Ephesians 2:15-18 God welcomes us with open arms

God always welcomes us. True, we need to “clear the air” with confession of our daily failures, sins of commission and omission constantly. God prefers complete honesty. But nevertheless, we are kin, related to God through the Lord Jesus, part of a family. We’re always welcome–even when we mess up.

In the verses below, we have part 2 of “God has brought peace between the Jew and non-Jew in the Body of Christ”:

(2:15) The law consisting of the commandments in decrees He made inactive (“unplugged” it) in order that He might create into Him one new man (different in nature and quality from the old), making peace.

The Old Testament ritual law was cancelled because God had something new for us: The body of Christ, the inclusive family of God.

 (2:16)  And He reconciled both within one body to God through the cross, having slain (again) within Him the hostility .

The hostility between Jew and Gentile was extinguished within the person of Jesus Christ.

 (2:17)  And having come, He announced the good news of peace to you who were far and peace to the ones near,

The Gospel is for all.

(2:18)  because through Him we both are having ongoing entrance (access)  within one Spirit to the Father.

Now every believer has direct access to God via the Holy Spirit.

There’s an important thing to notice in verse 15 above.  Jesus Christ did away with the Old Testament sacrificial system.  It was really a dramatization of the salvation that would be  provided and realized through His death on the cross of Calvary.  It illustrated the seriousness of sin. After all, animals were killed as symbols of the death of Christ. Their suffering illustrated the seriousness of the suffering of Christ yet to come, the latter being much worse.  It was a by-faith act of Old Testament believers, looking forward in time, anticipating the one death that really mattered, Jesus’ death.

But one important part of the law remains, the moral aspects. It is still wrong to lie, to take God’s name in vain, to commit adultery, to steal.

But there was a fundamental change.  Now our access to God is not through a location-specific temple, nor is it through a sacrificial system of ritual animal sacrifices, or really any ritual for that matter..

Our access to God the Father is through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. And we are all siblings now, brothers and sisters (and all are sons of God). Jew and Gentile alike. There is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. 2:5.

We all have Christ within via the Holy Spirit. God’s temple is now us, the body of Christ. We each of us have access to God the Father through Jesus Christ, not through a this-earth, geographically-located physical temple. We can go to God and be heard at any time, at any place, within any situation.

So the cross of Jesus Christ did more than clear the way for the forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation to God—bringing peace between God and humankind.  It also brought peace between us humans—potentially.

Throughout the long Old Testament period, there was a real division between the Jewish people and non-Jewish people, a hostility on both sides, a segregation if you will.  This mutual prejudice was so strong, Paul spent several verses here to emphasize that in Christ there is no valid basis for it.

Following Jesus’ death on the cross, the veil to the temple was torn in two:

 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. (Matthew 27:51, NASB)

“From top to bottom” because it was God’s doing.

That’s why Hebrews 4:16 advises us:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NASB)

That throne of grace is the holy of holies in heaven. We are to spiritually enter it with boldness.

In Jesus Christ the exclusivity of Israel has gone, never to return. (That does not mean that we should cease honoring Israel as God’s people or appreciating their contribution to the faith, however. From Israel came the Messiah and Old Testament, the Bible of first century Christians.)

But you don’t need to go through institutional priests or angels or honored saints to pray to God or through any other human (except the God-man Jesus Christ, of course—1 timothy 2:5).  And you don’t have to be in any specific place to worship God.

An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…But an hour is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:21-24, NASB)

My fellow believers, You and I can have direct access to God. We are told to go boldly whenever we feel a need for help (Hebrews 4:16 ). We are in Jesus Christ, and He is in us, and because of that we can. Because God the Father welcomes us with open arms.

What a privilege this is. We have this privilege–direct 24/7 access to almighty God– because we really are children and sons of God, both Jew and Gentile, male and female. And, remember, Paul told us to pray without ceasing. May we share our lives moment by moment with God today. Really, it’s all about fellowship, giving God some of what He will have in fullness someday, just as He blesses us constantly with some of the blessings we will inherit in fullness ourselves someday.

Here’s an awesome thought: God wants your friendship and mine.

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