Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

The Church as the Bride of Christ (Hosea 2:16-20 and Revelation 19:6-8)

There has been a lot of challenges and changes since the time of COVID. And in this we continue to look at some of the nature, character, and names of the church, and its relevance to how we should be thinking and living as God’s people even in the midst of crisis around the world (e.g., COVID, war, etc.)

And so far, in this short series since last year, we talked about:

  • The church as the body of Christ
  • The church as the groud and pillar of truth
  • The church as the manifestation of the kingdom of God, and
  • The separation between the Church and the State

Today, we will end this series by learning about the Church as the Bride of Christ.

Now how is the church called the bride of Christ?

1.) THE CHURCH IS THE BELOVED BRIDE OF CHRIST

Throughout Scriptures, God identifies his people not only as a people he rules and leads, but also a people who will be the object of his love and faithfulness. The people as his beloved wife, and himself as their husband. And here we see the the church existing since the Old Testament. God called and redeemed Israel out of Egypt:

  • To be his own people (possession)
  • To be his wife (beloved by him)

There were times when this Bride was unfaithful to the Husband, and God would confront her of her unfaithfulness through the prophets. But even so, the Husband would not give up on his Bride. Even by bringing adversities and punishment for their sins, he seeks to restore his people—his Wife—to himself.

We see this through the prophet Hosea. God instructed Hosea to marry a woman, who is a prostitute, Gomer. And this serves as an example for Israel who is has been unfaithful to God by committing spiritual adultery (e.g., idol worship, trusting other nations). But like Hosea still restoring his wife unto himself unconditionally, God also promised to restore Israel to himself.

Hosea 2:16-20

  • Why “My Baal?” Was there a time that God is “My Baal” of Israel? The Hebrew word “Baal” simply means lord or possessor. And it was only proper for Israel to call God as their “Baal,” for he is their lord and owner. But as time passed by, the surrounding Canaanites instituted a formal cult of worshiping an idol whom they consider as the lord of their lands, which they call as “Baal.”
  • This became a threat to Israel, and caused them to think that this “Baal” of Canaan is just the same as their God, Yahweh. Hence, Israel as God’s people needs to clearly distinguish God from Baal. And Yahweh promised that he will purify them so that they will no longer worship Baal. Instead, they will know God himself, as their Husband. And this also affirms God’s intimate relationship with his people. He will not be their lord, but their husband.
  • Then, God promised to betroth them to himself “by righteousness, justice, faithfulness, etc.” “forever”. These are his bride-price. These are the qualities that mark the relationship of God with his people. It will be a permanent relationship.
  • This has a grater fulfillment in Christ and the church. Just as God “chose” to betroth Israel to himself, God also chose us, the church, from among all peoples in all generations to be his people, his bride.
  • Christ redeems us (i.e., bride-price) not by money or temporal things, but by his own righteousness and blood (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19; Eph. 5:25). By his love and faithfulness, Christ gave himself to possess us not only to be his people but also as his Bride.
  • And he gave us the Holy Spirit not only to renew our minds so we know God and his salvation, but also to guarantee our enduring relationship with Christ as our Husband until the end.

As we move forward, what does this imply for us? We’ll discuss it more later, but it’s sufficient to say now that:

  • If we belong to Christ as his Bride, let us not seek after other “lovers” (spiritual adultery) like Israel did. Christ is not only our Lord, whom we follow. He is also our Husband who loves us, and whom we should love as well in gratitude. No one else can love us like Christ does. 
  • If we belong to Christ as his Bride, let us consider the love and faithfulness we receive from him even despite our unfaithfulness (i.e., unconditional love)

Now, we may ask, if we are already Christ’s bride, why doesn’t it look like a reality today?

  • We’re not yet in unhindered fellowship/communion with Christ
  • We’re still struggling and suffering here on earth

2.) THE BRIDE WILL SOON BE PRESENTED IN SPLENDOR AND BEAUTY

Understanding the context of marriage in the Biblical times will help:

  • Betrothal – Legally binding commitment for an upcoming marriage (giving of bride-price, dowry)
    • The woman already deemed to belong to her “husband” (violation of another man [sex with the woman] will lead to stone to death)
    • Example: Matthew 18:19 – Mary betrothed to “husband” Joseph
  • Wedding – But there is still a future wedding, which is the consummation of the marriage. The actual union of the husband and wife.
  • Similarly, we are already “betrothed” to Christ, but we still await our future “wedding” with him (read Revelation 19:6-8)
    • “Already but not yet.” It is like the kingdom of Christ. Death and Satan have already been overcome and Christ is reigning now. But there’s a greater and perfect consummation of his kingdom.
    • Likewise, we now belong to Christ and united to him by his Spirit. But there’s more to come: The consummation of our union with him where we will have perfect and unhindered fellowship with him.
  • Revelation 19:6-8
    • It will be a marriage feast in the last days (i.e., joyful celebration)
    • Rev. 21:2 – “Adorned” for her groom; Rev. 9,11 – The Bride “having the gory of God”
  • To better understand and appreciate the meaning of these texts, throughout Revelation, the church is met with various problems (e.g., sin within the church), tribulations, and persecutions by God’s enemies
  • We see the same principle in Ephesians 5:25-27
    • The church here on earth will always have its “spots and wrinkles”
      • Sin within the church
      • Heresies within and without
      • Adversities (persecutions, crisis)
    • That is why We’ll never find a perfect and secured local church!
  • But nevertheless, despite all of these trials and imperfections of the church, Christ will continually sanctify and purify her until the end when God destroys all his enemies and welcomes his Bride as “holy and without blemish,” “adorned” for her Husband, having the glory of God in herself

What is its relevance today?

  1. The COVID crisis caused a lot of adjustments for us. But the entire crisis revealed a lot about the condition of the church in large today.
    1. Low regard of the Lord’s Day and physical gathering
    2. Filipinos are not so religious & “maka-diyos” after all. Compare with the massive crowd in political rallies today.
    3. This crisis helped purify the church and sanctify those who are truly his.
  2. At the same time, the COVID crisis and even the war in Russia and Ukraine (and its global effects) also shows that the church will never be “settled” here on earth
    1. The invisible and universal church (the true believers) will never be destroyed. There will always be the church throughout the world, as Christ promised. And not one will be lost.
    2. But the visible/local church will always be subject to adversities and imperfections and “losses”
      1. For instance, where is the church in Ephesus or Philippi now? (Ruins) Consider the churches and seminary destroyed in the present Russian war.
      2. We desire to have our own church building and to be organized (and it is prudent to do so! It’s for our welfare). But we are also reminded of the reality that the church will never be fully settled and secured in this life. The visible church will always be affected by the imperfections of this life and keep adjusting, and will remain as long as the gospel continues to be preached and sanctify us. 
      3. Whether God provides us our own church building, or we stay under the tree, or in a smaller house… it’s okay as long as God’s Word continues to be preached and sanctify us together. “This is not our home! We are just pilgrims, passing by this fallen world towards the celestial city.”
  3. But take heart believers, God gives the church the comfort that at the end of it all—after everything we will have faced in this life—we shall all appear to him in glory, “without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing.”
    1. [ILLUSTRATION] A bride who is imperfect and ordinary woman, and all her stuff (dress, make-up, brush, etc. which appear meaningless in itself). But after all the careful preparations and beautification—behold the beautiful, flawless bride!
  4. It will not be easy. But though the church be wounded and bruised in this life, Christ will keep her, love her, and turn her into a lovely, glorious, and perfect Bride.

Now, since this is the future marriage of the church with Christ, what should we do?

3.) THE BRIDE PREPARES HERSELF FOR THE FUTURE MARRIAGE FEAST

Revelation 19:7 – “… the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” Rev. 21:2 – “prepared as a bride”

[ILLUSTRATION] – Imagine a bride on the day of wedding still sleeping, hanging out with friends, busy in the office, etc?

Likewise, if we expect our wedding, our blessed union with our Savior and Lord—our Lover—we better make sure that we are ready and adorned for him! When Christ returns, are you ready?

Apparently, there’s a gap/difference between the early church Christians and the modern church

  • They don’t have the so many privileges that we have today (e.g., When you’re sad or anxious, you have the the screen for entertainment/relaxation, and you already forget or ease your problems).
  • In contrast, many of the early church believers were persecuted. Old and children alike. Persecuted and slandered, not on Facebook, but publicly. No human rights yet. They were burned, fed to lions, torn, executed, etc.
  • Hence, their cry, “Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus!” And their struggle was being patient for the return of Christ. Apostles encouraging them to be patient and endure a little more.
  • In contrast, I believe the challenge of believers today is the privileges and distractions that may prevent us from being deeply conscious and longing for Christ’s return. (E.g., Somehow, technology helps alleviates our problems/needs). Yet we must be reminded that Christ will return and will return anytime.

Scriptures are full of warning and exhortations concerning the second coming of Christ.

  • It seems that many people today have become less concerned about spiritual and eternal things are more concerned about physical survival. But Christ warns us in that he will return like in the days of Noah, when people are too preoccupied with their earthly lives (Matthew 24:36-39).
  • The parable of the virgins also in Matthew 25:1-13. (Not to be allegorized). The only point is that we must be like the wise virgins, and always be ready for the coming of the groom (whether now or delayed).

How then, should we be prepared for the coming of Christ? Simply put, by being faithful people and servants of Christ:

  1. Faithful in holy and righteous living
    1. Revelation 21:8 – The bride is clothed with fine linen (i.e., the righteous deeds of the saints).
    2. Romans 13:11-14
    3. Let us not commit spiritual adultery, and think that sin and the world will “love” us
    4. Let us continue to exhort one another, encourage one another, watch over each other, and pray for each other. If we hope for that time when Christ will present us as a holy and spotless Bride, let us purify ourselves even now.
    5. Knowing the imminent return of Christ should make us holy.
  2. Faithful to the Word of God
    1. Watchful over heresies (inside and outside the church) and outright twisting of Scriptures.
    2. Watchful over worldly philosophies and ideas that may challenge our theological and biblical worldviews (e.g., Biblical anthropology vs. Transhumanism, Dataism, AI, Digisexuals, Virtual reality)
    3. As the world and society continue to change, let us keep God’s Word as our primary and final authority, knowing that it is the truth of God that shall stand. And let it saturate our minds and sanctify our lives, instead of being influenced by the world.
    4. Knowing the imminent return of Christ should keep us watchful with our minds.
  3. Faithful to the mission of the Church (i.e., gospel ministry)
    1. The tendency of the modern church to be biased and abandon (deal away) completely the things they didn’t like in the previous churches.
      1. Roman Catholic infant baptism, use of art —> No infant baptism, no art
      2. Concert-like worship services  —> No instruments, acapella lang
      3. Emotionalism —> Bawal umiyak o masyadong madala within the church (like during times of revival)
      4. Evangelistic explosions —> No more evangelism, no more deliberate plans/programs
    2. There are always tendency of error and abuse in these things (e.g., church leadership), but evangelism and discipleship remain a mission of the church (Matt. 28:19-20).

      We must therefore seek ways to spread the gospel of Christ as a Reformed church.
      1. Pray for the lost (family, neighbors, friends, strangers)
      2. Pray for ministers (Praying for “laborers” to be sent out – Luke 10:2; Romans 10:14-15
      3. Pray for ourselves (though not all are called to be ministers, we can help physically, financially*, spiritually)
      4. Do we invest our time, efforts, and resources for the kingdom of God?
    3. Knowing the imminent return of Christ, where he will destroy this world and judge the living and the dead, should awaken in us the concern for others (not just ourselves) and the zeal for his kingdom.

Conclusion

Friends, when we see crises and changing times all throughout the world, it should all the more make us mindful and expect that Christ may come anytime soon.

When Christ comes today or tomorrow, where will he find you?

  • In sin and rebellion to him? If so, repent now and come to Christ, or else you’ll perish!
  • Being faithful and waiting for him? Let us pray that God will help us to be so.

As we face these trials of our time, let us cry out, “O Lord, haste the day!” and put our hope in him. God will “grant”—by his grace—the church to be clothed in perfect righteousness in the end, to be the pure and holy and blameless Bride of Christ.

May this blessed hope cause us to stay awake!, preparing ourselves and striving to be found faithful by our Master and Husband, Jesus Christ.

Share with others:
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Leave a Comment