“Enemies Reconciled through Christ’s Cross” Part 2: Christ Ended the Law to Reconcile Enemies to God
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 2.17-22
Ephesians chapter 2. In the 1800s, a man by the name Gustave Valbert reported from his calculations that between the years 1496 BC to A.D. 1861, in those 3358 years, throughout the world, there were only 227 years of peace and 3130 years of war. And in those years, there were more than 8000 peace treaties enacted (that were supposed to last forever), but the average time that each of them remained in force was a mere two years.
The world is at war. There are dozens of wars, from the war in Afghanistan to the Syrian and Somalian civil wars, … I counted 42 wars that are happening right now. And men in high office today are attempting to bring peace as well as solved many other of the world’s problems.
Where is the answer to be found? Perhaps the answer is found in technology. Eric Schmidt who is the CEO of Google, recently wrote a book entitled The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives.
The coauthor of that book was Jared Cohen. Cohen is 32 years old and was a former U.S. State Department official under Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Now, he is the director of Google Ideas, the search engine’s internal think tank that “explores how technology can enable people to confront threats in the face of conflict, instability or repression.”
He did an interview in which he was asked …
Question: How can technology help the international crises [of Russia and Ukraine as well as in Syria]?
Cohen: …We all love technology and we all believe in its power. But we are reminded by Putin’s domestic crackdown, the annexation of Crimea and the perpetual horrors in Syria, that technology is not a silver bullet answer to the world’s problems.
It generates awareness, it gives us visibility, it offers enormous opportunity – but at the end of the day, the world is still run by states and their military apparatus. States are going to continue to be the dominate unit in our lifetime and likely lifetimes to come.
So, technology does not have the answer to the world’s problem of peace. With Syria, Russia and Ukraine, humanity knows it is hopelessly at war and can’t find the solution.
What is the solution?
We need to get to the point in our lives when the question is asked “what is the solution” and we immediately think of the Bible’s solution. To ask “what is the solution” and “what is the Bible’s solution” is to ask the same question.
Always be thinking in Bible terms. Be so convinced of the truth of Scripture that you are, as the popular saying goes, “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
So, what is the solution to the hatred and war in the world? Is it technology, food, more money….
Ephesians 2 verses 11 to the end of the chapter has the solution for the hatred for the enmity that is found in the world.
On a human level, the hatred between human beings is solved only through the cross of Christ. Christ himself, verse 14, says “is our peace.” What that’s talking about is the peace that can exist between hate-filled people. In this passage, it’s the hatred of the Gentiles for the Jews… this anti-Semitism. As the Jews stop their boasting in themselves and being proud about who they are and what they have as God’s national people, the Gentiles only by God’s grace, will not hate them.
And Paul’s point in this section in verses 11-22 is that enemies can be reconciled through the cross. This happened with believing Jews and Gentiles and it can happen with any people group on the face of the planet. Any warring tribe any hostile nations and people in them can be reconciled to one another and be brought into one body through the cross of Jesus Christ.
It’s only to the degree that nations and the people in them, whether they be world leaders, slave, free, great or small … To the degree that all people cling to Christ, to that degree will there be peace on earth.
Ephesians 2:11-22 can be summarized in three words. First of all, in verses 11 to 12, we have separation. That’s the first word. We have the separation of the Gentile from God’s program of salvation.
Then, from verse 13 to verse 18, we have reconciliation. That’s the second word. This is where we will be today. And the last section in verses 19-22 is summed up in the word unification. There is unity now in the church through the cross of Christ.
LET’S read verse 11-22 and see if you can note how this passage flows together… Ephesians 2:11-22 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Separation, Ephesians 2:11-12
Reconciliation, Ephesians 2:13-18
Unification, Ephesians 2:19-22
And last Sunday and this Sunday we are in the second of these three sections, the one on reconciliation in verses 13-18. Last week, we dealt with the first part of this concept of reconciliation which is that hostile and hate-filled people can be reconciled to one another in the church.
So we saw last time that Christ ended the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law for a particular purpose and that was to reconcile human enemies. The Jews boasted in the Law of Moses to the point that they became proud of who they were. And the Gentiles, in response, hated them for that. And when Christ died, he ended the Law of Moses. And now, the Jews no longer have the Law of Moses to boast in. And if they no longer have the Law of Moses to boast in, then they have no cause for boasting except in the cross of Christ.
And this ends the “holier than thou” attitude and so when the Gentiles receive Christ, they are filled with the love of Christ. And now Jew and Gentile, both filled with the love of Christ, can be reconciled into one body in the church.
Today, we are still in this section on reconciliation but instead of reconciliation between people, verses 16-18 focus on the reconciling of enemies to God. First, Paul dealt with the reconciling of people groups to each other, now in verses 16-18, Paul will focus on the reconciling of these former enemies to God.
Both of those statements, the reconciliation between people and the reconciliation between those people to God, both of those statements are 2 of God’s purposes in ending the authority of the Mosaic Law. Christ ended authority of the Mosaic Law in order to reconcile Jew and Gentile. But God also ended the Mosaic Law to reconcile these formally hostile people to God.
And I want us to see that in the text this morning. Ephesians 2:14, look at it, Ephesians 2:14-18 14 For He Himself is our peace [this is peace between hostile people], who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall [Now, the wall is the enmity, the hatred, from verse 15, you remember. And we said that we could slip the word enmity of verse 15 into verse 14 where it belongs…. So Christ himself is our peace who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, which is the enmity… Now, verse 15, he broke down the hatred between Jews and Gentiles … How? … Verse 15… ], 15 by abolishing in His flesh [or in His flesh, ending the authority of] [now, take out the word enmity there, that belongs next to wall in verse 14 … By abolishing in his flesh … ] the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances [so Christ in his death, he ended the authority of the Mosaic Law …. Now, why did he do this? What was the purpose of this? Two reasons … Number one what does it say verse 15 at the end … Christ ended the authority of the Mosaic Law …number one], so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace [and that’s what we focused on last time: that Christ ended the law of Moses in order to make peace between hate-filled people … And now secondly, Christ ended the Mosaic Law verse 16 so that he … secondly … ], 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross [Christ ended the authority of the Mosaic Law in order to reconcile people to God],
So, I’d like to preach this second message on “Enemies Reconciled through Christ’s Cross” and this is part 2: that Christ Ended the Law to Reconcile Enemies to God. Christ Ended the Law to Reconcile Enemies to God
And this is the only way to true peace. Christ alone gives peace to humanity if they would just cling to Him. If all of humanity would receive Christ this morning, the world would still have sin in it, but there would be no cause for war between nations. Christ died to reconcile humanity.
TRANS: But Christ also died to reconcile all of those people to Himself. Christ Ended the Law to Reconcile sinners to God. So, first, at the end of verse 16, we have the problem.
The problem: enmity between sinners and God (16c)
Notice the problem, verse 16 at the end. Ephesians 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
The problem is, there is enmity. And this is not the enmity discussed between people earlier in the passage. This is enmity or the hatred or the hostility that exists … Are you ready for this … Between God and man. There is hostility between God and man.
This word can refer to the inner feeling of hatred of something or to be opposed to something. It describes conflict between individuals and peoples and nations.
Here, it refers to the opposition that exists between God and man. Man in his natural condition, is opposed to God and to his ways. And therefore because of this, he has put himself into a position so as to make himself an enemy of God! Yes, God’s enemy!
ARG: We read about this condition earlier in Ephesians chapter 2. Look at Ephesians 2:1-3 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, [… What is the consequence of this?] and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Man in his natural condition is opposed to the work and person of God and makes himself an enemy of God. This morning, we read this in Romans 8:7 the mind set on the flesh [this is the natural mind that does not repent of their sins. The mind set on the flesh … ] is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God.” The natural man is at war with God and therefore makes himself God’s enemy.
Apart from Christ, all mankind has put themselves into a position of being an enemy of God … because Romans 3:9 [Paul concludes] that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” The natural man has made himself God’s enemy.
God’s anger against man is alive and real.
Question: But I thought God loved the world?
Christ is the epitome of his own teaching: Matthew 5:44-45 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
God follows His own teaching; He loves each sinner, but each sinner at the same time has made himself an enemy of God.
Man in his natural condition because of his allegiance to sin, chooses not to give God glory. God is supremely committed to his own glory. He alone is the supreme one in the universe. And he cannot therefore flippantly dismiss the rebellion of mankind. Those who do not lay down their weapons of rebellion against Him, He must punish with eternal punishment. It is eternal because God is eternal. You can’t sin against an eternal God and get a slap on the wrist.
TRANS: So, what is the solution? … Eph. 2:16…
The solution: the cross (v.16b; response found in Eph. 2:8-10)
Ephesians 2:16 [God ended the authority of the Mosaic Law so that He] might reconcile them both in one body to God [solution … ] through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
The solution is the cross. Notice how the cross permeates this passage. Notice Ephesians 2:13 that the Gentiles, the ones who were formally far off, have been brought near to God’s program of salvation … how? “By the blood of Christ.”
Verse 14 “He himself” is our peace.
Verse 15 “He abolished” or “He ended” the Mosaic Law, how? “In his flesh.” So that verse 15 so that “in himself” He might make the two into one.
This reconciliation happened verse 18 says “through Him.” And this is all speaking about the cross of Christ when he died… He was executed by the Romans.
The Jews were jealous of Jesus and they were nervous that the Romans were going to come and take away Israel’s right to be a nation. They were nervous about this because the people were wanting to exalt Jesus as their King. There is no king in Rome but Caesar. They were scared that Rome was going to come and destroy them.
And so the Jews wanted to execute Jesus because of these things… as well because He claimed to be God.
And the Gentiles, the Romans…. These Gentiles wanted Jesus dead. They wanted Jesus dead because he claimed to be the king of the Jews.
So they crucified Him. When He died, there were miracles…, The darkness over the land for six hours, the resurrection of many of the Old Testament saints. And even the miracle of his last breath, that a crucified man could actually cry out with a loud voice while his lungs were collapsing…. This tells us indeed that no man has the power to take His life; He gives it up of Himself. John 10:18.
He died for our sins. He died so that we don’t have to die forever for our sins.
And just as he predicted on many occasions, it happened. He was raised from the dead! Three days later he was resurrected from the dead! And he was seen by many of the believers, even 500 at one time. And even an enemy saw Him, Saul of Tarsus.
And to receive an eternal peace treaty from God offered through the work of Christ, one must respond like Ephesians 2:8-10, if you would look up there now. Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
God saves by his grace through faith. God is gracious to save from sin and to save you from being His enemy. It is not any mere humans works that saves anyone. Only the work of Christ can save.
And so what is demanded of us is our faith. What that means is our trust. You must trust in Jesus Christ to be saved from the wrath of God that is against us. You must trust in Jesus Christ to be saved from your natural condition that makes you His enemy.
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
You must trust in Him and lay down the sinful weapons of your rebellion … Repent of your sin and cling to Christ.
TRANS: and if you will do that, you will receive the reconciliation, this eternal peace treaty from God. Look at verse 16, we have reconciliation.
The result (v. 16a):
Reconciliation into the body to God (v. 16)
Ephesians 2:16 [Christ ended the Mosaic Law so that He] might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
When Christ died on the cross, He accomplished reconciliation. Reconciliation is the bringing of offended people back into a right relationship.
And the way Scripture describes reconciliation between God and man is that man is brought back into a peaceful relationship with God. The sinner is reconciled to the One whom he has sinned against. We are reconciled back to God. We are brought back into a peaceful relationship with God. This is reconciliation.
The word peace occurs in our passage. The peace in verse 14 is the peace between hostile people, Jew and Gentile. Christ himself is our peace. And the end of verse 15 … He brought these two people together and established peace.
But in our verses in verses 16-18, Christ reconciled Jew and Gentile to God through the cross and, verse 17 says, that He came and preached “peace” to you who were far away and “peace” to those who were near.
Romans 5:10 teaches … 10 While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,
While we were enemies, yes, that is, enemies of God … While we were opposed to and hate-filled toward God, making ourselves an enemy of God, while we were in that state before Him, God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son. God sent us His Son to offer Himself as the peace agreement between the enemies … The enemies being God and man.
How does Christ offering Himself as the peace treaty work?
God reconciled us to Himself through Christ in that God the Father made Jesus Christ, though He was perfect, the Father made Christ become the very thing of sin …. 2 Co. 5:21 says. Christ became sin, though He never sinned one time. Then, God poured out His infinite wrath upon the Son who became sin.
And now the Bible says that we can become the righteousness of God in him. A marvelous transaction occurred that day when Christ died.
Our sin was given to Jesus and Jesus’ perfect obedience and righteousness is credited to our account. Our sin given to him; his righteousness given to us.
And we receive the benefit of this through trusting in him and asking him to save us from our sins.
Now, notice the end of Eph. 2:16. We have reconciliation because Christ put to death the enmity. He killed the hostility between man and God.
Hostility between God and man kills man forever. Man’s opposition to God will kill man forever. It is that hostility itself that kills forever. The hostility that man has toward God the fact that man is in opposition against God … This enmity will eternally send anyone who remains in it to hell forever.
And when Christ came and died, through that death, … Christ killed that eternal death-giving enmity. Through His death, Christ killed the very thing that kills for eternity.
So we have at the cross the very death of eternal death through the death of Christ. The hostility that causes that death, itself has been killed. And there is no one who now must himself die forever for his sins if he would but trust in Christ for salvation.
TRANS: and so verse 17 the picture is one who comes as an ambassador, a representative of peace. He has come to establish peace between warring parties.
Ephesians 2:17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;
This quotation is from Isaiah 57:19 and it occurs in the context of prophecies that the Gentiles will receive the peace that God offers. For example,
Isaiah 55:5 speaks to the Jews and Isaiah makes reference to the Gentiles when he says… “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.”
One chapter over, in Isaiah 56:6-7 6 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath And holds fast My covenant; 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
The Gentiles will come. And so in Isaiah 57:19 which Paul refers to in Ephesians 2:17 Paul is proclaiming that God is proclaiming peace to those who are far away … These are the Gentiles … And peace to those who were near, these are the Jews.
Both Jews and Gentiles need peace proclaimed to them from the ambassador of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And Christ came proclaiming peace and himself is that very peace between God and man.
And now verse 18 both Jew and Gentile, we both have access to God the Father through the Holy Spirit.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 2.17-22
And so everyone who is without Christ and everyone who has aligned himself with the world, the Bible presents them as the enemies of God!
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
If I knew that I was hostile towards an animal, it would not alarm me. I knew that I was in opposition to another human being for whatever reason, I may be somewhat alarmed.
But if I knew that I was in opposition to the most powerful being in the universe and his anger was directed at me, I ought to be very much alarmed. I ought to be shook to the very core of my being.
So the Bible presents lost people whom you know and whom you see every week and whom you work with, and the ones in your family …. as the enemies of God. And God loves His enemies like you wouldn’t believe.
Preach peace to them through Jesus Christ! He himself is our peace! …
In 1962, Don Richardson along with his wife Carol and seven month old baby, risked his life and his family’s life to go and live as missionaries to the Sawi people of New Guinea. This is not the eastern Papua New Guinea, but the western side of that island.
At the time, the tribe lived like stone age people. They were also headhunters and cannibals and they would use their victims’ skulls as pillows. They viewed deceit, disloyalty, and treason as the highest virtues!
But Mr. Richardson spent 8 to 10 hour days learning the language. The Sawi people have 19 tenses for every verb. Imagine trying to learn that! In his long hours at attempting to understand the language, he tells that often he felt like his brain circuits would get shorted.
After learning the language, Mr. Richardson soon found a great divide between him and the Sawi people. He writes “in their eyes Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels. Jesus was just the [fool] to be laughed at.” Makes sense in a culture that values treason as the highest virtue.
The Sawi people were very much committed to war and violence between other tribes. And despite Mr. Richardson’s best efforts, he could not prevent the tribal wars between the three villages. And he concluded that because he could not get the three tribes to be peaceful, then he ought to leave.
But upon his announcement, the Sawi people were greatly distressed. And so they told him that they would make peace with the other tribes.
How would they do this … especially in a culture that valued treason so highly. He waited eagerly to find out how this peace process would happen.
What he found was a very emotional experience. The process involved the exchange of young children from each of the warring tribes.
And the deal was as long as those children were alive, the peace would continue. The young mothers were apprehensive as they realized what was about to happen.
And finally, a young man grabs his only child and rushes him toward the enemy camp and gives away his unique son to his very enemy. And a child was similarly returned to him.
And peace was established. Peace is established through trust.
In that culture, every demonstration of friendship was questioned except “that if a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, then everyone knew that that one could be trusted!”
This is the Peace Child.
Mr. Richardson used this experience to explain how God the Father sent His unique Son, Jesus Christ …. And he sent him to us while we were His enemies.
Romans 5:10 While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son
God the Father can be trusted because He gave His unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave Him to reconcile to Himself His enemies. His enemies are all of us sinful people who refuse to lay down our weapons of rebellion.
And in the Sawi culture, if they did not kill the child, peace remained.
But both Jew and Gentiles killed Jesus.
My friend, God is angry against sin. And if you do not cling to Christ, God’s “peace Child” as it were, then the wrath of God abides upon you and you will forever be a child of wrath because you have made yourself an enemy of God.
May the members of Northlight Baptist Church be ambassadors for Christ. On behalf of Christ, plead with others … “Be reconciled to God!”
His Robes for Mine