PFOT and Ephesians 2:11-22

I am preaching on Ephesians 2: 11-22 in a few hours. After I had prepared that service I was thinking of the sad difference between the Bible and the frenetic supporters of Penal Substitution (who uncritically love Pierced for our Transgressions).

In this passage we hear how Christ has broken down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles. How Jesus has brought them both near to God and brought peace between them. How he set aside the law and put to death their hostility.

We hear how we are invited to be fellow citizens with God’s people and part of his household.  How we are being built together into a temple.

This is one of 1,000′s of wonderful passages from Scripture that demonstrate how God includes people and how Jesus broke down human made barriers (and still does).

Fantastic! Wow! What a wonderful God we worship and serve!!!!

But so often we are not satisfied. The wall that kept gentiles out of the temple may have been destroyed but we keep building new ones. PFOT is another attempt to build a wall to keep those who do not believe the "right" things out. Sadly the supporters go even further. Instead of seeing the revolutionary inclusion that Jesus taught, died and rose again for, they see the need for division and exclusion.

Of the conservative blogs that I can cope with reading (too many is just too depressing) Adrian Warnock has been a champion of this division and exclusion. His recent play with words that attempts to call a spade an apple to dodge the charge of cursing those who do not accept penal substitution as the centre of the gospel just continues to dig the hole.

As you build walls higher and higher you can see less and less. You can interact with people on the other side of the walls less and less. Your view of the sky becomes smaller and smaller. You become cut off from the world. As you will notice from the comments on Adrians posts and from many of the linked posts many are rejoicing in the building of walls and the harsher the language the happier they are.

I challenge this view of the gospel. I challenge the mindset that

  • fears others
  • builds walls rather than bridges
  • celebrates God’s wrath rather than his love
  • curses those that disagree rather than loves & forgives
  • ignores grace
  • believes in Salvation by correct thinking
  • ignores Christian history
  • denies the faith of the majority of Christians in the world
  • that will not read anything they do not agree with

these things are not worthy of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, our Saviour.

If we take that mindset how would we have written John 3:16? "For God so loved the world that …". One thing that we can be sure of is that it would not have read "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Jesus says believe in me and you will not perish but have eternal life. Believe in him! Follow him.

I am just wondering how different our lives would be if all these enthusiastic Christians started tearing down the walls and started being part of the same temple (the one in Ephesians 2:19-22). How differently the world would see Jesus if we focused on him as the bridge between us and God & each other rather than building walls between us and God & each other.

Please join me in praying for Christian unity. Not uniformity, not some bland blend but a unity built on Christ where the walls come tumbling down and where his Kingdom is revealed.

Oh and you can pray for a larger dose of grace in me so that I don’t get so wound up by people cursing me. It might help avoid ulcers in the future :-)

10 thoughts on “PFOT and Ephesians 2:11-22

  1. Adrian Warnock

    David
    Sometimes you and I say such different things it sounds like we are on different planets! But, one thing is true, I am glad to be able to interact with you. Although you might think that I ignore everything you say, the truth is I am very glad that we have this opportunity online to listen to each other. I feel I have learnt a lot through our interactions, not least about actually listening to what others are trying to say. A week or so back you said something about me “waking u up” and stirring you to have something to blog about. Perhaps you are destined (at least in the blogging world) to play the Wesley to my Whitefield if you know what I mean. Those guys fought most of their lives but I understand that their respect for each other returned towards the end of their lives. I dont think either of them denied the importance of their disagreements over doctrine, however. I hope you and I go on debating for many years to come.

    Reply
  2. PamBG

    I challenge this view of the gospel. I challenge the mindset that
    fears others….

    And I challenge a view of the ‘gospel’ that tells us that being a Christian is to be so scared of God that we think we have to get an ‘A’ in theology or we’re going to hell.

    Reply
  3. dave

    …the gospel doesn’t tell us to be scared of God… it tells us to fear him and to rejoice that because of Jesus death God has become infinitely favourable toward us!

    Reply
  4. Dave Warnock

    the gospel doesn’t tell us to be scared of God… it tells us to fear him
    Jesus teaches us to call God “daddy”, are you suggesting that daddy is someone you should fear?

    Reply
  5. dave

    …which is utterly different from the “fear” that those who reject the gospel should have:
    From Hebrews 10:
    v27, fearful expectation of judgement
    v27, fearful expectation of raging fire that will consume
    v30, God’s vengeance.
    v30, God’s judgement
    v31, falling into the hands of the living God (which is not meant in a nice way)
    I meant to say in my first comment that I think there are those in the reformed camp who talk lots about what we’re saved from and little about what we’re saved for, and who do portray God as austere and unpleasant when he is loving, just and glorious.
    The seriousness of judgement matters. The glory of calvary matters. And the wonders of the new Christ-centred creation are surely too wonderful and vast to imagine.
    I’ve been badly in the wrong whenever I’ve been cold or heartless in my talk about God. I should have a deep sense gravity and gladness as I come confidently to my Father. Profoundly humbled and grateful for the Cross.

    Reply
  6. Peter Kirk

    Dave Bluefish, do you think there is a real difference in meaning between fobos/fobeomai “fear” (noun/verb), commonly used in the New Testament in the sense of reverence or awe, and foberos “fearful” in Hebrews 10:27,31 (also 12:21, nowhere else in the NT)? Or are you simply introducing a distinction in meaning to match your theological presuppositions?

    Reply
  7. dave

    It seems to me that context determines meaning though you evidently know a whole lot more than me about translation…
    Acts 9:31 looks very different to Hebrews 10:27… in Acts the church lives in fear of the Lord, in Hebrews we’re talking about a fearful expectation of judgement if someone rejects the atoning blood of Jesus.
    Both use fear, but the church lives in the fear of the Lord under the Holy Spirit’s encouragement. Those who depart from the church are also to fear the Lord, but in their case to fear his judgement.

    Reply
  8. Peter Kirk

    Thanks. I agree that the meaning of the fear of the Lord is a complex one. I just don’t think it can be divided neatly into two simple concepts as you seemed to suggest. Even for believers there must be some kind of fear of the bad consequences of disobeying God. Acts 9:31 cannot be made to contrast with 5:11, where believers fear the Lord because of what had happened to the disobedient believers Ananias and Sapphira.

    Reply

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