Ephesians 2:11-18 is one of the most wonderful passages in all of Scripture. It helps remind us of what life is like since Christ came into our hearts bringing reconciliation and peace. We were far off and separated from God (Ephesians 2:11-13). Christ brings us near to God (Ephesians 2:13). Christ brings us peace (Ephesians 2:14-15). Christ brings us reconciliation (Ephesians 2:16-17). Christ brings us access to God (Ephesians 2:18).
Before Christ, we were far off and separated from God. Paul is referring to Gentiles, that is, to everyone who was not a Jew. Before Christ there was a great gulf, a great distance that separated most of the world from God. Six things kept us from God. (1) We were barricaded from God by the Jews. (2) We were “without Christ.” (3) We were “aliens” from God’s people. (4) We were “strangers from the covenant and promises of God.” (5) We had “no hope.” (6) We were “without God in the world.”
The words “but now” in Ephesians 2:13 are cataclysmic, a forceful contrast. Christ Jesus has now come into the world. Why was it necessary for Christ to die in order to bring us near God? There are at least two reasons. (1) Man was estranged from God: he had rejected and rebelled against God. God wanted to show just how much He loves the world. No “greater love can a man give than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). However, God has gone much farther than just giving His life for His friends. But note the point: we were not friends of God. We were enemies, in rebellion against Him, rejecting Him and every righteous law of His. Christ brings us peace when we realize that He died for us and offers us deliverance from the bondage of sin and death and a life of eternity with God. Christ brings a deeper sense of peace when we realize that He gives the daily power to overcome the aggravating and terrible weight of anguish and guilt and loneliness and emptiness and fear. Christ brings a still deeper sense of peace when we realize that He has brought perfect love and unity to the world. In the words of D. L. Moody, “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.” Thomas À Kempis (C. 1380-1471) summed it up this way, “All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.”
Christ is man’s peace because He does four things for man. (1) Christ brings peace by bringing men together as “one” (Ephesians 2:14) (2) Christ brings peace by breaking down all barriers (Ephesians 2:14). (3) Christ brings peace by wiping out the enmity of the law against us. (Ephesians 2:15) Christ brings peace by creating a “new man.”(Ephesians 2:15) The word “reconcile” (Ephesians 2:16) means to change, to change thoroughly, to exchange, to change from enmity to friendship, to bring together, to restore. The idea is that two persons who should have been together all along are brought together; two persons who had something between them are restored and reunited. Never once is God said to be reconciled to man; it is always man who is reconciled to God. A certain king was very rich. His power was known throughout the world. But he was most unhappy, for he desired a wife. Without a queen, the vast palace was empty. One day, while riding through the streets of a small village, he saw a beautiful peasant girl. So lovely was she that the heart of the king was won. He wanted her more than anything he had ever desired. On succeeding days, he would ride by her house on the mere hope of seeing her for a moment in passing. He wondered how he might win her love. At last, he knew what he must do. He would go to the village and become one of the peasants. He would work and suffer with
them. He would actually become a peasant. This he did. And he won his wife. God also consider how He might win humankind. God in Christ became one of us. He took upon Him the form of human flesh to dwell among us. Paul says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself”
Finally, Christ brings us access to God. The word “access” in Ephesians 2:18 means to bring to, to move to, to introduce, or to present. The thought is that of being in a royal court and being presented and introduced to the King of kings. Jesus Christ is the One who throws open the door into God’s presence. He is the One who presents us to God, the Sovereign Majesty of the universe. It is the Holy Spirit who escorts us into God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Nature of God within us that gives us permanent access into God’s presence. (John 3:5; Romans 8:11; 2 Peter 1:4). The Holy Spirit is the One who works in us and stirs us to move more and more into God’s presence (Romans 8:14; Galatians 4:6-7). The Holy Spirit is the One within us who bears witness that we are children of God and should approach God continually (Romans 8:15-16; Gal 4:4-6).
There is one eternal principle which will be valid as long as the world lasts. The principle is that Forgiveness is a costly thing. Human forgiveness is costly. Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Praise God! I am forgiven.