Faithfulness I

by Peg Rhone

“Espoused to Christ”

Faith is one of the most important topics in the Bible. Hebrews chapter 11 is considered the “Hall of Fame” of the faithful. The reason they are to be commended is because they were faithful all of their lives.

Hebrews 11:13
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

A faithful person is not one who merely hears God’s word, but one who performs it. Faithfulness is evidenced in a long-continued and steadfast allegiance to God, who is always faithful! Of the dozens of uses of faith, most describe God’s faithfulness to us!

Matthew 22:37,38
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.

This sounds pretty passionate to me! God does not desire an apathetic business relationship with us! God is passionate towards us! He gave His son. Whatever you have a passion for is what you will gravitate towards.

I Corinthians 4:1,2
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

The two points mentioned in this verse, stewards of the mysteries of God and faithfulness, will be discussed in this series of teachings. One of the mysteries of God is that Christ is the husband, and the Church is his Bride (Ephesians 5:23 & 32). This comparison helps us understand how we are to live in faithful obedience.

Faithfulness in any of the areas that are most important in life requires that we discipline ourselves for the long haul, not the quick fix. Another way of putting it is: life is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether in our marriage, a job, a diet, or our relationship with God, sticking to it day after day, week after week, and doing it right, is a challenge. And yet, God requires faithfulness from us.

In the book of Revelation there is a wonderful word picture painted of Christ welcoming the faithful believers into the kingdom, and to the marriage supper of the Lamb. What joy!

Revelation 19:7&9
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

There is a beautiful analogy used here, the faithful believer is called the “wife” of the Lamb. God often paints with word pictures in order to help us understand a spiritual truth more clearly. One such picture is the analogy of believers as the espoused wife of Christ.

II Corinthians 11:2,3
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

To fully appreciate II Corinthians we must have an understanding of the term “espoused” as used in the Bible. One who is espoused is promised in marriage but the marriage has not yet been consummated. A period of time passes from the espousal until the actual marriage ceremony. Espousal was the initial step in marriage. The bride’s status changed. Even though they had not consummated the marriage, she was dealt with as a married woman.

Encompassed in the espousal the groom is duty bound to perform certain functions (which we will get into in greater detail later) but the bride’s primary responsibilities during this time were to prepare herself for marriage and to keep herself pure. See Ephesians 5:25-27.

II Corinthians 11:2,3
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

We need to realize that we belong to Christ. Our life and our future are with him! Stay put on the truth. Don’t be seduced.

Ephesians 5:23 & 32
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

We have been espoused to Christ. Even though we have not yet consummated the marriage, we are already considered his bride. And we will rejoice with him at the marriage supper if we are faithful.

For a good look at what espoused means see the record of Mary and Joseph’s espousal in Luke 1:27 and Matthew 1:18-20.

The analogy given in Ephesians chapter 5 concerns Christ (the groom) and the church (the bride). In that record the bride is told to submit unto the Lord, follow his lead because he is “the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Therefore we, the Church, should be subject to him in everything, recognizing his great love for us.

The point is this is a relationship from the heart. When I was a child I saw a play about the life of Jesus Christ called the “Passion Play”. During one scene of the play, several childred approached Jesus and he held and blessed them. When I saw those children sit on the lap of Jesus, I craved to be there, in the loving arms of Christ.

Too many people have a “business” relationship with God, “if you do this for me and I’ll do that for you”. But God desires a heart relationship with us, based on love and appreciation. The greatest love affair we can ever have is to, love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, to be passionate about God!

In II Corinthians Paul said that he was “jealous over you with godly jealousy”. Most people do not understand that there is such a thing as righteous jealousy. God calls Himself “jealous” 21 times in the Bible. His jealousy can best be described as “intolerant of unfaithfulness”.

Exodus 34:14
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

In Jeremiah 3:8 the Lord said that He divorced Israel because of her unfaithfulness. In the “law of jealousies” (Numbers 5:11-31) righteous jealousy it is withholding affections rightfully due your spouse and giving them to another. The same holds true for godly jealousy, it is withholding affections rightfully due to God, through Christ, and giving them to another. Paul says that we are to live as a chaste virgin espoused to Christ, acting like we are already “married” to him.

We are warned to not be corrupted from the simplicity of our relationship as Eve was. She was “beguiled” or seduced, not overtly, but subtlety. Eve was carried away from her fidelity to God through the wiles of the Serpent, as she shifted her focus from the truth just a bit, and then a little bit more, until finally “Bam!” she willingly went against the will of God!

God requires faithfulness. But God would never require us to do something without giving us the means to succeed. Ephesians 6:10-20 clearly teaches us HOW to stand “against the wiles of the devil”, that is by putting on the whole armour of God. Our focus must be on Him and on Christ as the head of the church. That keeps us standing, faithful.

Make every decision in light of the hope.

Revelation 2:10
… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

One day our passion, our faithfulness, our love, our self-discipline shall be rewarded in His kingdom when we enjoy eternal life with Him. What a great celebration the marriage supper of the Lamb will be! That is our hope.

Revelation 19:7&9
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

I can only imagine how magnificent it will be!