7/23/06, P7B

One New Humanity
Ephesians 2:12-22

12. Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens 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 is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16. and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18. for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20. built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22. in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (NRSV)

oday’s text records an observation Saint Paul made as he writes a pastoral letter to the Ephesian Church, and to the other established churches and newly forming cluster groups. Most of these new converts to Christianity had not been Old Testament Jews but came to faith in Christ much like we did. We came directly to Him without first becoming a Hebrew believer. The new Church members at Ephesus may have expressed some concern as to whether they should back up and submit to the Laws of the Old Testament and then come later to Christ

No, Paul is saying, you do not have to divert back to the Old Testament Law because Christ has ushered in a brand new dispensation of Grace. Just as we here at St. John Methodist came into the Christian Faith directly by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, all other non-Jewish persons can come still today.

“One New Humanity” is what Saint Paul called this new religion.

It was not a new political movement that was being born in the first century. It was not an organization to chase the Roman Empire out of the Mediterranean area. But it was one open group that was announcing that God has come to save us through faith in His Son.

A negative example of unification is that prior to World War Two Fascist groups were trying to create a one world government by force. After WW II groups of Communists took over the governments of many nations on their way to creating a militaristic Communist One World Order.

The “One New Humanity” that Paul is talking about is specifically dealing with the coming together of Jews and Gentiles through faith in God’s plan for the salvation of the world, beginning with the amalgamation of the first century Jews and Christians.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (NASV)

God’s plan was intended to invite all people into this New Humanity, but since He would not force individuals to believe, many refused to accept this New Testament form of faith in Christ as the pathway to relationship with God. “AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR.” (v. 17)

Verse 20 makes it clear that, “…having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone, (v.21) in whom the whole building , being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”  

It has been true that over the ensuing two millennium years those who have accepted Christ have found a fulfilling inward sense of the presence of God.  Ours has been a religion of peace and righteousness. At times the Christian world has had to enter into “just wars” against renegade governments that have threatened to annihilate the world.

The point of the last verse in today’s text is that the Christians in the world have been “built together,” and guided by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. (v. 22)

This text seems to remain directly applicable to us in several ways.

First, we need to heighten our efforts at proclaiming Christ as the unifying force for peace among all people. Additionally, we need to listen for the still small voice of the Spirit leading us in this ministry of proclaiming the Good News to all people everywhere and, as far as is possible, to be peacemakers.

And we should never become discouraged. We must remember that we are about a holy purpose in building up the Kingdom to redeem all humanity; or, at lease those on our streets. If the whole Church would take more seriously the high calling we might come closer to fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission to reach all people everywhere with the Gospel of the Cross.  If every local church would offer a wonderful Vacation Bible School to its own children, and to the children of the community, the New Humanity would begin to be formed in many lives. If we churches everywhere would somehow open our doors to all seekers, as we do here, then people everywhere would stop a minute to consider the message of the Cross. There are many lost souls that we can reach  with the life changing hope and love of Christ that they will never hear it if we do not proclaim the Good News of Salvation.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
7/23/06, P7B