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

Chapter 14 - Ephesians 5:25-27 - The Love and the Glory Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

XIV.

 

The Love And The Glory.[4]

 

Ephesians 5:25-27.

 

 

     The Church is not a nation, nor a kingdom, nor a country; it is a company of sinners chosen of God, and gathered out of every nation and kingdom and country. Nor is it a company belonging to this age or the other, but to all ages from the beginning. They who compose this company owe everything they are, and have, and hope for to the Father's eternal love and choice. They are what they are, and they shall be what they shall be, simply because of the will of God. They are born, 'not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (John 1:13).

     It is of this company that the apostle is speaking here, giving us some glimpses of their wondrous history, past, present, and to come. The whole of this history is connected with Christ; and all that the Father has made them and done for them, has been through Christ Jesus. Let us look into this.

     I. The grace.-'Christ loved the Church.' This clearly means that He loved her with a special love, beyond and above that wherewith He loves ought else. He loved her not merely with a compassionate, but with a complacent love. He loved her as a husband loves his wife; and because of this love He gave Himself for her. It is a special love and a special gift, for a special and definite end. The gift flows out of the love; and both are directed toward the one object, the Church of God. The gift is the measure of the love, and it is the love that gives its value to the gift. It is a free and boundless love, beyond all length, and breadth, and depth, and height; an unbeginning and an unending love; a love that passeth knowledge.

     II. The gift.-The gift is 'unspeakable.' There is nothing like it in earth or heaven. What Christ gave was not something belonging to Himself, nor a part of Himself, but His all-Himself! What an infinite all! It is the all of alls; for He is God, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things. It is God giving Himself. It is a divine gift. It is the all of God;-the all of the creature, and the all of the Creator; for He is both as the God-man. He gave Himself. He did this when He entered the cradle of Bethlehem; He did it when He ascended the cross of Golgotha. The gift and the grace are infinite.

     III. The preparation.-This preparation is with setting apart or sanctification; and this sanctification begins with the cleansing with the washing of water by the word, or more exactly, 'with that washing of the water which is effected by the word;' as Christ said, 'Now ye are clean through the word which I spake unto you.' The passage, literally rendered, reads thus: 'In order that He might sanctify her (having cleansed her with that washing of water which is by the word).' Thus we have the whole process described; and this is not exactly the same as might appear from our translation. For the first step is the 'cleansing,' or 'purging,' which carries us back to the Levitical 'cleansings,' and to David's reference to these, 'Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.' This cleansing is with the 'washing of water.' But then this washing is said to be, not the application of water to the body, but by 'the word,' which, as soon as received, makes the sinner clean; clean in the eye of God, clean in the eye of the law, and clean according to the ordinances of the temple; clean as a man, clean as a worshipper. It was to this that Ezekiel referred when he said, 'Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.' It was to this that our Lord referred in the passage already quoted (John 15:3); and also when He said, 'If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me...Ye are clean' (13:8-10). It was to this that Paul referred, 'But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified' (1 Corinthians 6:2) and also so frequently in the Epistle to the Hebrews, when he speaks of the purging of the conscience, and of the washing with pure water. It is, then, by the word-that is, by the truth believed-that we are cleansed or washed; and then there follows the sanctification, or consecration, or setting apart: for 'washed and sanctified' is the apostle's order in this great process of preparation. All this refers, in the first place, to the believing man's standing as an accepted worshipper, because of the great sacrifice which secures our acceptance; but from that moment the inward process begins, the renewing of the whole man after the image of the perfect One; and what, is spoken of one is true of the whole Church, and what is spoken of the whole Church is true of every member.

     IV. The presentation.-Thus the words literally run, 'That He might present it to Himself glorious-the Church that has no spot or wrinkle;' that is, the Church which was described ages before in the Song of Solomon. It is, then, for glory and honour that she is destined; she is to be the glorious one, as the bride of such a Bridegroom. Of her it is written, 'The King's daughter is all, glorious within' (Psalm 45:13); and in Canticles we have a description of her glory. He glorifies her, and then He presents her to Himself, or sets her down at His side, places her with Himself upon His throne. This is the presentation! Not the presentation of the bride to the Bridegroom-that would not have suited the apostle's statement as to the love of husbands-but the Bridegroom's reception of His bride after the marriage; His giving her His throne to sit upon; His leading her, leaning on His arm, into the marriage hall, and setting her down beside Him at the marriage supper, as it is written, 'The King hath brought me into His banqueting house, and His banner over me was love.'

     V. The perfection.-She whom He loves and honours is not merely fair and glorious, but absolutely perfect and spotless. She is (not merely a church, but) 'the Church' so long predicted;-the Church or bride of whom David sang (Psalm 45), and whom Solomon described: 'Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.' She is here described by these four words: (1) Without spot; (2) without wrinkle; (3) holy; (4) without blemish. Each of these signifies a kind of perfection; all of them together a complete and absolute perfection, such as that of the Bridegroom Himself, who is the Lamb without blemish and without spot, the Holy One; holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. In order to the securing of this absolute perfection for His bride the Church, the heavenly Bridegroom 'gave Himself' for her, whom He had loved with an everlasting love. Perfection, complete, absolute, eternal, in soul and body, is the destiny of the Church, to be realized when Jesus comes again; and this same perfection is the hope of each member of that Church, that is, of each believer on the name of the Son of God.

     The process is going on just now; it is going on in the addition of members to the Church; and it is going on in the growth and fruitfulness and holiness of these members. It is going on today among our selves. Christ is preparing His bride; and she, the Lamb's wife, is making herself ready-ready for the day when she shall be brought forth as a bride prepared and adorned for her husband.

     We have but the love and the espousals here; the marriage is yet to come. It is for that we are waiting; for not till then are we complete in holiness, or glory, or joy. Let our prospects tell upon our present life, and help to mould us into the image of Him, whom not having seen we love, and for whose arrival we are looking with earnest hope and longing. The arrival of the Bridegroom, the marriage supper, the marriage song, the marriage joy, the inheritance, the kingdom, the crown, the glory,-these are the ingredients of our hope; 'a hope that shall not make us ashamed;' a hope, because of which, 'God shall not be ashamed to be called upon God.' O blessed hope, regarding which, neither on our part, nor on God's, shall there be ought of disappointment, or regret, or shame! Infinitely glorious and perfect, like the flower opening each rich bud into the full, eternal blossom; like the river, swelling, and deepening, and sparkling in its gladness, as it passes into the ocean; like the sweet spring, glowing into the sweeter summer; like the fair morning twilight blushing out and on, into the cloudless, sorrowless, everlasting day!

     O marriage of the Lamb, O marriage day, O marriage feast, when will ye come? When shall absence end, and presence begin? When shall the bride and the Bridegroom meet, and look each other in the face,-the one the chief among ten thousand, the other the fairest among women? When shall the gates of the great festal hall of the New Jerusalem be thrown open, and the ransomed of the Lord pass through in triumph? When shall we clasp hands again with each lost dear one on the immortal shore? O time, flee away! O day dawn! O song begin! O glory shine! O sorrow and sighing flee forever away!  'Surely I come quickly is the Bridegroom's watchword: let the bride's response ever be, 'Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus.'