Rooted and Grounded in Love (3 of 3)
Before we start looking at the passage for this post, we are going to review the two passages at which we have already looked. First, let’s go to Ephesians chapter three we’ll look there:
 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
This passage is just before the middle mark of Ephesians. It is just before Paul transitions, moving from talking about what God has done to him telling that Christians of what they should do. In other words, Paul over all of the book is saying, “Here is what God has done,” in the first three chapters, then saying, “If you believe what I have said to you, do this” in the second three chapters, and in this text, Paul is closing the “What God has done” section.
In the actual text, Paul laid out the origin, the outpouring, and the purpose of the new status of the Christian believer. The origin of the new status is God. The outpouring, or how the new status looks, is faith and love. The purpose of the new status is for the glory of God. It is out of God’s love that he saves for his glory. Paul just before this passage had talked about the love that God has shown Christians in chapter 2 of Ephesians.
That is why, in the next post, we looked back at the first part of Ephesians chapter two, verses one through eleven.
 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)
In this passage, Paul established the work that needed to be done, how God did the work, then why he did it. The work was that we were dead and needed to be made alive. Could we do this ourselves? No, God had to do it for us, and that is what he did. God “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”. Why did he do this? For his glory. The next passage at which we are going to look follows a very similar structure. But, before we get there. There is a question that I want you to think about. Don’t overthink it.
What does it mean to be separated? Think about this, then come back and start reading.
It means to have a distance between two things. So, if I am separated from a building, am I it anymore? No. If I am separated from Christ, am I in Christ? No. If I am separated from the covenants of promise, am I in the covenants of promise? No. If I am separated from hope, do I have hope? Now, let’s go to the passage in Ephesians chapter 2.
 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (ESV)
As the text yesterday focused on God’s work to make the dead come to life, today’s passage is about God’s work in making those who are separated from him close to him. Again, we see radical words used to talk about the radical change that God has done in Christians. God has taken those who are separated, alienated, and strangers and made them near, at peace, fellow citizens, and members of the household of God. God does a radical change in Christians.
Sometimes we look at godly people in our lives and think “I just can’t imagine how this person could have ever not been a Christian.” Well, the truth is that if you met them when they hadn’t turned from their sin yet, you wouldn’t have been able to imagine them being a Christian. That is the power of God working. He completely flips the insides of a person. He takes those who are dead and makes them alive. He takes those who are alienated from him and makes them near. Now, let's start by looking at the state of the Christian before salvation.
 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (ESV)
Paul starts by stating “therefore”. And as my youth know to ask, “Wherefore, therefore, is the ‘therefore’ there for?” This is a quote from Charles Spurgeon, and it is supposed to help when you read the Bible. It is an important question to ask: “Wherefore, therefore, is the ‘therefore’ there for?” What does “wherefore” mean? You’ve heard it before in Romeo and Juliet when she says on the balcony, “Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” What does it mean? No, it doesn’t mean “where”. It doesn’t make sense for Juliet to be saying “Where are you Romeo?” She knows the guy. She knows where he lives. Wherefore means “Why”. Juliet is asking “Why are you Romeo?” She is grieving that her love is Romeo, the Romeo from her family’s rival family. So, to get back to our question, “Wherefore, therefore, is the ‘therefore’ there for?” or “Why is the ‘therefore’ there? So, why is it there? It is there to show a causal connection. Let’s take, for example, me dropping a ball. I let go; therefore, the ball drops. The ball drops because I let go. Me letting go of the ball has caused the ball to drop. It is similar to this “therefore”. He just finished talking about the deadness of the Christian before salvation and the life in Christ in salvation and how this is a work specifically of God, then Paul says, “Therefore remember” Remember what? Well, Paul comes to that later.
First, he establishes those to whom he is speaking: “you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands”. He is speaking to those who were unclean to God, those who were outside the promises of God, to those who were cut off from God.
Next, we see what they are to remember. They are to “remember that [they] were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise”. They were separated from God, cut off from God. He says to remember this. Why? Well, because we tend to forget it, and if we forget the state that we were in and that we deserve to be in, we are unthankful for what God has done for us, we fail to recognize God’s great salvation. And ingratitude is a nasty thing. In Romans 1, we see the nastiness of sin escalated amongst the Gentiles. How does the escalation start? Ingratitude. They were unthankful. Because of this, God gave them up to numerous sins. The end of Romans chapter one reads:
 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (ESV)
This is why we are to not forget who we were. This is why we are to be grateful for all of God’s great mercies, inside and outside of salvation.
Then, Paul says that, because of their separation from God, they had no hope and were without God. What a terrifying thing. However, as we saw in the last post, we are not left in despair.
 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (ESV)
First, we see that those who were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. By the perfect, atoning sacrifice of Christ, we have been made near to God. How that should amaze us! We are so filthy. We are so sinful. Yet, Christ, by his perfect sacrifice, has atoned for our sins in such a way that we can be made near to God. Christ is our peace. He has made us at peace with God. We are no longer deserving of being cut off, separated, or exiled because Christ, by his blood, has redeemed us. He has broken down the hostility between us and God. If you are a believer, you are no longer hostile to God. Yes, you may sin. Yes, you may fall, but you will never fall out of the status and peace that you have with God in Christ. Through the cross, he has reconciled the believer to God, killing the hostility between us and God. Believer, rejoice in the blood of the lamb!
Christ not only brought us close to God by action but also by word. He preached to the Gentiles far off and the Jews near. He was showing the supremacy of God over Abraham that Paul talked about earlier. And it is through Christ that we all have access in the Holy Spirit to the Father.
There is one point I want to make here. We need to ask the question, “How did Christ do this?” How did Christ make those who were cut off, near? Well, in short, he did it by being cut off. He did it by being circumcised, which literally means to be “cut off”. The Hebrew word is “carat”. What do I mean by Christ’s circumcision? Well, I don’t mean the one he received as an infant. I mean the one he received later in life the circumcision he received on the cross. Colossians chapter 2 reads:
 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (ESV)
We see that because of Christ being cut off on the cross, we are reconciled to God, because of him going under judgment, we are made clean. Because of his circumcision, because of him being cut off, we are circumcised, we are made clean, we are given a new heart. That’s what is being talked about in Colossians chapter 2. It says that in Christ, you were circumcised. It is talked about the circumcision of the heart, the heart going from stone to flesh, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.
 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (ESV)
 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (ESV)
 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,  that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (ESV)
Now, let’s go to the last section of the passage, starting in verse 19.
 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (ESV)
Christ was cut off at the cross. Now, Christian, you are no longer an alien or a stranger. You are a fellow citizen with the members of the household of God. High schoolers, if you remember, the first night I mentioned that you knowing God does not nearly matter as much has him knowing you. Well, because of Christ, you are no longer a stranger and an alien. Christian, if you are truly a Christian, you will never hear “Depart from me. I never knew you.”
You are part of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christian, recognize the word of the apostles and prophets that are collected in Holy Scripture. Spend time in the Word daily or you will be malnourished.
You are a member of the household of God that has Christ as the cornerstone. In him, the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple. There is a lot of belief in Christianity today that God loses, that Satan wins, that the church fails. To that I say, “How can the church fail if Christ is the cornerstone, if, in him, it is being joined together, if, in him, the whole structure grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Christian, God wins in the church and in you.
In him, you are being built into a dwelling place for God.