December 4th 2018 – Ephesians 2:11-18

"11Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."

Ephesians 2:11-18

When once we grasp the reality of what Denney says (see yesterdays Note in his commentary on 2 Corinthians), we begin to see what a profound and moving doctrine this is, and what tremendous light it sheds on the message of the cross. Let us ponder it a little further. 'Something on God's side', Denney said. What, then, is this 'something on God's side' that needs to be removed before peace can be made? It is, as Paul says in 15, 'the enmity'. But to what does this refer? Frequently, people tend to say 'I have nothing against God'. Here are some words by Leon Morris, in his book 'The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross':

'Man is quite content to get along amiably with His Maker, and does not, in point of fact, regard his sin as a just cause for enmity. He himself is not greatly concerned about the trifle of wrongdoing that is in him, and he cannot see why God should be. So when sinful man is content to let bygones be bygones, but nevertheless God speaks of an enmity, it is hard to see how it can be maintained that there is no enmity from the side of God. The point is that it is God's demand for holiness which causes the enmity, and not a conscious hostility on the part of man against God.'

This enmity from the side of God, which is simply another way of speaking of the divine wrath and the condemnation which it involves, are not unreal things, as Denney points out, but the most real things of which human nature has any knowledge until it receives the reconciliation:'They are as real as a bad conscience; as real as misery, impotence and despair. And it is the glory of the gospel, as Paul understood it, that it deals with them as real. It does not tell men that they are illusions, and that only their groundless fear and distrust have ever stood between them and God. It tells them that God has dealt seriously with these things for their removal, that awful as they are He has put them away with an awful demonstration of His love; it tells them that God has made peace at an infinite cost, and that the priceless peace is now freely offered them.'