Christ, Our Bridegroom
To my fellow believers,
I would like to write to you about a subject that I hope will encourage and strengthen you in times when you fail your walk of holiness before the Lord and, in these failures, doubt God's forgiveness and even your own calling and salvation. There is no doubt that by God’s gracious workings in us, we are able to overcome temptation and the seductive power of sin. John Owen pointed out that the difference between a believer and an unbeliever Is that an unbeliever clings to sin willingly while sin clings to the believer against his will. To our much sorrow, we still experience seasons of weaknesses in this fallen, carnal nature. While He will not despise a broken and contrite heart, doubts about our salvation, helped in no small part by confusion over justification and sanctification, should not be the source of our heartaches.
Consider our union with Christ. One of the pictures of Christ's love that emerges from the New Testament is of Him offering Himself as the bridegroom to His church, betrothed to her while she waits for the appointed time, when the unity will be consummated, and the eternal union will be actualized. But even now Christ loved her and has given everything to her of himself. Paul reminded the Ephesian husbands to love their wives, "as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her." Indeed, the image portrayed by Christ as the bridegroom bears out that He is neither distant nor is there any need of any mediator between His bride and Himself.
One of the attributes of marriage is the complete union between husband and wife. All that is owned by one, whether these are inheritances or debts, comes into the ownership of both. Union in marriage therefore levels the wealth between them. This is the reason why in the Old Testament story of Ruth, the original kinsman would not redeem the estate of his dead relative after learning of her, for fear of impairing his own inheritance or endangering his estate. Ruth then was married to a wealthy kinsman, who, in the process fulfills His role in redeeming her from her impoverished circumstances.
Now consider a bride and groom, where the bride is full of debts while the bridegroom is rich beyond measure. Every debt of hers will be his and all his riches become hers. In fact this bridegroom is so rich that even after paying her debts his wealth is hardly diminished. Even if she keeps adding to her debts a thousand times over, his wealth will never be impaired.
Now consider the riches of the righteousness of Christ, our great Bridegroom. He has joined himself to his bride, the church. He has taken on Himself our sins and unrighteousness and imparted to us His life and righteousness. The Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote: “Often think with thyself, what am I? a poor sinful creature; but I have a righteousness in Christ that answers all, I am weak in myself, but Christ is strong and I am strong in him. I am foolish in myself, but I am wise in him. What I want [lack] in myself I have in him. He is mine, and his righteousness is mine, which is the righteousness of God-man, Being clothed with this, I stand safe against conscience, hell, wrath, and whatsoever. Though I have daily experience of my sins, yet there is more righteousness in Christ, who is mine, and who is the chief of ten thousand, than there is sin in me.”
Oh, dear believer, would you cherish this precious truth! There is so much righteousness in Christ that we can find our rest and confidence in knowing that we are united in Him. Our sins do not impair the richness of His righteousness in the least bit.
The puritan Bartholomew Ashwood writes: “We have shown already that [Christ’s] treasures are bottomless, boundless, unfathomable, inexhaustible, never to be wasted or spent. O soul, come to Christ as such a one. Measure not Christ’s gold by thy bushel nor His plenty by thy poverty. Think not thy debts too great for Christ to pay because thou knowest not where to get money of thy own. Think not thy straits too many for Him to relieve.”
Thomas Brooks writes that among the large interests of the Lord Jesus in us, “He has… the interest of a husband, and therefore though saints be weak – yea, though they be very weak – He overlooks their weaknesses and keeps a fixed eye upon their graces.”
Finally, Richard Alleine writes that if we are to consider Christ as our bridegroom, we are to show total dependence on Him for all things: “the bearing of thy debts, thy discharge from thy bonds, and thy whole provision for a livelihood and maintenance.“
Our communion with Christ wavers with our feeble nature. There are times when our hearts are filled with praise and heavenly longing. Sometimes they are cold and struggle with sin. But remember that our union with Him is the basis and foundation of our communion. You are united to your bridegroom, and our justification do not stand on our merits nor on our performance nor on the strength of our faith but on Him and His perfect righteousness.
She leans upon an Arm of love No sin her garments taints; They’re made of linen wov’n above— The righteousness of saints. The marriage of the Lamb is come, His bride all ready stands; The Bridegroom soon will take her home To dwell in heav’nly lands.
In Christ our Bridegroom,