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The Bride and Christ

Part 1: Embracing the Mystery

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(10/28) Today we begin our new series "The Bride and Christ" which the Apostle Paul calls a profound mystery. That’s what he says in Ephesians chapter five. "This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32). And so I believe if we delve into this mystery it will help us understand life in our culture but also our lives personally. And you know I am so thankful for you all. It’s a great honor to teach the Word of God. It is a tremendous privilege and this morning I want to start where the Bible starts, and the Bible starts with a wedding.

Genesis 2, verse 4, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created… When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens… 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground — 7 the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

18 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.



For those of you who are single, hearing this talk of a bride, a wedding, and marriage may be a sore reminder that you are single. Some of you may have already put up a wall… some of you may have flipped ahead to read the book of Lamentations… but let me assure you this series is about biblical relationships in general. We all have relationships, so these principles will be helpful, and ultimately they will point us to the one relationship that has priority above all the others… our relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Now a whole lot of adults eighteen and over are single, but statistically, more than nine out of ten will marry. So, this is preparation and I can assure that it will be beneficial, because I am the kind of guy who has found a lot of landmines in marriage… by driving over them... so let me assure you that a little teaching up front goes a long way when you’re talking about making a commitment for a lifetime.

And this series will also help you to deal with the sins that have been committed against you. You know we live in a sexually charged culture, there’s a high percentage of singles in this country, and some of you have done things that you regret, and you don’t know how to experience healing and move beyond it. Others of you have had sins committed against you and you need help to get past the hurt. And we’re here to help. That’s why we started Celebrate Recovery Wednesday nights. That’s why we gather together… to get through the tough spots… to be that someone to talk to… and to be that place for you, by the grace of God.

1. Preparing for War

So let’s get into it! Genesis 2:22-24 tells us, "Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

So the Bible starts with a wedding, but right away, in the very next chapter, Genesis chapter 3:1, it tells us, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say….?"

So the Bible starts with a wedding, but it quickly moves to temptation and a war doesn’t it? How many of you have had that experience? The story of Genesis is that our first parents, our greatest ancestors were married, and immediately Satan, the serpent, the archenemy of God, shows up, and unleashes both barrels of wrath in a full-fledged assault on the first husband and wife.

The truth is that Christian marriage is in the context of war. A spiritual battle rages between the enemy of God, Satan, the devil, the serpent, or whatever you choose to call him… a spiritual battle rages between God and his people. So Adam and Eve were placed… you could say that God dropped them off… in Satan’s playground. And so for those of us who are Christian, our marriages and our future marriages, are on the frontline of that battle, because Satan absolutely hates God… He hates God’s people… and he particularly hates Christian marriage, because Christian marriage is a picture or representation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So Satan attacks the institution of marriage, because marriage is an illustration of the Gospel. And if Satan can destroy a Christian marriage he knows that he can affect generations. He can wreak havoc on their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren. And I am sure that some of you have personal pain and testimony about your family being part of that great battle… maybe it was your marriage, or your parents’ marriage, or your grandparents’ marriage that sadly and tragically became victims of this battle, and Satan was able to gain a great victory in the history of your family. And it’s a point that really emphasizes the serious nature of being married as a Christian. Yet, for some of us, we have this naive notion that if we just get married, then our trials, our troubles, and our temptations will just go away. When in reality, the enemy will surge forward, the battle will in fact, intensify.

2. Receiving the Gift

You see something happens when you get married. The very person that you love and cherish the most is usually the one who you blame the most as well. You can find a way to blame your spouse for just about anything and everything that goes wrong… whether it has anything to do with them or not.

You boss gets on your case… and it’s like, "If only my wife had let me work late last night, this wouldn’t have happened."

Money is tight… "If only my husband was better at budgeting our finances."

The kids are out of control… "This wouldn’t have happened if he just spent more time with our kids."

The blame game is dangerous because you’ll never run out of reasons why your spouse should’ve or could’ve done something differently. And that is exactly the kind of thinking that our enemy… the devil... wants us to have. He would love to distract our attention from resisting him… to fighting against our spouse… and if he can distract us… if he can cause fighting between us… he’s won that battle. It’s just as the Lord Jesus taught us, "A house divided against itself cannot stand" (Mark 3:25).

So what are we to do? What is the solution? Well there are three points that I want to drive home… three ways in which I believe we need to change our way of thinking… three essential changes in our perspective:

#1 is your spouse is not your enemy. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." So to be effective in resisting our enemy, the first step is to identify the enemy, and get him in our sights. Jesus called him a thief. He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10). We need to stop fighting against each other and start fighting with each other against our real enemy.

#2 is your spouse is God’s gift to you. Your spouse is a gift… your spouse isn’t there by accident. Just as God looked down from heaven and saw Adam… He looked down from heaven and saw you... and He said, "It is not good for (you or you or you) to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for (him or her)" (Genesis 2:18). So like Eve, your spouse is a gift from God, designed specifically to meet your need for companionship. Your spouse is a gift designed and delivered by God Himself. When you receive your spouse as God’s gift and it totally changes your perspective on your relationship.

#3 Together you and your spouse were made to be dangerous for God. "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground" (Genesis 1:27-28). Powerful words, action words, and when combined together in Christ you are complete… when together you are deadly… your marriage was designed by God to be a powerful weapon… a weapon to fill… to subdue… and to rule over. God put you and your spouse together to fight against the powers of darkness and for the Kingdom of Light. Marriage was designed to leave a legacy of godliness in a dark, hurting, and lonely world.

3. Accepting your role

And so in a very real way we need to accept our role as we are preparing for this battle. What the Church needs is some practical training, teaching, and modeling on God’s purpose for marriage and the mystery of the Bride and Christ. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5, verse 31, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

And so as we continue in this series, I want to create a culture in which we can be honest… where we can speak of our struggles, our failures, and our trials in a way that invites others to speak the truth into our lives. We’ll embrace the mystery and turn to God’s Word and the person and the work of Jesus Christ, so that, by the grace of God, in community together, as the Bride of Christ, we can be victorious in this battle against our families… and we can be a people pursuing holiness together.

And so we need to know our position… to understand our responsibilities… and to accept our role. So, here’s where God is going to invite you to respond. You see the story of the Bible is that God initiates and the people of God respond. And so first I want you to think of us like a bride, all of us together. Now your life is a story of the grace of God; according to the Bible, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." But John the Baptist testified, that together, corporately, "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice." And John says, "That joy is mine, and it is now complete" (John 3:27-29).

So today, together, our role… our testimony is that, collectively, the church is like a bride, dearly loved by our groom named Jesus. Just like the Book of Revelation tells us in the last days, that seven angels came to the apostle John and said, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:9). Then the angels carried him "away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:10). There John saw the glory of the Church together in heaven a pure and spotless bride.

And so at this point, we’re going to respond corporately to Jesus, like a bride does to her husband. We accept our role… and our testimony includes giving our sin to Jesus, accepting his forgiveness and righteousness, and inviting him in as the hero of our story and the Lord of our lives. We embrace the mystery of the bride and Christ and we receive his gift as John said, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven" (John 3:27).

And in a greater sense we’re going to take Communion, where we remember the body and shed blood of Jesus. I encourage you to be real with God, let Jesus deal with your sin, let Jesus deal with your spouse, and let Jesus write the testimony of your life.

He is present here with us, through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and he’s doing something wonderful. He’s changing people. He’s defeating our enemy. He is rewriting your family’s legacy.

Note: This sermon transcript has been edited for readability.

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