Building up believers and the New Testament church

Divorce and Remarriage - The Significance of Union

Union With God For Eternity

God's ultimate purpose is that we may be one with Him for all eternity. Everything He is doing now is preparing us for that union. The union will be consummated at the marriage supper of the Lamb. God's ultimate purpose must guide us in every other part of His working. The perfection we need for that final marriage can only be accomplished by the grace of God. Grace is brought to us by Christ Jesus as He pours out the Holy Spirit in our hearts and brings us into union now. Grace is ability that comes from God to enable us to do what we cannot do in our own strength. Any of our efforts to bring about this perfection are as filthy rags in God's sight. His perfection is realized only by grace, and that grace comes to us through faith as we believe God and walk in the word that He speaks to our hearts.

Often the reason we fall short of God's ultimate purpose is that we do not see what it is. If we saw it clearly and let that revelation control everything else, we would stay on track and not go off into a ditch. But sometimes "we can't see the forest for the trees." We take a magnifying glass and focus in on some particular question or doctrine, but we do not stand back and fit it into the bigger picture. If we would step back and see how it all fits in, the correct answers to our questions may be much more obvious.

The question of divorce is made much clearer when we see that God's ultimate purpose in all things is oneness, or union. We should not need to go off into "ditches" of natural thinking, trying to justify various situations by a study of the Greek, by applying natural ideas about the love and compassion of God, or by any other type of reasoning that does not have its foundation in God's simple and eternal purpose for mankind in Christ. How could the destruction of a union that God creates between a man and woman ever be His will? How could deviation from His perfect plan not be sinful? And how could a holy God overlook sin and be true to His ultimate eternal purpose in Christ for mankind?

Another extremely important issue is our vision (or revelation) of the church. Many view the church as the place we meet together to worship God. Others see it as a place where the gospel is preached so that men might be saved. Others see the church mainly as an organization through which the gospel is taken to the ends of the earth. I do not question that all of these fit into the outworking of the church in some manner, but I do not believe any of them is the foundational controlling vision.

The church is the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, and the household of God. It is a place where God dwells, and where we may enter into union with God in the Spirit together. It is a place where sin is not allowed, and where every member is alive unto God. It is where God communes with man and man with God. It is where we are built together a habitation of God in the Spirit, and where we are being prepared for our final union with God on that great wedding day. Union is the central vision: union with God and union with each other. This spiritual union is real, visible, and practical. The church is a visible expression of this union. "Behold, how they love one another." When we see God's love in expression, with Christ as the head and the Holy Spirit filling His temple, we know we are seeing a true expression of the church.

Some have the concept that the body of Christ is worldwide, so they seek to work out the function of the church on that level. I agree that every believer who has been baptized by Christ in the Spirit is part of the worldwide body of Christ, but practically, I cannot dwell together with believers in every part of the world. The body of Christ is universal in scope, but local in expression. Each body of believers that functions together in faith locally is an expression of Christ's one body. The union that God has made is expressed on a continual basis in a locality. One day we will be in His presence, and the limitations of time and distance will be no more. But now, in these bodies of clay, we are limited by both. However, this is not a hindrance to God, for He wants an expression of His body in every locality. As each body of believers gathers in faith unto Christ, submitting to His authority, He is the head of that expression of the one body. Our place is to submit to Him as Lord and allow Him to direct each expression of God's life.

From each family God will send forth members as He chooses. Some may have a small amount of grace, some great, but all God asks is that we be responsible with the grace He has given. With a larger portion of grace comes a greater responsibility to invest it for the glory of God and His purpose. Each member is responsible to move under the authority of Christ and in union with the rest of the body. This is not easy. It cannot be done separate from a living relationship with God. I do not see this as a "simple" working; it is demanding in every way. For Christ to be expressed means death to every expression of self. It requires total abandonment to God and His purpose, and a relationship of love that is worked out every day with God and with our brothers and sisters. All of these things and more must be working in a beginning and increasing way if we are to fulfill God's high and holy calling.