The Bride of Christ
Ephesians chapter 5:21-32 is a passage of scripture that compares the marital relationship of a man and a woman to that of Christ and the church. The important truth to remember about the church is that it is made of individuals. True religion is individual and personal. So when this comparison is made between Christ and the church it should be thought of first on an individual basis. Ephesians 5:21-32 says, Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. 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; 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.
The Bible says in Song of Solomon chapter 8:7, Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
In the beginning when God finished His creation He said that it was very good. And of all the things that God created in this world, one of the most beautiful, most holy, and most powerful, is love. There are many different kinds of love in terms of relationships between people. All love has the same basic foundation, self-sacrifice. I Corinthians chapter 13 tells us of the qualities, characteristics, and importance of this kind of love. The romantic and magical love that exists between a man and a woman is a very special kind. And it is used in the Bible as a comparison between Christ and the believer. Song of Solomon has much to say about romantic love. Song of Solomon 8:7 tells us that if a man gave all of his possessions for the love of a woman he would be laughed to scorn; because it would seem as such a little and insignificant amount to give for what he is gaining. When two people are in love, there is almost a mystical force that binds their souls together. The strength of their own wills, the passion of their own desires, and the desperate need that they have to know each others thoughts and to spend each moment of their lives side by side; such is the power of love. And it goes beyond words, and beyond the physical, reaching into the innermost being of a human. Yet, this kind of love is merely a reflection of the love that was meant to exist between Jesus Christ and any man. Jesus said in Mark chapter 12:29-30 the greatest and first commandment is, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
In the beginning when God created the world, before sin entered the human world because of the disobedience of Adam, man did love God this way. The relationship between man and God was a perfect one of love. The Bible says in Genesis chapter 2:24-25 says, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
When a man and a woman become husband and wife they become one flesh. They may not be physically connected together like Siamese twins but they are physically one flesh. We will never fully understand what the relationship between God and man was before the fall because there was no sin then and Adams relationship was not based on faith in Jesus Christ because He had not sinned and did not yet need a Saviour. One thing is for certain though, in the new heaven and new earth mans relationship will again be like it was in the Garden of Eden, yet better. It will still be based on the blood of Jesus Christ. But that is the amazing grace of God because God always makes things become better than they were before. Because in eternity the Spirit of God and the knowledge of God will be shed upon man in a way that it never was in the Garden of Eden. In a sense, Jesus Christ is the wedding ring that unites man and God together at salvation. Salvation is very much like marriage. In Marriage two flesh become one flesh and in salvation the spirit of man is given life and becomes one with the Spirit of God. Because the believer is crucified with Christ, old things are passed away and all things are become new. The old man is dead. A believer is dead to the flesh, separated unto the gospel of God and alive in Christ. This is why the ring is such a fitting symbol for marriage. A ring has no beginning or end. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the perfect symbol for mans eternal unity with God the Father. Even though, it is actually Jesus Christ that is compared to being the husband or the bridegroom.
Genesis 2:25 said that, they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Sin means separation. Before the fall there was no separation between Adam and Eve in their relationship with each other. And in the same sense once a man becomes married to Jesus Christ, when the precious blood of the lamb has cleansed him, he once again can be unashamed to be completely exposed and open, spiritually, to God.
Ephesians chapter 5 verses 29-32 says, 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.
This is a wonderful picture of how a man is united with Christ and how the church as a whole is united with Christ. The 3-person Godhead is in perfect unity with Himself and in the same sense God will bring us into perfect unity with Him and with other people. The Bible certainly emphasizes the unity of the believers. Romans 12:16 says, Be of the same mind one toward another. Romans 15:7 says, Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. The Spirit of God will always unify, but the spirit of the flesh and the world will always be divisive. This is because sin means separation. The word church means a called out assembly or group. And therefore such a word also carries with it the idea of unity. Its a very important concept. The concept of marriage is certainly the idea of unity. There is only one church of Jesus Christ. It is made up of all those who have repented of their sins and trusted by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Because of the wicked sinners that we are, Christianity is divided into countless denominations. The last part of Romans 12:16 says, Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Probably the greatest cause of division between individual Christians and organizations is simply pride. Christians so often bicker and debate over things from the way religious services are to be run to their own interpretations of scripture, using the excuse that it is doctrine and therefore important. There is definitely an extreme importance in following accurate Biblical doctrine. But the Spirit of God always will bring unity between Christians who are right with the Lord. And the pride of man will always bring divisions between people who think too highly of their own opinions. Divisive people are people who are wise in their own conceits. What a beautiful picture is God and the unity of the believers. Yet, the works of the flesh so often destroy this picture.
Isaiah chapters 61-62 are passages of scripture in which the prophet Isaiah was prophesying concerning the future restoration of the nation of Israel. But, there is undoubtedly an individual application in terms of a mans own personal relationship with God. Isaiah chapter 61 verses 1-2 says, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn. Jesus quoted this passage of scripture in Luke chapter 4, when Jesus entered the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath day and stood in front of the people proclaiming the Word of God. This was just after the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and it was the beginning of His ministry. Jesus Christ was making a proclamation to the world. He was presenting the glorious gospel of forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all that repent and trust in Jesus. When God presented the gospel to the world, and when He presents it individually to every human soul, it is very much like the moment a man who is deeply and truly in love with a woman professes his love for her and asks for her hand in marriage.
Isaiah chapter 61:10 says, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. And Isaiah chapter 62:5, For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Ideally when we think of marriage we think of a story that is, happily ever after. This is true between God and any man who trusts in Christ. Just as there is great joy between a man and a woman when they have assurance of each others love the same is true between Christ and man. In Luke 15:7 Jesus said, I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. It is most certain that God created marriage, love, and romance between a man and a woman to teach us some very wonderful and faith-strengthening truths about our relationship with God. This is why Ephesians 5:29 says, For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the lord the church. The Lord nourisheth and cherisheth us. We are the children of God. We are the Bride of Christ. With great tender care and loving hands God the Almighty carefully guides us through this life, with all of its toils and snares, temptations and persecutions.
In Exodus chapter 14 the children of Israel were trapped between the red sea and the 600 chariots of the Egyptian army, the greatest nation in the world. Even though they had the wonderful promises of God, and the visible pillar of fire and pillar of cloud to symbolize the mighty presence of God, the children of Israel said in Exodus 14:11-12, because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. As we walk through this life, it is so easy to be distracted by our physical circumstances. And it is so easy to focus on our own interpretation of the situation. We think too much about the daily things of this life in the wrong way. The children of Israel had the promises and the presence of God. Yet, they failed in their faith because they thought about their own words, the words of man, instead of the Word of God.
Exodus 14:12 says, Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt. But Moses said unto them in Exodus 14:13, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. As we walk though this life our circumstances, our daily tasks, and every thing in our lives each day should bring us closer to God. If it does not then we are not thinking about the right things (the Word of God) and we are not looking at life from the right perspective. Psalm 4:4 says, Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. And Job 37:14 says, Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.
When God says to stand still, He means that we should focus on our relationship with Him as we walk through this life each day. When a man and a woman are in love, life becomes an entirely different world when the two of them are together. As they walk side by sied, in a sense they are standing still and knowing each other. Their focus will be on each others thoughts and desires and especially the words that the other person says to them. Their entire perspective on the situations and people they come across when they are together is different than if they were not with that person they love dearly. This is what it means to walk with God, to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord; to understand and be thankful for Jesus loving us and forgiving us of our sins; to walk hand in hand with God our truest and deepest love. This is probably how Enoch walked with God. Just as romantic love is a realm that exists between two people in a very personal way. True religion is individual and personal between one man and God. The focus of life is our relationship with God, as a child and as a lover. Isaiah 40:31 says, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.
Colossians 2:1 says, For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh. The word conflict is the same word translated fight in 2 Timothy 4:7, which says, I have fought a good fight, I have finished by course, I have kept the faith: God, whose face we have not seen in the flesh, has a great conflict for us. He is fighting for us. This should be obvious when we consider the fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth and lived a life of complete self-denial and self-sacrifice to suffer and die on the cruel Roman cross for our sins. Revelations 1:14 says concerning Jesus Christ, His eyes were as a flame of fire. Some say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. And a flame speaks of passion and desire. There is a bridegroom named Jesus Christ, who is so desperately in love with His bride, the church, that He humbled himself, and sacrificed all. He walked the lonely road of shame, like a lamb to the slaughter, where on the cross He became your sins and mine. The Holy One of God allowed Himself to become separated from God and to bare the eternal wrath and judgment of God because we, the church, are His bride, and He loves us. The story of Jesus Christ is a story of spiritual romance between God and man.
Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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