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The Modern (Church) Family - Ephesians 2:11-19

Taught on | Keywords: the body, church, community, diversity, division, family, humility, peace, unity

Jesus stated His intention to build His church (see Matthew 16:18). What He had in mind was a family of sorts—a new community made up of people as diverse as there are people in the world (see Acts 2:44). Many of us would not naturally hang out together. Our differences may be profound, our viewpoints and backgrounds may be in conflict, and our ideas may seem incompatible. But there is a glue that is stronger than all that. We are in Christ. And if Jesus is your Savior and God is your Father, that makes us a modern family.

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8/1/2021
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The Modern (Church) Family
Ephesians 2:11-19
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Jesus stated His intention to build His church (see Matthew 16:18). What He had in mind was a family of sorts—a new community made up of people as diverse as there are people in the world (see Acts 2:44). Many of us would not naturally hang out together. Our differences may be profound, our viewpoints and backgrounds may be in conflict, and our ideas may seem incompatible. But there is a glue that is stronger than all that. We are in Christ. And if Jesus is your Savior and God is your Father, that makes us a modern family.
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Your biggest adversary is not the opponent across the chess board. And the idea of a diverse, inclusive family didn't originate with a sitcom. In this teaching series, Skip Heitzig leverages some of the most popular shows to illuminate spiritual truths. Find out God's plan to give you the power to break bad habits, reward you with an everlasting crown, out-strategize your fiercest enemy, and more.

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Outline

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  1. We Were Out; Now We’re In (vv. 11-13)

  2. We Were Separated; Now We’re Integrated (vv. 14-18)

  3. We Were Foreigners; Now We’re Family (v. 19)

Keywords: the body, church, community, diversity, division, family, humility, peace, unity

Study Guide

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Connect Group Guide: August 1, 2021
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “The Modern (Church) Family”
Text: Ephesians 2:11-19

Main Point
Jesus stated His intention to build His church (see Matthew 16:18). What He had in mind was a family of sorts—a new community made up of people as diverse as there are people in the world (see Acts 2:44). Many of us would not naturally hang out together. Our differences may be profound, our viewpoints and backgrounds may be in conflict, and our ideas may seem incompatible. But there is a glue that is stronger than all that. We are in Christ. And if Jesus is your Savior and God is your Father, that makes us a modern family.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” —Ephesians 2:13

Talk about It
  1. How has your relationship with God changed your views and thus your treatment of other people? Discuss the walls of separation you had with other people before coming to Christ that have now been taken down after coming to Christ.
  2. Do you remember being on the outside—without Christ and without hope? Who do you know who may be living in what Henry David Thoreau called “quiet desperation”? How can you be a proactive part of bringing those on the outside inside?
  3. Why is being in God’s family more satisfying than being a part of any other community?
“The gospel was the answer to heal division. Jesus came to build a new community—His church.” —Pastor Skip

Make It Practical
  • Remember your identity. The moment you said yes to Christ, you became part of a new community with new priorities and allegiances. We are in Christ; our allegiance shouldn’t be to the Republican elephant or to the Democrat donkey but to the Lamb.
  • Live with humility, since this is Jesus’ family and since this is His work and not yours. We live in an angry world. Meet that anger with compassion, kindness, and humility, and be “swift to hear.” Read James 1:19.
  • Seek tranquility. Peace is mentioned three times in this passage. In Colossians and Philippians, Paul talked about the peace of God ruling and controlling us. Peter urged us to pray, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (see 1 Timothy 2:1-3). Try fasting from social media (it may be one of the things that is destroying your peace).
Pray
Father, You united people through Your blood, regardless of background, culture, or race. You broke down the barriers that separated us and made us Your children—Your family. We were outsiders without hope and You brought us inside, separated and now integrated. There are still so many far off from You. Help us to see people the way You see them, as potential sheep—people You want to bring in as members of Your household. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Facilitator Tips
  • If you don’t already do so, consider sharing a meal together. Share the load with those in your group who can bring part of the meal.
  • Connect Group weekend is August 7-8. All open groups will have an opportunity to invite people into their groups.
Cross references: John 10:14-18; Acts 10:13-15; 21:26-29; Romans 9:3-5; Ephesians 1:3-4; 3:6, 14-15; Hebrews 2:11; Revelation 5:9-10

Transcript

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The Modern (Church) Family - Ephesians 2:11-19 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Good morning. Would you bring-- would you bring your Bibles. The Bibles that you did bring, would you turn in them to the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, the book of Ephesians in your New Testament, chapter 2.

If you know the name John Newton from history, you may not know that he was a racist at one point, by his own admission. And I know that's a very charged word, especially in our present culture, but understand that John Newton was driven by prejudice so much so that he sold West Africans in the human slave trade over a century ago. But he was reading a book at the time, a very famous book called The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.

He was convicted. Long story short, John Newton gave his life to Christ, totally transformed, stopped doing what he was doing, joined the church, became a clergyman in the church, and wanted to contribute to the family of God by writing songs for the church. He wrote over 300 hymns. The hymn, though, that we associate with his name, John Newton, is a singular song known worldwide, "Amazing Grace," how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

Now, that's not just a word he threw in there. That man believed it to be true. I was a wretch, a racist, prejudiced wretch, and God saved me.

On his deathbed, John Newton said, my memory is almost gone, but two things I remember, that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior. And when it comes down to it, that's really all you need to remember. You're a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior. And you bring those two together and you have a winning combination.

He said, I remember that. I'll never forget that. With that in mind, notice the opening words of verse 11 in Ephesians 2. "Therefore, remember."

Now, you know that prejudice is a part of humanity. I think, at one time, every single one of us has engaged in it, said certain things we wish we didn't, but we're all guilty of it. Everywhere in the world throughout history it has been the case.

You could go over to Northern Ireland and think about what happened historically between the Catholics and Protestants. You could go to the Middle East. There has been an ongoing feud, prejudicial feud, between even Muslims in that part of the world, Shia and Sunni Islam, also in the Middle East between the Arabs and the Israelis, also in Syria between the Kurds and the Druze and the Yazidis, down in Australia between Australians and Native Australians, Aborigines.

In South Africa, they had apartheid. In the United States, we had a Civil War. In Rwanda, there was a tribal feud between the Hutus and Tutsis, which decimated millions of lives. That's prejudice. That's racism.

Now, what you need to understand is that the first century, in which Paul the apostle wrote this and other letters, was exactly the same. It was a world that was torn by cultural, national, and racial instability. Romans looked down on anybody who wasn't a Roman. Greeks look down on anybody who didn't speak Greek.

In fact, to the Greeks there were only two classes of people on Earth-- Greeks and barbarians. They coined the term "barbarians." That's because, if you didn't speak Greek, it sounded like, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar. That's where the term "barbarian" came from.

The Jews look down on people who were not Jews. So that kind of division was very, very common.

The answer to all of that was the gospel because in the midst of all of that animosity, the church was born. And in the church were Romans and Greeks and Jews and male and female and slave owners and slaves and, and, and.

In fact, Jesus came, and it wasn't like, well, let's celebrate the different cultures. No, let's eliminate the boundaries that separate us. And Jesus came to bring a new community. He said, I will build my church, a whole new group, a whole new identity.

And so here we are, different backgrounds, different cultures, vastly different ideologies. In fact, the truth is, you couldn't get some of us together in the same room were it not for Jesus Christ. Somebody once said, there's lots of different kinds of nuts in the Lord's fruitcake. So from one nut to another nut, welcome to God's fruitcake.

In fact, there's going to be a song in heaven, the lyrics in Revelation 5 are given to us. They go like this. For you have redeemed us by your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

So good.

You've done that. Several years ago, in the year 2000, I had the privilege of being a part of and speaking at what was called Amsterdam 2000. And in Amsterdam 2000, they got people from all over the world-- Christian missionaries, evangelists, Christian workers. And it was a nine-day conference, 10,287 participants, Christian workers from 209 different nations and territories.

And all I could think about when I was in that large room, with all these different people and languages, I thought of heaven because we were singing songs. Everybody knew the melodies to because they're the same melody across different cultures and languages. But when we started singing "Amazing Grace," each in their own heart language, it was just like, OK, this is what heaven is going to be like.

We are in Ephesians chapter 2, and we're looking at the second half of Ephesians chapter 2, where Paul introduces for us the modern family, not like the ancient family, not a singular group that God made a covenant with, but a covenant that includes everyone, every tribe, every tongue, every nation. And so what Paul does is remind them, his readers, who they were, what Jesus did for them, and what they have now become, this new society.

And what I want to show you is three great changes that happened to them and thus three great changes that have happened to us. We were out, now we're in. That's one. We were separated, now we're integrated. That's two. And we were foreigners, but now we're family. That's three.

And so Paul is sort of saying the same thing, but he does it in a few different ways. He sort of builds on this theme and unpacks that idea for us, the first being, we were out, but now we're in. Let's look at it, verse 11. Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles-- I'm going to get to that in just a moment-- once Gentiles in the flesh, who are called on circumcision by what is called the circumcision, made in the flesh by hands that at that time you were, without Christ, being alien, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

But now, in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. This is our past life. This is our BC experience, Before Christ, for most of us.

Now, granted, some of you might have a Jewish background. Some of you may have been orthodox Jews. But for the most part, I'm looking at a group of non-Jewish people, Gentile people, self included. And so the people at Ephesus were also.

The Jewish word for us, Gentiles, is goy. Ever heard that term, "goy?" That's a Hebrew word. Goy is a Gentile. Goyim is the plural, Hebrew plural, and it literally means "the nation." So the Jews divided the world up into Judaism and the world, the nations, goy, goyim.

Now, according to Paul the apostle, being Jewish brought with it some advantages, many advantages. He lists them in Romans chapter 9. This is what he writes.

They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God's special children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave his law to them. They have the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. Their ancestors were great people of God, and Christ himself was a Jew, as far as his human nature is concerned.

Now, that's the list of the advantages a Jewish person has. God has given them the scriptures, God has given them the patriarchs, God has given them the temple worship, God gave them the sacrifices. Thus God gave them the approach to himself, God gave them the priesthood. God promised to them the Messiah. So from a spiritual standpoint, they had it all.

We Gentiles, on the other hand, had nothing. We were, as Paul describes here, without, without. We were without Christ, we are without the covenants, we are without God, we are without hope.

But the Jews, unfortunately, instead of using their position to attract Gentiles into God's kingdom, which is what God planned all along and told them all along in the Old Testament, plain as day, they used their exalted position to look down their nose at people who are not like them, derogatorily. Note in verse 11-- Paul, being a Jewish rabbi, would have understood this-- therefore, remember that you once Gentiles in the flesh-- now watch this-- who are called on circumcision by what is called the circumcision. The circumcision refers to Jewish people.

They use the term "uncircumcision" as a derogatory, divisive term. Those uncircumcised Philistines, they're not like us. We are insiders, they are outsiders. And it was a point of pride to them.

Did you know 2,000 years ago-- and it's written in their records-- that Jews believed, some of them, Jews believed that there was one reason God created non-Jews, one reason, to make hell hotter. That's their purpose, in their words, to kindle or stoke the fires of hell.

So God just sort of wants to keep the temperature going, maybe increase a little bit, so he makes more Gentiles, throws them in, throws them in, throws them in. That's why God created Gentiles.

Strict Jews would not even walk down the street if a Gentile were coming the other direction, they'd just take a different route. It was not lawful for these Jews to help a Gentile woman who is pregnant in her hour of need and delivering a baby. They were not allowed to help her because, if they did, they would be guilty and helping bring another Gentile into the world.

If a Jewish girl got married to a Gentile boy, oftentimes her family would conduct her funeral the same day. They'd just say, she's dead to us. She doesn't live. She doesn't exist.

There is a story in one of the rabbinical sources about a Gentile woman who came to a famous rabbi, Rabbi Eleazar, and she came and she confessed that she was a sinner and that she wanted to live a righteous life. And she wanted to be admitted into the Jewish faith, and so she came up to Rabbi Eleazar and said, rabbi, bring me near. Bring me near, that was the term of let me into Judaism. I know that I'm a far off, bring me near.

And Rabbi Eleazar said, no. You cannot come near. And he closed the door on her face.

So look back at verse 12 because we have a summary statement of the problem, our plight. It says, having no hope without God in the world. That's as low as you can go, having no hope without God in the world.

Historians tell us that at that time in the world, the Gentile world, there was a pervasive cloud of hopelessness, that, more than ever before, people started feeling let down by their gods, by their belief systems, whether they were Greeks or Romans. All of the polytheism they had believed in let them down. They felt vulnerable, they felt empty.

And R. Kent Hughes writes, the first century was an age of suicide. So depression was up, suicide was up, people felt let down, people felt hopeless. And as I started reading this week about the Gentile world and this description, having no hope without God in the world, I thought, talk about a contemporary description. That sounds so similar to right now. And I just don't mean modern world, I mean right now, the time in which we live.

Before COVID-19 hit, there was a Washington Post article from 2019 that said-- this is right before the virus hit-- Americans are facing a rising tide of despair. That was then. That was before COVID, a rising tide of despair. The article talked about hopelessness over and over and over again.

Now, a year later, the LA Times put this out, signs of depression have tripled in the United States since COVID-19. Having no hope without God in the world, that is a description of what is all around us right now.

I mean, think about it. How many people do you know that genuinely enjoy life? How many people do you know that really love their job? You can't even get people back to the job to enjoy it. How many people do who are still excited about their marriage? How many people do you know who live enthusiastic lives?

Having no hope without God in the world, that's the description. That's being outside.

But look at verse 13. But now-- there's hope in those two words, but now. It's like John Newton in the song, I once was blind, but now I see, was lost, but now I'm found. But now, in Christ Jesus, you, who once were a far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

I remember how it felt when I was in high school and my classmates would stand on the basketball court and pick teams. Do you remember them doing that? I remember how it felt not being picked.

What do you mean, not being picked? You're 6'5", they'd pick you first. No, you haven't seen me play. They had. So I'd just sort of stand over there and felt really bad as they would take everybody else, even the guy who was, like, this tall. It's like, OK.

But I also remember how good it felt when there was a new kid at school and he picked me first. It really felt good. I remember how it felt when I would get letters from colleges saying, no, we're not going to admit you into our college. And I remember how good it felt the day that I opened up the letter that said, you are welcome in our facility.

Exclusion never feels good. Inclusion always feels good. Paul said, you were an outsider, but now you're an insider because you're in Christ.

I've always loved a guy by the name of G. Campbell Morgan, century ago, expositor of the word, in London. When G. Campbell Morgan was younger and he was trying out for a church-- he wanted to be a pastor, and he became a great one. But at that time, he was candidating for a church. At that time, they had a board of people who would listen to a sermon and grade him and accept or reject him.

Well, he didn't make it. And he was so despondent that he wired his father-- so this is the day before computers and texting. He had to go find a telegraph and wire, and you got charged by the word. So he gave his dad one word, rejected. Rejected.

His father immediately wired him back this response, rejected on Earth, accepted in heaven. Rejected on Earth, accepted in heaven. Right now, no matter what you are going through, dear Christian, you are accepted in heaven.

If you have lost your health or you're feeling that loss of health, you are accepted in heaven. If you are excluded by a circle of friends, so what? You have been accepted in heaven. If you've been cast out by your family, you're accepted in heaven.

You've been demoted at work, accepted and heaven. You've been pushed off social media, scorned by your friends, you are accepted in heaven. You are in on the greatest plan ever hatched. You're in on it.

We have sung a song around this joint. It's a really good song. I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who you say I am.

You need to wake up tomorrow and sing that song. You are accepted. But now, in Christ, you, who were once a far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. So that's the first change. We were out, now we're in.

Here's the second change that has happened. We were separated, but now we're integrated. Look at verse 14.

For He Himself-- that is Jesus Christ-- He Himself is our peace who has made both one, both meaning Jew and Gentile. He's made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who are far off and to those who were near, for through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Did you know that Judaism was all about separation and not inclusion? There were walls, there were courtyards, and there were rooms, and everybody sort of had their place to be in. So for example, if you were to go to a synagogue, you could not sit in the synagogue like you're seated here this morning. If you were sitting in an ancient synagogue, on one side would be the men, on the other side would be the men's wives, or the women. They would be separated by gender.

Then there was a room, a special room, for converts to Judaism called proselytes, proselytes of the gate, resident aliens who wanted to identify with Judaism. They could come, but they had to be in their own kind of special penalty box, their own special room.

Then if you went to the temple, there were courts and there was separation and there were walls. So just for the sake of analogy, I'm going to use this platform for the temple. And it's a poor illustration because the temple was 35 acres, so I just have a few feet up here. So let's just sort of get the picture.

The temple itself, the building where God was worshipped, it was a building built on a platform. And on the same level of the platform that the temple proper stood, there was a court right around the temple structure called the Court of the Priests. And the only people who could go in that court were Jewish priests. Only the priests could go in there. If you were a Jewish male, you couldn't do it unless you were a priest.

Around that Court of the Priests was called the Court of Israel, and only Jewish men could be in that court. Around that court but a little further out, same level, same level as the main platform, was the Court of the Women. Jewish women could be there.

And then you would descend several steps, and you would get down to a low level. And there was a wall at that level that was 4 and 1/2 feet tall, and it went around the whole outer courtyard, known as the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles was so far away from the temple activities proper, it was like the nosebleed seats at a stadium. It's like, yeah, you can get in and you can see the game, but you better bring binoculars. It was sort of like that.

Now, I said that there was a wall 4 and 1/2 feet tall. On that wall there were signs, basically, like, keep out signs or beware of dog signs. But this was, like, beware of death signs.

And by the way, two of them have been discovered. One is in a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. The other is in a museum in Jerusalem in Israel. And it is known as the death inscription because this is exactly how the sign read.

Now, imagine you're a Gentile. You want to get close to the temple. You are stopped by a wall with this sign. No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and the enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death. Welcome to church. That was the sign.

Paul the apostle knew about this from personal experience. In Acts 21, Paul is in Jerusalem. He's a Jewish rabbi. He can go in the Court of the Gentiles, he can go to the Court of the Women, he can go into the Court of Israel. He was a Pharisee, so he had access.

But he was in Jerusalem, and the orthodox Jews saw Paul talking to and hanging out with an Ephesian Gentile by the name of Trophimus. And so they figured, Paul must be bringing Gentiles into the temple. And we are told in Acts 21 this accusation, he has brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. And they called for his death.

So Paul knew all about enmity. Paul knew all about separation. By the way, do you what the word "Pharisee" means? It means separated one. We're not only separated from the world by being Jewish, we are separated from the Jews by being Pharisees. He knew what that world was like.

But what he says here is this. One event changed all that. It's called the cross. It's why Jesus said, do this communion often in remembrance of me. Never forget this event.

Because this one event made one group of people. Took two different separated groups and brought them into an integrated unit. So now, there's no longer Gentile and Jew, only saved, saved people, no matter the background.

So look at verse 15. So as to create in Himself one new man from the two, the two being Jew and Gentile, one new man.

Now, I'm going to tell you about the word, "new man," "new." The word in Greek is the word [GREEK] for new. It's not necessarily the typical word used for new.

Let's just say you had a Ford Escort. You've been driving for a few years. You like it, does OK for you, gets good gas mileage. You're content with it.

But as the years go on, you say, I'd like a new Ford Escort because there's some new features in the new car. So I want the same car, just newer in chronology. You would use the Greek word [GREEK]. I want new in time, a new car, but a newer car in terms of time.

But let's say you just said, no, I'm kind of done with the Ford Escort. I'd love to get a Ford F-150 pickup because pickups are cool and I want to haul stuff. So I want a new car. You would use the word [GREEK], which means I want a completely new model. That's the word Paul uses.

He takes and removes the separation, and makes one new, one [GREEK], one new person, not Jew, not Gentile, but Christian. Christian. So understand, this was God's plan all along. This was Jesus' plan all along. He announced it.

I'll remind you of the passage in John, chapter 10. Jesus said this. I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and I'm known by my own. As the Father knows me, even so, I know the Father and lay down my life for the sheep.

And other sheep I have-- notice this-- which are not of this fold-- what is this fold? Jews, Judaism. That are not of this fold, them also I must bring. And they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

You see, Jesus never wanted to keep this a Jewish thing. He always had in mind, anybody and everybody. He even said in a parable, go to the highways and the byways. Bring anybody who will listen. Bring them in that my father's house may be filled.

So Jesus is for Jewish people. He is for Gentile people. He is for German people, he is for Spanish people, he is for African people, he is for American people, South to North America, he is for Europeans, he is for Australians, he is for vaccinated people and unvaccinated people.

Yeah.

We / Jesus says, are you all saved? I don't care if-- you don't get vaccinated or unvaccinated to get into heaven. And you don't have to show your political card to get into heaven. You just have to trust in Jesus Christ.

So I say, what a difference it would be if we started looking at people through the lens of potential sheep, potential sheep. So that secretary at the bank, a potential sheep of the good shepherd. That guy who bags your groceries at the store, if they can hire anybody who still does that, potential sheep. The guy on the golf course doing a business deal, potential sheep. The officer who wrote you a ticket for going too fast on the way to church this morning, potential sheep.

So there's no special proximity anymore, near or far. There's no separation with courts and walls and rooms. Now, no matter who you are, no matter what background you have, all of us can have access to God.

That's verse 18. For through Him, we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. So we were out, now we're in. We were separated, now we're integrated.

I'll give you a third and final change. We were foreigners, but now we're family. And I love this. Verse 19 says, now, therefore-- and Paul so often has a therefore in his teachings. He's leading you somewhere. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

Now, verse 19 is a summary verse, actually. It's the first summary verse to the whole last paragraph that goes all the way down to the end of the chapter. He's summarizing the first two chapters, what he has written so far. But verse 19, we're just going to just kind of camp on that and close with that.

You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. So you're not out, you're in. You're not separated, you're integrated. You're not foreigners, you're family.

This new kingdom is your home. You belong here. God is building his forever family, and he has you in mind. That's why it says in Hebrews chapter 2, verse 11, Jesus is not ashamed to call them-- that is us-- His brethren.

I just love that. Jesus doesn't go, oh, yeah, and Skip, too. I'm not ashamed to call Skip Heitzig My brother. He is not ashamed to call us His brother.

My mind goes back to when I first gave my life to Christ. I was 18 years of age, and I went home to tell my parents what I had done. I figured, they're going to be so excited. I'm going to tell them I gave my life to Jesus. And I'm I believe in God and I'm following Jesus. I'm so excited, I have my Bible.

And they weren't too excited. I figured they were because I did have a little bit of problem before that. I mean, I was in and out of-- I was arrested. I did drugs experimentally. It wasn't like an addiction, but I did a lot of them and got into trouble.

So I'm thinking, they're thinking, anything that will help Skip is a good thing. And I guess it was, except for this thing because when I said, I love Jesus and I'm saved. Oh, that's nice.

Nice? So it wasn't met warmly. And to be honest, I felt like my spiritual family was more accepting and my spiritual family was more satisfying than even my own physical family. I started identifying with the body of Christ, the Church of God, and realizing, this is family. This is my family.

Now, to help you understand, as we bring this to a close, just how profound this whole idea of being out and then in, separated then integrated, foreigners and then family was, let me take you back 3,400 years in your mind's eye with me. Let's go back to the time when the children of Israel first built that tabernacle out in the desert.

So let's just say up in that rocks looking down is a Moabite, and the Moabite sees the children of Israel camp. They built this tabernacle, and there's smoke going up and sacrifices going up. And there's a little tent closure in the middle of this courtyard.

So the Moabite man comes down, goes up to the gate, and says to a man standing at the gate of the tabernacle, an Israelite, hey, can I go in there? That looks really cool. The man would say, well, sure, any Israelite can go in there.

Well, I'm not in Israel, I'm a Moabite. Well, no, you can't go in there. Well, what would I have to do to get in there? I guess you'd have to go and be born an Israelite to go in there. So the man sort of hung his head and said, oh, man, I wish I was born an Israelite.

And then he was watching, and he noticed that there was a man who is a priest, a man take an animal sacrifice, its smoke went up to heaven. The man raised his hands, sprinkled blood on the altar, then washed his hands and then walked into a little tent. And said, wow, that looks cool. Where did he go? What's in that little room?

And the man explained, well, in that little room, that's called the holy place. There's a golden lamp standing there, and there's a table with bread on it and there's an altar of incense. And the priest is going to trim the lamps and change the bread and burn incense to God as the prayers of the congregation.

And the Moabite said, oh, man, I wish I would have been born an Israelite because I'd love to go in that room. And the man would say, Israelites can't go in that room. You have to be an Israelite of the tribe of Levi of the family of Aaron to go in that room. Only priests can go in that room.

Oh. Well, what else is in that room? The Israelite would explain, well, I've been told there's a beautiful veil that separates that room, the holy place, from another room called the holy of holies. And in that room is a chest, a box, called the Ark of the Covenant. That's where God lives. That's where God dwells. That's the very presence of God in that room.

And the Moabite said, oh, I wish I was born an Israelite of the tribe of Levi of the family of Aaron. I'd love to go into that room and hang out with God. The Israelite would say, you couldn't go-- only the high priest, not just any priest can go in that room.

So the man said, oh, I wish I would have been born a Israelite of the tribe of Levi of the family of Aaron. I wish I was a high priest. I'd love to go in that room because if I could, I'd go in that room every single day. I'd do it three times a day just to get nearer to God.

The man would say, oh, you couldn't do that. Only the high priest can go in that room once a year for a very short period of time, lest he die.

Now, you know at that point, the guy's just going to hang his head and walk away having no hope whatsoever of ever being able to get into the presence of God. Now do you understand the significance that when Jesus died on a cross, the veil of the temple was ripped in two from top to bottom?

It was God saying, you all come in. You all come in. Jew, Gentile, you believe in Jesus, you can come in. There is no separation. You who are out are now in. Now there's integration, now you're family.

And now you have some understanding of the kind of access we have, not just as worshippers but as family. Separation is gone. And the church needs to always remember that.

The church should always have its doors open and its arms open to all who are seeking to come, regardless of race, regardless of age, regardless of culture, regardless if your hair's long or short or bald, regardless if there's tattoos or just wrinkles. Doesn't matter. All those divisions don't matter.

I've always loved the story about the guy in World War II who was on a battlefield, three buddies were all fighting, one of them died, sadly. His friend said, let's bury our buddy in a churchyard. So they found a church, local church. There was a cemetery, sure enough, right outside, and they wanted to bury their friend there.

They went to the caretaker, who was a priest, and said, we'd like to bury our friend inside the churchyard. The priest said, was he Catholic? Was he Roman Catholic?

Well, no, he was Protestant. Well, I'm sorry. You can't bury him inside the churchyard. This is a Catholic cemetery. Those are the rules.

So it was sad for them. They were disappointed, but they buried him just outside the fence. They dug a hole, they buried their friend. They went to their tents that night, got up early the next day to pay their final respects, to find the grave and then go back to the battlefield, but they couldn't find the grave.

They looked where they thought they buried it right outside the fence. It was undisturbed earth. So they went to the priest and they said, you know this place better than we do. We buried our friend last night, but we can't find his grave.

And the priest said, well, I couldn't sleep last night. I was so bummed out by what I had told you guys, so I got up in the middle of the night and I moved the fence to include your friend.

How many of know that we serve the God who moved the fence? I'm an outsider. I'll move the fence. Oh, I'm separate. I'll move the fence. Oh, I'm a foreigner. I'll move the fence.

You're welcome. You're welcome in. You're welcome. You have access. All because of that one event, the death of Jesus on the cross, that took the separation away.

And if you are a far off this morning, you can come near. God invites you. The only thing keeping you is your own stubborn will. If you could get over that and say yes to Him and surrender your life to Him, you would have access to God, you would have peace of God, you would have forgiveness of sins. You would have a guaranteed spot in His kingdom of heaven forever. I don't know, that's a good deal to me.

Would you pray with me? Would you stand your feet, please? Let's just pray together. Father, we want to thank you for the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, that cleanses a man, a woman from all sin.

Thank you, Lord, that you nailed that handwriting of ordinances that was against us, you nailed it to the cross, taking it out of the way so we don't get to you by ceremonies, we get to you by faith. We trust in not what we have done or do, but what Jesus has done once for us, one time, not a continual sacrifice. It's over, it's done. No more has to be made.

We accept, we receive, we confess our need, and we are forgiven.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

And I pray for anybody who maybe hasn't done that yet. I pray they would do that. And those who are joining us online and watching this on a computer screen or a TV or a mobile device, would you reach out to them and say, I love you. I want you in my kingdom. I want you in my house. You are welcome at my Father's table.

As we think this final song, we have stood up to make room for those who want to do this. I'm going to give you an opportunity to get up from where you're standing, if you've never given your life to Christ, find the nearest aisle. I'm not going to wait for a raised hand. Just as we sing, would you get up, come out of your seat, and just make your way right up here. I'm going to lead you in a prayer in a moment of faith, a prayer of receiving Jesus Christ.

And when you do come down, you're going to find yourself applauded and welcomed by the family of God. We're going to make some noise for you because we're so excited, we want to celebrate this. So if you have never done this, or if you have strayed away from Christ and you need to come home to Him, I want you to get up right now as we sing this song. And you get up--

(SINGING) I'm going to see a victory. I'm going to see a victory for the battle belongs to you, Lord.

I'm going to see a victory. I'm going to see a victory, for the battle belongs to you, Lord. I'm got to see a victory. I'm going to see a victory, for the who belongs to you, Lord.

I'm going to see a victory. I'm going to see a victory, for the battle belongs to you, Lord. I'm going to see a victory. I'm going to see a victory, for the battle belongs to you, Lord.

I'm going to see a victory. I'm going to see a victory, for the battle belongs to you, Lord.

You take what the enemy meant for evil and you turn it for good. You turn it for good.

Yeah.

You take what the enemy meant for evil and you turn it for good. You turn it for good.

Anybody else? We're just going to give it another couple of minutes. Usually, it takes just one person who has the courage to come, and you've seen that already. And then others realize, yeah, I need this. I need Him. I need to do this.

And you're right, you do. So we'll wait just another couple of moments and give you that opportunity. I see people, many who have come, tears in their eyes. I don't know what you've done. You don't know all that I've done, except for the little that I shared this morning.

But I'm just glad to be forgiven, and I'm glad to welcome you who are here this morning. Anybody else want to come and join them? I'm going to lead them in a prayer in just a moment.

You can make this your prayer. This could be a brand new start for you, a brand new day for you. If you let Him in, if you're willing to take Him, everything could change for the better.

Anybody else want to just say yes to Jesus? Come on up.

[APPLAUSE]
Yeah. Good thinking, good thinking. Way to go. Welcome. Welcome, yeah.

Come on, that's good. Yeah. Yeah. Yes.

All right, I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to pray out loud. I'd like you to pray out loud after me. But you're praying this to Him, so say these words to your God.

Say, Lord, I give you my life. Say, I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe he died on a cross. I believe he rose again from the dead. I believe he's alive right now.

I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus as Lord. I want to serve Him as master. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to live for You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

God bless you guys. I'm so glad you came.

Can you see Antonio right there, the guy waving? See that guy? He's a Marine, right there. That's America's finest right there.

He's one of our pastors on staff. Would you follow this Marine pastor and our friends right over to this room? We just want to give you something. It'll take just a couple of minutes.

We want to put something in your hands, explain what it is to follow Jesus. Welcome to God's family. God bless you guys.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us mystory@calvarynm.church.

And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
6/13/2021
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Breaking Bad Habits
Colossians 3:1-15
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Bad habits are like weeds: they grow without effort and it’s hard to get rid of them! Most people excuse their bad habits as idiosyncrasies or "just being human." But stubborn habits have a way of mastering us if we won’t master them first. We all know the cycle of enjoying a forbidden pleasure, feeling guilty, repenting, enjoying a few moments of victory, and then failing again. Today, let’s explore how we can do better than taking one step forward and two steps back.
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6/20/2021
completed
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The Legacy of a Godly Dad
Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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A sage piece of advice is as follows: Live so that your son, when people tell him that he reminds them of you, will stick out his chest, not his tongue! On this Father’s Day, we examine the blueprint the Lord gave to His people after their deliverance from bondage. For God’s redeemed people, this was a reset—a chance for families and especially fathers to rightly arrange their priorities so that future generations might enjoy the benefits. Let’s ponder three directives to make a positive impact.
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6/27/2021
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The Worst People in the Best Place
Luke 15:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The TV comedy The Good Place depicts the popular notion that good people go to some kind of heaven when they die, typically because they have done good things. But did you know that the Bible teaches the exact opposite? In this story that Jesus tells about a lost sheep, we discover that the worst and most undeserving people who repent will experience the joy of heaven. Since there was only one good Person who ever lived, He made a way for us to get to “the good place.”
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7/4/2021
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The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The Crown is a Netflix series that boasts four seasons depicting the political life of Queen Elizabeth II of England. She wears the crown because Britain has a hereditary monarchy with the right to rule being passed down to family. But the apostle Paul speaks of a wholly different kind of crown—one worn by a disciplined athlete who won the footrace in the Olympic Games or the also-popular boxing match. Here, he likens our Christian faith to this widely understood and much-enjoyed contest, giving principles on how to excel and thrive as we follow Christ.
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7/11/2021
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Stranger Things
Matthew 5:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
People have never been more attracted to the strange, the phenomenal, the abnormal, and the inexplicable as they are today. From interest in UFOs to government conspiracy theories to TV shows about any of the above, people are looking beyond the natural and into the supernatural. Likewise in New Testament times. The world was longing for a hero to come, but Jesus was not the hero they were expecting! The Sermon on the Mount displays just how strange the mission and the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was to the people of His day. Let’s consider four elements that must have seemed like stranger things to most people then and still are now.
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7/18/2021
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The Game You Must Win!
1 Peter 5:8-10
Nate Heitzig
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Message Summary
People play games for a variety of reasons. Some play for enjoyment or socialization, some to prevent boredom, and some for challenge and achievement; but most play to win. Any good game strategist would say that knowing your opposition is one of the most important ways to succeed. In this message, Nate Heitzig examines our opponent, Satan, who uses the world’s system and our sin nature to undermine and distract us. We discover that one of our greatest advantages is knowing that the Devil has already lost and Jesus has already won.
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7/25/2021
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The Last Dance: Instructions on How to Die Well
2 Timothy 4:6-12
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “A grave, wherever found, preaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul.” What did he mean? Simply that cemeteries remind us of the unavoidable certainty of death. A grave should prompt us to think about our future on this earth; it’s the only real estate we’ll hold onto for a long while! The words in our text this week are among Paul’s final words. This is his last statement. Here is a man who not only lived well, but also demonstrated what it means to die well. Let’s consider how to face the end of life on this earth with no regrets.
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8/8/2021
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The Chosen
John 15:9-17
Skip Heitzig
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An estimated 194 million people have already seen the popular series The Chosen, based on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The goal, according to producer Dallas Jenkins, is to reach one billion people, and they are well on their way to reaching that goal. As we close out our Now Streaming series, let’s dig into Jesus’ own announcement to His disciples that they were chosen by Him. What does it mean to be chosen by God? What are we chosen for? What plans does He have for us once we’ve been chosen?
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There are 8 additional messages in this series.
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