The Bride of Christ 1-14-18
Text: Ephesians 5:25-32 & Revelation 19:6-9
We'll look at what the Bible has to say about the church being the bride of Christ, and consider what that means for how we live and function as a church.
Ephesians 5: 25-32
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave
himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant
church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and
blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as
their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one
ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as
Christ does the church for we are members of his body. “For this reason a
man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two
will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery but I am talking about
Christ and the church.
Often this passage is used to talk about the biblical duties of a
husband, but Paul even says that what he writes is more about the mystery
of the church being the bride of Christ. This text tells about what Christ has
done for the church out of His great love.
The church today is not a human institution, a commodity of Christian consumerism. It is a creation of God, initiated by the work of Christ, and
sustained by the working of the Spirit. The church and Christ will become ‘ one flesh.’ This is both a present reality and a future promise. Elsewhere the church is called the body of Christ. We are the manifestation of
Christ’s love and work here on earth. Christ loves the church, as He loves
Himself…perfectly and completely. What He loves is not the building, or the
programs, what He loves is the reality that His people gathered together,
and scattered about, are His body, the extension of His will, His work, and His glory. He loves it!
The Bridegroom’s Love
A Sacrificial love
A Selfless love
A Purifying love
The reality that we will become ‘one flesh’ with Christ is truly a
mystery. The church will be married to Christ. The marriage supper has not yet occurred, presently we are betrothed. Betrothal is a somewhat
foreign to us but it has great significance. Betrothal is more than an
engagement. In biblical times it was more akin to a contract between
families. There were expectations placed on both individuals and both
families. The marriage was considered a certainty, it was a done deal just
waiting to be completed. (consummated) We have seen the love of the
bridegroom, let’s turn our attention to the bride.
The Bride made ready
“His bride has made herself ready”
Clothed in fine linen, bright & clean
The righteous acts of the saints
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
The picking out of the wedding dress is a huge part of getting ready for the wedding. Here we see that “the bride has made herself ready.” What has she done? She has clothed herself in fine linen, bright and clean.
Most brides wear white as a symbol of purity on the day of their wedding. Here we see the church clothed in fine linen that is described as ‘the righteous acts of the saints.”
The church, the bride of Christ, is to prepare herself for the marriage to Christ by purity, and righteous actions. How is the church today preparing herself for the marriage to Christ? Are we dressed in the finest clothing of purity and righteousness? Paul wrote in Ephesians that Christ works to make His bride RADIANT, without stain, wrinkle, or blemish, but holy and blameless. I like that word RADIANT! Recently I’ve read on FB folks requesting one word that will help guide their year and provide focus for them. I think the word RADIANT would be a great word for our church for 2018. What would it look like for us to be RADIANT? What if we knew Christ would return this year? How would we serve, act, give, and live differently?
Clothed in righteousness
How will we as the bride prepare for the wedding?
First, we must maintain purity. In biblical times if it was found out that a woman was not a virgin on her wedding night, she could be stoned to death. We must keep ourselves unstained by the world. Our devotion and conduct should be marked by purity.
Second, we prepare for the wedding by exercising loyalty. Our affections are not mixed, we long for the Bridegroom alone. The world holds no appeal for us. We are not drawn by the pleasures of this life. We are faithful to Him. Third, we clothe ourselves in righteousness. If the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints, then we pay careful attention to our actions. We don’t want a single stain, wrinkle, or blemish. We want to be clothed in radiant purity. Say ‘yes’ to the dress. The dress of righteousness. Can you imagine all the work and planning for a wedding, and then as the music crescendos and the doors part, the bride enters in tattered clothing stained with the refuse and sin of this world?
Finally, we are single-minded. We are focused on being ready for the wedding. Jesus once told a parable about the Kingdom of God being like 10 young ladies waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. (Matthew 25) Some were conscientious in their preparations and when the bridegroom came they went with him. Others were frivolous in their preparations, and were not ready when he came and were left behind. How would we act as a church if we believed that Christ could return any moment?
Our Church as a Bride
An All-consuming Love for Christ
All things done to please Him
An All-encompassing Love for One another
All things done to edify the body
If we are to be His bride, (and we are) then two things should be evident among us. An all-consuming love for Christ; we do everything we can to please Him.An all-encompassing love for one another; doing everything we can to make the body radiant.
Ready for the Bridegroom
Four characteristics of a ready bride
Wanting – Wanting to be married. So deeply in love with the groom. Never wants to be apart. Cannot wait to be together, fully united with Him.
Waiting – The bridegroom comes at a time of His choosing, but the bride waits anxiously, anticipating His coming. She keeps herself ready for him.
Watching – There is a constant sensitivity to indicators that would reveal His coming. It is living with a sense of expectation and excitement.
Working – The bride-to-be is still productive. She endeavors to improve herself, and work to make the Bridegroom proud. She works to bring glory to Him, her husband, her love.