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Posts Tagged ‘salvation history’

In an e-mail Christmas greeting friends of mine sent there was what seemed to me an exceptional Christmas Card picture. The beauty and poem and tenderness were not the exceptionality for me. The profound nature of the picture was the silent commentary of an empty manger. In the same way as we as Protestants insist on an empty cross, it is appropriate for us to reflect on an empty manger. He is not a helpless baby any longer; He is not any longer tempted as we are (though without sin); He is no longer on the cross or in the tomb; He is still fully human and fully God, glorified, reigning from His throne on high. In time and history He came to the manger, the villages, the cross, the tomb. He is there no longer! But He is still in my heart and yours through the Holy Spirit so that we are positionally in Him on the throne at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

I enjoy a well done creche that makes an attempt at accurately picturing the scene of His arrival. But because we are given so little information and the shepherds’ and magi’s visits were probably separated by at least months and we don’t know if it was a cave, barn, lean-to, or adobe house extension, we spend inordinate amounts of time imagining things that are not of great benefit. But that He came to the most humble of circumstances and is now exalted on high is the most outrageously glorious rags to riches story of all time. And that was not the low point or high point of His humility. On the cross He was robbed of every decency and deserved honor willingly to take on your and my indecency and deserved dishonor so that we might be glorified with Him. That is worth celebrating all the time; crosses and mangers and tombs are mere symbols for remembering what we celebrate.

Merry Christmas

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I can not find the source for “thought, bought, wrought” but I can by my simple poem point once again to God’s glorious salvation for all who will receive it by faith.

Salvation is a great gift
Thought by the Father above
Received by faith in the work
Bought by the Son here in love
In our hearts promoting change
Wrought by the Spirit, the Dove

The word wrought means “to work by hand”. I well imagine the Holy Spirit toughening me up by a sanctifying work over so that I am hard and resilient like wrought iron rather than brittle like cast iron. “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design, your dross to consume and your gold to refine,” says the old hymn. The trials are the fire and the hammer is the kind but firm work of the Holy Spirit to make us into the image of the Son.

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In God’s economy and calendar, the Spring is past, summer has come, and the Harvest fast approaches. He has laid out for us a a general calendar of His salvation history.

2012-2013
Julian
Calendar
Jewish
Day/Month
 
Feast
New Testament Fulfillment
 
Old/New Testament Passages
          3/26
14  Nisan
Passover
Cross
Exodus 12:1-13
 I Corinthians 5:7
Luke 22:19-20
          3/27
15
Unleavened Bread
Tomb
Exodus 12:14-20
I Corinthians 5:8
I Peter 1:19
          3/28
16
First Fruits
Resurrection
Leviticus 23:9-14
I Corinthians 15:21-23
          5/16
 6  Sivan
Pentecost
Holy Spirit given
Deuteronomy 16:9-12
Acts 2:1-4, 16-18, 33
          9/5
 1  Tishri
Trumpets
Christ’s return
Leviticus 23:23-25
 I Thessalonians 4:13-18
I Corinthians 15:50-56
          9/14
10
Atonement
Rescue from sin
Leviticus 23:26-32
Isaiah 49:5-8
Hebrews 9:11-28
          9/19
15
Tabernacles
Millennium
Leviticus 23:39-43
Zechariah 14:16-19
Revelation 20:4-6

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The resurrection is the pinnacle of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He exhibits power over death and sin. But it is the beginning of a the great transition of the glorious Son of God. There is a definite connection made between resurrection , ascension, exaltation, and the Holy Spirit being given. Peter makes this progression quite clear to the Council of Sadducees and Pharisees in Acts 5:30-32,“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” As “Prince and Savior” He is both ruler of all and priest to all who believe. Again Peter is explaining the Scriptures about David’s descendant and says, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Act 2:32-33)  We need the bodily resurrection to understand the power of Jesus and to validate it to the world, but it is only the beginning of His show of power. Paul expands our idea of His power in Ephesians 1:  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”  Why do we not see this overwhelming power exhibited in the world today? Jesus is working out the details of His victory incrementally through the filling up of His sufferings in us (Colossians 1:24). As Peter takes great pains to establish in chapter 1 of his epistle, God has established our imperishable inheritance to strengthen our faith so that we “prepare our minds for action”(I Peter 1:13) against worldly lusts and intense suffering. Many great shows of power will come and for the saints  bring great joy: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war”………Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years,”….. and…..“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death” (Revelation 19:11; 20:6; 21:3-4).  Yes, the resurrection demonstrates unsurpassed power overcoming death, but even as He is the first fruits of those from the dead so His resurrection power is a first fruits of His unsurpassed power in victory over death, the world, all creation, new creation. He worked at the cross to accomplish God’s plan; He marches in victory to complete all that plan reveals and enables. Let us follow in His train now as at His second coming!

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Consider Joshua and the children of Israel on the Plains of Moab just after the death of Moses. Are they asking, ‘What now?’ God doesn’t leave them in this position long. He is about to give them the land He promised to their fathers. Yes, there is much history behind this moment. God said to Abraham,  “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8) He puts no conditions on Abraham or his descendents and he calls it an “everlasting possession”. This covenant is as unconditional as they come as stated here. God had delineated the extent of this gift two chapters earlier (Genesis 15:18): “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates”. It is a literal land given unconditionally to the Israel. Later when Moses is talking through the law and its application, just before he dies, he says a curious thing in the light of the promise we have just seen: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:39-40) So God is giving them the land but the keeping of it is conditioned upon whether or not they obey God? How does that represent an unconditional covenant of everlasting possession when all sin and fall short of God’s glory? Is it possible for this promise to be both conditional and unconditional and God fulfill it both ways? I believe it is and mean to show how. What will God do if Israel obeys? “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. The Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you. You shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will deliver to you” (Deuteronomy 7:12-16) It seems to me that this passage explains that possession of the land is representative of God providing prosperity, peace, and posterity. Prosperity is seen as abundant food and lack of disease while posterity is children. Peace is given by God’s initial defeat of enemies and continued peace is declared other places.

With this history of being promised the land of Canaan the book of Joshua begins, Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9) The application is as follows: We can take risks because His promises are sure. As Gospel Project author, Jonathan Leeman, says, “Knowing that God is generous and faithful to His promises helps us be strong and courageous because we can trust His character as we pour out our lives for Him.”

Judges 2:11-23 sets forth the cycle of God and Israel’s interaction during the days of the judges. Israel would forsake God for idols. God gave them over to their enemies. Israel cried to go in their distress. God raised up judges to both deliver them from their enemies and direct them to God. As soon as the judge died, the cycle began again. Israel was squandering the good gift God had given them so that the conditional nature of the promise overtook them. Was God unfaithful by not honoring His promise to Abraham? As Ezra and the Levites prayed to God, “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.” (Nehemiah 9:33) “How does our sin cheapen God’s good gifts (creation, sex, family, etc)?” asks the Leeman (p.59). Using God’s gifts wrongly and pervesely is saying to God the gift was somehow not good enough the way He gave and intended it so I have to improve on it. The term used in Scripture is prostitution, selling ourselves to other gods to pervert God’s gifts for our own temporary pleasure and for hatred of God. God promises to cast such rebels off His land. I believe the land is representative of God’s provision of rest (prosperity, peace, and posterity as I said earlier) so that Hebrews 3:17-4:2 is talking about rest when it refers to God’s actions that cast Israel off the land “And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:17-19)

But God is gracious and faithful to His promises as is hinted at by the book of Ruth. In the second chapter Boaz is introduced as a part of the faithful remnant during the time of the judges who is prosperous, kind to His workers, acknowledges God, and is kind to this alien, Ruth (Ruth 2:1,4,8-9,12). Boaz has prosperity and peace but where’s the posterity? God provides the answer through Ruth (Ruth 4:13-17 ) in the form of their son, Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David, the ancestor of Jesus. Boaz had become the kinsman redeemer of Leviticus 25 for the land of Elimelech (Naomi’s deceased husband and Ruth’s father-in-law) and raised up children for his name just as Jesus became the kinsman redeemer of all who will trust in Him to buy them back from the slavery and poverty of sin. By this means Jesus will fulfill the unconditional promise made to Abraham to provide and literal land forever. Micah 4:1-4 prophecies clearly what will happen, “And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains…..For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem….And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” There most certainly is a spiritual aspect to the rest of God, a continual faith rest. But that does not exclude literal, believing Israel, past or present or future, and all those who have trusted Jesus, spiritual Israel ( ) from being included on a literal land. I firmly believe that God speaks of both literal land and rest in Hebrews 4:8-11,  “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. so there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” The actual fulfillment of this promise is proclaimed in Revelation 20 and 21. “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (20:6) Reigning with Christ for a 1000 years is a literal reign on literal land since it delineates a specific time verse nine mentions the location of these events being earth. But 1000 years is not an everlasting possession. God is more than up to the task of completing His promise and remembering every little detail.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (21:1-4) Literally amazing, everlasting peace, prosperity, and posterity provided by God in the everlasting possession for His people. Praise God!

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Our “Gospel Project” lesson today was about God’s nature revealed in the Creation story and in the results. I produced a table that summarizes the differences in how God’s nature is revealed in the two different (but not contradictory) stories of Creation in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis.

  God’s Nature Clarification God’s Name Exhibitied in Creation Response in us

toward God

 

 

 

Above

 

Transcendent

 

Separate

 

Elohim

“Stong One”

“In the beginning God” Have to

must have

-allegiance

-worship

-accountability

Powerful

 

Able to effect He spoke into existence

ex nihilio

(“out of nothing”)

Authoritative Rules

 

 

 

Beside

Personal Identity, relational Yahweh

“Pre-existent One”

Speaking Want to,

gladly

-desire

-seek

-trust

The lesson speaks of four ways that man is made in the image of God based on Genesis 1 and 2. I think there is clearly from the text a fifth way:

    “27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [a]sky and over every living thing that [b]moves on the earth.””

We relate- God gave us as male and female to have relationship and commanded multiplication so there would be many people to interact. In fact, all God ordained institutions (family, church, government) reflect the interaction within the Triune Godhead.

We rule- Both the words rule and subdue occur. This is a stewardship that should neither result in abuse of the creation nor worship of it, but care for our benefit. All authority we have is delegated from God and should be carefully dispatched as such.

We work- 1″5 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  Work that is purposeful, creative, orders chaos, and work with God’s plan was ordained before the Fall and is a good gift. The type of work we dislike is the punishment on man because of sin and is toil (literally “pain” 3:17) that causes sweat (3:18).

We reproduce- It says “multiply and fill the earth”. When we procreate God provides the spirit so He is still active in creating and allows us to be involved in the process.  God is always involved in the process of giving life. 

We rest- “3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  God was not tired but He was satisfied with the result of His completed work. Christ has completed the work of salvation in us so that we need to rest in Him, faith rest:  “10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”

I hope that you will consider how to bear the image of God in you in such a way as to point to Him rather than to yourself. It glorifies Him and satisfies you because you are at peace with Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What negative images and ideas of God have you had or heard from the Old Testament? God is harsh; God is unloving.  It’s confusing and archaic so that God is not relevant to where I live. God is changeable and unfair. Has God changed from the Old Testament to the New? If He has why and how can I depend on Him? If He hasn’t why are the two different? Are they revealing different aspects of the same God or is one illustrative and the other explanatory? And because of these fears, dislikes, and misunderstandings do we act like the Old Testament is passe? Do we ignore it?

In Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (v.17) Abolish denotes doing away with its authority, usefulness, and relevence. Instead Jesus says He will fulfill it; He will complete and finish what is lacking in it. And in verse 18, “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”  Again completion is in mind but I see more of Jesus meeting its challenge and living up to the requirements.

The Old and New Testament are different. What did he set aside? Juan Sanchez in the “Gospel Project” lists food laws (Mark 7:18-19), remember Peter and the sheet coming down from heaven, the temple (Matthew 24:1-2), remember the woman at the well and Jesus telling her how worhsippers would soon worship (John 4:21-24), and the sacrificial system (Hebrews 10:8-10), Jesus is the once for all sacrifice.

Jesus shows that the purpose of the Law is found in Him, by His fulfillment of it. But how is the law about Jesus, that is, how did He fulfill it? There at least 4 ways: 1) He is the fulfillment of prophecy. Christmas and Easter are particularly good times to remember this fact when we consider His birthplace, lineage, suffering, and resurrection. 2) He was, and is, perfect. Jesus has met the Law’s demands. He has accomplished every mark of righteousness and goodness stated and implied in the Law. 3) He has paid the price for our sins. Had He merely lived a perfect life He would have fulfilled the Law for Himself, but He has fulfilled it for everyone who has believed in Him as well. The price for a soul is high as we see in Psalm 49:7-9. Numbers 16:36-38 gives us a very tangible reminder of how costly it is for the sinner. Isaiah 55:1-8 nonetheless shows us it is freely given. So herein is another difference in the Old Testament and New. The Old seems to be asking, “There is a price; who can pay it?”, while the New says, “The price has been paid.” 4) He is the antitype of all types and the reality of the all symbols in the Old Testament. Following are but a few by way of example: a) the new temple- Emmanuel, “God with us”, b) Melchizedek, a priest forever without beginning of days or end of years and without a geneology, c) the bread (manna) from heaven, d) the Rock from which water flowed, e) the root of Jesse and seed of David, and f) the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Sanchez goes on to say that “the intention of the law was not about checking off a list of moral requirements but total obedience that flowed from a pure heart.” (p.77) Jesus ups the stakes in Matthew 5:20-22,27-28 if you feel you have kept the Law: “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses thatof the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell….You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Outwardly the Pharisees seemed quite righteous to the people of Jesus’ day, so that this would have been a surprise to them. But that is only the beginning. In terms of guiltiness before the law Jesus taught that intentions equal actions. Who among us has not been angry and thought similar things to what Jesus said. And how about the second example? That gets half of the population. But how about the women? How many of them have been guilty of enticing men with immodest dress?

The summary to all of this is that there are two ways to get to heaven. After another example about loving your enemies in Matthew 5:43-47, Jesus concludes by telling the first way to get to heaven, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (v.48) But only one person has reached heaven by that means and He was already there before He came to provide the second way, Jesus. If you are going to attempt heaven by works realize the height of the bar is perfection. Throw down all of your claims of ‘I’ve been a good person’ and ‘I don’t hurt anyone’. They are worthless and an affront to God. Realize that your only hope is trusting in what Jesus did on the cross in fulfilling the Law for you, if you will believe. As Spurgeon said, “The commands of Christ are not upon the legal tenor of ‘do this and live,’ but upon the gospel system of ‘live and do this.’ We are not to be attentive to the precepts in order to be saved, but because we are saved. Our master motive is to be gratitude to him who has saved us with a great salvation.” Jesus has fulfilled the Law for us; receive it by faith. Jesus will enable us to fulfill the Law as we trust in Him; work it out by faith. We aren’t teaching people to be good or lift themselves up by their bootstraps, but to trust the perfect example, Jesus, and trust His enabling power to do right.

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While considering this morbid study it occurred to me that one’s view of life overshadows one’s view of death. Our society has three major views of life I think. I have diagrammed them in the following figure. I add to the view of a Christian’s life that of the God of the Bible.

II Corinthians 5:1-8   

“1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

We are neither annihlated nor absorbed into the universal conscientiousness. Instead our spirit is clothed in an immortal body at death. At death we are separated from our body to be united with that imperishable body and with our Lord, worshiping in His presence.

Isaiah 59:2

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

Being dead in spirit toward God in our unsaved condition does not mean our spirit does not exist but that it is separate from God and cannot respond to Him. Because of His holiness He will not respond to us.

Death is separation from body or God, not an end to existence. Eternal death is forever being separated from God and His benefits in the lake of fire. Eternal life is forever thriving in His presence with all the glorious benefits His excellencies bring. The diagram of the Christian’s progress is one of increasing life on into eternity. I look so forward to life after death, eternal bliss after momentary separation from one body into an immortal one.

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Following is a slightly expanded version of what I said at B and K’s wedding, mostly because I read only Matthew 22 since Ephesians 5 had been read before I got up to speak:

A Wedding is a day of celebration that has greater and deeper meaning than the happy couple, as significant as they are. God has designed and ordained the various types of human interaction to reflect His character and government within the Godhead and His interaction with His people: government, family, church, and marriage.  In the Old Testament God refers to Himself as the One who rescued and loved a wife, Israel. But she was unfaithful and preferred harlotry (a picture of idolatry rather than worship of God). Many passages present this scenario. Among them, Psalm 45 is a positive one that seems to speak of a king and his queen and the King of kings and His wife. We learn that the wife is the people of God who are frequently unfaithful, as in Hosea and Ezekiel 16. Hosea 3:1 clearly communicates God’s persistence at loving His wife despite her waywardness.

In the New Testament God shows us another ordained allegory which is not a plan B or afterthought in the light of Israel’s unfaithfulness but a long pre-determined picture of what He is about in this time, that of Christ and His Church. The clearest pronouncement of this picture is given in Ephesians 5:22-33. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;  for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,  because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

 To summarize the allegory, marriage between one man and one woman producing offspring and interacting through roles of leadership and submission by mutual commitment and sacrifice concretely demonstrates the relationship of Christ and His Church. This picture brings much glory to God.

Therefore, we should expect that the enemy, Satan, would like nothing better than to destroy this picture. By so doing he destroys people and a reflection of God’s glory. I think his tactic can be seen by an analogy: Even as the glare of the city lights obscure the beauty of Moon and stars, so the glitzy show of sexual perversion and marital unfaithfulness attempts to block the God glorifying purity of a man and wife faithfully and lovingly representing Christ and His Church through their marriage. How does this apply to you and me? Young men and old, I’m speaking to you. Have you made the covenant that Job did? “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job31:1) You must avert your eyes and work hard a being pure of eyes and heart. Young women and old, I’m speaking to you. Have you heeded the directions in I Timothy 2:9-11, “I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.”? Do you cover yourself? The passage does not just speak of modest dress, though. It also speaks of modesty in conduct. Do you flirt with your eyes? Do you manipulate with your speech? Men and women, give glory to God in how you act and speak.

So how does this picture of Christ and His Church work? The wife’s role is a responsive role. Why should she do this? “As the Church” (v.24), so the the wife is representative. I Peter 3:1-6 shows that her witness is foremost for her husband to win him over to doing what is right even when he is disobeying the word. And the epitome of this submission is seen in Sarah “calling him lord” (v.6). Because this relationship points to the relationship of God and His people, this degree of submission makes sense. Certainly the Church calls Christ Lord. Just now the world is speaking frequently of the leftovers of a “patriachal society”, referring to any degree of gender role, but the Bible clearly teaches it for the purpose of marital unity and glory to God. Consider the English word husband. It literally means manager. We accept managers in business because they bring order and profitability, so why do we reject them in God’s economy? The wife is responding to the husband’s headship role, representing how “Christ also is the head of the church” (v.23).  How did Christ carry out His role as Head? First of all as Savior (v.23).  “He gave Himself up for her” (v.25). I believe this refers to much more than committing His body to die on the cross. He took on the wrath of God which was our due, a much greater torture than physical pain and death. Why would He put Himself through this torture? That He set the Church apart for Himself, both cleansing and presenting her to Himself (v.26). He valued His people so much as to take God’s wrath. Having cleansed her from sin, He now continues setting her apart by His Word. Practically this is accomplished through Bible preaching, God-centered fellowship, Spirit-led praying, and Christ-centered evangelism. Then in the future at His wedding feast it shall be declared, “‘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.” (Revelation 19:7-9) The bride arrives dressed beautifully in white representing purity, the light of her husband’s eyes. She is glorious, spotless, without wrinkle, or blemish. Jesus has far more than just reversed death. The Church that the bride is representing is not rescued from hell and death to an ugly, scarred existence. The Church is called upon and must work with this pruifying work of Her Lord Jesus. He will present us to Himself cleansed, beautiful as this bride appears before you today.

The man is further to be a servant of his wife pursuant of the end of cleansing her. He accomplishes this role by loving her as himself (v.28-30). This is a difficult and daily role, who is sufficient for these things? And the relationship is intimate and permanent (v.31). To be sure that no one misunderstands that Paul is talking about the marriage relationship as representative of the Christ/Church relationship he interjects verse 32. Then he summarizes with verse 33. Why is there a different command for man and woman? Humanly speaking it is because each has different needs. The man’s greatest need is to be respected; the woman’s greatest need is to be loved. But again the picture of Christ and His Church is in full view. Christ did and is loving His Church. How can our response be anything other than respecting and reverencing and obeying our Lord?

One other passage that I would like to consider related to this picture is the Parable of the Wedding Feast found in Matthew 22:1-14:  Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.  And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.  Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’  But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,  and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.  But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.  Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’  Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.    But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,  and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  For many are called, but few are chosen.” In this passage, Jesus assumes the picture we have been speaking of even before Paul had written about it. He goes further to deepen the meaning and change it slightly from what we have spoken of. The feast is initiated by the king who has a son getting married. But where is the bride? She is here, represented by the individuals. This idea is consistent with what we read in Revelation 19:9, “the fine linen [of the bride’s dress] is the righteous acts of the saints.”  And verse 14 says these individuals are both chosen and called.  

Not all of those called heed however. Some of those invited actively reject the invitation, refusing to come, scoffing, and beating and killing the king’s servants. Others more passively refuse, having other things to attend to which they evidently consider more important.  The King, obviously God, is angry at all of this God-hating and destroys them.  But there is another kind of person at the feast who is self-deceived. This person, representing many in the church today, has a more subtle problem. Unlike those who refused to come, he desires to be at the wedding feast. As revealed by the king’s question, he has a problem. He is not dressed in wedding clothes which those who attend must receive. Instead he is dressed in self-righteousness. If this represents you, you might be one who says, “I’m a church-goer. I’m a good family man. I’m a submissive wife. I’m a decent, upstanding citizen. I acknowledge God.” But God says of your good works, “All our righteous deeds are a filthy garment…” (Isaiah 64:6). The problem may be subtle but that does not make any less serious considering the results to the man. Hell is a real place.

The problem needs a bold solution. “For by grace have you been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is a gift from God, not as a result of works that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The wedding clothes are a gift. You must repent of your dead works. This means that you must turn away from your own righteousness and declare with God that it is sin and turn to what Jesus has done on the cross to rescue you from sin. This is God’s grace: ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.’ He gives those who trust in Him eternal life. Repent and receive the gift; you cannot buy it. I know that B and K would like nothing better than to know that someone came to receive the gift of eternal life from Jesus because of their wedding ceremony. May God bless B and K’s marriage and may He bless the Church’s purity and may He open your eyes to your need for the Savior so that you may be clothed and ready to come to the wedding feast that will be held one day. 

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There are so many good hymns. As with most things we have a tendency to rush over them as if to extract the sweetness without savoring the deeper substance. So as time allows on occasion I try to assimilate a little more of the spiritual nutrients from these poems that we sing. In poetry I like completeness of thought with conciseness of language. Of course that is a challenge. The hymn “One Day” seems to be just such a hymn, surveying the incarnation, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and second coming of Christ. Emphasizing this idea of these events happening on a certain ‘one day’ each produces a unity of the verses and points to the historicity of the works of Christ. In each of the verses Christ and His work are exalted and personalized to the person singing the song. These are all wonderful elements, but I’m rarely quite satisfied, so I thought that it covers from Christ’s incarnation at Bethlehem to the beginning of eternity, shouldn’t it include eternity past forward to Bethlehem?  I sat down and wrote two more verse to “complete” the thought of salvation history conveyed in the song. I was unable to bring in the element of personalizing the work of Christ to the singer and I’m confident that my poetry is not so good as the author, J. Wilbur Chapman,  but I enjoyed the effort and contemplation anyway, and so may you.

One day the Godhead took counsel in heaven
One day the Christ was appointed to die
Jesus submitted in full to His Father
While He still sat on His throne up on high
 
One day Christ Jesus created first Adam
One day He walked in the garden with him
Then Adam sinned and all mankind was fallen
As second Adam He would rescue them

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!

Refrain

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He’s coming—O glorious day!

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!

Refrain

One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!

Refrain

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!

Refrain

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my belovèd ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!

Refrain

I noticed something after I wrote the first two verses. The refrain repeats and reviews the five themes of incarnation, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and the second coming of Christ presented one at a time in each of the five verses. I guess the hymn was wonderfully complete and filled out after all. Oh well, I reviewed all the more God’s wonderful grace in the process.

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