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Connected in Christ                7 SEP 14

EPH 2:14-15 What is meant by “the dividing wall”? Possibly it is an allusion to the wall that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Jews in the Temple. An inscription warned Gentiles of the death penalty for going beyond it. But Paul's reference is more likely to the barrier raised by the enmity between Jews and Gentiles, mainly caused by the Jews whose leadership preached Gentiles were to be the fuel for Hell. Jesus did this by not making His salvation a Jewish salvation but a world salvation. (John 3:16 RSV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  

Jesus makes a saved Jew “one” with a saved Gentile. This is a VITAL POINT: Jesus ABOLISHED in His flesh the law of commandments and ordinances…”! Jesus abolished the LAW! This Greek word is 2673. katargeo, kat-arg-eh'-o; from G2596 and G691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:--abolish…vanish away, make void. Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs in his book New Men in Christ, Word Books, 1974, wrote in pages 47-48 “Christ made inoperative this legalistic system, literally, “in order that with respect to the two [Jew and Gentile] he might create in himself one new man, making peace; and that he might reconcile the two [both] in one body to God through the cross…” How one is “one”? (John 17:22 RSV) "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one," NOTE: As unified as the Trinity is, we are to be!

But the Jewish Christians were not acting that way and caused the Gentiles to counter them with like warfare of various kinds. Dr. Hobbs, page 28 wrote “A Jew was no longer a Jew or a Gentile a Gentile.” Did you get that? Read it again. A saved person is a child of God. There is no such thing as a Jewish or Gentile Christian! (Gal 3:28 RSV) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Yet many preachers and teachers say the Jews are a separate saved special group, in spite of Eph 3:14-15. If someone doesn’t teach what the Bible says, don’t listen and find a teacher, preacher, or church that does.

EPH 2:16 Jesus, through the Cross Event, declared from the Trinity’s position there is neither Jew nor Greek. As far as God is concerned, there are only lost or saved humans. Any divisions that do exist are human creations and is not the result of any action or pronouncement by God.

Note this vital fact as well: only oneness in Christ in a church will result in (Eph 4:16 RSV) "from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." The point in particular is “when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” If your church is not doing this, look for the why in three places: (1) Are they trying to be as one as Jesus and the Father? (2) Is each doing the Growth Process of Peter in 2 Pet 1:5-7? (3) Are these being taught by the leadership and teachers?

EPH 2:17 “He” is Jesus. Jesus preached, i.e., proclaimed His God News (Gospel) to two groups:

  1. to you who were far off.
  2. to you who were near.

When we look at Paul’s letter to Rome, we understand these phrases. (Rom 2:11-13 RSV) "For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified." Further he wrote (Rom 2:25-28 RSV) "Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law." For this FACT Paul wrote (Phil 3:3 RSV) "For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh." This “we” are saved people, no matter who they are.

Then Paul declared (Rom 2:28-29 RSV) "For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God."

Peter likewise understood this when he wrote this about the Gentiles: (1 Pet 2:9-10 RSV) "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy."

EPH 2:18 “We both” mean the Jew and Greek (Gentile) who believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Note Paul’s use of “one Spirit.” The Jew who becomes a Christian is not indwelt by a Holy Spirit who is difference from the Holy Spirit who indwells saved Gentiles. The Holy Spirit does not guide the Jew more than he guides the Gentile.

EPH 2:19 These very points that Paul showed to the Romans, he is now showing to the Ephesians. If they are divided and not one, if they are not growing but worldly, then they are what Paul called in (1 Cor 3:1 RSV) "But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ." What are the characteristics? (1 Cor 3:3 RSV) "for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?" Why is this happening? (1 Cor 3:2 RSV) "I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready," They were not growing spiritually and thus did not understand the truth of being “one in Christ.” So this division (denominationalism) existed because of a lack of the desire to learn the full and true DOCTRINE. After Dr. Hobbs retired from being a pastor, he traveled extensively until his death preaching one central message: Southern Baptists needed to get back to learning True DOCTRINE. Southern Baptists have not done so. It is sorely lacking in every church I know about but no one sees the need. Discipleship Training once was a critical and viable doctrinal teaching place. Today it is a place to watch videos and listen to others on all kinds of good topics, if a church has Disciple Training at all. But good topics will yield little or no real spiritual growth if they are not based on true factual doctrine. How many know the doctrines in this lesson? And how many believe them even if they have heard of them?

Most SBC churches need the message to the Ephesians as much as the Ephesians did. All Christians are indwelt at the moment of salvation with the one and only Holy Spirit. One person does NOT have more or less of the Holy Spirit than someone else. The difference comes from how much a person follows the guidance of the Holy Spirit. All this talk about being filled and being controlled by the Holy Spirit is false doctrine! The Holy Spirit indwells NOT TO CONTROL but to GUIDE! (John 14:26 RSV) "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." The Greek for “Counselor” is 3875. parakletos, par-ak'-lay-tos; an intercessor, consoler:--advocate, comforter. Note is says NOTHING about controlling! Yet Sunday after Sunday in pulpit and classroom we hear “Let Jesus take control of your life.” This is wrong; and by being wrong it is false doctrine. It is any wonder that we have so few witnessing church members? And that half or more on the church roll are at best inactive, and many are probably lost. And there are many active members are only saying, “Lord, Lord” and do nothing about following Jesus as Lord. (Mat 7:21 RSV) ""Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Thus they are really lost.

            Thus Christians are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Paul wrote the same message to the Galatians. (Gal 3:25-29 RSV) "But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." Paul said it again in (Gal 4:6-7 RSV) "And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father! So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir." Read the rest of Galatians 4 to see how Paul used a different way to talk about saved Jews and Gentiles.

EPH 2:20-22 “Foundation” can also mean the true doctrine resulting from the Cross Event. Doctrine is properly built on the single foundation of the acts and teachings of Jesus. And doctrine that does not lead to Jesus is false. (John 14:6 RSV) "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. But only in united Christians is there a “dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Read 1 Pet 2. Only in unity of doctrine and agape is there God (the Trinity), no matter what anyone says. Where are you? Do you yearn for and seek true, in-depth, advanced , mature doctrinal study? Do you demand it? Or are you a class that is a big therapy support group? Proper connection in Jesus can only come correctly from a foundation of true doctrine. As Paul stated (Gal 5:6 RSV) "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love."

            Only unity in the church will make world-wide witnessing possible under the most evil situations. (John 17:20-23 RSV) ""I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." Without UNITY, we cannot start with the world already knowing and believing “that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." Today we must often start with “there is a God.” The condition of witnessing in the world is our fault and only we can fix it!

 

Marvin Ganote, Hobbs Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at: http://dma1.org/~ganotemd/lesson.htm  or http://academic.udayton.edu/MarvinGanote/Bible/lessn.htm