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Ephesians 2:11 & Matthew 16:18 by Robert Dean
Everyone assumes they know what a church is but do they really understand the biblical use of the term? Listen to this lesson to learn that after Christ’s death and resurrection a new entity came into being. Hear five introductory facts about it and find out when the word “church” is first used in the Bible. See who builds the church and what makes it distinctive. When you believe in Christ as your Savior understand that you become a part of the church and are a new creation.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:48 mins 59 secs

I Will Build My Church
Ephesians 2:11; Matthew 16:18
Ephesians Series #64
May 3, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
www.deanbibleministries.org

Opening Prayer

“Our Father, we are so thankful, so grateful, for all that You have provided for us. That You have told us in Your Word, and especially here in this passage of Ephesians, who we are in Christ, this new identity that we have as new creatures in Christ.

“That we have been raised with Christ, we have been seated together with Him in the heavenlies, we are a work of art, a masterpiece of Your creation to be a witness and a testimony throughout not only our lives on this earth, but that You will set us up as trophies of Your grace throughout all eternity.

“Father, we pray that as we study and read, as we reflect upon Your Word, that You will drive home these truths in our lives that we may gain an even greater understanding of who we are as members of Christ’s church, members of His body; and that we have a tremendous responsibility.

“But we’ve been given incredible assets and blessings in order to carry out our roles and responsibilities here in this Church Age, and for that we are so grateful. We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.”

Slide 2

Let’s open our Scriptures to Ephesians 2. We live in a world today where there is a lot of confusion about the nature of the church. This really isn’t anything new. There has been confusion about the nature of the church since Apostle John, the last apostle died in the mid-90s at the end of the first century.

This particular passage, Ephesians 2:11–3:21 is one of the most central passages in the Scripture for understanding the nature of the church.

You will often hear people make reference to different things about the church, such as somebody saying, “Well, if they would just get into church, they would be okay.” We talk about church as buildings and we talk about church as denominations and organizations, but what does the Bible say?

We need to understand the definition of the church:

  • What is the church?
  • What does that word mean?
  • To what does it refer?
  • Why do we emphasize the importance of the church?
  • Why do we use it to distinguish this age—from the time of Christ’s ascension until the end of this age at the Rapture?
  • Why do we emphasize that as being so distinctive?
  • What is the difference between the visible local church and the universal church?

That is, the invisible church, the body of Christ, which is composed of all believers throughout this Church Age—those who are with the Lord, and those who are still alive and on this earth.

As we study through these new chapters, we’re developing, the idea that Paul introduced in Ephesians 2:10, that we are created as a masterpiece. We are created as a work of art. It’s poorly translated that “we are His workmanship.”

The idea is something that is beautiful, something that is distinctive; something that is a work of art. That is how it is described and used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. God has made us a work of art and a masterpiece. That applies not just to the universal church, but to every single believer.

We need to understand that significance because by understanding our new identity as new creatures in Christ, and as this masterpiece created in Christ Jesus, it should motivate us to live for Him and to serve Him in this life.

Last week we began to study Ephesians 2:11, walking our way through the rest of Ephesians 2-3, getting a summary—sort of a flyover—of what the Apostle Paul says in this section.

It is in the first part of this epistle where Paul is describing all that we have in Christ. This is the wealth—riches is how it’s translated in Scripture. But it’s a singular word, so wealth is a better translation describing our wealth in Christ—the assets, the blessings that God has given us from the instant of our salvation.

1.      That wealth is the subject of Ephesians 1–3. By understanding who we are in Christ and what we are given in Christ, that is the foundation for understanding then how we should live.

2.      The second division is Ephesians 4:1-6:9, focusing on our spiritual walk: our life, how we live on the basis of who we are.

3.      The third part, Ephesians 6:10–20, describes the warfare of the believer in Christ, those who are in Christ. So we have our wealth, our walk, and our warfare.

4.      The closing of the epistle is the last four verses, Ephesians 6:21–24.

In the previous lesson, I reviewed again Ephesians 2:1-10, which is important because it’s setting the stage for the next section, Ephesians 2:11-3:21.

Slide 3

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His work of art …” We are His creation.

The word for “created” in Christ Jesus is used several times in relation to the word POIEMA, which is translated workmanship. It is a distinctive creation of God, and that makes it a work of art because everything that God makes is a masterpiece, a work of art, absolute perfection, and has a glorious purpose.

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His work of art—His masterpiece—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

This is a bit of foreshadowing as well for the second part of the book, which is how we should live: that we should live in these good works that should characterize our lives.

Slide 4

Ephesians 2:11–13 introduces us to and is the foundation for the next section.

“Therefore, remember that you once, Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from 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.”

God, through the apostle Paul, lays the groundwork for the rest of this section. He introduces the idea that now Gentiles who once were alienated from Israel—and he’s going to characterize them by five phrases in Ephesians 2:12: they were once alienated from Israel; they now have been brought nearby the blood of Christ.

First of all, he reminds them of their past plight. They were once Gentiles in the flesh, once called Uncircumcision, which shows that they were not part of the Abrahamic Covenant. The plight of those Gentiles is the same plight that every Gentile and in fact, every Jew has today. We are born, as Ephesians 2:1 reminds us, dead in our trespasses and sins.

We saw in our study that when we look at Ephesians 4:18, that this spiritual death is alienation from God. This is how Paul will further define that in Ephesians 2:12.

1.      At that time, they were, first of all, without Christ, without the Messiah. There are no messianic prophecies given to the Gentiles. They were not going to be the group from whence the Messiah would come. And without the Messiah, they had no real hope, the fourth point.

2.      They were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. That means they were not part of the commonwealth of Israel. They were separate. They were distinct. They did not have the same privileges, the same opportunities.

This has always been the way that God has worked with different people. He assigns different people different roles. That doesn’t mean one is inherently better than the other. It’s just like with a football team or a baseball team. You have different players who are skilled at different positions. They have different roles on the team, and they learn to perform well in their particular role.

In the Old Testament God called out a special people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He gave them a special role. Part of that role was that through them the Messiah would come—the seed of the woman predicted in Genesis 3:15.

But if you were not part of Abraham’s physical descent, then there was going to be a difference. It didn’t mean that the Gentiles were any better or worse than the Jews. Many times God says that the Jews were a stubborn and stiff-necked and rebellious people, and that He did not choose them because of anything great that He saw in them, but just because of His grace.

As Gentiles they are, first of all, without Messiah. Secondly, they’re aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.

3.      They were strangers from the covenants of promise, and that refers to the covenants with Abraham, the covenant with the people related to the Land Covenant, the covenant with David, and the New Covenant. They were not part of those covenants. Those covenants were all made between God and Israel, as it specifically states.

A lot of people get confused over the New Covenant; the New Covenant is not with the church. The New Covenant did not begin with the Church Age. The New Covenant, as Jeremiah 31:31–33 specifically states, God said, “I am making this covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.” And when it is quoted in Hebrews 8, it quotes the exact same thing. The writer of Hebrews never says that it is made with the church.

The church is a beneficiary of the blessings that God has given Israel and will give Israel in the future under the New Covenant, but the blessings are not the same when you list them out. There are similarities, but similarities do not mean identical.

For example, you can look at a shrub outside your house, and you can look at a tree. They have a lot of things in common: they have branches, they have leaves, the leaves are green; they need water in order to grow and to sustain their life. But there are certain distinctives.

I’m just a layman, not a botanist. I’m sure there are other distinctives, but a shrub does not have a trunk like an oak tree or pine tree or a birch tree. That would be one of the obvious distinctives, so similarities don’t mean they are the same thing.

We have to understand that these covenants and the promises of the New Covenant are similar to the blessings God gives to Church Age believers, but they are not identical.

Third, they’re strangers from the covenants of promise, and as a result of all these things, they have no hope. A hope is a confident expectation. There were promises that gave an expectation to Israel, a messianic hope as well that there would be the Messiah, but that promise did not go to the Gentiles.

Gentiles could be saved in the Old Testament, but they were saved by grace through faith, just as we are in this dispensation, and they understood that there would be a future Savior who would save mankind. But they did not have specific revelation given to them.

Even though there were many Gentiles saved in the Old Testament, they were still separated from the commonwealth of Israel and the covenants of promise. As Gentiles they had no hope. There weren’t specific promises or blessings given to them through covenants in the Old Testament.

4.      They were without God in the world.

We will study all of those when we get into Ephesians 2:12.

Finally, God tells them of His solution, Ephesians 2:13,

“you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

This was true of every Gentile in the Old Testament, and it is true, in fact, for us today.

In these three points, Paul describes the essence of the creation of this new identity, this new entity called the church. By way of introduction, we’re going to focus on this to try to understand something about the church before we dive into the details of this passage.

Slide 5

I want to begin with just a basic introduction to the church, called the body of Christ in the New Testament.

What the Bible Teaches About the Body of Christ

Slide 6

1.      Christ is the head of the church, the authority over the church.

The Greek KEPHALE, translated “head,” always describes authority in the Scripture. It’s not talking about source, it is talking about authority. Christ is the head, the authority, over the church.

Ephesians 1:22, “And He—that’s referring to God the Father—He put all things under His—that is God the Son’s feet. That’s a picture of submission and subordination, that God the Father put everything under the feet of Jesus—and gave Him—that is God the Father gave God the Son—to be head—or to be in authority—over all things to the church.”

This is used as an illustration in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church.”

This is talking about the authority structure within the home. It’s not saying that the husband is the tyrannical dictator over the wife, but that he is the ultimate authority, because God is going to hold the husband responsible and accountable for the spiritual welfare of the home.

The husband is the head of the wife, as also “Christ is the head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body.”

Two things are said there:

Christ is the head of the church, Savior of the body.

The body refers to the church as the body of Christ.

Slide 7

2.      One purpose of many, of the church is to display God’s multifaceted wisdom to the angels, both fallen and elect.

Ephesians 3:10, “to the intent that now—that is a now in this Church Age—the manifold—that is the multifaceted—wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”

That is a description of the angelic hierarchy; there’s an authority structure within the Angels. Authority isn’t something that has to do with sin. It has to do with organization, responsibility, and accountability, so that the church is a visible demonstration, an exhibit—like an exhibit at a museum or an exhibit in a courtroom—to demonstrate to all God’s manifold wisdom especially to the angels.

That takes us back to Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He—meaning God the Father—might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us—that is Jew and Gentile together—in Christ Jesus.”

Slide 3

3.      Glory should be given to God in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever, Ephesians 3:21, the end of this chapter.

“to Him—that is God the Father—be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.”

The first hymn isn’t referring to Christ, it’s referring to the Father. “… Be glory in the church,” the church is to glorify God. That means that we are to demonstrate the importance, the value, the significance of having a personal relationship and walk with God. That it is to change our lives because God has already transformed us into a new creature, and we have to learn to walk as a new creature in Christ.

“… to Him (God the Father) be glory in the church in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.”

We are part of this magnificent organism, this magnificent entity called the church, this work of art that God has created. We’re going to be on display in the heavenlies forever and ever. We are designed to be an exhibit, a demonstration, to the angels of God’s grace and of God’s love and of God’s wisdom.

As a result of that we are to glorify God and to demonstrate in our lives that God is important. That’s what glory means. Glory has the idea of something that is heavy literally, but it means something that is significant, important, and of great value. We show how valuable our relationship to God is, and this will bring glory to God for all generations forever and ever.

Slide 9

4.      The church is therefore to submit to the authority of Christ. We are to follow Him.

We are such rebellious people. We have rebellion sewn deeply in our hearts because it’s part of the sin nature. As the Old Testament prophet said, “… the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things … who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

It is amazing how we live our lives thinking we’re doing pretty good spiritually and we’re just blind to our own sins, blind to our own arrogance and blind to our own rebellion against God. This happens again and again and again. I’m not going to use too many illustrations here, but it happens to every one of us. There is not one person listening to my voice that isn’t at heart still a rebel against God in ways that they can’t even imagine.

I was laughing and joking with a pastor the other day; we were just talking about the fact that God calls us sheep and that’s not a compliment. Sheep don’t know how to take care of themselves, and they often will be stubborn and want to go in one direction, thinking that’s the direction of water. That’s one reason the shepherd will carry a staff, is to poke them and prod them and push them and pull them in the right direction, because they think they know where they’re going.

I hear this from many Christians all the time. In fact, it’s funny that a pastor will sometimes, as he is working through something he’s teaching, say, “Boy! This really fits. So-and-so in my church is the picture next to this doctrine in a theology book or in a dictionary.”

One of two things happens frequently. You come, you teach the passage. After church “that person” comes up and says, “That was great! I sure wish so-and-so was here. They needed to hear it.” They’re totally blind! They’re like the person in James 1 who looks in the mirror of God’s Word and doesn’t see His own reflection. Many of us are that way in certain areas of our life. It applies to every single one of us.

The other thing that happens, “Man! I’ve been waiting for this passage. So-and-so really needs to hear it; this is just directed toward the issues in their life,” and they’re not there. Even the next week they’re not there when you can review it and make some of those essential points. But that’s in God’s hands, not in our hands.

We are to submit to the authority of Christ. That is us as believers in the church. That means we need to know His word, which 1 Corinthians 2:16 says is the “mind of Christ.”

Slide 10

5.      Christ loved the church by dying on the Cross for the church. He paid the penalty for our sins. He died in our place.

Ephesians 5:25 emphasizes this, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

This is one of those verses that husbands don’t like to be reminded of. It’s one of those verses that husbands will hit a blind spot as they read through Ephesians. That we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. How did He love the church? He gave Himself for her.

John 3:16 talks about how God loved the world. Most translations say God so loved the world. Some people trying to paraphrase that an English will say God loved the world so much. That’s not what it means in the Greek. It uses a special word there that means God loved the world “in this way, in this manner.” In other words, the death of Christ on the cross is an exhibit for us of how God loved us.

Romans 5:8 says the same thing, “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. He gave Himself for all mankind, but the passage is specifically talking about Christ’s love for the church and what He did for the church.

Slide 11

6.      When we get to Ephesians 5:26–27, Christ sanctifies and cleanses His church by the washing of water by the word to present the church to Himself as a glorious church.

Ephesians 5:26, “… that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.”

What’s interesting here is that many people will look at this and think of this as the ongoing sanctifying or cleansing work of Christ. I don’t think that’s right. The word used for “washing” is the Greek LOUO, which means a full bath.

Jesus used this once in John 13 when He was washing the feet of the disciples.

He came to Peter and Peter said, “No Lord, you’re not going to wash my feet.” The word for “wash” in all of those passages is NIPTO, a different word for washing which means just washing hands or washing feet, washing one part of the body but not the whole body.

Jesus said, “If you don’t let me wash you, you have no role, no future inheritance with Me.” This doesn’t mean he won’t be saved, it’s just that it will limit His rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Peter says, “Well, wash me all over!” He uses LOUO showing that there’s a difference. Jesus says, “All of you have been cleansed.”

The significance here comes out of the illustration from the Old Testament that when a high priest entered into His ministry, he was bathed. The Greek word used in the Septuagint to translate that is LOUO, which means a full bath. That’s the word used here.

Subsequent washings refer to NIPTO. When the high priest would go into the tabernacle or the temple, he would go to the laver and wash his hands and his feet, that’s NIPTO.

LOUO is used of complete washing. That only happens at salvation when we are totally or perfectly sanctified in Christ, set apart in Him positionally and legally. That’s what this is talking about. Jesus Christ sanctifies us positionally and cleanses us positionally with the washing of the water of the Word which is the gospel.

Ephesians 5:27 gives the purpose, “that He might present her—His bride, the church—to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

That tells us it’s positional because in this life we’re never perfect, we’re never without sin.

That’s a brief introduction: five basic summary points related to understanding what the church is.

Slide 12

I want to move into something a little more specific:

What the Bible Teaches about the Church, the Body of Christ, in terms of what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18.

You might want to look there; it’s not necessary, but you might want to look at it. It’s a very well-known passage where Christ says that “on this rock I will build my church.”

Slide 13

1.      The distinctiveness of the church is brought out in Christ’s first use of the term, “church” in Matthew 16:18.

The word “church” is never used earlier than that statement of Christ in Matthew 16:18. In fact, the Greek EKKLESIA is only used twice in the four Gospels, both in Matthew. Once in Matthew 16:18; He’s talking about this future entity that He will build—the church.

In Matthew 18 He used EKKLESIA again when He’s talking to Peter, who asked “Well, how many times do you have to forgive somebody?” Jesus went through the process: “Well, if someone offends you, you go and talk to them privately. If they don’t respond, then you go with someone else, so there’s a witness.

If they still don’t respond, then you tell it to the assembly.” He’s not talking about the Church because He is using present tense words, and there’s no present church at that time. He’s just using the regular everyday use of assembly, which was also a synonym for the “synagogue,” which we will look at that in more specifics.

The distinctiveness of the church is brought out in this very first use by Jesus in Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this Rock—He is really talking about Himself—on this Rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Slide 14

The picture there represents the location where Jesus was in Caesarea Philippi. This was a huge rock escarpment. They’re probably down in this area. These black holes that you see in a few places are entries to caves. It was thought at that time by the Greeks and other pagans in the area that these were the gates of Hades, the gates of Sheol.

Slide 15

Jesus uses this rock as an object lesson, and you can see here a picture demonstrating that as it looks today.

Slide 16

Look at this phrase that’s so important here, where Jesus said, “I will build My church.” In the English that’s five words; in the Greek it is only four words. OIKODOMESO, “I will build,” the future active indicative of the verb. MOU is the word for “my.” Then an article with the noun, which is very important here because He is not talking about any assembly in general, but some specific one.

Usually in Greek, if you’re going to use a pronoun like “my,” it will replace the article and still indicate that there’s a definitive sense to the noun. But when the article is included along with the pronoun that shows that there is a specific emphasis on the distinctiveness and uniqueness of the noun.

Jesus said, “I will build My church.” OIKODOMESO is a verb that means to build something. Literally, it would mean to construct a physical building, and it is applied as a metaphor to construct something in an abstract sense. So, you might use this word to talk about building character into somebody.

Or it may be in terms of building a philosophical system. That is another sense. It’s not physical, but it is a non-literal construction of something.

These are the two meanings that are given in the basic Greek lexicons. If we look at this whole phrase as it is translated in English, there is something significant we can say about each element in this statement.

Slide 16

First of all, the verb is a first person singular, so that means that it is referring to the speaker alone, and in this case that is Jesus. Jesus is saying that He is the One who will build this church. No one else is going to build this church. The entire operation is the work of Christ. He’s the One who saves and He is the one who sanctifies. He’s the one who has authority, and He is going to be the One who builds and develops His church.

It’s not the pastor. It’s not the denomination. It’s not a human enterprise that builds the church. It is Christ the Head who does that. Scripture is very clear on the role of the pastor. In John 21, three times Jesus says to Peter, “Do you love Me, Peter?” Peter said, “You know, Lord, I love you.”

They use different words and synonyms; I’ve taught through them before. But at the end of each one of these three interchanges, Jesus says either “feed My sheep” or “nourish My little lambs.” He uses different synonyms, again to talk about the fact that it’s the role of the pastor, who Peter represents, the leaders in the church that their responsibility is to feed, to nourish, to provide spiritual food for the sheep—that is, members of the body of Christ.

It is the pastors’ and the evangelists’ responsibility. Paul says in Ephesians 4:11–12, that we are to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. In the early church, they had apostles and prophets, and that only applied to the first century. For the rest of the Church Age, you have evangelists and pastors and teachers.

What are they supposed to do? They are to equip the saints Ephesians 4:11–12, they are to feed the sheep in John 21. Nowhere does it say they are to build the church. It is the pastor’s job to feed and equip. It is Jesus’ job to build His church.

What we find today is that many pastors think it’s their job to build the church, and that it is somebody else’s job, usually an untrained, uneducated Sunday school teacher, to somehow feed the sheep. They’ve got it all backwards.

That’s not our philosophy of ministry here at all. My job is to feed the sheep, to teach them the Word, then I just trust that Christ is going to build His church and bless us in whatever way He desires.

Jesus says He is the One who will build His church.

Slide 17

Secondly, we see in English the word “will” This represents the future tense of the verb—will build. “I will build.” It’s not present. He doesn’t say “I am building.” He doesn’t say “I build” in the present tense. He says, future tense, “I will build.”

That tells us that the church did not exist at that point in time. The church had not existed up to that point in time. This tells us there is no church in the Old Testament. That is very important because in the Church Age from the third century on, came the development of something called “replacement theology.”

With the development of allegorical interpretation, the literal meaning of Scripture was ignored and an allegorical interpretation or spiritualized interpretation was developed. And people read their own beliefs into the text—eisegesis, where you read your beliefs or your theology into the text because the literal text doesn’t mean anything.

By the end of the third century into the fourth century, the church meant spiritual Israel, and Israel in the Old Testament meant the church of the Old Testament. So literal, physical Israel was taken out of the picture as something important today in God’s plan. This led to “replacement theology,” which does not always end up in anti-Semitism, but it is the soil out of which anti-Semitism always grows.

Sometimes it doesn’t grow anything, kind of like my garden. I can fix the soil all I want to and never grow anything, or sometimes it does. But you can’t have the growth without the right kind of soil, and the soil of replacement theology is the soil out of which anti-Semitism will grow, and that is a rebellion against God.

The essence of anti-Semitism is that God chose to use the Jewish people in His plan, and anti-Semitism says, “God, we don’t like your plan. We reject your authority to do that. We hate you, and we’re going to do it another way, so were going to show our rejection of you by hating the people that you chose.” That’s the essence of anti-Semitism; it’s a rebellion against God’s choice.

In this Church Age, God did not permanently set aside Israel, but because of their rejection of the Messiah, He went to a previously unrevealed plan, and that is to develop a second people of God: the church.

It didn’t begin until the day of Pentecost in AD 33. It was nonexistent before. This is the most difficult passage for those in covenant theology, reformed theology and Replacement Theology to get past because Jesus makes it very clear the church isn’t there yet. It’s a future thing that He will do, “I will build the church.”

Slide 18

The construction of the church through the future tense of this verb is a process. He will build it over time. That indicates that it has a specific beginning, and it has a specific ending. The beginning was when the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost in AD 33, and it ends with the rapture of the church.

Slide 19

When He says, “I will build MY church,” the significance of “My” is that we are Christ’s. We in the church are Christ’s. He is the Savior, He is the head of the body, and he is the future groom of the church, which is called the “bride of Christ.” He is the one who builds His church.

Slide 20

Then we come to the word church. “Church” refers to a distinctive group of people, a distinctive people of God, a new assembly that is comprised of all believers since Pentecost in A.D. 33 that are alive or already with the Lord.

This is also referred to as the universal church, composed of Jews and Gentiles. As Paul says in Ephesians 3:24–26, ethnicity is no longer a spiritual distinctive: there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or slave, male or female in the body of Christ.

That doesn’t mean that a Gentile isn’t a Gentile anymore or a Jew isn’t a Jew anymore, nor that a slave is automatically set free. Because you read Philemon you realize that Onesimus, the slave, was a believer. But when he became a believer, he wasn’t set free from being a slave. Those distinctives are still there.

But under the Mosaic Law, Gentiles, women, and slaves were limited in how close they could get to God in the tabernacle or the temple. They were restricted to the court of the Gentiles or the court of the women; none of these groups could have access to God. But in Christ these are no longer distinctives, and every believer is a priest unto God, and has equal access to God through our high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

These are the five things that Jesus is emphasizing when he makes this statement, “I will build My church.”

Next time we will start to look exactly and precisely at the meaning of this word “church,” and what we learn from that. We will develop a few more things before we get back directly into our passage in Ephesians 2:11.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we’re thankful for all that You’ve done for us. When we contemplate the work of Christ, what happened on the cross when He was nailed to that cross, and for three hours He suffered under the darkness as He was spiritually separated from You, as our sins were imputed to Him on the cross, we realize to some degree, though not nearly comprehensively or fully, but we realize to some degree the horror that He felt as He screams out to You, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” That He was judicially separated from You during that time as He who knew no sin was made sin for us.

“Father, we recognize that in this age believers are in a unique, distinct relationship with You because we are in Christ. And with that position in Him we have been given an incredible number of blessings. We have been enriched and empowered because of our position in Christ, we have a unique destiny because of our position in Christ, and we need to live in light of that. We are a remarkable new creation, and we need to live in light of our new identity in Christ.

“Father, we know that there may be some who may listen to this message, and they’ve never trusted in Christ as their Savior. They’ve never understood the gospel that Christ died for our sins and that He provided a full payment for our sins, so that there is nothing that we can add to it.

“When they come to understand that, then they will trust in Christ as their Savior because He died for each one of us. He died for you. He died for them. He died for all of us. If you’ve never trusted in Christ as Savior that is the point: Christ died you, for everyone. All that is necessary is for you to believe in Christ.

“Father, we pray that You would make this clear and the lessons we learned today very clear to each one of us. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”