How is the church the bride of Christ?
And if Jesus made all things and gave me life dosn't that make him the father in the It took the church almost years (and several heresies) to be able to come to an agreement as to what is meant by God - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, God the Son, is in you by His Spirit, and God the Father is in you by. When God "called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. In short, it's impossible to answer the question "What is a Christian? The relationship between our membership in the universal church and. Christ and the Church with the spousal relationship of husband and For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and the.
This spouse speaks of his great compassion, which will not depart from Israel-spouse, but will constitute a stable foundation of the alliance of peace with him.
Thus the motif of spousal love and of marriage is linked with the motif of alliance. Besides, the Lord of hosts calls himself not only "Creator," but also "Redeemer. Continuity of analogy 5. Comparing the text of Isaiah with the Letter to the Ephesians and noting the continuity regarding the analogy of spousal love and of marriage, we should point out at the same time a certain diversity of theological viewpoint.
Already in the first chapter the author of the letter speaks of the mystery of love and of election, whereby "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" embraces mankind in his Son, especially as a mystery "hidden in the mind of God.
In this context, the deduction of the analogy concerning marriage which we have found in Isaiah "For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name"—Is The first dimension of love and of election, as a mystery hidden for ages in God, is a paternal and not a "conjugal" dimension. According to the Letter to the Ephesians the first characteristic note of that mystery remains connected with the paternity of God, set out in relief especially by the prophets cf.
The analogy of spousal love and of marriage appears only when the Creator and the Holy One of Israel of the text of Isaiah is manifested as Redeemer. Already in this text it is possible, in a certain sense, to read the parallelism between the spouse and the Redeemer. Passing to the Letter to the Ephesians we should observe that this thought is fully developed there. The figure of the Redeemer 2 is already delineated in the first chapter as proper to him who is the first "beloved Son" of the Father Eph 1: The same Son, as Christ or as the Messiah "has loved the Church and has given himself up for her" Eph 5: This splendid formulation of the Letter to the Ephesians summarizes in itself and at the same time sets in relief the elements of the Canticle on the Servant of Yahweh and of the Canticle of Sion cf.
And thus the giving of himself up for the Church is equivalent to carrying out the work of redemption. In the Letter to the Ephesians the theological perspective of the prophetic text is preserved and at the same time deepened and transformed.
New revealed moments enter: His salvific love 7. Paul, writing the letter to the People of God of the new covenant and precisely to the church of Ephesus, will no longer repeat: This love consists in giving himself up for the Church, as spousal love whereby he espouses the Church and makes it his own Body.
Thus the analogy of the prophetic texts of the Old Testament in this case especially of Isaiah remains preserved in the Letter to the Ephesians and at the same time obviously transformed. A mystery corresponds to the analogy, a mystery which is expressed and, in a certain sense, explained by means of it.
In the text of Isaiah this mystery is scarcely outlined, "half-open" as it were; however, in the Letter to the Ephesians it is fully revealed but of course without ceasing to be a mystery. In the Letter to the Ephesians both dimensions are explicitly clear: The analogy of marriage referred especially to the second dimension.
Also in the prophets in Isaiah the analogy of marriage referred directly to a historical dimension. It was linked with the history of the chosen people of the old covenant, with the history of Israel. On the other hand the Christological and the ecclesiological dimension was found only as an embryo in the Old Testament fulfillment of the mystery; it was only foretold.
Nonetheless it is clear that the text of Isaiah helps us to understand better the Letter to the Ephesians and the great analogy of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. In the Hebrew text we have the words hesed-rahamim, which appear together on more than one occasion. Even though in the most ancient biblical books the word "redeemer" Hebrew Go'el signified the person bound by blood relationship to vindicate a relative who had been killed cf.
You know, in other words, the earthly life of Jesus. And Volume 2 is called Christ. In other words, what the disciples, apostles or whatever made of Jesus after his death.
Now it is interesting to think about this because we have to come to some kind of decision on this matter. What is the connection between Jesus of Nazareth — the man who walked around in Galilee preaching and teaching and gathering disciples to himself — what is the link between this person and the God whom we worship in Jesus Christ? Are they one and the same? Now, of course, any true Christian — any orthodox Christian — must answer yes to this. Having said that, is the Jesus of Nazareth who walked around on earth — I mean, what is our connection with him?
What is our link with him?
And this is another thing which is not altogether as simple as it sounds, you see. Well, yes, of course, this is true, but does the resurrection and ascension and so on make no difference? Would we have been better off — let me put it like this.
Would you and I have been better off if we had known Jesus in the flesh? Now some people think we are. We sat there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and counted the fish. And there are people who think like this.
Now the truth of the matter, of course, is if you actually read the New Testament that almost certainly if you had lived in the time of Jesus you would not have recognized him even if you had seen him. In fact, if you had grown up with him in Nazareth, you would have been least likely to recognize him, as we know from the text. You could have spent the longest time with him and yet not had any idea who he actually was. It is better for you that I go away, because when I go away the Comforter will come and He will lead you into all truth.
I say this because the idea that the earthly Jesus is somehow more desirable is one which keeps coming back and it keeps coming back in the oddest ways, you see. You get people — oh, I gather this has gone slightly out of fashion now just looking around the room.
But, you know, there was a time not long ago when people would wear armbands with WWJD on them. I must confess the first time I saw this, I thought it was a country music station.
No, really, I did. You know, is it FM or AM, and so on. But anyhow, I soon discovered to my horror that it was nothing as simple as that. You know, What Would Jesus Do. The real question is not what would Jesus do but what would Jesus want me to do, you see. And you say, well, why? Well, because what Jesus did was done in the context of his ministry which was a ministry when he came to earth for a particular purpose and that purpose is different from the reason we are his followers.
We have been called to a different purpose. We have been called to follow him but the way we are meant to live is not the same. Surely, Stanford exists to glorify him. Why would he be thrown out? But the truth is, you see, that Jesus did what he did and lived the way he lived because he came into the world for a specific purpose and that specific purpose was to die on the cross.
So we must retain this much. You see, we must say that the death of Jesus Christ was not an accident. It was not something which happened against his own will. It was not something which intervened to throw a promising career off course. This was his career. This was what he had come to do. And what he had come to do on that cross was to die for the sins of the world. In fact, you are explaining perhaps without realizing it why the followers of Jesus could never be just another Jewish sect.
Why did they have to go off and be completely different?
What is the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? | Questions & Answers
Well, the reason is because the death of Jesus Christ strikes at the very heart of Judaism. Judaism — which at its center has the temple, a temple in which the sacrifice of atonement is made once a year by the high priest — this is the high point of the Jewish year, as it were. The high priest alone can go into the holy of holies, take the sacrifice, make the sacrifice there, and so on, for the sins of the people and he goes away and then comes back the following year, does it again, and so on.
This is the ritual, the supreme act around which the rest of the Jewish world, the whole way of thinking, is constructed. Jesus comes in and says I am the temple. I am the sacrifice. My death is the death of the sacrificial lamb which in effect removes the need for the high priestly sacrifice.
You see, what was foreshadowed in the law, what was portrayed there, is now completed. And this is what Jesus came to do. This is what he came to preach and to teach and to accomplish in his own life. Now that is not, of course, the end of the story. You must never end the story of Jesus with the crucifixion, central and important though that is. The crucifixion cannot be understood without what followed which is the resurrection, first of all, and then the ascension.
In fact, it is the ascension of Christ which is the key moment in the transition between the earthly ministry of Jesus and his present heavenly ministry. It is the ascension which creates the circumstances in which the Christian church can be born. You see, in which the Christian church has its life, has its reality.
Now you see this, of course, if you read the Bible. So few people seem to do it. Between the gospels, you see, which end with the ascension, the last event occurring in the gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles which start with the ascension.
The ascension is the hinge which unites the earthly ministry of Jesus with the heavenly ministry which is manifested on earth in the life of the church.
JESUS CHRIST AND THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Therefore, it is the key thing, you see, which we have to understand. Now what is the ascension, what happened at the ascension, in Ephesians 4: When he ascended into heaven, he led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.
He led captivity captive. He took your sin and my sin, paid for in his body, paid for in his death on the cross. He took these things to his heavenly Father, presented them to him, was accepted by him — by the Father, the sacrifice was accepted, which means, of course, that he now sits at the right hand of the Father, to use the biblical imagery.
But what we are talking about here is that he has taken up his kingdom. He reigns in glory and his sacrifice, the wants for all sacrifice accomplished on the cross, remains in glory as the basis, the assurance that you and I have access to the presence of the Father.
Because between me and the Father stands Jesus Christ, the mediator, whose sacrifice is my plea for my sin. Because when I pray to God, I cannot pray to God as a righteous person.
I am not a righteous person. I am a sinner. I cannot stand there by myself. I have to be covered with his righteousness. You have to wear special clothing.
You have to be protected because your own natural self is unable to withstand the heat and so on of what it is you are confronting. This is the righteousness of Christ which covers me in the presence of the Father. I cannot stand in his presence by myself.
I need that righteousness, that blood which was shed for me, to cover me and protect me, and this is what he does for me now. And it is because of that that I am able to stand in the presence of God. It is because of that that I can be united to God in Christ, you see.
This is what the Christian church really is. The Christian church is the body of people who are united to Christ on the basis of the sacrifice which he made for you and for me. Now once you start to think like this, once you start to think in terms of the atonement and the significance of the atonement for the life of the Christian fellowship, the Christian church, your whole way of thinking about it will change.
You will look at the Roman Catholic point of view, for example, and you will say, but you have left out the ascension. You see, you are talking about Emmanuel — God with us — and, of course, we agree with this.
We do believe that the coming of the son of God into the world and Jesus Christ is the beginning of our salvation. Yes, we accept that on earth Jesus of Nazareth walked around as the Lamb of God, you know, ready for sacrifice and so on. Yes, we agree with this.
We do not accept this. Why do we not accept this? Basically, because of the way we understand the ascension. Because we say he led captivity captive, he took his body and his sacrifice therefor into heaven, where it remains.
And that in the life of the Christian church it is not so much a case of God coming down to earth as of us going up to heaven, you see, that we are integrated into the heavenly fellowship, the eternal reality of God and of Christ who is pleading for you and for me at the right hand of the Father now. This is the present reality and we want to insist that the ascension has made a difference. What do we do? We are in earthly company. The other side is he gave gifts to men — Ephesians 4 — and this, of course, is Pentecost.
Because the fruit of the ascension, the working out of the ascension in the life of human beings still on earth, is brought to fruition at the time of Pentecost, the feast of the first fruits.
And Pentecost has to be understood in the light of the ascension. It is the ascended, the risen, ascended and glorified Christ, who sends his spirit into the world so that we might be united with him spiritually in that way. And this is why Pentecost is the beginning of the earthly church, you know, what we call the church militant here on earth.
This is where it comes from. This is where it starts. And this is what the connection is. Did Jesus intend to do this? The answer must be, yes, he did. He did come into the world knowing that he was drawing a people to himself, that he was calling people to himself.
But the link between the earthly preaching of Jesus and the post-Pentecostal mission of the Holy Spirit is more complex than Roman Catholic theology allows. In other words, the transition from it being a disciple to being an apostle is not as straightforward as you might think.
There was one rather famous disciple who never quite made it to being apostle and this was Judas Iscariot. You know, we have to somehow account for this.
How come Judas fell out? Why was this possible, and so on. So this is one thing that has to be borne in mind. Also we learn from the New Testament — and this is one of the most interesting things about the gospels, in my opinion — is that the portrayal of the disciples there, which we must never forget was actually written many years later when the disciples had long turned into apostles, it was quite different.
The portrayal of the disciples in the gospels is of men who were basically ignorant of what it was they were supposed to be doing. You talk about the Father. Show us the Father. Who is this Father you keep talking about? They heard all his teaching. Because it still happens today. So we see this, and yet the reason for this is simple in the sense that Jesus is fulfilling his purpose, his mission, but the disciples were not meant to understand it until after his resurrection.
And notice that one of the things that happens in the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension, it tells us at the end of the gospels that Jesus taught his disciples the meaning of everything which had taken place in his earthly ministry.
In other words, he gave them an understanding of this and then he told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit should come, until it would be filled with power so that they would be able to preach the meaning of what it was that Jesus had done. And, of course, if you read the preaching of the Acts of the Apostles in the early chapters, what it is, is an explanation of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a kind of putting this into context giving it meaning.
And those who had been with Jesus — those who had seen him in the flesh, those who had walked with him and had heard him talk — now say, well, this is what it was all about. We can bear witness to this because we have seen it fulfilled. And so right from the beginning, you see, Peter and John and the others knew that they were a new community.
They knew that there was something different about them that life had changed for them in a fundamental way and there could be no going back. Now having said that, of course, it is also clear from the New Testament that there were certain circumstances that had to be dealt with, and the disciples were not given clear answers to every question on Day 1.
You know, there were issues that had to be worked through. And, of course, the most fundamental of these was the relationship with Judaism. The temple and all the temple meant to Jews would cease to have a meaning for you because you would look for what the temple had to offer in an entirely different place. In other words, in the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. And that fact by itself would be enough to make Judaism seem obsolete as far as you were concerned.
However, Judaism was much more than just a theological standpoint on questions of atonement. You must remember that Judaism was and indeed still is an entire culture and that those who were chosen, those who became disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, those who saw the resurrection and initially, incidentally an apostle, was a witness to the resurrection. That was the key thing at the beginning.
Someone who saw the risen Christ, and there were up to of those at any one time. These people were all Jews, and so therefore the issue of distancing yourself from Judaism was not that straightforward because if everybody who belongs to the Christian church is a Jew — I mean, all right, you may disagree theologically with the Jews and so on and have a completely different standpoint, but your precise relationship to them will remain complicated.
I suppose you could see something of this in the modern scene where you get heretical groups which split off from Christianity. Now, of course, if you are theologically clued up, you realize these are heretical groups.
They are not Christian, and so on. But to people who are not so clued up, to people who look at this from the outside, indeed to people who belong to these groups very often, they see it differently. I mean, Mormons think they are Christians. They go around telling everybody they are Christians. And, say, a Muslim looking at this would probably find it very hard to see why a Mormon was not a Christian. Because from their standpoint looking at it from totally outside, there would be enough in common, enough similarity that to them it would just seem to be a slightly odd version perhaps, but nevertheless part of the same overall culture phenomenon, you might say.
Just as we would look at Islam and although we may be vaguely aware that there are different types of Muslims — there are Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims and then you have Ismailis and Alawis and different little groups like this — we tend not to be very clued up as to what these differences are nor does it matter very much to us.
Do you see what I mean? And the early church would have appeared to many people like this. Theologically it might have broken with Judaism, it might have broken with the Jewish ritual temple sacrifices and all that, but as long as everybody who was a Christian was also a Jew, this distinction, this difference would not have been very clear to outsiders.
Nor would it have been very clear to many Jews because again, you see, we have to stop and think about this a little bit. To you and me, religious belief is something that essentially we decide for ourselves. If we give it up, we give it up. Or if we go somewhere else, we go somewhere else. But, of course, Judaism was not like that. In Judaism, you were born into it. It was something that marked you from birth especially if you were a male because you would be circumcised on the eighth day and this would be a mark which would stay with you for life.
Judaism was not something you could just resign and go off and do something else. Even today, if you think about this, I mean, we all know that most people who call themselves Jews are not really terribly religious. I mean, Judaism to them might mean eating gefilte fish and matzos and things like that but not much else. But nevertheless, however secular they may be, there is still some kind of identification.
They may not go to synagogue. They may not believe a thing. They may even be anti-Israel.
The Relationship between Jesus and the Church
I mean, who knows. They could have all sorts of beliefs or non-beliefs, but there is something about them that has Jewish written all over it. And, of course, in the ancient world, it was even more so because Jews stood out as absolutely unique and, as I said, to the pagan world around, the fact that Christians continued to worship the one God of Israel was far more important than the fact that they had a different theory of atonement.
And indeed the separation out of the Christian church from its Jewish roots was a slow process, something which did not happen easily or overnight and indeed was not necessarily desired by the apostles themselves.
Peter, as we know from the Acts of the Apostles, was not happy about the idea of letting gentiles into the church. He was Jewish and he knew he was Jewish, and it never really crossed his mind that the gospel should go anywhere else. You know what I mean? That they had to completely rethink their entire position in order to acquire an identity, a sense of being Christian, as opposed to being Jewish. It took the Christian church quite a while to work that one out publically, fully.
But once you start getting gentiles involved, what is their status going to be? Are gentiles going to be second-class Christians? You get curious instances. Why were they baptized only in the name of Jesus? And so you kind of come in as a sort of second class, sit-at-the-back-of-the-bus type Christian, and there was this tendency there. Now you might say, well, this is terrible.
Imagine thinking like that. Well, yes, but remember these people have been brought up this way. This is their entire background and heritage. It would never enter their minds to go outside these boundaries, and if you believe as of course they believed, and they were right to believe, that the mission and life of Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, why would it go beyond Jewish boundaries?