21: We ARE The Building
**To kick off our Daniel series, and in preparation for moving into our new home on October 18th, the elders have invited our church family to a 28-day season of prayer and fasting. These daily devotionals correspond with the 28-day Bible reading countdown to the day we celebrate our soft opening.**
“WE ARE the Building!”
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” - Ephesians 2:19-22
Some have called Ephesians the Magna Carta of the Church…Paul unveils such foundational doctrine concerning the Body of Christ.
Others have called it the Mt. Everest of the New Testament…because Paul leads us to such breathtaking heights of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ.
Whether the Magna Carta or Mt. Everest, it’s worthy of our attention and worthy of the climb!
In chapter 2, Paul moves from the Grand Scheme of the purpose and plan of God for salvation, (to the praise of the glory of His grace)…to the personal application…how this salvation, this power, gets applied to individuals.
We move from the summit of Mt. Everest down into the village where you and I live.
How do we get included in this mind-blowing reality?
Paul connects the big picture to all Christians, personally. If you are a Christian, Paul is saying, “This is what has happened to you.” And if you’re not a Christian, Paul is saying, “This is what you need to know and believe.”
Twice we see a similar pattern in Ephesians 2… first for all Christians, and then specifically regarding Gentiles (non-Jews) who were “far off” from the people and presence of God.
It goes like this:
- This is who you were (by nature) - v.1-3
- This is what happened - v.4-7
- This is who you are now (by grace) - v.8-10
And then again:
- This is who Gentiles were without Christ - v. 11-12
- This is what happened through Christ and the Cross - v. 13-18
- This is who Gentiles are now in Christ - v. 19-22
Let’s take a quick peek at the first set… Paul describes the state or condition of humanity outside of Christ, prior to salvation. It’s not great.
We’ll start with the facts.
Dead. Not sick, not drowning. Dead (in our trespasses and sins). In other words, you were a corpse.
It gets worse.
Enslaved. Following the ways of the world. Enslaved to controlling forces. You were a corpse caught in the current of a powerful river.
But it gets worse.
Doomed. Children of wrath. Wrath was waiting. You were a corpse, caught in the current, heading toward Niagara Falls
There were external forces (the course of this world), supernatural forces (the prince of the power of the air), and internal forces (the cravings of our sinful nature) all at work in your … non-life.
Are you getting the picture? Um. Yeah. We were in a pickle.
These forces, Paul says, are at work in us, around us, and on us from the time of our birth.
Without those straight-no-chaser truths, you’ll yawn when you hear the gospel. But when you realize the reality of your condition… you’re ready for the truly good news.
And it starts like this:
Those are amazing words in verse 4, aren’t they?
We were dead, enslaved, and doomed… BUT GOD… (1) made us alive; (2) raised us up; (3) seated us in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus who was raised!
Talk about a rush!
Our lungs filled with air - the dead man/woman lives! - By faith we grabbed the gospel rope that brought us to life, and through union with Christ on the solid shore, we were pulled from the current! And further more, we were lifted and rescued, never to go crashing over the Falls!
That’s what happened. And God did it all. By grace you’ve been saved!
Who are you now?
Well, you’re saved by grace through faith, that’s who. You’re Alive, You’re Raised, and You’re Seated, that’s who. You’re His workmanship. That’s who. You’re a new creation in Christ. That’s who. You’re called to good works, not in order to come alive, but because you’ve been raised to life, to a new life, to walk in good works. That’s who.
If you’ve ever wondered why Christians love to sing and praise Jesus, now you know.
Now quickly to the second set… since most of us reading this are likely Gentiles, Paul gives us a double dose in the second half of Ephesians 2.
You and I were outsiders. Separated. Far off. Gentiles were outsiders. Observers at best, obstacles at worst. Dirty, uncircumcised, sinners. We weren’t the chosen ones. The Jews were the chosen ones.
What does it feel like to be an outsider? A stranger? To be restricted, picked on, looked down on, ridiculed? To be “out”?
Remember Rudy? The Notre Dame football player ‘wannabe’.
Now, if you’ve seen the movie you know how the story ends - but do you remember the pain, the discouragement, disappointment and limitations, ridicule he experienced and endured in his quest to play football for Notre Dame? First was getting accepted into the school... then getting added to the team...first the practice squad...then getting to actually suit up for a game...let alone actually getting to go out on the field in a real game.
Every step of the way there was always another obstacle or barrier where only certain selected persons received the privilege and right to have access.And don’t we love to fight and cheer for the underdog? For the outsider? You can hear the crowds...“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”In a way, that story is an echo of the True Story. This is what Jesus came to do for the Gentiles, and for you and me. He came to give us access, to bring us “in”... we get to be on the team, in the locker room, on the field, in the game - full access!
Through the gospel, God is up to something in the world… He is creating a new community… bringing together Jew and Gentile. For those who are far off, there is now available to you, “peace with God.”
And through the gospel, friends, there is even a supernatural peace with one another. We could use a dose of that right now.
That’s what happened for Gentiles (you and me) through Christ and the Cross.
Well, here’s the crescendo.
It starts with… “Consequently”… or “So then”… at the beginning of v.19. The verse at the top of this post.
These verses describe an INCREDIBLE progression.
In Christ, through faith in Him, through salvation in Him…we now have a new identity. New position. New condition. New community. New family.
It goes like this:
You’re no longer Strangers (no privilege, no rights, far off, totally out).
You’re not even Aliens (limited privilege, limited rights, we acknowledge you’re here, but you’re not one of us yet, you’re still not “in”.)
The gospel is better than that. God doesn’t just “tolerate” us being here.
You are Fellow Citizens… with full rights and full privileges in the new society of the saints… you’re “in”!!
But it gets even better than that…
You’re Family. Members of the household of God! Not only a citizen with rights and privileges, with position in the society, but you’re in the Family… you get behind the scenes, full access!! Not onto a college football team, not into a business club, not the A-list in Hollywood, not a backstage pass at the concert, not behind the lines of a crime scene or fire…but access to GOD. Into the very presence and favor and love and people of God.
This is who you are now, where you are now, and what you are now.
You’re invited on to the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus himself as the Chief Cornerstone of what God is building and doing in the world.
And hold on...
You are not just IN the dwelling of God… you ARE the dwelling of God.
We, the Church, the new unified people of God… WE ARE a holy temple in the the Lord.
WE ARE the building.
Where God dwells.
This would have THUNDERED in the ears of the original hearers in Ephesus!
Ephesus was home to one of the ancient wonders of the world - the Temple of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of fertility. These Gentiles, many saved from pagan religious beliefs, had believed that there were sacred places and rituals and shrines and stones. But Paul preached then and preaches now… you ARE that temple. Those stones. That sacred dwelling.
And I’m saying, Grace City not only HAS a new amazing building to gather in to worship Jesus and build community and live like family and welcome those who are far off to be “in"… but Grace City Church IS an amazing building… we the people… when people come to the “building", they’ll get to meet the “Building”… and when they meet the Building, in a way, they’re meeting God…cause that’s where He dwells.
Breathtaking views, breathtaking news. Applied right to my soul. Ephesians 2.
You’re an amazing Building, Grace City.
Here’s my prayer… “Keep building us, Lord!”