On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial, capping a historic March on Washington:
It’s a dream that has not yet been realized. Not even close. But it’s a dream that must be, for as Paul pointed out in the book of Ephesians, the validation of the gospel is at stake.
What is the gospel apologetic in the book of Ephesians? What did Paul point to in order to show the power and reality of Jesus Christ?
It’s not what you might think.
It wasn’t an apologetic of logic – an effort to prove with tangible facts and step by step reasoning why the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus makes sense. Neither was it offering first hand testimonies of encounters with the risen Savior. Neither still was it recounting his own encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road and pointing to his own dramatic change of life as proof of the gospel. Those are all fine things, but that’s not what Paul held up as the validation for the gospel. Not in this book.
In Ephesians, the gospel apologetic is the church itself.
The church at Ephesus was a racially diverse congregation. Jews and Greeks worshiped alongside each other, and that last point is key. There wasn’t a Jewish worship service at 9 and a Greek service at 10:30, each with different music and different communication styles. Instead, there was one, unified congregation. That’s not to say they didn’t have their troubles; they certainly did. But they were together under one head. That, according to Paul, is the most convincing evidence that the gospel is real:
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:13-14).
Interesting, right? Not logic. Not personal testimony. In Ephesians, it’s the unity of the church – specifically, the racial unity – that validates the reality of the gospel. Makes you wonder whether our churches are validating the gospel in a similar way.
Look around us, and there are still walls. Still hostility. Still division. And so the call to live out the dream resounds again today.