Editor’s Note: The text below was written by Basilea Schlink in her book My All For Him, published 1971.
Jesus is a true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. That is why He calls Himself Bridegroom in the Scriptures. His great love desires a bride, a bridal soul. He longs fervently for her love. He looks for her to see whether she is about to come to Him, to see whether she longs and yearns for Him, to see whether she really wants Him alone.
Jesus is a true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. He wants to give us His love; but He is also waiting for us to return His love. Jesus is a true Bridegroom. His love is a jealous love. He wants you, your soul, completely. He is jealous when you give your love to other people and to other things. He is jealous when pay more attention to them, when you give them more time, more of yourself, than you give Him. Then He stands beside you, grieved. Then He is hurt and wounded, because He loves you so much.
Jesus is a true Bridegroom. He does not force you to love Him. He asks: “Will you give Me your love?”, and He gets what He wants when you do this. Only one thing will satisfy Him – your love. All else is too small for Him: that you believe in Him, that you obey Him, that you come to Him for forgiveness. He is not only your Physician who heals you. He is not only your Redeemer who delivers you from your bonds. He wants to be your Bridegroom, and as Bridegroom He gives you His great, His tender, His most intimate love. Now He is waiting for you to give Him your love. He who loves wants to be loved in return.
Because Jesus is the Bridegroom, He can be wounded if you take up self-chosen crosses, choosing the way of poverty and resolving to make sacrifices simply for ascetic reasons. Certainly He wants you to follow Him on the way of the cross. But His heart is filled with grief and sorrow if it is not love that impels you. You should not take the way of the cross for your own sanctification, but rather – as He repeatedly said while He was on earth – “For My sake you should lose your life, for My sake you should forsake houses, brethren . . .” Out of love for Him, out of love alone you should choose obedience, lowliness, humility and disgrace. Only the dedication which springs from love will make Him happy. Indeed, this is the only dedication which He will accept. Nothing else. All else is insufficient. Anything else would be more likely to wound Him, because it is simply pious deceit; we seem to be going His way, but it is really for our own sake.
Jesus, the Bridegroom, is the Man of Sorrows. He suffers to this present day. He is seeking a bride who will share with Him what is in His heart. His heart is filled not only with love, but also with suffering – past and present. He is seeking a bride who will really live out the bridal state, whose heart will beat with His, who will bear things with Him, who not only suffers through her own afflictions, but also suffers His afflictions with Him, who in reality enters into the fellowship of suffering with Him. Only she is a true bride who is concerned about His concerns – about the needs of His people and His Church and the things which hinder His dominion among the peoples.
For Him the bride is the soul who suffers with Him and who is prepared to do everything to alleviate His sufferings. She seeks ways through sacrifice and prayer and does her utmost to ensure that the things which trouble Him may be changed. She labors so that He may be honored where He is not now honored, that He may be feared where He is not now feared. She strives to lead back to God the people who are not living according to His commandments and statutes, and so she comforts His heart and makes Him happy. She spends her life for Him and suffers until she has loved souls home to Him by whom they can be saved, until people set themselves under His dominion and begin to love Him. Not until her Bridegroom is comforted will she be satisfied. The bride keeps asking Him: “How can I comfort You?”, and in the quietness the Bridegroom will tell her what grieves Him. She will go with Him to comfort Him.
Jesus is a true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. That is why He is not satisfied when we simply set ourselves under His dominion and give Him slavish obedience. He wants more – He wants our heart, our very hearts blood. As the Bridegroom, He asks: “How much am I worth to you? How much can you sacrifice for Me? Can you give Me your beloved children? Can you give Me father and mother and friends? Can you give Me your home and your native land out of love if I ask for these? Will you go anywhere I call you to serve, and lead to Me the souls for which I hunger? Can you sacrifice your honor, your strength, your longing to be loved, your deepest secret wishes for Me?”
Jesus is a true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. He waits for His bride. He does not seek to force love; it must be spontaneous. He knocks softly on the door. He waits until someone opens it. He stands behind the door and looks to see whether His bride will open up and come out to Him (Song of Solomon 5:2). His eyes follow her sadly if all day long she is busy and in a hurry, if she goes about everything quickly and vigorously and yet spiritually is becoming estranged from Him, because she is completely engrossed with her work and earthly business.
Jesus is a true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. His ardent concern is to impart His likeness to His bride so that she too may radiate divine beauty and be adorned with many virtues. He works with specials care, loving care for His bride. He guides her and leads her along paths of chastisement, for this will bring her to where His is. He dreams of the full beauty that shall be hers. He loves her too much to suffer her to have any “spots” or “wrinkles”, because she is His bride. Full of pride and joy, His loving eyes beholds her as though she were perfect. Through the power of His blood He, the Almighty, can bring her to the perfection of divine beauty.
Jesus is a true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. So He stands as a Protector besides His bride. He is intent upon protecting her from all who may want to harm her. He strives on her behalf. To be a bride means that one is no longer alone. It means that one has an intimate partner who lives for his bride, and to do everything that he can for her. So, Jesus, the Bridegroom, lives to do everything for Him bride, to help her in every situation, in every need, in every impossibility. She is no longer alone. Jesus is true Bridegroom; this is His very nature. He is waiting in heaven for the day when His bride will come to Him so that He can be united with her for ever. He seeks her in unending love.
I will betroth you to Me forever; I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness; And you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20).
‘You put to the test those who call themselves apostle and they are not, and you found them to be false.’ Revelation 2:2
23 ‘Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty- nine lashes.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been in frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure
28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
30 If I have to boast I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.’
2 Corinthians 11:23-30 NASB.
The New Apostles
23 ‘Are they Apostles of Christ? (I speak the truth) I more so; in far more luxuries, in far more resorts, never beaten in golf, often in danger from overeating.
24 Fifty times I received massages at the Country Club where I play.
25 Three times I suffered heartburn, once I suffered sunstroke, three times I had to fly coach, a night and a day I have spent without my bodyguards.
26 I have been on frequent cruises, in dangers from jetlag, dangers from the Stock Market, dangers in my private jet, dangers from the IRS, dangers in my limo, dangers on my Harley, dangers on my yacht, dangers from rival televangelists.
27 I have been in spas and hot-tubs, through many six star nights, in buffets and steakhouses, often without my Perrier, or without ice in my Coke.
28 Apart from all these carnal pleasures, there is the daily pressure of counting my seed faith contributions.
29 Who is rich without me being rich? Who is led to give to my ministry without my intense joy?
30 If I have to boast I’ll gladly boast about myself and my mailing list.
“[Brown] sounded like someone who cares about you, Ehrman sounded like someone who wants to yell at you. … I don’t know, I’m disappointed and kind of shocked by it.”
— Atheist after The Great Debate between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Bart Ehrman on April 15th, 2010 at Ohio State University on the topic Does the Bible Provide an Adequate Answer to the Problem of Suffering? Hear the rest of the interview via the video below:
Dr. Brown will be discussing last night’s debate with Bart Ehrman at Ohio State University today on The Line of Fire. Click here to listen live between 3-4 PM ET: http://lineoffireradio.askdrbrown.org/
You can join in the discussion either by calling in during that time at 866-348-7884, or via the comment discussion on the Line of Fire website.
“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” -Phil. 4.5
This is a unique verse, and it opens up a panoramic view of the apostolic heart of Paul. What is this “gentle spirit” that he is encouraging, and why does he tell us that the Lord is near in this context?
Philippians is Paul’s great call to a life of rejoicing in the midst of trial, and he was writing to a church that was facing great opposition from persecutors. He repeatedly exhorts the saints to rejoice in the midst of the suffering, and this verse provides for us a concentrated stream of thought from the apostle along these lines.
What is a “gentle spirit” then? To be sure, it is not cowardice, shyness, or any attempt at looking humble or sounding modest. A “gentle spirit” is not something that can be conjured by a self-conscious attempt at meekness. This “gentle spirit” imperative, following Paul’s exhortation to “rejoice in the Lord always,” must be the God-breathed result of delighting in Him in the midst of great pressure and trial.
Anyone can look gentle and meek in a contrived way when men are watching and some religious reward is at stake. But when the rubber hits the road, when the turbulence of life picks up, when the ground begins to shake beneath our feet, the depth of our foundations in God is revealed for what it actually is. It takes a certain kind of soul to demonstrate the gentleness and kindness of God Himself in an atmosphere that is inhospitable and difficult, but this is the privilege and calling of every saint. This “gentle spirit” is not something calculated and performed, but rather received and demonstrated, through the very life of Jesus Himself.
The “gentle spirit” Paul speaks of denotes a disposition that can hardly be rendered in translation by a single word. It is your quite specifically grounded benevolence, gentleness, considerateness, openness, vitality, and at the same time moderation that must be manifest to all men. Luther’s “lenity” well expresses the source of this disposition: Christians are men who have been made lenis, lenient, mellow, “beaten to pulp,” as opposed to the nonrecipients of grace, who can still be stiff and bristly.
(Epistle to the Philippians, Karl Barth; WJK Publications, 2002; p. 121)
It is not in the flighty and jolly moments of positive religious experience that this is proven out, but rather in the hum-drum, grinding, pressing moments of day-to-day life. Our “gentle spirit” is not mainly displayed from a pulpit, at a conference, or at some overt spiritual function. It is in the way we approach others from our innermost being. Have we a tinge of self-righteousness toward them? Have we a hint of superiority toward them? Have we a smidgeon of stiffness or coldness toward them?
What about our spouses or children? Have we a bit of disdain or bitterness toward them? Have we a shade of impatience or anxiety regarding them? Have we any hardness, brashness, or brazenness toward them?
Paul called the church to rejoice in the Lord always, and to allow the gentle and kind Spirit of Jesus Himself to flow through our lives and unto others in an effectual way. It will not happen in some magical and automatic way without our cooperation, for He is looking for co-laborers. We’ve got to allow the Potter to “beat to a pulp” all our anxiety, arrogance, and self-glorification, until we are wrung out souls, ready to be revivified and powered by His own resurrection life. Then shall His own gentleness and kindness flow from us, in the high places and in the low places.
He follows this call with that most striking note, “The Lord is near.”
Paul’s thought is two-fold here:
1. The Lord is near, literally at hand, and as the great coming Judge, He will not be pleased if we have walked in our own stiff-hearted dispositions. He calls us to a higher reality, namely His own gentleness, and if we have treated others unjustly or been hard-hearted toward them, it will not be well for us on the day of His return. “…. to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these…. “
2. Secondly, and most encouraging for the believer, is that the Lord, who is our great help, is not only near in the sense of His soon coming. For the soul that has been redeemed and transformed through the Gospel, He is as near as the inner-man. He is near to us in every plight and every challenge, and He is fervent and eager in His desire to walk us through the tumultuous seasons of life. We do not need to remain in a place of stiffness, arrogance, or brashness towards others. We need only to cry out to Him, and He will break up the hardened ground of our hearts, oil the dry places, and make us tender and loving and gentle towards all men. His own vibrant love and kindness will flow through us like a mighty rushing river.
So turn from your self and unto the Chief Shepherd. He is near to you, dear saint, and His gentle Spirit is ever and always our great good.
In addition to the live webcast that will be available for the upcoming debate entitled The Great Debate: Does the Bible Provide an Adequate Answer to the Problem of Suffering? between Bart Ehrman and Michael L. Brown (register here to view the webcast), Voice of Revolution will be live-tweeting the event as well. To follow the debate via twitter, follow our twitter account here: http://twitter.com/v_o_r. We’ll be using #TheGreatDebate as the event hashtag as well, for those that want to weigh in on the debate.
Pray for God to be glorified, and for the truth to be propertly articulated. According to Michael Brown:
The goal for me is not to win a debate or to look good but to magnify the Lord and, by the Spirit of God, see many people drawn to Him. May God’s light and love and truth prevail! May Jesus be exalted!
CHARLOTTE, NC – Authors and scholars Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Bart Ehrman will debate the question “Does The Bible Provide An Adequate Answer to the Problem of Suffering?” on April 15, 2010, in the Great Meeting Room in the Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University from 7-9:30 p.m.
The debate is being hosted by Ratio Christi, a ministry of Southern Evangelical Seminary, as well as CJF Ministries, Beth Messiah Congregation, Into the Field, Jewish Voice Ministries International, Messianic Literature Outreach, Messianic Studies Institute, Sha’arei Shalom, Shoresh OSU, The Gathering.
Dr. Alex McFarland, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary, states, “As we look around the world today, we see such evidence of suffering: earthquakes in Haiti, famine in Africa, wars and ethnic cleansing, parents who lose a child to cancer. In Christian apologetics, we look for rational, Biblical explanations, and we highly recommend this upcoming debate as these scholars examine this infinite topic.”
Ratio Christi (Latin for ‘The Reason of Christ’) is a non-profit ministry of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina , which seeks to place apologetics clubs at secular and liberal universities across the nation. These chapters have weekly meetings where students can wrestle with ideas relating to the intellectual credibility of Christianity.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.TheGreatDebate.me or call 614 855-9501. You can register for the free, live webcast of the debate at the website.
Michael L. Brown is an Old Testament scholar and Messianic Jewish Apologist who holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages from New York University . He is the author of twenty books, including a commentary on the book of Jeremiah and the highly-acclaimed five-volume series Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. Brown serves as a visiting or adjunct professor at four leading seminaries, and his work has been featured in the Charlotte Observer , the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun. For more information, please visit his website.
Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including two New York Times bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why we Suffer. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill , and is a leading authority on the New Testament and the history of early Christianity. His work has been featured in Time, the New Yorker, the Washington Post , and other print and electronic media. For more, please visit his website.
Alex McFarland has been in full-time ministry since 1989 and is currently the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina . As a Christian apologist (one who explains and rationally defends faith), he has spent over two decades training teens and adults in biblical worldview reasoning. A good portion of that time was spent working with Focus on the Family ministering to teens. Through his Stand Weekends and National Conference on Apologetics , Dr. McFarland has assembled the world’s premiere Christian apologists with a goal of introducing new audiences to the truths of Christianity. He is also the author of a brand new book series for teens: Stand: Seeking the Way of God, Unleashing the Wisdom of God and Diving Into the Word of God, in addition to many other books and publications. His one-hour daily radio program, Sound Rēzn , is heard on over 130 radio stations on the American Family Radio network. Visit www.soundrezn.com for show information, guests, archives and more.
For more information about SES, student enrollment, or for the calendar of events and the schedule for next year’s National Conference on Christian Apologetics, go to www.ses.edu
To book Dr. Alex McFarland for an interview or speaking engagement, contact Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies – 215-815-7716 / 610-584-1096 or DHamilton@HamiltonStrategies.com