In the last post, we looked at some notes from a recent sermon I prepared on the subject of tracing the great "marriage theme" through the Bible. This sermon, entitled: "God's RSVP", represents a short series devoted to grasping the message of Revelation 19:7-10, wherein God invites sinners to become part of the "Bride of Christ" and to prepare for what will be "The Marriage Supper of the Lamb". The main passage for this sermon derives from Jesus wedding parable of Matthew 22:1-14. In this post, I'm halfway through the sermon. My prayer is that the last post and this one helps unify the scriptures in our mind as we consider what God is doing in our world at this time. For those wanting to review the last post, simply click here: http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2020/05/part-one-notes-from-recent-sermon-on.html. For those who would like to hear the sermon as it was preached this past Sunday, click on the video link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai9GLH5tMLQ
In what follows, I continue on in points two and three of the sermon, detailing out the overall message of the New Testament and then the personal invitation of God to you.
God now calls the nations to receive Him. “God’s RSVP to the nations, N.T.” Matthew 22:8-13
Whenever we come to the N.T, we begin to see “how” the nations and Israel will somehow fit together in God's continuing redemptive plan. The sending of the Son to the earth was to present "The Bridegroom" first, followed by what would be the emergence of a whole new revelation - namely that of the "The Church". As we discover, the whole New Testament is designed to set up the narrative of God gathering together a Bride for His Son. What follows below is a thumbnail sketch of this unifying concept.
a. Majesty of the Bridegroom.
Per Jesus in Matthew 22:8-10, we see Jesus presented as the Bridegroom John 3:29 - "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete."
b. Mystery of the Church revealed.
Per Jesus Matthew 22:10. Since Jesus is the Bridegroom, who is to be His bride? The church. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:9-10 -
"and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."
Although I won't have time to tease out the implications about the mystery of the church in the sermon, it nevertheless follows that the point is vitally important when we consider the distinction between Israel and the Church. Israel is a wife whom Yahweh is going to restore at the second coming of Jesus and whom, right now, is temporarily set aside to "make jealous" as a result of the nations coming to faith in Jesus the Messiah (see Romans 11). The Church as a people are described in this present age, not as "the wife of the Son", but rather, "The Bride" (see Revelation 19:7-9). As a matter of clarity, the Apostle Paul compares his role as an Apostle to the nations as one preparing the church to be presented as a "chaste virgin" to her Bridegroom - Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 11:1-3).
c. Mission of the church (till Jesus comes).
Per Jesus Matthew 22:11-13. The church is to be the bride of Christ. A brief consideration of ancient Jewish wedding practices sheds much light upon what we see going on in the New Testament with respect to Christ and the Church. As I have studied this incredible background, consulting such resources as the "Jewish Encyclopedia" gives a view of all this through Jewish eyes. Also too, great expositors of prior years such as Dr. John Walvoord, Dr. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Renald Showers and other commentators validate the little summary which follows. In the Jewish wedding imagery, we find three stages:
#1 Betrothal (preparation time, this age, Christ has went to the Father’s house to get things ready for us).
#2 Coming for the Bride (we’ll cover in later weeks, the rapture of the church) to bring bride to His home to finalize marriage.
#3 Marriage supper (again, later message), we find in Revelation 19:7-9. For now, the Spirit is calling one-by-one, sinners from every nation to be part of the bride. We must note that in this present age, there will be those “in the church” which are not “in Christ”. Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
This three-stage scenario for Jewish weddings will prove helpful as we tie together today's sermon with what will follow in the remaining two sermons I plan on preaching from Revelation 19:7-9.
God is calling you to respond to Him in faith. “God’s RSVP to you today” - Matthew 22:14
In the sermon, we have covered Matthew 22:1-13. We have noted the grand-scale "marriage theme" of the Old Testament into the New Testament to visualize God's RSVP to Israel and then the nations. What needs to be done now is to get this "Big Picture" down to our level. Matthew 22:14 is a short verse which, if handled correctly, can enable us to capture Jesus' personal invitation to each one of us.
Now as I consider how we will bring this message down the homestretch, and as I appeal to the Holy Spirit for aid at this point, a question arises: what do we do with this final verse? It presents to us the two pillars of Biblical salvation:
A. God’s Sovereign purpose of grace and...
B. Man’s responsibility to believe.
That both are true, this we affirm. How both are true at the same time, that I cannot tell you. I sometimes will explain these by three questions.
Why do some not get saved? Because they’re unwilling.
Whenever you see “many are called”, this tells you God will issue the call, but not all will respond, because those who won’t respond do so of their own choice. The great 19th century preacher C.H. Spurgeon notes that the outward call of the Gospel reaches the intellect and men may pay respect to Jesus, yet they won’t commit to Him. They want benefits, but not the Benefactor. There must needs be that inward call which gets past these external ears. What I often like to do is find scriptures which present both God's work in salvation and mankind's need to respond. Acts 13:46 states -
"And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles."
Why do some get saved? God’s purpose of grace.
When you see that phrase: “few are chosen”, that tells you that salvation is of the Lord’s doing.
We read in Acts 13:47-48 these words -
"For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed."
So we have seen the first two questions when considering God's Sovereign work in human salvation and man's need to respond by faith. Now let's consider the final question, which will also bring this message to a close with a final appeal to the reader...
What must I do to get saved? Believe in Jesus.
Luke writes these words of Paul to the Philippian Jailer's question about how to get saved in Acts 16:31 - "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved". This dear friend, is God’s appeal to you. Would it be that this Gospel call penetrate beyond your physical ears into those inward ears of the heart. Jesus would often say: “He who has ears, let Him hear”. May that be said of you and me - that we have responded to God's RSVP.