Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Good News of the Wedding Garment

by Frank Tochterman

“Read the words in red first,” was the advice a mature Christian gave to a new believer. “They are the most important.”

I have fallen in love with the Gospels. How about you? While all of the Bible is inspired, I have found that not all of the Bible is equal. There is something special about the Gospels. They are the four books of the Bible where we find the life story of Jesus. They are also the place where we read the very words that Jesus spoke! It seems to me that in the “words” of Jesus I can hear the “Word” of God so clearly.

In recent years the good news of the Gospel has been proclaimed in two dominant motifs – the proclamation of God’s amazing grace and the proclamation of righteousness by faith. Both motifs have as their basis “Christ our Righteousness.” We might think of the first (God’s amazing grace) as God’s part, and the second (righteousness by faith) as man’s part, but both are parts of the same salvation act which originates and derives from God. He is the Savior; we are the saved. In short, we are saved by the free, unmerited, and undeserved grace of God through faith in the all-sufficient righteousness of Jesus Christ.I was recently blessed again as I read the parable Jesus told of the wedding feast found in Matthew 22:2-14. In short, the story is this: a king prepares a wedding feast for his son; the selected guests refuse to come, so the invitation is extended far and wide. The wedding hall is filled with guests, but one guest comes without a wedding garment. Wedding garments are provided by the king, but the guest has no regard for the king and comes to the feast without the wedding garment. When he is found, he is cast out.

The parallel, of course, is the second coming of Jesus. We find this explanation of the parable in Christ’s Object Lessons, “The wedding garment represents the character which all must possess who shall be accounted fit guests for the wedding.”[1] Ellen White continues, “Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God’s presence. This covering, the robe of His righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul.[2]

Sometimes people think that God’s grace only provides forgiveness. But God’s grace is much greater than that. As we discover the meaning of grace in the Bible, we realize that grace is also the presence and power of God in the life. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus telling him that it is the grace of God that teaches to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-13). Ellen White affirms this function of grace in Steps to Christ when she writes, “It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.”[3]

I want to be clothed with the wedding garment, don’t you? How do we experience the wedding garment in our lives today? Consider this thought from Ellen White: “When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.”[4]

[1] Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1941), 307.

[2] Ibid., 311.

[3] Ellen White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1956), 60.

[4] Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.

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