We are being sanctified and purified here and now, to make us ready for the great marriage to the Bridegroom as described in the Book of Revelation. Those who look upon salvation as a license to sin have completely missed the point. Salvation is the commencement of the divine process of purification and preparation for marriage — to the Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Our security is not based upon our perfection toward which the sanctification process takes us , but rather is based upon His perfection. It is He Who chose us. It is He Who died on the cross of Calvary, bearing the penalty for our sins, and providing the means for our sanctification. It is because of His covenant with us and the perfections of His character that we are assured of heaven. Those who would take sin lightly need to recall the discipline of God upon wicked Israel.
The image of the church as the bride of Christ is one that portrays the eager sense of expectation that every Christian should have regarding the return of our Lord. It should be foremost in our minds. It should be our great desire. We are the bride, and our Bridegroom is soon to return for us. What could bring greater joy to us than His return?
There is no human relationship more intimate than that of a husband and wife. There is no love more passionate than the love of husband and wife. The Song of Solomon speaks of this love and intimacy, so much so that we are reluctant to read some portions of this book publicly. This intimacy and passion is one of the many ways in which Christianity stands head and shoulders above any other religion not to mention the fact that faith in Christ alone is the only true religion. Some religions view heaven as a mere continuation of the pleasures of this life, with virgins waiting for us if we are faithful enough.
Most religions view their relationship with God in terms of fear. They view God as harsh and capricious. They can never be certain that they have done enough to earn their salvation.
God is not a God with whom you can enter into an intimate fellowship, but one from whom you must keep your distance. The Christian faith is one that calls for believers to draw near, not to draw back:. Heaven is the place where God draws near to us, where we will live forever in intimate fellowship with Him:. This is not to say that we cannot enjoy great intimacy with our Lord here and now:. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.
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The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him. When you think about it, the bride-groom imagery of the Bible underscores the submission of the church to her Lord and also her dependence on the Lord. When a young woman marries a man, she leaves her old life behind, even more than the man does. She now finds her identity in relation to her husband.
Her last name changes at least usually.
She takes on his identity; he does not take on hers. She becomes dependent upon him for her daily needs, and he is obliged to provide for her. So also we, as the bride of Christ, now find a new identity in Him, and we look to Him for all of our needs. If there is anything that sticks out in the Bible regarding the imagery of the bride and the Bridegroom, it is that the glory belongs to the Groom. It is the Groom Who laid down His life to purchase the bride Ephesians It is the Groom Who is working to perfect and purify the bride, so that He may present her to Himself Ephesians The glory goes to the Groom.
It is interesting how, in our culture at least, too much attention is drawn to the bride, rather than to the groom. The groom rents a tuxedo; the bride buys an expensive wedding dress. How many wedding pictures feature the groom, as opposed to the bride?
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I was privileged to participate in the wedding ceremony of Robert and Adria Warner some time ago. One of the unique things they decided to do apart from my prompting was to strive to put the emphasis where it should go. Instead of the bride coming down the aisle to meet the groom at the front of the room, Robert went to the back to bring his bride down to the front. It was he who sought out his bride, just as our Lord sought us out. Every effort was made to make the groom prominent, rather than incidental, in the ceremony, because it is our Lord Who is prominent in relation to the bride.
Amen Ephesians , emphasis mine. Let me conclude by pointing out a few areas of application. First, have you given sufficient thought to the privilege of being a part of the bride of Christ? Is it not a marvelous thing to know that Jesus Christ loves you and wants you to live with Him forever? He died on the cross of Calvary to bear the penalty for your sins. He rose from the dead, so that you might have new life in Him.
The gospel is the good news that God has offered you the proposal of an eternal relationship with His Son. Have you received that offer? If so, are you eagerly awaiting His return? Are you cooperating in the purification process in preparation for the great marriage that is yet to come? Second, do you understand why the way you conduct yourself in your marriage is so important to God?
Can you see why God hates divorce? God wants every Christian marriage to be a picture of the relationship of Jesus Christ to His bride, the church.
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Every time we fail to obey God in the way we conduct ourselves in our marriage, we convey a warped and distorted picture of the gospel, and this is a most serious offense. Let us grasp the fact that our view of the church should transform our view of marriage. You have even put to the test those who refer to themselves as apostles but are not , and have discovered that they are false. Do the deeds you did at the first; if not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—that is, if you do not repent.
Let us ask God to give us the kind of love that yearns to spend time with Him and to proclaim that love to others. Finally, I cannot conclude this lesson without calling attention to one of the great tragedies of our time. Several years ago, the State of Vermont legalized the civil union of same sex couples. And just recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that their state constitution requires the state to allow gay marriages. Knowing what marriage is to signify, it is not really surprising that Satan would attack the institution of marriage.
And attack he has! Marriage is not only under attack in the courts and legislatures of our land; it is under attack in our own homes. Let us look to the Bridegroom to give us the grace to preserve and to protect marriage, to the glory of God. Let me press this one step further. It is not only marriage that is under attack by Satan and our culture; so is the period of engagement. Some feel that engagement legitimizes premarital sex.
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This is not consistent with the picture of the bride-to-be of the Bible. Let us protect and preserve the sanctity of engagement, as well as marriage, to the glory of God. Main Street, Richardson, TX Deffinbaugh on November 30, It was completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD compact disk.
Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others. It is available on the Internet at: www. Knowing Eve had sinned, Adam willfully chose to disobey God, and thus to stand or rather to fall with his wife. Fortunately, the baby was alive and in good health.
The Place Where Everyone is Welcome. Introduction When Craig Nelson and I were traveling together and teaching in India, we were invited to attend the wedding ceremony for a young Indian couple. As we begin our study, let us agree with the Apostle Paul as he prays for the Ephesians and thus for us : 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named.
As 2 Corinthians 11 unfolds, the true identity of these smooth talkers becomes clear: 12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may eliminate any opportunity for those who want a chance to be regarded as our equals in the things they boast about. He did not choose us because we were pure, but rather in order to make us pure: 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless Ephesians The Christian faith is one that calls for believers to draw near, not to draw back: 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
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But you, my dear children, do not be tricked by his works. Hold high the torch of your faith, hold high the Word of God and gird you loins with the crown of the Rosary. Look toward the Bridegroom who will arrive victorious and remove forever the perfidious grin of Satan.
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