Sabbath, July 30, 2005
“There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and
blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.” Song of Solomon 6:8, 9.
• To learn the great importance and role of the church in the plan of salvation.
• To study the relation of the church and Christ as illustrated by some examples.
• To understand the sacredness and importance of the church’s commission.
HUSBAND AND WIFE
1. How does the Bible illustrate the relation between the church and Christ?
Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
“God is the husband of His church. The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. Every true believer is a part of the body of Christ. Christ regards unfaithfulness shown to Him by His people as the unfaithfulness of a wife to her husband. We are to remember that we are members of Christ’s body.
“The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. She should keep herself pure, sanctified, holy. Never should she indulge in any foolishness; for she is the bride of a King. Yet she does not realize her exalted position. If she understood this, she would be all-glorious within.
“The church is the bride of Christ, and her members are to yoke up with their Leader. God warns us not to defile our garments.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 985, 986.
2. Considering that the church is the bride of Christ, explain the duty and privilege of the church.
Song of Solomon 4:7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
“Christ honored the marriage relation by making it also a symbol of the union between Him and His redeemed ones. He Himself is the Bridegroom; the bride is the church, of which, as His chosen one, He says, ‘Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.’ ” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 356.
“Another obligation, too often lightly regarded–one that to the youth awakened to the claims of Christ needs to be made plain–is the obligation of church relationship.
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church–He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.“The church is organized for service; and in a life of service to Christ, connection with the church is one of the first steps. Loyalty to Christ demands the faithful performance of church duties.” –Education, p. 268, 269.
A MAN AND A WOMAN
3. Considering that in the beginning God created one man and one woman, how should the relationship of Christ and the church be on earth?
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Song of Solomon 6:8, 9 (first part) There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her…
“God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that His church may be one as He was one with His Father will finally be answered. The rich dowry of the Holy Spirit will be given, and through its constant supply to the people of God they will become witnesses in the world of the power of God unto salvation.
“There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 50.
4. How can we explain so many denominations and churches in the present time?
Isaiah 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
2 Timothy 4:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2 Thessalonians 2:3 (first part) Let no man deceive you by any means???
“Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness; faith and love grow cold, and estrangement and dissension enter. Church members center their interests and energies in worldly pursuits, and sinners become hardened in their impenitence.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 378, 379.
“The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ’s message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations.
“As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 232.
GIVEN FOR HIS CHURCH
5. Which part of Adam’s body was used for the creation of the woman? Genesis 2:18, 21. How much more has Jesus given for His church and what does this means for her?
Genesis 2:18, 21 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him… And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
John 19:33, 34 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
“ ‘Upon this rock,’ said Jesus, ‘I will build My church.’ In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself,- -His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 413.
“The Saviour has given His precious life in order to establish a church capable of caring for sorrowful, tempted souls.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 640.
“The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Christ, as His bride, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the heavenly courts, the world above.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 305.
6. What may be said about the fascinating beauty of Eve as she was created? Genesis 2:22, 23; 1:27. By the grace of God, how will the church be at the second coming of Christ?
Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Ephesians 5: 26, 27 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
“Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a ‘glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ (Ephesians 5:27). Then she will look ‘forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.’ (Song of Solomon 6:10).” –The Great Controversy, p. 425.
“God’s love for His church is infinite. His care over His heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon the church but such as is essential for her purification, her present and eternal good. He will purify His church even as He purified the temple at the beginning and close of His ministry on earth. All that He brings upon the church in test and trial comes that His people may gain deeper piety and more strength to carry the triumphs of the cross to all parts of the world.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 228.
MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH
7. How will God purify the believers that constitute His beloved church?
Malachi 3:2-4 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
“The Master sees wherein we need to be purified for His heavenly kingdom. He will not leave us in the furnace until we are wholly consumed. As a refiner and purifier of silver, He is beholding His children, watching the process of purification, until He shall discern His image reflected in us. Although we often feel affliction’s flame kindling about us, and at times fear that we shall be utterly consumed, yet the loving-kindness of God is just as great toward us at these times as when we are free in spirit and triumphing in Him. The furnace is to purify and refine, but not to consume and destroy. God in His providence would try us, to purify us as the sons of Levi, that we may offer to Him an offering in righteousness.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1182.
“Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God’s children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading His children that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are His chosen methods of discipline, and His appointed conditions of success.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 524.
8. Although the church has faults and weaknesses, how does God consider it?
Zechariah 3:1, 3, 4 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
“Enfeebled and defective, needing constantly to be warned and counseled, the church is nevertheless the object of Christ’s supreme regard. He is making experiments of grace on human hearts and is effecting such transformations of character that angels are amazed and express their joy in songs of praise. They rejoice to think that sinful, erring human beings can be so transformed.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 16.
“From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 12.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• Discuss the relations existing between bride and bridegroom and between the church and Christ.
• How do we explain that, although there are numerous denominations in the world, God’s true church is only one?
• Considering that the woman should be a “help meet” for Adam, explain how the church can be the help meet of Christ’s work. Discuss the present and future image of the church, the wife of the second Adam.
• Tell how the Lord will purify His people in the church. Relate some of the personal experiences made within the church itself.