The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.” Psalm 45:1
My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:1-4**
Gospels & Acts
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:51-52
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“’Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'” Luke 12:22-31
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Ephesians 6:7
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Revelation 21:5**
OT Psalms & Proverbs
“I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Psalm 16:3
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8
“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Psalm 34:19
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” Proverbs 18:4
OT, Pentateuch, Historical & Prophetical**
“The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” Deuteronomy 28:12
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8**
I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow ofmy hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”Isaiah 51:16**
“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book.’” Jeremiah 30:2**
**Exegetical note: BEWARE:
Spreading the gospel–which God has given–by means of our writing is a valid application of these verses. But…
Thinking that our writing in itself IS the “word of God” is a dangerous heresy. The only Word from God is the Truth of Scripture. Likewise, the truth of our words must match the integrity of our life, the gospel lived out of faithful living. As we teach, so must we live.
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3:1
Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Ezekiel 33:31
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. Isaiah 59:21
My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. Psalm 49:3
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
“It is the folly of most men, to mind and pursue that which is for the body and for time only, more than that for the soul and eternity.” Matthew Henry
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’
And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Dear friend, I desire to warn you with love. You and I cannot escape death. It is an appointment we will keep . . . regardless. Are you prepared to die?
Sincerely, —Joel R. Beeke
You and I may not know each other; possibly we shall never see one another. Yet, I desire to write a personal letter to you.
I write to you because you and I have more in common than you may realize. Though we may never meet each other in this world, we shall one day be in each other’s presence because we both possess a never-dying soul. With this soul both of us must appear before God, your and my Creator, in the great judgment day. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27).
You may do all in your power to put the thought of death away from you. Yet you cannot escape the fact that you must die. You know that you must die and face God. Perhaps you are reluctant to think about death because you also know judgment follows death as surely as night follows day. In all seriousness, therefore, could I possibly press upon you a more significant question than this: What is going to happen to you when you die?
The Bible, conscience, and common sense, all declare to you that there is an eternity you must face. Therefore, don’t avoid this question for your own sake: Am I prepared to die and face God as Judge?
I am sorry to have to tell you that millions today think they are prepared to meet God who shall end in hell following the great day of judgment. This is what God tells us in His Holy Word: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat 7:22-23).
Did you ever consider what a terrible awakening it will be for those who are traveling on in this life, thinking all is well with them, to hear in that day as they stand before the Most High God, “I never knew you”? Words cannot describe the anguish of soul as this sentence will be passed upon them: “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Shall you and I also be among these disappointed “many” that Christ speaks of in Matthew 7?
Dear reader, please give me five minutes of your time to try to show you who will end in hell and who will end in heaven.
The Broad Road to Eternal Destruction
First, I must honestly tell you the Bible informs us in Matthew 7 that the vast majority of people will be going to hell. “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Perhaps this sounds cruel to you, but this sad fact is true not because God is cruel; rather, we are cruel to ourselves. We willfully defy our Creator and despise His love, while trampling upon His commandments, given for our true well-being. Due to such rebellion and wickedness, we have all earned death and hell. These are the only two things we have deserved, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), and the “wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).
What kinds of people are included in this vast multitude which is hellbound?…
If we have learned anything from these warnings, EVACUATIONS for Hurricane Irma and Pac NW Fires, it is the reality and mercy of the urgent need to…
“Flee from the Wrath to Come!”
Do you hear the alarm? Do you not worry about the God of Nature? Why does he stir up the storms? Why the earthquakes? Why the fires? Why so few lives lost? What mercy, what strength, what warning.
Hear Charles Spurgeon’s words:
“Flee from the Wrath to Come!”
“Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” [Matthew 3:7]
“Who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us.” [Hebrews 6:18]
I. First, dear friends, let us think of THE TREMENDOUS DANGER which overtakes all men and women who do not flee from it.
1. I remark, first:, that this “coming wrath” is absolutely just and necessary.
2. Nor is “the coming wrath” any the less sure because it is delayed.
3. I tremble as I try to speak of this “coming wrath” because, when it does come it will surely be something very terrible because divinity enters into the essence of it.
II. Now, in the second place, I want, just; for a few minutes, to tell you about THE MEANS OF ESCAPE. John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
By this question, he seemed to imply that there is no way of deliverance from “the coming wrath” but by fleeing from it.
1. First, we flee from the coming wrath by taking immediate action.
2. Fleeing means, not only immediate action, but swift action.
3. To flee also means to run directly to your object.
Notice how John the Baptist explained to those Pharisees and Sadducees the way in which they had to flee. He told them,
1. First, that they must repent.
2. Secondly, that repentance must be practical.
3. Then John went on to say to the Pharisees and Sadducees that they must give up all the false hopes which they had cherished: “Do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.” �
How does Christ deliver us from “the coming wrath?” He does it by putting himself into our place, and putting us into his place.
((These are Spurgeon’s outlined points: See the detailed sermon here:
Dispatch the work that you were made for: Repent and turn to God unfeignedly: Prepare for death without delay: Time will not stay; nor will it ever be recovered: Were it not lest I should write a Treatise instead of a Preface, I would especially press this on all these following sorts of people.
1. Those that are young, who have yet the flower of their Time to use, that they cast it not away on childish vanity or lust.
2. Those that have lost much Time already, that they shew the sincerity of their Repentance, by Redeeming the rest, and lose no more.
3. Those that are yet ignorant, ungodly and unprepared for death, and the world to come; O what need have these to make haste, and quickly get into a safer state, before their Time be at an end.
4. Those that in sickness resolved and promised, if God would recover them, to redeem their Time.
5. The weak and aged, who nature and sickness do call upon to make haste.
6. The poor and servants, whose opportunities for spiritual means are scant, and therefore have need to take them when they may; especially on the Lords day.
7. Those that live under excellent helps, and advantages for their souls; which if they neglect, they may never have again.
8. And those that by Office or Power have special opportunity to do good. All these have a double obligation to value and redeem their Time.
• “I serve Jesus Christ the eternal King. I will no longer serve your emperors. It is not right for a Christian to serve the armies of this world.” ~ Marcellus the Centurion, 298AD, spoken as he gave up his post in the army of Emperor Diocletian because of his faith.
• “We ourselves were well conversant with war, murder and everything evil, but all of us throughout the whole wide earth have traded in our weapons of war. We have exchanged our swords for plowshares, our spears for farm tools…now we cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and the expectation of the future given us through the Crucified One….The more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers.” ~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)
• “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”
~ St. Cyprian (200AD – 258AD)
• “We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us.”
~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)
• “It is absolutely forbidden to repay evil with evil.”~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD
• “To those who ask us whence we have come or whom we have for a leader, we say that we have come in accordance with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and arrogant swords of argument into ploughshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in fighting. For we no longer take ‘sword against a nation,’ nor do we learn ‘any more to make war,’ having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of following the ancestral customs in which we were strangers to the covenants.”
~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)
• “Hitherto I have served you as a soldier; allow me now to become a soldier to God. Let the man who is to serve you receive your donative. I am a soldier of Christ; it is not permissible for me to fight.” ~ Martin of Tours (315AD – 397AD)
• “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”
~ Athanasius of Alexandria (293AD – 373AD)
• The Christian poor are “an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without anger, without defilement.” ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)
• “I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command.” ~ Tatian of Assyria (died around 185AD)
• “Above all Christians are not allowed to correct by violence sinful wrongdoings.”
~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)
• “The Christian does not hurt even his enemy.”~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “None of us offers resistance when he is seized, or avenges himself for your unjust violence, although our people are numerous and plentiful…it is not lawful for us to hate, and so we please God more when we render no requital for injury…we repay your hatred with kindness.”
~ St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (died 258AD)
• “We Christians are a peaceful race…for it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.”
~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)
• “Only without the sword can the Christian wage war: the Lord has abolished the sword.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests. We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this.”
~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)
• “We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand over everything we have to a treasury for all and share it with everyone who needs it. We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us.”
~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)
• “For what war should we not be fit and eager, even though unequal in numbers, we who are so willing to be slaughtered—if, according to that discipline of ours, it was not more lawful to be slain than to slay?”~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “The professions and trades of those who are going to be accepted into the community must be examined. The nature and type of each must be established… brothel, sculptors of idols, charioteer, athlete, gladiator…give it up or be rejected. A military constable must be forbidden to kill, neither may he swear; if he is not willing to follow these instructions, he must be rejected. A proconsul or magistrate who wears the purple and governs by the sword shall give it up or be rejected. Anyone taking or already baptized who wants to become a soldier shall be sent away, for he has despised God.”
~ Hippolytus (170AD – 236AD)
• “Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• Christians “love all people, and are persecuted by all;…they are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and are respectful.”~ Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (late 2nd Century)
• “Say to those that hate and curse you, You are our brothers!” ~ Theophilus of Antioch (died around 185AD)
• “For the Gentiles, hearing from our mouth the words of God, are impressed by their beauty and greatness: then, learning that our works are not worthy of the things we say, they turn to railing, saying that it is some deceitful tale. For when they hear from us that God says: ‘No thanks will be due to you, if ye love only those who love you; but thanks will be due to you, if ye love your enemies and those that hate you’—when they hear this, they are impressed by the overplus of goodness: but when they see that we do not love, not only those who hate us, but even those who love us, they laugh at us, and the Name is blasphemed.”
~ The 2nd Epistle of Clement (140-160AD)
• “Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?”
~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God…. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies…. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.”
~ Aristides (written around 137AD)
• “We Christians cannot endure to see a man being put to death, even justly.”~ Athenagoras (133AD – 190AD)
• “Learn about the incorruptible King, and know his heroes who never inflict slaughter on the peoples.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “Christians appeal to those who wrong them and make them friendly to themselves; they are eager to do good to their enemies; they are mild and conciliatory.”
~ Aristides of Athens (2nd Century)
• “I recognize no empire of this present age.” ~ Speratus (martyred 180AD)
• “For when God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but he warns us against the commission of those beings which are esteemed lawful among men….Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all, but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.” ~ Lactantius, instructor of Constantine’s son (240AD – 320AD)
• “Shall we carry a flag? It is a rival to Christ.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “I am a Christian. He who answers thus has declared everything at once—his country, profession, family; the believer belongs to no city on earth but to the heavenly Jerusalem.” ~ St. John Chrysostom (347AD – 407AD)
• “If anyone be a soldier or in authority, let him be taught not to oppress or to kill or to rob, or to be angry or to rage and afflict anyone. But let those rations suffice him which are given to him. But if they wish to be baptized in the Lord, let them cease from military service or from the [post of] authority, and if not let them not be received. Let a catechumen or a believer of the people, if he desire to be a soldier, either cease from his intention, or if not let him be rejected. For he hath despised God by his thought, and leaving the things of the Spirit, he hath perfected himself in the flesh and hath treated the faith with contempt.” ~ The Testament of Our Lord (4th or 5th Century AD document)
• “We have become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.” ~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)
• “If you enroll as one of God’s people, then heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.” ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)
• “God called Abraham and commanded him to go out from the country where he was living. With this call God has roused us all, and now we have left the state. We have renounced all the things the world offers…. The gods of the nations are demons.”
~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)
• “But now inquiry is being made concerning these issues. First, can any believer enlist in the military? Second, can any soldier, even those of the rank and file or lesser grades who neither engage in pagan sacrifices nor capital punishment, be admitted into the church? No on both counts—for there is no agreement between the divine sacrament and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters—God and Caesar…But how will a Christian engage in war (indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime) without the sword, which the Lord has taken away?”
~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)
• “This is the way of life: first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, secondly, thy neighbor as thyself: and all things whatsoever thou wouldest not should happen to thee, do not thou to another. The teaching of these words is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast on behalf of those who persecute you: for what thanks will be due to you, if ye love only those who love you? Do not the Gentiles also do the same? But love ye those who hate you, and ye shall not have an enemy.”
~ The Didache, also known as The Teachings of the 12 Apostles, is an early Christian document written between 80AD – 90AD.
What is the Bride of Christ? We know that the Church is the bride, but WHAT is this bride? Some implications seem, almost, vulgar. But it is a concept repeatedly used in Scripture, in the Wisdom books, in the Prophets, and most emphatically from Christ himself and reiterated by the apostles. I recently came across this sermon, exactly the thing I was hunting for online. Read on to hear an amazing Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, speak delicately and powerfully on this mystic union of Christ and his Bride.
by Thomas Watson
“My beloved is mine, and I am his.” (Song 2:16)
In this Song of Songs we see the love of Christ and his church running towards each other in a full torrent.
The text contains three general parts:
1. A symbol of affection: “My beloved.”
2. A term of appropriation: “is mine.”
3. A holy resignation: “I am his.”
Doctrine: That there is a conjugal union between Christ and believers.
The apostle, having treated at large of marriage, winds up the whole chapter thus: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). What is closer than union? What sweeter? There is a twofold union with Christ:
1. A natural union. This all men have, Christ having taken their nature on him and not that of the angels (Heb. 2:16). But if there is no more than this natural union, it will give little comfort. Thousands are damned though Christ is united to their nature.
2. A sacred union. By this we are mystically united to Christ. The union with Christ is not personal. If Christ’s essence were transfused into the person of a believer, then it would follow that all that a believer does should be meritorious.
But the union between Christ and a saint is:
(a) Federal: “My beloved is mine.” God the Father gives the bride; God the Son receives the bride; God the Holy Ghost ties the knot in marriage – he knits our wills to Christ and Christ’s love to us.
(b) Effectual. Christ unites himself to his spouse by his graces and influences: “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Christ makes himself one with the spouse by conveying his image and stamping the impress of his own holiness upon her.
This union with Christ may well be called mystic. It is hard to describe the manner of it. It is hard to show how the soul is united to the body, and how Christ is united to the soul. But though this union is spiritual, it is real. Things in nature often work insensibly, yet really (Eccles. 11:5). We do not see the hand move on the dial, yet it moves. The sun exhales and draws up the vapours of the earth insensibly yet really. So the union between Christ and the soul, though it is imperceptible to the eye of reason, is still real (I Cor. 6:17).
Before this union with Christ there must be a separation. The heart must be separated from all other lovers, as in marriage there is a leaving of father and mother: “Forget your own people, and your father’s house.” (Psa. 45:10). So there must be a leaving of our former sins, a breaking off the old league with hell before we can be united to Christ. “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” (Hos. 14:8), or as it is in the Hebrew, “with sorrows.” Those sins which were looked on before as lovers, are now sorrows. There must be a divorce before a union.
The purpose of our conjugal union with Christ is twofold:
1. Co-habitation. This is one purpose of marriage, to live together: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts” (Eph. 2:17). It is not enough to pay Christ a few complimentary visits in his ordinances – hypocrites may do so – but there must be a mutual associating. We must dwell upon the thoughts of Christ: “he that abides in God” (cf. I John 3:24). Married persons should not live apart.
2. Fruit bearing: “That you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” (Rom. 7:4). The spouse bears the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness (Gal. 5:22). Barrenness is a shame in Christ’s spouse.
This marriage union with Christ is the most noble and excellent union:
(a) Christ unites himself to many. In other marriages only one person is taken, but here millions are taken. Otherwise, poor souls might cry out, “Alas! Christ has married So-and-so, but what is that to me? I am left out.” No, Christ marries thousands. It is a holy and chaste polygamy. Multitudes of people do not defile this marriage bed. Any poor sinner who brings a humble, believing heart may be married to Christ.
(b) There is a closer union in this holy marriage than there can be in any other. In other marriages, two make one flesh, but Christ and the believer make one spirit: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (I Cor. 6:17). Now as the soul is more excellent than the body, and admits of far greater joy, so this spiritual union brings in more astonishing delights and ravishments than any other marriage relationship is capable of. The joy that flows from the mystic union is unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).
(c) This union with Christ never ceases. “Thrice happy they whom an unbroken bond unites” (Horace). Other marriages are soon at an end. Death cuts asunder the marriage knot, but this conjugal union is eternal. You who are once Christ’s spouse shall never again be a widow: “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hosea 2:19). To speak properly, our marriage with Christ begins where other marriages end, at death.
In this life there is only the contract. The Jews had a time set between their engagement and marriage, sometimes a year or more. In this life there is only the engagement and contract; promises are made on both sides, and love passes secretly between Christ and the soul. He gives some smiles of his face, and the soul sends up her sighs and drops tears of love. But all this is only a preliminary work, and something leading up to the marriage. The glorious completing and solemnizing of the marriage is reserved for heaven. There is the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9) and the bed of glory perfumed with love where the souls of the elect shall be perpetually consoling themselves. “Then shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:17). So death merely begins our marriage with Christ.
Application 1: If Christ is the head of the mystic body (Eph. 1:22), then this doctrine beheads the Pope, that man of sin who usurps this prerogative of being the head of the church, and so would defile Christ’s marriage bed. What blasphemy this is! Two heads are monstrous. Christ is Head, as he is Husband. There is no vice-husband, no deputy in his place. The Pope is the beast in Revelation (Rev. 13:11). To make him head of the church, what would this be but to set the head of a beast upon the body of a man?
Application 2: If there is such a conjugal union, let us test whether we are united to Christ:
1. Have we chosen Christto set our love upon, and is this choice founded on knowledge?
2. Have we consented to the match? It is not enough that Christ is willing to have us, but are we willing to have him? God does not so force salvation upon us that we shall have Christ whether we want to or not. We must consent to have him. Many approve of Christ, but do not give their consent. And this consent must be:
(a) Pure and genuine.We consent to have him for his own worth and excellence: “You are fairer than the sons of men” (Psa. 45:2).
(b) A present consent:“now is the acceptable time” (2 Cor. 6:2). If we put Christ off with delays and excuses, perhaps he will stop coming. He will leave off wooing. “His spirit shall no longer strive,” and then, poor sinner, what will you do? When God’s wooing ends, your woes begin.
3. Have we taken Christ? Faith is the bond of the union. Christ is joined to us by his Spirit, and we are joined to him by faith. Faith ties the marriage knot.
4. Have we given ourselves up to Christ? Thus the spouse in the text says, “I am his,” as if she had said, “All I have is for the use and service of Christ.” Have we made a surrender? Have we given up our name and will to Christ? When the devil solicits by a temptation, do we say, “We are not our own, we are Christ’s; our tongues are his, we must not defile them with oaths; our bodies are his temple, we must not pollute them with sin?” If it is so, it is a sign that the Holy Ghost has produced this blessed union between Christ and us.
Application 3: Is there this mystic union? Then from that we may draw many inferences:
1. See the dignity of all true believers.They are joined in marriage with Christ. There is not only assimilation but union; they are not only like Christ but one with Christ. All the saints have this honour. When a king marries a beggar, by virtue of the union she is ennobled and made of the blood royal. As wicked men are united to the prince of darkness, and he settles hell upon them as their inheritance, so the godly are divinely united to Christ, who is King of kings, and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16). By virtue of this sacred union the saints are dignified above the angels. Christ is the Lord of the angels, but not their husband.
2. See how happily all the saints are married.They are united to Christ, who is the best Husband, “the Chiefest among ten thousand” (Song 5:10). Christ is a Husband that cannot be paralleled:
(a) For tender care.The spouse cannot be as considerate of her own soul and credit as Christ is considerate of her: “He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7). Christ has a debate with himself, consulting and projecting how to carry on the work of our salvation. He transacts all our affairs, he attends to our business as his own. Indeed, he himself is concerned in it. He brings fresh supplies to his spouse. If she wanders out of the way, he guides her. If she stumbles, he holds her by the hand. If she falls, he raises her. If she is dull, he quickens her by his Spirit. If she is perverse, he draws her with cords of love. If she is sad, he comforts her with promises.
(b) For ardent affection.No husband loves like Christ. The Lord says to the people, “I have loved you,” and they say, “In what way have you loved us?” (Mal. 1:2). But we cannot say to Christ, “In what way have you loved us?” Christ has given real demonstrations of his love to his spouse. He has sent her his Word, which is a love-letter, and he has given her his Spirit, which is a love-token. Christ loves more than any other husband:
Christ puts a richer robe on his bride: “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isa. 61:10). In this robe, God looks on us as if we had not sinned. This robe is as truly ours to justify us, as it is Christ’s to bestow on us. This robe not only covers but adorns. Having on this robe, we are reputed righteous, not only as righteous as angels, but as righteous as Christ: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Christ gives his bride not only his golden garments but his image.He loves her into his own likeness. A husband may have a dear affection for his wife, but he cannot stamp his own image on her. If she is deformed, he may give her a veil to hide it, but he cannot put his beauty on her. But Christ imparts “the beauty of holiness” to his spouse: “Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” (Ezek. 16:14). When Christ marries a soul, he makes it fair: “You are all fair, my love” (Song 4:7). Christ never thinks he has loved his spouse enough till he can see his own face in her.
Christ discharges those debts which no other husband can.Our sins are the worst debts we owe. If all the angels should contribute money, they could not pay one of these debts, but Christ frees us from these. He is both a Husband and a Surety. He says to justice what Paul said concerning Onesimus, “But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.” (Philem. 1:18).
Christ has suffered more for his spouse than ever any husband did for a wife.He suffered poverty and ignominy. He who crowned the heavens with stars was himself crowned with thorns. He was called a companion of sinners, so that we might be made companions of angels. He was regardless of his life; he leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath to save his spouse from drowning.
Christ’s love does not end with his life. He loves his spouse for ever: “I will betroth you to me forever” (Hos. 2:19). Well may the apostle call it “a love which passes knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).
3. See how rich believers are.They have married into the crown of heaven, and by virtue of the conjugal union all Christ’s riches go to believers: “communion is founded in union.” Christ communicates his graces (John 1:16 ). As long as Christ has them, believers shall not be in want. And he communicates his privileges – justification, glorification. He settles a kingdom on his spouse as her inheritance (Heb. 12:28). This is a key to the apostle’s riddle, “as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:10). By virtue of the marriage union, the saints have an interest in all Christ’s riches.
4. See how fearful a sin it is to abuse the saints.It is an injury done to Christ, for believers are mystically one with him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). When the body was wounded, the Head, being in heaven, cried out. In this sense, men crucify Christ afresh (Heb. 6:6), because what is done to his members is done to him. If Gideon was avenged upon those who slew his brethren, will not Christ much more be avenged on those that wrong his spouse (Judges 8:21)? Will a king tolerate having his treasure rifled, his crown thrown in the dust, his queen beheaded? Will Christ bear with the affronts and injuries done to his bride? The saints are the apple of Christ’s eye (Zech. 2:8), and let those who strike at his eye answer for it. Isa 49:26 “I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine” (Isa. 49:26).
5. See the reason why the saints so rejoice in the Word and sacrament,because here they meet with their Husband, Christ. The wife desires to be in the presence of her husband. The ordinances are the chariot in which Christ rides, the lattice through which he looks forth and shows his smiling face. Here Christ displays the banner of love (Song 2:4). The Lord’s Supper is nothing other than a pledge and earnest of that eternal communion which the saints shall have with Christ in heaven. Then he will take the spouse into his bosom. If Christ is so sweet in an ordinance, when we have only short glances and dark glimpses of him by faith, oh then, how delightful and ravishing will his presence be in heaven when we see him face to face and are for ever in his loving embraces!
Application 4: This mystic union affords much comfort to believers in several cases:
1. In the case of the disrespect and unkindness of the world: “in wrath they hate me” (Psa. 55:3). But though we live in an unkind world, we have a kind Husband: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). What angel can tell how God the Father loves Christ? Yet the Father’s love to Christ is made the copy and pattern of Christ’s love to his spouse. This love of Christ as far exceeds all created love as the sun outshines the light of a torch. And is not this a matter of comfort? Though the world hates me, Christ still loves me.
2. In the case of weakness of grace.The believer cannot lay hold on Christ, except with a trembling hand. There is a “spirit of infirmity” on him, but oh, weak Christian, here is strong consolation: there is a conjugal union. You are the spouse of Christ, and he will bear with you as the weaker vessel. Will a husband divorce his wife because she is weak and sickly? No, he will be the more tender with her. Christ hates treachery, but he will pity infirmity. When the spouse is faint and ready to be discouraged, Christ puts his left hand under her head (Song 2:6). This is the spouse’s comfort when she is weak. Her Husband can infuse strength into her: “My God shall be my strength” (Isa. 49:5).
3. In the case of death. When believers die, they go to their Husband. Who would not be willing to cross the gulf of death that they might meet with their Husband, Christ? “I desire to loosen anchor” (Phil. 1:23), and be with Christ. What though the way is dirty? We are going to our friend. When a woman is engaged, she longs for the day of marriage. After the saints’ funeral, their marriage begins. The body is a prison to the soul. Who would not desire to exchange a prison for a marriage bed? How glad Joseph was to go out of prison to the king’s court! God is wise; he lets us meet with changes and troubles here, so that he may wean us from the world and make us long for death. When the soul is divorced from the body, it is married to Christ.
4. In the case of passing sentence at the day of judgment.There is a marriage union and, oh Christian, your Husband shall be your judge. A wife would not fear appearing at the bar if her husband was sitting as judge. What though the devil should bring in many indictments against you? Christ will expunge your sins in his blood. Could he possibly say, “I shall condemn my spouse?” Oh, what a comfort this is! The Husband is judge. Christ cannot pass sentence against his spouse without passing it against himself. For Christ and believers are one.
5. In the case of the saints’ suffering.The church of God is exposed in this life to many injuries, but she has a Husband in heaven who is mindful of her and will “turn water into wine” for her. Now it is a time of mourning with the spouse because the Bridegroom is absent (Matt. 9:15). But shortly she shall put off her mourning. Christ will wipe the tears of blood off the cheeks of his spouse: “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isa. 25:8). Christ will comfort his spouse for as much time as she has been afflicted. He will solace her with his love; he will take away the cup of trembling and give her the cup of consolation. And now she shall forget all her sorrows, being called into the banqueting house of heaven and having the banner of Christ’s love displayed over her.
Application 5: Let me press several duties upon those who have this marriage union with Christ:
1. Make use of this relationship in two cases:
(a) When the law brings in its indictments against you. The law says, “Here there are so many debts to be paid,” and it demands satisfaction. Acknowledge the debt, but turn it all over to your Husband, Christ. It is a maxim in law that the suit must not go against the wife, as long as the husband is living. Tell Satan when he accuses you, “It is true that the debt is mine, but go to my Husband, Christ; he will discharge it.” If we took this course, we might relieve ourselves of much trouble. By faith we turn over the debt to our Husband. Believers are not in a state of widowhood but of marriage. Satan will never go to Christ – he knows that justice is satisfied and the debt book cancelled – but he comes to us for the debt so that he may perplex us. We should send him to Christ and then all lawsuits would cease. This is a believer’s triumph. When he is guilty in himself, he is worthy in Christ. When he is spotted in himself, he is pure in his Head.
(b) In the case of desertion.Christ may (for reasons best known to himself) step aside for a time: “my beloved had withdrawn himself” (Song 5:6). Do not say, therefore, that Christ has gone for good. It is a fruit of jealousy in a wife, when her husband has left her a while, to think that he has gone from her for good. Every time Christ removes himself out of sight, it is wrong for us to say (like Zion), “The Lord has forsaken me” (Isa. 49:14). This is jealousy, and it is a wrong done to the love of Christ and the sweetness of this marriage relationship. Christ may forsake his spouse in regard of comfort, but he will not forsake her in regard of union. A husband may be a thousand miles distant from his wife, but he is still a husband. Christ may leave his spouse, but the marriage knot still holds.
2. Rejoice in your Husband, Christ.Has Christ honoured you by taking you into the marriage relationship and making you one with himself? This calls for joy. By virtue of the union, believers are sharers with Christ in his riches. It was a custom among the Romans, when the wife was brought home, for her to receive the keys of her husband’s house, intimating that the treasure and custody of the house was now committed to her. When Christ brings his bride home to those glorious mansions which he has gone ahead to prepare for her (John 14:2), he will hand over the keys of his treasure to her, and she shall be as rich as heaven can make her. And shall not the spouse rejoice and sing aloud upon her bed (Psa. 149:5)? Christians, let the times be ever so sad, you may rejoice in your spiritual espousals (Hab. 3:17,18). Let me tell you, it is a sin not to rejoice. You disparage your Husband, Christ. When a wife is always sighing and weeping, what will others say? “This woman has a bad husband.” Is this the fruit of Christ’s love to you, to reflect dishonour upon him? A melancholy spouse saddens Christ’s heart. I do not deny that Christians should grieve for sins of daily occurrence, but to be always weeping (as if they mourned without hope) is dishonourable to the marriage relationship. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). Rejoicing brings credit to your husband. Christ loves a cheerful bride, and indeed the very purpose of God’s making us sad is to make us rejoice. We sow in tears, so that we may reap in joy. The excessive sadness and contrition of the godly will make others afraid to embrace Christ. They will begin to question whether there is that satisfactory joy in religion which is claimed. Oh, you saints of God, do not forget consolation; let others see that you do not repent of your choice. It is joy that puts liveliness and activity into a Christian: “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). The soul is swiftest in duty when it is carried on the wings of joy.
3. Adorn this marriage relationship,so that you may be a crown to your husband.
(a) Wear a veil. We read of the spouse’s veil (Song 5:7). This veil is humility.
(b) Put on your jewels. These are the graces which for their lustre are compared to rows of pearl and chains of gold (Song 1:1O). These precious jewels distinguish Christ’s bride from strangers.
(c) Behave as becomes Christ’s spouse:
In chastity.Be chaste in your judgments; do not defile yourselves with error. Error adulterates the mind (1 Tim. 6:5). It is one of Satan’s artifices first to defile the judgment, then the conscience.
In sanctity.It is not for Christ’s spouse to behave like harlots. A naked breast and a wanton tongue do not become a saint. Christ’s bride must shine forth in gospel purity, so that she may make her husband fall in love with her. A woman was asked what dowry she brought her husband. She answered that she had no dowry, but she promised to keep herself chaste. So though we can bring Christ no dowry, yet he expects us to keep ourselves pure, not spotting the breasts of our virginity by contagious and scandalous sins.
4. Love your Husband, Christ (Song 2:5). Love him though he is reproached and persecuted. A wife loves her husband when in prison. To inflame your love towards Christ, consider:
(a) Nothing else is fit for you to love. If Christ is your Husband, it is not fit to have other lovers who would make Christ grow jealous.
(b) He is worthy of your love.He is of unparalleled beauty: “altogether lovely” (Song 5:16).
(c) How fervent is Christ’s love towards you!He loves you in your worst condition, he loves you in affliction. The goldsmith loves his gold in the furnace. He loves you notwithstanding your fears and blemishes. The saints’ infirmities cannot wholly remove Christ’s love from them (Jer. 3:1). Oh then, how the spouse should be endeared in her love to Christ! This will be the excellence of heaven. Our love will then be like the sun in its full strength.
[From The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson, a Puritan Paperback edition published by the Banner of Truth.]
This video sets out some of the Jewish customs related to Christ’s “Bride” references to his Church.
Trunk of Scrolls is infused with John Gerstner. The questions he poses in his Handout Apologetics are the ones philosophers have been debating since the beginning. And yet, Gerstner and Trunk of Scrolls provide hope for those answers. As should be clear by the very focus of my website, “Promoting Intelligent Christianity,” it is by reasoning through things that Truth will be found.
Reason, or philosophy, was given by God as a means to find Truth, and reasoning done in the light will always find what is True. If the premises are true, and reasoning is solid, the conclusions will be correct.
This is why it is essential to teach logic and philosophy and to train children how to think through things. Trunk of Scrolls is the story of one family’s exploration of the questions that have always been here–about reality, about suffering, about God, about finding what is true. And hat-tip to Gerstner who so succinctly and amiably presented this at an accessible level. I hope that Trunk of Scrolls will likewise be for each reader an accessible, entertaining and challenging exploration of this historical pursuit.
When all around the world spins on spin, when things keep getting sadder and news keeps getting darker, what can we do? We can complain about the impossible choices we are forced to make, in elections or with our kids. Or we can be proactive. We can bring about a solution God’s way.
Solomon was given a promise for the people of God. When bad things start to happen in the land it is a clue to us that GOD’S PEOPLE HAVE TO GET SERIOUS about several things.
When blight comes upon our land, it is up to the People of God, those called by His Name, Christians, to stand in the gap. Ezekiel 22:30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
Remember the story of Abraham interceding on behalf on Sodom and Gomorrah?
Compassion. Fifty people, Lord. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? (Genesis 18:22)
How to intercede.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. God promises to confound the wisdom of the wise (1 Cor 1). Do not come to him sure that you are NOT part of the problem. The only way to know God, to be found acceptable to him, is by hiding behind Christ. On our own power, in our own strength we are nothing. Our good deeds are fit for the trash heap.
Do you tremble at God’s Word? Do you read your Bible regularly? It is easy to slide, to forget to read, to depend on yesterday’s knowledge, last month’s reading. But the Word of God has power to sanctify you, to make you pleasing to God. Do not neglect so great a salvation.
Prayer requires time. A daily sabbath rest from your important worldly duties. Do you pray?
To Samuel, seeking God’s face on behalf of his people was right. Not interceding for them was a sin against the LORD. Pray for those you know who are in difficulty. Pray for your leaders. Pray for your nation and the world.
Seek God*s Face.
How do we find God’s face. His face is mentioned twice in the Aaronic Blessing:
What then is seeking God’s face? It is finding his grace and his peace. To find his grace and peace we put ourselves under the teaching of the church. Paul and Peter used this blessing to start their epistles.
It is directly related to knowing God and Jesus. And it came through the prayer and ministry of those apostles whose heart and soul beat for the growth of the Church of Christ.
While it is not impossible to grow outside of church fellowship, the divine injunction is for believers to meet together. When we meet with other Christians, not only is Christ himself with us, but we taste a bit of heaven. We practice for our eternal worship of Christ, and the Holy Spirit meets us in a special way. Practicing for an eternity before the throne of God is seeking God’s face.
Seeking God’s face means walking in obedience so that God is pleased with your efforts. Trying to do the right thing. Hating your sin. Humble, contrite in Spirit, trembling at God’s word. Finding yourself in Christ-honoring service. Happily reaching to obey all of Christ’s commands. This is seeking God’s face.
Finding yourself reading Scripture to KNOW Christ. To KNOW Yahweh. To understand what he said. To know WHO he is and how he refers to himself. And to put into practice the lifestyle he requires of his Children. This is seeking God’s face.
Jesus said, I no longer call you servants, but friends…” And he said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14-15 Are you in obedience? This also is seeking God’s face.
Repent of Your Own Sin.
It says in 2 Chronicles that for God to heal our land, we must turn from our own sins. Lot turned and fled. His daughters kept their eyes ahead of them. Lot’s wife turned, looked back at the life she was leaving.
If you have repented of your sin, you will hate it. You won’t regret what you left behind. You will hate your impatience. You will hate your anger-problem. You will hate your deceit, your gossip, your gluttony, your immorality. You will hate it. You will cling to the life Christ called you to. You will eagerly “TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW HIM.” For his yoke is easy and his burden is light.. (Matthew 11:30)
FRIENDS, Let us press forward to Seek God’s Face. Our land, our nation, our world needs those who call themselves by God’s name to follow the dictates God has given for MAKING THINGS RIGHT. He will heal our land if we humble ourselves, and pray, and seek his face, and turn from our sins. He gives his word.
And if you do not yet know Christ, you have the amazing opportunity in this life to become a child of God. Find yourself a Bible. Read the Book of John. Get on your knees and tell God you hate your sin, and you want him to make you righteous like Christ. Take a look at this presentation of the Good News. “To all who received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) Find a Bible-believing church and commit to Knowing God for the rest of your life.
Let us fall on our face before the Father and live and do as he asks us, for the sake of the cross of Jesus. For the sake of the blood shed for us, let us deny ourselves and honor Christ with every breath. While it is still called today.