Ephesians 2:13
This chapter speaks of a double alienation and of a double reconciliation: on the one hand, a deep alienation of mankind from God, dating from birth, subsisting along with a moral separation between Jews and Gentiles; on the other hand, it points to the historic fact of Christ's atone-merit as the divinely instituted method by which both alienations were to be extinguished, and man united to God and to man in a higher unity, so that the two separated elements should henceforth become one new man, one city of God, one temple or habitation of God.

I. THE GENTILES REMOTE FROM GOD. "You that were afar off." They were in a geographical sense far off from Palestine, the center of the true religion. This land was, with a truly providential design, selected as the home of God's chosen people, because it held a central place between Europe, Asia, and Africa. But the nations were still more apart from Palestine, so as to have no share in its theocratic life. In this case, the expression "far from God," or "far off," was a phrase in common use to designate the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:1; Acts 2:39). But there was a moral distance - an alienation of the Gentile heart from God - which was more serious than any geographical remoteness from the seat of theocratic institutions. It is both the sinfulness and the misery of sin that men are at a distance from God. Unbelief is a "departure from the living God." The Gentiles were far from Christ, from the Church, from the covenant, from hope, from God. There is no divider like sin.

II. THE GENTILES MADE NIGH IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. Just as Israel at Sinai was by the sprinkling of blood made to be the people of God, brought near to him, kept year by year in covenant, so the blood of Christ was the element or sphere in which the new covenant took its shape with its all-inclusive relations both to Jew and to Gentile. It was the blood that obliterated the interval between the Gentiles and God. They have now communion with God, and are established in their nearness to him. It is not merely in Christ Jesus, but in the blood of Christ, that our nearness is established. It was not the incarnation but the death of the Son of God - the designed complement and issue of the incarnation - that has secured our privilege of access to God. It often happens in the history of grace that these very far from God in character and hope are made nigh by the blood of the cross. There is a marvelous power in the blood of the lifted-up Redeemer: "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:82), irrespective of national distinctions. - T.C.







But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Sin has its dark offices — offices which it is always fulfilling. For sin is that dividing element, which, where it comes in, breaks up the harmony of all things, and sends them out into the distance of chaos and dismay. God, at the beginning, made the heaven to be subservient to the earth; and the earth to be subservient to the harvest; and the harvest to be subservient to His people. But sin has broken the beautiful chain of the material universe. When man fell, nature fell; and the links were severed by the fall. There is an interval, and an interruption now, between the right causes and the right effects in God's creation. And worse than this, man is divided from man; every one from his fellow. The very Church is broken up — Christian from Christian. And St. James traces it out: "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" The lust of pride, the lust of an opinionated mind — the lust of prejudice — the lust of jealousy — the lust of selfishness — the lust of a worldly ambition: these are the fabricators of all discord. These make foes out of hearts which were meant to love as brethren. And what are these, but some of sin's many forms which it loves to take, that it may then better work as a separator between man and man? No wonder, for sin separates a man from himself. I question whether any man is at variance with his brother, till he has first been at variance with himself. But sin takes away a man's consistency. A man is not one; but he is two — he is many characters. What he is one time, that is just what he is not another. Passions within him conflict with reason — passions with passions — feelings with feelings — he is "far off" from himself. And this the separator does. But never does he do that, till he has done another act of separation — and because he has done that other — he separates man from God. If you wish to know how "far" sin has thrown man away from God — you must measure it by the master-work which has spanned the gulf. The eternal counsel — the immensity of a Divine nature clothing Himself in manhood — love, to which all other love is as a drop to the fountain, from whence it springs — a life, spotless — sufferings, which make all other sufferings a feather's weight in the balance — a death, which merged all deaths — all this, and far more than this, has gone to make the return possible. And when it was possible; then the life of discipline and struggle — a work of sanctification, going on day by day — many crucifixions — the seven-fold operations of the Holy Ghost — death — resurrection — these must make the possible return a fact. By all these you must make your calculation, if you wish to measure the distance of that "far off," which we ewe to that great separator — sin. And this is the reason why God so hates sin, because it has put so "far" away from Him those He so dearly loves. And now let us deal with this matter a little more practically. Since Christ died, there is no necessary separation between any man and God. Without that death, there was.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. We commence, by endeavouring to EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF THE TWO KEY WORDS — "In Christ Jesus," and, "by the blood of Christ." "We who sometimes were far off are made nigh."

1. First, because we are "in Christ Jesus." All the elect of God are in Christ Jesus by a federal union. He is their Head, ordained of old to be so from before the foundation of the world. This federal union leads in due time, by the grace of God, to a manifest and vital union, a union of life, and for life, even unto eternal life, of which the visible bond is faith.

2. The other key word of the text is, "by the blood of Christ."(1) If it he asked what power lies in the blood to bring nigh, it must be answered, first, that the blood is the symbol of covenant. Ever in Scripture, when covenants are made, victims are offered, and the victim becomes the place and ground of approach between the two covenanting parties. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is expressly called "the blood of the everlasting covenant," for God comes in covenant near to us by the blood of His only begotten Son. Every man whose faith rests upon the blood of Jesus slain from before the foundation of the world, is in covenant with God, and that covenant becomes to him most sure and certain because it has been ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ, and therefore can never be changed or disannulled.(2) The blood brings us near in another sense, because it is the taking away of the sin which separated us. When we read the word "blood" as in the text, it means mortal suffering; we are made nigh by the grief and agonies of the Redeemer. The shedding of blood indicates pain, loss of energy, health, comfort, happiness; but it goes further still — the term "blood" signifies death. It is the death of Jesus in which we trust. We glory in His life, we triumph in His resurrection, but the ground of our nearness to God lies in His death. The term "blood," moreover, signifies not a mere expiring, but a painful and ignominious and penal death. It refers directly to the crucifixion of Christ.

3. Experimentally we are brought nigh by the application of the blood to our conscience. We see that sin is pardoned, and bless the God who has saved us in so admirable a manner, and then we who hated Him before come to love Him; we who had no thought towards Him desire to be like Him. The great attracting loadstone of the gospel is the doctrine of the Cross.(1) The first illustration is from our first parent, Adam. Adam dwelt in the garden, abiding with God in devout communion. The Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day with Adam. As a favoured creature, the first man was permitted to know much of his Creator, and to be nigh to Him; but, alas! Adam sinned, and at once we see the first stage of our own distance from God as we perceive Adam in the garden without his God. But, ah! brethren, you and I were farther off than that — much farther off than that, when love made us nigh.(2) Let me now give you a second illustration, which may place this wonder of love in a still clearer light. It shall be taken from the children of Israel travelling through the wilderness. If an angel had poised himself in mid air, and watched awhile in the days of Moses, gazing down upon the people in the wilderness and all else that surrounded them, his eye would have rested upon the central spot, the tabernacle, over which rested the pillar of cloud and fire by day and night as the outward index of the presence of God. Now, observe yonder select persons, clad in fair white linen, who come near, very near, to that great centre; they are priests, men who are engaged from day to day sacrificing bullocks and lambs, and serving God. They are near to the Lord, and engaged in most hallowed work, but they are not the nearest of all; one man alone comes nearest; he is the high priest, who, once every year, enters into that which is within the veil. Ah, what condescension is that which gives us the selfsame access to God. The priests are servants of God, and very near to Him, but not nearest; and it would be great grace if God permitted the priests to enter into the most holy place; but, brethren, we were not by nature comparable to the priests; we were not the Lord's servants; we were not devoted to His fear; and the grace that has brought us nigh through the precious blood was much greater than that which admits a priest within the veil. Every priest that went within the veil entered there by blood, which he sprinkled on the mercy seat. If made nighest, even from the nearer stage, it must be by blood, and in connection with the one only High Priest. If the angel continued his gaze, he would next see lying all round the tabernacle the twelve tribes in their tents. These were a people near unto God, for what nation hath God so nigh unto them? (Deuteronomy 4:7). But they are nothing like so near as the priests, they did not abide in the holy court, nor were they always occupied in worship. Israel may fitly represent the outward Church, the members of which have not yet received all the spiritual blessing they might have, yet are they blessed and made nigh. If ever an Israelite advanced into the court of the priests, it was with blood; he came with sacrifice; there was no access without it. It was great favour which permitted the Israelite to come into the court of the priests and partake in Divine worship; but, brethren, you and I were farther off than Israel, and it needed more grace by far to bring us nigh. By blood alone are we made nigh, and by blood displayed in all the glory of its power.(3) A third illustration of our nearness to God will be found around the peaks of the mount of God, even Sinai, where the various degrees of access to God are set forth with singular beauty and preciseness of detail. The nineteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus tells us that the Lord revealed Himself on the top of Sinai with flaming fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace. Jehovah drew near unto his people Israel, coming down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai, while the tribes stood at the nether part of the mount. No, remember that our natural position was much more remote than Israel at the foot of the mount, for we were a Gentile nation to whom God did not appear in His glory, and with whom He spake not as with Israel. We were living in darkness, and in the valley of the shadow of death; but Israel was privileged to come very near as compared with us; hence the apostle in the chapter from which the text is taken, speaks of the circumcised as nigh. I take Israel to be to us this morning the type of those who live under gospel privileges, and are allowed to hear the joyful sound of salvation bought with blood. The gospel command has come to your conscience with such power that you have been compelled to promise obedience to it: but, alas, what has been the result of your fear and your vow? You have gone back farther from God, and have plunged anew into the world's idolatry, and are today worshipping yourselves, your pleasures, your sins, or your righteousness; and when the Lord cometh, the nearness of opportunity which you have enjoyed will prove to have been to you a most fearful responsibility, and nothing more.

III. LET US NOTE SOME OF THE DISPLAYS OF THE REALIZATIONS OF THIS NEARNESS TO GOD as granted to us by blood through our union with Christ. We perceive and see manifestly our nearness to God in the very first hour of our conversion. The father fell upon the prodigal's neck and kissed him — no greater nearness than that; the prodigal becomes an accepted child, is and must be very near his father's heart; and we who sometimes were far off are as near to God as a child to his parents. We have a renewed sense of this nearness in times of restorations after backsliding, when, pleading the precious blood, we say, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." We come to God, and feel that He is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. We come near to God in prayer. Our nearness to God is peculiarly evinced at the mercy seat. But, brethren, we never get to God in prayer unless it is through pleading the precious blood.

IV. BRIEF EXHORTATION.

1. Let us live in the power of the nearness which union with Christ and the blood hath given us.

2. Let us enjoy the things which this nearness was intended to bring.

3. Let us exercise much faith in God.

4. Let our behaviour be in accordance with our position.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. A STATE OF NATURE.

1. Moral darkness.

2. Spiritual blindness and deafness.

3. Moral and spiritual death.

4. Enmity to and alienation from God.

II. A STATE OF GRACE.

1. Light.

2. Peace.

3. Joy.

4. Unclouded faith and hope.

III. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A NATURAL MAN.

1. The depravity of his heart and the sinfulness of his unholy affections are stronger than the impulses of his soul.

2. He is destitute of proper knowledge.

3. He is satisfied with this world. He has not raised his affections above temporal joys.

4. He is ignorant, blind, naked, condemned in sin, the slave of his lusts, the servant of Satan, the heir of hell.

IV. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A SPIRITUAL MAN.

1. He is penitent. The sins of the past he hopes are forgiven, the sins of the present he daily implores God may be pardoned.

2. He is humble. He is not self-complacent over discharge of known duty.

3. He is dependent upon God.

4. He is a man of active Christianity. He locks up, and is ever moving onward and upward.

5. He is a man of love and forbearance. He wears God's image, looks like His Son, has the spirit of an angel, and the praise for his God of a seraph.

V. THE CHANGE OF OUR CONDITION as affected by the application of the text. It intimates that a certain time we were without Christ (vers. 11 and 12). "At that time ye were without Christ" refers to the condition of the heathen. "They were without God and hope in the world." The science of Egypt, Chaldea, Greece, and Rome had discovered much as to things pertaining to the present life; but in respect of a hereafter all was enveloped in gross darkness. The text intimates the mode of the great change. Having asserted that those "who sometimes were afar off are brought nigh to God," the apostle affirms that this is accomplished in Christ, and through the application of His blood. Therefore —

1. The blood of Christ is the means, when preached, through which sinners are brought near to God. "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

2. "By the bleed of Christ, as shed upon the cross, atonement was made, sin was expiated, and a way opened for God to draw near to the sinner, and the sinner to God," This is a proposition of Andrew Fuller. "God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin (or by a sacrifice for sin) condemned sin in the flesh." "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" This proposition and this passage are a summary of gospel truth.

3. We are brought into sacred nearness to God, and enter a state of salvation through the blood of Christ. This is applied spiritually, and is the true remission of sins. Divine grace applies spiritually the Divine Redeemer's blood, to cleanse from sin.

(W. C. Crane, D. D.)

A mother in New York whose son had got into dissipated and abandoned habits, after repeated remonstrances and threats, was turned out of doors by his father, and he left vowing he would never return unless his father asked him, which the father said would never be. Grief over her son soon laid the mother on her dying bed, and when her husband asked if there was nothing he could do for her ere she departed this life, she said, "Yes; you can send for my boy." The father was at first unwilling, but at length, seeing her so near her end, he sent for his son. The young man came, and as he entered the sick room his father turned his back upon him. As the mother was sinking rapidly, the two stood on opposite sides of her bed, all love and sorrow for her, but not exchanging a word with each other. She asked the father to forgive the boy; no, he wouldn't until the son asked it. Turning to him, she begged of him to ask his father's forgiveness; no, his proud heart would not let him take the first step. After repeated attempts she failed, but as she was just expiring, with one last effort she got hold of the father's hand in one hand, and her son's in the other, and exerting all her feeble strength, she joined their hands, and, with one last appealing look, she was gone. Over her dead body they were reconciled, but it took the mother's death to bring it about. So, has not God made a great sacrifice that we might be reconciled — even the death of His own dear Son?

(D. L. Moody.)

A Christian Hindoo was dying, and his heathen comrades came around him, and tried to comfort him by reading some of the pages of their theology; but he waved his hand, as much as to say, "I don't want to hear it." Then they called in a heathen priest, and he said, "If you will only recite the Numtra it will deliver you from hell." He waved his hand, as much as to say, "I don't want to hear that." Then they said, "Call on Juggernaut." He shook his head, as much as to say, "I can't do that." Then they thought perhaps he was too weary to speak, and they said, "Now, if you can't say 'Juggernaut,' think of that god." He shook his head again, as much as to say, "No, no, no." Then they bent down to his pillow, and they said, "In what will you trust?" His face lighted up with the very glories of the celestial sphere as he cried out, rallying all his dying energies, "Jesus!"

(Dr. Talmage.)

Captain Hedley Vicars, when under deep conviction of sin, one morning came to his table almost broken hearted, and bowed to the dust with a sense of his guilt. "Oh, wretched man that I am!" he repeated to himself, at the same time glancing at his Bible, which lay open before him. His eyes suddenly rested on that beautiful verse, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin." "Then," said he, "it can cleanse me from mine"; and he instantly believed with his heart unto righteousness, and was filled with peace and joy. From that time to the hour in which he lay bathed in his own blood, in the trenches before Sebastopol, he never doubted his forgiveness, or God's ability and willingness to pardon the chief of sinners.

(S. M. Haughton.)

1. We must so look on our misery as to remember our estate by mercy. The devil will labour to swallow up in sorrow, as well as to kill by carnal security. This teaches ministers how to dispense the Word in wisdom, and Christians how to carry themselves; they must not be all in one extreme, like those philosophers that are either always weeping, or else always laughing; but, if there be heaviness with them in the evening, they must look to that which may bring, joy in the morning; and as a man after hard labour delights to take the air m a garden, so must they, when they have humbled their souls, in viewing their mercy, refresh themselves in walking among those sweet flowers, even the benefits of God.

2. The Lord brings such as are furthest estranged from Him to be near unto Him. If the king pardon one whose goodwill is doubtful, and take him into his favour, it is much; but when one has lived in making attempts on his person, then to forget and to forgive were more than credible clemency. Yet this is what God has done.

(1)None, then, need despair of himself.

(2)No, nor of others, however bad.

(3)Comfort to those already converted.

3. A wonderful change is made in those who are in Christ.

(1)Nearness to God. God dwells with Christ; we, therefore, being in Him, must needs have communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

(2)And to our fellow Christians. Christ is the head of His members; we must therefore needs be near to those who are in affinity with Christ, as in wedlock.

4. It is by the blood of Christ that we are reconciled to God. When we think of Christ crucified and shedding of His blood, there we may see —

(1)Our sins punished to the full.

(2)Our sins pardoned to the full.

(3)Our sins crucified and mortified by His blood.

(4)The flesh crucified (Galatians 5:14).

(5)Ourselves crucified to the world, and the world to us (Galatians 6:14).

(6)There we behold how patient we should be in affliction, even to the death.

(7)There is the picture of our whole life, which must be a continual course of mortification.

(8)There is the seasoning of our death, that whenever it comes it shall be a sweet passage to a better life.

(9)There we see all evils turned to our good.

(10)Therein we see all good things purchased for us: grace, mercy, peace, eternal salvation, yea, a heaven of treasures and riches gathered for us, and that we are made partakers of, by a due view of meditation of Christ crucified.

(Paul Bayne.)

I. A RECONCILED GOD. We are all naturally far from God, not as being out of His reach, or out of His sight, or out of His presence, but as differing from Him, as being out of sympathy with Him — as forgetting or not thinking about Him — as disobeying Him, and disliking Him, and thus having incurred His displeasure. Such things as these create a distance between one and another. They need to he brought near, or, as our text puts it, "made nigh" to each other. And how is that to be done? By their being in some way reconciled; by some one coming between them and making them friends — making them one. That might he done in various ways. I might appeal to them, as a friend of both of them, to lay aside their enmity for my sake, and be friends. I might put the hand of the one in that of the other, and take both in my own; and so they might be said to be "made nigh" by me. Or if one had wronged the other, I might offer to be responsible for the wrong, and to put it right. If the one had taken money that belonged to the other, and had spent it or lost it, and could not make it good, I might offer to replace it. And so they might be "made nigh" through me. I have heard of a devoted Christian minister, who lay on his deathbed, getting two friends who were visiting him, and who had quarrelled with each other, to shake hands over his body, as they stood at opposite sides of his bed; and so they were "made nigh" through him. They did not need to move from where they were standing before in order to be thus "made nigh." Or I might illustrate it in another way. In Shetland, between the mainland and a small island rising up into a lofty rock, there is a deep and awful-looking gorge. Looking over the edge you see and hear the sea rushing and foaming below. It makes one dizzy to look down. Two people standing on each side of that gorge, though they could almost join hands across it, might be far enough apart from each other. For many years there was a kind of basket bridge. A basket was swung across by means of a rope, The people got into the basket and slid across in it. They were "made nigh" by means of it. Two of you wish to meet each other at a canal. You stand one on each side. The drawbridge is up, and though the water is only a few yards in breadth, you cannot get to each other except by going nearly a quarter of a mile round about, which makes it all one as if the canal were a quarter of a mile broad. You may be said to be all that distance apart from each other. But the bridge comes down, and at once makes you "nigh." Little more than a step brings you together. Now, as I have said, the sinner and God are thus apart from each other — separated from each other, wide, wide apart. The sinner is "without God." His sins have hid God's face from him. "God is not in all his thoughts." How shall they be "made nigh"? The sinner cannot make himself nigh. He can only get farther away from God. And so the Lord Jesus comes in as the Mediator.

II. God able to SEE us. That is implied in His being "near" us — His being "not far from every one of us." When we are very far away, we cannot see things at all. If some one were holding out a book to you at a distance, you could not see the letters, you could not read them even though the print were pretty large. You would say, "It is too far off; I must have it nearer." And when you get near to it, you can read, without difficulty, even the smallest print. When we are at sea, the land in the distance is seen very dimly. But for being told, we should not know it to be land at all. It is more like cloud. But as we come nearer we can distinguish mountains, and fields, and houses, and as we enter into the harbour we can see everything and everybody. Our being near enables us to see. You cannot distinguish people's faces at a distance, you cannot tell what people are doing. But when you come near — when you are standing beside them — you see all. Now just so it is with God. He is near. He is "a God at hand." He sees your thoughts. He sees your acts — every one of them. He sees every letter you write — every line you write. He can see everything about you, for He is near you wherever you are. Think what it would be if a person were constantly beside you, all through the night and day, never sleeping, his wakeful eye ever upon you. What a knowledge of you he would have! When travelling in the country, I saw a policeman and another man keeping very close together. They went into the railway carriage together and came out together. They sat together, they walked on the platform together. And then I noticed that the one was chained to the other. The handcuff round the wrist of each told how it was. The prisoner could do nothing which the policeman could not see. So it was with Paul when he was chained to the soldier during his imprisonment at Rome. What a knowledge of the great apostle that soldier must have had! So near — so constantly near you is God.

III. As He sees all, as we should with the microscope, so He HEARS all, as we should with the microphone or telephone — every sound we utter, every word we speak. I saw a very curious thing one day. An old lady whom I knew was very deaf. I could not make her hear a word. But when I was calling at her house, her daughter spoke to her, and though she did not hear a word, she was able to understand the movement of the lips so thoroughly that it was as if she had heard every word, which indeed she repeated exactly as it was spoken. In this way some people do not need to hear in order to know what is being said or done. But, as I have said, it is nearness that is the great help to hearing. People in church who cannot hear well, wish to get as near the pulpit as possible. Deaf people in a room bring their chair close to you, or draw you close to them, and so, if at all possible, they hear. If anything is certain, it is that God hears — hears every one — hears everything, for "He is not far from every one of us." If you knew that some one whom you stand in awe of were near, would it not influence you in all that you said? I was one day travelling in a railway carriage, when the conversation of my fellow travellers turned on a particular friend of mine. Suddenly there was silence. One of the party had recognized me, and, with a look and a shrug, indicated that they had better take care what they said. How often that might be done in a different way! If I were at your elbow, might I not often gently whisper, "Hush! He is here!" Who? God. Or I might point upward — as much as to say, "He is listening! — take care what you say."

IV. God able to HELP us. One reason why friends cannot help us, even when they would, is that they are too far away. This can never happen with God. He is always close at hand, always within reach. The doors of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh are never locked. Above the principal entrance there are two panels. On the one are inscribed the words, "I was sick and ye visited Me": and on the other, "I was a stranger and ye took me in"; and between the panels is the crest of the infirmary, "Patet omnibus," which may be rendered, "Open to all." And at any hour, night or day, if any accident occurs, there is instant admittance. Might I not say, God's door is never locked, and it is close to every one of us. At any hour of the day or of the night, He is near — able and willing to help.

(J. H. Wilson, D. D.)

Theological Sketchbook.
I. WE WERE SOMETIME FAR OFF. Distance = ignorance of God, and under His displeasure. What the peculiar nature of our erroneous path, our remote situation, was, is comparatively of little consequence. Some of us were lost in the cares of the world. Some were deluded by the deceitfulness of riches. The lust of other things held some captive. While others were intoxicated by pleasure, or enchanted by worldly science, or drawn away by the meaner things which attract the attention of sordid souls. It is enough, more than enough, that we were far from God. Let us now turn our attention to our present situations.

II. NOW ARE WE MADE NIGH. These words convey to the mind ideas of Relationship, Friendship, Union, and Communion. Thus we are made nigh; and our text leads us, in the next place, to consider how this blessed, this important, change has been effected.

III. IN CHRIST JESUS — BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.

1. In Christ Jesus. He is our Mediator — God with God; man with men (see 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:24). It is here the distant parties meet. Here the Gentile meets the Jew (ver. 14). Here the returning sinner meets a gracious, a merciful, a forgiving God (Ephesians 1:6, 7, and ver. 18). Here persons that were distant, that were hostile, meet, cordially unite, and perfectly agree (see Galatians 3:28, 29; Colossians 3:11; John 10:16). Here even Saul of Tarsus meets the followers of Jesus of Nazareth on amicable terms. Here all real Christians of every sect and name meet; and here all men may know that they are disciples of Christ, because they love one another (John 13:35). Here, too, they all ascribe their salvation to Jesus, and glory in being "made nigh."

2. By the blood of Christ. Under the old dispensation this blood was yearly typified by that of the paschal lamb (Exodus 12:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 5:7); daily by that of the sacrificial lamb (Exodus 29:38, 39; John 1:29); and frequently by that of other sacrifices (Hebrews 9 and 10). Covenants were ratified by blood (Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:18-20); "and without shedding of blood is no remission (Hebrews 9:22). We enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19). Almost every important circumstance connected with our salvation has reference to the blood of Christ. We are redeemed by His blood (chap. Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:9). Justified by His blood (Romans 5:9); washed, cleansed by His blood (1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5, and Revelation 7:14); we conquer through His blood (Revelation 12:11); we are made nigh by His blood.

(Theological Sketchbook.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY BEING "AFAR OFF."

1. It intimates distance (Ephesians 4:14).

2. Being destitute of His image (Ephesians 4:22).

3. Under God's revealed displeasure (Ephesians 1:1-3).

4. Unconnected with Christ.

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY BEING "MADE NIGH." The renegade is reclaimed; the outlaw is captured; the rebel has Rounded his arms; the ferocious lion is now changed into a placid lamb; and the stoner is now reconciled to, and made one with, God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Hence, being "made nigh" signifies —

1. Relationship (2 Corinthians 3:17, 18).

2. Union — the vine and its branches (John 15:5).

3. Unity or oneness (1 Corinthians 12:13).

4. Stones builded on Christ (Ephesians 2:22).

5. Friendship (John 15:15).

6. Communion (Romans 8:14).

III. THE INSTRUMENT OF BRINGING US NIGH: "HIS BLOOD." That which effects such wonderful achievements must itself be astonishingly magnificent. The effect is Godlike, and the cause is with God. To accomplish an union between two opposite and repulsive bodies is beyond the reach of philosophical ingenuity, with all its power. But this is done by —

1. God's decree in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).

2. In whom Jew and Gentile meet (Ephesians 2:14).

3. By Christ's blood we are reconciled (Hebrews 9:28).

4. Thus we enter into the holiest (Hebrews 10:19).

5. Redeemed by His blood (Colossians 1:14).

6. Justified by His blood (Romans 5:9).

7. Washed by His blood (1 John 1:7).

8. We conquer through His blood (Revelation 12:11).

(T. B. Baker.)

The one gospel of God to the whole world, is that dark and distant spirits can not only be brought nigh, but "made nigh in the blood of Christ," as grafts are not simply brought nigh, but "made nigh" to the tree from which they are to derive their life. The graft is "made nigh," taken up into unity with the tree, by the life blood of the tree. Man is "made nigh," taken up into unity with God, by receiving the life blood of Jesus into his spirit. As the sun gives out of himself to the earth, and thus brings the earth into fellowship with himself, so Christ gives out of Himself to the human soul and makes man one with God.

(John Pulsford.)

The Atonement is the great fact of the Bible, and Scripture and history alike bear witness to it.

1. The universal practice of sacrifice points to the atonement of Christ, and shows out the moral sentiments of the nations in the dark but distinct consciousness that expiation is necessary before the sinner can approach God.

2. The whole Jewish economy is based upon the principle of sacrifice, and is to be looked upon as a providential preparation for the gospel, in which the sacrifice of the Cross holds such a conspicuous place, and both Testaments unite in declaring that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22; Exodus 24:8; Matthew 26:28). Hence the spirit of the Old Testament is realized in the New Testament Victim, offered up upon the cross for the sin of the world. Hence the blood of Christ is presented to our faith as the vindication of Jehovah's love, and the refuge in which our souls may safely await the issues of eternity.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

I once heard a very earnest minister say that he had been accosted by a man who had heard him preach, with this criticism: "I don't like your theology at all — it's too bloody. It savours so of the shambles, it's all blood, blood, blood. I like a pleasanter gospel." He replied to his objector: "My theology is bloody, I allow; it recognizes as its foundation a very sanguinary scene — the death of Christ, with bleeding hands and feet and side. And I am quite content that it should be bloody, for God hath said, 'that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.'"

(C. D. Foss.)

I dare assert, without fear of successful contradiction, that the inspired writers attribute all the blessings of salvation to the precious blood of Jesus Christ. If we have redemption, it is through His blood; if we are justified, it is by His blood; if washed from our moral stains, it is by His blood, which cleanseth us from all sin; if we have victory over "the last enemy," we obtain it, not only by the word of the Divine testimony, but through the blood of the Lamb; and, if we gain admittance into heaven, it is because we have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Everything depends on the blood of Christ, who paid it as the price of cur redemption to eternal life and glory.

(Dr. R. Newton.)Toplady, the writer of the hymn, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me," was converted through hearing a working man preach in a barn from Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

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