Ephesians 2:19-22 March 8, 2015am:
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Illustration: I recall a surprise visit to see my parents in Halifax in January. Only my sister knew I was coming, I arrived at the airport 11:30pm only to discover the city was at a standstill, due to a major snow storm. I had to find my own way to the Holiday Inn Express, not knowing the city I had to trust a man who was there to pick up a client. We worked out a deal I arrived at the Hotel 2am. My Sister still waiting to give birth to her second child met me the next morning….I remember Gerald asking if I want to see the baby being born, I said no I’ll wait and see it clean.
It is exciting to witness new converts come to Christ, to see them grow and mature in the Lord. Yet, church it is our responsibility to nurture, to support, and to teach them to follow Jesus. But we need to handle them with care often we point the finger at their mistakes instead of supporting them with love. We are instructed to build one another up. It is much like I said to Gerald my brother in law I’ll see the baby when it is all cleaned up, in other words you take care of the mess and I’ll embrace the saint. I believe that is the approach the church desires to take except that is not what Jesus teaches. Yesterday a mature believer said to me “I’d prefer to show mercy than to display judgment.” As the church of God grows and it will we need to embrace the fact that new converts will bring excess baggage with them. Let us be reminded that it is not our responsibility to remove the baggage that is the role of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God.
Converts, no longer sinners or outcasts, no longer excluded from citizenship with God’s people and members of God’s household. Just think, every converted sinner is one of the family, a servant, a child in God’s house.
What a joy to belong to the family of God, notice no longer an alien, or foreigner, in other words no longer an outcast but to be part of the Greatest family on this earth; God’s family! Paul uses the word xenos for foreigner. In every Greek city there were xenos and their lives were not easy. They were regarded with suspicion and dislike. Paul uses another word paroikos He was a resident alien, a man who had taken up residence in a place but had never become a naturalized citizen; he paid tax for the privilege of existing in a land which was not his own. Foundation is laid through the teachings of the apostles teachings, Christ’s teachings let us build upon it with wisdom and knowledge from above. Whether a foreigner or alien you were always on the fringe.
A.B. Davidson tells how he was in lodgings in a strange city. He was lonely. He used to walk the streets at evening time. Sometimes through uncurtained window he could see a family sitting round the table or the fire in happy fellowship; then the curtain would be drawn and he would feel shut out, and lonely in the dark.
That is what cannot happen in the family of God. And that is what should never happen in a church. Men put up barriers; churches may keep their communion tables for their members. God never does; it is a tragedy of the church that it is so often more exclusive than God.
Illustration: Arriving from Yellowknife Debbie got work at Cleveland House, working for the T.D. Bank and I went down to the new church site and for almost a year every day worked from the footing to the roof top. Struggling to master the most remedial tasks and failing but I persevered. I learned from men who had done construction most of their lives and became good friends with them. Studying, watching, learning their skills and trying to be better equipped to the tasks left to do.
But the greatest Joy of working with the guys was they got to know me and I came to love and respect them. Debbie and I had six wonderful years of ministry at First Muskoka C.C.C. but I made mistakes but we were loved, were prayed over, and a part of their family and no longer aliens.
Christ support the building by His strength and in Him the whole building is joined together. All Believers are united to Christ by faith, and amongst themselves by Christian love.
Foundations Built Upon:
The joy of spiritual growth is to witness people growing and maturing, yesterday, I had the privilege to witness a young man share His faith with his peers, nervous yes, who wouldn’t be but He trusted Jesus, sought the Holy Spirit to guide Him, and did a marvelous job. But that is just the beginning, that’s how most of us got our start by embracing the opportunity. I look back over the years and I have to smile, thanks Dad for giving me the opportunity, reading scripture, sharing my testimony, praying and then preaching along with Sunday school teaching and youth work, visiting. I was unknowingly building upon a sure foundation that Jesus first laid when I invited Him into my heart some 40years ago this year in June.
Living in England and Scotland I have had the privilege of visiting some of the Cathedrals of the day, magnificent manmade structures built for worship to exalt our God. Paul sees every church as part of a great building and every Christian as a stone built into the church. Of the whole church Christ is the cornerstone is what holds everything together.
Paul reminds that it is not about us but the cornerstone is Jesus Christ, without the cornerstone the building could not stand.
1 Thessalonians 4:12 “so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
First and foremost remember you are not to win the approval of men but of God. Remain dependent of Jesus, pray and seek wisdom from God’s Word to guide you through life.
1 Timothy 3:7 “He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” Despite all these privileges, we see believer’s surrounded with various afflictions, but in this the Spirit’s intercession is always effective, that all this is working together for their good. We love God. God has called us. Remain faithful!!
We need to acknowledge that Jesus is at work in our lives first and foremost, secondly, we seek God’s approval especially when we fall under attack. Don’t fall into the trap the enemy has set for you, but remember as a child of the King we have the victory through what was accomplished at Calvary.
2 Peter 3:11 “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives”
How difficult is it to look past some ones faults or short comings. As a fellowship, as a part of the family of God our duty is to encourage one another, to spur each other on in the faith, and secondly to pray for the body.
Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
William Barclay writes these words: “That is what the church should be like. Its unity comes not from organization, or ritual or liturgy; it comes from Christ. Where Christ is, there is church. The church will realize her unity only when she realizes that she does not exist to propagate the point of view of any body of men, but to provide a home where the Spirit of Christ can dwell and where all men who love Christ can meet in that Spirit.”
Colossians 3:14-15 “ And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
"Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls." - Mathew 11:28