July 22, 2018

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit



Old Testament Lesson; Jeremiah 23:1-6

Gospel Lesson; Mark 6:30-34

Sermon Text; Ephesians 2:13-22


The Word of God that we dive into a little bit more thoroughly this morning is taken from Ephesians, chapter two, looking at verses thirteen through twenty-two.  This is in Jesus' name.


But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace.  He made the two groups one by destroying the wall of hostility that divided them when He abolished the law of commandments and regulations in His flesh.  He did this to create in Himself one new person out of the two, in this way making peace.  And he did this to reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by putting the hostility to death on it.  He also came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God's household.  You have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Cornerstone.  In Him the whole building is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In Him you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.


These are your words, Heavenly Father.   Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Back during the American Civil war, the Union Army and the Confederate Army were battling against one another.  Back in those days, each side had their own band that would accompany them, to help build moral.  Well sometimes, before, during, or after a battle, both armies would be so close to one another they would be able to hear each other.  One such example was when they were outside of Washington D.C., and it was only the Potomac River that separated the Union Army from the Confederate Army.  They could hear each other across the river.  And so, the Union Band struck up a tune.  They were playing Yankee type music.  The Confederate Band struck up a tune, and they were playing Dixie type music.  There was this competition that was taking place across the river with one another. 

That is when one band started to play a very familiar folk song, “Home Sweet Home”, and the other side joined in.  They were no longer two separate sides, but they were both playing the same tune together, “Home Sweet Home”!  And before long, members from both armies were singing, “There is no place like home”.  For a moment, and it may have been brief, what was happening there?  They had become one, right?  They were two opposing sides, but for a moment, they had become one.

That is what we are talking about this morning, in our text.  The Apostle Paul tells us we are one in Christ. 

On one hand we need to understand what was taking place, right before this.  There were two groups of people the Apostle Paul is talking to.  He is talking about Gentiles, and he is talking about Jews.  In our text, when he talks about those “who were far away”, he is speaking about Gentiles.  When he was talking about “those who were near”, he is talking about the Jewish people. 

Through their faith in Jesus,

they become one in Christ. 

Notice what he says about the Gentiles.  Picking some of the phrases out of our text for today, he says this about the Gentiles.  They were without citizenship.  They were “foreigners.”  They were without hope, because they were without God.

This morning, as we are gathered together for worship, those four phrases are pretty good descriptions of what we were, because of our sins.  We didn't have citizenship.  We were foreigners.  We were without hope.  We were without God.

Look at what God has done for us.  He has brought us back into a right relationship with Himself, and with one another.  Today we can say we are one in Christ.

So, what was it that caused this barrier, or this separation?  The Apostle Paul, in our text for today, talks about this “wall of hostility”. 

Now, some of you were living when it was built.  Some of you were living, when it was torn down.  But, for twenty eight years, from 1961 to 1989 there was a wall in Germany.  It was The Berlin Wall.  It was ninety-six miles long.  Twenty seven of those miles were in the city of Berlin.  The wall was twelve feet high.  It divided the Communist East from the Democratic West.  It was a very visible sign, this wall of hostility.  After twenty-eight years, that wall of hostility came down.

That is a pretty good visual picture of “the wall of hostility” that is there between ourselves, and God, because of our sin.  It is a wall, a barrier, that we can't go over.  We can't go around.  We can't go under, because of our sin. 

So, here in our text for today, the Apostle Paul doesn't ask these questions.  But, these are really the three things he is getting at that talks about what God has done, because of it.  He really looks at these three things.

-What change took place?
-Why did this take place?
-What was the result, because of it?

Let's look at each one, methodically.

So, what was the change that took place between The Old Testament, and The New Testament, to bring down this barrier, this wall of hostility?  We need to understand the wall went up, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.  God established three laws.  You have heard me talk of these three laws before. 

-One was The Civil Law.  These were laws for the Jewish people, only, for the Israelites.  The Civil Law were civic laws, or political laws.  They talked about the Jewish way of life, from a political perspective with God.

-The second one was The Ceremonial Law.  The Ceremonial Law was the worship law, what the people were to do, and were not to do in their interaction with God, and for the Jewish people, only.

-The third law is The Moral Law.  The Moral Law is for all people of all times, Jews and Gentiles, ourselves today.  The Moral Law is simply The Ten Commandments. 

And so, here in The Old Testament, for God's people, there were all of these laws, and all of these rules, and regulations, particularity for the Jewish people, The Civil Law and The Ceremonial Law.

So, the change took place when Jesus was born.  The change took place, when Jesus lived.  And, the change took place, when Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday.  When He said,

“It is finished”,

what happened?  Jesus knocked down that wall of hostility.  Maybe a good word picture, or visual picture of that is when Jesus said, “It is finished”, the curtain in the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  The Ceremonial Law was done away with.  And, The Civil Law was done away with.  It was a change that took place between The Old Testament, and The New Testament.

Our text for today mentions that, when in verse fifteen it says by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.  So Jesus, with His death on the cross, abolished those laws, those regulations, getting rid of The Civil Law, and The Ceremonial Law.

Why did God do that?  He did that so that we would be brought back in to a right relationship with Him.  The word Paul uses in our text for today is the word 'reconcile'.  Sometimes we have different synonyms we use for the word 'reconcile'.  It simply means 'to make friendly of those who once were enemies'.  But, sometimes we may talk about 'making peace'.  Or, 'kissing, and making up'.  Or, 'burying the hatchet'.  Those might be some synonyms we use.  But, the word 'reconcile' is really a great picture of 'what God has done for us'.  In the book of 2 Corinthians, a very clear way of saying it succinctly is this. 

“God reconciled us to Himself,

through Christ.” 

Now, notice that sentence. 

“God reconciled us to Himself,

through Christ.” 

Notice who is doing all of the action, and who is doing all of the receiving.  God is doing all of the action.  God reconciled us.  God did everything that was necessary for our salvation.  We are just the passive recipient of what God has done for us, in Christ.  Isn't that awesome?  God brought us back into a right relationship with Him, and He did everything. 

So now, what do we have, because God has reconciled us to Himself, through Christ?  We now have peace. 

We have peace with God,

and God wants us to have peace with one another. 

Usually, at the end of a sermon here at Holy Cross, we close with words of peace when we say,

“The peace of God,

which passes all understanding,

guard your hearts and minds,

through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

The reason we are able to say that is because we know we have been reconciled.  God did all of the work.  Wow!  That is awesome!  And we now have this peace with God.

What is the result?  What is the result of this change that has taken place?  Well, the result is this.  Again, God did all of the work, and we have been reconciled to God.  Paul, through God's Word, wants us to be reconciled with one another.  In The Lord's Prayer, we say,

“Forgive us our trespasses”,

(that is God forgiving us)

“as we forgive those who trespass against us”. 

In the immediate context the Apostle Paul wanted the Jews and the Gentiles, who had differences, know that they were both brothers and sisters in Christ.  They had been reconciled.  They were now one with Christ, and they should be reconciled to one another, because God had reconciled themselves to Him. 

Which gets us maybe into the most familiar two verses in our text for today.  (Many of the youth here have memorized them in classes, here at Holy Cross, and also many of you have memorized them, as well.)  In verses nineteen, and twenty, it says consequently we are “no longer foreigners and strangers, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God's household.  You have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Cornerstone.” 

Our faith is built on scripture.  It was the prophets who wrote the books of The Old Testament.  It was the apostles who wrote the books of The New Testament.  They all talk about Jesus, and our faith is built on Christ, and our foundation is scripture.  Our foundation is scripture, and we who come from many different backgrounds, what are we now?  We are one in Christ.

And so, I want to conclude with sharing these two things with you.  When Pastor Bartels, and I take people through our Bible Information Class, there is one question we get to that asks this.  It is a true/false statement.  The question is this.  One good pastor will win more souls for Christ, than a dozen well trained members.  Before I ask the question, I tell people, “Be honest.  I don't want you to be afraid of the answer, so be honest.”  The answer to that question is false.  I love the description that is given right after the question.  Here is the description that is given in the material we used.  “Neither pastor, nor laymen wins souls for Christ.  The Holy Spirit does.”  So, that is a good reminder that it is the Holy Spirit who brings us to faith to believe in Jesus, as our Savior.  

Then, it goes on to say, “A congregation can bring the Gospel to more un-churched families if members, and pastors work together in evangelism. 

I just love that sentence.  I love that sentence especially with the current circumstances that we are in, here at Holy Cross.  We are getting ready to expand our school.  More, and more students are enrolling in our school.  Did you know that more than 50% of the students enrolled in school, here at Holy Cross, are not members of Holy Cross.  55% of the kids in school are not members of Holy Cross.  What a wonderful opportunity for pastors, teachers, and members to work together to strengthen the youth in the classroom in their faith in Jesus, as their Savior, so that we can be one in Christ. 

Our Early Learning Center is growing.  Did you know that in our Early Learning Center 87% of the youth are not members of Holy Cross.  87%!  What a wonderful opportunity for pastors, teachers, and members to strengthen those youth, and families in faith in Jesus, as their Savior, so we can be one in Christ. 

That is a wonderful application Paul gives us from our text for today.

I want to close by saying this.  Near the end of our text Paul says,

“In Him the whole building...grows.” 

For the past number of months, you can't help but drive past our sanctuary, as it is going up.  The excitement, as we are about one month away from worshiping in our brand new space.  I know everybody is excited about that.  As I was doing my final preparation for this sermon, I was looking at some commentaries that talked about the phrase, “In Him the whole building...grows.” 

I want to close with one paragraph from The People's Bible Series, on the book of Ephesians that speaks about this point.  Envision our building as it is going up, here.  “As carpenters, and craftsmen add more, and more component parts to a building, as it proceeds toward competition, so Christ is building His church, one believer at a time.  Each believer is carefully fitted into his, or her own niche.  All are known by name.  All are important to the builder.  All fulfill a purpose.  And Paul can give his readers this assurance.  In Christ, you too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” 

How awesome it is that a change was made.  How awesome it is that God did it so that results could be made.  Look at what God has done for us.  He has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.  We are now brought back into a right relationship with Him, because of what our Savior, Jesus has done.  We can say today, “We are one in Christ!”

God grant this for Jesus, our Savior's sake.