When we preach, we are constantly thinking about how we apply Scripture to our lives today. What does a Bible passage have to say about what we should be doing as a church family? How does the main application help me to think about the week ahead at home and work? This is good and right. However, as I’ve looked at Revelation, I’ve been struck by the challenge of preaching which applies God’s Word to our eternal future.
You see, if God is at work in us, sanctifying us and preparing us for his return, for the day when we will be raised and live with him for ever, then shouldn’t the preaching of God’s Word play its part in preparing and shaping us for eternity, for life after death. Of course, we do that when we preach Gospel sermons but shouldn’t this be ongoing for believers too?
Think about what Revelation tells us about the church. We are the bride of Christ and one day we will be made ready and beautifully dressed for the return of the bridegroom and the wedding feast of the lamb.
This means that when we preach about marriage, we are not just preaching about how to live as families now. Of course, it’s important to give application to married couples about what things like headship and mutual submission mean. It means we will deal with issues like divorce and re-marriage and it means we’ll talk about why you shouldn’t marry an unbeliever. We’ll also see what the Bible says about sex and marriage.
However, that’s not the sum total of the Bible’s teaching on marriage. The end goal is to teach that we as the church (together not individually) are the bride of Christ and what does it mean to belong to him. Revelation shows that and the perspective from the end will ripple back through all the Bible passages that teach about marriage.
This means that sermons on marriage are deeply relevant to single people, to those who long to get married but fear they never will, to those who never want to get married, to those who have been widowed or divorced. We are always looking forward and we will all (together) have a wedding day.
It means that when I go back to Ephesians 5 and it tells wives to submit to husbands that this is application for all of us. We as the bride of Christ must submit to him. If we resent the idea of submission, then that may risk us resenting the idea that we must submit to him. If we delight in the idea that others should submit to us, then we may completely miss the point that we must submit to Him. We all need to be learning to submit now, to one another mutually and to Christ as our head.
Preaching for eternity will help us to see how what we do this week can have value that lasts into eternity.