Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Church of the Broken-Down Wall

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Church of the Broken-Down Wall

Chapter Twenty-two
The Church of the Broken-Down Wall
(Ephesians 2:14)

In Ephesians 2:14, God’s Word informs us that Jesus Has “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us {Jews and Gentiles}.  This text reveals some great and undeserved blessings from God.  Most people expect God’s blessings without ever trying to be a blessing to Him.  This delusion should never be part of a true believer’s view of the Christian life.  The fact is that ONLY those truly trying to be a blessing to God and live for Him should ever expect to be blessed by God.  Secondly, most true blessings from God are spiritual, not material. 

Matthew chapters five through seven are the blessings and curse instructions for believer-priests (the Church) of the New Covenant.  These governing principles cannot be ignored or minimized if a believer-priest, or local church of believer-priests, want to be blessed of God.  Because these truths are minimalized and marginalized, most believers expect blessings from God of which they really have no investment and for which they have no hope.  Expectations of God’s blessings while living in contradiction to the conditions for those blessings is radically delusional.  The difference between Old Covenant expectations of believers and New Covenant expectations is that those expectations are HIGHER UNDER THE NEW COVENANT.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).

In I Peter 2:5, God speaks of all Church Age believers as living stones making up a living temple for the indwelling of the living God.  In the “living stone” metaphor, God wants us to see a remarkable truth that reflects possibilities in numerous dimensions of impossibilities.  It is beyond us to imagine a stone that grows and moves on its own accord.  Stones normally do not grow and they certainly do not move unless operated upon by some outside force.  Secondly, although God is omnipresent, we would not think that it important to Him to dwell in stones, living or otherwise.  We must see the supernatural nature of the New Creation within this metaphor of the Church. 

1 Wherefore laying aside {casting off or away} all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes {singular and individual}, desire {intensely crave} the sincere {undeceitful or unadulterated} milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby {‘ye’ is plural, therefore corporate church growth}: 3 If so be ye have tasted {Psalm 34:8; O taste and see that the Lord is good,’ just as a baby once having tasted his mother’s milk cries for it again and again} that the Lord is gracious {a blessing God; to have tasted of the truths of grace that lead a person to a salvation decision and removal from the curse, must thereby create a longing to continue to drink of the goodness of God through the study of God’s Word}. 4 To whom {Jesus} coming, as unto a living stone {refers to the incarnation of God into humanity}, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones {living clay; regenerated}, are built up a spiritual house {‘the Church of the firstborn,’ Hebrews 12:23}, an holy priesthood, to {the intended purpose of this new priesthood} offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ {the believer’s High Priest; Romans 12:1-2}. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient {the unbelieving, Jesus rejecting Jews and all unbelievers inclusively}, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner {of the New Creation and ‘church of the firstborn’}, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word {corrupted priesthood of Israel and all corrupted by works salvation today}, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye {the ‘church of the firstborn’} are a chosen {vocationally as the new Melchizedekian priesthood} generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him {the primary occupation of believer-priests} who hath called {vocationally} you out of darkness {the cursed creation and ignorance} into his marvellous light {the New Creation and enlightenment through Scriptural knowledge}: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy {verb tense and voice means at the moment conversion in the individual’s event in being ‘born again’ ‘by grace through faith’ in Christ}” (I Peter 2:1-10).

Stones metaphorically represent men “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13) and powerless to any hope of living righteous lives apart from a complete transformation of their existence.  The fact that they are living stones represents the fact that they are still human, sinners, and that their transformation will not be complete until they are fully glorified.  

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what makes these stones living stones.  The filling of the Holy Spirit is what makes it possible for sinful beings to live righteously in this world.  The indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit is what makes it possible for any local church to be holy before the Lord and to become a holy Temple in which the Lord may dwell and be worshiped “in Spirit and in truth.”  There are depths of truth in this metaphor that make the incomprehensible operations of God comprehensible in some small way.  The metaphor helps explain how it is possible for believers to become “workers together” with God (II Corinthians 6:1).

Early in the three-year ministry of Jesus, we find Him talking with a woman at a well near the city of Sychar in Samaria.  The well was known as “Jacob’s well.”  This well was a Jewish historical landmark.  At this point in history, the well was being used primarily by the citizens of the city of Sychar – all Samaritans.  At Jacob’s well, Jesus foretells of a remarkable coming transition.  Worship would no longer be through the Mosaic Covenant and through the sacrifices and holy days in Jerusalem.  Believers everywhere could worship God directly “in spirit and in truth.” 

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24). 

It is to this dispensational transition that Paul speaks in Ephesians 2:11-22. 

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments {Mosaic Covenant} contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple {of living stones} in the Lord: 22 In whom ye {plural, collectively as the Church constructed of saved Jews and saved Gentiles} also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:11-22).

As “born again” believers, there is a Divine expectation that the descriptors of what we were (Ephesians 2:11-12) should not be the descriptors of what we are as new creatures (Ephesians 2:13-22).  Ephesians 2:13-22 speak of a new potential that is available to all “born again” believers in Jesus Christ.  Ignorance and selfish carnality keep believers living in the natural and from living in the supernatural aspects of their new existence “in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).  In their ignorance and selfish carnality, people confuse happiness with joy and moments of worldly pleasures for fulfillment of their soul’s needs.  Those fleeting moments of happiness and pleasure leave their lives empty of anything that has any lasting merit.  They cannot understand why their Christianity does not work.  Their Christianity does not work because their Christianity is not real Christianity. 

All true Jews saw themselves at war with all Gentiles.  Therefore, most of the Jews at the time of Jesus hated king Herod.  Herod was an Idumean (from the country of Edom) governor of Judea who was appointed governor by the Roman Empire.  All true Jews hated this but tolerated it as long as they were allowed freedom to worship as they saw fit.  Gentiles were not allowed inside the Temple.  There was a Court of the Gentiles outside of the Temple, but they were not allowed beyond the Soreg Inscription written in Greek.

“No foreigner is to enter the barriers surrounding the sanctuary.  He who is caught will have himself to blame for his death which will follow.”

Only faithful Jewish men and women were allowed beyond the Soreg Inscription.  Only faithful Jewish men were allowed inside the Court of the Israelites.  There were walls separating these various courts, which in turn separated believers from unbelievers in allowing entrance beyond the Soreg Inscription from the Court of the Gentiles.  Even faithful believers require ritual washings before being allowed entrance to the inner courts.  Jesus even condemned what was being allowed in the Court of the Gentiles before the Soreg Inscription saying they had made His “house a house of merchandise” (John 2:16).  The wall upon which the Soreg Inscription was place was known as “the middle wall” to which Paul refers in Ephesians 2:14.

The lie of the “false teacher” is that God really does not care how you live your life.  The argument for liberty to the point of license is the argument of the “false teacher.”  This type of “false teacher” is the most dangerous of all corruptors for he redefines purity in aberrant ways that appeal to the person who does not want to make the personal sacrifices necessary to moral and practical purity before God.  Therefore, God gives the strongest of warnings against this type of “false teacher” (II Peter 2:1). Perhaps the greatest aberration of Christianity is to take the Name of Christ without seeking to live the life of Christ.  Trying to do God’s work in the power of the “old man” is a primary reason why the Church is failing the Great Commission!

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Peter 2:1).

18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:18-22). 

As already said, the emphasis between the words “circumcision” and “uncircumcision” in Ephesians 2:11 is the sanctity offered to the believer within a covenant with God.  Remaining within the conditions of the covenant was the requirement for sanctity before God.  Do not confuse sanctification with salvation.  Sanctification is defined in Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

The Mosaic Covenant also defined how someone, once defiled, could be once again purified.  Circumcision was the Jewish sign of those governed by the “commonwealth of Israel” in the Mosaic Covenant (Ephesians 2:12).  The word “commonwealth” is from the Greek word politeia (pol-ee-ti'-ah).  The most basic meaning of the word “commonwealth” is polity, defining how a community of people is governed.  In other words, those of the “circumcision” agreed to be governed by the polity defined by the Mosaic Covenant given to the nation of Israel.  The Gentiles, “who are called uncircumcision” by the Jews, were outside of the Mosaic Covenant and outside of the polity and governance of national Israel (Ephesians 2:11).  The Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).  The word “aliens” means the Gentles were non-participants in the governing polity of Israel.  They were “strangers” regarding the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants and therefore ignorant of both salvation “by grace through faith” and sanctity through the purification of blood typified in the sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant.  Without these messages regarding salvation and sanctification, the Gentiles had “no hope” and were “without God in the world” (Ephesians 4:12).

“But now in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:13) – these glorious words of hope burst forth like the Sunrise out of the pitch-black darkness of night.  Sadly, the extreme spiritual darkness in the world was due to the failure of Israel to maintain her separation from worldliness and sanctification unto God.  God would begin with a new remnant of faithful believers in the Apostles of Jesus Christ.  They would be the first generation of hundreds of generations of “born again” Christians with a missional vision to reach the word with the message of redemption through the ministry of reconciliation as personal ambassadors of Jesus Christ.  The point of this statement of “but now in Christ Jesus” is that those that are “born again” ought to cease living as fallen beings.  There is now another option that is radically new and radically wonderful.  We can now live to the glory of God.  The supernatural workmanship of God “in Christ Jesus” is working in our lives to the potential end of producing God-kind righteousness through our lives. 

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made {cause to become} the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

          The words “might be made” are all translated from the Greek word ginomai (ghin’-om-ahee).  The word means to become.  It is present tense and subjunctive mood (the mood of potential or possibility); therefore, the word “might” is provided to represent the subjunctive mood.  The point is that there is no reason or excuse for a “born again” believer to live as a fallen creature any longer.  Living as a fallen creature is a complete contradiction of our new potential “in Christ Jesus.” 

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

No comments: