TOGETHER IN OUR BELIEVING
In Ephesians 2, beginning at verse 11, Paul is writing to tell his readers how God brought the Jews and Gentiles together and made them one in Jesus. The Jews believed in God, but they believed they had to keep the Law of God in order to earn their salvation. The Gentiles came from all kinds of belief systems. Some believed in pagan god, other believed in no god at all. Yet, the gospel was preached to both Jews and Gentiles. The Spirit of God convicted both Jews and Gentiles of the truth of the gospel. Some Jews believed in the gospel. Some Gentiles believed the gospel. When the Jews and Gentiles were saved from their dead religions, they were given a shared belief system. Suddenly, these people who were so fundamentally different began to believe the same things. What was true of these early believers is also true of us.
As we have already noted, we come from different places in life. Some were raised in the church and saved early. Some were raised in the church and saved later in life. Some were not raised in the church, but you were a decent person and the Lord saved you. Some were not raised in the church, and you lived a wicked life, and the Lord saved you. Regardless of where we came from in our pasts, the Lord brought us together in Jesus and has given us a common belief system.
Verse 17 says, “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” The “peace” which was “preached” to us was the gospel of grace. The word “peace” comes from a word which means “to join, or to bring harmony.” “Peace” is the idea of warring parties being brought together, of hostilities being settled. This brings to mind what Paul says in Romans 8:7, which says, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” By nature, we are the enemies of God. We rebel against God’s Word and God’s will in everything we do.
In Ephesians 2:1-3, our rebellion to the will of God is described in graphic detail. The last phrase of verse 3, which says, “…were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” reminds us we were all at one time under the wrath of God, and we were subject to being judged for our sins. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36.
In our lost condition, someone “…came and preached peace…” to us. The word “preached” is not the typical word used in the New Testament which refers to a king’s herald sharing an official declaration with the king’s subjects. This word means “to share the good news.” Someone came and shared the good news with us. Someone came and told us we could be made right with God. Someone told us we could be delivered from our sins and from the wrath of God. Someone told us we could miss Hell. Someone told us we could be free.
Who delivered this message to us? The word “and came” in verse 17 points back to the word “he” in verse 14. “He” came. Who is “He”? He is Jesus. He is God. He is the Holy Spirit. God came to us and he shared the good news with us. He showed us we could be saved. He might have used a Sunday school teacher. He might have used a preacher. He might have used a personal witness. He might have used a verse of Scripture, or some other tangible person or item. Regardless of the method he used, he came to you and he “drew” you unto himself. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day,” John 6:44.
When the message came to us we believed it. When we believed the good news, every promise made in the good news became real in our hearts. In an instant, we are converted. We were delivered from the wrath of God. We were saved from Hell. We became the children of God. In an instant, we began to believe what all other Christians believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, salvation, and all the other fundamental doctrines of Christianity.
Let’s be honest, we don’t all believe the same about every issue. This is fine. The Bible does not require us to be in lockstep about every single detail. But, there are some things all genuine believers, in all places, in all denominations, believe.
• We all believe in the nature of God. (God is holy. God is a Spirit. Etc.)
• We all believe in monotheism. (There is only one God.)
• We all believe in the deity of Christ. (Jesus is God.)
• We all believe in the hypostatic union. (Jesus is both God and man at the same time.)
• We all believe in the virgin birth.
• We all believe in the substitutionary atonement of Christ. (Jesus died on the cross in our place and He paid for our sins.)
• We all believe in Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead.
• We all believe salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
• We all believe the Gospel, which declares the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection as the only message which can save.
• We all believe in the Trinity.
• We all believe the Bible is the Word of God.