November 1, 2020 Here Comes the Bride
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Book of Revelation, John is carried away in the Spirit, and given a glimpse of heaven for our benefit; so that we can know that the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus is true, & its waiting for us to enter. In Chapt.21, &vs.9, an angel says to John, ”Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. ” He saw the Holy City, perfect & brilliant; he saw this great multitude of people dwelling with God, protected: no more death or crying or pain; everything is new. Then from heaven’s throne, Jesus tells John to write what he sees, because these things are trustworthy & true; for you & me to base our lives on.
We live in a world of death; we always have. But God defines our life = death doesn’t. Something will be written on our death certificate as the ‘cause’; it could be a thousand different things: /a heart attack, /pneumonia, /a car accident, /cancer, /covid-19, /influenza, /gun shot wound, /or old age. But the cause doesn’t matter! Death does not define the Christian’s life. All deaths have been swallowed up in Jesus’ victory thru the cross & empty tomb. We belong to the Lord no matter how or when this life is over for us.
Now, in talking of heaven, believers are called ‘the Bride of Christ.’ This includes US – & all who believe in Jesus as the promised Savior. All who believe & are baptized in Him are the SAINTS of God. We are God’s holy people; made holy by the cross, and by a Baptism new-birth of Water & Spirit. In this Christian faith, we are the saints of God.
To celebrate All Saints Day means we are celebrating God’s gracious gathering of us into ‘the communion of saints.’ There are saints above and saints below; believers have gone before us thru death, & are with the Lord Jesus now. We are also saints, who are living out our earthly life; still by faith and not yet by sight. All believers in Christ are His saints.
And all of God’s saints worship Him as the one Holy Christian Church. Today we remember our loved ones who died in the faith, & are in the presence of the Lord. And every Sunday we gather here in the presence of the same Lord. We have loved ones we miss because death has separated us in body; but when we come HERE, we are joining with them in the presence of God. That’s a wonderful thought.
HERE -in Divine Worship- we join the angels & archangels and ALL the company of heaven as we laud & magnify the One True God. This is one of the great purposes of coming HERE for worship: not what we do or how we do it, but what God does for us. In His presence, He joins us to the heavenly Church; including being with our loved ones who died with faith in Christ Jesus. We can’t see them, but we are joined with them.
In the Book of Revelation, our relationship with Jesus is illustrated with an earthly picture. The relationship between Christ and His Church (His people) is a marriage. The angel said to John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. You & me, and all believers, in heaven & on earth, are like a bride in marriage to Jesus.
We’re familiar with the earthly elements of marriage between a man & woman; and God relates that to Christ & His Church. This Bible teaching is to be a comfort & daily reminder for us; and it also strengthens our view & support & protection of earthly marriage.
In the wedding services we do here, we begin with these words to the bride & groom:
‘(marriage) is an honorable estate, which God Himself has instituted and blessed, and by which He gives us a picture of the very communion of Christ and His bride, the Church.’ == based on Eph.5. Each time that’s said, we are reminded of how very important it is to defend the Divine Institution of holy marriage. The world is constantly seeking to reject & pervert God’s good design. Even our family members or friends might think they can change what it means for a man & woman to be united in holy marriage according to the Word of God.
But marriage is not just a tradition of man or a cultural custom. These simple words – ‘the bride of Christ’, give marriage it’s permanent position in human life. God has given the marriage of one man & one woman to be a picture of our salvation: the union of the Christian Church with Christ Jesus. If we remain silent when Biblical marriage is being attacked or changed, we dishonor Christ; because we allow the sinful world to take away this important picture of our living relationship with the Son of God.
Today, let’s be strengthened with this marriage picture. The saints of God are the bride of Christ; the Bridegroom is Jesus; and this is a true marriage. *What does this mean?
When a man seeks to marry a woman, (especially an inexperience & young man), there are at least 6 questions that he needs to be able to answer to honor God’s good earthly design. The correct answers to those questions are also part of God’s salvation picture of our marriage of faith to the Bridegroom Jesus. Husbands, young & old, can test themselves with these Qs.
FIRST question: young man, do you love this woman? While the emotion of love between a man & a woman is a bit mysterious (says Proverbs), 1Cor.13 says Love is measured by what we DO. So, /love is patient & kind, /not easily angered or self-serving; /love keeps no record of wrongs, /it protects & perseveres. That love makes a good husband, & good earthly marriage.
That is how our heavenly Bridegroom loves us. We are the chosen wife that He sought out & rescued. The Son has written our names in His Book of Life. Jesus has covered us with the wedding garment of righteousness thru the forgiveness of the cross. We have been baptized & washed clean by the blood of our loving Lamb. The love of Jesus for us, His Church, is marriage-love.
Even in heaven, our Bridegroom bears the marks of His death for us on His hands & feet & side. In the Lord’s Supper, we remember the depth of His love when we hear His marriage vow for us: This is my body, which is given FOR YOU… this is my blood of the new covenant, shed FOR YOU. There is no greater love than sacrificial love. Our sin divorced us from our Creator; but Jesus pledged His life on the cross so that we would be reunited.
The 2nd question for the husband or husband-to-be: Are you willing to defend & protect your bride? Our world is broken & scary, especially for women & children. Wicked people prey on the defenseless. God designed marriage for protection. The world mocks this part of manhood. But every able-bodied husband -who loves his wife- rises to her defense when she is threatened. In various ways, he prepares a safe home for her.
The heavenly home of our Bridegroom is a safe fortress for us. The Psalms assure us that we have a strong city built by God. Many years ago, walls & gates protected a city; in our day, we use street lights & cameras & law-officers as ‘gates’ to help protect us when evil comes to attack. In Rev.21, we read: “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. ” Our Bridegroom says, “nothing impure will ever enter (our home), nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful.” Our Bridegroom protects us.
Question 3: Will you provide for your wife? God expects husbands to earn a living, and pay the bills, and provide for his wife, & be responsible for his household.
In our heavenly marriage, our Bridegroom has provided & keeps the lights on. Rev.22 says, “the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” There is water from the River of Life, fruit -in every season- from the Tree of Life. Our Bridegroom owns the city, and by His power, He provides for His bride = the Church, & we will lack nothing. So, so far, in loving, protecting & providing, we see how the institution of marriage has been given by God so that we have a picture of our relationship in the Church with our Savior & Lord – Jesus.
4th question: young man, do you realize that a marriage is more than a house & food?
In our solemn marriage vow, we acknowledge the varied times of life: /better or worse, /richer or poorer, /sickness or health. We vow to love & to cherish faithfully until death ~ no matter what. That’s a high standard! AND, if we expect such loyalty & faithfulness of imperfect earthly husbands, *what can we expect of our heavenly Bridegroom?
We can expect the perfection we’re promised in Rev.21, it says: “… the Holy City,… shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel,… clear as crystal…..there is healing, no longer any curse; they will see His face and His name will be upon them. ” So, heaven is more than just protection, home, & food; there is glory, brilliance, healing, and His constant presence, care, & comfort for us in all things.
Part of our joy of heaven is that our Bridegroom’s love is for the whole family, in one glorious home. On earth, we might die alone; but then we will be there -together- with all the other saints. Our Bridegroom’s home is full of family; those we knew on earth, & those we didn’t; those faithful from the Bible times, & those who lived the faith with us during our lifetime. The joy & satisfaction of the Kingdom of Heaven is almost beyond our ability to grasp; but, so that we can grasp it, God has given us earthly marriage, family & household to compare to.
The 5th expectation of God for husbands is this: man, are you ready to be the spiritual leader of your household? *How can a man expect his wife to respect & honor him if he cannot make life & family decisions based on God’s Word of Truth? If worship & learning from God is a priority for the husband, then he will receive the strength-of-the-Lord to maintain a pleasant marriage, and healthy household.
In our heavenly home, this will not be an issue. John writes about how our heavenly Bridegroom will handle our eternal spiritual life. He says, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. …for the Lamb…will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
And finally, question 6: how long is this marriage going to last?
Earthly husbands cannot answer, ‘Forever.’ Earthly marriage has earthly limits: ‘till death parts us.’ Our sinful flesh cannot enter heaven; it must be changed on the Day of Resurrection.
But in our heavenly comparison, the Bride of Christ is already changed by His death for us & His Spirit in us. By definition, ‘saints’ are forgiven sinners, who -by faith- have died to sin and are already alive to God in Christ. We are ‘engaged’ to Christ now, & we have His engagement promise: when He comes again, He will take us into His home. Judgment Day will be our eternal wedding day, when death will be put away & swallowed up forever.
So, Forever is the right word for the marriage of the Bridegroom -Jesus and His Bride -the Church. ‘Forever’ is hard to imagine right now; but it is part of the wedding song we heard proclaimed by the saints & angels in chapter 7, “Amen! Blessing & glory, and wisdom & thanksgiving, and honor & power & might be to our God forever and ever. Amen!
So, Those are the 6 Questions. We have many reasons to rejoice as we celebrate another All Saints Day. In Jesus, we are the earthly part of the communion of saints; but we are already part of His Church, which is the bride of Christ. We are waiting to see our Bridegroom, face-to-face, and to enter the wedding hall. Our faith in Christ is a living relationship; like that of a perfect marriage: He loves us, /protects & provides for us, /& our Lord satisfies us in our heavenly home, /with family, forever.
Because of our relationship with Christ Jesus, we pray the Lord to help us support and preserve the Biblical design of earthly marriage among us. And we will encourage husbands & wives to faithfully honor one another as a visible witness of our heavenly life to come.