You Have Been Brought Near
by Paula Miles, Guest Writer
Therefore . . . remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. BUT now you who were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
Ephesians 2:11-13; 19-22
You who were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. That is good news! No longer are we foreigners without hope and without God but citizens of His kingdom. It is here that His promises, His provision, His very presence are ours. Sin had separated us from God but in eternity past God covenanted to make a way for us to live in His presence. It is here the Psalmist says that we will have joy and eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11). As citizens of His kingdom, all of God’s promises are ”yes” in Christ (II Corinthians 1:20) and He will provide for our every need. Nearness to God really is our hope and is enough for any and every circumstance. Do you believe that?
Paul exhorts us to believe by beginning with a “therefore” and calling us to remember. The question is what is the “therefore” there for. Paul has just told the Ephesian church that they were chosen by God before the creation of the world for the praise of His glorious grace. He has reminded them this is a gift, not by works, but by grace and that God did this for them when they were dead in their transgressions. Paul is encouraging them and us to remember these truths and understand what is now ours because of the blood of Christ. We’re citizens and members of God’s household. He’s our King and our Father. We have been included in the grand story of redemption that extends from eternity past to eternity future. This bigger, grander story makes sense of our individual stories. This is a transforming truth.
There’s another truth here that we don’t want to miss. We are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. In this passage and throughout Scripture, we see that when we are united to Christ we are also united to other believers. The picture given is a building built on the foundation of the written and spoken Word, pointing us to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, who is the chief cornerstone. In Him, we are “living stones” (I Peter 2:5), being joined together, rising to become a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling place where God’s Spirit lives. The Old Testament temple was a physical reminder to God’s people of the promise of His presence, a place where His eyes and heart would always be (II Chronicles 7:16). In Christ, this physical temple becomes an international temple of living stones. In Ephesians 3:10 and I Peter 2:9, we are told that this temple rises and displays the wisdom, power, and glory of our God. As a living stone joined with others we fulfill our purpose – redeemed for the praise of His glorious grace!
Rejoice that you have been brought near to God through the blood of Christ and that in Him you have been united to other believers. Aloneness has never been part of God’s plan for you. His promises, His provision, His very presence are yours. God’s grand story of redemption makes sense of your individual story.
Father, thank you for the gift of nearness – nearness to You and nearness to Your children. Thank you that aloneness has never been part of Your plan for me. Thank you that before the creation of the world You chose me to be Your own and rescued me when I was dead in my transgressions. Teach me to delight in Your presence. Thank you for the promises and provision that are mine in Christ. Help me to believe that Your presence is enough for any and every circumstance of my life.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to A Father's Love for a Son with Special Needs audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Marriage can be difficult under any circumstances, but adding a child with special needs adds a whole new level of challenges. In this wide-ranging conversation, Steve Demme shares his passion for helping build strong marriages, but particularly wants to offer help and hope to fathers, and even more specifically, to fathers of children with special needs. Steve’s special relationship to his son, Johnny (who has Down Syndrome) shines through in this transparent interview, and offers help and hope not only to fathers, but to anyone who longs to know God as Daddy.
Paula Miles is wife to Kevin, a ruling elder at Clemson Presbyterian, and mother of Wimberly Johnson (married to Charlie), Janie, Clary, and Judy. She grew up in Anderson, SC and graduated from Clemson University. Paula has experienced the joy of being both a full time homemaker and a public school teacher. Studying and teaching God’s Word is her passion, as well as coming alongside women to encourage them to understand their unique design and fulfill their individual callings. Paula is on staff at Clemson Presbyterian as women’s ministry coordinator since 2014, is a conference speaker, and serves on the national women’s ministry team for the PCA as a women’s ministry trainer. She enjoys regular exercise, watching sporting events, and investing in the lives of her family.
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