Why Join a Church?

July 30, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: Do I need to “join a church?” In other words, why would I even consider becoming a “member” when I can attend church without it?

Answer: I don’t know of a Bible verse that says “thou shalt have thy name officially added unto a local church’s membership list.” However, I think the reason we don’t see a command like that is because it would have been almost unthinkable for the men that the Holy Spirit used to write the Bible that someone would become a part of the body of Christ, and then NOT join a local church assembly. The Bible doesn’t command church membership in explicit terms, because it implicitly ASSUMES it for Christians.

Read Hebrews 13:17 and I Peter 5:2 and I Corinthians 1:2 and 5:12 and Philippians 1:1 and Acts 8:1– just to cite a few examples – and you will see the necessity of placing yourself under the authority of local church leadership. How is a pastor supposed to determine who is and who is not a part of the “flock” if people refuse to formally commit? Even in the Old Testament the people of God were listed formally in order to keep track of who was a part of the family of faith. (See Psalm 87:6.)

Additionally, the principles of submission, accountability, relationship, church discipline, and identification as the bride of Christ are all key reasons for joining a local church.

Reverence in Marriage (Part 1)

June 1, 2011 at 10:33 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 10 Comments
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Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33, emphasis added

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

“Reverence” in Ephesians 5:33 is translated from the Greek word “phobos,” meaning “fear.” It might sound contradictory to you as a wife if I tell you that the Bible commands you to both love and fear your husband. However, fear does not cancel out “agape” love, which was described in a previous lesson. Think of it in terms of how you love God. We are commanded to love God and to draw close to Him. Drawing closer to God always brings greater love and fear.

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees had a theory that if they could know which commandment was the greatest, then they could keep that one and be right with God, and thereby earn eternal salvation. Jesus tells them that “agape” is the greatest commandment. Think about why this is. For one thing, it is impossible to sin while exercising true “agape.” “Agape” seeks to show kindness and to move the other person to righteousness.

When I John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear, the Bible is not contradicting itself. The fear that is being cast out by perfect love is the fear of no longer being right with the person who truly loves you. When I love my spouse perfectly, then my spouse’s insecurity about her “standing” with me is cast out. In other words, perfect love casts out fear of loss of the relationship.

This will be further developed in Part 2.

The Blessings of an Unhappy Marriage Part 2

March 4, 2011 at 11:04 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 22 Comments
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Last time we looked at the first two of four Bible principles to help us understand what God wants to do in our marriages. Think about some of the things that you have been told to do in order to make your marriage “happier.” Chances are, the things that are coming into your mind are things that focus ultimately on changing your spouse instead of changing you. How different are God’s ways from our ways!

Principle Number 1: Satisfaction in Marriage

Is being unhappy in your marriage a sign that your marriage is not “working?” No! Not when we use God’s definition of “working.” If your marriage is “unhappy,” but God is using it to conform you to the image of His dear Son, then you can find satisfaction in your marriage.

Principle Number 2: Separation in Marriage.

If you are married to someone right now, make a list of people with whom it’s okay for you to be physically intimate in a romantic or sexual way… That list should be very short. It should have one name only on it, and that name should be the name of your current spouse. That is “separation” from the affections of others.

Obviously, the principle of “separation” applies when it comes to sexual intimacy, but also, when it comes to where our devotion and affections lie, our spouse must hold a place of separation that is higher than our parents, our friends, even our children.

Then, there is the “separation” from worldly wisdom about your marriage. Let’s be honest: Who knows more about marriage?
God or Dr. Phil?
God or a psychiatrist?
God or that sweet little elderly couple that’s been married for 60 years?
God or a marriage counselor?

God invented marriage and He commanded its rules and consequences. We would have to agree that God wins out every time in a test of Who knows more about what your marriage is supposed to be!

Now I want to move on to the third and fourth principles:

Principle Number 3: Sanctification in Marriage

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

Not only is your spouse ordained to be your spouse by God, but your spouse was specifically chosen for your sanctification. That does not mean that your spouse was chosen by God for your immediate, temporal happiness! Your spouse was chosen for your “ultimate” (the “ultimate” may be far off) joy, and for God’s glory. This concept of how God works has become almost alien to us in our modern society. Maybe this illustration that I’ve borrowed from a Puritan preacher named Chadwick will help to make it more clear.

One Saturday afternoon Mr. Chadwick was in his study, trying to decide what to preach in church the next morning. He could not seem to find any inspiration, so after much prayer and study he went for a walk. As he walked down a country lane, he saw a little shop, and out front were two men. One man was an awful looking oaf. He was huge, with big muscles and an evil scowl. He was pounding a giant hammer down onto a piece of metal which was lying on top of an anvil, and sparks flew with every grunting blow. Beside the monstrous oaf was a fastidious little man in fancy clothes. He wore spectacles, he had not broken a sweat, and he was simply pointing imperiously at the anvil as the larger man did all the work. This scene did not sit well with Preacher Chadwick, who, being a Puritan, prized the ethic of hard work and despised laziness. Mr. Chadwick went up to them, and said with disdain to the smaller man, “Well sir, I’m not even sure why you’re here! He’s doing all the work, and you don’t seem to be doing anything!” The fastidious little man smiled, and calmly explained, “No, sir, you don’t understand. I’m the blacksmith here, and this man is just a mean-spirited oaf. He thinks he’s destroying something. I am simply pointing out to him where to strike. Without me, he would make a mess of the job, but with my control and direction, the end product is going to be something beautiful.” Mr. Chadwick immediately knew what he would preach about the next morning!

This story is a picture of God and the devil. The devil may be pounding away at your marriage even as you read this. No doubt, he thinks he is destroying you, and your spouse, and your children, and your whole family. What he does not realize is that he is being used by God to make you into exactly what God wants you to be. One day, when you stand before God justified and sanctified and looking much more like Jesus Christ than you ever thought you could, with your children gleaming like jewels in the crown of Christ our King, I think the devil will be furious at how often he thought he was performing pure evil, when, in reality, God was allowing him to work out God’s perfect will all along!

The things about your spouse that seem like his or her faults – the very things about him or her that drive you absolutely crazy – are the very things designed by God to teach you to grow in Christ-likeness. And if your spouse has certain strengths, then these strengths are the very things which God knows must be present if you are not to be tempted beyond that which you are able to bear.

Remember that your marriage isn’t just for you – and it isn’t just for your spouse – it’s for God to use in making you more holy, which is the definition of sanctification.

Principle Number 4: Sacrifice in Marriage

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 5:24-25

Spouses are supposed to love each other the way that Christ loved the Church. In other words, the way that He loved all the people who would one day trust Him for eternal salvation. I can not think of a single thing that Jesus should have done for the people that would one day go to Heaven, but that He failed to do. Many spouses are willing to envision a scenario in which they would dramatically die for their spouse. But few are willing to go through the mundane, day-to-day, detail-oriented task of living for their spouse. Christ did both. He lived and died for His bride, the Church. Christ gave Himself for the Church.

In giving yourself for your spouse, the primary emphasis is not on dying literally, but on sacrificial giving. Be a “living sacrifice,” says Romans 12:2. Think of some of the most serious issues that cause problems in a marriage.

Adultery? Adultery is terrible and hurtful. The pain and destruction that it causes must not be minimized. However, we have all committed spiritual adultery (unfaithfulness) against Christ, and yet He loved us anyway.

Cruelty? Mental cruelty toward your spouse is a grievous sin! It can be a form of torture. However, no one has ever been as cruel toward anyone as the people that Jesus came to save were toward Him. Yet He loved us anyway.

Physical violence? I think a man who physically abuses His wife should be whipped and then shot and then put under the jail. But no spouse has ever endured a beating like the beating that Jesus willingly took from the people that He came to save. And yet He loved us anyway.

Lack of affection? I wonder if there is anyone in the world as lonely or heartbroken as the spouse who can not get affection from his or her spouse. But Jesus was forsaken by His family, His friends, His relatives, His disciples – by everyone He cared about – and yet He loved us anyway.

Finances? How many people have I counseled with who have had their credit completely ruined by their spouse? Their savings gambled away, their children’s education spent on beer or toys or drugs or pornography. But how much of the resources that God has entrusted to us have been spent on vain and frivolous and even sinful things rather than invested in His Kingdom? And yet Jesus loved us anyway.

Christ never ever has and never ever will divorce His bride, the Church – no matter what! Has your spouse done worse to you than you’ve done to Christ? The Cross of Calvary says no – not even close.

Some people tell me, “You just don’t know what my spouse is like! I can’t love him or her, because he or she is just unlovable!” That describes Jesus’s ministry to a tee. He came to love the unlovable. I want everyone to have a happy marriage, but I’m simple and sentimental. God wants everyone to have a marriage that makes them more like Jesus. Jesus loved the unlovable. If God has chosen your marriage and your spouse to be the vehicle to teach you how to love the unlovable, then I’m sorry. I genuinely am. But, on another level, I’m also excited and glorifying God for your sake! He works in the lives of those He loves and He will one day repay every hurt with joy unspeakable!

Marriage and War

January 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Posted in Romans | 12 Comments
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Romans Chapter 7 addresses the Christian’s relationship to the Law of God. On the opposite end of the spectrum from those who thought that grace created a free license to sin, were those who thought that grace created an obligation to follow the letter of the Law in such a way that the spirit of the Law was negated. This is one area of the Bible that people will point to when they want to condemn “legalists.”

Here are some common misconceptions about legalism. In other words, here is a list of things that many people mistakenly use to label someone a legalist:

1. You dress up for church or encourage others to dress up for church.

2. You carry your Bible anywhere besides church.

3. You think there ought to be some restrictions for ministries in church.

4. You won’t do certain things so you can avoid temptation.

5. You recommend to people whom you love that they should or shouldn’t do certain things (such as use the King James Version of the Bible or come to church on Wednesday nights.)

None of these things make someone a legalist in and of themselves. Technically, a legalist is someone who thinks that keeping the Law of God is the way to earn God’s favor so that God owes them a debt for their self-righteousness. There is also a sense in which a legalist is someone who believes that keeping rules makes him more spiritual than other Christians.

In Romans Chapter 7 we find the illustration of a marriage to explain the believer’s relationship to the Law. A husband and wife are one flesh. They come under the “law” of marriage as long as they live. If the wife marries somebody else, she’s a bigamist, but also an adulteress. But if the husband dies, she is free to remarry. The law of marriage did not die, and the wife did not die, but it’s as if, when her husband dies, she is now dead to that law and that law is now dead to her. The only way to get back into a marriage relationship with her deceased husband would be a type of re-birth or resurrection. Christians are the bride of Christ, resurrected with Him in a new relationship.

Remember, a main function of the Law is to show up the unbeliever, to point out his sin, to make sin abound, to point the way to salvation.

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Romans 7:7

Coveting is usually considered among the least of sins to men, but, from God’s viewpoint, it is the sin that leads to other sins.

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

Romans 7:8

An “occasion” is a foothold, or an enemy camp inside walls which had been designed to keep an enemy out. Concupiscence is like lust, but carries a connotation of being more determined, more scheming, like a combination of coveting and lust. From it, we get the word “Cupid.” Sin, using the Law as an “occasion,” can kill – both physically and spiritually.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

Romans 7:11

One of the dangers of misunderstanding the Law is that we begin to compare ourselves with those we perceive as holy. We have to remember that our faith is not in a pastor or anyone else – but in God. Our role model is Jesus, not another godly person.

The Law is holy and good.

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Romans 7:12

But it is good because it shows the sinfulness of sin. This is true for the unbeliever, obviously. When we believe, neither sin, nor the Law, have dominion over us. So, how do we wind up in the same condition as Paul:

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Romans 7:13

When sin uses that which is holy and good (the Law) to work death in me, then I’m in big trouble. But at least I’m not alone. We call the Apostle Paul “St. Paul,” but he was a also a wretched man.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Romans 7:24

There is a war going on between two natures. This is a description of our sin nature:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

The carnal man – the “old” man – is too long accustomed to the old ways, and it has the advantage of maturity over the new man – the new nature. What’s going to give my new nature a fighting chance? The truth that my new nature is not really “my” nature. It should be the Holy Spirit living inside me. The Holy Spirit of God is not some floating, amorphous, fickle entity. My condition is not that one day He might “fall” on me, and the next day He might not. He’s a Person. He’s God. He’s going to win the war.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Romans 7:23

The Law pointed out my sin and showed me the way to salvation, but it is not my motivation for living a holy life. I can force my kids to obey (sometimes…maybe), but do I really want them to be motivated by laws and rules, or do I want them to obey me because they love me?

In the battle of the sin nature versus the new nature, the nature that wins the war in the “wretched man” when he’s weary from battle is the nature that’s been fed the most and the nature that is yielded to the Spirit that gives it power.

Careless Love – Part 3

April 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 3 Comments
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The heart of Christ races when we show our love for Him – not because we deserve it – but because of His grace.

But look what happens. The king goes to knock on the door, to visit the bride, and she says:

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

Song of Solomon 5:2-3

How often does the Lord want to spend time with me? How often does He knock on my door and and find me too “tired” (really, too lazy)? I think, “I’ve done enough for You today, Lord – I’m having ‘me’ time now.”

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Song of Solomon 5:6

If I were this king, and my bride was making me call her down – making me plead with her just to spend time with me – I would say, “Just forget it! I’m the king – I’m the master of the universe. If you want to run around and play your games – apart from me – go ahead… You come to me – I don’t come to you. I’ll find another one – I’ve got every woman in Jerusalem who would love to marry me.”

The sovereign God could be justified in saying that about us: “You think you’re special? You want me to woo you? Try to win you? I made you! There’s a million more just like you – I’ll just say “next” – and you’ll be finished.”

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

Song of Solomon 5:7-9

Are we so careless with God’s love that others will think, “What’s so special about your God? You don’t even spend time with Him. Why should we want to? You claim there’s something special about being His disciple or His bride, but you wouldn’t even get out of bed to come to the door when He knocked!”

There should be some evidence of time spent alone with the Lord – some evidence that you are anxious for Him to notice you, that you desperately want to be in His presence.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Song of Solomon 4:12

We must be a bride who has shut the door to many things. Even things that aren’t necessarily “bad” to us, when evaluated, are things that won’t attract our King.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Song of Solomon 4:16

The greatest wish of this young bride-to-be was that the wind would blow upon the garden she had planted, and that her fiancé would come and find it pleasing. Our garden should be enclosed – not necessarily seen by the outside world. But it should be a place ready to be filled at any moment by the presence of God. It makes me sad to hear people sing: “More love, more power, more of You in my life,” to claim they want to be “filled” with His Spirit, but they are so full already of other things that there’s no room for Him. Remember how “empty” of worldly belongings and passions and attitudes Jesus was on the Cross? Do you have a garden prepared for your King? Does it still seem empty without Him in it?

We have to be careful with our words. When this heresy begins circulating that our relationship with God is completely broken when we, as true Christians, sin, it can be very discouraging. We do the work of the devil when we call conviction “condemnation” and drive people further away from the Lord. He’s saying, “You’re wrong – I love you – come back to Me.” That’s conviction, not condemnation. He will even protect us as we wander, and try to call us back.

Careless Love – Part 2 (Divine Rapid Heart Rate)

April 14, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 7 Comments
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It might be hard to believe, but Christ Himself, the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect, and righteous King over all creation, is smitten with love for an often-rebellious, -scornful, and –lukewarm bride.

Song of Solomon is the book of the Bible which beautifully and poetically sings the praises, not only of the love between a husband and wife, but also of the love of Christ for His bride, the Church.

Song of Solomon 4:9 says, “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.”

How little we understand of Christ’s love! The word “ravish” means “to capture someone’s heart” – to make them come alive with desire – literally, “to cause the heartbeat to speed up.”

All day long Christians are going here, going there, trying to do this, to do that, to make money, to fulfill worldly obligations, to pursue entertainment, to try to keep track of the scores of things we think we have to do. Therefore, we sometimes let hours at a time go by without giving a single thought to our loving Lord.

Then, perhaps, in a moment of realization, we just cast an eye upward in prayer – maybe only for a quick, almost-heartless, almost-unfeeling prayer… and what happens?

Christ’s heart races! If we applied our finite understanding of “fairness,” we would have to say that His heart should not race – He should be angry and cold toward us for ignoring Him – but it does race. Such is the limitless, unsearchable love of God! His love is not a deserved love. It is the undeserved love of grace.

Careless Love – Part 1

April 7, 2010 at 8:52 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Philippians 4:10

God providentially placed a desire in the heart of the believers in the church of Philippi to meet the needs of the Apostle Paul. Paul is telling them, “You have always loved me. You have been ‘careful’ (full of care) for me. It’s just that, until now, you cared, but you lacked the opportunity.” This reminds me of how, many times, in our love for God, we are not full of care.

We say we don’t have the opportunity, but is the problem really that we don’t have the concern? “Careful” is the Bible word for “worried.” What is causing you to worry right now? That you don’t have enough time to do the things in your schedule? Or that you are not taking time to get alone with the Lord? I am afraid that, as 21st Century believers, we are careless with God’s love.

That may be because we don’t fully realize how much He loves us. Song of Solomon is thought by some to be only a book about the relationship or the love between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. But God created this love, and all His creations contain lessons about Him. All His creations contain lessons about His relationship to His people, about the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Song of Solomon is a book of poetry in which different voices speak in the first person. This is the king speaking to his bride, and it is also our King’s message of love to us:

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

First of all, it’s a call to come down from the high places – from the monuments and edifices we’ve built in our lives to draw us away from time with God. These include not only the material hobbies and pleasures and pursuits of this world, but even the “good” things we do, such as our devotion time, our church time, our ministry time. It is as if God is saying, “’Come down’ and spend time with Me.”

When is the last time you completely shut out all distractions and went somewhere no one could see you – and where you truly determined to seek God’s presence?

“Come down from your high places.” This will be necessary for me to have the power of God abide on my life – to teach, to witness, to love, to pray, with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can say all the right things, go to all the right places, but without the power of God abiding upon me personally, I will live a defeated life.

I can’t explain why God would love me – the way a lovesick king longs for time alone with his bride – but His Word says He does.

Second, Song of Solomon 4:8 is a warning that our “high places” are not only keeping us from spending time alone with God, but also that they are dangerous places.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

These mountains of Lebanon looked like mighty strongholds, but they were really the mountains of leopards. There were lions’ dens. How dangerous it is to get too far from God’s Word and God’s will!

Lions are out to devour. Our enemy, the devil, is not afraid of the sheep. He is only afraid of the Shepherd.

Furthermore, God wants us to stay near him. If we are truly His children, He will rescue us if we cry out, but what scars will we bear from being attacked? “Stay near Me,” God says. “Come away from Lebanon, the high mountains where the lions’ dens are.”

Once, I was at a skating rink where we were having a children’s church activity, and one of the children went missing. Her mother was terrified. Several of us began searching, and I happened to find the little girl, upstairs, in a dark room where parents could watch television. She was reluctant to come with me, so I wanted to pick her up because the quicker I could show her frantic mother she was safe, the better. However, she kicked and screamed and howled for me to put her down all the way down the stairs. How often God wants to hold us in His arms, but we don’t want to be carried – we want to get down and play. Lord, help us to trust in You and Your loving arms which carry us away from danger even when we think we’re having fun.

The Bridegroom Cleans His Bride’s Wedding Gown

March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Eternity | 16 Comments
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The custom of modern weddings is for the bride to wear white. White symbolizes her purity. This is a good and fitting tradition. But it is not always completely accurate. These days few and far between are brides who have kept themselves totally pure up until their wedding day.

The bride of Christ is His church – the body of believers to whom He has granted eternal life. Christ is a pure and holy Bridegroom. He is coming to claim a pure and holy bride.

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:27

In fact, there will one day be a great feast or “marriage supper” for Christ and His bride.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Revelation 19:7

Just as there are few brides who have remained completely pure until their wedding day, there are few (maybe none) Christians who have been completely sinless since the day of their salvation. Yet, we see that Christ’s bride will indeed wear white:

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 19:8-9

It has not fully been revealed to us exactly how the impure members of Christ’s church will be transformed into His holy, unblemished bride. It may well be that our impurities will be purged away before the judgment seat of Christ. But, it is certain that the fine white linen of righteousness we will wear will be our Lord’s imputed righteousness, and not our own self-generated good works (Titus 3:5).

Eternal life is neither earned, nor kept, nor enhanced by our own power or goodness. The invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is an invitation to come receive a free gift.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

We sometimes use the word “freely” to mean “having the quality of unlimited access.” If someone invites us to freely enjoy the buffet, we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths until we are stuffed. There is a connotation of easy access to God’s great riches in this verse, but the primary import of the Greek word dorean is something that is given without cost, something received even though it is undeserved. God will make His bride pure; that is His gift. He has not left it up to us to purify ourselves or keep ourselves pure in our own power.

In this site’s category called “Eternity” the past several postings have focused on the doctrine of eternal security. Starting with I Corinthians, I have taken at least one verse from every subsequent book of the Bible, except Jude, and shown that, when God grants you eternal life, He makes you His child. You receive a new ontological “heart.” You are a new creation. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and God will not take His salvation away. You can not “lose” it, and you can not “reject” it. No man will make God a liar by causing Him to break His promises.

This is not an excuse to presume upon God’s grace and willingly or carelessly practice sin. If you find that you love sin more than Jesus Christ, regardless of what religious experience you may have had, or what you have been told, you need to make sure you have actually trusted in Jesus Christ personally unto salvation, and not merely your own “decision” or a special unscriptural formula.

Here are the previous lessons on eternal security:

Delivery and Birth (I Corinthians)
The Deposit on Your Soul (II Corinthians)
It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is (Galatians)
All in the Past (Ephesians)
Who “KEEPS” Me Saved? (Philippians)
Perfect Unbreakable Love (Colossians)
Learning to Like Eternal Life (I Thessalonians)
Eternal Destruction (II Thessalonians)
Temporarily Saved Is Not Really Saved at All (I Timothy)
Get Over Yourself, because You Can’t Get Over on God (II Timothy)
Eternally Paid in Full (Philemon)

The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Titus, Hebrews)
Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter)
The Legend of the Unsaved Christian (II Peter)
The Everlasting Anointing (I John)
The Things that Will Last (II John)
Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor (III John)

A Match Made in Heaven Part 2

March 6, 2009 at 10:29 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 6 Comments
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I believe that there is a “type” or an illustration in Genesis 24 of the relationship between Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and the New Covenant Church, which is His “bride.”

In a sense, Isaac is a type for Jesus Christ. Abraham is a type for God the Father. Isaac did not go out on his own looking for a wife. He waited obediently for his father, Abraham, to arrange his marriage. God wants, and is getting – to this day – a “bride” for His Son. Rebekah is a type for the Church – born-again believers.

Abraham’s servant is a type for the Holy Ghost. It is His job to go and convince sinners to come to Christ. Abraham’s servant convinced Rebekah that Isaac was a worthy husband, and he comforted her on the journey to meet him. The Holy Ghost does the same with New Testament believers.

Isaac, the type for Christ, is waiting and prepared for his bride. It was Abraham’s idea to get a bride for Isaac. Christians, by nature, are supposed to love what God loves. God loves seeing lost sinners brought to His Son. We should love to tell lost sinners about the Gospel, and to try to bring them to Jesus Christ.

Abraham’s servant wanted to take Isaac to search for a bride, but Abraham said no. This is a type of God, in a sense, saying, “I have already sent my Son once into the world. Today, He is available. He is not coming to live among men, as a man Himself, again. His bride must come to Him – she must be willing to say yes to the Holy Ghost.” This shows how important it is for us, as soul-winners, to be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Christians who want to lead others to Christ must place more emphasis on the filling of the Holy Spirit than on worldly manipulation or manufactured “outreaches.”

When we go to find a bride for Jesus Christ, God does not send us by ourselves. The Holy Ghost goes with us – or even leads us – every step of the way.

All believers will one day give an account to our Master for what we have done with the treasure of the Gospel message, which He has given us in trust. There is a picture of this accounting in Genesis 24.

For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

Genesis 24:65-66

Abraham’s servant did not say, “We took your 10 camels loaded down with treasure, and we had a very good time, but we failed to get a bride.” He did not say, “We attracted many followers and hangers-on with your treasure, but we failed to get a bride.” He did not say, “We spread your treasure around doing many good works, but we failed to get a bride.” No, Abraham’s servant came back with a report of “Mission accomplished: I brought back a bride for the son!”

Let’s make sure that, whatever we do in our labors for the Lord, we stay focused on getting a bride for the Son.


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