(Article for publication week of 12-5- AD 2012)
“Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
The usage of the word “church” in our text is the same as we saw in last week’s Narrow Way article as the context clearly shows. The Church that Christ loved, and for which He gave Himself is the whole election of grace, that is, all that are now, have been, or ever will be gathered into Christ. The scriptures use the word “church” in two general senses. First as it is used here in our text, and then in other places to refer to a local and organized assembly of believers. One day we may write on the doctrine of the church, but this is as much as we need for our present business. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.
It should be clear from a text like this that love is much more than feelings over which we have no control. Husbands have no choice but to love their wives, for Christ commands us so to do. I have known more than a few people who deserted their spouse with the announcement that they just didn’t “love them any more“. This is rank disobedience to the word of God, and therefore a great evil, for we are commanded to love our spouse (see also Titus 2:4 for the reciprocal duty of wives). Our Lord purposed to love His people in eternity and is bound and determined to love them forever.
Now, as I say, love is a command to be obeyed, not a feeling that may change. And this is most evident in that Christ is the example for us husbands to love our wives. “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” Christ loves His church by providing for her, and caring for her, and by governing her. Christ loves His Church particularly and persistently. But above all, He gave Himself for her. That is he died for our salvation. Our Lord laid down His life to redeem His people from sin and save them with an everlasting salvation. Christ loved His Church sacrificially. He gave Himself!
Whatever may be said about our Lord’s general benevolence and goodness to the whole world (and there is much to be said), it is evident from this text that His saving love is set upon His Church. It should be evident that His saving love for His people is special and particular. The context of our passage clearly shows that. Just as a faithful husband loves his own wife in a way he loves no others, so Christ loves His church (to repeat for emphasis and clarity), which is comprised of all who are now, have been, or ever will be gathered into Christ.
Christ loved His people so much that He left heaven’s bright world to come into a sin cursed world to bleed and die for the salvation of all who would ever believe in Him (another way of describing Christ’s church). He gave Himself for us. That is He gave Himself as a Substitute for us. Christ’s church was under penalty of death with the whole Adamic race, but Christ gave Himself for us to satisfy the justice of God’s law. In giving Himself for us, Christ actually and definitely secured the salvation of every heir of promise. Every one that is in the True Church of Christ is saved because Christ died for them. And because Christ loves His people with an everlasting love they can never fall finally and be lost.
Much more could be written, and we hope we will be permitted so to do for the glory of our Great God, the advancement of His kingdom, and the eternal good of His people. May the Lord bless you all my, dear readers.