The church is more than just a collection of individual Christians or a consumer-oriented store for the religious. It is a people created by the cross of Christ, joined together in Christ to display his power and grace to the world. For this reason, the church is called a temple. As we learned last week, temples display the power of the God who dwells therein. And in the case of the church as God’s dwelling place, we are to bear witness to who God is in worship and in the way we live.
This week’s sermon tackles this foundational matter, and with a little help from Theodore Roosevelt, we learn how the unity of a diverse army brings glory to the commander. And because Christ is our great captain, we as his people ought to linger over how we can follow him and be his church.
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated 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 once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
- What were some of the key points in Ephesians 2:11–22? What’s the big point of Ephesians 2?
- In looking at verses 11–13, why does Paul emphasize remembering? What does remembering the past do for Christians? What does it do for non-Christians?
- According to verses 11–13, what are the changes that have taken place for the Gentiles? How do you read this, what application does it have to you?
- Verse 13 transitions to the cross of Christ. In verses 14–18, what do we observe about Christ and his cross? What does his cross do? How does it work?
- What is the greatest promise or encouragement you find in these verses?
- What is the end goal of Christ’s cross? How does the cross of Christ relate to the temple of God? How does the cross of Christ relate to the mission of the church?
- How do these verses challenge you to live your Christian life? How do they motivate you to be a witness for Christ?
On the Church
Here are a handful of articles related to the nature and mission of the church—to be a people who display the power of Christ’s cross.
- Being and Building a Better Church: Temple Language in Paul
- Straight Talk about the Church: A Biblical Meditation on Church Membership
- Welcome One Another: Five Ways to Show Hospitality at Church
- Dramatizing the Gospel: On Church Membership
Ephesians 2:11–22 is an important text for addressing the unity that Christ gives to people of different races. Indeed, in the recent events in our country, this topic needs ongoing education and application. Especially for white evangelicals, it’s important to listen to our black brothers and sisters. In January I wrote up a resource blog to give Christians a number of helpful resources. More concisely, here are some more current resources.
- Las Vegas is Only the Deadliest Shooting in U.S. History Because Black Lives Aren’t Counted by Michael Harriot
- Walking While Black by Garnette Cardogan
- 116 Been Real: Lecrae, “White Evangelicalism,” and Hope by John Piper
- Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith — if any book might help white Christians understand their blindness to white privilege and systemic racism, this might be it.
- One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology by Jarvis Williams
Soli Deo Gloria, ds