Christ and the Church

There is a depth, a fulness contained in the words "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." A depth and fulness into the understanding of which, our souls enter, as yet, at best, but scantily. It is our privilege to be daily learners through the teaching of the Holy Spirit now. It is the word of our God, that yet but "a little while" and we shall know even as we are known.

I would desire very briefly to touch upon some of the more prominent personal types presented to us in Old Testament narrative of the church and her glories through union with Jesus. The Lord give us, in thus meditating together, blessedly to have the joy of that word in the secret of our own souls, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."

At the very commencement of the book of God we get presented the purpose of His love in the gift of the church to Jesus - "It is not good for man to be alone." Blessed word; blessed because of letting us into the deep secret of the ground, and showing us the eternal security of our own everlasting joy and glory. Our thoughts are raised out of and above ourselves, and we have to confess to the freeness of God's love, the sovereignty of His grace.

"It is not good for the man to be alone." Adam was set as God's vicegerent, lord over the creation, which, coming forth perfect from His hand, He had pronounced "very good." For a little moment there was that here which could afford a rest for God; He rested in the works of His hands. Sin had not entered, the power of death and of the curse were as yet unknown; all bespoke the excellency of His wisdom; all showed forth His handiwork. "The morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy." All was in subjection, God's principle of blessing. "The cattle, the fowl of the air, and the beasts of the field," as brought before him by God, received their names from Adam. "Whatsoever he called the living creature, that was the name thereof." Adam as yet in happy intercourse with God, obedient. How fair the picture! One thing was wanting, "No helpmeet was found for Adam;" none with whom to share this place of blessedness. "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him." He who saw the need Himself supplied it; but how, beloved? "The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

That little moment passed, how sad the contrast! Temptation comes, and sin. The rest of God is broken, and gone the scene of creature blessedness.

It has often been remarked that man, placed in responsibility of blessing, has ever failed in his trust; yet that this failure has only served to bring out the reserve of grace - fresh and higher blessing from God, and the glory of the one unfailing man - "the man Christ Jesus." The ruin of the first creation was laid in the "offence," the "disobedience" of the "first man," of him under whom it had been placed. All that was so fair and "very good," now "subjected to vanity," fell in him; creation "groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now;" the power of the curse is there" cursed is the ground for thy sake; and "death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." There is failure, utter ruin, stamped upon all that stands in the headship of the first Adam, "the type of him who was to come;" but all the deep failure of the "earthly" man, and the "abounding" sin of his race, has but given scope for the display of the super-abounding grace of God through that "One" of whom he was the "type," the "second man," "the Lord from heaven."

He who "from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was," was daily the delight of the Father, rejoicing always before Him - the eternal Son, "by whom all things were created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible," and "for whom all things were made," as born of a woman, the appointed heir of all things - the "Son of man," "the second man," He too hath had an "helpmeet" provided for Him of God. The one unfailing man who, in the future manifested glory of the new creation (see Ps. 8 in connection with Heb. 2:6-9), shall hold "dominion" for God, in blessing, over "all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas," when God shall again take delight in the works of His hands, and the "name of the LORD" be "excellent in all the earth," will not be "alone," but will share His glory and His joy with her who was taken from His side when in the deep sleep which the LORD GOD, in wondrous grace, causes to fall upon Him. For Christ Jesus, by the "grace of God," has "tasted death." It was, "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death." Assuredly our souls here trace the shadowing out of that which the love of the Father, in the gift of the Church, to Jesus, had appointed to be done, and say "salvation is of the LORD!" Paul, when referring to it in writing to the Ephesians, says, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." But, oh, beloved, how blessed is the contrast between the type and the antitype, the unconscious sleep of Adam and the voluntary act of Jesus. Obedience, for He was the obedient One, led Him to say, "I come to do thy will, O God!" but more than this, He "loved the Church, and gave himself for it."

Yet a little while, and in the midst of the Paradise of God He shall say, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature old things are passed away; all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us unto himself by Christ Jesus." Whilst still in the midst of the old and groaning creation, they "who have the first-fruits of the Spirit," and therefore "groan within themselves," may take all the joy of that word, "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," "they two are one flesh," and by faith forestall the time when they shall be "glorified together with him." How blessed thus to know the power of redemption in the midst of all that is unredeemed; to stand in the conscious result of "the one man's obedience," righteous, holy, and without blemish; the curse removed by His having been "made a curse for us;" death giving place to the reign of life; confidence and joy in God restored; we not simply brought back into the standing of creature blessedness which Adam lost, but made partakers of the divine nature, one with the sanctifier! What wondrous grace! "By grace ye are saved," "the grace of God, and the gift by grace."

In Gen. 24 we see the servant sent by Abraham to take a wife for Isaac, the Lord "prospering his way," and Rebekah made willing to forsake her country, her kindred, and her father's house, in order that she may be led to Isaac, and share his place of love and exaltation. Here again I believe we get a little picture of the Church, the bride of the true Isaac, the "son" and "seed" of Abraham; and that much to the comfort of our own souls. It is to her, as the "appointed" one of the Lord, that the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to glorify Jesus, to speak of Him, unfolds His message of love, telling of His exaltation; that "unto him," the Father "hath given all that he hath," taking and revealing of the things of Jesus. Thus is she made willing to leave all dear to her by nature, all to which her heart would fondly cling; and traverse the weary journey as the sharer of the glory of, which, through His testimony, she has heard. Such, beloved, is our portion. May we, as the chosen, the appointed for Isaac, that Isaac who was not merely "received from death in a figure," but the "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore," the risen, the exalted One, through the teaching of the Spirit, know more of "the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in al." May we "set our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth," and thus become practically dead to all which the flesh loves and clings to. Soon will the wilderness be crossed, and we safely brought home to Him "whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Again: in "the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Solomon took to wife," we have presented to us a type of her who shall share with Jesus the glory of the throne of David, when that glory is taken up in blessing by Him who is at the same time David's "Son" and David's "Lord." "Black" she may be in her own eyes, yet oh how "comely" in his! "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair." "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." How has love here been tested! how has it stood the test! Surely it has passed through the deep waters of death; the billows and the waves have gone over it; for Christ has "loved the Church, and given himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." And He says, "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee."

So too, though I would not attempt the interpretation of the type in detail, yet, in principle at least, we read her history in that of Ruth. The wondering inquiry, "Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?" is met by "The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust," from Him who aptly performed the kinsman's part. The field where she first became acquainted with and marvelled at His grace, is made her own - "Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife." The world "is yours," "and ye are Christ's." The "kinsman" has redeemed the one who was a "stranger." And is not the language of our hearts the same - "Why have I found grace in thine eyes?"

These are but few of the foreshadowings of the church in personal narrative, and briefly glanced at; many others are left unnoticed:* each presents some peculiar feature, and is, I believe, intended to teach us distinct truth respecting her on whom the heart's love of Jesus has been set. Many and varied are the glories of Jesus pointed out to us in the prophetic Scriptures, but in the enjoyment and in the display of each and all of them will she participate. Has He yet to be manifested as the Son of man, the second Adam, the head of that new and blessed creation into which the taint of defilement, failure, and the curse, can never come. She, as we have seen, shall be there also, the "helpmeet" prepared for Him of God.

*As the wives taken by Joseph and Moses during the period of their rejection by their brethren according to the flesh.

Is He, as the Son of Abraham, the true Isaac, to cause gladness, and be the centre of unfailing blessing, according to that word, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," when the son of the bond-woman shall have been cast out, and God been owned as the quickener of the dead, she who has had, through grace, the ear to hear the tale of love, as the called and appointed one of God, shall be then brought home.

And thus with every other glory.

But how, beloved, is it that we can look forward with holy confidence to these things, and, with the fullest consciousness of what our own condition is, joy in them as ours? Because Jesus has "loved the church, and given himself for it;" because He has "sanctified it by his own blood." Whatever the brightness of the glory, whatever the as yet unthought of depth of joy, the one song amidst it all shall be; "Worthy is the Lamb!" "the Lamb that was slain," "Thou hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and nation, and people, and tongue." Yes; whatever be the character of the glory, this gives us, the secret of all her blessedness - she is the "Bride of the Lamb."

Such, beloved, is our title, our alone title, and such our hope. The Lord give us to know more of its practical power! May we have our hearts' affections centred in Him who has thus loved us, and be found more as "a chaste virgin espoused unto Christ."

As we have noticed, the purpose of God: in the election of the church, and her gift unto Jesus, is presented at the commencement of the Book; the concluding page unfolds her glory, with this blessed assurance of her Lord, "Behold, I come quickly." "Yet, but a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. May our hearts be gladdened by the thought, and respond in longing anticipation, "Even so, come; Lord Jesus; come quickly!"

Jesus who entered heaven for us,
Will soon again descend:
Priest, prophet, king, our Lord and God,
Our bridegroom and our friend.

Then let us rise and trim our lamps,
And as they brightly burn
Be seen as those who longingly
Await their Lord's return.