Chapter 31: SHE
PROCLAIMS FOR ALL MEN FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST
by Jim Massey
Christ's church is Christ's
people. "Called out" from other people who are not Christ-like. Jesus loved all
men of all races and tasted death for "every man" (Hebrews 2:9). His death was
God's means of overcoming the broken fellowship between God and man, caused by
Because God and Christians have
wonderful companionship when sins are forgiven in Christ, this fellowship
provides the way for all races and segments of society to be one with each
other. All colors, economic levels, and social distinctions become "one in
Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Christ's church shows Christ's oneness to all
God's plan to forgive all men
in Christ required selection of a special race, the Jews, the descendents of
Abraham, to bring Christ into the world. These Jews missed the point of their
special privilege and became proud racists in their vain superiority over other
nations (the Gentiles). But godliness (God-like-ness) opposes national or
personal self-elevation, because "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34).
No racial prejudice ever
surpassed Jewish hatred for Gentiles. But Ephesians 2:14 shows that Jesus "is
our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition."
Verse 15 says that he abolished in his flesh the hatred, that he might create of
Jew and Gentile "one new man, so making peace." Verse 16 explains how Jew and
Gentile were both reconciled to God and to one another by the cross and in one
body, the church.
The church of Jesus Christ,
therefore, is God's eternal plan for human and divine togetherness for all men.
The universal leveling produced by a common salvation in Jesus' death results in
a universal fellowship of Christ-like love and concern. Early Christians "had
all things common" (Acts 4:32) and functioned unselfishly for the good of each
other as do parts of a human body (Romans 12:5).
Today's world is full of hatred
between races, castes, religions, colors, economic levels, and proud
individuals. All hatred comes from our separation from God, but love comes from
God. "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8). God's
love is the only source of genuine fellowship to heal our world's bigotry and
The good news (gospel) message
that God so loves the whole sinful world that he gave his only-begotten Son to
die for it (John 3:16) is the only basis for peace among men. No legislation by
law-makers nor sincere efforts by social peacemakers can solve the real problem
-- man's sin and necessary separation from God's holiness.
God is holy and pure. He cannot
stand sin. His presence before Moses made ordinary dirt "holy ground" (Exodus
3:5). His name is holy and reverend (Psalm 111:9). Angels sing, "Thou alone art
holy" (Revelation 15:4). Man must be holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
Without holiness no man can have fellowship with God (Hebrews 12:14).
But man is not holy by nature,
he is sinful. He is basically un-God-like, or ungodly. The thoughts of man's
heart are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). There is not a just man on the
earth that doeth good and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20). There is none
righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). All men have sinned and come short of the
glory of God (Romans 3:23). Man is fleshly, sold under sin (Romans 7:14). In his
flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18).
Because God's nature is angered
by sin, He must punish every sin. He has eyes too pure to look upon sin (Habbakuk
1:13). Evil is an abomination to God (Proverbs 15:8). His wrath is revealed
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Every sin must
receive a proper punishment (Hebrews 2:2). If God failed to punish a single sin,
he would be imperfect in justice. He would be like an unfair judge, partial and
corrupt. But because he is perfectly just, God must punish every sin.
This shows why Jesus had to die
for sinners. The very nature of God cannot stand sin. But the very nature of man
is to practice sin. Because God is perfectly just, he must punish man's sin. And
a perfect standard of right and wrong doesn't remedy man's sin problem. Law only
exposes man's guilt and his need to be forgiven of sin. By the basic nature of
God and man, the only way man could be forgiven by God was for God to find a way
to punish sin and yet to forgive man, the sinner. Jesus' death was the answer.
Christ suffered in the place of
sinners. Because God must punish sin, man's sins were punished upon Jesus. His
death was a substitute sacrifice for us. He has borne our griefs and carried our
sorrows. He was stricken, afflicted, and smitten of God. He was wounded for our
transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. He was chastened so that we
could have peace with God. With his stripes we are healed. God has laid upon him
the sins of us all. God's demand for sin's punishment was satisfied when he saw
the travail of his soul (Isaiah 53:4-12). Christ suffered sin's penalty in man's
The word "atonement" means
"at-one-ment." It is the price paid which enables peace to be restored between
enemies. Him who knew no sin, God made to be sin on our be- half that we might
be made righteous because of him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus bore our sins in
his body on the cross, and by his stripes we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). Christ
suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1
Pet. 3:18). All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but forgiveness
of sins freely justifies or makes man righteous in Christ (Romans 3:23, 24).
This is possible because God has given Jesus as a sin-offering that satisfies
God's anger against sin. God now can both punish sin and also forgive the sinner
who trusts in Jesus (Romans 3:25,26).
A man from Ethiopia was riding
in his chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah about God's suffering Lamb upon whom
man's sins were laid (Acts 8:28). The preacher Philip began at this Scripture
and preached unto him Jesus (verse 35). The Ethiopian then wanted to be baptized
(verse 36). They stopped the chariot, went down into the water, and the man was
baptized (verse 38). He then came up out of the water rejoicing because his sins
had been forgiven in the death of Jesus (verse 39).
The Ethiopian African had been
taught by Philip, a Jew - racism had been erased by the atonement message of
Jesus. The death of Jesus erased hatred between God and man and between men and
other men. Christians have all things common in Christ's one body, the church.
Men of different races and status become new men in Christ, who then proclaim
the saving message of the cross to a world of sinners of all races alienated
from God and from one another.
What causes the separation of
fellowship between God and man?
What was God's purpose for the
Jews, and how did they corrupt this purpose?
What body is God's plan for
Where does hatred come from?
Where does love come from?
Name two characteristics of God
which cause him to separate from man.
Explain the meaning of
What was the Ethiopian reading,
what did he hear preached, what did he do, and why did he rejoice?
Why would Philip, a Jew
associate with an Ethiopian?
What message will saved sinners
give their lives to proclaim?