Dishman Baptist Church
The Peace of Christ
  • Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. We are grateful that you would spend time this morning as we seek the Lord’s glory and His purpose for our lives through His inerrant Word. Please take your Bibles and turn with me to Ephesians 2, Ephesians 2.
    Peace. Such a simple concept and yet such an entirely elusive quarry for us as humanity. In the entirety of recorded history (approximately 3400 years) there have only been 268 years of peace or the absence of conflict. In our own nation, we have been in existence for 246 years with only 15 years total of peace. I would regretfully choose to differ with these statistics. While they may be true physically - and in some sense this physical conflict is in view in our passage this morning - they are incorrect spiritually. Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, a state of war has existed between God and sinful mankind.
    Even when humanity has seemingly sought peace with God, which was never really an effort at peace but rather was an effort to achieve their ultimate desire of control over God or supplanting Him altogether, these efforts have been woefully ineffective at achieving the necessary conditions for true peace, the cessation of hostilities, to exist. Peace may even occasionally be proclaimed. But a true state of peace could never exist. And it is because of this spiritual unrest, the lack of peace in the spiritual realm that the lack of peace in the physical realm exists.
    So how is true peace, achieved? Of course if you’ve been around the church for awhile you would know and be able to answer that true peace is found through Christ. In our passage this morning Paul is going to continue the theme of unity that he began in verse 11. Following the great treatise in which he proclaimed the beautiful truths of salvation, Paul is now demonstrating the ramifications of salvation being delivered to all those who have been called and who have put their faith in Christ. Let’s look together at Ephesians 2:14-18 as we continue to examine these ramifications and to consider what they mean in our lives and in our church.
    Ephesians 2:14–18 CSB
    For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
    Four times in this passage Paul uses the word peace - first calling Christ Himself our peace, saying that He might create in Himself one man from two resulting in peace and then that He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to those who were far away and to those who were near. Christ is the mediator and vehicle through which peace with God and with one another can happen.
    It is important to recognize what Paul is saying when he writes that He made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. There are many different opinions about what this dividing wall of hostility was. What exactly was Paul referring to? To understand this we need to understand the mission that the nation of Israel had been given by God.
    Israel was the smallest of nations but chosen by God for His sovereign and glorious purposes - to reveal Him to the world.
    Leviticus 20:26 CSB
    You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine.
    Their charge was to be holy and the method they were to use to achieve holiness was by keeping the law until such time as Messiah would come. Notice this though - we know through progressive revelation that there was no salvation provided in the law only through faith in Christ and faith in the promised One to come could salvation be given. Old Testament saints were not saved by the law. But the Jews were given the law as a method of setting them apart from the Gentile nations that surrounded them as a demonstration that they were chosen by God. The unfortunate part of this is that this condition was not meant to be a permanent one.
    Psalm 117 CSB
    Praise the Lord, all nations! Glorify him, all peoples! For his faithful love to us is great; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Hallelujah!
    Notice that it says Praise the Lord ALL nations. The nation of Israel was meant to be a witness to the nations. But what happened was that the nation of Israel used the law to separate themselves from the nations and to exclude the nations. In fact - there was no court of Gentiles in either the tabernacle nor Solomon’s Temple. Some might say that this was because they were not meant to be a part of the worship of God and so there was no need to have a court for them. I would make a case that if God intended the Gentiles to be a part of His salvation story then He didn’t designate a separate worship area for them because all nations were meant to eventually worship Him equally.
    So Israel took the law that God intended to be a demonstration of holiness and to point other nations to Him and to His holiness and twisted it into a method of segregation between them and the nations that surrounded them. This fostered great hostility and created an “us and them” situation. The law itself was holy, just and good but man’s sinful nature used the law as an occasion for hatred. Christ came and satisfied the law abrogating the separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, tearing down the wall that the Jews had used to separate themselves from the Gentiles.
    Paul now continues to explain to us how this work of Christ in verse 14 translates into ultimate peace for all who put their faith in Him.

    No Law?

    But first Paul becomes and antinomian…meaning that he is against the law. He writes that In His flesh He mad of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations. No - Paul is not an antinomian and he does not mean that the law no longer has any efficacy in the life of the believer.
    But first Paul becomes and antinomian…meaning that he is against the law. He writes that In His flesh He mad of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations. No - Paul is not an antinomian and he does not mean that the law no longer has any efficacy in the life of the believer.
    The true effects of a law are not contained in the words that explain or dictate the law. Nor are they found in the intent behind the law’s implementation. Rather the true effects of a law are found in the ramifications of breaking the law. The consequences for being found guilty.
    Some of these are acceptable - many of us are guilty of disobeying a speed limit now and then. When we are caught we pay the fine. Not many of us are willing to accept the consequences of murder or robbing a bank. The consequences of sin are much the same. We have this mistaken determination within ourselves that there are also different gradations of sin and punishment. We have decided that sexual sins amongst others are the worst ones and deserve the worst punishment while sins like gossip and the occasional lie are okay and even acceptable. Yet the Word of God has a different viewpoint.
    All sin is a violation of God’s holiness standards and therefore is a violation against God. A violation against the most holy God can only earn for someone the sentence of death - as Paul writes in Romans 6:23.
    Romans 6:23 CSB
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    The first part of this verse details for us the effects of the law. Death. Eternal separation from the felt presence of God. And yet Paul here writes that in His flesh Christ nullified or made of no effect the law meaning that the consequences of the law are no longer binding on those who have put their faith in Christ. This is the beauty of the Gospel that the sentence of death that hung over all of our lives, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, has been erased by Christ. And this isn’t just a promise for the Jews who were delivered the law, it is a promise also for the Gentiles.
    Paul says that the reason Christ tore down the dividing wall of the law and then neutered the effects of the law in the lives of believers was so that He could create something entirely new - a new man. Christ’s greatest creative works are the regeneration of a dead heart and all of you - the church. The church was not a substitute plan for the failings of Israel. Nor is it an addition to national Israel in the plan of salvation. Paul writes here that the church is something completely different - it is a new creation, a combination of those of the nation of Israel who believe and those Gentiles who would believe as well. But in believing they cease to be Jews or Gentiles and instead are simply Christians.
    300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church (The Church as a New Nation)
    When in recent times the appearance of our Savior Jesus Christ had become known to all men there immediately made its appearance a new nation; a nation confessedly not small, and not dwelling in some corner of the earth, but the most numerous and pious of all nations, indestructible and unconquerable, because it always receives assistance from God. This nation, thus suddenly appearing at the time appointed by the inscrutable counsel of God, is the one that has been honored by all with the name of Christ.EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA
    It is important that we recognize that the church is not a continuation or and addition to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Nor is it a replacement for the nation of Israel. It is instead an entirely new organism. Meaning that there are no longer two entities in the world - Jew and Gentile. There are now three - unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Gentiles and believers.
    Before we get to the ramifications of this revelation that Paul will explain in the ensuing verses, we need to understand that there is an order here and that the text can seem to confuse us. Paul seems to imply that the resulting peace between the Jews and the Gentiles is necessary for the reconciliation with God that Paul speaks of in verse 16 to happen. This could not be further from the truth - reconciliation with God, spoken of in verses 1-10 of this chapter - must take place first in order for the reconciliation of the two men into the one to be possible. Until we are regenerated we will not seek peace with our fellow brothers and sisters. In fact it is just this difference that continues to foster and contribute to church splits - we are not at peace with one another. Consider this story:
    Acts—The Church Afire (11: Maintaining the Ministry)
    When a certain Dallas church decided to split, each faction filed a lawsuit to claim the church property. A judge finally referred the matter to the higher authorities in the particular denomination. A church court assembled to hear both sides of the case and awarded the church property to one of the two factions. The losers withdrew and formed another church in the area.During the hearing, the church courts learned that the conflict had all begun at a church dinner when a certain elder received a smaller slice of ham than a child seated next to him. Sadly, this was reported in the newspapers for everyone to read. Just imagine how the people of Dallas laughed about that situation! This brought great discredit not only to the church but to Jesus Christ!
    Oh how we would do better if we would just consider the verses that make up the end of this well as Philippians 2 among others in the New Testament corpus.

    Horizontal Peace

    It is amazing the number of church splits that happen over trivial issues. I used to think that one of the greatest victories that Satan ever had over the church was the advent of denominations. But I have changed my opinion on that a bit. I think denominations have value as long as we still prioritize the body of Christ over our own particular flavor of denomination. We may not all agree on tertiary points of doctrine and denominations allow room for those disagreements in a collegial manner - but to become bitter or elitist over our differences is ludicrous. It is certainly not the peace that Christ died to bring to His body. It is not the peace that Paul is alluding to here - there is no longer any Jew or Gentile. There are no black or white. In the arena of salvation there isn’t even male or female - salvation is offered to all equally.
    How dare we as a modern church think to re-erect walls and divisions that Christ died to remove. In fact it is the living out of the lower levels of the decalogue that Paul is alluding to here. The peace offered to Christians comes with the requirement that we follow the law of Christ. The Mosaic law still has bearing on our lives as Christians but it is now passed through the filter of the Gospel. It is passed through Christ’s clarification of the two greatest commandments and commandments 5-10 dictate how we live out the command to love one another.
    300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church (Persevere Together like Soldiers)
    Labor together with one another, compete together, run together, suffer together, die together, rise up together, as God’s managers and assistants and servants. Please the one whom you serve as a soldier, from whom you also receive wages. Let none of you be found a deserter. Keep your baptism as weaponry, your faith as a helmet, your love as a spear, your endurance as a full set of armor. Let your works be your war-time deposits, so that you may receive your deserved savings. Be patient, therefore, with one another, in gentleness, as God is with you. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
    That is the question - are we patient with one another? Do we allow for one another’s faults? Or do we determine what we don’t like about one another and tear a person down? Is there a measure of degradation that happens in each of our hearts with respect to those who Christ died for? Are we truly at peace with one another knowing that God saved us despite our own unworthiness for the very purpose that we would unite with one another to serve His glorious name?
    It is sad if you look around the church world - especially that on social media to see people torn to shreds by those who should be considered brothers and sisters. It is truly a toxic environment that doesn’t bring glory to God. Instead it results in His name being disparaged. We are meant to look different from the world and yet more often than not we fail to remember that Christ died to put the hostility to death - He died not only so that we could be reconciled to God but also so that we could be reconciled to one another.
    Now of course there are times we need to stand up and fight for the sanctity of the Gospel - and we shouldn’t accept being called out for something that is clearly fraudulent or that we should just accept any criticism that is leveled at us. But just as the law is now filtered through the lens of the Gospel, so must each critique and more importantly our response to that critique. Each interaction must be filtered through the Gospel. We are not antinomian people, we are not anti-law. What we are is law fulfilled, Gospel centered people who filter all of our relationships, all of our interactions, all of our everything through the Gospel. That is how horizontal peace and true unity can happen - and we know it. The question is do we do it? And if we are not, the question is why? Could it be because our vertical peace is also out of alignment?

    Vertical Peace

    Having demonstrated the resulting peace that happens between believers as a result of Christ’s death, Paul now turns his mind towards the most necessary reconciliation that must happen as the church is reconciled to God. After all it is God that our war is ultimately with. We may exercise our combat skills against our brothers and sisters or against a demographic of people that we dislike, but our war is ultimately with the God who created them. Paul writes that Christ died that we might be reconciled to God. The offended party absorbs the offense and then pays the penalty required by the offense.
    The hostility spoken of here is our hatred of God and, as a result of that hatred, our hatred of one another.
    Romans 5:1 CSB
    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    This is the amazing news that has been proclaimed to those who were far away - those who were called Gentiles because they did not know and revealed to those who should have known, the Jews who were near to God.

    All Access

    300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church (The Spirit Unites Christians with One Another and God)
    We all, receiving one and the same Spirit, I mean the Holy Spirit, are in some sort blended together with one another and with God. For if, we being many, Christ, who is the Spirit of the Father and His own Spirit, dwells in each one of us severally, still the Spirit is one and indivisible, binding together the dissevered spirits of the individualities of one and all of us, as we have a separate being, in His own natural singleness into unity, causing us all to be shown forth in Him, through Himself, and as one. For as the power of His holy flesh makes those in whom it exists to be of the same body, so likewise also the indivisible Spirit of God that abides in all, being one, binds all together into spiritual unity.CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA
      • Ephesians 2:14–18ESV

      • Leviticus 20:26ESV

      • Psalm 117ESV

      • Romans 6:23ESV

      • Romans 5:1ESV

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