Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Church is One New Man

The Priesthood of the Believer
Expository Studies through the Epistle to the Ephesians
Chapter Twenty
The Church is One New Man

We must be careful to note the words “in himself” in Ephesians 2:15.  There is a Dispensational transition issue here of critical importance.  The importance is the difference between being in Adam and being “in Christ Jesus.”  In Adam refers to condemnation and God’s curse that promises the total destruction of the first creation.  “In Christ” refers to the New Creation and the promises of glorification and the creation of a new Heaven/Earth.  

The Dispensational transition issue is that Christ Jesus is the “firstborn” (Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15, 18) of “the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28; those resurrected AND glorified).  The next wave to hit the shores of “the regeneration” will be all “born again” believers after the day of Pentecost (Hebrews 12:23; I Thessalonians 4:16-17).  The third wave to hit the shores of “the regeneration” will be all “born again” believers martyred for Christ by the followers of the Antichrist during the Tribulation.  These believers will be resurrected and glorified at the second coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:4-6; along with the Old Testament saints). 

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 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 in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14-22).

Another critical issue in the words “in himself” in Ephesians 2:15 is to differentiate between union and unity.  The text is talking about union, not unity.  This can be simply illustrated by the marriage of a man and a woman.  It is easy to see their union in the marriage covenant.  The union of a man and a woman in marriage should never be dissolved in this life (Matthew 19:6).  However, their unity is not easily achieved and is regularly broken.  Unity is the hard work of a marriage relationship (Ephesians 5:22-32).  Union with Christ does not automatically translate into unity with Christ.  This is equally true of believers within local churches.  It is also a consideration necessary for cooperation between local churches.  These issues are dealt with extensively in Ephesians 4:1-16.  It is a radical mistake to presume unity automatically exists in union.  Union and unity are not the same. 
As Ephesians 2:14-22 details, clearly the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant were intended to extend beyond the physical descendants of Abraham to “whosoever.”  Clearly this is inclusive terminology, not exclusive terminology.  Church Age believers are integrated into the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.  However, Church Age believers are not under the Law (the Mosaic Covenant).  The Mosaic Covenant was added to the Abrahamic Covenant because of “transgressions.”

19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:19-29).

Clearly from the context of Romans chapters nine and ten, the Holy Spirit inspired choice of the word “whosoever” is intended to be a summary word that connects all “born again” people from all nations of the world to the eternal promises of God within the Abrahamic Covenant.  This is a truth constantly repeated in God’s progressive history with Abraham. 

Obviously, the intent of the word “whosoever” has the intent of universal application to anyone wanting salvation.  In simple words, salvation is universally available to “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord” (Romans 10:13).  There are no Jewish boundaries or ethnic limitations upon the universal availability of God’s free gift of salvation.  The only exclusion that can possibly be applied here is to those unwilling to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by an action of faith in repenting of sin, believing the objective facts of Gospel, confessing Jesus as Jehovah, calling on the Name of Jesus to save in helpless desperation, and receiving Jesus Christ in the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, thereby being regenerated. 
          The inclusive intent of “whosoever” is also very much a part of God’s dispensational transition in the progressive unfolding of the Abrahamic Covenant from the Mosaic Covenant into the New Covenant in Christ’s Blood.  This “whosoever” aspect of this transition into the New Covenant from the Mosaic Covenant was specifically revealed in the prophecy of Joel. 

          Undoubtedly, the primary focus of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 has to do with the Tribulation period (“the terrible day of the LORD”) between the rapture of the Church and the second coming of Messiah.  The message of the prophecy is not merely to Israel or national Jews living at that “terrible day,” but to all people groups, cultures, ethnicities, and/or language groups.  People from any of these groups could call upon the Name of Jehovah in faith in order to be “delivered” from the terrible judgment of God upon the nations of the world.  Although all nations inclusivistically would be judged, any individual from any of those nations (“whosoever”) could cry out to Jehovah in faith to be delivered. 
          Both the Apostle Peter in Acts chapter two and the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter ten are quoting from the text in Joel chapter two.  They are giving us a complimentary hermeneutic regarding how this text is to be understood through dispensational transitions.  Peter’s statements in Acts chapter two and Paul’s statements in Romans chapter ten give us the parameters of explanation in how the phrase “whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered” is practically expressed through faith in Jesus Christ and the accomplishments of the objective facts of the Gospel.  Although there is some clarification and explanation of what it means to “call on the name of the LORD,” the “whosoever” remains to be an inclusive term.
          During the Dispensation of Law and under the Mosaic Covenant, worshipping God came through a very definitive set of God ordained rules, sacrifices, and special days.  However, once the fulfillment of the Law was completed in Jesus Christ, the door into the regeneration no longer came through the Gospel in the Law.  Jesus became the Door into “the regeneration” to “whosever will.”  Ever since the completion of the work of redemption in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no one needs to become a Jewish proselyte once he/she is saved.  “Whosoever will” can be saved and delivered.  This is the Gospel of the Church Age and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

          Ephesians 2:14 tells us Jesus “is our peace.”  Sin introduced friction and enmity into human relationships and into our relationship with God.  Union with Jesus provides positional peace with God.  Unity with Jesus provides the yielded believer with practical peace with God in that yielding to His will naturally removes the friction that is produced from unbelief, doubt, and rebellion.  Union is the result of being saved “by grace through faith.”  Unity is the result of justified people living “by grace through faith.”  Extremely mature faith is the faith that is able to trust God with every aspect of one’s life by simply yielding to God’s will in every situation of life regardless of the consequences.  Peace with God comes through our union with Christ.  The peace of God comes through our unity with Christ.  It is the peace of God in our lives that enables the yielded believer to live in peace with others.  Paul spoke of this in Romans 12:9-21.

9 Let love be without dissimulation {any false or contradictory aspects}. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

          It is only through a righteous and fully yielded relationship to the “Head” that the “body” can ever live in peace with others or with God.  This is equally true of any potential for peace between Jews and Gentiles, between the rich and poor, or between those highly educated and those uneducated.  The words “he is our peace” in Ephesians 2:14 open a whole new world of existence for the yielded believer when his union with Christ also grows into unity with Christ.  The idea is that the Cross-work of Jesus Christ does not only reconcile lost sinners with God.  The Cross-work of Jesus Christ reconciles Jewish believers and Gentiles believers with one another.  However, this reconciliation is only available through the medium of salvation.  This is how Christ will establish peace in the world.  The Antichrist will offer a false peace through worldly manipulations and phony peace covenants.  Only Jesus will bring in true peace at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27).

          It seems apparent that the Antichrist will make a “covenant” of peace “with many” nations, probably offering peace by offering the enforcement of peace by the military powers under his control.  It is also apparent from Matthew 24:5 that he will not come in his own name, but pretending to possess power and authority from God.  He will come disguised as God’s Christ offering a pseudo-peace. 

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (I Thessalonians 5:1-4).

          The terms Jew and Gentile are intended to include all nationalities and language/ethnic groups.  The term Gentile refers to anyone that is not a physical descendant of Abraham.  Jews and Gentiles were separated by God choosing Israel as a nation through which the promised Messiah would be born.  Jews entered into the Abrahamic Covenant “by grace through faith” just as Abraham did.  Then God gave those within the Abrahamic Covenant another Covenant known as the Mosaic Covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant was added to the Abrahamic Covenant because “transgressions.”  “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Galatians 3:19).  Once Messiah finished the universal propitiation of God for all humanity, the Mosaic Covenant that was intended to keep the Jews pure as a nation, was no longer a needed “middle wall of partition” between Jews and Gentiles.  Salvation would unite Jews and Gentiles in “one new man” – the Church or the “body of Christ” with the living, glorified Jesus as its eternal High Priest and “Head.” 
Jesus removed “the middle wall of partition” by fulfilling every aspect of the moral and ceremonial Law.  Jesus lived a sinless life (II Corinthians 5:21) and fulfilled all the ceremonial and sacrificial types that merely were shadows of which He is the reality. 

1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:1-5).

1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:1-18).

The Mosaic Covenant described in detail how the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem were to be built.  There was a wall that separated the Court of the Gentiles from ever entering the Temple.  There was also a dividing wall between the Outer Court and the Holy of Holies.  Only the High Priest of Israel could enter the Holy of Holies and then only once each year.  After the death, burial, resurrection/glorification of Christ, all of these walls became unnecessary.  All believers of the Church Age have immediate and unlimited access to God.  This new privilege of the Church Age is probably the least understood of all privileges and the least used.  This misunderstanding is revealed when people see a church building necessary to prayer and worship, the replacement of Old Testament sacrifices with New Testament sacrifices, and the replacement of Old Testament priests with New Testament clergy.  All of these practices, rituals, and hierarchy completely deny the radical change that took place in the beginning of the New Covenant.  Jesus has provided rest to all believers from all of the shadows of rituals, liturgies, and Sacerdotalism.  In defining the labor of the new life in Christ, a major aspect of that definition is escaping from all the rituals, liturgies, and Sacerdotalism to enter into the freedoms of grace in the New Covenant where the believer can now worship God “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrew 4:11-16).

The word “enmity” in Ephesians 2:15 is an apposition to the words “middle wall of partition” in Ephesians 2:14.  An apposition is just another word or phrase that describes a previous word or phrase in another way.  How Christ accomplished the removal of “middle wall of partition” and how He “abolished in his flesh the enmity” is detailed in Ephesians 2:16 - “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” 

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (I Peter 1:18-21).

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:21-25).

The point of fulfilling the Law is that the Law testified against us.  The Law condemned us as all guilty before God.  The Law offers no help and no grace.  The Law simply pronounces the sinner guilty before God and deserving of eternal separation from God in Hell. 

9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:9-16).

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:18-21).

7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death” (Romans 7:7-10).

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:13-17).

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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