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Christ's Love for the Local Church

Tom Pennington Ephesians 5:25-27


Well, let me say welcome to you at our annual conference here at Countryside Bible Church. It’s such a joy for us to host it and to see you here and many in our own church family, many from other churches. We’re grateful that you’ve come, and we look forward to all that the Lord will do over this weekend. If you are a guest, let me just say that my name is Tom Pennington. I’m the pastor of this Church. It’s been my joy to be here for 20 years serving among a wonderful body of believers in this place. And we’re grateful that you’ve joined us. Our hope and prayer is that you will sense the love for Jesus Christ, the love for His Word, and your own heart will be moved along with us to worship Him more as a result of your time with us.

I encourage you, as we begin, to turn with me to Ephesians 5. The theme of this year’s conference is loving the local church. Now, maybe you had a question in your mind as to why. Why would we devote an entire conference to that theme? Well, there are two primary reasons. The first is because of how so many in Christianity today think about the church. My mind went to a quote from one of my favorite characters in history, Winston Churchill. He once famously said, “I’m not a pillar of the church, but a buttress. I can support it better from the outside.” Apparently, that is also the view of a lot of professing Christians, because when you examine their priorities, they’re on the outside far more than they’re on the inside. And frankly, many who attend churches across our country regularly still aren’t committed to the church. Many Christians think about the church the way they think about a restaurant. They choose one based solely on personal tastes and preferences. They only go when they desire. They only partake of what they want. They rate it on how well it meets their wants and needs, and they leave week after week with no sense of responsibility to their fellow diners or to the restaurant. That’s not how any Christian should think about what Paul calls the household of God. Thankfully, that’s not how most of you think, or you wouldn’t be attending a conference on loving the local church.

But there’s a second, even more compelling reason for the theme of this conference, and that is, we should love the local church because Jesus Christ loves the local church. The goal of the Christian life, after all, is to be like Jesus Christ, to hate what He hates and to love what He loves. Occasionally, someone will say to me that they love Jesus and then they’ll go on to tell me that they’re not really involved in a church. That’s impossible. To be like Christ, to love Christ, is to love His church. You can’t truly love Him without loving His bride. And the more like Him you become, the more you will love His church.

Now, wherever we are in our commitment to the church, we can all still grow in that commitment. And that’s the reason for this conference, is to become more like Jesus Christ in our love for and commitment to His church. In Ephesians 5, Paul points out that every Christian marriage is a living reminder of Christ’s love for His church. Go down to verse 31. He says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” That’s, you’ll notice, a quote from the Old Testament, from Genesis 2, that’s Moses’ inspired commentary on the first marriage. Husbands are to love their wives in order to reflect God’s original design. But the ultimate goal is to point to the ultimate love. Look at verse 32: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

Now, obviously Paul means that marriage pictures the relationship between Christ and us, but what he says is actually more profound than that. He says, “Here’s a mystery. Here’s a truth that was previously known only to God, but that He is now revealed.” Paul essentially says this, “Moses was speaking of a man and his wife, but I myself am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Paul interprets Genesis 2:24 as referring to Christ and His church. Now, that’s really shocking when you think about it, because we all have this sort of mistaken idea that Paul was sitting in his jail cell one day trying to come up with a great illustration of our relationship to Jesus Christ. And he’s thinking and he’s thinking and finally he says, “I’ve got it. It’s marriage. Marriage is a perfect illustration!” That is completely backward because, you see, in eternity past, God decided to save sinners through the work of His Son and then He created marriage as a living illustration. God created marriage not only because it’s not good for a man to be alone, but also as a powerful illustration of the relationship that believers have with His Son. And that is what lies behind this entire passage on husband’s love for their wives.

Let’s read it together, Ephesians 5, and I’ll begin reading in verse 25 and read down through verse 30. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

Now, when you look at that passage, you need to look at it a couple of different ways. Clearly, the applicational construction in this passage is how a Christian husband should love his wife. But the theological foundation is Christ’s love for His church. And the practical implication that comes out of that for our conference this weekend, is that every believer must love the church because Jesus Christ our Lord loves the church above all things. I want us to look at this text and look not at the husband’s love for the wife, but at the theological foundation that lies behind it because this text provides two crucial insights about Christ’s love for his church. I hope you’ll be as encouraged by these as I was as I reflected on it and studied it.

The first insight that we discover here is the object of Christ’s love, the object of Christ’s love. We need to be clear about what Paul means when he says, “Christ loved the church”. First of all, Christ loves the universal church. The New Testament uses the word church, in Greek ekklesia, the word simply means assembly. He uses that word 109 times, or I should say the New Testament uses that word 109 times. The word has two primary senses. A few times it refers to what we’ll call the universal church, the whole body of Christ’s redeemed. It’s used this way about 17 out of the 109 times that the word ekklesia occurs in the New Testament. It refers to all believers everywhere and in all times. You notice verse 25, that has to be the meaning when it says, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Who did Christ die for? He died for all His church. That must be all true believers of all time. So, Christ loves what we could call theologically the invisible, universal church, that is, the universal church as God sees it, not as we see it, all true believers.

But mostly in the New Testament, ekklesia refers to the local church. The local assembly or assemblies of those who profess faith in the Christ of Scripture. The word church is used of the universal church, of all true Christians everywhere and in all times, only as I said about 17 times in the New Testament. But the very same Greek word is used about 92 of the 109 times of local gatherings of believers.

Now, when I say local church, make sure you’re clear. I don’t mean the building where the church meets. I don’t mean an organization, but rather the people who make up the church. You are the church that meets in this building. The church is the people who are Christ’s. Christ doesn’t just love the universal church; He loves local churches like this one. This is clear in the New Testament. He loved the church in Ephesus. Look at chapter 5:2. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you (plural)”, talking to the members of the church in Ephesus. Christ loved you. Here are Christ’s words to the local church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:9, “...I will make them [the enemies of the gospel] come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.”

When the apostles wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit, they wrote most of their letters to local churches or to the pastors of local churches. In fact, the very last communication that we have from Jesus Christ, the last book in your Bible, the book of Revelation, was written to seven local churches. Revelation 1:11, “Write in a book what you see”, Jesus said, “and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Let it sink into your soul, Christian, Jesus Christ loves the church. He loves the universal church, that is, all true believers everywhere, and He loves the local church as well.

It’s the only entity on earth under His immediate loving leadership. Look up at verse 23. Christ is the head of the church in the same way that a husband is the head of the wife. You see, I wish I had time to develop the metaphor of an ancient wedding and how it factors into this passage, but when you go back and you look at the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17, again and again, Jesus talks about “those [Father] whom You have given Me”...”those whom you have given Me”...”those whom you have given Me”. You see, when the Father in eternity past chose a bride, when He chose us as a bride for His Son, our Lord as the bridegroom determined to set His love on us. Three times here in Ephesians 5, we’re told of Christ’s love for the church. He loves the church.

But what does Christ’s love for His church look like? What does His love for us? What does His love for you look like? We’ve seen the object of Christ’s love. Let’s consider, secondly, the expression of Christ’s love. The expression of Christ’s love. It’s in the verses that I read for you. First of all, let’s look at the word “love” itself. The Greek word that Paul uses six times in these verses, both of a husband’s love for his wife and of Christ’s love for the church, is the familiar word, agape. Now, let me just warn you, be careful of drawing too great a distinction between agape love and phileo love. In John 5:20, Christ said the Father loves Him with a phileo kind of love. And in Luke 11:43, Jesus said the scribes and Pharisees loved (agape), the chief seats in the synagogue. So, agape and phileo are often used as synonyms to describe various kinds of human love. The biblical authors use them just like we use the English word “love” to describe everything from loving a bowl of ice cream, to loving our children, to loving God. In Greek and in English, context defines the nature of the love. And in this context, it’s the example of Jesus Christ.

In these verses, there are four primary expressions of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. First of all, He loves the church with a sacrificial love. He loves the church with a sacrificial love. Verse 25: “...just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her...” Christ loved the church so much that He gave Himself up for her. He sacrificed Himself for her. How does Christ demonstrate this sacrificial love? There’re so many examples in the New Testament. You could say that He showed His sacrificial love in the incarnation. 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” You could say that He shows His sacrificial love in His humble service toward His saints. I love John 13, in the upper room. John 13:1 says, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” And then it says in verses 4 and 5, with that kind of love He, “got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began [and this is shocking] to wash the disciples’ feet...” By the way, Christ amazingly still puts our needs before His own, not that He has needs, but you know what I mean by that. He puts our interests first because He loves us.

You could also say that He shows His sacrificial love by disclosing Himself to us. When you think about the Trinity, the love between the members and among the members of the Trinity is characterized by the full disclosure of themselves. John 5:20, Jesus says, “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing...” The same is true of Christ’s love for His church. John 14:21: “...he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 15:15, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” His sacrificial love has certainly revealed in His self-disclosure to us. He didn’t have to tell us all that He has told us in this book. He could have saved us and left us on our own.

But most of all, He shows His sacrificial love in His substitutionary death, and that’s the main point in this passage. Look at verse 25. Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. And in case you wonder what He’s talking about, go back to verse 2: “...Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us [and here’s how He did so], an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma [or as a soothing aroma].” It’s out of the language of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. As Christ offered Himself on the cross, it’s just like the smoke of the Old Testament sacrifices went up and soothed the wrath of God. It satisfied the wrath of God. The death of Christ was that kind of soothing of the wrath of God, and Jesus gave Himself freely to accomplish that.

Again, this is set against the backdrop of an ancient wedding. In the ancient world, usually it was when the betrothal was formalized, the bridegroom would present two gifts or two dowries. The first of them was to the bride’s father in recognition of the help that the father would no longer have from his daughter. And the bridegroom also would often give his bride to be a gift, simply as an expression of his love. Jesus loved His bride, and He demonstrated that love in the wedding gift He gave her - He gave her Himself. He loved us so much that His wedding present to us was to give Himself to redeem us from the penalty of our sins, to satisfy the just wrath of God.

There’s one more thing you could think about when you think about the sacrificial love of Jesus. It’s in the future. He will show His sacrificial love, and this is amazing, by serving us for eternity. Luke 12:37 says, “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you [Jesus says], that he will gird himself [the master will gird himself] to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.” We will certainly serve our Lord for eternity, but far more amazing is that He will serve us. Don’t miss Paul’s immense point in Ephesians 5. The real standard of love is nothing less than the cross. Both verbs in verse 25 go back to the cross. Christ loved the church and showed that love by giving up Himself at the cross. He loves the church with a sacrificial love.

A second expression of His love, in verses 26 and 27, is that He loves the church with a sanctifying love. Verse 26 says, “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word...” Now, look at the flow of Paul’s thought. In verse 25, Christ died for the church. Then in verse 26, He cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. That is a reference to what theologians call regeneration. That is the spiritual cleansing of our souls at the moment of salvation, as the Spirit of God uses the Word to give our souls a bath. That’s what Titus 3:5 calls the “washing of regeneration”. That’s what happened to your soul at the moment of conversion. In John 13, Jesus says, “You got a bath! And now all you need is your feet to be washed as you walk through the world.

What was His purpose behind this? Verse 26, “so that He might sanctify her...” Having cleansed us in regeneration at the moment of salvation, He set out to sanctify us. This was Christ’s purpose in giving Himself for us. Notice verse 26, “[He gave Himself for her] so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word...” You see, Christ didn’t give Himself for us in death solely to purchase our forgiveness. His aim was much greater. It was to make us holy. It was to make us like Him.

But why does Christ want us to be holy? Verse 27, “that [literally, so that in the Greek text, here’s why He wants to sanctify us, so that] He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” The picture is of a beautiful bride in a stunning dress adorned with brilliant jewels ready for the wedding. Verse 27 says, “having no spot”. There’s no stain or blemish on her character or wrinkle, no fold of skin, no sign of spiritual aging, or any such thing, no imperfection at all. And just to make it clear that he’s using a metaphor here and he’s actually talking about spiritual beauty, he finishes verse 27 by speaking plainly. He wants all of us, collectively, and you Christian, individually, to be holy and blameless. Holy - He wants you to reflect His own purity. And blameless - He wants you to be totally without any moral defect. He intends to present you that way. That’s His goal. This presentation will happen when He returns for His bride.

Here’s the point. Christ’s greatest concern for His bride is her spiritual well-being, her regeneration, that she truly knows Him, and her sanctification, that she manifests a growing moral likeness to Him. The overall picture behind verses 26 and 27, again, is an ancient wedding. The culmination of the first period... In a Jewish wedding, there were two parts. There was the betrothal known as the kiddushin. It was a period before the wedding itself, but it was more serious than our engagement. And then there was the huppah. It was the actual occasion when the groom went to the bride’s house and brought her back formally to his house and the marriage was made and consummated and there was a feast and celebration. The culmination of the first part of that, the betrothal or the kiddushin, was the final preparations for the wedding. The bride bathed herself, she dressed, she adorned herself.

Spiritually, we now live in the kiddushin, the betrothal of Christ and His bride, but the wedding feast is coming. It’s time for the bride to be prepared for the wedding. How? Well, it’s interesting how it’s expressed in Revelation 19:7-8. It says, “...the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” That’s an interesting passage because it says that the church makes herself ready, but it also makes it clear that that was given to her. But here in Ephesians 5, Paul says, notice what he says, Christ Himself is preparing us so that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing so that she would be holy and blameless. That is absolutely crucial for you to get because it’s a reminder that we cannot prepare ourselves. We can’t sanctify ourselves. Christ has to do it. We have a role. That’s why Revelation speaks as it does. We need to learn the Scripture. We need to seek to obey. That’s our role, but you can’t change your heart. Only Christ can change your heart. And He does that as you seek to obey. And when He’s done, the church, each of us individually, will have no moral or spiritual stains at all. The church is being cleansed and purified by Christ Himself. And when the bride is ready, Christ will return for her.

Look at verse 27. He will present to Himself the church in all her glory. He is coming for His bride. The church has been betrothed to Him. He has set His love on her and for her dowry, He gave His own life. From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride. With His own blood He bought her and for her life He died. He’s preparing a place now in the Father’s house and someday He will return to the earth for His bride. And He’ll take us with Him to His father’s house and to the place that He’s been preparing. And there we will celebrate. We will celebrate the wedding feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb. And we will live with Him forever as the special objects of His love and care in the special place that He’s been preparing. Christ’s sanctifying love for His church is initiated at regeneration, it is continued in sanctification, and it is consummated in glorification.

Now, so far in this passage, Paul has been using the picture of Christ’s love for the church. But beginning in verse 28 there’s a second picture, and that is, how we treat our bodies and how He treats His body. Paul begins by explaining why this picture works. Verse 28: “So husbands ought [that is, husbands are morally obligated to] also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself...” Paul says, “Listen, we naturally love ourselves. And one of the main ways we manifest that love is by caring for our bodies.” Verse 29: “for no one ever hated his own flesh...” No person in a rational, reasonable state of mind hates and refuses to care for his or her own body. And this picture works because just as we, being sinful people, love our physical bodies and care for them, Christ loves His body. Verse 29, the end of the verse, “...just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

Now, using this picture of how we treat our bodies, Paul provides two more expressions of Christ’s love for His church. He loves His church with a sacrificial love. He loves His church with a sanctifying love. Thirdly, He loves the church with a nourishing love. Verse 28: “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh [notice this], but nourishes and cherishes it...” Now, that language, nourish, actually was common in first century marriage contracts, secular first century marriage contracts. In one, the man promises, “To cherish, nourish, and clothe her.” The Greek word “nourish” is a physical word. It literally means to feed, to provide, to care for. Now, we naturally nourish our bodies. We did that just a few minutes ago at supper. And Christ is commanding men here to love their wives by providing for their physical needs just as we each provide for the physical needs of our bodies. And the reason we’re to do so, he says (don’t miss this), is because Christ does the same for His body. He cares for the physical needs of His body, those He loves.

And there’s so much evidence of this in Scripture. If you doubt that, read Psalm 23, where you see the care of the Good Shepherd as He cares for His sheep. I love Matthew 15:32, where Jesus says, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” And so, He provides for their physical needs. And of course, Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory [how?] in Christ Jesus.” Christ provides for all the physical needs of the members of His body, the members of His church, and He doesn’t do so just barely enough to get by, but with the same lavishness that we bestow on our bodies. Christ loves His church with a nourishing love. He cares for her physical needs. He cares for your physical needs. Every time your needs are met in this life, it is a result of the personal care of Jesus Christ.

A fourth expression of His love is that He loves His church with a cherishing love. Verse 29: “for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church...” Christ cherishes the church. What does that mean? The Greek word for “cherish” literally means to heat or to keep warm. But when it’s used metaphorically as it is here, it means to cherish, to care for, to tenderly care for. In fact, the only other time in the New Testament this word occurs is in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 of a nursing mother tenderly caring for her child. You see, Christ doesn’t just care for us, He cherishes us. He cares for us with the same tender affection that we show our own bodies. He’s tender with us in the same way that a nursing mother treats her newborn. That’s how Christ treats us. Look at verse 29, “...just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

Notice the important change in verse 30. We individually are members of His body. Every Christian is a member of Christ’s body. If you’re a true believer, if you’ve repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ, in His finished work as your only hope of being right with God, you are a member of the body of Jesus Christ, and He cherishes you.

How does Christ’s show that He cherishes us like that? There’s a long list but let me start with this one. He verbally expresses His love. Twice in this chapter, He tells us He loves us. Aren’t you so glad? Because I don’t feel lovable and I’m not. And I would never come to this conclusion on my own if He hadn’t said, “I love you!” Christian, Christ wants you to know it.

You know, many husbands struggle to tell their wives they love them. It’s like the man who told his wife, “I told you when I married you, I loved you, and if I ever changed my mind, you’ll be the first to know.” Compare that with Christ’s open, lavish expressions of His love for us. He cherishes us.

Here’s another little list. I wish I had time to develop these. I’ll just give you a little list. Elsewhere in the Scripture, we discover that Christ expresses His cherishing love in that He uses terms of endearment. He calls us His mother and His brother and His sisters. He calls us children. He calls us little ones. He comforts us. He protects and defends us. He provides guidance for us. He encourages us. He empathizes with us. He fulfills our requests and often beyond what we ask. He gives us what we need without our asking. What a Savior!

So, the expression of Christ’s love for us is sacrificial. He puts our needs above His own. What needs? What needs does He respond to? Well, His love is a sanctifying love; He meets our spiritual needs. And His love is a nourishing love; He meets our physical needs. And with what attitude does He move to meet our needs? It’s a cherishing love. He meets the needs of His church with the same gentleness as a nursing mother toward her newborn. That’s Christ’s love for the church. Truly astounding!

So, what are the implications of His love for His church? Well, the obvious one in context, for husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church. But for all of us, let me just point you to three key implications that grow out of this passage. First of all, all of us, as the bride of Christ on whom He set His love, ought to submit to the head of the church in everything. Look at verses 22 to 24. This puts it in a new light. All of us are to be subject to Christ. Verse 24: “as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” Is that your heart? You understand that you are to be submissive to Jesus Christ in everything?

Number two, we then, because Christ loves the church in this way, if we’re going to love as He loves and we’re going to be like Him, we need to love the local church with a sacrificial, sanctifying, nourishing, cherishing love and all that those words mean that we’ve explained together. And if we love the church like that, it’s going to mean several practical things. If you’re going to love the church, first of all, it means you’re going to belong to a church. I love the way Charles Spurgeon puts it: “I know there are some who say, ‘Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to the church.’ Now, why not? ‘Because I can be a Christian without it.’ Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s commands as by being obedient? What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it’s kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It’s a good-for-nothing brick. So, you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live.” You need to belong to a church. The church should matter to you because it matters most to Jesus Christ your Lord. It’s time for some to stop dating the church and to make a commitment.

Loving the church also means that you’ll worship in the church. We’re going to talk about this tomorrow. Hebrews talks about the importance of not neglecting the corporate worship. Loving the church means we’ll fellowship in a local church. Acts 2:42 says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship...” In other words, you don’t sneak into church, hoping no one sees you, and sneak out hoping no one sees you until the next time you can come and get your own selfish dose of spirituality. The church is a family to which you belong.

Loving a church means that we will serve in a local church. The primary way you’re called to serve Jesus Christ is by serving His people in the church. Philip’s going to touch on 1 Peter 4:10: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another [in the context of the church]...” So, the implications for all of us from this passage are submit to the head of the church in everything and love the local church.

Thirdly, and I think the greatest and most wonderful implication, is that you should be amazed at Christ’s delight in you. My mind goes to Isaiah 62:5, “...And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.” That’s how Christ thinks of His church, His bride.

In July of this year, Sheila and I will celebrate 37 years of marriage. I still vividly remember our wedding day. I remember waiting at the front and seeing her enter the back, and I remember seeing her walk down the aisle. I remember standing hand in hand and smiling and laughing and enjoying one another as we made our commitments to each other. It was one of life’s most wonderful moments. All of that day is just awash in wonder, love, and praise. It overwhelms me to think that that’s how Jesus Christ thinks of me and of all of those who know Him. It’s how He thinks of His church. He loves us and He rejoices over us like a bridegroom does over his bride. He can hardly wait until the day that He returns and we’re all together forever. The Lord Jesus Christ loves His church. And Christian, if you’re going to be like Him, so should you.

Let’s pray together.

Father, thank You for this rich passage. Thank You that You have disclosed Yourself to us in a great expression of Your sacrificial love. You’ve condescended to make Yourself known, to reveal Your heart to us. Lord, we thank You for our Lord Jesus Christ and for His love for His church seen in so many amazing and powerful ways. Father, help us. Help us to submit to Him in everything. And help us in turn to love His church as He does. Help us to love Him, and loving Him, to love what He loves. And we love His bride as He does. And Father, may a day of our life never go by when we don’t stand in awe and amazement, that we, creatures of a day, worms of the dust, sinners who deserve your eternal wrath, are the eternal object of Your Son’s love and joy and delight. We pray it in His name, Amen!


Christ's Commitment to the Local Church

H.B. Charles, Jr. Matthew 16:18

Christ's Love for the Local Church

Tom Pennington Ephesians 5:25-27

General Session 1 | Loving the Local Church Conference 2023

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