“Equal Access to God”

Ephesians 2:11-22

The first two chapters of Ephesians address the issue of self-image. Our self-image is a key influential element that shapes our actions. Think about it, how we see ourselves, how we feel about ourselves on any given day determines how we act. If we see ourselves as capable, we will act confidently. If we see ourselves as weak, and unable, we often even refuse to try. 

This rolls over into our spiritual experience as well. This is what Paul tries to address in his first two chapters of Ephesians. The Christian church was just starting out. The members of the church came from backgrounds that were about as far apart as you could get on a social level. Up until this point, Jews and Gentiles NEVER sat in the same room together, not to mention, worship, eat and pray together. 

Grown adults were being asked to accept others, that up until this point their culture had taught them to avoid or disdain. 

Paul is writing to them and reminding them, and us, that God is fully aware of who we are. We are the ones who need to recognize it. We all start out equally “dead in our transgressions and sin.” After accepting Jesus as the Messiah, the one who paid the price for our transgressions and sins we become new creations. We have been made “alive in Christ.” We are recipients of a gift and are seen as, “ God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

Before Christ, people define themselves and their relationships with others on the basis of the few things that make them different. 

For those around Ephesus it was whether they were Jew or Gentile. This not only separated them, it made them enemies. But now, in Christ, there is no gap, Jesus has made peace, one body. By being reconciled to God, we have also been reconciled to each other. Paul turns the focus from our isolated life to the focus on the fellowship of believers. Individuals are formed into a living, growing organism where Jesus is the Head. 

In today’s Scripture reading, Paul addressed those who were Gentiles, the uncircumcised, those without Christ, aliens, strangers, those having no hope because they were without God in their world. 

Stop there for just a moment. Let’s try to wrap our heads around that description. I dare say, there are not many of us in this room today that can personally relate to this description. 

Many of us have grown up in the church, have been taught the ways of Christ and who God is since we were little, in Sunday School. This reveals how homogenous we really are. However, I do believe that each of us either knows someone personally or has heard a personal testimony of someone who was going nowhere fast, found Christ and their lives were changed forever. 

God is still reconciling differences, verse 13, 

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

This blood of Christ demonstrates that Jesus is our peace. Paul goes on to elaborate that everything that Jesus did was to bring us together, in Him, in peace. 

Jesus is where everything and everyone is equal. There is no division between Jew and Gentile, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican. 

Ironically, Paul was in a Roman prison at the time he was writing this letter, awaiting trial, because he was being falsely accused by the Jews for taking a Gentile into the temple past the literal “wall of separation” dividing Jew and Gentile. Paul was reminding the churches that the wall of separation was gone because the Lordship of Jesus Christ was greater than any division humans could create, be it political, racial, economic, language, geographic or whatever. 

If only we would remember this today. Those of us who say we are Christians and follow Jesus should practice our unity in Jesus as being far greater,

than our differences. 

In the second part of verse 15 Paul writes, 

“His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,”

Christ wasn’t bringing one group up to the level of another group, he was creating a new humanity, one that centered on peace. This was accomplished through the cross. This wasn’t a unity that just happened, it was the hard-fought accomplishment of Jesus going to the cross and conquering death. 

Jesus prayed this for his disciples, and for us, in John 17:20-21, 

“My prayer is not for them alone. 

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 

that all of them may be one, 

Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. 

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Paul goes on in verse 18 to tell how Jews and Gentiles were to be brought together,

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

We all have the same access to the Father by one Spirit. Again, Paul describes the Godhead as three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ did the work on earth and presents us to God the Father and the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and prepares us for when we will be with them for eternity. 

Paul concludes this chapter with a picture of God’s work of reconciliation. When we choose to give Jesus Lordship over our lives we are no longer strangers or foreigners to God. We become fellow citizens, with everyone else who has chosen to follow Jesus. Not only are we full citizens but we are also considered equal members of God’s family, built upon a common foundation by the apostles and prophets, those who had spent time with Christ and knew Him personally. This foundation has Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone. The cornerstone is known as the binding stone that holds the whole structure together. Paul goes on to describe this building as being joined together and growing into a holy temple in the Lord. The Church, designed by God as His dwelling place, where He lives. It’s not meant to be empty, with no one living inside, but a place where both God and His people reside. 

As we continue to read in the book of Ephesians Paul will elaborate on the idea of Christ being the Head of the body. However, the first two chapters of this book Paul has focused on our identity. 

What does it mean for us to be “in Christ.” 

What does it mean to have been snatched from death into life?

Why was Paul so sure that our daily lives would be transformed if we grasped the hope of our calling and if we know what we can expect as members of Christ’s body?

I have created a chart for you to use to help build a picture of your new identity in Christ. Over the next week I encourage you to take some time and reread Ephesians chapters 1 and 2, noting what God has done for us and what we now have. 

All that we have in Christ, comes at a price, the price of the blood of Christ. This price was paid because of God’s great love for us, His sacrificial, giving and saving love. It was what Jesus did on the cross, suffering as a guilty sinner in place of guilty sinners that brings us near to God. 

Lord’s Supper.