Bible Study Notes:
Jesus Our Peace
These notes are from a transcript of the
postings during Bible Study on Friday Nights at 7 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
|Father God, we bless and praise your name
tonight for all your mighty and wondrous works in the lives of your children. Father God,
we thank you for your many blessings and most of all the work of grace you do in our
hearts. Tonight, we pray that you will open our hearts and minds to receive your Word and
will be encouraged in the faith.
satan we come against you in the Name of Jesus, we bind you and rebuke you and command you to leave this holy place in Jesus Name!
Father God, we pray your anointing over the teacher and the learners and over all our computers, cables, phone lines and other equipment. May your Word come forth!
Holy Spirit we invite you to be our teacher and guide. In Jesus Name AMEN and AMEN
Last week we were talking about our position IN CHRIST seated in heavenly places with all rulers, principalities and powers under our feet. Then Paul went on in Ephesians 2:11-13 to remind the Ephesians of where they WERE without Christ.
As Christians, we need to remember where we started, and how far Christ has brought us by His love. This is our testimony! "I was once like you lost in sin. But look what Jesus has done for me!" Never underestimate the power of your testimony! It is what draws others to Jesus, both what you say and what you do.
v. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Whenever you see a BUT in scripture it means a change is coming. The Ephesians were once lost, without God and without hope in the world. BUT NOW ... IN Christ through His blood, they have been brought near to God.
Paul is reminding the Ephesians that they are now IN CHRIST because of the blood He shed for us on the cross to buy our redemption, not for the Jew only, but for the gentile as well.
This brings us up to date with verses Ephesians 2:14-15. The next passage is kind of long, but want to post it to get the context, then we'll break it down.
14-16 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Keep in mind that Paul has just spoken about the Ephesians who were Gentiles, lost without God in the world and separated from citizenship in Israel.
And remember in verse 13 "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."
Jesus is our peace! He said, "Peace I give, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled..." The world promises us peace - but can it deliver true peace - NO, the best it can give is a "cessation of conflict", and that is only temporary.
Paul was reminding the Ephesians where they were BEFORE salvation. In Chapter 2 verses 11-12, Paul reminded the Ephesians where they WERE without Christ. They were a far off, separated from Christ, without hope and without God in the world. But they have been brought near by the blood of Jesus. Now Paul is expounding to them what this NEARNESS means.
Jesus is our peace - there is no other source. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities (sins), the chastisement (punishment) of our PEACE was upon Him, and by His stripes (lashings) we are healed" Isaiah 53.
Chastisement of our peace - means that Jesus paid the price, not only for salvation from sin and healing of the body, but took the punishment to BUY our peace. The Amplified Bible says "the chastisement needful to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him".
Part of the deal way back in Eden, is that PEACE was taken from the earth! When Adam and Eve gave satan dominion, he brought discord, arguments, factions, arguing and war! Part of salvation is PEACE. Praise God forever.
Peace, peace, wonderful peace coming down from
the Father above,
Now Jesus is our peace and "has made the two one" - meaning the believing Gentiles and Jews - has made it possible for us to fellowship together, to receive the promises together. How did He do this? By removing the barrier or dividing wall of hostility. What was this wall?
Were these walls spiritual walls between us and God or walls between friends and fellow Christians? I think these kinds of walls could be included, but this was a particular wall that created hostility, that separated the Jews and the gentiles.
As humans, we tend to build walls, but Jesus came to tear them down so we can be at peace with one another. It takes reading the Word, prayer, Bible Study, and fellowshipping with other Christians to bring down the walls, to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh.The walls that Christ breaks down include racial walls. Paul said in Galatians 3:28: "For there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus".
In that day, to the Jew, there were Jews and then everyone else - gentiles - which covered all the races there are. To say there is neither Jew nor Greek, means we are all, no matter the race, gender, social or financial status, we are all equal in Jesus! Thank God for that!
But what was this particular wall of hostility that He tore down? The rule of THE LAW! v. 15 - that's what separated the Jews from the Gentiles; that's what created the hostility. Hostility for the Jews, because they believed that the Gentiles were unclean and not fit to associate with because they didn't have the Law. Hostility for the Gentiles because they resented the fact that the Jews "wouldn't let them in".
In the temple in Jerusalem there was a place called the Court of the Gentiles were the Gentiles could come and worship God. Beyond that was the Holy Place where the Jews could worship. And between that was an actual wall that prevented the gentiles from coming into the Holy Place. If a gentile went past that wall, he would be immediately put to death by the Jews. The only way that a gentile could get past this wall was to convert to Judaism, and be circumcised if a male.
Paul said that Jesus ABOLISHED - destroyed, did away with, got rid off, in His flesh, the rule of the law with its commandments and regulations. In Colossians 2:14 Paul put it this way: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."
So, the wall represented the Jewish law that separated the Jews and the gentiles. Jesus tore it down. The only way for a Jew or gentile to be saved now is through Jesus blood shed on the cross.
Now Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." He said He came to fulfill them - He obeyed the Law perfectly and became the perfect sacrifice, and ended the reign of LAW by the new covenant in His blood. And since Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law, we no longer live under it.
Jesus obeyed the Law perfectly, He is the only human being that has, and fulfilled all it said to do. Therefore, we no longer live under the Jewish law. In the temple, you first came to the Court of the Gentiles, then the dividing wall, then the Holy place, then there was a thick curtain, and then the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was where the High Priest - and the High Priest only _ went once a year of offer sacrifice for the people's sins. When Jesus died on the cross the heavy curtain was torn from the TOP to the bottom.
But the Law still basically shows what God thinks like, doesn't it? What he expected, but we couldn't do? Yes that's true, but now the Bible says the law is written in our hearts, not in tablets of stone.
Jeremiah 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (See also Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16)'
2 Corinthians 3:3 "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
And we don't have that set of rules and regulations to follow to please God; we please Him by letting His love rule us and flow out of our hearts. Now a covenant is an agreement, like a contract, that included woes and blessings. Woes were curses or consequences that occurred when the contract was broken. Blessings were benefits that occurred when the contract was kept.
In Old Testament times, contracts were CUT, that is blood was shed to bind them. For the Old Covenant or Old Testament, the cutting was circumcision. For the New Testament or New Covenant, the blood that was shed was Jesus' own. That's why men do not have to be circumcised to be Christians. The Galatians had a real problem with this.
In the Old Testament times, people were responsible for keeping the contract by following the LAW. In the New Testament, Christ has fulfilled ALL of the obligations for us. We have faith in that and walk by God's grace.
Well then why did Jesus have to be circumcised? Because Jesus had to fulfill the OLD contract fully before He could CUT a new contract on the cross with His blood. If you're interested in more about the covenants read the book of Hebrews and make a comparison between the two.
Christian boys are sometimes circumcised today, but that's more of a social custom for hygienic purposes today. For the Jew it was serious business. No circumcision - no part of Judaism... Let me back up a bit. The Old Covenant or Old Testament was a rule of LAW. When a boy was born, on the 8th day he was circumcised as a sign of his covenant with God, promising to follow all the Law. (A person could be circumcised at any age to become a Jew, but the usual custom was 8 days.) When he was 12, he had a Bar Mitzvoth, which indicated that he was a man and a Son (BAR) of the Commandment (MITZVOTH). He was then bond to the Law all his life if he wanted to please God and be blessed.
For Jesus to fulfill all of the LAW, he had to go through the processes like any other Jewish boy. The problem with following the LAW, is for it to save you, you have to keep it perfectly, every day all the time, impossible for anyone but Jesus.
That's why they had animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, it was an ATONEMENT or covering for their sins - sins require death -and the animals were substituted for them. But when they sinned again, another sacrifice had to be made, and another and another...
Now since Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law perfectly, he was without sin and didn't need a sacrifice for His own sins! That's why His sacrifice is able to atone for ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Then Paul explains the purpose of what Jesus did. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
The "one new man" that Paul was talking about is the church, the new body of believers. The cross makes it possible for all believers to be reunited with God our Father.
V. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Jesus is our Peace! Wow, sometimes it doesn't seem like it, we fight about all kinds of stuff. We need to look to Jesus and His death on the cross for our peace. We need to be in agreement, looking to the cross.
"Far away" refers to the gentiles who were lost, "near" refers to the Jews who had God's law. Again, we see Jesus Peace! We need to let His peace reign or rule our hearts, we need to promote His peace in all we do! The world is seeking peace, but it is not seeking Jesus.
V. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
"Him" of course refers to Jesus. Through Jesus we both, that is Jews and gentiles, have access to the Father by one Spirit. We have access to the Father! We can approach His throne of grace and find help in the time of need. Jesus death made God available to all of us!
Jesus' peace is not the kind the world gives! His peace is lasting, He is the Prince of Peace. How do we break away from looking to people for our peace and trust God? It comes through reading the Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The more of His Word we have in our hearts, the less room for fear, doubt, rejection, conflict.The more of Jesus love you let live in your heart, the more peace you will have!
Of course, we are still human and need that tender affection from loved ones. But look first to God and let Him hold you with His everlasting arms, and then you'll be better able to receive love from others.
The peace of God starts on the inside. First when we ask Jesus to be our savior, and then more and more as we learn of Him.
A VERY peaceful scripture to remember and meditate upon is Psalm 23. "The Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not want." Like a tender shepherd, Jesus takes care of all of our needs.
"He makes me lie down in green pastures" - think of the cool green grass on a summer's day and how it feels to lie down and rest.
"He leads me beside quiet waters". There is no sound more soothing than a tinkling stream. The sound is restful and refreshing!
"He restores my soul" - when we are hurt and disturbed, God restores us to peace!
"He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake". God, as a father, leads us lovingly into the right paths to take the paths that please Him, and that will bring you the most happiness.
If your earthly father failed you in some way, think of all that you would have wanted in a Father, this is what God is and more. It is never too late to have a relationship with God the Father! We never grow too old to need a father's love.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me." No matter how dark and deep and fearful the night we walk through, God is right there by our side! We can have peace in trials and not fear evil because God our Father walks with us.
So read Psalm 23 and let the peace of God the Father's care for you rule your heart.
19-20 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.
Here Paul refers again to the fact that before being saved, the Ephesians were foreigners and aliens - meaning strangers to God's people. BUT now the Ephesians (and we) are fellow citizens of God's Kingdom with God's people.
We are citizens of Heaven now! And that's where our true treasure is! That's where our hopes are! In a very real way, we are now "strangers" on earth! We are also "members of God's household", which is the church.
The church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." Now a cornerstone is the chief or most important stone in a building, a reference point for measuring the rest of the building.
When Peter was preaching the day after Pentecost, he also identified Jesus as the cornerstone of the church - In Acts 4:11, he says, "He is "the stone you builders rejected which has become the cornerstone".
In I Peter 2:4, Peter calls Jesus the "living Stone- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him - you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".
Jesus is the cornerstone; we are living stones being built into a building by God. I've always liked rocks. Now cut gems are lovely, but for some reason I prefer polished rocks of all kinds. To polish a rock, you have to put it into a rock tumbler with other rocks and lots of grit. Between the grit and the stones bashing themselves together, they come out shiny, glowing and beautiful.
As Christians we sometimes have rough edges that need to be smoothed out, and often God uses our brothers and sisters, fellow living stones who ALSO have rough edges, to polish and finish us. Ouch, sometimes it's painful, but God sees what He wants us to be (2:10 - a work of art), and He'll keep polishing and polishing until we're perfect.
So when conflict arises, don't get mad and go away, ask Jesus, "What rough edge are you working on now Lord?" and co-operate with the process!
Conflict lets us know one of two things: God is polishing one of our rough edges, or He's using us to polish someone else! (or both at the same time). So instead of grumbling and complaining, see what God is trying to do IN you and WITH you! "Under Construction" sometimes feels like "Under DEstruction".
Notice that it says Jesus is the CHIEF cornerstone. How many corners does a building usually have? A building has 4 corners but Jesus is the chief cornerstone. Who do you think the other 3 corners are?
Well, the Bible doesn't specify as far as I know, just to say the foundation is the prophets and apostles. But it occured to me the other day, and I could be wrong, this is just my opinion, that the church has divided into three main branches.
The Catholics follow PETER, the Protestants follow PAUL, and the orthodox follow JOHN, at least primarily. If, and this is just my opinion, the other three cornerstones are Peter Paul and John, then that helps me see how all believers fit together in the household of faith. Each cornerstone holds up an essential part of the building and we need each other, as we need Christ. If this metaphor helps, use it, if not, don't.
The important thing is v. 21, "IN HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord."
Well, this picture helps me see that Christ is NOT divided, as we are all part of the same building. But as I said, if it's not helpful to you, don't worry about it. But it is undeniable that the three main "streams" of Christianity have different distinctives based on whose writings they emphasize.
Not only is Jesus the Chief Cornerstone of the building, but the "cement" that joins us together! As we grow together, we become a holy temple in the Lord.
I get weary of the fighting between believers, who act like not only are we NOT one building to the Lord, but we aren't even in the same neighborhood. And when you try to get them to "agree to disagree" they call you a heretic! But we ARE one building, there is none other. We are either part of Christ, or we are none of His!
V.22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Verse 22 tells us the purpose of this building of believers - the Living Stone and the living stones - to become a dwelling for God by His Spirit! We are being built BY GOD in Jesus. Remember that we are God's workmanship (2:10) created in Christ Jesus. We just have to cooperate with the process!
If we'd just co-operate! Often it's like a mason trying to lay bricks, who kept popping off the wall! "No," they say, "Do it my way" Oh, the infinite patience of God!
Oh Lord, make us worthy of your Spirit. Cleanse us, help us polish each other in love, we pray!
Father God, let us put into action what You have taught us tonight. Let us remember that we are ONE building, and that Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. Help us to see our daily conflicts, not as problems to be avoided, but opportunities to be polished for you!
Holy Spirit we ask you to bring these things to our remembrance in the days ahead that we may be fruitful for the Kingdom. AMEN
Father God, thank you so much for this precious time with You and Your Word. Bless the listeners and give them divine understanding. Engraft the Word deeply into our hearts and help us put it into practice. AMEN.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessed companionship of the Holy Spirit!
Remember, whenever God
gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate
on what you've learned!
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