Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We've been brought near - Ephesians 2:13-16

"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 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, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity." (Ephesians 2:13-16)
Previously, God had a chosen people, the Israelites, to whom He revealed His law, sent His prophets, and ordained some of them as priests unto God. It was through them that the revelation of the one true God was preserved throughout the generations; starting with Abraham and continuing down to those who lived in Jesus' day. They were a nation among whom God dwelt in His tabernacle and, later, His temple. They were near to God and God was near to them. How different was their existence when compared to that of the gentiles who lived without prophets, the revealed law of God, and were separated from the very presence of God. However, all that changed with the coming of Jesus.

What Jew and Gentile alike failed to understand was that, one day, there would be no chosen people, no privileged nation, for in that day, all would be chosen, all would be brought near, and all would be invited to enjoy the privileges of a heavenly citizenship through Jesus Christ. Even those who were far off, separated from the commonwealth of God, and alienated from God have been invited to come near and be reconciled to God.

When speaking of the enmity that separated us, I do not believe that Paul was speaking of a divide between Jew and Gentile, but a divide between Jew, Gentile, and God. The Law in commandments and ordinates did not separate the Gentiles and the Jews, but separated both of them from God, for neither could fulfill the entirety of the law. The Law shut up both Jew and Gentile in sin and delivered a sentence of death upon both. The Law was hostile to us because it formed an impenetrable barrier between us and God; a barrier we were unable to breach. It was not that the Law was defective, but rather ourselves who were steeped in sin and unable to keep the law. The peace Jesus came to bring was not peace between Jew and Gentile but peace between all mankind and God.

Here is the bold statement of Paul: the law which was against us has been abolished though the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The Law, having been taken out of the way, can no longer condemn us and can no longer separate us from God. We are no longer under any obligation to keep the old Law nor are we to be judged by it; either by God, ourselves, or others. Paul confidently declares, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4)

In Christ, all distinctions that divide us been abolished. Whatever benefits had previously accrued to one people are now available to all. We are no longer Jews and Gentiles, we are now all children of God and none more privileged than the other. Any distinctions we imagine among us is a figment of our own minds and prejudices and not from God. Jesus came to unite all unto Himself, why then should we seek to divide that which God has united? We are all one, therefore, let us start living as if it were really true. Let us set aside all divisions that are of our own making and learn to enjoy the blessings of unity and the oneness we all have together in Christ.

David Robison

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