by Mike Ratliff
11 Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί, οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου, 12 ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. 13 νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 14 Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, 15 τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην 16 καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ. (Ephesians 2:11-16 NA27)
11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, the ones being called “Uncircumcision” by the ones being called “Circumcision,” done in the flesh by hand– 12 that you were at that time without Christ, having been alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers of the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you, the ones once being far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he, the one having made the two one and having broken in his flesh the partition of the middle wall of hostility is our peace. 15 In so doing he annulled the law of the commandments in ordinances that he might create the two in himself into one new man, making peace, 16 and might reconcile the two in one body to God through the cross having killed the hostility by it. (Ephesians 2:11-16 a personal translation of the NA27 Greek text)
We have been looking at our Justification, which is of course, by grace alone through faith alone apart from works. This truth cannot be challenged by anyone who is devoted to Sola Scriptura and abides to true exegetical standards of Biblical exposition. There are, of course, those who want to add things to this such as “Church Tradition” and “works” et cetera. When I have had face-offs with some of these people they cannot hold their ground unless they first can try to dilute Sola Scriptura in some way. However, I digress. Many others and I have become convinced that the visible church in the West has come under the judgment of God. That is why truth is watered down within and rare. That is why God has taken away solid leadership within it. Look what happened with the Louie Giglio fiasco with President Obama’s Inaugural. I am old enough to remember when the leaders in the Church in this country would never have considered even being a part of such an evil event, but when Giglio was disinvited because he had once preached a Biblically true sermon about how homosexuality is a sin and God is calling all sinners to repentance, what did he do? He gave a half-hearted “apology” and crept away with his tail between his legs. Where was the spirit-filled righteous indignation over such an evil event that is celebrating such a thing as homosexuality as being a celebrated civil right from within the leadership of the visible church?
This same soft sell, seeker-sensitive church environment has bought into the secular mantra that the worst sin imaginable is to offend. Therefore, what is seen in the Gospel message itself as offensive is systematically altered by these people and made to line up with what would be acceptable to the “seeker” and not be offensive. However, the Gospel message itself is offensive and it is supposed to be. That is how God designed it.
For those of us truly in Christ, our Justification should never be taken for granted. It should always be something we celebrate and as we come before the throne of grace pour out our praise to our Father for it from grateful hearts. It is vital that we see what the price was for our redemption. In the passage I placed at the top of this post is the word “blood,” which translates the Greek noun αἵματι “haimati,” the Dative Singular case of αἷμα, “haima”, “blood.” This was the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who would change the Gospel and try to sanitize it for post-modern consumption attempt to make our redemption a possibility if we follow his good example and that he is no more than “a good moral compass” or that Adam was the bad example and Jesus was the good example and that if we follow Jesus’ good example we can be “rescued” from sin. In this scenario, “if we just follow Jesus’ moral example and live a good life we will be delivered from our shortcomings, frailties, and low self-esteem.” Does that sound familiar?
However, the New Testament nowhere teaches this. Instead, it constantly speaks of the blood of Christ, this is, not his life, but his death that redeems us. It was His blood that paid the purchase price. This is the epicenter of our salvation, not trying to “be like Jesus.” The Gospel message of the Cross of Christ relates a sticky, messy, graphic, horrific death that our Saviour voluntarily submitted to. Most people abhor the picture of a bloody Saviour. We seldom hear of his death and hardly ever of his blood. People do not want to think of a Saviour hanging on a cross with blood pouring out of his body and dripping into puddles on the ground.
When my son (an emergency room physician) was in his residency, he gave my wife and I a tour of the E.R. at his hospital. It was very large and very busy. I will never forget looking into a recently vacated treatment room and seeing that the bed, the floor, the sheets, the pillow and even the walls in there were all red with blood. I would be very surprised if that person they had been treating had survived. My son grabbed us and hurried us out. It was not pleasant.
Carefully read again the passage I placed at the top of this post, especially v13. We (Christians) are brought near only by the blood of Christ, not by our works, and not by trying to emulate his good deeds.
Soli Deo Gloria!