I was thinking about both marriage and the Cross today; which led me to ponder the following: Did Christ die so that my sins would be forgiven—or, did Christ die so that I could be reconciled to Him through the forgiveness of my sins?
Perhaps that is a "no brainer" for some. But, it made me stop and think. Before I was born-again, it seems to me that most people that told me about Christ focused on the fact that I was a sinner and that in order for God to forgive me, I would need to belief on Christ and belief that He died for my sins.
To have our sins forgiven is wonderful. But; if it ends there—if that was the purpose of Christ’s atonement, it would be like having wronged your husband, then having him forgive you verbally, but never feeling his embrace.
Forgiveness is the means God uses to reconcile us to Himself. Our sins are forgiven so that we can be embraced by God and embrace God; so that He can guide us; comfort us; chastise us; transform us; sanctify us; and ultimately glorify us. So that we can worship Him; love Him; praise Him; be used by Him to bring Himself glory.
We are the Bride of Christ:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Why did Christ go to the cross? Note the text in red above. Have we been forgiven like a rebellious child is forgiven by a parent? Oh no, it’s so much more than that. We have been forgiven so that we may be prepared for an eternal relationship with Christ.
A marital relationship is the deepest, most intimate relationship that human beings can experience while in the flesh. God uses this understanding to express the kind of relationship that we can have with Him. Perhaps that is what Paul meant when he ended the above passage saying:
"This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."
The purpose of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross is about forgiveness, yes; but, it’s about so much more. It’s ultimately about our reconciliation to God leading to the glorious eternal consummation.
Side Note: When we see this, all of a sudden tons of passages come alive and start to make so much more sense-they all point to reconciliation to God through Christ and the Cross. God often compares Israel to an adulteress, an unfaithful wife. Just read this passage in Isaiah:
"Thus says the Lord:“Where is your mother's certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away. Why, when I came, was there no man;why, when I called, was there no one to answer? Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?
This is why I read. This is why I study. I don't think I'll ever preach the gospel the same way again!