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Precious Reprint—Christ and The Church

by H. N. Rutherford

(From January, 1919, Word and Work)

“Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the Word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

     Christ's relation to the church is summed up in one word, even in this: “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it.” (Eph. 5:25). That love has manifested itself in the past in one way. -It is manifesting itself in the present in another way. It will manifest itself in the future in still another way. Thus we may clearly distinguish three eras in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is in the service of love which He undertook to accomplish for God His Father as the “Servant” of Jehovah. These three eras or divisions in the ministry of the Son of God, and for which He became the Son of Man, are indicated in several passages in Hebrews.

     Christ’s love for the church in  the past has manifested itself by His giving Himself for it. What matchless love has Jesus shown in the “yesterday” of His lowly service as God’s Apostle who “existing in the form of God” or “Who being the effulgence of His glory, and the very image of His substance” He emptied Himself (as said in Hebrews, “was made lower than the angels”), and took the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Yes, what matchless love did Jesus manifest in view of what He was made for the Church in becoming the Apostle of God; and being so found, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross. It took the cross for our Lord to become the owner of the Church. He must give Himself up for it and purchase it at the cost of His precious blood. Stupendous fact, wonderful thought! Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself up for it. Consider my fellow member of the Church of the Lord, what a pearl of great price the Church must be which Jesus gave His all to purchase to Himself.

The love of Christ is manifesting itself in the present in sanctifying the Church and cleansing it; in separating it from the world unto God, and in cleansing it from sin. In the era now present Jesus is High Priest of the type of Aaron, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, acting as minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle. Jesus’ service in the heavenly sanctuary is to bring many sons unto glory and this He is doing by His word and own personal indwelling in hearts of faith, thus sanctifying and cleansing His Church by the Word that He may lead her to Himself not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; a glorious church holy and without blemish. God’s purpose for His Son and those members of His body whom He has purchased is that we know Jesus in His present ministry before the face of God for us. Jesus’ work at the right hand of God for us who are in the world  but not of the world, being merely passengers through it, is to make these pilgrims to see that the only rightful possession they have in this world is a way out of it. Jesus’ love is manifesting itself in the present in purifying unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works and in instructing to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present age; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. (Tit. 2:12-14). Christ manifested His love for us in the past in giving Himself for us, and He is manifesting His love to us in the present by giving Himself up to us till we all attain unto a full grown man in Christ Jesus and by bringing us unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us.

     Christ’s love has not completely manifested itself even yet. It has a future manifestation. This same epistle tells us that the great manifestation of His love lies in the future. That it is “in the ages to come” that God is to “show the exceeding riches of

     His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:7. What is to be the future manifestation of Christ’s love for the Church? Verse 27 is descriptive, ‘‘That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Oh, stand and contemplate the Bride of Christ as Christ Himself, shall make her in the future manifestation of His love at His coming—“A glorious Church !”

Let us not love the world, neither the things in the world. Let us hate the garments spotted by the flesh, walking in Sardis without defiling our garments that we may walk with Jesus in white. Behold He cometh; “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching.” What love of our Savior is yet to be manifested in the ages to come when He shall present His Church to Himself a glorious Church, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed in that day!

  1. N. Rutherford, January 1919 WW

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4