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Sermons

Jesus Came to Unite Us to Himself

December 11, 2016 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: Advent

Topic: Advent Season Passage: Ephesians 5:25–5:32

When I say “Two become one”, what do you think about? Marriage between a man and a woman. Two become one IS about human marriage. But Paul said the PRIMARY meaning of “Two become one” is about you and Jesus Christ. It is a statement about Jesus and those who believe in him. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery but I am speaking about Christ and the church.” It is a mystery, but somehow every believer is united to Christ. This union between Christ and his people that is so complete, so inseparable, that it is described as two become one.

It is sometimes called our mystical union with Christ. It is literal or real, but it is beyond our ability to fully explain. It is spiritual or supernatural. In another place Paul said, “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with the Lord”.

I was struck by this truth of our union with Christ recently, and thinking about how to walk in this reality more and more. As this was on my mind, I ran across an old sermon by a Puritan, Edward Pease, “The Soul’s Espousal to Christ” or the marriage relation between Christ and believers. And I was even more impressed with the importance of this truth. And want to know more deeply what it means in real life situations.

What does union with Christ mean when you busy about your day’s work? How does this change things when you when you are up at midnight and feeling somewhat alone or have no sense of God’s presence. What does being one with Christ mean to you when you face some new responsibility or pressure added to your life? How does this union with Christ affect our inner world of thoughts and feelings that we all live in at all times?

This may not sound like a typical Christmas message, but this is the ultimate gift of God: Christ came into the world to take you to himself in a relationship of oneness, love, communion and joy. Only human marriage comes even close to presenting a picture of what this union with Christ is like. But of course our union with Christ is much more profound, more total.

Our passage in Ephesians 5 tells us the very reason he took away our sins was to make us his bride. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, (SO) THAT he might present the church to himself.....” “He cleansed her “that he might present the church, (that's you and me) to himself, in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless”. Or “without blemish”.

Jesus came into this world to bear your sins, he went to the cross and through all that he suffered for you, so that he could take you as his bride. He had to remove the blemishes of your sins so he could take you to himself. BUT HE DID THAT! SO that you might become his spouse. That you might become one with him.

Edward Pease, “Though Christ and the soul WERE two before, two who were strangers to each other, yet in this marriage, they become one, and so much one, that all the world can never make them two again..” And this union is a full union, a union between the whole person of Christ and the whole person of the believer. Neither is our soul alone joined with the soul of Christ alone; nor is our flesh alone joined with the flesh of Christ alone; but the whole person of every believer is truly joined with the whole person of Christ.” No wonder Paul says this is a great mystery!

What are the benefits of this union?

All that Christ is and has is yours. We share all things in common with Christ. In a marriage all that each spouse has belongs to the other. You hold all things in common. You have one checkbook, one house, you eat around one table, even your bodies belong to one another. So it is with Christ. I am his and he is mine.

Christ freely shares with us all that he has and is. He is a son, so are you. He sits at the right hand of the Father, you are seated there with him. He is loved by the Father so are you. He is accepted by the Father so are you. He is an heir of God, and so are you – you are joint heirs with him. He is a king, and you also will reign with him.

Edward Pease: As though Christ speaking to you: “I will be yours, says He to the soul, “yours to love you, to save you, to make you happy in Me and with Me. I, with all my riches and treasures, will be fully and forever yours”..... “In giving Himself, He gives the best gift that either heaven or earth affords! He gives peace, He gives grace, He gives righteousness, He gives the favor of God, He gives heaven, He gives all. O sweet gift”.

Do you feel empty and poor in your spirit? Of his fullness we have all received and grace upon grace. In him all the fullness of deity dwells and in him you have been made complete. Do you feel full of faults and keenly aware of sinful blemishes, he brings you his righteousness. What ever Christ is or has belongs to you.

Do you have sorrows and griefs? He bears them for you and gives you praise for you heaviness. Do you have sicknesses and diseases, by his wounds you are healed. In him we died to sin. In him we are raised to life. In him we are victorious over death. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Second benefit of this union: You become the object of his love, and delight and care for eternity. He calls himself our Bridegroom that he might emphasize his love for us, his bride. Love is the very essence of marriage. The very heart of our bond with Christ is mutual love.

Christ takes you to himself because he loves you. He has affections, feelings for you. He loves you as his spouse. Christ loved the church and gave himself for her but Paul also said, He loved me and gave himself for me. And you can say that too. Ephesians 5 Husbands are commanded to love their wives just as Christ loves the church. Husbands are commanded to nourish and cherish their wives just us as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. That command could NOT be given to husbands unless Christ was the supreme example of loving and cherishing and nourishing!! As your spouse Christ loves you, cherishes you and nourishes you!

No matter what other very significant person in your life may have turned against you, or despised you, or hurt you, Christ’s love for you will never fail. His love for you is there at all times, in all places and under all circumstances. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. He loves you with a perfect love, an endless love and a great love.

There is a legal aspect to justification. God looks on Christ and declares you righteous. But our relationship with God is not primarily legal. It is most like a marriage, where because a bridegroom so loves his bride he takes her to himself and rejoices over her. Isaiah tells us, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride so your God will rejoice over you”. God gets emotional about you! He has affections for you! He really does.

Psalm 16 is a prophetic Psalm about Christ. IE while it expresses the mind of David it also expressed prophetically the mind of Christ. “Preserve my, O God, for I take refuge in you….You are my Lord, I have no good besides you. AS FOR THE SAINTS WHO ARE ON THE EARTH, THEY ARE THE MAJESTIC ONES IN WHOM IS ALL MY DELIGHT”. His delight is in his people – you and me.

And of course our response to Jesus as our spouse should be of love and affection too. John, the disciple of Jesus, leaning himself up against the breast of Jesus is a picture for us of the kind of closeness we are to have with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful through whom you were called INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD”. Paul spoke of Christ’s love for him personally. We have recently heard Peter say to us, “Though you do not physically see Jesus Christ now, you love him and believe in him and greatly rejoice in him with joy inexpressible and full of glory”. These statements show us that the gift of salvation, is to bring us into an experiential, relationship with Christ, of communion, mutual satisfaction and great pleasure.

Charles Spurgeon “My meditation of him shall be sweet” (That is from Psalm 104:34 KJV)….It is meditation of HIM that is sweet, not merely doctrine about him, but of himself. Not merely his offices, and his work, but of his own dear Self. There lies the sweetness, and the closer we come to his Blessed Person, the more truly we have approached the very center of bliss”.

*Third benefit of this union. You are never rejected, forsaken or left alone. “He himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.” He knows where you sleep, where you work, he knows where your favorite places are, where you are this morning. And he is with you there at all times in all places. David said, “If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in sheol, behold you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there you hand will lead me...”

No natter what extreme situation you may find yourself, no matter what crazy circumstances you may experience, Christ is right there with you to see you through. No matter what pain or sorrow you may feel, perhaps that no one else could understand, Christ is with you in your sorrows. No matter what loneliness you may feel at certain times of day or night, Christ is with you. No matter what other significant person in your life may have forsaken you, Christ is faithful to be with you.

*Fourth: Your union with Christ means you have complete adequacy for life. Philippians 4:13: Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Paul came to the conclusion that he could do all things! The Amplified says, “I am ready for anything and equal to anything through him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace”.

Paul boldly confessed that he could bear any trial, perform any duty he would be required to perform, handle any temptation, he could deal with adversity and prosperity. He said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Basically he said, “I can handle anything that comes my way, anything that life throws at me, whether its good or bad, whether it is hardship or prosperity”. He had learned the secret of living in every situation. That secret was the strength that flowed to him out of his union with Christ.

This was not the power of self confidence. This was not the power of positive thinking. This was not the power of his own determination. He simply knew that his strength was from Christ and that it was always available to him. And he boldly relied on that strength at all times, in all kinds of situations. This was life as he knew it. And it can be life as you know it

It is a power for life that can be had when you feel very empty or weak. It is strength you can draw upon from Christ, when you are not at the top of your game, when you feel good for nothing, when you are not really sure at all how you can go on. You can look to Christ, and trust that his strength will be manifested in you and in your situation, and you can be at peace.

Albert Barnes points to these lessons:

  • We need not sink under any trial, for there is one who can strengthen us.
  • We need not yield to temptation. There is one who is able to make a way for our escape.
  • We need not be harassed, and vexed and tortured with improper thoughts… There is one who can enable us to banish such thoughts from the mind…
  • We need not dread what is to come: trials, temptations, poverty, persecution, may await us but we need not sink into despondency.

At every step of life, Christ is able to strengthen us and bring us triumphantly through. What a privilege it is therefore to be a Christian, to feel in the trials of life that we have one friend, unchanging and most mighty who can always help us! …. Let us not shrink from duty, let us not dread (anything) or fear the bed of death. In all circumstances, Christ our unchanging friend can uphold us. Let the eye and the affections of the heart be fixed on him; let simple fervent prayer be directed always to him when trials come, when temptations assail, when duty presses hard upon us, and when a crowd of unholy and forbidden thoughts rush into the soul; and we shall be safe.

Because of your union with Christ, you can face life with confidence.

*Fifth benefit our union with Christ: Fruitfulness for life. Out of the marriage relationship come children. Out of your union with Christ comes spiritual fruit.

Do you fear that you are useless. Do you feel good for nothing. Abide in your union with Jesus and you will bear fruit! John 15:5 If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit! This union with Jesus is the wellspring of all fruitfulness and godliness. When you are keenly aware of your need for spiritual progress, or more godly behavior towards your spouse, or you have a great desire to be more used by God...abide in Jesus.

Paul says in Romans 7, You died in your relationship with the law and were joined to Christ that we might bear fruit for God. Out of that union, as you live in him, you will fulfill all that God would have you be and do.

How do we apprehend this or walk in this reality of our union with Christ?

First: Exercise your faith in regard to this marvelous mystery. This union with Christ is something you accept by faith. It is not achieved by some special experience you have or by some great human effort. Nevertheless you must put your faith in these truths that Christ is in you and you are in him, that it is Christ who lives in you. Paul prays for the Ephesians that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.

This is not for just a certain type of person who is more mystical, or imaginative. It is for all believers in Christ to enjoy. But, for you to enjoy and benefit from this union with Christ, Christ must be real and present to you. That happens by faith.

You are not saved by performing some great heroic task of climbing up to heaven. You are saved by making a confession with your mouth and by believing something in your heart. We go on in our Christian experience, in the same way. Are you confessing Christ as Lord today, are you confessing him as the one who loved you and gave himself for you. Are you confessing him as the One who loves you like a Bridegroom loves his bride, as One who delights in you as a Bridegroom delights in his bride. Are you confessing your oneness with Jesus Christ? Are you confessing your being set free from sin through dying with him, and your new life in him through being raised with him. It is through your confessing these realities by faith that Christ is experienced, that he is real and present to you.

Verbalize your faith. David said, “I will say to the Lord, “you are my refuge”. Say to Jesus, I trust in you to be the strength that I need in this day and this hour. I trust in you to be the strength that I need in this season of life. I trust in you to be the strength that I need in this midnight hour. To be the strength that my mind needs in this situation. I trust in you to be the strength of my Christian living. In my extreme neediness, in my extreme weakness, the solution to all that I need is you. And I have you.

Second: Practice Fellowship. Utilize this free and comfortable union you have with him. He stands at the door and knocks. If you open the door, he will come and dine with you. Let him in! Love him. Tell him you love him, before you go to bed, at midnight tell him, tell him when you wake up. Thank him for his presence, his continual supply of strength. Set aside time to talk with him.

Third: Contemplate or think much on this great mystery. Think about this union, that he is in you and you are in him.

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December 22, 2019

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December 15, 2019

Christmas Is About God's Tender Mercy

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