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The Church as the Bride of Christ 

03 Aug

Years ago, every married couple reading this has stood in front of a group of people very similar to this one and made some statements we call “vows” to each other: “Do you take this woman to be your wife? Do you promise to love her, honor her, and submit to her? Do you promise to stay with her and stand by her for as long as you both shall live?”……

There were differences in the details of the vows, in the styles of  weddings, etc., but we each were in circumstances that presented a strong potential:
· we repeated the right words and said “I do” in the right place
· we heard ourselves promise love, honor, obedience, respect, and faithfulness
· every one of us fully believed we’d keep to promises made
· we believed our marriage would be better than any we had ever seen

Many times, the reality and the ideal don’t match. It hasn’t surprised us this week to find that the ‘marriage’ of God and the church has its ‘ups and downs,’ too.

(Isa 62:5) “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

(Hosea 2:16-20) “”In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ {17} I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. {18} In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.  {19} I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. {20} I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.”

(2 Cor 11:2) “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

(Rev 21:2) “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”

What are some things that makes for a successful marriage? (Must happen in our earthly marriages and also in our marriage to Christ).
· Communication
· Accent the positive
· Don’t rundown in front of others
· Don’t make a list for him..make it for yourself
· Faithfulness (discuss sexual purity here and what God has set in place for those who are married).

Reliving the church’s vows: “Do you, church, take Jesus to be your husband? Do you promise to love him, honor him, and submit to him? Do you promise to stay with him and stand by him for as long as you live?”….

Christians have made similar vows in principle for over 2,000 years and meant every word they said. They believed Jesus was the Son of God. They wanted to make Him both their Master and Lord. They spoke with sincerity, conviction, and hope.

But, like Israel, the faithfulness hasn’t always followed:
(Jer 3:8) “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.”

(Hosea 2:2-4) “”Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. {3} Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst. {4} I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery.

James 4:4: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

The Medium, Measure and Means of Loyalty

(Eph 5:24-27) “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. {25} Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, {26} that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, {27} that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

If the husband makes Christ’s love for the church the pattern for loving his wife, then he will love her sacrificially. Christ gave himself for the church; so the husband, in love, gives himself for his wife.

The husband’s love will also be a sanctifying love. The word sanctify means “to set apart.” In the marriage ceremony, the husband is set apart to belong to the wife, and the wife is set apart to belong to the husband. Any interference with this God-given arrangement is sin.

Our Christian homes are to be pictures of Christ’s relationship to His church. Each believer is a member of Christ’s body, and each believer is to help nourish the body in love

We are one with Christ. The church is His body and His bride, and the Christian home is a divinely ordained illustration of this relationship. This certainly makes marriage a serious matter. The root of most marital problems is sin, and the root of all sin is selfishness.

Submission to Christ and to one another is the only way to overcome selfishness, for when we submit, the Holy Spirit can fill us and enable us to love one another in a sacrificial, sanctifying, satisfying way—the way Christ loves the church.

An All-Inclusive Message
The message of the church is inclusive:

· it is a message of salvation for all souls
· of enlightenment for all minds
· of comfort for all hearts
· of relief for all needs
· of challenge for every life.

It has a message from God and stands for a Redeemer with a message of liberty and a dispensation of grace. It is the guardian of human rights, the hope of humanity and of peace.

It has not come without a high price The cost of the church has been faithfulness and loyalty under persecution. The price has been paid in blood, from that of Christ and the first century Christians to hundreds martyred since.

We have a sacred obligation
The church is God’s tool for proclaiming Christ’s ideals and principles for life. It is founded on sacrifice and maintained by sacrifice. It appeals to the highest instincts of the human heart.

THE MEASURE OF LOYALTY
If our supreme loyalty is to Christ, then self and others will find their rightful place. Christ demands and deserves first place in our life.  (Mat 10:32-42) “”Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. {33} “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.  {34} “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. {35} “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; {36} “and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ {37} “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy  of Me. {38} “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. {39} “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.  {40} “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. {41} “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. {42} “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.””

The real peril is from within:
“The compelling need of our churches is neither larger numbers, more money, nor different programs, but a fuller consecration of the lives of individual church members to Jesus Christ.  “Carelessness, prayerlessness, indifference, lowering of ideals, and open inconsistency of professed Christians within the church constitutes a greater menace to the cause of our Lord than indifference, opposition, infidelity, atheism, or other issues without the church. “The neglect of the devotional life brings flabbiness, indifference and unhappiness. Church discipline seems to have been largely discarded. The standard of Christ is the demand of the times.”

THE MEANS OF EXPRESSING LOYALTY
1. By our priority allegiance
If I truly belong as a husband and wife belong to each, or as children belong to parents, the church will have a real claim upon my personality, my powers, and my possessions.

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we put our children’s sports, homework, or recreation activities ahead of our worship and Bible classes!  We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we work all week no matter how we feel and use it as an excuse to miss worship!

1. By uplifting influence
Jesus demands from each of us a high standard of moral and ethical  conduct. He demands personal purity…” Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

“It is very possible that our churches are suffering a greater loss to the influence for good through the social activities of the individual members than at any other point.  “If we are as loyal and as earnest as we should be about this business of Christianity, we will not go places and do things that are  calculated to retard the progress of the church to which we belong. Uncompromising loyalty to Christ wherever we are placed is one of the inescapable obligations and privileges of the Christian life.”

2. By Christ-like deeds
We might not see ourselves as flattering pictures of Christ, but in the things we say and do, we remind people that Christ dwells upon earth.

“Christianity is more than a vision…it is a life, a power, a mission for God. It is going somewhere; it is accomplishing something; it is increasing the forces of righteousness; it is translating routine into duty; it is making drudgery divine; it is finding out God and cooperating with Him in everyday life.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Church

 

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