Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Building of God 1/17/2016
Dear friend,

May the abundant and overflowing grace of God be received by us all as we begin a new day in this new year in the Lord.

We are listening to our God speak to us through one of the letters that he inspired the Apostle Paul to write to the congregation at Ephesus, a letter which would be read to them in its entirety as well as to other congregations in the surrounding area. Since very few people could read during these early church times, it was necessary to present the Word through reading it.

We heard last week of how God acted on mankind's behalf by pouring out his grace and mercy towards us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. He did this because that is what He wanted to do for us, and with great pleasure and joy. He additionally gifted us with the faith to believe that which he has done for us through the death and resurrection of His Son, by His Spirit He has sealed our salvation to protect it as well as gave us the guarantee of our inheritance. Paul then prayed for the hearers with those three things which we pointed out last week, which he so earnestly wants them to get a hold of in a greater way. They understand and know it initially, but he wants this knowledge to deepen. So here is what he prayed for them/us.:

That they would know in a greater manner the hope of God's calling for them,
That they see in a more clearer manner the riches of the glory of their/our inheritance both here on earth and in heaven, and lastly, that they would know the exceeding greatness of Christ's power toward them who believe.

Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

What did He accomplish in Christ? He raised Him from the dead, set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, above everyone and everything, now and in the future, has put all things under his feet, and placed Jesus Christ over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.

As we finish the first chapter, we might gasp at the enormity of what God has done out of divine grace and mercy! We might be so overcome with joy at what He has done for us in providing for our salvation as well as giving us grace to receive that reality that we would be speechless in our praise of our Lord and Saviour. As we hear that this Jesus is the head over the church, and of how the church is referred to as the body of Jesus, we might be wondering what that means. If we are patient, we will learn what this means as we follow along with the progression of the Spirit's teaching in this letter from God.

May I enter a note here concerning this letter. We must always keep in mind that initially these letters are written for that time and for those people's circumstances, which we are able to plainly see in this letter. Let us keep in mind the separation between Jew and Gentiles which was according to God's plan and timing until the day of Christ and so we interpret the letter keeping that historical reality in mind. Most of the letter applies directly to people of all time, but keep in mind that some parts contain a historical account of things in the past.

Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, (made alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

That is a reality, for we died in the fall in the Garden of Eden, and so all humanity came under the power of Satan, whose spirit works in those who are under his dominion, which are called children of disobedience. So we live according to the lusts of our flesh in order to fulfill them. Now what, I thought we heard that God decided for us, not against us, for we hear that all are all by nature children of wrath. Yes, that is the state that we placed ourselves in, but.......

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Our God acted on mankind's behalf, joining Himself to humanity by being baptized into humanity, has died as as our representative, and rose again as our representative. Through faith, we are now united with Him, sitting together in heavenly places. Ever since Jesus established His kingdom here on earth over 2000 years ago, God has been showing the exceeding rich of his grace in his kindness towards us, towards many others and will do so in glory forever and forever!

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We have been translated from a child of wrath to a child of the King, and our nature now is to be like God, to be like Christ, as we live out of the fulness of His Spirit in us. There is no boasting but in the grace and power of God who has done this and continues to live through us. Before we acted according to our nature which was of the flesh, but now we act according to our new nature which is of the Spirit. God has set it up this way and being infilled by His Spirit, we can do no other.

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

The Gentiles had long been despised by the Jews as the predjudice and enmity that existed between them was a long standing one, but now was done away with for all time. The Gentiles were not part of the nation of Israel, not included in the covenants of promise, therefore they had no hope, and were without God in the world....

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Here he describes the coming together of both Jew and Gentiles through the blood of Christ. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Much time could be spent on these 5 verses by going back to the Old Testament and the tabernacle with its particular designs which are spoken of in these verses, but we will focus on the main part which is the bringing together Jew and Gentiles in one one new man, the man Jesus Christ. It was accomplished though the reconciling work on the cross, a work that removed the enmity of God towards humanity so that He is now friendly towards all. Jesus made peace by the cross and He spoke of this peace to all as it is written in verse 17.

18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Now that all of mankind has been reconciled by Christ, and all have been given access through Christ by one Spirit unto the Father, we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God: This is what the Old and New Testament teach, with Jesus Himself being the One that connects us together. We are like a building that is put together with all its specific and unique pieces, a living and organic spiritual building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. This building not only contains the Originators and early teachers of it, but it also includes all those who have been called by the Gospel, have received this inheritance by faith and are living in the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ. It is called the body of Christ, or the church in the last verses of chapter 1.

God does not live in physical buildings, but rather He dwells now individually in transformed hearts, but more importantly He dwells collectively through His Spirit in the hearts of all of those transformed hearts. It is a community not build on outward conformity, but on the inward union with Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection, which is evidenced by the witness of His Holy Spirit. We are the building of God. As we leave this letter, I even though I know this letter somewhat well, it is intriguing to think of what the Spirit is going to bring forth next in this letter to us. My thinking is, "Okay, we are God's building, we understand how that is so, but what will the Spirit bring to us next in this teaching. We know we are Christians, we know we are in His body, we know that we are God's building, so what does that mean? What else would we need to know to be a participating part of God's family? Well, we will see for there is yet 2/3 of the letter to come to us.

Grace and Peace to you!

Pastor Orval
Posted on 18 Jan 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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