• maryack

Our Hope In Christ: Strangers No More

Model of Herod's Jerusalem Temple

Ephesians 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; 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: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

The accompanying picture shows part of a model of Herod’s temple in Jerusalem. The arrow points to the “wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14) in the outer courts of the temple. Because the Gentiles were not Israelites by birth, living under the Mosaic law, they were forbidden to go beyond this wall to the more sacred areas of the temple. They were considered “aliens [foreigners] from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12). The physical wall of partition symbolized the spiritual separation that existed between Jews and Gentiles before Peter’s revelation that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles. From New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students Unit 25, Day 1

This hope of being no more strangers to the "covenants of promise" belongs to all of us. Paul teaches that, as we live in Christ through His Holy Spirit, we close the gap of separation between us. We become alive in Christ and His law of the Gospel:

Galatians 2:19 "For I through the law (the law of Moses) am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."; and Ephesians 5:8 "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."

Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in all the scriptures (Ephesians 2 has just been added to that list!). Paul discusses separation and the hope of living in Christ:

Rom 8:35 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

How do we close the gap of separation and live in Christ? Latter-day prophets give instruction on this very topic all of the time. (I'll be looking for such teachings in General Conference next week!) So far Russell M. Nelson has had a lot to say: "Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise would not do. Faith that motivates us to action gives us more access to His power. . . .We also increase the Savior’s power in our lives when we make sacred covenants and keep those covenants with precision. Our covenants bind us to Him and give us godly power. As faithful disciples, we repent and follow Him into the waters of baptism. We walk along the covenant path to receive other essential ordinances. . . .When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do. When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you." Seeking Knowledge by the Soirit, 2019.

"I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.. . .Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work. . . .But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.. . .My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly. With Moroni, I exhort you on this Easter Sabbath to “come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, beginning with the gift of the Holy Ghost, which gift can and will change your life." Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives, 2018.

Finally, I love the testimony of Bruce R. McConkie shortly before his death. He testifies that we can connect to Jesus Christ now! We can be His disciples in mind, heart, and body, now! His promises are sure and beautiful.

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