The Bride of Christ
What kind of bride would you want to marry? What if, during the courtship period, your bride-to-be cheated on you? What if she spent her time with other lovers? Would you marry that person? I think not. Why is it then that so many believe that the entire body of Christ is the bride of Christ. The scriptures never say this, yet this is the doctrine that the church teaches. In this teaching we will examine the word of God to see what it says about who the bride is.
This life that we are living on earth is a courtship. The body of Christ is in a courtship with our Lord Jesus. A problem has arisen however. The church thinks she is already married. This is simply not true. If any courtship does not go well, the wedding would certainly be called off. Why do we presumptuously assume that things are different with God? Maybe it's because we presume upon His grace, mercy, and loving kindness, and forget that He is the Judge who judges us according to our works.
Let's look at the church in America. There are many believers who go to church on Sunday (some don't go at all), and then don't spend any time with the Lord throughout the week. There are many other Christians who spend some time with the Lord throughout the week, but not much. What kind of man would marry a woman who barely spends any time with him during the courtship period? When my wife was courting me, she wanted to be with me everyday. She desired to talk with me all the time. She longed to spend time with me. Yet for many Christians, they go days, weeks, and months without quality time with Lord. Some Christians have never experienced deep intimate moments with the Lord. Many Christians, apart from a salvation experience, don't know Him. What kind of a man would marry a woman who doesn't even know him?
Now we will address the issue of spiritual adultery. Many Christians have another lover (other than Christ). For some it's their job, for others it's a relationship with another person. For many it's hidden sin. And even for some, it's ministry or their calling. Anything that is put before God or in place of Him is idolatry. The worship of another god. Worshiping another god is committing adultery against the Lord. Do you think the Lord will marry a Christian who spends their whole life cheating on Him? Never repenting and making The Lord their one and only. I can assure you that if we do not forsake all other lovers in this life and walk with the Lord in intimacy, we will not be apart of His bride. The following scriptures will verify my statements.
The Ten Virgins
Matthew 25:1-12 NKJV)
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘ No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
In this scripture we have ten virgins; meaning ten people who are born again and saved by the blood of the Lamb. The only way that any of us can become a pure virgin is through salvation. Five of the virgins were foolish because they had no oil. In other words, they didn't have any intimacy with Him. While the five foolish virgins went to get oil, the five virgins who had oil went in to the wedding. Let's be very clear. The scripture does not say they went in to Heaven. It's says they went in to the wedding (of the bride and the Lamb). Then the five foolish virgins came to the door and asked to come in to the wedding. They knew they were saved and presumptuously thought that they could come in to the wedding as well. The Lord's response: "I do not know you." The Greek word "know" means: to perceive with the eyes, to discover, to turn the mind and attention to, to look at, to see, to have an interview with, and to visit.
Because these five foolish virgins lacked intimacy with the Lord, they were rejected from coming to the marriage. The scripture doesn't say they weren't allowed into Heaven. It only says they weren't allowed to go to the wedding. These five people were virgins. Anyone who has been cleansed of their sins, is a virgin and will go to Heaven. Only those who are intimate with the Lord will go to the wedding as His bride.
Sons of the Bridechamber
The following scripture is translated properly in the King James Version. Other translations change the words in the Greek in order to make more sense out of this passage. This is an error that takes away from the meaning that the Holy Spirit wanted to convey.
Matthew 9:14-15 KJV
Then come to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast.
The foundation of being a "son of the bridechamber" is discipleship. Only disciples will become mature sons. True sons are so intimate with their bridegroom that they have been granted access to the deepest place of intimacy in the Spirit, the bridechamber.
The bridechamber is defined by the John Gill Commentary as: "where they are enjoying each other's embraces and the pleasures of the matrimonial state. This refers to a custom among the Jews at the time of espousals when the bridegroom and bride were introduced into the nuptial chamber, where the marriage was completed; and, according to the Jewish writes it was not finished before: the blessing of the bridegroom and bride did not complete the marriage but the bringing of them into the chamber did; and then they were said to be married."
Sons of the bridechamber fast because they long for the presence of their beloved bridegroom. They can not stand to be away from His presence so they mourn for Him by fasting. Because of this, the bridegroom grants these sons access to the bridechamber. The place of intimacy. The secret place of His manifest presence (feeling His presence physically in your body). His presence increases as one continues to fast, and as one abides in the bridechamber on a consistent basis.
The Wedding Invitation
(Matthew 22:1-14 NKJV)
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
God the Father arranged a marriage for His Son. The Father sent His servants to call the Jewish people to the wedding but they were not willing to come. So the Father was furious. He sent His army (Rome) and they destroyed the murders (Jews), and burned down parts of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Then the call to the wedding went out to the Gentiles. Many came and the wedding hall was filled. However there was a man in attendance that didn't have a wedding garment on. Meaning, he was not clean and pure. He was in Heaven at the wedding of the Lamb and His wife. The only way he could be present at the wedding is to be saved. No one will be wandering around Heaven who is not saved. That is a fact. But this man presumed that since he was in Heaven, he could be at the wedding. The problem was, he never lived a sanctified life while on the earth. He walked in sin. He was never completely faithful to the Lord. He committed spiritual adultery against the Lord and never repented of it while on the earth. Therefore his garment was not clean and he was not permitted into the wedding. Many are called to the wedding, but few are chosen for the wedding.
I know that some might be confused with this. After all, the scripture says that the man was cast into outer darkness, and isn't outer darkness Hell? The scripture never says that outer darkness is Hell. We shall take a look a revelation given to Rick Joyner who is a trusted prophet. He received a vision from the Lord and was taken to Heaven. During this encounter, Rick was allowed to talk to someone that he had known personally. The man had died and went to Heaven. Here is a revelation of Heaven and outer darkness that Rick records in His book "The Final Quest":
The man says to Rick, "We are the least of those here."
"How could you be the least?" I asked with unbelief.
"There is an aristocracy of sorts here," he answered. "The rewards for our earthly lives are the eternal positions that we will have forever. This great multitude are those whom the Lord called 'foolish virgins.' We knew the Lord and trusted in His cross for salvation, but we lived for ourselves more than we really lived for Him. We did not keep our vessels filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. We have eternal life, but we wasted our lives on earth."
I was greatly surprised by what he was telling me, but I also knew that no one could lie in that place.
"The foolish virgins gashed their teeth in the outer darkness," I protested.
"And that we did. The grief that we experienced when we understood how we had so wasted our lives was beyond any grief possible on earth. The darkness of that grief can only be understood by those who have experienced it. Such darkness is magnified when it is revealed next to the glory of the One we failed. You are standing amoung those in the lowest rank of Heaven. There is no greater folly than to know the great salvation of God, but to then go on living for yourself. To come here and learn the reality of that is a grief beyond what an earthly soul can experience. We are those who suffered outer darkness because of this greatest of follies."
I was still incredulous. "But you are more glorious and full of joy and peace than I even imagined, even for those in Heaven. I do not sense any remorse in you, and yet I know that here you cannot lie. This does not make sense to me."
Looking me straight in the eyes, he continued, "The Lord also loves us with a love greater than you can yet understand. Before His judgment seat I tasted the greatest remorse and darkness of soul that can be experienced. Though here we do not measure time as you do, it seemed to last for as long as my life on earth lasted. All my sins and follies that I had not repented of passed before me, and before all who are here. You cannot understand the grief of this until you have experienced it. I felt that I was in the deepest dungeon of hell, even as I stood before the glory of the Lord. He was resolute until my life had been completely reviewed. When I said I was sorry and asked for the mercy of His cross, He wiped away my tears and took away the darkness. I no longer feel the bitterness that I knew as I stood before Him, but I remember it."
It's also interesting to note that the Cambridge Bible Commentary defines outer darkness as: the darkness outside the house in which the banquet is going on.
The Bride Made Herself Ready
Revelation 19:7-9 (NASB)
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”
The first point I want to make is that this book is written to Christians. Secondly, the scripture says the bride has made herself ready. This would imply that she could not make herself ready. Some will, some won't. The bride is also clothed in bright and clean garments. This means she lived a life of holiness on the earth, and did righteous deeds. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Meaning that some Christians will not be invited to the marriage supper. Only those who make themselves ready will be invited.
A Bride Without Spot or Wrinkle
2 Peter 3:12-14 (NASB)
12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,
Peter warns that we should be diligent to be found spotless and blameless. This implies that we could be found with spots and with blame.
Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Paul is saying in this scripture that God's perfect will is to cleanse the church so she doesn't have any spots or wrinkles. However the scripture does use the word "might." Meaning the Lord might sanctify and cleanse her and He might not. He might present to Himself a glorious church without spot and wrinkle. He might not. The Greek word for "blemish" means: without blame and without fault or spot. Peter states above that we should be diligent not to be found with spots and blame, because it's possible we could be. If we are found with spots and blame we will not be apart of the bride. Jesus' bride will not have spot or wrinkle or any such thing. We have the potential to become the bride, but we have not attained to the bride as of yet.
The Wedding Feast
Let us remember to follow Jesus' instructions when we make it to the wedding by the grace of God.
Luke 14:7-11 KJV)
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Lamb's Wife
(Revelation 21:9-10 KJV)
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
At the end of this age Jesus Christ will return to the earth. At this point the Heavenly Jerusalem will come down out of Heaven. This is the city of God that Abraham sought after. A city must have both structures and people to be a city. If a city has no houses or buildings then it is not a city. If a city has no people then it is not a city. This city is called the Lamb's wife. She is the bride. Not every Christian is the bride, so not every Christian will be apart of this city. Those believers who are not apart of the bride will remain in Heaven. They will not come to the earth to rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years. The scripture is very clear that only those who overcome will rule and reign with Christ (Revelation 2:26-27, 20:4-6). The bride of Christ is the overcomers. The bride is the city of God that will rule with Him.
This teaching was written to open believers' eyes to the truth of the scriptures, and to help prepare a bride for the Lord. Every believer has the potential to become apart of the bride of Christ. We can overcome the wickedness of this life and become His bride. The only way we will do this is by His grace. By grace I mean, the supernatural power to do what we cannot do ourselves. Christ living through us can make us ready to become His bride. We really can do all things through Christ. Abide in Him.