Chosen to Unite
Net Questions
1. The church is made up of different personalities, different opinions, different ethnicities, and different social backgrounds. With so many things different, do you think it is possible for the people of the church to exist in unity?

2. What does unity in the church look like?  Does it mean we all look alike and think alike on every subject? Are there some subjects we should agree on?
(Facilitator - After a brief discussion, read Paul’s appeal for unity to the Corinthian Church. Paul asked them to agree with one another on the main thing and then talks about the central message of the Cross. It’s one thing we can agree on!)
1 Cor 1:9  God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
1 Cor 1:10  I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Cor 1:11  My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
1 Cor 1:12  What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas "; still another, "I follow Christ."
1 Cor 1:13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1 Cor 1:14  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1 Cor 1:15  so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.
1 Cor 1:16  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.)
1 Cor 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Cor 1:18  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

3. All members of the church share a common past in that we were all sinners and in desperate need of a remedy for our sin. The answer for our past and the remedy (panacea) for our sin is found in the Cross of Christ. How can this serve to unite the people of the Church? (Facilitator - See points 1 & 2 in sermon notes below for further detail.)
Eph 2:11  Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)--
Eph 2:12  remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

4. What is God’s purpose for desiring the church to be unified? Clues to the answer of this question are found in the prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples.
John 17:20  "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
John 17:21  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.
John 17:22  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
John 17:23  I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:24  "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
John 17:25  "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.
John 17:26  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."


Church [defined]
Chosen to Unite

Ephesians 2:11-22

In this series we are defining church by defining what it means to be the church!
Remember the old saying, here is the church, here is the steeple, open it up and here are the people!
It really should be like this...

Here is the building, here is the steeple, open it up and you'll find the church for a church is the people!!


I realize I say this a bunch, but today's message is a message of extreme importance to the people sitting inside the building so many call church.

I'm so convicted that God wants us to hear a word from Him today, not only as individuals, but as a group, a congregation, a gathering, members of the Body of Christ!

So let's pray and ask God to help us hear from Him today.


PRAY!

 Just a little background…This letter was written to the the church at Ephesus, but was also written to be copied to other churches in the province of Asia. Churches made up mainly of Gentiles, but there were Jewish Christians also.

The Gentiles wanted to distance themselves from the Jewish roots of their faith and the Jews had a hard time embracing their new Gentile family members. This really bothered Paul!
Aren't you glad churches have matured and don't have petty problems like that anymore?
Dream on Brother Larry!!!

Before we read our text for today, we must go back and catch two verses of last weeks message in which God used Andrew in a powerful way to speak to our hearts! Our text today begins with the word "Therefore", therefore we must go back and pick up what it's there for!

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:9 (NIV)

10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

So we've been saved by grace and not by good works, but we've been saved by grace so we can do some good works!  So we've been chosen to choose, chosen to know, chosen to live, and chosen to unite, but what does unity have to do with the definition of the church?

To be the church God wants us to be we must be a united people with a common purpose and we must be going in the same direction!! Paul, in the next 12 verses says some amazing things about this so without further a due, I'll read our text for today...

11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) —
Ephesians 2:11 (NIV)

12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 2:12 (NIV)

13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:13 (NIV)

14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)

15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
Ephesians 2:15 (NIV)

16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Ephesians 2:16 (NIV)

17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Ephesians 2:17 (NIV)

18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Ephesians 2:18 (NIV)

19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
Ephesians 2:19 (NIV)

20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:20 (NIV)

21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Ephesians 2:21 (NIV)

22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:22 (NIV)

Now that is some of the most powerful words concerning the church ever spoken. There are so many amazing truths in this passage, but I'm going to talk specifically about three.

It's three things we all have in common that should cause us to unite together as the family of God, the Body of Christ, the Church, to do the work God has called us to do!!


Common Past
Common Panacea
Common Purpose


Point #1 Common Past

11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) —
Ephesians 2:11 (NIV)

 Paul starts out talking to those in the church who did not have a Jewish background or birth. He goes on to tell them of their predicament...

12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 2:12 (NIV)

What a predicament? And you're either in this predicament today or you have been in the past!
We were all separated from Christ, excluded , foreigners, without hope and without God!!



Without hope and without God, refers not to people who had no belief in a god, but those who believed in multiple gods and goddesses, but who lived in despair and hopelessness because their gods were gods created by the minds of men. Created gods cannot help you in you time of need. Only the God who created your very soul and gave you life can help!

Paul reminds the Ephesians and the rest of us that we don't have any bragging rights. Remember that "By grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves it is a gift of God, not a result of works, or we would boast!

 Now having said this, I must add how amazed I've been down through the years   at how fast we forget our common past! How quickly a new believer slips into a smugness! How quickly we think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

 How quickly we think ourselves better than the other guy!
Here's a thought for you…Once you receive God's grace and mercy, you are better off than the ones who have not done so, but you are not better than them!
You're still a sinner, just forgiven, and that's not a license to sin.

 We should and must seek to become more like Jesus, but we must never forget that's a privilege we didn't earn and don't deserve, but were given by God's amazing mercy.
Paul put it this way to the Corinthian Church...

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
1 Corinthians 1:26 (NIV)

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)

28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are,
1 Corinthians 1:28 (NIV)

29so that no one may boast before him.
1 Corinthians 1:29 (NIV)

30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (NIV)

31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV)

 If you're going to brag, it needs be bragging on Jesus!

 If you've fallen into the sin of spiritual pride and think you're better than someone else, because you pray more and read the Scripture more, have you forgotten Jesus is "our righteousness, holiness and redemption."

 This fact leads us to the next reason we Christians should get along better than anyone else in the world...

 Point #2 Common Panacea

What is a Panacea?

Panacea [defined]

A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases!

Anyone here agree with me that all of us need a solution or remedy for our past?
Anyone here agree with me that sin is a disease that kills body, soul and mind?
Anyone here agree with me that sin is difficult to overcome and overpower?

Is there a Panacea? A solution? A remedy?

Let's see what Paul had to say...

13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:13 (NIV)

Now there's our Common "Panacea!"

The Blood of Christ!
The only remedy for sin!

Those who were once far away have been brought near.
And by the way, this includes both Gentile and Jewish believers. When it comes to the remedy for sin the Jews didn't really have an advantage. Even though it was through them the law was given and they had the old sacrificial system for dealing with sin, it was powerless to really get rid of sin.

The Old Testament sacrificial system was like a major prophecy that pointed to the fact someday a Messiah, a Savior would come and be the remedy, the Panacea.

Listen to these words from the writer of the Book of Hebrews..

Heb 10:1  The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.


Heb 10:2  If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.


Heb 10:3  But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,

Heb 10:4  because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
 

In our text Paul continues to make his case that Jews and Gentiles should be able to come together in unity once they understand their common past, sinners in need of a Savior, and their common panacea, the blood of Christ!
Let's read on...


14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)

There had been this long standing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles, but God wanted all of His children to come together and to set aside their differences, so Jesus tore down the wall!
How...

15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
Ephesians 2:15 (NIV)

16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Ephesians 2:16 (NIV)

When we read the words, "abolishing the law" we think back to Jesus' statement that He had not come to abolish the law, or the Prophets, but to fulfill them.
What Paul is saying here is that Jesus took away the penalty and the curse of the law. No one could keep the law in their flesh so Jesus made a way through the Cross for the righteous commands of the law to be met.

 Rom 10:1  Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.


Rom 10:2  For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.


Rom 10:3  Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.


Rom 10:4  Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled through the Cross! We should rally together around the Cross of Christ!
The Cross should be a reminder that we've been chosen to unite.
United by our common past (lost in sin), and our common panacea, (cleansed by the Blood of Christ)!
And all of this for a common purpose!

Point #3 Common Purpose

Let's look at verse 15 again…

15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
Ephesians 2:15 (NIV)

God's purpose in Christ was to reconcile us to Himself, and also to one another!
God wants His family back together!!!
God wants the world to look at His children and see what it's supposed to look like.
Here's my question for us today.

When the world looks at us do they see the image of Christ? Do the see the Body of Christ unified? Do they see us working for common goals and common purpose?
Would outsiders want to become insiders because of the way we work together, serve together, worship together, pray together, and love one another?

Jew and Gentile, new believer, long time believer, old believer, young believer, strong believer, weak believer, happy believer, hurting believer, we all have a common Past, common Panacea, common Purpose!
Paul puts it this way...

17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Ephesians 2:17 (NIV)

You might be inclined to say, "well I never was that bad, I went to church, read my Bible, and then I accepted Christ!"
Okay, so you were close, but if it weren't for Jesus, close wouldn't be good enough.

Some of you may remember Maxwell Smart. "Missed it by that much!!"

Without Christ, we all miss the mark.

But in Christ, those who were really far away and those who were near have been given the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts.
Paul then gives us the source of our power to live in unity...

18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Ephesians 2:18 (NIV)

19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
Ephesians 2:19 (NIV)

We're not only fellow citizens, we are members of the same household!

We are brothers and sisters in Christ.

You don't have to agree with each other, but God says you've got to love each other. I know that may be a tough pill to swallow, but it's good medicine.

Paul then tells us about our foundation...

20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:20 (NIV)

21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Ephesians 2:21 (NIV)

22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:22 (NIV)

Common Past
Common Panacea (Remedy)
Common Purpose


I like the way one commentator put it...

"The world we know is fallen, divided, and suspicious. Paul holds out the prospect of a reconciled, unified, and amicable society, whose microcosm is seen in the church of God's worldwide, transnational, and reconciling family!"

Let's pray!