A Match Made in Heaven

Lee Chapel  -  Oil on Canvas  -  30x40
Although Thane and I are one of my favorite couples (hehe), this isn't the "match" I'm talking about. The real "match made in heaven" is (literally) the marriage between Christ and His church. And since we're on the topic of marriage, let me tell you a little bit about my painting.

If you happened to see our wedding anniversary post, you might recognize this as the chapel where Thane and I were married. Not only did it seem worthy of painting for it's architectural beauty, but more so for the amazing gift it was. And I don't just mean the building, but the whole day, and much more importantly, the relationship that Christ had blessed us with for years.

If you look in the shadowy grass, you might see some hints of Thane and I's presence. If you look in the sky, you'll see a hint of God's. The painting is a tribute to Him, because He was the One that brought us to our wedding day. It was truly an amazing gift. To think of all the time I spent pining away over the difficulty of our long distance relationship and what seemed like a never ending wait to be married! But when the day finally came and all of the details fell into place, I knew without the shadow of a doubt that He'd been planning it all along. What's funny is I'd never even noticed the chapel despite the fact that I'd be driving right by it- for four years!- every time I visited Thane at VMI. But God knew it was there. And as soon as I laid eyes on it, it felt like I was unwrapping a big surprise gift that He'd been saving just for me.

He truly is a wonderful Father. He knows me more personally than anyone, and even goes to lengths to "spoil" me despite how ill-deserving I am. And if I'd just let Him be in control those four years rather than futilely trying to control everything myself, I would have spared myself a lot of grief. But I was determined to learn that lesson the hard way, and only now looking back do I see all of my mistakes. But praise God for His never ending patience with me, and for the sometimes painful discipline that produces perseverance, character, and hope in my life. (Romans 5:3-4) So praise the Lord! He is so faithful and true. And He's the same towards all of His children- just ask any of them and they'll tell you! But enough about me. Now for the really good stuff!

In light of all the wedding thought this past week, I remembered an excellent description of the "heavenly" marriage that I read in Martin Luther's "The Freedom of a Christian" a few months back.

Please take a few moments to read these three paragraphs. Christians- it will bless you! And non-Christians, I pray that it will compel you to receive Christ's gift of repentance and salvation- He is the only One who can set us free from our bondage to sin and restore our relationship with the Father.  I promise you, you won't regret it!

 Our Marriage to Christ- An Excerpt on the Benefits of Faith

...The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the apostle Paul teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh (Eph. 5:31-32). And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage- indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage- it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. Accordingly the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were his own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as His own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ's, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul's; for if Christ is a bridegroom, He must take upon Himself the things which are His bride's and bestow upon her the things that are His. If He gives her His body and very self, how shall He not give her all that is His? And if He takes the body of the bride, how shall He not take all that is hers?

Here we have a most pleasing vision not only of communion but of a blessed struggle and victory and salvation and redemption. Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and he cannot sin, die, or be condemned; His righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith He shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are His bride's. As a matter of fact, He makes them His own and acts as if they were His own and as if He himself had sinned; He suffered, died, and descended into hell that He might overcome them all. Now since it was such a one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow Him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by Him in a mighty duel; for His righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell. Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith is free in Christ, it's bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom. So He takes to Himself a glorious bride, "without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her by the washing of water with the Word" (Cf. Eph. 5:26-27) of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way he marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hos. 2:19-20 says.

Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by them.  And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast of as her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, "If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his," as the bride in the Song of Solomon (2:16) says, "My beloved is mine and I am his." This is what Paul means when he says in 1 Cor. 15:57, "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," this is, the victory over sin and death, as he also says there, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56).

From this you once more see that much is ascribed to faith, namely, that it alone can fulfill the law and justify without works.

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Is that amazing, or what?!


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