“Enemies Reconciled through Christ’s Cross” Part 3: Christ Unites God’s People on Apostolic Truth into His Community
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 2.19-22
Ephesians chapter 2. We are in the last part of Ephesians chapter 2, in verses 19-22. In the sermon last time, we divided up verses 11-22 into three words.
In verses 11-12, we attached the word separation. This is where Paul discusses the separation of the Gentiles from God’s program of salvation, generally speaking, previous to the coming of Christ.
And then, in verses 13-18, we attached to these verses the word reconciliation. And there are two instances of reconciliation. First, in verses 13-15, the two groups being reconciled are Jews and Gentiles. The way God reconciled Jews and Gentiles, even though they were hostile toward one another, is that he ended the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. This is why we no longer sacrifice animals to provide a covering for sin.
And the second instance of reconciliation is between believing people and God. Verse 16 says that God ended the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law not only to reconcile Jew and Gentile, but to reconcile them both to God!
And the third and final word is unification. And this is found in verses 19-22, which we will be in today.
Let’s read Ephesians 2:19-22 19 So then [because you Gentiles are now reconciled to God…] 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.
First, notice in verses 19-22 the words for unifying.
Notice unification terms
In verse 19, note the word “fellow citizens” and “household.” Both of these terms speak of being unified. “Fellow” citizens and “household” … you can see the idea of unity there.
Notice verse 21, that the whole building is “being fitted together” and verse 22, that we are “being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Together clearly refers to unity.
Unifying what? Jews and Gentiles
But who is unified and into what are they unified?
The people who are unified are Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles verse 19 are fellow citizens with who? With the saints. These saints are the saints of all time.
Into what are they unified?
Now, into what are the unified? Jews and Gentiles are reconciled together, they are reconciled to God, and they are reconciled and brought together into one body. Believing Jews and Gentiles are brought into one body and this one body is described in three ways.
Notice how this new community is described. Two of the ways it is described are found in verse 19. Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints …. So the idea of citizenship gives us the understanding that believing Jews and Gentiles are citizens of the kingdom of God. Believers are kingdom citizens.
But secondly, we are “members of God’s household.” Keep going in verse 19 not only are we citizens with the saints, but we are “of God’s household.” So we are members of God’s family.
And the third and final picture this morning will be that we are “living stones in God’s Temple” in verses 20-22.
The saints of all time, both Jew and Gentile, are citizens of God’s kingdom, members of God’s family, and living stones in God’s Temple.
And so I would like to preach that Christ unites God’s people into His new community. And the focus is on how privileged Gentiles …non-Jews have trusted in Christ and have been brought into God’s new community in Christ. It’s an undeserved privilege. Gentiles do not deserve to have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
TRANS: First is the picture of believing Gentiles being brought into a kingdom….a kingdom. The relationship is stated negatively and positively.
We Are Citizens of God’s Kingdom (Eph. 2:19)
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are … negatively …. no longer strangers and aliens [a foreigner of a nation or kingdom, is the idea], but [instead] you are fellow citizens with the saints
Not a foreigner but a kingdom citizen (Eph. 2:19)
The illustration is of someone who is a foreigner and is outside of a privileged nation.
This is the way many people of the world view our nation, a privileged nation. Canada ranks eighth in the world for the total number of immigrants from other countries. And of those top eight nations, Canada ranks third for having a total of 20% of our population being immigrants. I myself hope to be among that number soon.
So that’s the picture: it’s the picture of a foreigner on the outside, looking in.
As Gentiles therefore, because Christ came and ended the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law, we no longer have to be on the outside, looking in. For any Gentile who has faith in Christ, that Gentile is God’s.
So now, the Gentiles are no longer foreigners to God’s program of salvation, but we are by the grace of God, fellow citizens with the saints, the holy ones of God.
We are citizens together with the saints of all time. And the point is that we are saints along with the Old Testament saints.
So the picture then of God’s community is that there is one overarching people of God, the saints of all time. And God has worked out his program of salvation in history on Earth through 2 entities: Israel and the church.
And within each entity, throughout history there have been those who trust in God for salvation and those who do not. In the nation of Israel, there were those who were descendents of Abraham, but who failed to trust in God of Abraham for salvation. And in the church as well, there are those in local churches who name the name of Christ but who are not truly born again.
This is like Jesus’ parable of the tares and the wheat. Jesus tells a story about a farmer who planted good seed in his field. While he and his workers were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. Tares look just like wheat but provide nothing.
And the farmer allows both the tares and the wheat to grow together until the harvest and at that time, the reapers will gather the tares and burn them up and gather up the wheat and put it into the barn.
And Jesus’ point is that there are believers and unbelievers in any physical manifestation of the kingdom of God, like our church for example.
But there is one overarching people of God for all time, the saints. In the OT era, God’s people were associated with Israel. In Israel were believers and unbelievers. In the NT era, there is the church. In a local church, there will be believers and unbelievers.
So generally, once someone receives Christ and repents of their sin, they are a part of the kingdom of God. They are fellow citizens with the saints.
And we are all apart of the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is the realm over which God rules. He not only reigns in creation, but there is coming a day when God himself will reign upon this earth. God’s kingdom will fully manifests itself beginning in the Millennium, that thousand year reign of Christ that will happen in the future.
By the grace of God, those of us who have repented and trusted Christ alone are citizens of the kingdom of God.
And Paul’s point is that we as the Gentiles are no longer distanced from the saints of all time, but we have been brought near to and are citizens of God’s kingdom. We are fellow citizens with the saints.
As we learned last time, to enter into God’s kingdom requires that we lay down the sinful weapons of our rebellion and submit to the demands of the King. Lay down your win before Him and submit to His demands.
TRANS: Secondly, not only fellow citizens, but we are members of God’s family.
We Are Members of God’s Family (Eph. 2:19)
Ephesians 2:19 end the verse, we “are of God’s household”
EXP: the word for household has the idea of family. Paul pictures believing Gentiles as not only having entered into the kingdom of God….what a privilege! But also we have entered into God’s family.
How does that happen? How does entering into God’s family happen? If you were to ask the apostle John, we Gentiles enter into the family of God by being born again, or born from above. That’s a good explanation.
If you would ask the apostle Paul, his illustration is that we Gentiles enter into the family of God by adoption.
Both of these are one and the same thing and that is we are received by God into his family as true and righteous sons by and this happens through trust in Jesus Christ.
APP: And this is why of course that believers feel more at home with the members of God’s family than with members of their own unsaved, physical family.
And did you notice that Israel is clearly in the privileged position? God’s people in the nation of Israel is the starting point in this passage. We Gentiles have become fellow citizens with these Old Testament saints. OT saints are the original family into which we have been adopted. So Israel is in the original privileged position.
But also, in Christ, Jews and Gentiles are joined into one new community. This forms a new family that includes Gentiles.
And so clearly then we believing Gentiles are privileged to the point of being a part of God’s kingdom and family. We, too, now are in a privileged position.
Because we are in a privileged position, we need to take Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 2:12 seriously. Remember that you were at that time [before Christ came] 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.
We are commanded to remember the fact that we were at one time separated from the Commonwealth of Israel. We were not citizens. We were strangers to God’s promises of salvation. We were without hope we were without God in the world.
But now in Christ I have become a part of his kingdom, and part of his family! From being separated without hope, without God, a child of wrath… living according to the flippant values of this present evil age, living in light of vanity not knowing or caring where I came from or where I’m going or what I’m supposed to be doing…. but
God came and Christ died on the cross to end the authority of the Mosaic Law in order that I might be reconciled to God , as a Gentile and become a part of God’s family and a citizen of his kingdom. An amazing privilege!
APP: And to the degree that you let these truths sink down deep into your heart to the extent that you do that, to that extent you will grow in Christ. To the extent that you come, by the power of God’s grace, to understand to a more full degree the glories of Christ and that you as a Gentile get to play a part in God’s kingdom and family, to that extent you will grow in Christ Jesus. The gospel of Christ will empower your godly living in Christ.
TRANS: So marvel, marvel at the cross work of Christ and the privilege that He has given to you.
Believing Gentiles are first, a part of God’s kingdom. Second believing Gentiles have been united with Jews into God’s family, and now thirdly, we are also built on the foundation of God’s Temple.
And so here we have the third illustration, a Temple. We, as believing Gentiles, are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are members of his family, and now thirdly, we are living stones in his Temple. We’re living stones in his Temple, in verse 20-22.
We Are Living Stones in God’s Temple (Eph. 2:20-22)
This again is another picture of the unity of the saints for all time. All of God’s people from the beginning of time until the end of time are pictured here. We are pictured as a family and as a kingdom. And here in verses 20-22 God’s saints for all time are pictured as a Temple.
Notice in verses 20-22, the 3 parts of the building.
Ephesians 2:20-22 20 [we also have] 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.
There are three parts to the building. Let’s start with where you would start when building a building in the ancient world, and that is the cornerstone. Paul’s picture is that you have Christ Jesus himself being the corner stone. Paul uses Isa. 28:16 here and you could turn over there quickly, but keep a hand in Eph. Isa. 28 verse 16.
A cornerstone in ancient architecture marks the beginning of the foundation. At the beginning of the foundation, by use of the cornerstone, the builder could determine that the “lie” or the “line” of the building to ensure that it will be structurally sound. And the cornerstone was the gauge by which this was accomplished.
Isaiah 28:16 says … Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
Zion is Jerusalem in the verse. And 700 years before Christ, the Lord God is predicting that a cornerstone of a foundation would come and that it would require faith in order not to be disturbed, or will not panic. So this cornerstone in Isaiah 28 is clearly a prediction of a person to come and that person is the Messiah. Jesus Christ himself is this cornerstone.
You could turn back to Eph. 2. So that’s the cornerstone, the first one element of our building.
Secondly, you can see in verse 20, that in Paul’s illustration, the foundation is the apostles and prophets. For us, this is God’s revelation through His New Testament apostles and prophets.
And thirdly, those who trust in Christ, both Jew and Gentile. Verse 20 at the beginning says that Ephesians 2:20 [we are] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
So the picture is that those who trust in Christ for salvation are built into this building, whose foundation is God’s revelation in the New Covenant with Christ Himself being the corner stone.
And 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that we are living stones in this holy building. 1 Peter 2:5 says … you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
So we are the living stones in God’s holy Temple. God’s revelation is the foundation and Jesus Christ is the guide that structures and properly lines up the building.
This is a picture of unity. Jesus Christ lines up the building and we are built upon the revelation that we have received from God’s apostles and prophets. This revelation is our New Testament.
So God’s people for all of time have Jesus Christ as the guide and God’s revelation in Christ is what we are built on, it’s our trust. And as more and more people receive Christ, this is a growing building.
Ephesians 2:21-22 give us the picture of unity. And it also tells us what this building is.
Ephesians 2:21-22 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.
These verses parallel one another. They are very similar. Verse 21, in whom the whole building being fitted together is growing into a holy Temple in the Lord.
That’s very similar to verse 22 … “In whom you also are being built together.” You are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. And we are growing, verse 21 says, into a holy temple in the Lord. Or verse 22 puts it this way that we built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The Temple is where God dwells. So the Temple verse 21 and God’s dwelling verse 22 make up the same idea.
What this is saying is simply that the whole building is unified: it is fit together, it is built together. And it is growing, that is, it is being built together, it is rising as a structure would rise up into the sky.
And this structure is none other than the the Temple of God. This is God’s spiritual Temple and we as living stones help make up the structure.
Now, this is speaking to the universal kingdom of God that makes up all of God’s people for all time.
And we are growing and rising into the Temple of God, this is the dwelling place of God!
God’s presence is in focus here. And the presence of God is a holy, joyful, and motivating concept. God is especially present in his people. It is that way universally for all of God’s people.
And it is true today. God’s people today are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But when God’s people today meet together, we too are a dwelling place of God. Yes, universally for all time God’s people are used to make this Temple of God. But the physical manifestation of God’s Temple is His church.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17 gives us this picture. And I would like us to turn there and consider this most holy and joyful and motivating concept.
That the presence of God dwells in his church today is a most serious concept. And the church receives her joy and strength by the empowering presence of God.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you [this is a plural ‘you’ referring to the local Corinthian church and, by extension, any local church. NBC, then, you ] are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
This is an awe-inspiring fearful passage. Imagine being accused of destroying the Temple of God! You can see in verse 16 that Paul calls the Corinthian church a temple of God.
We are by God’s grace and calling a temple of the living God and he dwells in us corporately as a localized Temple of God.
So to be rightly related to this Temple requires today that we be rightly related to the church of God that we attend.
What does it mean to be rightly related to this church then?
This requires first, that we are unified on the person of Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone. He is the head of this church. He himself by His Spirit through His Word … He guides our assembly.
He is the Messiah, the Promised One, in the Old Testament. He is God in flesh and his death on the cross is effective to take away people sins and he was raised again the third day. This is our confession on the person of Christ. We must be unified on the cornerstone.
But this is not all. Secondly, to be unified requires that we be unified on foundation, the apostles and the prophets. This is the foundation. God’s Word is our foundation.
And we can’t pick and choose what to be unified on from God’s Word. Each detail is essential. As an assembly as we come to understand together and grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, we need to endeavor to be unified on the teachings that are found in the New Testament.
A church is only unified to the degree that it is growing in its understanding of God’s word and is endeavoring to center its life on that. A church is majoring on what the New Testament majors on and minors on what it minors on, but the whole thing is taught and attempted to be practiced.
There is no room to say in a local assembly that “you believe this” and “you believe that” and we disagree on these things from the Bible … No, we must endeavor to become unified concerning the teachings of the New Testament and unified as to practicing it. And we will have minor disagreements here and there, but we must endeavor as a whole to take heed and be unified on the teachings of the New Testament.
APP: So unity is not the absence of conflict, but it is fellowship on the foundation of God’s word. The teachings of the Scripture are to be constantly exposed and we are to have fellowship over what those words say and we must, by God’s grace, attempt to do and practice them together, guided the entire time by our cornerstone, Jesus Christ.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 2.19-22
And so this Temple of God, that we call Northlight Baptist Church, we the members and regular attenders here, let me remind us that this Temple will only function in the right way to the degree that we relate properly to our foundation, other stones, and to the cornerstone.
Will only function correctly in the sight of God if we are in harmony with our foundation, the Bible. We will only function in a godly way if we are properly related to each other. And we will only function properly if we are properly related to Jesus Christ.
ILL: Imagine a building and it was off from the cornerstone or the foundation.
That building cannot rise. The historic Christian faith, by God’s grace, will be preached here and taught here. And by God’s grace we will be unified on the teaching of Scripture.
By God’s grace we will have fellowship together over these things and also, we will be guided by the person of Jesus Christ.
Now, let’s apply this more pointedly. This means then that Christianity is not an individualistic fellowship. A church is not focused on the individuals at the expense of the whole.
If you fail to attend our services, it affects more than just you. Yes, you need to attend church services, but not just for what you would miss otherwise, but for what we miss. Attend, yes, but also serve each other and edify, and build up one another in love.
If you are living in sin, it affects more than just you. You are destroying the very Temple of God! You are destroying it by bringing it down and by not building it up.
If you have a bitter or complaining spirit or simply failed to practice the gifts that God has given to you, our assembly will be the worse off. What are you doing to build up and not tear down the very Temple of God!?
As you personally grow the point here is that you will build up the Temple of God.
And for a little motivation, remember … Remember that you were, before Christ came, separate from the promises of God. You were without hope and without God and on your way to eternal punishment. But Christ came to save Gentiles like ourselves.
And then at some point in your life, you trusted in Christ, and God the Father drew you to His Son and you received him as your Savior. And at that point you were built onto the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And now you are a living stone in the very Temple of God.
You were dead in your trespasses and sins and you lived according to the prince of the power of the air and you lived your life indulging the desires of your flesh and mind but God raised you up.
And as a Gentile, he did not have to do that! But Christ came in order to save Gentiles sinners. And so now, in Christ, we Gentiles who were formally far off have been brought in near by the blood of Christ.
And we are a part of the very Temple of God! The dwelling place of the holy presence of God and he has put us in this assembly which 1 Corinthians 6 teaches us is the Temple of God.
And may we be found faithful to build up this Temple and not to destroy it. May we be unified on the doctrines of Scripture, may we be found encouraging one another and strengthening one another and serving one another, while unified in heart and spirit.
And may the fact that God dwells among us be our joy and our motivation to serve Him here. 221