Tim Challies – What’s the Purpose of…Marriage?

Today I am kicking off a new series of articles that is going to ask the simplest of questions: “What’s the purpose of…?” Though the question is simple, the answers can be difficult and even controversial. We’ll begin with the home: What’s the purpose of marriage? What’s the purpose of sex? What’s the purpose of children? Then we’ll turn to the church: What’s the purpose of the church and its pastors? What’s the purpose of the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Supper? What’s the purpose of worship and baptism? These are questions that perplex many of those outside the church and just as many within. We will tackle these questions week by week, attempting to put to rest any lies and misconceptions and to bring to the light the divine truth. We begin with marriage.

What’s the Purpose of Marriage?

What’s the purpose of marriage? A brief search turns up a host of answers representing a multitude of worldviews. These answers reveal no end of confusion, but most perspectives can be summarized under two headings.

To continue reading Tim Challies’ article, click here.

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Michael Boling – The Bride of Christ

Many believers have likely heard the term “bride of Christ’. However, grasping what that phrase means and how it relates to the corporate Body of believers to include what is required of individual believers who make up the corporate Body.  So with all that said, what is this being the bride of Christ really all about and why in the world does it matter to my everyday life as a Christian and how I relate to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and fellow believers?  In order to understand what it means to be the bride of Christ, it is first helpful to see how Scripture describes the bride to first understand the characteristics that Scripture attributes to the bride. In this post, we will focus on the necessity for the bride to be holy and how that plays out again within the construct of the bride individual and the bride corporate.

Scripture declares the need for the bride to be holy. Ephesians 5:25-27 states “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.” Let’s focus on the characteristic of what it means to be without stain or wrinkle, often translated as without spot or blemish. Despite what some may think, being holy or without stain or wrinkle, spot or blemish is not speaking of perfection in this life. In reality, what the Apostle Paul is referring to, being the learned Hebrew scholar that he was is the Hebrew word tamiym. This is a word used over 90 times in the Old Testament and means complete, whole, entire, sound, or mature. In Genesis 6:9 states “This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Now this does not mean Noah was perfect and without sin. The Hebrew word translated perfect is tamiym. In Genesis 17:1, God told Abraham “walk before Me and be blameless.” Once again, the word translated as blameless is tamiym. Even a cursory review of the life of Abraham will reveal he was not perfect. What God desired was maturity, a desire to become closer to Him. This is the essence of what it means to be tamiym. Through the process of sanctification and the power of the Holy Spirit, believers can become tamiym, without spot or blemish.

How does one become tamiym? Good works, hard work, luck of the draw, clean living? Let’s return to Ephesians 5:25-27. Paul speaks of Christ giving Himself up for His bride doing what exactly? Christ is making her holy (again a clear reference to tamiym) by “the washing with water through the word.” I Corinthians 6:11 states “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Ps. 19:7 states “The law of the Lord is perfect (tamiym), refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” It should be rather clear the Word of the Lord is tamiym, it washes us and thus there is something important about the word and the concept of tamiym in relation to what it means to be holy as the bride of Christ.

It is readily apparent God wants a bride that is tamiym, mature, without spot or wrinkle. How does one work towards becoming tamiym?

When Psalm 19:7 speaks of “converting the soul”, many have attributed that as the act of salvation. In reality, what this passage is speaking of is the impact that washing oneself in the water of the Word, which has been demonstrated to be tamiym (perfect), will have in the life of the believer. It will literally “convert” or change the soul, more appropriately translated as nephesh, the entirety of what constitutes an individual namely their mind, will, and emotions from being simple (Hebrew word pĕthiy – naïve, simple, foolish) to being tamiym. James 1:2 speaks of this process by stating “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The bride of Christ is called to be mature and complete. Part of how that is accomplished is by spending time in the Word of God, the source of wisdom.

Let us heed the words of Hebrews 6:1-3: “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” Notice once again the call for maturity. It is through the Word of God that spiritual maturity can be found, the place where the bride of Christ can daily wash herself in the sanctifying and cleansing power of God’s word in order to convert our nephesh from being naïve to being wise in things of the Lord. This is a requirement and characteristic of the bride of Christ, that of seeking God’s paniyem (His face) by devouring the Word of God. Do we desire to be so close to God through the reading and study of His word that his taniym law is so written on our hearts that the glory of God shines through us in every word and deed we do to the extent we are truly a light on a lampstand or a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden? After all that is a characteristic of what it means to be the bride of Christ, a longing for a Word from our bridegroom!

This of course begs the question as to how maturity can be accomplished, specifically maturing in the things of God and His Word. Can that be accomplished solely through personal Bible study outside the fellowship of a local body of believers under the leadership of a godly pastor committed to teaching the things of God? If that were the case, one has to immediately answer why the early church did not approach Bible study in that way. We find in Acts 2:42 that the early believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Was that devotion merely a personal time of Bible study or was it accomplished in a larger group of fellow believers?  It is clearly the latter.

Part of becoming tamiym is the essential element of coming together as the corporate bride to devote ourselves to being instructed in the life giving bread found in God’s Word. We have already noted that the Word of God is a vital aspect of the believer moving from a place of simplicity to that needed place of maturity. Throughout this series on the Church, we have discussed the increasingly popular lone-ranger approach to Church. Such a concept is completely foreign to the teaching of the entirety of Scripture. As the bride, we are called to koinonia (fellowship) whereby we can pray for one another, meet one another’s needs, and feast on the bread of God’s Word all for the explicit purpose of spurring one another towards love and good deeds in order to share the powerful message of the gospel to a lost and hurting world. We come together as individuals to make up the corporate bride, each presenting the gifts God has granted us with the goal of glorifying Him. Such an approach truly demonstrates a people who understand what it means to be the beloved Bride of Christ for glorifying Him is what loving God and loving others is all about according to Scripture.

Those who reject coming together as the corporate bride, reject the need for spiritual growth as an individual that feeds into the larger community of believers nor do they have a desire to build up the bride or to spur fellow believers towards love and good deeds. They also ignore the reality that coming together in koinonia is an act of courage as it crucifies self for the needs of fellow believers. They reject the reality that church history demonstrates the vital need for believers to be the bride of Christ in a corporate sense. Their selfish approach to community rejects the necessity to help others within the body, whether in the local setting of believers or those across the globe.

Those who truly understand that Scripture commands us to gather as well as the command to be tamiym and holy will grasp the beauty of what it means to be the Bride of Christ.

Is it too hard to ask of ourselves to gather together as His bride knowing that in doing so we show our love for the One who did so much for us? We really have a clear choice here. We either obey God or we disobey. As the bride, obedience leads to maturity while disobedience keeps us in that place of immaturity, self-centered and prideful. Loving Christ and others is best accomplished within the confines of a local community of believers, the Bride of Christ.

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Ray Ortlund, Jr. – How the Bible Is One Big, Divine, Holy Story of Marriage

marriage-excerpt04

Eternity in the New City

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1–5a

One of the amazing things about the Bible is the grand scope of its vision. It begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), and it ends here with the re-creation of it all as a new heavens and a new earth. The Bible is nothing less than a history of the entire cosmos. And at each horizon of this grandeur is marriage: first the marriage of Adam and Eve, and now the wedding of the Lamb with his bride (Rev. 21:9).

Now the conflict is finally past, the victory is won, and peace descends. The sea disappears from view, for “the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt” (Isa. 57:20). It was from this seething mass of restless mankind that the beast arose (Rev. 13:1). And the angel said to John, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages” (Rev. 17:15). But now the people of God need no longer brace themselves against the buffeting waves of this sea of human hostility, for the danger simply is not there anymore. A settled order of human shalom finally reigns.

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David Garner – Uncreating Adam: Part Two

Historical-Adam-cover RESIZED_2_1

Marriage, History and Theology

With magisterial grace, the Bible weds Christian theology to the male/female distinctions in God’s creation of marriage. Space permits only a brief consideration of this mysterious and intricate knot.

Adam and Eve are one flesh, but they are not one person. Their union is vital and real, yet for that to be the case, their distinct identities endure. Adam is not Eve, and Eve is not Adam. This personal and gender distinction is a sine qua non of marriage itself.

Many have argued for heterosexual marriage, with a degree of measurable success, from anatomical differences between the genders. Others have noted patterns in the psychological and emotional distinctions between then sexes, finding rich complementarity dependent upon embedded gender diversity. United by divine institution, these marvelously distinct genders become one flesh. But their one flesh solidarity does not obviate their differences. Marriage makes two gloriously one, but preserves the distinctiveness of the two in this dynamic of mysterious oneness.

But there is much more involved here in the case for heterosexual marriage. The vitality of gender distinction extends beyond the institution of marriage itself. Woven into the fabric of our binary, heterosexual gender distinctions lies a divinely-revealed theological treasure. God imbues his design of the marital relationship with covenantal, relational (and eschatological!) significance, making the visible human institution a walking sermon of divine love for fallen man.

With impenetrable yet discernible intimacy (see Ephesians 5:18–33), God consistently expresses his love for his people in marital terms. This divine–and amazing—love culminates in his Son Jesus Christ who sacrificially, permanently, and intimately loves his Bride.

Christ Jesus is Head of his Church and as such, stays distinct from her. Adam is not Eve. Christ is not his Church. Thus, union with Christ does not involve conflation or confusion with Christ. Christ remains Head of the Church, and the Church becomes his Bride. Note well. This not Self-love, but the most selfless of loves. Christ does not die for himself, but for his Bride. Christ is not the Church, and the Church is not Christ. His pursuit of his Church involves no self-preservation; it does entail a staggering sacrifice for his Bride!

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Charles Spurgeon – The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

rp_charles_spurgeon.jpg “And he said unto me, Write, ‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” Revelation 19:9

You will perceive that there was an exhortation to John to “Write.” Why was he especially to write these words down? I conceive that it was, first, because the information here recorded was valuable — “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” It was worth while that this new beatitude should be recorded, so the angel of God said to the Apostle, “Write.” It was also to be written because of its absolute certainty — “These are the true sayings of God.” This blessedness was not a thing to be spoken of once and then to be forgotten, but it was to be recorded so that future ages might see that it is surely so, assuredly so beyond all question! God has bidden this record to be written in black and white, yes, engraved as with an iron pen and lead in the rock, forever — “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

It was to be written, no doubt, to bring it under our consideration as a thing worthy of being weighed, a text to be read, marked, learned and inwardly digested — not merely spoken to John by the angel of God, but written by the Apostle at the express order of the Spirit of God. Lord, did You say to John, “Write it,” and shall I not read it? Did you bid the beloved disciple write it and do You not, thereby, virtually bid me consider it and remember it? Lord, by Your Spirit, write this message on my heart, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

I find that my text is succeeded, as well as preceded, by something remarkable — “He said unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” Lest any doubt should arise in our minds about the marriage supper of the Lamb, or about the fact that many are called to that supper, or about the blessedness of such as are called, the angel says, “These are the true sayings of God.” Some things appear to be too good to be true. We frequently meet with sinners, under a sense of guilt, who are staggered by the greatness of God’s mercy. The Light of the Gospel has been too bright for them! They “could not see for the glory of that Light,” as Paul said in describing the appearance of Christ to him when on the road to Damascus. So, “to make assurance doubly sure,” that we may not question its truth because of its greatness, we have this solemn declaration especially certified by order of the Lord, under the hand and seal of the Spirit of God — “These are the true sayings of God.” O Sirs, the Lord Christ will come again! He will come to gather together His people and to make them forever blessed! And happy will you be if you are among that chosen company! If you shall meet the King of Kings with joyful confidence, you shall be blessed, indeed!

You noticed that I read parts of two chapters before I came to my text and I did it for this purpose. The false harlot church is to be judged and then the true Church of Christ is to be acknowledged and honored with what is called a marriage supper. The false must be put away before the true can shine out in all its luster! Oh, that Christ would soon appear to drive falsehood from off the face of the earth! At present it seems to gather strength, and to spread till it darkens the sky and turns the sun into darkness, and the moon into blood. Oh, that the Lord would arise and sweep away the deadly errors which now pollute the very air! We long for the time when the powers of darkness shall be baffled and the pure Everlasting Light shall triumph over all! We do not know when it shall be —

“But, come what may to stand in the way, That day the world shall see,”

when the Truth of God shall vanquish error and when the true Church shall be revealed in all her purity and beauty as the Bride of Christ — and the apostate church shall be put away once and for all and forever!

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Michael Boling – Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Feast of Sefirat HaOmer (The Early First Fruits)

Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Feast of Sefirat HaOmer

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (I Corinthians 15:20-23)

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain…32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:23-24, 32)

What significance does the Feast of Sefirat HaOmer have for us today? How can a largely agricultural celebration of the early harvest have any possible relevance in the life of the believer? As we alluded to at the end of the previous post, while arguably one of the more overlooked feasts of the Lord, Sefirat HaOmer is nonetheless pregnant with theological importance. So let’s get started looking at how Jesus fulfilled this feast.

The Apostle Paul noted in I Corinthians 15:20-23 that Jesus, haven been raised from the dead has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Furthermore, in John 12:23-24, Jesus alludes to the idea of the Son of Man falling to the ground in like manner as a grain of wheat which dies, after words producing much grain, a picture of Jesus dying, being raised from the dead and then as noted in v. 32, drawing all peoples to himself. The key resides in this picture presented by both Jesus and Paul. Barney Kasdan rightly notes “the grain that had come from the earth was now lifted up high for all to see!”[1] The symbolism of the grain harvest being lifted up from the ground represents the resurrection of Christ from the grave. But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 2)

Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 2)

In part one of this series, we explored the marriage process known as betrothal, a process that would have been fully understood in the time period Scripture was written. So when God stated in Hosea 2:19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy” or when Jesus discussed going away to prepare a place in John 14:1-4, these were statements the hearers would have been very familiar with.

Unfortunately it seems, believers today are not as familiar with the betrothal process and more importantly, have not engaged with a great deal of diligence a study and understanding of what it means to be married to Christ, or better yet, what it means to be the bride of Christ. Most believers likely have heard of the wedding supper of the Lamb noted in Revelation 19:7-9 but the full reality of how one gets to that wedding supper seems to be literally lost in translation. If we are the bride, what does that mean, how are we to act, how are we to prepare for the wedding ceremony, when will the wedding ceremony take place? These are all valid questions to ask. It will be the aim of this post to outline the actual application of what it means to be the bride of Christ to our everyday Christian walk. We will take what we have learned about the betrothal process and with that as the background, exegete the numerous Scriptures that speak of being betrothed to God or being the bride of Christ to see exactly how this all plays out in a practical way. The discussion concerning the timing of the wedding and the wedding supper will be addressed in the final part of this series. This particular post may be divided into two parts itself due to the great amount of information Scripture has to provide on the subject. So we will see how far we get and if need be, I will break the discussion up into one, possibly two or even more posts before we get to the eschatology aspect of the bride of Christ. But wait, there’s more!

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Bob Alberico – Responsibilities of the Bride of Christ

1. We are the light of the world

…a light that set on a hill… Matthew 5:14

Isaiah 42:6
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles,

Isaiah 49:1
[ The Servant, the Light to the Gentiles ] “Listen, O coastlands, to Me, And take heed, you peoples from afar! The Lord has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.

Isaiah 49:6
Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Acts 13:47
For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 3)

Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 3)

In part one of this series we explored the process of betrothal to include an analysis of the Kiddusin and Nis’uin ceremonies. Part 2 began our discussion over how the concept of the bride of Christ is applied to the believer’s daily life focusing specifically on the characteristic of what it means for the bride to be holy. In this post, we will continue our discussion by studying another characteristic of the bride, namely one who overcomes. As with the previous post, I will include at the bottom the three part video series by Jim Staley from Passion for Truth Ministries as a resource for additional information on this subject.

A characteristic of the bride of Christ that is repeated quite often in Scripture is that of one who overcomes. I John 2:13-14 says “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him [who is] from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him [who is] from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.” I John 4:4 notes “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Sometimes scripture refers overcoming as enduring to the end. Matt. 24:13 for instance states “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 notes “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Finally, Hebrews 12:1-2a encourages believers to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith,”

So what does it mean for the bride of Christ to endure? What are we enduring through and perhaps more importantly, what are we enduring for? What is it we need to overcome and why is that important for our daily walk?

Many have the impression that since Jesus has paid the bride price for us at the cross the act of salvation is the only real important event in a person’s life. Perhaps this is where the concept of “Once Saved Always Saved” gets a bad reputation, namely from those who treat salvation as merely a ticket that gets them to heaven. Still others have the impression that one who overcomes is solely meant for believers of a different time or not for believers at all, in particular where eschatology comes into the picture. Let’s look at what it means for the bride of Christ to be one who overcomes or endures. But wait, there’s more!

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