1. As you folks know, I am a fundamentalist. A fundamentalist is someone
who adheres to the fundamentals. And one of the fundamentals of the
Christian faith is referred to as the depravity of man. That is, every man
born of woman comes into this world utterly depraved.
2. Now, understand that depraved is not a description of how bad you are,
though you are truly bad, it's a description of how bad off you are. For
example: The skid row bum, the panhandler, the derelict druggie, might
commit more obvious sins than the uptown socialite, than the religious
person who is a member of the First Church, but have the same destiny
3. Did you hear what I said? People who die without Jesus Christ, whether
they are Adolf Hitler or Miss Manners, are equally bad off, although they
may not be equally bad. That, my friend, is part of what depravity refers
to. So, when I say to you that man is totally depraved, I am saying that
man is as bad off as he can possibly be, although he may not be as bad as
he can possibly be. Though you are almost certainly more bad than you
think you are.
4. The passage that's before us this morning illustrates the concept of
depravity as it applies to Gentiles. Turn to Ephesians 2.11-13, and stand,
as we read God's Word together: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in
time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that
which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at
that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of
Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and
without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were
far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
5. In Ephesians 2.3-10 the apostle Paul makes frequent use of the word
"we" to describe, first, the lost condition of himself and his
readers, and then how God marvelously saved them by His grace, through
faith in Christ. But in the three verses we are presently looking at
Paul is referring only to his readers; not to himself, and not to Jewish
6. Notice that Paul wants his readers to remember some things about
themselves. It may surprise you that Paul wants us to remember certain
things, considering that he powerfully declared "forgetting those
things which are behind," Philippians 3.13-14, "I press toward
the mark for the prize of the high calling of God is Christ Jesus."
7. But a careful examination of Philippians will reveal that Paul forgot
those things about his past which would be viewed as accomplishments,
which would be viewed by most people as assets and achievements. In other
words, in total contradiction to the views of the world, Paul advocated
forgetting those things you might be proud of in your past, but
remembering those things about yourself that would be viewed negatively.
8. Why? So that you will have no trouble thinking little of yourself and
much of God's grace. Because if you begin to forget your failings and
remember only your accomplishments you might develop a high estimation of
yourself. You might develop self confidence. And that would be a tragic
mistake. You see, God wants you to have no confidence in your own
abilities, but to depend upon Him. And it's difficult to convince yourself
to do that when you think about how great you are, or were before you got
9. Okay. What, precisely, did Paul want his readers, Gentile Christians
like some of you and me, to remember about their past? Well, as we see in
verses 11 and 12, a number of things: First, they, we, were "in time
past Gentiles in the flesh." Now, what do you suppose Paul meant when
he wrote this? Several things. He pointed out that we are not Jewish, and
he pointed out that we were in the flesh. The flesh is what everyone is in
who is not in Christ, who is not saved.
10. What follows is an elaboration of these two statements. "Who are
called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the
flesh made by hands." Gentiles were called Uncircumcision by the
Jewish people of Paul's day. And it was an extremely derogatory
description of a Gentile man. It was a way of pointing out that the
Gentile man did not have the mark of a covenant relationship with God that
all Jewish men did have.
11. But notice that Paul, himself a Jewish man, pointedly qualifies the
Jews as being the "Circumcision in the flesh made by hands." Why
does he say that? Because in their own prophets the Jews were told that
what they needed was a circumcision of the heart that could not be
performed by men's hands, but could only be performed by God Himself. So,
although the Gentiles of Paul's day did not have the outward mark of a
covenant relationship with God that the Jews had, the Jews still did not
have what God wanted most, which was a circumcised heart.
12. "That at that time ye were without Christ." Paul is
definitely referring to that period of time in our lives before we came to
Christ by faith. You see, folks, a person is either in Christ, by faith,
or apart from Christ. There is no in between. You are either saved or
lost. And Paul is talking to his readers about the time in their lives
when they were lost.
13. Notice that at that time we were, "aliens from the commonwealth
of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope,
and without God in the world." What is an alien from the commonwealth
of Israel? An alien is someone who is not a citizen. It's someone
who is not a full participant in the rights and privileges that God gave
to Israel. And remember, Israel is the chosen nation of God. The rights
and privileges of Israelite citizenship in God's scheme of things were
14. Additionally, we were "strangers from the covenants of
promise." Recognize that God's covenants, by which God
obligated Himself in certain ways, were covenants made with the patriarchs
of Israel only. God has not obligated Himself in any way to Gentiles like
you and me since the time of Abraham. By that I mean, there are no
guarantees from God to Gentiles beyond His promise never to judge the
world by flood. Whatever promises God has made He has made only to Abraham
and his descendants.
15. Now, what does it mean to be a foreigner to Israel and to have no
promises made to you by God? It means two things: First, it means no
Christian had hope before conversion. "Having no hope." That is,
there is no expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God.
16. And second, it meant that in this world the lost are completely
without God. I have to laugh when people come to me and tell me that even
though they are lost and live like the devil that they believe that
"God is always with me." Do you realize, my friend, that if you
do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior God is not with you, you
are without God in the world?
17. What a terrifying predicament to be in. Imagine living in this world,
the way it is, without God. The Jewish people, even the unsaved ones, were
never completely without God, because they at least had the glory of God
in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. But not us. Before I got saved,
my friend, I was terribly, tragically, terminally, alone and without God.
And if you're lost this morning you're still that way.
18. How can you live in this world and know that there is a God Who
created it all, but be totally separated from Him, to have no part with
Him or of Him, and to have no future guaranteed to you? So, you can see
that the concept of being depraved, as it applies to Gentiles, is well
illustrated here. How much worse off can a person be than to be completely
outside of God's plan, to have no hope for the future, and to be isolated
from the Lord Jesus Christ, God's only avenue of reconciliation? You can't
be any worse off than that.
19. Now look at verse 13. Verse 11 and 12 was for remembering. "But
now," verse 13 begins, things are different for the Gentile who
trusts Jesus. Christians are described by Paul has being "in
Christ," who "were without Christ." And we who were
"sometimes far off are made nigh." We who were outside are now
inside. We who were distant are now close.
20. And how has this been made possible? Paul writes "by the blood of
Christ." There is a modern trend in evangelical Christianity to
minimize the blood of Christ by saying that the blood of Christ was only a
symbolic way of referring to His death. This was begun years ago by such
modernists as Harry Emerson Fosdick and Nels Ferre. But the banner has
been taken up by radio and television preachers.
21. In his commentary on Hebrews John MacArthur writes, "It is
possible to become morbid about Christ's sacrificial death and preoccupied
with His suffering and shedding of blood. It is especially possible to
become unbiblically preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. It
was not Jesus' physical blood that saves us, but His dying on our behalf,
which is symbolized by the shedding of His physical blood. If we could be
saved by blood without death, the animals would have been bled, not
killed, and it would have been the same with Jesus."
22. I beg to differ, John. Nowhere in Scripture are we warned against
becoming preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. Nowhere in
Scripture are we told that the shedding of His blood was to be understood
to be a symbolic representation of His death. And nowhere in Scripture is
there the slightest hint that Christians should take heed against becoming
morbid about Christ's sacrificial death.
23. No. Time and time and time again we are shown, and we are told, and it
is declared, and it is pictured that but for His shed blood we would not
have the forgiveness of sins. In fact, Paul tells us Gentile Christians
that we have been brought nigh, who were sometimes afar off, by the blood
of Christ. Let no one minimize the blood of Christ.
24. And what is the surest proof that the blood of Christ is not mere
symbolism for the death of Christ, that the two are properly distinguished
in our understanding? The communion of the Lord's Supper answers such men
as John MacArthur with it's two elements, the bread for Christ's body and
the fruit of the vine symbolizing Christ's blood.
25. And now I'd like to ask brother Isenberger to come and lead us as we
sing the first, second, and last verse of hymn number 30. Let's all stand
and sing that together.
1. You know, no matter how individualistic most people like to think
they are we tend to think of ourselves as part of a larger whole, we like
to see ourselves as a part of a larger group from whom we receive some
type of group identity.
2. At one point in time in our country's history people thought of
themselves as Americans. They never thought of themselves much as members
of a cultural group, but as Americans. My grandfather was not a
French-Canadian, though he was born in Quebec province. Francois LaCosse
was an American.
3. Before that people thought of themselves as northerners or southerners.
And in the south folks thought of themselves Virginians or Georgians far
more than they thought of themselves as Americans.
4. Nowadays, for better or worse, people think of themselves as Latinos
and Latinas, African-Americans, Italians, Armenians, Japanese or
Filipinos. But do you realize that God never thinks of you that way?
Insofar as we can tell in the Bible, God only categorizes unsaved people
by one criteria. Are you a descendant of Abraham through Sarah or not? If
you are then you are Jewish. But if you are not Jewish you are a Gentile.
Most of you in this room entered the world as Gentiles.
5. That being so, you have a serious problem. Using Ephesians 2.11-13 as
my text, I want to address this problem that you, being a Gentile, have.
6 Relative to your problem, I have three observations to make about you.
1A. FIRST, I WANT TO OBSERVE YOUR DESCRIPTION (2.11)
"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the
flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the
Circumcision in the flesh made by hands."
Notice that in this verse we actually have two descriptions of you, a
Gentile human being.
1B. The First Is The Apostle Paul's Description Of You
1C. Before the Ephesians had become Christians, when they were unsaved,
Paul indicates that they were "Gentiles in the flesh." You, here
today without Christ, are a Gentile in the flesh.
2C. Understand that the flesh does not refer to your physical body,
primarily, when used in this way by Paul. The flesh refers to that which
is unredeemed and unredeemable. It refers to the nature and personality of
a lost man. Turn one page back in your Bible to Galatians 5.19-21 and
there you will see what, precisely, is wrong with being in the flesh:
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery,
fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred,
variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings,
murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you
before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such
things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
3C. This is not exhaustive, but is a typical list of the kinds of sins
someone who is in the flesh commits. And notice, "they which do such
things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." People who are in the
flesh are not
2B. But There's A Second Description Of You Found Here. And This Is How
You Would Be Typically Described By The Jewish Person Of Paul's Day
"who are call Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in
the flesh made by hands"
1C. The Circumcision, of course, are the Jewish people, the males of
which were circumcised on the eighth day as a sign of their covenant
relationship with God.
2C. Now, I've debated all week long sharing this with you, but I'll go
ahead and see what happens. Please understand, I seek not to be
insensitive in the Church house, but I do want you do get the full impact
of what Paul wrote.
3C. This word "Uncircumcised" does not translate the Greek
counterpart word to "circumcised." In actuality, the Greek word
translated "uncircumcised" is the word that literally means
"foreskin." Imagine.Jewish people actually used to refer
to Gentiles as "foreskins."
4C. And as they used this term they were intentionally derogatory. And for
this reason: As strange and unusual as Jewish customs were to Gentiles
around the world, Gentiles actually were nauseating to Jews. And why? For
any number of reasons.
5C. So, to the Jewish person the one thing that typified all that was
unclean and unholy about the Gentiles, all that was crude and pagan, all
that was contaminated and corrupt, was the single physical characteristic
that distinguished them from the eighth day on from Jewish males.
2A. NOW, LET'S OBSERVE YOUR DESPERATION
You may be sitting here today thinking to yourself, "What do you
mean, desperation? I'm not desperate. Everything's okay with me."
Now, if you're thinking that and you're lost you don't get my point. A
person is in a desperate situation when his situation is hopeless, when he
is in trouble too deep to have any way of getting out. So, a person can be
in a desperate situation and have no fears, no qualms, no worries. How can
this be? He is simply unaware of what's going on.
Based upon Scripture, I maintain that you are in a desperate situation.
Notice what the Bible says about your desperation who are not saved (2.12)
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,
having no hope, and without God in the world."
1B. Without Christ You Are Alienated From Israel
1C. Now, that may not trouble you unless you consider this. Not having
citizenship in Israel, you are not one of God's chosen people.
2C. And why would citizenship in Israel be particularly important? Israel
is the only nation that God has ever called into existence. Israel is the
only nation that God has ever directly ruled through by theocracy. Israel
is the only nation that God has ever directly given His Word to as their
constitution and by-laws. And Israel is the only nation that had the
Presence of God in their midst.
3C. Oh, especially in the United States, we talk about being a Christian
nation and being founded on Biblical principles. But a cold and analytical
look at the facts will reveal that God has blessed our nation by virtue of
some of the godly individuals who have lived here and wonderfully served
Him. He has never blessed our country because He chose us and committed
Himself to us as a nation.
4C. And what's true of us is true of every other Gentile nation. If you
are a Gentile you stand outside the citizenry of the commonwealth of
Israel. And that's not a good place to be.
2B. Without Christ You Are Estranged From The Covenants
1C. Being a stranger from the covenants of promise is not a good thing.
You see, the only things God is obligated to do are those things He has
promised to do. And those promises are contained in the covenants,
literally contracts, that He established with patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, and with the nation of Israel.
2C. Now, some of the covenants are conditional upon Israel's obedience,
and others are unconditional. Some covenants are temporary, and others are
eternal in their scope. But every single covenant that God has established
since the time of Abraham has been with Israel and only with Israel.
3C. So, if you are a Gentile you are in a peculiar situation. God is going
to do great and wonderful things in the future in order to fulfill His
covenant promises. But if you are a Gentile God is under no obligation
whatsoever to include you in any provision or blessing of those covenants.
That means you have no guarantees, Gentile. None whatsoever.
3B. Third, Without Christ You Have No Hope
1C. Recognize that in the Bible hope has nothing to do with wishful
thinking or optimism. The Bible is a supernatural book of reality, not
personal delusions and dreams.
2C. So, when Paul declares that you have no hope he means that you have no
reasonable expectation of future blessing. You have no cause for optimism.
And if you have any expectation of eternal bliss it's because you are
dreaming, it's because you are deluding yourself, it's because you are
engaged in wishful thinking.
4B. Finally, Without Christ You Are Without God In The World
1C. It doesn't matter that you may think, "Well, God has always been
with me through think and through thin." The fact is, if you are not
saved, if you've not trusted Christ, you are without God in this world.
2C. Now do you see why your situation is desperate? How can anyone who
is alienated from God's chosen nation, who is a stranger from the
commonwealth of Israel, who is without hope of any kind, and who is
without God in the world, not be desperate?
3C. If you are here today without Christ and you do not recognize your
desperation then you are out of touch with reality. Friend, you need to be
3A. FINALLY, IN VERSE 13, WE NOTICE YOUR DELIVERANCE
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh
by the blood of Christ."
Perhaps you have heard before that you stand in danger of Hellfire because
you are a sinner. And you are a sinner. But you might not ever have heard
that you are also in deep spiritual trouble because you do not figure in
God's stated plans. And unless God miraculously intervenes in your life
your fate is sealed. Well, praise the Lord, God has made provision for the
likes of you and me. God has made a way for you to be delivered from your
sin. God has made a way for you to be delivered from the consequences of
being a Gentile and all that entails. You can have deliverance through
1B. You See, Deliverance Comes In Christ Jesus
1C. The Greeks thought in terms of spheres of influence. So, with respect
to Jesus Christ, you are either in Christ or not in Christ. If you are in
Jesus Christ you're saved.
2C. Second Corinthians 5.17 illustrates this: "Therefore if any man
be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold,
all things are become new."
2B. Deliverance Comes By The Blood Of Christ
1C. God is holy and will not abide sin. But the blood of Jesus Christ,
God's Son, washes away sin, First John 1.7. That's why the blood is so
important as the payment for our sins.
2C. So, once your sins have been washed clean in the blood of Christ there
is no longer any barrier, no longer any obstacle, no longer any reason why
you should be estranged from God.
3C. The result? We who were afar off are made nigh, are made close, by the
blood of Christ.
3B. Deliverance Comes Through Faith In Christ.
1C. How many people believe that Jesus died on the cross and shed His
precious blood an atonement for sin, but still die and go to Hell? Why?
They have not trusted Him to save them.
2C. It's one thing to know and believe that the facts concerning the Lord
Jesus Christ are true. But it's quite another thing to actually commit to
Him the safekeeping of your eternal soul. This is why Paul wrote, in
Ephesians 2.8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith."
1. My friend, you have a great many problems. Your one central problem is
the fact that you are a sinner. And, of course, this is compounded by the
fact that you are a Gentile sinner.
2. From verse 11 we see that your description is not good. From verse 12
we see that your desperation is real. You are without God. You have no
3. But in verse 13 we see the possibility of your deliverance. Jesus died
on Calvary's cross and shed His blood to provide for the forgiveness of
your sins. What a wonderful and marvelous act of love that was.
4. But until that point in time that you come to Christ by faith His doing
and His dying will have done you no good at all. As you stand, right now,
an unsaved person, the blood of Christ is not your deliverance. It is your
5. If, however, you embrace Jesus as your personal Savior, if you will
trust Him, you can join me in shouting "Hallelujah for the
blood" as testimony to the fact that Christ's blood has washed your
6. Won't you come to Jesus for salvation full and free? Won't you come to
Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? Come to Jesus without hesitation.
Come to Jesus now.