In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
During the Civil War, and probably in most land wars, many battles were fought near churches. At Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee, a bloody battle took place at Shiloh church. Another battle swirled around a Dunker church at Antietam, Maryland. A church seminary was involved in the battle of Gettysburg.
Tragic as it is for churches to suffer from warfare, it is far worse when battles are fought in the church itself. In the mother church in Jerusalem, founded on Pentecost Day, Grecian Jews "complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food" (Acts 6:1). But this was a minor skirmish in comparison with the much greater controversy over whether Old Testament ceremonial laws, like circumcision, must be part of New Testament Christianity. The conflict led to an apostolic convention in Jerusalem, where the principle of freedom from the Mosaic Law was once for all established.
The church in Ephesus was shaken by the same controversy. It needed spiritual guidance, and Saint Paul provided it in his epistle. He wrote that Christ Himself "is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the Law with its commandments and regulations" (Ephesians 2:14-15). Because of Christ's obedience to the Law and His work of atonement (at-one-moment), we are fully and freely saved through faith in Him. This goes for both believing Jews and Gentiles, who are now one.
War continues in our world, and church edifices are still being destroyed. Disputes still arise in congregations and in entire church bodies. But the truth of salvation by grace--without the deeds of the Law, without a golden-rule morality, without human merit of any kind--stands firm. Standing on this foundation, Christ's church and its members are at peace.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for preserving and prospering Your church on earth. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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