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The Church: The Bride of Christ

TheChurch-Bride

 


Sermon Passage: Ephesians 5:22-32

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 


Article: We Hear from God Together

by Jonathan Suggs 

If you were to walk around downtown and ask people, “How does God speak to you?” you would no doubt receive a multitude of answers. We find ourselves in a strange cultural moment where subjective experiences and emotions rule the day and everyone can hear from God (or their god) however they desire. God speaks to us on our terms, or so we think. 

However, this is not the testimony of scripture! God spoke to His people on His terms, not theirs. God established the mode of communication to His creation when He spoke and created everything from nothing (Gen. 1:1-27). After He created man, He initiated communication with them too by giving a command and a blessing all wrapped together in one (Gen. 1:28). But as you may know, humanity quickly turned its back on God’s word in blatant disobedience, separating us from God and casting us into brokenness. Yet, rather astonishingly, God did not cut off communication, in fact, He spoke all the more! And as He redeemed His disobedient and wayward children, He graciously gave them His written word to read, study, teach, obey, and delight in (Deut. 6:1-9; Ps. 19:7-11). Ultimately, this amazing story of God’s gracious communication culminates in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the incarnate Word (John 1:1-4). We find all of this and more recorded and revealed in God’s written word, the Bible. Therefore, for us to truly hear from God, we must come to Him on His terms by His written word.

But what is the primary way God speaks through His word today? When I was younger, I thought He would speak to me as I flipped to random passages hoping that one of them would fit my current circumstance. If you have ever taken this approach, you know as well as I do that it most often leads to disappointment and, even worse, to the assumption that God has nothing to say. All the while, I completely ignored God as He spoke to me every Sunday morning through the faithful preaching of His word. Does God speak through personal Bible reading when it is studied correctly? Absolutely! But the primary way God speaks is through the preaching of His word to His gathered people – The Church. You see, preaching is one of the greatest gifts God has given to His Bride. At that moment when His word is read, exposed, and explained, God speaks for Himself through the preacher!

We do not have to search long and hard to see preaching in scripture. Consider how God gathered the Israelites at Mount Sinai and gave them the Law through His servant Moses (Ex. 24:7). See how the Israelites gathered together, hungering for God’s word, and demanded Ezra to bring the Law (Neh. 8:1-8). Notice how Jesus began His public ministry reading and teaching the scriptures (Luke 4:14-22). Don’t forget Peter’s sermon on Joel 2 that led to the salvation of around three thousand souls (Acts 2:14-41). And remember how Paul, near to death, commanded Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Scripture testifies to this: preaching is God’s primary way of speaking to His people and making them more like Him (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Col. 3:10).

            I experienced the wonderful gift of faithful preaching a couple of years ago in a particularly difficult time when many of my plans for the future were falling apart and many of the crutches I leaned on were being kicked out from under me. I desperately needed God’s wise instruction and gracious care. During this period, Citadel Square was preaching through David’s life in 1 Samuel. And week after week, as I saw God provide for David, I was shown how God was providing for me through Christ. He consistently brought me back to repentance and faith, the very things I needed the most!

While many see the Christian approach as narrow and old-fashioned, those who have heard God’s word faithfully preached and applied by the Spirit know the joy of hearing God speak. Simply put, we gather each week so that we would hear from God and be transformed by his Word through the work of the Spirit. What an amazing treasure!