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Our Union with Christ: Three Compelling Illustrations - Part 3

Tom Pennington • Ephesians 2:19-22

  • 2008-06-08 AM
  • United in Christ!
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It's time for us to turn again to Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus, as we continue our study of chapter 2. It's my hope and desire and plan that we will finish chapter 2 this morning, this magnificent picture of the church as a building. When I was at Grace to You, I had the opportunity to visit a number of international sites as I planned several of the trips. And one of them was the ancient city of Ephesus in modern day Turkey. It was a wonderful opportunity, although very little of the ancient city remains because it was destroyed by an earthquake. It is truly a remarkable place.

By far the thing that Ephesus was the most famous for in the ancient world as well as in the modern world, is the great temple of Artemis, or Diana as she was also known. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Leading from the city of Ephesus, for over a mile, there was a marble road thirty-five feet wide that led to that great temple. There, where the temple was constructed, the footprint of the temple itself was larger than a football field. The roof was supported by one hundred and seventeen magnificent and huge columns. Each of those one hundred and seventeen marble columns were six feet in diameter and sixty feet high. It was a magnificently beautiful building. But it was, at the same time, a thoroughly disgusting place. Artemis was the mother-goddess of fertility, and so there were connected to the cult there, a thousand priests and priestesses, historians tell us, with rooms in the temple for religious prostitution. It was the perfect illustration of the passage we read this morning from Psalm 115. It is the end of the nations given over to idols.

But it was that temple that the Christians in Ephesus were most familiar with. It dominated the cityscape there in Ephesus. But in his letter to them, as we will see again today, Paul tells them that they, the Christians in Ephesus, are the temple, not of Artemis, but of the living God, the true temple there in the city of Ephesus. The second half of Ephesians 2 explains that all of those who believe in Jesus Christ, regardless of their backgrounds, be they Jew or Gentile, slave or free, poor or rich, whether they be male or female, none of those things matter. All Christians have been united to God and to each other. We've been examining the wonderful results of that union, that union with God and with one another, in verses 19 - 22. Verse 19 says,

So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

All that follows the key words "so then" in verse 19, all that follows describes the logical results of that union that we now enjoy with God and with others as believers in Christ. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so Paul, here, gives us three beautiful pictures of the results of that union, three images that together help us understand the change that has occurred in our relationship to God and in our relationship to each other.

Paul says, in verse 19, think about what has happened to you like this: we are citizens of God's kingdom. The second image he uses is also in verse 19. He says, think about this union in this way: we are now members of God's family. The third picture comes in verses 20 - 22, and Paul says I want you to think about this union that has resulted in this way: we are stones in God's temple. As the church, we are as interconnected as the stones of an ancient building. Whereas Paul merely mentions the other two pictures in verse 19, in verses 20 - 22, he develops this third picture a little more, because it was the more important of the three images.

Last week we looked at the materials in this building. The building is the church, and he lays out what the materials in this building are. Verse 20 says the foundation is the New Testament apostles and prophets. The foundation of the church, of any true church, of the church that he had planted there in Ephesus, is the apostles and prophets. If you want to build a true church, you must build on that foundation, that is, on the New Testament revelation that came from Jesus Christ through His apostles and prophets, and that is about Jesus and His work. So, when Paul says that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, he means that the revelation that came through them is the foundation. What you have in the New Testament is the foundation of any church.

Today we come to the second part of the materials in this building, as he develops this metaphor a little bit. We've looked at the foundation. The second part that he comes to, the second material, comes in verse 20. It is the cornerstone. Notice how he ends verse 20, "Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" Now, what exactly is a corner stone? Well, you have to be aware of the fact that Paul is drawing this analogy from the Old Testament. Specifically from Isaiah 28: 16. That is the only place in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament where this Greek word for "corner stone" occurs. So, the New Testament text, here, must determine the use and meaning of what this word "corner stone" is by the Old Testament text from which it comes. Isaiah 28: 16 says this. Listen carefully. "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a [tested] stone, [of testing,] A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.'" So, there is the Old Testament picture, as God promises that He will lay a corner stone.

Jesus, several times in His ministry, claims to be that corner stone. The apostles go on in the ministry of the New Testament church, in the book of Acts, to say that Jesus is that corner stone. Now, what's interesting in Isaiah 28: 16 is one expression that Isaiah uses. It's translated in our New American Bibles as "a tested stone." It's literally, in the Hebrew, "a stone of testing." It may mean that the corner stone has been tested and approved. The corner stone itself has been tested and approved, and that's how the New American Standard translators took it. Or it may mean that the corner stone has become that against which everything else is tested. It is the stone of testing. Everything is to be measured against it. And I think that's the most likely meaning, because that was the function of an ancient corner stone.

Writing about the corner stone, Watkis Lloyd writes: "The corner stone here is the primary foundation stone at the angle of structure, by which the architect fixes a standard for the bearings of the walls and the crosswalls throughout." They were absolutely essential to the ancient building. The corner stone, along with the rest of the foundation stones were often huge. Herod's Temple had huge foundation stones. In fact, the largest of them, we are told by historians, was the size of a modern railroad boxcar. The Roman historian Tacitus describes the process of laying a corner stone in the ancient world. And by the way, it was a political event, much like the ribbon-cutting would be in today's world. Listen to what he writes. "Government officials, and official priests grab the ropes. At the same time the rest of the magistrates, the priests, senators, knights, and a great part of the people, putting forth their strength together in one enthusiastic and joyful effort, drag the huge stone to its place."

So, you see, this sort of ceremony, with pomp and circumstance as the corner stone is dragged to its place. That is the start of the building. This is how an ancient building of importance was built. The corner stone would have been carefully, over months prepared. It would have been squared. Every plane would have been carefully squared because, from that one stone, everything else is put into place. So, that one stone comes first. It's put into place, and then the rest of the foundation stones are brought. They are fitted and squared and trued to the cornerstone. And then every other stone in the entire building is trued to the foundation stones. So, in other words, the corner stone, then, was the ultimate measure of everything in the building. Everything was squared against it.

Paul says that Jesus Himself is the corner stone. The historical person known as Jesus of Nazareth is the corner stone. But that's not all. He says, Christ Jesus. Now, I've mentioned this to you before, but it's important to remember this because it's hard to get it out of our heads. Christ is not part of Jesus' name. It's not his last name like Pennington is my last name. Instead it is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Ha-Mashiach." It's the Messiah. It's a title, The Anointed One. The Servant of Jahweh, especially anointed to do all that Isaiah had prophesied He would do.

So, in other words, here's what Paul is saying. The historical Jesus of Nazareth, who is The Messiah, God's appointed Messiah, He is the corner stone. All is built on Christ, supported by Christ, and the lie and shape of the continuing building, as one writer says, is determined by Christ the corner stone. Who Jesus is, what He did, and what He taught must shape everything in the life of the church. Christ must be the center of any authentic church.

Lloyd-Jones, in writing on this text, says,

"there is no church apart from Jesus Christ. And that is why any movement or organization that claims to put men right with God, which does not put Christ everywhere, central, beginning, foundation, end, everywhere, is not Christian. It may do a lot of social good. It may help people. It perhaps may even produce a change in their lives, but if Christ is not essential, it is not Christian."

Folks, that's so important to understand.

There are a lot of people around us talking about things, all things Christian. Everybody in Texas, or almost everyone in Texas is a Christian. Every organization is a Christian organization. But Lloyd-Jones is right. If Christ is not essential, then it is not Christian. He must be the center of everything. He must be the center of church life. Listen, the overall mission and ministry of this church must be Christo-centric. Every specific ministry in this church must be Christ centered. If people can attend this church, if they can hear my preaching, if they can sing the music with us, if they can go to its classes and Bible studies, if they can attend its various events, and not know that we are church of Jesus Christ, then there is a problem, a serious problem.

If someone who claims to worship God, but who does not accept His Son, can attend the activities in this church and feel perfectly at home, and be perfectly happy with everything that happens, then we as a church have failed. Christ must be at the center of everything. If you're a part of the leadership of this church, if you are teaching in this church, if you have any kind of teaching or leadership role in this church, make sure that what you say and what you teach and what you do is always, always centered in Jesus Christ.

It's true of the church, but it's also true of individuals. While Paul doesn't make this point here, it's made elsewhere that Christ must be the corner stone of every life as well. Listen, every person in this room will have to deal with Jesus Christ. You, like it or not, will have to deal with Jesus Christ. You can deal with Him now as Lord and Savior, or you can deal with Him later as judge. But you will deal with Him. Jesus described Himself, during His ministry on earth, as the corner stone. He used this very image in Matthew 21. But then He said something that's thought-provoking. As soon as He claimed to be the corner stone, He made this comment. This is Matthew 21:44. "He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust." Jesus says I'm the corner stone, and if you fall on Me, you'll be broken to pieces. If I fall on you, I'll absolutely grind you to dust.

What was Jesus saying? Jesus was saying this. There are two kinds of approaches to Christ. There are those who hate Christ, and who do everything they can to undermine Him and attack Him. They are pictured in the image of something falling on the corner stone. They are, as it were, throwing themselves at Christ to do harm to Him, to do damage to Him. And Jesus says he who falls on this stone, the one who has hatred and enmity against Christ, will be broken to pieces. But on whomever it falls, here the picture isn't of active hatred of Christ. Here the picture is of apathy, indifference. I just don't care. And in this case, Jesus say, on whomever this stone falls, the one who is apathetic and ignores Me, it will scatter him like dust. You see what Christ is saying? He's saying, if you take a piece of ceramic pottery, if that piece of ceramic pottery falls on a rock, or if the rock falls on it, it makes absolutely no difference. You get the same result.

So, whether you hate Christ or whether you just ignore Him, the results will be the same. He will either be the corner stone on which your life is built and shaped, or He will ultimately become the rock that crushes you. That's what Jesus was saying. You may try, but you cannot ignore Jesus Christ. You will deal with Him in this life, or you will deal with Him when you stand before Him as judge. He is the corner stone. God has placed Him at the head of the corner. That's true of individuals, and Paul's point here in Ephesians 2 is, that's true of the church. He is the corner stone. Everything in the church must be evaluated and shaped and trued to Him.

So, as we look at the materials of this building, Paul has helped us examine the foundation. We've seen the corner stone. That brings us to the third material that Paul mentions here, and that's the stones themselves, the stones themselves. Verse 21, in whom, that is, in Christ as the corner stone, "the whole building, being fitted together, is growing." "The whole building," that phrase refers to the entire church there in Ephesus, and by application, to any church where Christ is worshiped and served, and to Countryside Bible Church as well. The whole building, the whole church, is being fitted together.

That's a very interesting verb. It translates a Greek word that's used only here and in 4:16 in all the New Testament. This is the very first time this word appears anywhere in the Greek language, because Paul made it up. He coined it. That means the concept that he's trying to communicate here must be very important to him. He made a word to get it across. It's actually a compound Greek word, made up of three different Greek words. Part of the word was a word used in the ancient world. It was used to describe a crucial part of ancient temple construction. You see, Paul is referring to how great stone buildings were made in the ancient world. Don't think brick and mortar. Don't think your house, if you have a brick house. Rather, think huge blocks of marble and granite that are carefully fit together.

This unusual Greek word describes the entire ancient process of building with those kinds of stones. In secular Greek documents it's used of cutting the stone in a quarry, going out into an area where you have a stone quarry and actually cutting the stone out. It's used then of taking that stone you've cut, and over time, carefully truing it and shaping it so that it is perfectly at right angles. Then, you take that stone after it has been cut with a chisel to the right angles, and you rub it smooth. That's a long and lengthy process, to rub that stone down smooth. Then you test it, and you fit it against the other stones. This word speaks of all of that.

It also speaks of preparing the dowels and the dowel holes in the stone. The stones were fit together with a dowel often running through them, and it even includes the process of inserting that dowel and pouring molten lead around it so that it could set up hard and strong and the stones would be affixed to one another. So, this word, then, describes that process, but Paul adds a little Greek word to it. He adds the word from which we get the word "symphony," or in which we use the word symphony. It means "together with." So, he says, we are being, we are like those stones, we're being fit together, but we are being fit together with. As individual Christians, we are being cut out of the quarry, we are being rubbed smooth, tested, and prepared to insure that we fit together with the other stones.

Folks, this is at the heart of the main point Paul is making in this metaphor of a building. He wants us to understand that God has taken us and quarried us and shaped us and fit us, and worked hard so that we fit together. That's the point. This image demolishes so many of the attitudes that drive the church today.

Think of the attitude of narcissism. This analogy is anti-narcissistic. He says, the whole building. This is about the building. There is a sense in which God thinks of the church. He does not solely think of it as individuals. Yes, He knows you. He loves you by name. He knows you individually. But God is doing something bigger. Imagine one stone in a massive temple thinking, "you know, this whole temple really is all about me." It's ridiculous. In the same way, you are one of the stones in God's larger work. You are intimately connected to and dependent on your fellow stones, and we grow by being carefully fit together, not by growing apart individually. So, this picture of a building is anti-narcissistic, a prevailing attitude in today's culture.

It's also anti-consumeristic. It's anti-consumeristic. We live in a day of choice. I don't know about you, but I wonder if you've done what I tried to do recently. Have you tried recently to buy a toothbrush? You know, used to, you go to the store and there are like four kinds. You pick a toothbrush, you're done in two minutes and you're out of there, and you're standing in the cash-register line. Now you go, and there's a whole wall of toothbrushes. There are toothbrushes that will tie your shoes! Why are there so many choices? Because each industry is trying to give consumers what they want so that they can enlarge their market share. They are playing to the consumer. They are consumer driven. And that attitude has filtered over to the church. So today, the church is offering a variety of styles and services so that the individual consumer can be happy. He can decide what he wants.

Now, think about this image that Paul is giving us here of a building. The whole image of a building reminds us that the building is not constructed for the good of the individual stones. Instead, each stone is cut and shaped so that it fits into the building. This image is anti-spectator as well. It's anti-spectator. As a believer, you are one of the stones in God's temple. Like it or not, you must be an active part of the church itself. We cannot think of our faith like a theater where we go in and sit next to strangers, enjoy what we want, and leave with no sense of obligation to anyone else. That's entertainment. That's not the church. It's been said that there are two kinds of pillars in the church. There are the pillars that hold up the church, and there are the caterpillars, that crawl in and out each week.

Listen, Christ didn't give you that option. You have a responsibility to fill. Ephesians 4:16, that we'll get to in a couple of months, says that every part of the body has a responsibility. Have you ever had the experience, as I have, of your alarm going off in the morning, and you wake up and discover to your horror, that your arm is completely asleep. Your alarm is sounding very loudly, your spouse is next to you trying to sleep longer. You desperately want to turn your alarm off, but when you try to move your arm to reach the alarm clock, it just sort of flops across the bed like a dead fish, you know. What if, from time to time during the day, that happened? If various parts of your body just decided, look, you know, I'm tired of serving. I'm just going to be here but not really serve any function today. You get the picture.

As Christians, we don't have that option either. We are members of the body. We are stones in the temple. Now, I'm not saying that it's never appropriate for a short time to step away or to scale back if you've overcommitted to ministry. But Christ is not pleased if you can attend church here week after week, month after month, year after year, and never get involved in filling your place in the church, never becoming interdependent with the other stones of the building, never filling your hole, as it were.

What Paul says next in Ephesians 2 seems to be, at first glance, a little odd. Notice what he says in verse 21: "in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing." The building is growing. Here's where the idea of the church's building breaks down. Because Paul has to acknowledge the idea of organic growth. The church is an organism, not an organization. It's alive. That's why he comes to something like Peter's living stones, in 1 Peter 2:5. As one writer says, in Ephesians the two metaphors, a building and bodily growth merge into one together. Thus Ephesians 2 refers to the growth of the temple, and chapter 4 refers to the building of the body. We are living stones in the building. By the way, there are several important lessons that come out of that analogy. Let me just mention them briefly.

Because we are living stones it means, first of all, that every stone must be rightly related to the corner stone. Just as in an ancient building, every one of us as individual stones need to be trued and squared to the corner stone, to Jesus Christ. He must be the one who determines everything in life. Also, the picture of stones, with us as stones, speaks of an intentional variety in the church. You build an ancient temple, not every stone is the same size, the same shape, the same color, the same material, or the same function. There is much variety. The same thing is true in the life of the church. The stones are carefully selected and placed in the building where the owner or the builder thinks best, not where the stone thinks best. And every stone that is added to God's ongoing greater work is for the completion of the entire building. Listen, Christianity is not about me. Christianity is not about you. God is doing something much greater. He's building a temple in which He will be worshipped.

Now, Paul leaves a question here in Ephesians, an important question, I think, unanswered. But he does answer it elsewhere. Who is doing the building? We've looked at the materials of the building, the foundation, the corner stone, the stones themselves. Let's look briefly at the workers on the building, the workers. Now the big answer is easy. Ultimately, Jesus builds the church. Matthew 16, "I will build My church." He builds it through His Spirit. Notice the last phrase of verse 22 of Ephesians 2: "in the Spirit." All of His work is being done through the work of the Spirit of God. But, folks, even the Spirit doesn't do all the work of building the church alone. He's assigned that duty out.

Turn back to 1 Corinthians. First Corinthians 3, because here Paul tells us who the builders are. He uses this same analogy. We looked at this a couple of weeks ago. In verse 9 He says, "you are … God's building." This is 1 Corinthians 3:10, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it." Now, if we had time, I would give you all of my arguments. You'll have to trust me. The bottom line is, the context here in 1 Corinthians 3 is Paul speaking to the leaders of the church in Corinth. And he tells the leaders, look, when I started the church I laid the foundation. And now, you're building on it. You'd better be careful how you build.

So, the leaders in the church are building on the foundation. They are the builders, the leaders of the church. And how do they build? How do they participate in this work of building? Well, if you turn over to Ephesians 4, we'll get here in a few months. Ephesians 4:11 tells us. He gave these leaders to the church. He gave apostles and prophets which are now past; evangelists and pastor-teachers, and He gave them why? For, because, for this reason, the equipping of the saints for the work of service.

Here's how it works. The leaders of this church are here not to do the work of service, but to build into your life, to equip you, to do the work of service. How do they do that? How do we build? How do we equip? Well, let me just give you a preview of coming attractions. Essentially, God has given leaders primarily two tools with which to build in the church. One of them is teaching God's word, and the other is praying that God would use that word taught to equip them. Think about the apostles. What did they give themselves to in Acts 6? We will give ourselves to the ministry of the word and to prayer. That's our role as well. Those are the primary tools spiritual leaders have to build.

So, we've seen the materials in the building, the foundation, the corner stone, and the individual stones. We've seen the workers, they are the God-appointed leaders of the church. But what are they building? What are we building? Well, Paul tells us here in Ephesians 2. He's pointed out the materials. We've looked at the builders. The last thing he tells us here in Ephesians 2 is the use of the building. What exactly is this building? And how is it used? Notice verse 21. It is a new temple. It is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. Now that is a remarkable statement. It's not quite as remarkable in English as it is in Greek. Let me explain it to you.

There are two Greek words for temple. The first one is "hieron." This word refers to the "temple grounds," to various parts of the temple compound, or to the entire temple compound itself. The other Greek word is "naos." That's the word used here. It refers not to the entire temple grounds, but rather to the "temple proper," the temple building that stood in the center of the temple grounds. And especially it's used to refer to the Holy of Holies, the place in the temple where God especially manifested His presence. Paul is saying the church is now the place where God specially manifests His presence. Now that is amazing, but it's especially amazing if you remember the context. Remember throughout this paragraph Paul has been talking about the temple in Jerusalem. He talked about the Jews who were considered near because they were near the temple. The Gentiles were far off because they were far off from the temple, the manifestation of God's presence. And don't forget that famous dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles.

But here, Paul says, forget about the Jerusalem Temple. It is outdated. God is building a new temple, a new place where He specifically manifests His presence, and it's not made by human hands. It's not made of marble and granite. It is made up of people whom God hand-picks to fit together. Now, think about the logic of this for a moment. The Jewish people could not enter the Holy of Holies. Only one man, the High Priest, one time a year, with blood, could enter the Holy of Holies, could enter into God's presence. So, they couldn't go there. And the Gentiles couldn't even get close. They were separated by that wall. They couldn't go as far as the Jews could go.

Now, Paul says, believing Jews and Gentiles are the Holy of Holies. Sometimes you'll hear people refer to this room in which we're meeting as the sanctuary. That's okay. You've got to have a label of some kind, and I guess it's as good as the next. But this room is not God's sanctuary. We are. The people of the church are the Holy of Holies. And that's true of every church of Jesus Christ. The church is the new temple. It is the new Holy of Holies. By the way, that emphasizes the priority of worship. You tell me. What is the primary purpose of a temple? Worship of the Deity! When we come together as the church, we are entering the presence of God just as surely as the Old Testament worshiper entered the physical presence of God, as the High Priest when he went into the Holy of Holies entered the physical presence of God. Not because God dwells in this place, where we meet, but rather because God dwells in His people. So, when we come together as the church, God lives and dwells in us.

Notice, Paul says in verse 21, "we are a holy temple." This stresses what the church's character is to be, set apart to God. Because of the nature of the church, because of what happens when we come together, the church must be kept holy. This, by the way, is why Christ required church discipline of us. It's not that we enjoy doing that. It's not that that's something that anyone looks forward to. We do that because Christ told us, and He told us because this is a holy place. We are a holy people is a better way to say it. We are the temple, and it's supposed to be holy, even as the Old Testament temple was supposed to be holy and separate from sin of all kinds. A thrice holy God dwells among us. Notice how Paul puts it in verse 22. "In whom [that is, in Christ] you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." Now, notice the verb there in verse 22, being built together. That's crucial. He's saying, listen, whether you are Jew or Gentile, whether you're slave or free, rich or poor, male or female, we are all being built up together.

But to what end? Notice what he says in verse 22 "into a dwelling of God…." Into a dwelling of God. Let me ask you a hypothetical question. What if you got home today, and you received a telephone call that President Bush was going to be coming to stay overnight at your home in two weeks. What preparations would you make? What messes would you clean up? What areas of your home, given enough time, would you actually even change before he got there? Paul says that God isn't just coming to visit. God dwells among us. The word for "dwelling" there in verse 22 doesn't mean to visit. It means to make a place a home. God has made the church, bodies of believers like this, His home on earth. Now, if you're a Christian, if you're a living stone in God's holy temple, which is how Paul describes you here, let me ask you, what changes should you make, to make sure you're suited to that holy purpose?

Turn over to 2 Corinthians 6. Paul tells us very clearly. Second Corinthians 6, here's what's required if you're going to be a dwelling for God. In verse 16, he says "… we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY [will] [SHALL] BE MY PEOPLE."

So how do you respond to that? Well, don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That doesn't mean go out of the world. Paul said that in 1 Corinthians 5. It just means don't be connected to them in spiritual enterprises because, what agreement has the temple of God with idols, verse 16. But then he gets to the heart of it in verse 1 of chapter 7. "Therefore, [if God's going to dwell in you and walk among you, as the church,] having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Listen, you are a stone in God's Temple. Have you ever thought of yourself like that? What needs to be cleaned up to make you a suitable place for God to dwell and be at home?

Now these pictures of unity that Paul presents here in Ephesians 2 are not just theory. He's going to apply them very practically. And if I had time, I would take you to Ephesians 4 and show you. He's going to argue that we ought to be unified with one another because we have been united. It's a reality, so act like it. Don't let division come. He says, we ought to respect and appreciate, in chapter 4, the place that each stone fills, that each person fills, in the body. Each one has received an individual gift, an individual role and place. We ought to take our place in the church seriously. We are here, chapter 4:16 says, where every part is supposed to contribute. So, he's going to come back and apply what we've learned very clearly, very practically, very directly in the coming chapters. So, it's not disengaged from all life. It's extremely practical. But you've got to understand this.

There are, then, at the end of Ephesians 2, these three pictures, three pictures that describe the results of our union with God and with each other. And they're all designed to show us that we have been reconciled to God, and we have been connected permanently to each other.

The first picture, in verse 19, is that we are fellow citizens in God's kingdom. What does that mean? It means God is now our king, and we are all fellow citizens of the same country.

The second picture is that we are family members in God's family. God has become our father, and we have become brothers and sisters in the same family.

Paul's third picture is that we are living stones in God's temple. Each of us has been carefully placed by God into the temple and permanently connected to each other, and together, we have become the new Holy of Holies, the modern-day place where God especially manifests His presence. Folks, we are God's home on earth. May God help us to remember the amazing results of what He has done for us in Christ, in reconciling us to God and reconciling us to each other.

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we thank You for these wonderful portraits of what You have done for us by making Christ our peace. He has reconciled us to You and to each other. Father, we thank You that You are now our king, that we belong to Your kingdom. We thank You Father, that You are now our Father, and we thank You that You have come to dwell in us, among us, who are Your people. We who once were far off, who were Your enemies, are now the very place You call home.

Father, we thank You as well for what You have done in our relationship with each other. That we, who come from so many different backgrounds, so many differences, are now fellow citizens of Your kingdom. Father, remind us that we are now brothers and sisters in the family, and that we are living stones interconnected to and dependent on one another by Your design, and not ours. Father, help us to think biblically.

And Lord, I pray for the person here this morning who has never come to know Christ as the cornerstone. Lord, I pray that they would not delay, they would deal with Christ now before He becomes the stone that crushes them. We pray that today would be the day.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

United in Christ!