«~Ephesians Chapter Two~ “Brought Near By The Blood of Christ” A story was told of a man who loved old books. He met an acquaintance who had just ...»
~Ephesians Chapter Two~
“Brought Near By The Blood of Christ”
A story was told of a man who loved old books. He met an
acquaintance who had just thrown away a Bible that had been
stored in the attic of his ancestral home for generations. “I
couldn’t read it,” the friend explained. “Somebody named Guten-
something had printed it.”
“Not Gutenberg!” the book lover exclaimed in horror. “That
Bible was one of the first books ever printed. Why, a copy just
sold for over two million dollars!” His friend was unimpressed.
“Well, this one wouldn’t have brought a dollar. Some fellow named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German.” The man did not realize what he had!
Is it possible that we do not know what we really have IN CHRIST? Could a professing Christian spend his or her entire life not knowing what is Christ’s intended and full inheritance which He has laid up in store for those whom He so loves? Is it possible we treat as invaluable WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE, BECAUSE WE
DON’T TRULY GRASP WHAT IS OURS IN HIM AND IN HIM ALONE?
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
~Brought Near by His Blood~ 11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — 12 that at that time you 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 you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you 4 who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Verse 1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” The Bible powerfully declares that God sees all people whom He alone created, as having infinite worth and value. This truth is powerfully affirmed in John 3:16 which begins, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” But we err to our own destruction and the eternal damnation of others if we conclude we are basically good; we are automatically children of God; and our “default” destination is Heaven with Christ. Oh no, the Bible declares we are spiritually dead apart from the saving grace and mercy made available to us through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary!
Sadly, in our time the Gospel is being altered not just by those in the traditional and liberal traditions, but popular “former evangelical” teacher Rob Bell seems intent on insuring his listeners that hell as described and defined in the Bible has been wrongfully interpreted by the true church for over 2,000 years. Dr.
5 Michael Brown’s website, (he is a trusted and godly teacher…) contains this review of Bell’s book.
In his book “Love Wins,” Bell as the subtitle suggests, “Is a book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.” Here’s the gist: Hell is what we create for ourselves when we reject God’s love. Hell is both a present reality for those who resist God and a future reality for those who die unready for God’s love. Hell is what we make of heaven when we cannot accept the good news of God’s forgiveness and mercy. But hell is not forever.
God will have his way. How can his good purposes fail? Every sinner will turn to God and realize he has already been reconciled to God, in this life or in the next. There will be no eternal conscious torment. God says no to injustice in the age to come, but he does not pour out wrath (we bring the temporary suffering upon ourselves), and he certainly does not punish for eternity. In the end, love wins.” How tragically apostate and heretical and unscriptural Rob Bell’s teaching is! It reminds me of what German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about “Cheap Grace.” Let me give you the context of Bonhoeffer’s words.
"The time is fulfilled for the German people of Hitler. It is because of Hitler that Christ, God the helper and redeemer, has become effective among us. …Hitler is the way of the Spirit and the will of God for the German people to enter the Church of Christ." So spoke German pastor Hermann Gruner. Another pastor put it more succinctly: "Christ has come to us through Adolph Hitler."
at least to most Germans. One exception was theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was determined not only to refute this idea but also to topple Hitler, even if it meant killing him.
Bonhoeffer was not raised in a particularly radical environment. He was born into an aristocratic family. His mother was daughter of the preacher at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and his father was a prominent neurologist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Berlin.
All eight children were raised in a liberal, nominally religious environment and were encouraged to dabble in great literature and the fine arts. Bonhoeffer's skill at the piano, in fact, led some in his family to believe he was headed for a career in music. When at age 14, Dietrich announced he intended to become a minister and theologian, the family was not pleased.
Bonhoeffer graduated from the University of Berlin in 1927, at age 21, and then spent some months in Spain as an assistant pastor to a German congregation. Then it was back to Germany to write a dissertation, which would grant him the right to a university appointment. He then spent a year in America, at New York's Union Theological Seminary, before returning to the post of lecturer at the University of Berlin.
During these years, Hitler rose in power, becoming chancellor of Germany in January 1933, and president a year and a half later. Hitler's anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions intensified— as did his opposition, which included the likes of theologian Karl Barth, Pastor Martin Niemoller, and the young Bonhoeffer.
Together with other pastors and theologians, they organized the Confessing Church, which announced publicly in its Barmen Declaration (1934) its allegiance first to Jesus Christ: "We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must 7 recognize yet other happenings and powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God. … " In the meantime, Bonhoeffer had written The Cost of Discipleship (1937), a call to more faithful and radical obedience to Christ and a severe rebuke of comfortable Christianity: "Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
During this time, Bonhoeffer was teaching pastors in an underground seminary, Finkenwalde (the government had banned him from teaching openly). But after the seminary was discovered and closed, the Confessing Church became increasingly reluctant to speak out against Hitler, and moral opposition proved increasingly ineffective, so Bonhoeffer began to change his strategy. To this point he had been a pacifist, and he had tried to oppose the Nazis through religious action and moral persuasion.
Now he signed up with the German secret service (to serve as a double agent—while traveling to church conferences over Europe, he was supposed to be collecting information about the places he visited, but he was, instead, trying to help Jews escape Nazi oppression). Bonhoeffer also became a part of a plot to overthrow, and later to assassinate, Hitler.
As his tactics were changing, he had gone to America to become a guest lecturer. But he couldn't shake a feeling of responsibility for his country. Within months of his arrival, he wrote theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, "I have made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will have 8 no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people."
Bonhoeffer, though privy to various plots on Hitler's life, was never at the center of the plans. Eventually his resistance efforts (mainly his role in rescuing Jews) was discovered. On an April afternoon in 1943, two men arrived in a black Mercedes, put Bonhoeffer in the car, and drove him to Tegel prison.
Bonhoeffer spent two years in prison, corresponding with family and friends, pastoring fellow prisoners, and reflecting on the meaning of "Jesus Christ for today."
Eventually, Bonhoeffer was transferred from Tegel to Buchenwald and then to the extermination camp at Flossenbürg.
On April 9, 1945, one month before Germany surrendered, he was hanged with six other resisters.
A decade later, a camp doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer's hanging described the scene: "The prisoners … were taken from their cells, and the verdicts of court martial read out to them.
Through the half-open door in one room of the huts, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued in a few seconds. In the almost 50 years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."
preach the Good News! Dietrich took a stand in defense of the true faith in the face of those who wanted to redefine the church, the inerrant Word of God, and the only means by which eternal salvation can come to any human soul!
And the true Gospel which is powerfully summarized in Ephesians chapter two pointedly declares the former condition of every truly saved person with this startling affirmation, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” We are not nice people who are made a little nicer; we are dead people who are made spiritually alive through Christ’s work on the cross!
Salvation is from sin and eternal death and damnation, which characterizes life before Christ. In the very first verse of Ephesians two there is perhaps no clearer statement in Scripture on the sinfulness of man apart from Christ. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” The wages, or payment, for sin is death (Romans 6:23), and because man is born in sin he is born to death. Man does not become spiritually dead because he sins; he is spiritually dead because by nature he is sinful! Except for Jesus Christ, that is the condition of every human being since the fall of man, including every believer before he is saved. It is the past condition of believers and the present condition of everyone else, who has yet to surrender their heart and soul to Christ.
Man's basic trouble is not being out of harmony with his heritage or his environment but being out of harmony with his Creator. His principal problem is not that he cannot make meaningful relationships with other human beings but that he has no right relationship to God, from whom he is alienated by sin (Ephesians 4:18). His condition has nothing to do with the way he lives; it has to do with the fact that he is dead even while he is 10 alive. He is spiritually dead while being physically alive. Because he is dead to God, he is dead to spiritual life, truth, righteousness, inner peace and happiness, and ultimately to every other good thing!