A Blessed Benefit of Faith According to Martin Luther's 1520 Freedom of a Christian
As any married person knows, there is an intimacy that grows between husband and wife that exceeds far beyond natural physical intimacy. This intimacy with our spouse grows deep and wide and encompasses the emotional, mental, and psychological components of our person. With each passing year, our spouse grows in our knowledge of us and us of them. So much so, that it almost become a dependence so intertwined with our own person, that the meaning of "two becoming one flesh" becomes more self evident.
As we grow in this awareness and deeper understanding of "two becoming one flesh", our earthly example of marriage is far inferior to the actual union between Christ and his bride, the church. In order for our lowly human understanding to grasp this concept as best as we can, Paul uses the example of a husband and wife in Ephesians to describe the marriage between Christ and the church.
As I read through John Dillenberger's edited selections of Martin Luther's writings, specifically Freedom of a Christian, I was deeply moved by Luther's explanation of the exchange that occurs when one becomes a believer, is adopted into God's family and thus becomes part of the bride of Christ.
After writing about a few benefits of having faith, which is ultimately a gift from the Father, Luther explains the third benefit of having faith. I hope you enjoy these words, soak in these words, and meditate on what it looks like to be a part of Christ's bride, who is the church.
"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 teaches, Christ and the soul comes one flesh. (Ephesians 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 a 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 its 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 that 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, and 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 sinned.......
Now since it was such as one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by him in in a mighty duel;
for his righteousness is greater than all the sins of men, his life is stronger than death, his salvation more invincible than hell.
Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of faith is free in Christ, its 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" (Eph 5:26-27) of life
by faith in the Word of life, righteousness and salvation
In this way he married her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hosea 2 (19-20) says. "
Let me add, that however much we love our spouses, however much we are "two in one flesh", however much we depend on our spouse.......
IT FAILS IN COMPARISON TO THE UNION THAT EXISTS BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE...THE CHURCH.
We can all rest knowing that our soul rests with Christ.
All praise and glory be to God our Father through His Son Jesus Christ....our redeemer and savior....and our bridegroom!