Tuesday, 04 October 2016 10:50

Showing The Savior's Love

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Dear friends for some weeks now we have been thinking about what the true Christian confesses in regards to our sins and sinfulness by nature.  The point of this has been to bring out what the Bible teaches us regarding our desperate need of the Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior of sinners.  Today we want to focus more directly on Christ, the God-sent Saviour of sinners. Our text is from Song of Solomon where in poetic spiritual language we have pictured and proclaimed to us and for us the great love of the Lord Jesus for His people, for all who trust and follow Him.  In Song of Solomon 4:9 Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom, says to His people, His bride, individually and altogether,Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes...

As we begin to consider this Scripture text, let me ask: Do you know any Christian who fully understands and rejoices in God’s boundless love for us in and through Christ Jesus?  Is it not true to say too that many of the struggles in the Christian life can be related to not grasping sufficiently how much God loves His own, all who aim ever to trust and follow Him as only Saviour and Lord?  But God Triune in and through Christ and His gospel word now will show and testify to us how immeasurably He loves His own. The LORD truly will have His people to know and rejoice in His hearty love and faithfulness towards all those who by His grace and Spirit repent of sin and trust and obey Him. No one in all the world is ever so loved and cared for as God’s people joined to Christ by true faith, and belonging to Christ’s church in spirit and in truth. There is no caregiver for us like the Lord Jesus Christ who cares for His people for body and soul, in life and death, for now and forevermore, and that in regards to our greatest needs and our every need.  Oh, what a Saviour of sinners is Jesus Christ the Lord, truly, and forevermore for all who call upon Him for His mercy and grace.  May today’s message so draw all who don’t yet know Christ to come to Him, and may it so encourage all who are true Christians ever to rely on Christ and to rejoice in Him in all life’s circumstances. As confessing Christian believer, are you looking to be admonished and assured of Christ’s hearty love and faithfulness towards you?

This chapter, written by Solomon, inspired by God the Holy Spirit, expresses in poetic language the love relationship of a bridegroom and his bride. While this book may also give helpful instruction in regards to the marriage relationship between a man and woman, yet this chapter, and really the whole book of the Song of Solomon, is in the Bible ultimately to proclaim to us in most precious endearing and inviting terms the holy hearty relationship between Christ and His church. Jesus is the heavenly Bridegroom of His people. This is something described all through Scripture. What is so astonishing about this chapter is that the first 15 verses actually tell of the Bridegroom’s deep affection and unending love for His bride, the church, meaning all true believers in Christ. Then the last verse of the chapter gives the response of the bride to all the affection and faithful care shown to her by her Bridegroom. 

Today let me just highlight vs.9a and demonstrate the truth of it by referring to 1 Corinthians 1:30 and mentioning also in that regard the Bible-based teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 6, especially Q&A 18 [which quotes 1 Corinthians 1:30]. The theme for the sermon is “Showing the Saviour’s heart ravished in love towards His people!”

What again does Christ the Bridegroom say to His people, each and all, in vs.9a? “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse….Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.” Notice that twice the expression “ravished my heart” is used here, meaning to make most clear Christ is so taken with His bride, so full of love and affection and care for confessing believers trusting and following Him as only Saviour and Lord.  Interestingly the verb, “ravished” used only here in the whole Bible has something of the idea, “putting heart into Christ”, or “capturing His heart”, or “having stolen His heart” in all-consuming love for us. The LORD has to, as it were, come up with a new word to describe something of His indescribable unspeakable love for His people. They are all on His heart and have totally won over His heart. That is most clear here. Stating the matter twice too, it becomes obvious this isn’t just a passing rash thought of the Saviour, but He is speaking here in genuine, gracious, generous, glorious love for His own! 

Christ can rightly call His people both His sister, and His spouse too as He does here in our text. Why do we say that? Because the two terms together speak both of Christ becoming like unto His brethren in all things, sin excepted, plus His bride, His church, being purchased by Christ’s own blood [Acts 20:28] in His eternal bond of love with His own. In Ephesians 5 Paul explains the marriage relationship of a man and a woman as a reflection of the greater relationship between Christ and His people.  So the church is described also in Revelation 21:2 as God’s redeemed people, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  One commentary said the following rightly about vs.9: Our blessed Lord Jesus is man, believers are his brethren and sisters, they are bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh; and for His Bride’s consolation this is [here] asserted.  This all ties in with the Scripture-based teaching of Lord’s Day 5&6 about the one divine Saviour God graciously has provided for sinners like us in sending His own beloved Son to be Emmanuel, God with us, come to give His life a ransom for many.

Something so noteworthy too about this verse is how we are told the Lord Jesus as Bridegroom is so taken by the eyes of His bride, even one eye. It is not stretching the text, seeing the poetic spiritual language, to see this as referring to His people looking to the Lord in true faith.  Even when your and my faith may be weak, looking to Christ and depending on Him in all our needs, the Lord Jesus wholly gives Himself for all such.  You don’t have to win the Saviour’s heart by doing all kinds of things for Him, trying to earn His love, something none of us can ever accomplish anyways. No, but notice He looks to see if your eyes are fixed on Him in true faith and repentance, and in this way His heart is ravished towards you, all out for you!  Yes, Jesus’ heart, His innermost being, is stirred up in infinite affection and care and attraction and love for you and me who in faith call upon the Lord and come to Him once, and again and again. 

Will Christ’s heart of love be stirred up wholeheartedly towards us this day, also with you and me looking to Him in spirit and truth as only Saviour and Lord of our lives?  In Ephesians 3 Paul speaks of how God by His Spirit would strengthen His people in the inner man, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fullness of God.” So indeed, the heart of Christ is ravished for His people in all their needs.

The mention also of just one eye doesn’t mean to negate looking to the Lord with both eyes of faith.  It just highlights the infinite and ready love of the Saviour for us that the least glance of true faith from us immediately grips Him in His heart for His people. Truly that which heartens the heart of Christ every time for His bride is the eye of faith directed to Him! No matter how guilty and defiled in sin we may have become, no matter how unworthy you and I be, thinking how can the Lord ever look upon such sinful defiled me in His mercy and grace and love, yet listen now to our text! The blessed Saviour of sinners delights in us when coming to Him in faith and repentance, seeking His mercy and love in spite of ourselves.  His heart is ravished in affection and delight towards all who trust and follow Him. As stated in a song based on Psalm 147:

No human power delights Him, No earthly pomp or pride;

He loves the meek who fear Him, And in His love confide!  

Are you confiding in God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour of sinners? The aim of this message is that you and I truly, and more and more, confide in God’s boundless love in and through Him.  But maybe you say at this point: It is one thing to be told of Christ’s love and His ravished heart for His people, but what does that mean really and practically, and how can I know for certain He will so love me too?  And here it is true, isn’t it, lots of love talk and talk of love can be just empty words, and only that. We surely and sadly witness this all round on so many fronts in our society and world.  Lots of talk of love but so little faithful and true steadfast love being shown.

But thinking of that reality, dear friends, I ask you, and please think this through with me: Is it not so with Jesus, the Saviour of sinners and the dear Bridegroom of His people, that He backs His loving words with most loving deeds? Indeed, isn’t this always perfectly true of Jesus and lavishly so too? I mean, doesn’t Jesus’ whole character and life and everything He ever said and did and accomplished as Saviour of sinners all prove beyond question and beyond measure, Jesus is so full of loving care and saving help for all who look to Him? The Saviour can prove His love to His own by His life ministry and once for all sacrifice even to the death of the cross for His people! Just consider how Jesus served and serves, and will serve His people, even all who seek and confess Him as their only Saviour from sin, Satan, death, and hell, and their one refuge in all the storms and struggles in life and death. Therefore the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus “loved his own unto the end” meaning He loved to the ‘nth’ degree, even to the point of giving His life to the death of the cross on behalf of His own. “Greater love hath no man than this [says Jesus in John 15:13], that a man lay down his life for his friends.” “But God commendeth his love toward us [says Paul in Romans 5:8], in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Do you see and hear how exceptionally astonishing this is truly? Amazing grace, indeed!

To show and prove to you beyond dispute that Jesus as Saviour is more than someone just speaking words of love here listen with me to what Paul says Jesus is made for His people by God’s sovereign plan and precious grace and almighty accomplishment.  Here we look at 1 Corinthians 1:30 especially which is quoted in that powerful Q&A18.   Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God and real righteous man? Answer: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. 

Do you know what is found for us in and with Christ beyond measure? Paul says wisdom is found with Him. Wisdom, not like the world which brings only darkness and division and discouragement and ultimately just damnation. But the wisdom of God that is “from above [as James says in James 3:17] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  In Christ are hid and found all the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge for us. Always to live apart from Him is only folly, but to live in faith in Him and fellowship with Jesus Christ is to be led in the way of everlasting peace and joy and life in all its fullness now and forevermore.  The gospel message is that in and with Christ as your Saviour not only are you saved by God’s wisdom but you are given God’s wisdom to replace your own foolish and wayward thinking and ways.

God in His wisdom in and with Christ as Saviour for sinners like us not only displays infinite wisdom. But in and through Christ, as the wisdom of God for us, the LORD delivers to us and for us the three other mentioned priceless jewels of salvation, namely, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Righteousness here refers to our justification before God all through Christ’s finished work of salvation on the sinner’s behalf. Do you know what Jesus as the crucified and risen Saviour accomplished in the place of all His people, all His bride? Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour of sinners, in the place of His own, perfectly fulfilled all the law of God in His life. And at the same time totally completing and exhausting the divine penalty for sin with His once for all sacrifice, even with His shed blood and death on the cross of Calvary. 

Here think of Scripture texts like 2 Corinthians 5:21 where Paul states how God has made Christ “to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Only in and with Christ is there perfect righteousness before God for fallen sinful people like you and me. Looking to Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom, He is all our righteousness. So we read in Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” How true in this regard what one preacher wrote, stating: [Fallen] Man has never had any righteousness of his own, and can never have any righteousness of his own, that is, which originates in him. The only righteousness he can have is that which God gives him through His Son. It is the only righteousness he [anyone] needs, because it is perfect righteousness.  Yes, and isn’t this what led Paul to testify also as he does in Philippians 3:9 stating there his constant longing, “[to] be found in him [in Christ], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, [through his own works, he means], but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Are you by God’s grace, as a child of God, longing to be led now and always in the way of true wisdom and to have everlasting righteous standing before God, and never to come under divine condemnation again? You find it with Christ Jesus, the Bridegroom of His people, Whose heart is so ravished and full of all needed salvation supplies for us in soul and body. He is also our sanctification as 1Corinthians 1:30] states, that is, our holiness before God. The Lord’s bride, all who have an eye on Christ by Spirit-worked faith in the Saviour, find with the Bridegroom not only that we are declared righteous in Christ but we are made holy in and through Christ too. With Christ as your Bridegroom, Saviour, and Lover, you have His righteousness both imputed to you and imparted in you and to you.  Jesus is both our ultimate sanctification now already and He is also, by His Spirit and Word, the source and strength in purifying His bride to make her without fault and blameless, as holy as He is holy here in par, and hereafter in absolute perfection. With Jesus as your loving Bridegroom Saviour the stress and strain of sanctification is transformed to fervent growing desire and liberating delight in the way of holiness.  What a complete precious Saviour, full of hearty love for His people, we have in Christ Jesus!

Indeed, should you doubt it still, the Saviour is, says Paul, also made unto us redemption. This term is in a way a climactic and summary term here. The word, “redemption” refers to Jesus having purchased His people with His own precious blood, and providing thereby total release from the blot and bondage and condemnation of sin, and instead releasing us to the joy of deliverance from all sin, truly and freely, and all for Jesus’ sake alone, by grace through faith in Him.  The ruin of sin in our lives is overcome through the plenteous redemption of Christ for His people.  Yes, completely and steadfastly and eternally overcome! Christ has been given for His church for our total and sure redemption all because He made Himself the perfect and otherwise unattainable price of redemption with His once for all sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.  So we read also in Isaiah 53 already, speaking of the suffering Saviour, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes [literally, with his massive bruise] we are healed.”

All because of God Triune’s infinite grace and mercy, Christ the Saviour of sinners  is given in this world of sin and misery, and to all who look to Him and His once for all sacrifice He is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. The wisdom of God makes it all possible and the redemption of Christ with nothing less than His own shed blood on sinner’s behalf guarantees this precious gospel truth promise. You see how this all confirms so clearly, what a Saviour we have in Christ the Lord, and let him that boasts not glory in himself ever, but glory only and always in the Lord.

The Lord Jesus as true and eternal Bridegroom of His people doesn’t just speak words of love to those who look to Him, only saying affectionately His heart is all ravished in love for you and me. No, but His sacrificial life and ministry as the Husband of His people proves it, even as Jesus gives His all and all for His bride, His poor and needy people. The gospel is, Jesus gave Himself even to the death of the cross on sinner’s behalf to be all our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption before God and others, now and to all eternity! No more expensive price could be paid for Christ to have His people as His bride, but God willingly gave His Son for this purpose, and Jesus willingly laid down His life for His bride.

What hope and help does anyone have who refuses to trust and follow Christ as only Saviour and Lord?  Without Jesus as your Saviour and Bridegroom you remain hopeless and helpless, unsaved and unredeemable, and unacceptable now and forevermore.  Ultimately it will mean living in hell unending if you should live and die remaining unconverted to God and unbelieving in Jesus as only Mediator between God and men.  But still today the gospel call goes out to all, earnestly calling you, each one, to come to Christ Jesus in true repentance of sin and genuine faith in Him! Will you turn your back on the marvelous, gracious, loving attraction to Christ even as the Saviour still stands ready to receive all who come and looks to give everlasting pardon and peace and unbounded love to all who repent and believe? Oh, let it not be, but as this song puts it:

 

Come to the Savior now, He gently calleth thee;
In true repentance bow, Before Him bend the knee;
He waiteth to bestow Salvation, peace, and love,
True joy on earth below, A home in Heav’n above.

 

Come to the Savior now, Ye who have wandered far;
Renew your solemn vow, For His by right you are;
Come, like poor wand’ring sheep Returning to His fold;
His arm will safely keep, His love will ne’er grow cold.

 

Come to the Savior, all, Whate’er your burdens be;
Hear now His loving call, “Cast all your care on Me.”
Come, and for ev’ry grief In Jesus you will find
A sure and safe relief, A loving Friend and kind.

 

For all confessing Christians now, will you be encouraged and so assured in the Christian faith also with our texts from the Song of Solomon 4:9a and 1 Corinthians 1:30 and be blessed thus with Christ’s  endless, wholehearted love and care for you?  Do you look to Jesus to be your blessed Saviour and precious Bridegroom through all the journey of life here and now with its many ups and downs and curves and turns to the eternal city?  Oh, looking to self, how often we can doubt and despair, but looking to Jesus, even with a glance of true faith, be assured you have stolen His heart and He is all out for you. The Saviour’s heart is all out for you who look to Him, and the LORD wants you to know this truly, and to enjoy His tender care and boundless love, even for you and for me, all for His own Name’s sake. 

What a text we have! “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes”….and to prove it now says the heavenly Bridegroom: “Consider from 1 Corinthians 1:30 how I, as crucified and risen Saviour of sinners, am made of God for you, “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”  In other words, I will fill your every need, and am passionate about doing so, now and forevermore, so much do I love you, even with an everlasting love from eternity to eternity.

Doesn’t this all make you say and confess with me, Thanks be to God Triune, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for so blessed gospel and wonderful Saviour and Bridegroom of His church as Christ the Lord? Hallelujah, what a Saviour!  Has this message succeeded in showing you the Saviour’s heart ravished in love toward His people? I ask you in light of it: Who can be more blessed now and forevermore than Christians, that is, all who truly repent and believe on Christ and ever trust and follow Him in submission to all His gospel word and will? And shall we not love Him then who so exceedingly loves His people? God’s true people are known in testifying: Love so amazing, so divine, demands, my soul, my life, my all! Indeed, this is what the Holy Spirit works in all His bride, for what a complete merciful loving Savior of sinners we have in and with the Saviour God has given us, our heavenly Bridegroom, Christ the Lord!  Thus saith the Lord also from the divinely inspired ‘song of songs’ telling of limitless, boundless, everlasting love for us, all for Jesus’ sake alone.  Amen.       

 Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

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