Lesson 403 - Senior
"We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Ephesians 5:30).
I The Importance of Holy Living
1. We are exhorted to walk in love, [EPH:5:1-2]; [EPH:4:1-4].
2. We are warned against sinfulness, [EPH:5:3-7].
3. The believer walks in the light, [EPH:5:8-13]; [1JN:1:7].
4. The will of the Lord is to redeem the time, praise and worship God, [EPH:5:14-21].
II The Church, the Body of Christ
1. The wife, in relation to her husband, is a type of the Church's relationship to Christ, [EPH:5:22-24].
2. The husband is a type of Christ and His love for the Church, [EPH:5:25].
3. Christ gave Himself for the Church that he might present it as a Bride unto himself, [EPH:5:26-27].
4. Men are taught to love their wives by Christ's love for His Church, [EPH:5:28-29].
III The Beauty and Wonder of the Bride of Christ
1. The Bride is united with Christ in a mystical body, unseen but real, and does His will, manifesting true Christian graces in everything, [EPH:5:30]; [PRO:31:10-31].
2. As a woman forsakes all for her husband, so Christ's Bride leaves all to be joined to Christ, [EPH:5:31-32].
3. Earthly marital ties are deep and wonderful, [EPH:5:33].
A Holy Life
The true Church, the Church of the Firstborn, is a mystical body. The church as it is known in its many physical forms in this world, bears little resemblance to the Church that we study about in the New Testament. Christ is the Head of the Church, and this means that the Church is subject to Him in all its teachings, plans, and policies. It is plain for all to see that all church members in this world are not subject to Christ in all they say, think, or do. This brings us to the conclusion that to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ means much more than belonging to some earthly organisation. Earthly organisations fill their place, of course, but membership in the Church of the Firstborn is the all-important thing.
We are exhorted in this lesson to live a holy life. When the Christian loves God, reads and obeys God's Word, and has been redeemed from sin by the sinless One, Jesus Christ the Lord, he finds it natural to obey every precept that he finds in the Bible. Every exhortation to godliness he appreciates and clings to; and every warning against the dangers that he might encounter he gladly heeds, knowing that in following the Word of God he is proving the love he has in his heart for the Bride-groom of his soul. He is not serving God for reward, nor is he doing it out of fear of reprisal; but his service is a result of his love for Jesus who has done so much for him.
There was a danger when Paul wrote this Epistle to the Ephesians that some of them might continue in the sinful, unclean ways of the unrighteous man and be deceived into believing that they had a part in the Kingdom of Christ anyway. He blasts this false conception by telling them: "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." That danger is still with us. In spite of the many warnings of the Scriptures, some people live in sin and call themselves Christians. This lesson enumerates many of the sins and says pointedly that they who do such things have no part in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
The Christian has passed from under this terrible darkness and now walks in the glorious light of the Gospel. The things that once overcame him he now overcomes. The light of God's Word shows things to him now in a new way and he abhors every evil thing. He enjoys fellowship with God and with the people of God. He does not desire the fellowship and friendship of the world, for he knows these things will draw him away from his love for his Lord and Master.
The saint of God feels ashamed of the things that the worldly man delights in, for they are at variance with the spiritual life. The fact is that the Christian's love for God just naturally separates him from them who walk in darkness; his life and testimony are a reproof unto them. The man or woman, boy or girl, who has set himself to be ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is busy in the Lord's work. Things that others can do that seem necessary to them he sees as foolishness, for he expects his Lord to come for him soon. Others say that things continue as they were "since the fathers fell asleep" [2PE:3:4]). But the Bride of Christ is longing and praying for the hour to come when the Bridegroom will appear to take His Bride out of this world.
If we are going to be ready for Jesus' coming and be a member of the Bride of Christ, we must do more than know that He will come back to earth again. We must prepare for His return and keep in a state of preparedness. We are to be translated by faith, but we will never have such faith unless the Word of God has purified our lives. Without that purifying which comes through the Blood of Jesus and the Word, and without that hope of His soon coming in our heart, we will not have the faith to be translated -" to lose gravitation and go up when Jesus comes.
This lesson is taught to us very plainly in the parable of the Ten Virgins in the 25th chapter of Matthew [MAT:25:1-13]). Five of the virgins were wise and five were foolish. The difference was that the wise had oil in their vessels with their lamps; and with their lamps trimmed and burning they went in to the marriage. The foolish virgins had been careless about keeping their supply of oil, and their lamps had gone out. The oil typifies the Spirit of God many places in the Scriptures. The foolish had not walked in the light to obtain the extra supply of oil needed, and had let that which they had leak out. The wise had availed themselves of the opportunity afforded to be filled with the Spirit. Having been baptised with the Holy Ghost, He, the Spirit of Truth, led them into all truth and showed them that their Lord would soon come.
They knew that the careless and indifferent would never be ready; and by watchfulness and prayer they had retained the Spirit upon their lives and were ready when the call came. But with the foolish this was not the case. Through carelessness and neglect their lamps had gone out and they were unprepared when the cry went forth, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Just so will it be when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride. They who are ready will go in to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and those who are left on the outside will be left to go through the terrible tribulation that will come upon this earth.
The Bride of Christ is espoused to Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of her heart. "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" [EPH:5:30]). Christ's purpose is that He might have "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" [EPH:5:27]). He supplies the grace to prepare just such a Bride and to sustain her in this state in this present world. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.
Every soul is responsible for walking in the light that has shined across his pathway. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" ([1JN:1:7]). "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith"([1JN:5:4]). It is impossible to have faith in God or in His promises unless one is walking in the light of the Word. If a person refuses any part of the light that comes to him, the light that is in him becomes darkness.
The Church of the Firstborn is made up of individuals and it can be holy and without blemish as each member of it is purified and made holy. If the members of this Church forget their vows and consecrations to Jesus, they will be tempted to go after "another" and will forget that their main purpose is to please the Lord and to prepare for the day when He will come back for His own.
Husbands and Wives
Husbands and wives are taught their obligations to each other through this lesson of Christ's love and relationship to His Church. Many troubles, heartbreaks, broken homes and divorces would be avoided if the husband and wife were members of the Church of which Christ is the Head. When the husband loves the wife as Christ loves the Church, he will not be the cause of trouble in that home. When the wife is subject to the husband as the Church is to Christ, her side of the marital relationship will make for peace and continuing love. If both husband and wife obey the Word of God and their attitudes toward each other are right, they fulfil the place that God ordained for them in having a happy spiritual relationship. Their children will rise up and call them blessed. Many times we have heard testimonies of the redeemed that gave a great deal of credit to Christian fathers and mothers for living before their children an example that made them want to follow in their parents' footsteps in serving the Lord.
Redeeming the Time
Christians have a great responsibility in the use of their time. Paul exhorts us to redeem the time, because the days are evil. We are to use our time to the best advantage in winning souls for the Kingdom. Many unimportant things come up that someone must do, but the Bride of Christ remembers that her first obligation is to obey the voice of the Master and go forth bearing precious seed. She must do this even though beset by trials and persecutions.
The Bride of Christ is the sorrowing Bride today. She is now bearing the cross. She is pure and holy, washed in the Blood, refined and tried as gold, willing, to be counted as the off-scouring of the earth and suffer reproach for His Name. Jesus was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and He will have a Bride to reign with Him who has first suffered with Him. We are living on the very eve of the coming of the Son of God. Soon our privilege of winning souls for Jesus will be past. Then how many will cry, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" [JER:8:20])!
The more evil the time the more the Christian shines. The worse the day, the more dire the need for the Gospel of light. In Noah's day every thought and imagination of the hearts of the people was evil continually. But he condemned the world by believing God in the midst of all the evil. When the time for the flood came, Noah and his household rode on top of the flood, just as the Bride of Christ will rise above this old world in the Rapture. She will be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb while the flood of God's indignation is being poured out on this world during the Great Tribulation. The most profitable way to redeem or use our time is to prepare for the Lord's coming and to help others to get ready also.
1. Who is the Head of the Church?
2. What kind of Church does Christ desire for Himself?
3. What love is the husband to have for the wife? With what is it compared?
4. What is the wife's attitude to be toward her husband?
5. What reason given in this lesson urges us to redeem the time?
6. What is our attitude to be toward works of darkness?
7. What are the things listed in this lesson that bar one from the Kingdom of Christ and bring the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience?
8. What will have to be the condition of the Church that is presented to Christ?
9. What are the conditions that keep the Church prepared for the Rapture?