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The Reward for Loving the Church
I Love My Church
The Reward of the Church
Ephesians 5:25-32; John 14
 
I want us to return one more time to Ephesians 5 this morning.  I know I told you last week we were concluding our “I Love My Church” series.  We looked at the Role Model for Loving the Church and that is Jesus.  We ought to love the church because Jesus loved the church.
 
Then we saw some reasons to love the Church such as its Savior, its family, its relationships and its impact.  Last week we considered the results of loving the church.  If I love my church I will submit to its God-given ministers, support its Christ-modeled mission and strengthen its Spirit-led ministries.
 
And that really brings us up to where we live. We are in that period of time called the “church age”.  We are the salt and light of the world in the absence of Jesus, and it is a timely message to be reminded of our responsibilities.
 
But I couldn’t get any peace about quitting there; it seemed to me a fundamental piece of the picture had been left out.  So I returned to this text again to see what I’d missed, and I realized it was the reward for loving the church. 
 
This world is not all there is to it.  So this morning I want us to look at what awaits the faithful church and church member.  And our text reminds us of that.
 
Ephesians 5:25-32
 
One of the most blessed truths that I know is that Jesus Christ may come back to this earth at any moment.  Now of all the pictures God could have chose to tell us about that, He chose a wedding.  In fact, that is the setting of this text before us. 
 
The church is identified as the bride of Christ. And there are some wonderful truths that we can learn today, as we think of the church as the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
Now in order to understand those lessons we need to know a little bit about what a wedding was like in the middle East in the days of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, let me tell you how a courtship and a wedding took place back then. 
 
First of all, I want to remind you that it was the groom that took the initiative.  The groom would leave his father's house and he would go to the house of that prospective bride and there he would woo her and win her and court her and tell her of his love for her. He would choose her and there he would go and try to win her affection to himself.  We see that pictured in the Old Testament in the lives of Isaac and Rebekah.
 
Now, when he had won that affection he would negotiate with her father and pay a price for her. A groom in that day had to purchase his bride and depending on who she was, sometimes an extremely extravagant price would be paid.  After the deal was arranged and everyone had agreed, the relationship entered what was known as the betrothal. 
 
That means that she was set aside for him and she belonged to him and she was pledged to him although the marriage was not yet consummated.  They would take a cup of wine, and the bride and groom would drink together from that cup.  They would have a benediction and the groom would go away.  Typically, he would go back to his father's house and begin the preparation for his new bride to come and live with him. 
 
What about the bride? She was waiting there with her family and while he was preparing a place, she was preparing a person. She would begin to sew and get her wedding gown and collect her jewels. She would get all the details worked out for her and the bridesmaids.  She was. getting ready for the wedding.  
 
Now, one thing to deep in mind that differs from today is the groom was in charge!  That’s not true today, but it was then.  He was especially in charge of the date of the wedding.  It all depended upon when he got the house ready.  He could show up at any time. 
 
Not only did he get the house ready, he prepared a great banquet.  Typically it was hosted by the father of the groom in honor of his son. 
 
So here was the bride at her father's house and she's not knowing exactly when the wedding is going to be. Of course there are friends of both families who are working together behind the scenes kind of like a surprise birthday party to make certain the bride is not going to be caught in such a terrible situation that she could not come but, but it's still a surprise to her.
She is there knowing, expecting, hoping waiting for her bridegroom to come and then over the river and through the woods a torch light parade would come the bridegroom with his friends, sometimes at night they would come and all of a sudden there would come a shout from a a runner who would run out ahead just a little ahead of the processional and he would get near the bride's window somewhere and he would fill his lungs with air and he would shout behold, the bridegroom cometh.
 
Can you imagine what would go through her heart? She knew he was coming. She was expecting him. She was getting ready but now it's here.  The time has come!  The door would burst open, he would come in and pick her up in his strong arms and carry her away back to the father's house and there at the father's house a lavished banquet had been set and all of the friends of the family had gathered and here was the banquet and here was the merry-making and the marriage supper would take place and then the bride and the groom would go away for a honeymoon. 
 
The bride and groom would remain in seclusion for seven days and then at the end of seven days she would again be presented to a vast assembled throng.  This time the veil was removed and everyone could see the bride and all of her beauty and again there would be great rejoicing.  
 
That is the background of John 14:1-3 where Jesus said. . .
 
 
 
 
What awaits the church?  What is the reward for the church that loves the Lord?  And what’s in store for you as a faithful child of God? 
 
I want you to see the wonderful, beautiful, glorious analogy between Christ and his church. Remember, Jesus is the bridegroom and you and I, as the church, are the bride.  Notice, first of all
 
1. The Proposal
 
Remember our key thought in verse 25:  Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.  We love him because he first loved us.  The groom would leave his father's house and come to the house of the bride. That's exactly what the Lord Jesus has done for us. 
 
The groom has taken the initiative.  He chose to love us. Our Lord comes proposing his love and offering an eternal commitment between the church and himself. By the way, it is a part of His plan for us that we share that love with others and let them get in on the ceremony.  Notice
 
John 13:18, 34
 
Our Lord loves us with an infinite love, with an everlasting love, with an indescribable love and we have the privilege of sharing it with those around us.  So the first thing is the proposal. 
 
Now the second thing I want us to see is
 
 
 
 
2. The Purchase
 
Our groom has paid the price for us.  He didn't purchase us with silver and gold as a bridegroom would have in that day so long ago, but our Lord has purchased us with his own precious blood. 
 
Remember I told you depending on the bride sometimes tremendous dowries would be paid.  Did you ever think about what it cost to purchase you?  No greater price was ever paid for a bride than what Jesus paid for you. 
 
After the deal was struck, remember, they would share a cup.  Just before Jesus made that statement about going away in John 14, the same night, according to John 13, Jesus shared a cup with His followers as He instituted the Lord’s Supper.   
 
What’s the Lord's supper all about? Jesus said that cup is the New Testament in my blood. The word testament means covenant or agreement.  Follow the thought?  There is now an agreement, a covenant, a promise between a groom and a bride.
 
Jesus said this cup is the new covenant, the New Testament in my blood, that is I have purchased you with my blood.
 
That's the reason Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What, know ye not that ye are the temple, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you and which ye have of God and you're not your own, for ye are bought with a price.”
 
 
 
 See, the Lord Jesus bought us and with the price of his own blood.
 
The proposal, the purchase, and then
 
3. The Parting
 
Remember what we read in John 14?  I go to prepare a place for you. . . That makes a little more sense once you know the background. 
 
We're living now in that interval of time when the groom has gone away to get things ready for our joining Him there.  Now this time of parting involves two things
 
On the one hand, the groom is preparing a place. 
Heaven is a prepared place.  But it is a prepared place for a prepared people. 
 
So while the groom is there preparing a place we are here preparing a person.  We have a responsibility while our Lord is gone away to make sure we have everything ready for His appearing. 
 
When I gave my heart to Jesus Christ that means I belong to Jesus Christ and to him alone in the spiritual sense and I must be true to him.  Next week, we will have a special time with our youth as they are presented with their “True Love Waits” rings. 
They will be making a commitment to maintain sexual purity to the day of their wedding.  Many of you have pledged to pray for them and support them. 
 
 
That is the thought here.  Think about that groom.  He's all excited about that wedding and he has been back to his father's house and he has prepared a lovely mansion.  He's put all of that thought and all of that prayer and all of that labor into preparing for her a place and then he comes and the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom goes out just a little ahead and he gives that shout and he says behold, the bridegroom cometh and then he looks in the window and there she is sitting on the couch holding hands with another fellow. 
 
Can you imagine that? I mean, he came, he courted her, he bought her, he's been away preparing a place for her, and he comes back and finds her being untrue to him. Is that the way Jesus is going to find you? Is Jesus going to find you in bed with the world? 
 
Do you know what James 4:4 says. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is warfare with God.”
 
Did you know that this world is a playboy that would try to win our affections away from our betrothed and did you know that a worldly Christian is unfaithful to his Lord who has purchased that Christian, unfaithful to her Lord who has purchased her? We are to be true; we are to be preparing a person as he is preparing a place.
 
We are in that time of parting which calls for us to be preparing for His return. 
 
 
 
 
By the way, the bride wearing a white gown is an ancient tradition.  Do you know why brides wear white gowns today? Somebody said white is a symbol of joy, that's why they wear a white gown.  Answer me this:  Why does the groom wear a black tuxedo?
 
White is not primarily symbol of joy but a symbol of righteousness or purity. 
 
Look at Revelation 19 for just a moment.
 
verses 7-8
 
Who is the lamb? Jesus. And his wife has made herself ready. Who is the wife? The church.
 
And notice in verse eight. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And this is better interpreted, the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
 
Now they tell me the bride’s dress was an inner and an outer garment. Here we find the description of that outer garment.  The inner garment pictures the robe of righteousness that Jesus Christ gives us.  The old song says, “dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne”. 
 
But there's another garment that we wear on the outside and that is our righteous acts.
 
Do you know what that means?  If some of you don’t get serious about serving the Lord, one of these days you are showing up for your wedding dressed only in your underwear. 
The righteous acts are the deeds that we do because we've been born again. 
 
Look at our text in Ephesians 5:26-27
 
Sanctification and cleansing come as we are submissive to Our lord and Savior.  That’s why we do what He says.  The bible says, “My little children, abide in him that when he should appear you may have confidence before him and not be ashamed at his coming.”
 
Listen, this thing of being a Christian is an inward righteousness that culminates in an outward righteousness.
 
And so there is the parting; the groom is preparing a place, the bride is preparing a person.
 
Then think about
 
4.  The Proclamation
 
What is the proclamation?
 
Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
 
Jesus said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.”  No ifs, ands or buts!  No doubt about it! Jesus is coming again.
 
The same Jesus Christ who walked the shores of Galilee is coming again. The same Jesus who broke the loaves and fed five thousand is coming again. The same Jesus who opened the doors of the morning and floods the world with light is coming again.
The same Jesus who pulls down the shade of the evening and pins it with a star, that same Jesus is coming again.  The Jesus who died on the cross is coming again. The same Jesus who rose from the grave and pulled the sting from death is coming again. 
 
Jesus is coming again. He said so!  Truth incarnate said so.  He said and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again.
 
You say when is he coming? I don't know and you don't know. He said in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh.
 
This old world is full of skeptics who laugh and make fun of Christians who believe in Jesus and His coming.  They say, “Preachers have been scaring people with that for a long time! “
 
Do you know why preachers have been saying it?  Because it’s true!  You say well, he didn't come the other time when someone said he's coming soon. I don't think he's coming now. Well, if you don't think he is that's the best sign that I know of that he will.  You’re just fulfilling prophecy with your skepticism!
 
The bible says in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh.  I mean, suddenly, just like that, with a shout, He's coming and we're going to hear that shout and suddenly, in a moment, in a twinkling we’re out of here and instantaneously there with Him. 
 
 
 
 
So let me ask you a question.  Suppose this sermon were suddenly interrupted with a shout and a voice
of the archangel.  And suppose the archangel were suddenly announcing “Behold, the bridegroom cometh” would you be ready?
 
Have you sealed the transaction?  Are you anxiously awaiting the coming of the Lord? Can you imagine the joy and excitement of an earthly bride so long ago?
 
What rapture, what joy, what delight, what thrill when those who know the Lord Jesus hear that glad shout. 
 
The next thing I want you to notice is
 
5. The Partnership
 
Ephesians 5:27 says we will be presented to Him.  John 14 says, “I will receive you unto Myself that where I am there you may be also”
 
Listen:  the exciting thing about heaven is not the house of many mansions, not the streets of gold and the gates of pearl, it is our union with Jesus Christ. He is coming to receive us unto himself. Y
 
Right now we walk by faith and not by sight, but one day faith will turn to sight and hope will turn to reality and we'll know the Lord in the way we don't know him now. It's wonderful being a Christian now but there's a difference between being betrothed and being married. 
 
 
 
It is the difference between that time when that bridegroom came and proposed to that girl and paid a price for her and went away and the time when he came back and took her to be with him forever and that marriage is consummated in its fullness.  
 
Notice Ephesians 5:31-32
 
Now, wait a minute Paul, are you talking about a man and wife or about Jesus and the church?  Paul says, “Yes!”
 
The physical and psychological and spiritual relationship between a husband and a wife is but an illustration of the greater spiritual relationship of Christ and the church.
 
Marriage, when it is done right and done God’s way, is one of the sweetest and most sublime things that we can ever experience here on earth. Of course when it is wrong it is very wrong. I know some people rather than being married by the Justice of the peace were married by the secretary of war, but I'm not talking about that kind of a marriage.
 
I'm talking about marriage as God intended it to be.  Peter Marshall said of marriage:  “Dearly beloved, the marriage relation, when rightly understood and properly appreciated is the most delightful as well as the most sacred and solemn of human relations; it is the clasping of hands, the blending of lives and the union of hearts that two may walk together up the hill of life to meet the dawn together; bearing life's burdens, discharging it's duties, sharing it's joys and sorrows;
 
 
marriage is much more than moonlight and roses, much more than the singing of love songs and the whispering of vows of undying affection. In our day it is by many, lightly regarded and by many lightly discarded. But marriage will ever remain in the sight of God an eternal union made possible only by the gift of love which God alone can bestow.”
 
But listen to this:  If you were to take all the human marriages and the best qualities of those human marriages and blend them into one marriage, that one marriage would fail to come up to the bliss and the joy that should be ours when we become one with our Lord. 
 
If you think it's wonderful being a Christian now, just   wait till the honeymoon begins. If you think it's  wonderful knowing Jesus now, I want you to remember that while we belong to him and while we love him and while he loves us and while he has purchased us, the full consummation of our relationship with Jesus Christ is still in the future.
 
The Partnership.   One last thing: 
 
6. The Presentation
 
Remember that I said (and I know it was a long time ago) that the bride would go into seclusion for seven days.  The church is going to do this for seven years.  After Jesus comes and takes away his bride, the church, a time of tribulation occurs here on the earth.  It will last for seven years.  It will be a time when God's wrath is poured out.  Jesus said there shall be great tribulations such as the world has never experienced before. 
 
But the church will be with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then after that time has concluded, Jesus Christ will return from heaven.  He'll come in power and great glory, to rule and to reign.
 
And when Jesus comes, guess who’s coming with him? His bride, and guess who’s going to rule with him? His bride.  The bible tells us in Colossians chapter three, verse four, when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 
 
You know, people look down on us today.  They think we're ignoramuses, they think that we're superstitious people, they call us by all kinds of names and contempt and disgust but I want to tell you one of these days our dear Lord is going to remove the veil and display his bride for all to see.
 
We may not look like much now, but do you know what the bible says?  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth and when Christ who is our king shall appear, we will appear with him in glory.” 
 
Now, with all that in mind, there are great responsibilities.  The first responsibility is preparation, the second responsibility is anticipation. 
 
Now, first of all there must be that preparation.  How do you make preparation for the coming of Jesus?
 
You must receive him as your heavenly bridegroom.  That means you must trust him as your savior and Lord. Do you know what’s been happening today? You say, I’ve been listening to you preach. 
 
 
That’s just part of it.  You see, this sermon and every time the Gospel is preached, Jesus Christ is proposing to you. He is saying, “I Jesus, take you, sinner, to be my loving bride and I'll be with you in sickness and in health, I will be with you in poverty and in wealth, I'll be with you in time and I will be with you for all eternity, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, I am proposing to you to be your savior.”
 
Or think about this:  What is the purpose of our being gathered together here today? Well, to worship him.  Yes, but there is another purpose and that is for those who do not know him to say, “I sinner take thee Jesus  to be my savior in sickness as, in health, in poverty as in wealth, to love, to honor, to cherish, to obey for time and for eternity. I say yes to you.”
 
 Now, Jesus has already said yes to you, remember the groom takes the initiative.   Jesus has already said yes to you and now we're waiting for you to say an everlasting yes to him and if you will, there will be something as solemn and as sacred as a betrothal that takes place.
 
You will belong to the one who purchased you with his own blood and when you hear the shout behold, the bridegroom cometh you will be a part of that great bride made up of all kindred's, tribes and people.
 
Won’t that be something?  Don't you be in hell when all of that is happening. God loves you. Make sure you make preparation for that day. 
 
Not only is there that preparation, there ought to be anticipation.
You know, people who are loving Jesus ought to be looking for him to come again.  Wednesday night I said that we ought to be looking for his return, we ought to living for his return, we ought to be longing for his return, our hearts out to say with the apostle John even so come. 
 
Do you want him to come again? I do dear friend,
 
The coming of Jesus is the only hope for this world.
 
It may be at morn when day is awaking, when sunlight through shadows and darkness is breaking
that Jesus will come in the fullness of glory to receive from the world his own.
 
It may be at midday .it may be at twilight, it may be perchance that the blackness of midnight will burst into light and the blaze of his glory when Jesus receives his own.
 
Oh joy, oh delight, should we go without dying, no sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying caught up through clouds with our Lord into glory when Jesus receives his own.
 
If this moment we were to hear the cry, behold, the bridegroom cometh, would you be ready? Have you said to Jesus, I receive you Lord Jesus as my savior and as my Lord?
 
Let us bow together in prayer.
 
 


Comments

09-08-2015
Rob
This fourth sermon is the same as sermon 3. I would love to read the results of loving the church. Is that available? Please let me know if you can upload it here or email it to me. My email address is wagner357@icloud.com.
Thanks
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