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INTRODUCTION:

 

Each photo in God's Photo Album of His Church highlights another aspect or dimension of the relationship between the Church & God. In this session, we catch a glimpse of the Church as a Bride. This is an image of personal intimacy, loving service and life-long commitment.  Such an image is not unexpected given the OT pictures of relationship between Israel & God

 

[1]  THE OLD TESTAMENT PRECEDENT

 

a. There are many references in the Old Testament prophetic writings that promote the concept of Israel being "married" to God. Isaiah 54/5,6;  Isaiah 61/10;  Isaiah 62/5;  Jeremiah 3/6-10, 14;  Hosea 2/16-20 b.

The images of adultery, unfaithfulness, prostitution concerning Israel are very powerful & passionate

 

c. The power of these images is intensified when we grasp the implications of their Covenant commitment

 

d. God takes His commitment to Israel with supreme seriousness - there is nothing casual or careless in God's commitment

 

e. In the Old Testament, to enter a covenant relationship with God surpassed all other commitments - exclusive

 

[2]  THE NEW TESTAMENT PICTURE

 

a. John 3/29 - John the Baptist anticipates Jesus as the Groom and the Church as the Bride.

 

b. 2 Cor.11/2,3 - Paul warned the Corinthians that they were in danger of committing spiritual adultery

 

c. Eph.5/25-27 - the husband/wife imagery is paralleled with that of Christ & His Church

 

d. Rev.19/7-9 - the picture of final consummation in the celebration of the Wedding of the Lamb

 

e. Key dynamices = exclusiveness and intimacy and submission and commitment

 

[3]  THE PRESENT DAY PRACTICE

 

a. Exclusiveness - like holiness, it means we have a unique, distinct, covenant relationship with God

 

b. Intimacy in Christian experience is not emphasised much today. Maybe it is too closely linked with feelings? And we are warned about feelings!!??

 

c. Commitment is also a suspect word in our world. Commitment is seen as threat to our personal freedom & independence.

 

d. Submission is definitely opposed - yet the Church is called to submit to the bridegroom's love, security, protection, provision.

 

e. Peter's submission to Jesus' washing of his feet - John 13/1-17 - is a wonderful picture of submission.

 

APPLICATION

 

Comment on the following. Do you agree or disagree?

"Some Church-goers treat their relationship with the local Church like others treat marriage. e.g. I'm in until it gets tough, routine, boring, then I'll go find another Church. I'll look for excitement and satisfaction elsewhere"

 

Question: What is our relationship, as a local Church, to the Bridegroom, Jesus? Are we married for better or worse, come what may? Or do we have some kind of defacto relationship with our God?

 

Observation:   John the Baptist understood his role as the "best man" John 3/27-30. What happens when the Pastor, Deacon, Leader or Group tries to take advantage of the relationship and assumes the role of the bridegroom?  Such an action is tantamount to seducing the Bride and violating her purity, is it not?

 

To speak destructively about the Church is to speak destructively about Bride that Jesus loves. How would the husband feel if his supposed friends criticised his wife's appearance, speech, actions etc. He knows she's not perfect but his love for her would cause him to protect her.

 

Next Week:The Church, His Army

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