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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 13 - Ephesians 5:25-27 - The Church of God Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Church Of God.


     "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that He, might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish."-Ephesians 5:25-27.



     Let us take up this passage under the four following heads:-(1.) The Church; (2.) The love; (3.) The gift; (4.) The purpose.

     I. The Church.-The word corresponds to our 'assembly,' or 'congregation;' a company called together by public proclamation. It is an Old Testament expression, frequently used in the Psalms, the words 'congregation of the saints' (Psalm 149:10), being the same as 'the Church of the holy ones.' The adoption of this phrase identifies the Church of the Old Testament with that of the New. Both are one. Of this one Church, the 'cloud of witnesses' (Hebrews 12:2) are the representatives. This Church has both a divine and a human aspect. In its human aspect it is 'the seed of the woman,' 'the seed of Abraham,' the 'redeemed from among men;' it is a body composed of men, not of angels; of sinners, not of the holy. In its divine aspect it is the eternally chosen of the Father; its names all written in heaven before the foundation of the world;' the bride and body of the eternal Son; the offspring of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven; the temple of the Holy Ghost; the royal priesthood; the heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. This body of sinful men, who owe their election to the Father's will, their redemption to the Son, their renewal to the Holy Ghost, is that which is called the Church-the one Church, the one family, the one temple, made up of innumerable living stones from every region under heaven.

     II. The love.-'Christ loved the Church.' As it is written elsewhere, 'God so loved the world,' so here we read, 'Christ loved the Church.' Christ loved the holy angels, but not so as He loved the Church. Christ loved the young man, but not so as He loved each member of His Church. Christ loved Jerusalem, pitied her, wept over her, but not so as He did His Church. His weeping love over Jerusalem was called forth just by those things in Jerusalem which showed she was not the Church. Yet whatever love there may be in Christ to others, it is not the same in kind, or in efficacy, as towards His Church. He loved her in a special way. 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife.' There is a friend's love, a brother's love, a father's love, a husband's love. Christ's love comprises all these, but is specially the last; that last is the most peculiar of all. It is-

     (1.) Free.-Uncaused by anything good in us; irrespective of love or lovableness in us; not attracted by our righteousness, nor repelled by our unrighteousness.

     (2.) Boundless.-Breadth and length, depth and height, are altogether immeasurable. As to extent, and as to duration, without any bounds; from eternity to eternity.

     (3.) Inconceivable.-It passeth knowledge. It is beyond all human thought, in every sense and way.

     (4.) Unchangeable.-Whom He loveth, He loveth to the end. He is faithful and true. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? It is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

     (5.) Efficacious.-It is not in vain. It accomplishes what it is set upon. It is omnipotent love; love between which and its object nothing can intervene; between which and its large desires nothing of righteousness or sovereignty can interpose. It is absolutely and unconditionally efficacious. It rests not till it has glorified its object.

     III. The gift.-He gave Himself. The Father gave the Son, the Son gave Himself on behalf of the Church. It is literally, 'delivered Himself up for it.' He gave Himself up to God, to justice, to law, to Judas, to Pilate, to the cross. The word here does not refer to 'gift' properly, but to presentation or deliverance of Himself. He saw the wrath coming on the Church, and He stepped forward that it might expend itself on Him. 'Christ bath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.' He gave Himself up that we might not be given up. He, His own self, bare our sins, in His own body on the tree. This is the pledge, the measure of His love. Greater love hath no man than this. He loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.

     IV. The purpose.-This is twofold, one part pertaining to the present, another to the future; one connected with His first coming, the other with His second.

     (1.) The present.-'That He might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the washing of water by the word.' Here are two things: (1.) The cleansing (or purifying) it with that washing of water which comes through our belief of the word, as in John 15:3, 'Ye are clean through the word I have spoken,' and Ezekiel 36:25. Thus we are washed or cleansed by the word, and so are clean in God's sight. (2.) The sanctifying or setting apart for God's service, as saints, consecrated ones.

     (2.) The future.-'That He might present it to (or set it beside) Himself, glorious, the Church, which has no spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but holy and without blemish.' This refers to His second coming, when we shall be like Him, seeing Him as He is. Thus, then, the Church is (1) to be set beside Himself, made to sit with Him on His throne;-(2) glorious, not vile or humbled as now, but glorified, like Himself;-(3) the Church without spot, that is, the Church spoken of in the Song, 'No spot in thee;'-(4) the Church without wrinkle; no wrinkle like that of the crushed or folded leaf, or like that of age and sorrow;-(5) the Church without any of such things,-any shade of spot or wrinkle, or any such defects as are found on earth;-(6) holy and without blemish; holy without and within ; not only consecrated but pure;-without blemish; not only ?νεγκλητος, unchallenged, but ?μωμος, without anything to challenge or blame.

     Such is the beginning and the end of the Church's story. It begins in love, and it ends in the everlasting kingdom.