Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Dissin’ My Wife?

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Happy anniversary to me!   As I write this, it is July 1, 2009, twenty years since my wife and I made our vows before God and men to be husband and wife.  Twenty years give you a fair amount of time to get to know your spouse.  I am thankful that after twenty years of  observing my wife, witnessing her struggles, hearing her confess her sins, and watching her bear with me, that we are not only committed to one anther, we actually love and enjoy one another.

I think you would understand and appreciate that though I know my wife well and understand her strengths and weaknesses, that I am also very defensive of her.  To have someone speak ill of her, to attack her, to belittle her, to mock her is to raise my ire!  I know that she is not perfect, but she is mine and I love her dearly.

Imagine someone seeking to tell me how much they love me, want to be around me, admire me (yes, please, I said use to your imagination!) but that they hate my wife.  They always complain about her.  They make fun of her.  They want me, but they don’t want her.  Disgusting you say?  And yet many who profess love to Christ act in like manner toward His gathered people.

One of the most striking illustrations of our Lord’s love for His church is to refer to her as His bride.  It is a term full of commitment and tender affection.  Jesus loves His church, and not just His CHURCH (invisible, triumphant, etc), but His churches (local, gathered).  He loves His local congregations.  We have every reason to believe that He still walks among them week by week.   His relationship with His church is formal, covenantal, committed, and loving.  He delights in His gathered people and counts them as the apple of His eye.  He rejoices over them with singing (Zep 3:17).

He speaks of Himself as her head, as her shepherd, as His Temple.  These are not casual, take it or leave it terms (they are not His bubble gum wrapper, His disposable razor, or whatever cheap term you can think of).   We are hearing increasingly that people think highly of Jesus but little of His church.  Really? You can do that?  He’s happy with that?   If you are one of those who say you are committed to him, but not to His body, it simply cannot be.   You cannot say to a human, I love your head, but I can’t stand your body!  They kind of go together!  You can’t say to a shepherd, I love you, but I can’t stand what you do!   You cannot say to a priest, you’re great, it’s the Temple I can’t stand!   The Jesus you profess to love, loves His churches, do you?

Jim Savastio
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
  1. Amen! May our love for the church increase in proportion to our love for Christ!

  2. Hey Pastor Jim,

    I had a Reformed Presbyterian Pastor once tell me that it was one thing to recognize that the Brides dress might have a stain on it. It was another to try to remove the stain of her dress when it was up to the bridegroom to do it as he has already made that his job and not one of the guests. He will make her garments beautiful and white as snow by his means. To do so outside of this is an affront on His majesty.

    We are to love the bride. There is no salvation outside of her.

    Great post.

  3. Love the church of Christ or perish (1 Cor 3:17; 12:13)!

    Thanks Jim

  4. Congrats! We too celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on July 1st!

  5. Great article, Jim.

    Thanks!

    Congratulate Becky for me and Dianne.

  6. Are we perhaps mistaking loving The Church and loving a local church? The image of the Bride of Christ is the image of those Christ gave His life to redeem.

    Is it loving to not point out where our gathering has lost it’s way? It is a motivation driven by love that many people ask pointed questions about our traditions. It is an either-or fallacy to say that either you love the local, “visible” church no matter the flaws or you don’t love Christ and His Bride.

  7. Dear Art,
    Thanks for your challenging comments. I realize that there can be tension between the church in what we might call it’s ‘idealized’ form and what we often encounter in our communities. Even the ‘ideal’ church has spots and wrinkles on this earth. It is indeed loving to address those things–“whom I love, I reprove”. My point is really addressing the many in our day who have given up on the church, are leaving the church, are “dissing” the church, throwing it off and saying, “We have Jesus, we don’t need His body.” We are seeing an increase of those who claim attachment to Jesus, but no affiliation with His people (whether they meet in a home or rented facility or purchase property).

  8. Friends,
    I found these additional verses to the hymn many of us sing, I love Thy Kingdom, Lord.

    If e’er to bless Thy sons
    My voice or hands deny,
    These hands let useful skills forsake,
    This voice in silence die.

    Should I with scoffers join
    Her altars to abuse?
    No! Better far my tongue were dumb,
    My hand its skill should lose.

  9. The church shall never perish!
    Her dear Lord to defend,
    To guide, sustain and cherish
    Is with her to the end;
    Though there be those that hate her,
    And false sons in her pale,
    Against or foe or traitor
    She ever shall prevail.

  10. Wow…those “lost” verses are excellent and powerful! We should swing them…

    I was just meditating upon Psalm 45 last night (and singing “My heart doth overflow!”). Amazing how tightly connected the thoughts of Christ and His Bride are…

  11. Because typos are so much fun:

  12. I have come across a multitude of people who hold the view that you describe. They deride the local body ad nauseum…then they go an form a home church with like minded folk. They join to the very thing that they were so disgusted at in the first place. How odd…

    I can say with absolute certainty that the home church movement is very much alive here in the Pac NW. A little too alive in my opinion.

  13. The article and the followup points are excellent. As I read the post a few times, my mind went to, “What is a true church?”. As RB’s our definition is no doubt broader than some of our Reformed Brethren. There is a local Reformed church in our community that does not recognize us as a true church, because we “do not properly administer the sacraments”. There is a local Landmark Baptist Church that says likewise of us — for a different reason (supposed successionism). When is a church not a church? Tough question.

  14. Dear Steve,
    Thanks for the note and encouragement. When is a church not a church…I went back to the confession.
    All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
    The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan…

    It would seem the key issues are genuine believers and the purity of the gospel. Alan Dunn wrote an earlier blog about the presence of Christ. I agree with those who would add discipline and the ordinances. However, as our confession states, even the purest churches are subject to mixture and error. Does Christ dwell among the people by the Spirit? I realize there is some subjectivity to this, but ultimately when He is gone, the church is no longer a church.
    Jim

  15. Excellent definition of a true church — right in our own Confession! I find it interesting that Harold Camping’s group (Family Radio) has decided there are no true churches left on earth, but his followers still gather together — for “Bible Studies”.

  16. Congratulations! And, This post and Biblical Analogy really puts things into perspective! It was humbling and convicting knowing that we can sometimes begin to despise or become quarrelsome with God’s people, not only forgetting where we once were in our own lives but reminding me that we are all part of one Body. Thanks!

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