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|Please note that we have several articles on Ephesians 5:31-32. This one focuses on missions and uses marriage as an illustration. Others include A Great Marriage which focuses on principles to having a good marriage and Building a Great Marriage, chapter 2 of our book, entitled Building a Great Marriage. The last has much more detail than this message.|
Part 3 of 4 of Ultimate Love, Extreme Missions entitled B.) The Choosing of the Bride (Ephesians 5:25,29) portrays how God's choice of us despite the lack of any attraction actually becomes a glorious foundation from which God's people embrace God's love and is motivated to serve God and the world.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her ... for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church" (Ephesians 5:25, 29).
God's great love is demonstrated in the way that He chose a bride. In order to gain a bride, one needs to provide a dowry.
For Christ, He needed to give His life. What a price to secure His bride! He did it by dying on the cross. He so valued His people that He suffered extreme pain and rejection for her. He died for God's people so she, the bride, could be His forever. Fortunately for us, He came alive again. We need not be a widow.
The greatness of God and His plan is also seen in the way Christ secured His bride. Man is exhorted to love his wife just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (5:25). Why would the Father send His son into the world to secure us to Himself?￼
The depth of God's love is made even more evident when we take into consideration two facts: God did not need us and our unattractiveness.
God is so completely perfect in Himself that He needs no one outside of Himself to make Himself complete. From eternity God was whole.
Do not stain the grace of God by asserting in your heart that He ought to save you or me. Man's humanism lifts himself up so high that he thinks he is so needed.
I shared the gospel with a man yesterday. He seemed to recognize how much of sinner he was but something was wrong. He kept telling me story after story how he wiped that man out twice though he was struck down once. In the end he thought he was quite the fighter and defended right causes even though he might smash a man's face into some glass. He thought well of himself even though he said he was wrong. Inside he believed he was not that bad, even pretty good.
Our pride is so deceitful. God does not save us because we fulfill Him but quite the contrary.
￼Instead of being attracted to us, God was repulsed by our being. In our sin God's wrath comes against us. The scriptures teaches us, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). We are sinners. Spiritually we are dead (Ephesians 2:1-3, a study). We cannot respond to the Lord's love. And yet, in this unattractive state, Christ sought us.
Think of trying to court a corpse. Rather unpleasant indeed.
"I rather be somewhere else! I rather be anywhere but here."
"I want nothing here. Let me go."
When man boasts of his own works before God as if he or she is holy and desirable, he simply does not understand how wretched he has become because of his sin and selfish state. For us to think we are so lovely or even simply acceptable distorts God's real love for us. This is why Paul elaborates so much on this in Ephesians 2:1-10. Instead, we see God choosing us in Christ, not in our own good works.
"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love" (Ephesians 1:4, study questions).
God sought after us not because we loved Him. But despite our sin, He loved us. He first loved us. Let us get the order straight. In this way we can see how tremendous His love is and how extremely horrible the teaching of good works is, that is, we are made acceptable to God by the right way that we live.
Let us reflect on this with regards to missions.
First, we see that God is committed to reaching out to the world bringing the unlovely into His love in Christ. If you do not know the Lord's love, listen to His call. Respond to Him. Our acceptance is because of Christ not because of us. But once we believe in Christ, our sins are cleansed, we are acceptable in Christ, that is because of Him.
Second, this love of God empowers us to face all sorts of dire distresses to reach out to the lost. Evangelism must be purposed. Most of us are not regularly thinking of the lost like God is. Christ saw the harvest fields ready to be reaped. If God's plan is so awesome, ought we not be more purposeful in reaching out to the lost?
Think of your neighbors, colleagues, bosses and strangers you meet. Bring them to the Lord in prayer and seek Him for grace to express God's love to them.