Friday, December 24, 2010

Christ's Covenant With An Impure, Adulterous Bride

Colossians 1 says that all things were created for Christ—all things were meant to glorify Him and point to Him. Marriage is no exception. God patterned marriage very purposefully after the relationship between His Son and the church, which He planned from all eternity. This is evidenced in Ephesians 5: Wives are instructed to submit to their husbands, as the church submits to Christ. Husbands are likewise to love their wives as Christ loved the church—namely by dying to themselves and putting their wives' interests before their own.

"'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" (Ephesians 5:31-32). The Apostle Paul says that the union of marriage points to the covenant relationship between Christ and the church. The reformer Martin Luther describes this beautifully: Faith “unites the soul to Christ, as the wife to the husband, by which mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul are made one flesh.” One with Christ, as a wife is to her husband, the possessions of the believer and the possessions of Christ become likewise one. Christ, as Luther writes, “is full of grace, life, and salvation,” while “the soul is full of sin, death, and condemnation.” Tainted by depravity, therefore, “the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life and salvation of its Husband Christ.”

In Hebrews 13:5 Christ promises: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” From the moment of true, repentant faith, Christ makes an eternal covenant with the believer. If we are faithless, he remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). In John 6:39-40 Jesus further promises: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Christ will never forsake His bride, and nothing can separate the church from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

How deep is the love of Christ! The Lord makes a covenant not with a pure bride, but a disobedient and adulterous one. Hosea 1:13 says Israel went after other lovers and forgot the Lord. The Lord's response is immensely beautiful: "Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her...In that will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master'...In that day I will make a covenant for them...I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness and you will acknowledge the Lord...I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'" (Hosea 2:14-23).

Christ laid down His life for those who did not love Him. He pursues the hearts of the disobedient and He calls not the righteous but sinners. He woos them with His love, and He clothes His bride in a spotless, white garment of righteousness. His covenant love can never be broken. How deeply beautiful!

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