Orphans Adopted

The Gospel, Theology

(By: Chris Marley)

A world of orphans
	Alienated
Long lost sinners
	Isolated
A global orphanage
	And angry mob
Of shaking fists
	And attempts to lob
Stones of furious words
	Like “God is dead”
Hoping to drown out
	Existential dread
Heaving bricks through windows
	Of their own intellect
Shouting “follow us”
	To every tribe and sect
“We will tear down God
	like twisted iconoclasts
And replace Him ourselves
	And we will stand fast
On the day of judgment
	That will never come
Compile our numbers
	To a powerful sum”
But yet there are some
	Who hear the truth
Later in song but
	At first uncouth
First, the conscience
	That screams out the Law
Breaking facades
	And leaving them raw
Exposing unrighteousness
	Revealing unworthiness
The calling of “lawlessness”
	Shows them their life’s a mess
Broken and destitute
	Like Rahab the prostitute
Pleading for mercy
	They cannot deserve
Pleading for grace
	From the one they don’t serve
Like dogs for crumbs
	From the master’s table
Drowning in guilt
	They know they’re unable
To earn love
	From their God
Since their ancestor
	Was formed from the sod
Breathed into life
	Yet broke the law
Tore fruit from the branches
	And finally saw
What evil was
	Within himself
And though once high
	On sacred shelf
He fell, with his wife,
	And all posterity
Fell broken and bent
	From that prosperity
Creating the orphans
	Lost from their God
Repressing the truth
	They ever applaud
Their works
	To drown out the noise
Clinging to riches
	Their lusts and their toys
Yet there are some
	Who from past eternal
God chose to save
	From fate infernal
And sent His Son
	In the fullness of time
To clothe them himself
	In His works sublime
To turn away wrath
	And absorb it alone
Now cursed was the one
	Who once sat on the throne
Cursed by their sin
	Through imputation
Drinking the cup
	For their salvation
That orphans convicted
	Could now be adopted
By grace through faith
	Their salvation allotted
For they are made heirs
	Through redemption applied
Eternal inheritance
	Through Christ now supplied
Calling, “Abba, Father”
	Who wipes away tears
And approaching the throne
	With boldness, not fear
Pitied
	Protected
		Provided for
			Chastened
Sealed to that Day
	By everlasting salvation
Not of themselves
	What they’ve done
		Or will do
No man can stand
	To receive his own due
It’s not what they’ve done
	But what they have heard
Of what Christ has done
	And salvation assured
In the Gospel of Peace
	To orphans long lost
Through faith we now see
	That adoption’s cost
In the cry, “It is finished!”
	Made from the cross
And now He is risen
	In Heaven he waits
For when angels carry us
	Past those pearl gates
To glory eternal
	New heavens, new earth
Changed out like a garment
	In cosmos rebirth
Where the children adopted
	By faith and by grace
In the arms of their Father
	Will then know their place

Chris Marley is the pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, AZ.

Leavers, Cleavers, and Covenant Union

Christ in the Old Testament, The Church, Theology

(By: Chris Marley)

Christ and His Bride foreshadowed in Genesis 2:24

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_The_Proposal_(1872)After Introducing the Princess Bride to the Prototype of an Ideal Husband as Our Lady of the Rib, we are told, “…A man shall leave his father… and shall cleave unto his wife” in Genesis 2:24. Here, a general precedent is set for a man to leave his home, his place of origin, and cleave to his bride. The man is called upon to leave his father’s house, wherein he lacks no need and has the comfort of familiarity, out of a desire for a bride. In leaving one home, he must then undertake the responsibility of head of the new household, becoming the provider of his family, and lead in the new home. The now-husband assumes the debts and needs of his new bride.

In like fashion, Christ came from heaven, leaving the heavenly home and Father, and redeemed for himself a bride. He left heaven and Father where he held the glory and sovereignty which he shared with the Father  (John 17:5). He left an earthly mother, Mary, in order to endure the hardships of life in a fallen world. He lived a perfect life of obedience in order to clothe his bride and fulfill her debt. He would even be obedient unto the death of the cross, declaring vows that sealed the bride to himself. In doing these things, he assumed the debt of the bride and paid it in full. He took the Federal Headship, leaving home, father, and mother, in order to cleave to his bride.The second theme in this verse is that a man and his wife shall be one flesh. Now remember, this is God who is creating. He could have made

The second theme in this verse is that a man and his wife shall be one flesh. Now remember, this is God who is creating. He could have made us asexual creatures, but one of the major reasons he did not is in order to provide us with a metaphor of his relationship to us. On the pragmatic side of things, it is important to note that this is about “wife,” “girl in a committed relationship,” or “girl man has very strong feelings about,” but “wife.” This is about covenant relationship. Men and women are not meant to seek the physicality of marriage without the covenant of marriage.

On the other side of the metaphor, we should rejoice that Christ’s love is within the confines of a covenant. It is not seasonal, it will not fade, and it will not forget. It is the thing signified by marriage, and is greater than earthly marriage, because there is no “‘till death do us part” clause in the Covenant of Grace.

If we are meant to see Christ in every page of Scripture, why is this narrative being related to us? Because the bridegroom and bride will become one flesh, first by Christ taking on flesh, and then by our being born again in his likeness. How mysterious and beautiful is the union with Christ! The doctrine of Union with Christ is both delicate and volatile. Some would ignore it for fear of straying into error. Others may be too bold, even claiming that saints become God in some way as if they merge into some Christian version of Nirvana. There is a balance, and it is most easily found through this metaphor.

A husband and wife become one in marriage. There are imputed values (like a balance-transfer) that take place. A wife is given all of her husband’s assets and/or debts. Likewise, a husband receives all those belonging to his wife. They share a last name, a home, finances, and possessions. There is a physical union in the marriage bed. They should speak with a united voice on decisions made for the household and the purposes of the family. Everything becomes mutual in as much as is possible.

Yet distinctions do exist. There are still two physical bodies, two minds, two souls, two sets of interests and opinions that will never fully merge. It is foolish to pretend otherwise. The wife of a surgeon may receive esteem and the financial stability of a surgeon’s paycheck, but she should never take up the scalpel and attempt a heart transplant (unless she goes through medical school herself). My wife is trained as a florist, but that does not miraculously make me capable of building a bridal bouquet.

Likewise, the union of the believer with Christ is extraordinary. By imputation, the believer is counted as holding the righteousness of Christ’s earthly ministry. How beautiful! How mysterious! The Bride receives only of Christ’s good while Christ assumes only her debt to be paid on the cross. The more believers grow in grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the more their mind is conformed to Him and the more their heart desires that which is good and holy. The saint has the security before God that the Son does! However much the saint is one with Christ, though, he is still separate and distinct. The believer will not achieve the archetypal knowledge of God, nor the power to speak and create ex nihilo. Certainly the glory and honor owed to God will ever remain his own. Only Christ, being God, could claim before the Father, “…Yours are mine.” John 17:10. We can only declare to God, “What is mine is yours.” Yet, the believer is bound to Christ more securely than a wedding license can provide, more intimately than the wedding bed, more magnificently than earthly marriage can display. This is union with Christ.

When the two become one in the earthly marriage, life is produced. This is not perfectly consistent because nothing is in earthly marriage. But what we see is a kind of bizarre mathematical concept that the one plus one equals one… plus one. God used the intimacy of marriage as the means to produce new life. I will not belabor the earthly aspect, but the thing signified in Christ and church bears exploring.

It is important to note that this does not defy the monergistic nature of salvation (a technical term for stating that it is Christ alone who saves). Some would claim that man co-authors his salvation (synergistic), but it is God who saves. The Father chooses, the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit quickens. The church does not co-author that salvation, but God uses means and secondary causes. God uses his bride to accomplish salvation through the general call to salvation.

Paul states that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the preaching of the word of God, Romans 10:17. This is the ordinary means of salvation. God works through the foolishness of preaching to quicken the spirit, regenerating the heart to respond in faith to the message preached. It is not usual, ordinary, or to be expected that God should speak in an audible voice as he did with Noah, Abraham, and Paul. Rather, God uses his already-awakened redeemed to share the gospel that awakened them. Not every sharing of testimony or even every faithful, clear, gospel-preaching sermon automatically results in sinners being saved. It requires the attending work of the Holy Spirit for redemption to be applied.

Here is where the metaphor applies. For earthly children to be born, the husband and wife are to meet together in intimacy. For earthly men to be born again as children of the kingdom of God, the bride of Christ must meet with her husband. When Christ chooses to so visit his bride through his Holy Spirit, new life is produced. Not every sermon attended by the Holy Spirit results in salvation, but a sermon cannot change the hearts of men without the Holy Spirit. Essentially, this means that every sermon through which the Holy Spirit chooses to save will save whomsoever the Holy Spirit intends. This is the nature of Irresistible Grace.

This article first appeared at Credomag.com and is used here with permission. Chris Marley is the pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, AZ.

Our Lady of the Rib: The Making of the Type of the Church

The Church, The Gospel, Theology

(By: Chris Marley)

Read Part 1: Introducing the Princess Bride

Read Part 2: Prototype of the Ideal Husband

ribHaving used the Bride of Christ metaphor to revisit the Pactum Salutis in Introducing the Princess Bride and the creation of Adam in Prototype of an Ideal Husband, we now turn to a different kind of Creation.

Genesis 2:20-25 recounts an act of what we call Creatio Passiva or Creatio Secunda, wherein God creates something out of something, as opposed to the first part of creation where he created out of nothing (Adam’s creation falls into this category as well). After the type of Christ in Adam is made flesh and blood from the dust of the earth, the type of the church in Eve is formed from Adam’s side. While tradition has translated this as “one of his ribs,” the most literal rendering is just that she is taken from out of his side. There is no other ancient Near-Eastern creation narrative that parallels this. In and of itself, the rib-woman is a phenomenon that holds many facets of application as a metaphor of the church.

Eve created from a rib taken from Adam teaches of gain from loss. He loses a rib to gain a wife. As Adam’s bride was gain from loss, so was Christ’s bride gain from loss. Christ descended from the glory of heaven, endured the wrath of God, and even surrendered his spirit in order to gain for himself a people to call his bride.

Eve from a rib showed much being made from little. Certainly this is a small matter for the God who spoke and created from nothing, but it is impossible for man to create a hundred-pound anything from something that is only a few ounces. Yet we see that Christ took Adam and Eve and produced from the whole human race. From Abraham he produced all of Israel. From the disciples and a murdering Pharisee (Saul/Paul) he produced a church that would span the globe. He made his beloved bride from worthless sinners.

Eve from a rib taught Adam that his completion was outside himself. The world is filled with people seeking to discover happiness within themselves. They seek wisdom within themselves. They think that through self-confidence and ego they can become complete in and of themselves. There are even “religious” people who believe that they are capable of saving themselves. Yet, the scriptures teach that salvation, joy, and peace that surpasses understanding are found in God who is completely other than us.

Eve from a rib points to Eve’s identity deriving from Adam. Calvin writes, “In this manner Adam was taught to recognize himself in his wife, as in a mirror…”[1] and in the same way, Eve saw herself in Adam. Likewise, it is essential that the Church derive her identity from Christ from whom she is derived. There are many assemblies calling themselves churches that derive identity from philanthropic interests, human heritage, or even race. A true church should have an identity founded solely upon her savior and husband, Christ. Her understanding of him in terms of who he is, how he saved her, and how he labors in and through her should shape her identity. The identity of the church is in the very gospel that created her.

When the Eve-rib was taken from Adam’s side, he was under divine general anesthesia of sleep. Adam felt nothing as God took the rib from his side. It was a painless creation of the bride in a world into which sin had not yet entered. In the pre-fall world, the creation of Adam’s bride required no pain. This contrasts drastically with the identity of the Bride of Christ formed after the fall. For that bride, the bridegroom did not lose a rib during sleep, but was crushed in the body. Adam’s account would serve a more peaceful foreshadowing of Christ’s passion with a surprising number of correlations. As Claude Chavasse states, “Christ’s Death and Passion would thus be prefigured by Adam’s sleep, and the opening of his side to take out the rib; his Resurrection, by Adam’s waking again. Round the Rib was built up the new Bride, who may thus be said to have slept and woken again with the new Adam.”

Finally, Eve was taken from life to perpetuate life. This woman would be the mother of all living men and women. This is why Adam would call her Eve in chapter three. Her life would produce life, which ties into a subject I will deal with in a later article regarding the meeting of the husband and wife producing life, but it serves well to briefly address some aspects here. God chose not to create Eve in the same way as Adam. She was not formed from dust to have life breathed into her. Adam was formed in an event unique to only him, but Eve was created from the first Adam.

Christ was born of Mary as a virgin. Scripture gives us a limited account in the prophecy by angel in Luke 1:35. His birth was as unique to history as Adam’s was. From Christ’s life, his bride’s life would be produced. His side would be opened by a Roman spear following his real death, paralleling Adam’s figurative death. Her life would be the source of life of children beyond count or measure. In the world we know, and all of history excluding Adam and Christ, life follows a consistent pattern. Cells are formed by mitosis (where a parent cell gives of itself to produce a new one), and people are formed from an already present and living mother.

While it is important to emphasize the nature of salvation as by God alone, he uses the church as an instrument in his hands to bring about new life. We are born again by Christ through the church. This is why Scripture emphasizes evangelism and preaching. If you look back to your own conversion, it was not by God speaking in an audible voice, calling you to repent and believe. After the Apostles and Paul, Christ always used human servants to spread the Gospel. Whether by the proper preaching of the Word or by the testimony of a believer, every Christian comes to new life through the church.

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[1] Calvins Commentary Vol. I, p. 132

This article first appeared at Credomag.com and is used here with permission. Chris Marley is the pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, AZ.

 

Prototype of the Ideal Husband

The Church, The Gospel, Theology

(By: Chris Marley)

Read Part 1: Introducing the Princess Bride

PrinceGod’s Word begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth. The very word Genesis comes from the Greek word for beginning. This is where it all started. God speaks, and whatever he says is. It is not that it shortly will be, or the angels will rush out and accomplish it straightway, but it is. He created everything that you and I have ever known out of nothing, ex nihilo. The most important elements are very clear in this controversial first chapter of Genesis: that God is the source of all creation, and he is omnipotent. God is sovereign, all-powerful, beyond comprehension.

I draw attention to this because the starting point of theology must always be God in his transcendent glory. To meet the lady working behind the counter at the local fast food restaurant inspires little awe, but to meet the Queen of England would be an astounding event. We cannot appreciate God’s immanence (his closeness through Christ) without transcendence (how far beyond comprehension he is as enthroned creator). God becoming man in Christ must be understood in light of him first being God, or his being man does not matter.

So God creates man on the sixth day, along with pigs and earthworms. God makes him out of dirt, and breathes life into him. Notice how the first chapter of Genesis declares the majesty and sovereignty of God, while describing us as originate as dirt clods. Perspective is important. Now, Adam is alone as far as intelligent, image-bearing creatures go. God declares in chapter 2 that it is not good for man to be alone, to which many bachelors’ apartments testify. So God takes Adam’s rib and makes a wife for him. God establishes the first marriage in creation through Adam and Eve.

Before dealing directly with the creation narrative for Eve (this will be dealt with in the next article), it serves to deal with the concept of man needing a helpmate. There are entire devotional books written for women on the subject of being a helpmate/helper/help-meet. There are specific aspects that should be acknowledged here, though, given the metaphor of Bride of Christ. Namely, there is something to be learned about earthly marriage by Christ’s example.

Christ accomplishes salvation, provides all means, and yet calls upon his church to labor in a portion of the redemptive work for her sake. He assumes the responsibility, and in what little he calls upon the church to do, he equips her at every stage. She is the helper of Christ in this sense.

How does this apply to earthly husbands? It is all the husbands work, obligation, and responsibility. The husband’s job is not just to go to work and then come home to his wife. It is not immediately the wife’s job to raise the children, tend the home, cook the meals, wash dishes, etc. It is the husband’s job directly to care for the family in all aspects, but it is the wife’s job to help/obey her husband in whatever capacity is needed. This is why it is the husband’s responsibility to tend and maintain the marriage, lead his household, and raise all members of the family up in prayer and the Word of God (i.e. loving her as Christ loved the church). Practically, this may not change a great deal of how the home functions, but it should drastically affect the husband’s attitude toward his wife and family.

On the flipside, the wife should own those endeavors of help-meet-ness and treat them with sober mindedness. Likewise, the church must treat their delegated responsibilities with the utmost diligence. The husband-wife ratio of labor is not 50/50, or we become consumed with whether the other is really giving 50%. Each should be striving to fill the 100%.

God declared that it was not good for man to be alone. This was not because Adam lacked the creativity to name all of the animals on his own. Humorous comments aside, it was not because Adam could not cook or clean. This declaration of God struck at the fundamental principle of this series. Humanity could best understand the unfolding redemptive history through metaphor. Eve would provide Adam a living means of comprehending the nature of God’s love for humanity and Adam would serve the same for Eve.

In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth (chapter 11) is one of the more controversial passages of scripture. My concern is not to unravel the validity or invalidity of head-coverings, but to get at the heart and underlying doctrine of the passage. In verse seven, Paul declares that man “is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” There is a very real sense in which man is meant to learn about his relationship to God by examining the relationship man has to woman. It is a two-way street of sorts, because man learns about heavenly marriage from earthly marriage and about earthly marriage from heavenly marriage.

Paul’s writings in Ephesians 5:22-33 work in this way. The wife is to submit to her husband, the head of the family, as the church is to submit to Christ, the head of the church. This troubles many people, but it is not even the more demanding of the two charges. The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. The perfect example of love in sacrifice, care, and preservation is the standard for husbands. Men are to love their wives this way; this is God’s command through his servant Paul. The closer a husband is to loving his wife as Christ loved the church, the easier it will be for the wife to submit to her husband.

Thus the stage is set for the creation of Eve, the production of types and shadows, and the progressive revelation of the mystery of the Gospel. As John Owen says, the reason it is called mystery is because it requires God to reveal it to us, or we could never find it out.

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This article first appeared at Credomag.com and is used here with permission. Chris Marley is the pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, AZ.

Introducing the Princess Bride

The Church, The Gospel, Theology

BrideofChrist(By: Chris Marley)

This will, Lord willing, be the first in a series of posts on the subject of the Bride of Christ in Genesis. It is the most extensively used metaphor in Scripture, providing a through line connecting covenants and uniting God’s people. It is the metaphor from which two other highly used metaphors stem, namely the Children of God and the Body of Christ. The Bride of Christ also sheds a great deal of light on our ecclesiology (the study of the church) and the nature of Christ’s immanence to his people. Understanding this metaphor affects how we live our Christian lives, how we do evangelism, and even our view of eschatology (the study of Christ’s return). Basically, my conviction is that if Scripture spends a great deal of time on it, so should we.

All that being said, the narrative actually begins outside the reaches of human history. Perhaps it seems ridiculous to find a starting point before the beginning, but in this case it is necessary. The beginning would be Genesis 1:1, but our narrative begins even before Scripture in a doctrine only alluded to by various passages. This is the pactum salutis, or Covenant of Redemption. Assuming the doctrine of election of which Paul and Christ spoke so often, the real narrative begins outside of time within the Trinity. God determined what would be created, how it would be created, and for what purposes. God chose, before the beginning of the world, who would be His.

So what bearing does this have on the Bride of Christ? It means the marriage is an arranged one. Those whom the Father chose, the son redeemed… The Father in glory, before the beginning of the world, chose who would be the Bride of the Son.

Understand, I am not arguing for a return to arranged marriages for culture, but in this case it is beautiful. Even within Scripture, we see an instance where even arranged marriages were atypical by calling for the approval of the children for the wedding. The issue in earthly arranged marriage is the fallibility of the parents and inherent disunion with the children, but in this case, the parent is perfection itself in perfect harmony with the perfect Son and changes the heart of the imperfect bride.

Why is this significant? This means that the intimate love of a betrothed husband originates before the world began. God’s love for His people, Christ’s dedication to the elect, began in perfect unity of the Trinity before the earth was created. For every Christian, Christ’s love began before He spoke the heavens and the earth into existence. There is intrinsic value in longevity. People are fascinated by pyramids, Stonehenge, and other such ancient structures because of how they have withstood time. How much more rest and assurance does the Christian, in knowing that the love and dedication of God for and to them, is older than the universe itself? As A.W. Pink says, “What assurance would be ours if, when we approached the throne of grace, we realized that the Father’s heart had been set upon us from the beginning of all things!”

One of the major issues seen in the arranged marriages of history, especially in the ruling class, is that they are often marriages of convenience, mutually beneficial for the parents. A prince in England is married to a princess of France in order to build alliances and fortify empires. However, with the Bride of Christ, it is a marriage of inconvenience for the one arranging. God had no need in and of himself, but desired to display His grace and love through a marriage of His perfect Son to an imperfect and sinful bride.

There are many reasons why people get married to a specific person, regardless of whether they are proper reasons. People marry for money and security, attraction, esteem, or even just good companionship. Edward Pearse asks his readers if they “are for” such things, only to go on and declare how Christ fulfills all the things that people seek in a spouse greater than any human could. In the segment on riches, he speaks of how the marriage is not one of mutual benefit, but of extraordinary benefit to the believer. “You are poor, miserable and naked; and will you not embrace this Christ offering Himself with all these riches toward you?”

Though we cannot know the mind of God and the nature of the Trinity in fullness because we are so limited as created beings, perhaps an imagined dialogue is helpful…

Peace, Father

Peace, Son

Peace, Spirit

Peace to all in one

Son, you know whom I have chosen; on whom I have set my heart. Does the covenant please you?

Yes, Father, I love her.

You know what will happen, what she will do, and what you must do to have her?

Yes, Father, but I love those whom you have given me.

Spirit, you know what you must do to apply the Son’s work, dwell within, and endure their grieving of you?

Yes, Father, but she will be loved in spite of herself.

Then when the LORD has sworn by himself, he shall not repent of it. When it is spoken, then shall it be.

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This article first appeared at Credomag.com and is used here with permission. Chris Marley is the pastor of Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, AZ.