile. Jesus died for the homosexual. Jesus died for the transsexual. Jesus died for the sexual sinner. Jesus died for the pedophile. What does the Scripture say?

1 Timothy 1:15 … This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …

Jesus died not to make our sins acceptable unto God. Jesus died to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Evangelist Billy Graham said:

Sex is front-page copy everywhere. [But] nothing can alter the fact that God calls perversion sin. … Be assured that there is no sin you have ever committed that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse.”

But the sinner must be told of Jesus. We must share His Cross, His Death, His resurrection, His commandments.

Peter went downstairs and, finding two soldiers, accompanied them to where Cornelius was. Peter told Cornelius:

Acts 10:28 … Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Following this, Peter shares the Gospel with Cornelius. The Bible says,

Acts 10:43-45 … through {Jesus’} name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Any Divisions That Exist Are Man Made

Ephesians 2:14-15 For {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Going to the Cross, Jesus took away any divisions between those who believe. God’s Family is no longer just the nation Israel. God’s Family is a spiritual family that no longer makes animal sacrifices, nor observes feasts. We are not under the hygienic codes of the Law, nor the symbolic codes of “clean and unclean” meats. Our sins are covered, and we have peace with God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 5:6-10 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Ephesians 2:16-20 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

There are no divisions in the family of God. If you have received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, your sins are covered, and you are a child of God with all others who have received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. Salvation comes to all by FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE.

We who were once represented by an outer court are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. What is our foundation?

Is it “wokeness”?
Is it “politics”?
Is it “political correctness”?
Is it a “denomination”?

No. We are built upon the FOUNDATION {θεμέλιος themélios, [pronounced them-el’-ee-os]}, that is, “the first principlesor the system of truth, and yes, you can sayfoundation of The APOSTLES and PROPHETS. We have one thing that the APOSTLES and PROPHETS wrote, and it is this Bible. That is the Foundation of the Church.

What God demands we repent of IN THIS BOOK, we repent.
What God demands we affirm IN THIS BOOK, we affirm.
The truths of this Book are our FOUNDATION. With “Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone”. God’s Word is true. It is always true! If we or any local Church drift away from the foundation, we are no longer a Church. The Church is built on the FOUNDATION of the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ as our Chief Cornerstone. Let us live for Him!

May God the Holy Spirit draw us closer to His design for the Church. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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