John: “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying “Behold! The dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God himself will be with them as their God.”
Then came one of the seven angels…saying: “Come! I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he (the angel) carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God—having the Glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.” Excerpts from Rev 21:2-3; 9-11
Observation: Hot dog!! All the stuff that has come before in the Revelation of John was awesome, soberly awesome, dry up the mouth awesome. It catches me in the deep part of my soul. But now: the vision of all that God has planned through the Gospel is being presented: the Gospel is to prepare the Bride, the Church for the Groom, our Lord Jesus. AMEN and AMEN!
Application: This is what the Gospel is about at the eternal macro level—the Bride, the Church.
It is absolutely appropriate to relate the Gospel to individuals, but it is the accumulation of the Elect over the ages that comprises the Church. It is the Church that is the Bride, it is the Church that has the radiance of the Glory of God clothing her like a rare jewel.
While the Bride/Church in this context is a factual theorem (a convoluted phrase) our practical application is the Local Church (a shadow of the actual Church). It is the Local Church where we get to practice and apply the lessons of becoming the Image of the Son (Ro 8:29). It is the Local Church that is the testimony of the reality of our Lord Jesus to a lost, dying, and needy world. It is the Local Church that becomes the crucible, being brother and sister sandpaper, on route to the human responsibility of pursuing holiness (by His Grace in His Sovereignty).
So what is that to the man in the mirror? A couple of things:
1. Studying the Gospel is a lifelong pursuit. I study the Gospel so I can apply every nuance the Holy Spirit reveals for the construction of the Body, the Local Church.
2. Fellowship. Fellowship, hospitality, phone calls, contact of any sort with Christians is important and maybe imperative…imperative for our growth in Him towards maturity. I don’t do well here. Selfishness reigns. Phooey.
3. Encouragement, daily encouragement. Here is a strange thing: Heb 3 on encouragement looks to be the only place in the Scriptures where I can take an active approach to helping others avoid temptation and sin. But what do I do? I whine about nobody encouraging me. So what comes first: the chicken or the egg? Get out there and look for evidences of Grace in others to point out and encourage on, selfish and self-absorbed person that I am…
4. Catch and cultivate the image of the Church that is the Bride of Jesus to put oomph in my life for and in the Local Church.
How can I praise you more, O God? You have done what would be considered the impossible to just about anybody. You have made a way for the Defiled to become the Beloved through the terrible price of the Cross. I can only be in the dirt kind of humbled for that. You, who I have been a traitor to, makes me a son—inconceivable but awesome. Keep me persevering to the End, Father. I look to You Lord Jesus, AMEN.