By John Beardsley
This continuation of part 1 reveals many specifics why we state the Church is not the ‘bride’ as taught by those holding primarily dispensational views created by the men John Nelson Darby or Cyrus Scofield.
Scriptural comparisons make it clear, we are not the bride, but rather ‘As’ a bride. Many analogous scriptures can be cited in support of the fact the church is neither literally nor figuratively the Bride of Christ. Just as we are no more a literal ‘sheep’ than Christ is a literal shepherd of sheep – it was never meant to be literal that we physically one day turn into a sheep or in this case a bride arrayed in white.
He loves us as a Bride. We must look not at the bride, but the love; for we can never know the depth of Christ’s love for us until the day we see him! His love for us is not the same as that of a husband to a wife because we are truly one with Jesus Christ. Why is this so very important? See what the scriptures ACTUALLY CALL US:
|Children of God, Sons of God / Sons of Glory, Joint Heirs, Redeemed||Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6; Romans 9:26; Galatians 3:29; 4:5-7;|
|Children of the Resurrection||Luke 20:36;|
|Sons of Glory||Hebrews 2:10|
|Christians||Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16|
|Brethren of Christ Jesus||Acts 18:27; Hebrews 3:1;|
|The Church (no mention of bride attached)||Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 1:22; 3:10; 5:24|
|The Body of Christ||Romans 7:4; 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:12; 5:23|
|Overcomers||Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 21:7; 1 John 5:4–5|
|Ambassadors||2 Corinthians 5:20|
|Saints||Acts 9:13; 9:32; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1 and many more|
|Followers of the Way||Acts 24:14|
|Believers||2 Corinthians 6:15|
|Disciples||Acts 1:15; 6:1 and many more|
|The Elect / The Chosen||Colossians 3:12; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:2|
|Friends – of God in Christ||John 15:15|
|The Called of Jesus Christ||Romans 1:6; Hebrews 3:1|
|The Israel of God / Abraham’s Seed (We are a part of it as Christians fulfilling the promise made to Abraham)||Galatians 3:7-9; 3:29; 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-14; John 10:16; John 15:5; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hosea 1:10 and more!|
As Christians we are individually members of the Body of Christ, corporately as the church, children of God, and we are indeed joint heirs
Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
1 Corinthians 10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
And more: Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 2:22; Colossians 3:15; As sons: John 1:12; As children and joint heirs: Romans 8:15-19; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:5-7; Titus 3:7
Amazingly we are to be as one with Jesus as he is one with the Father—John 17:20-24
John 17:20-24 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
We are to be one with our Creator God! It is a mystery we cannot understand because no one on earth experiences the full picture until they go to Heaven as we are promised. 1 Cor 13 refers to looking through a glass darkly, we only have an idea of how great this promise is!
All of the verses above have the same theme not only of our salvation, but our redemption as the Chosen of God who are far more than what a bride can be by the free unmerited grace of God!
The picture of us being the actual physical ‘bride of Christ’ is born out of wrong thinking at best. The picture lacks God’s universal perspective (universal as in the universe all creation) it is that big and bigger still… it is infinite, it is eternal! It is awe inspiring because God designed it all from before the foundation of the world!
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Christ sought us out and saved us by His grace, when we were dead in our sins! The pictures of Christ and a bride being the church are a great injustice to us as His chosen Ambassadors, His Joint Heirs of creation!
Furthermore, scripture depicts the bride, the marriage supper and wedding festivities with the saints as his guests—to be admitted you must have been washed in His blood! We will be clothed in the white linen of His righteousness bestowed upon us by His great love.
John 17:23 “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
Carefully and slowly think on these words above from the lips of our God and Savior! An earthly bride may be called one flesh with her husband, but we will be spiritually one with the Lord our God joined in sanctified, perfect love! This is only a foretelling of the wonders that await us!
Earthly marriage also means there can be divorce though God hates it. We are made one with Christ, as He is one with his Father – neither of them will ever leave us. How else can one be with Him before the foundation of the world? Absolutely nothing can take away His great love for us!
This is why I state marriage is but a shadow of His great love! Those of us in happy marriages will attest that marriage is a little bit of Heaven on Earth – but any attempt to equalize our relationship with Christ to marriage (as we think of it here on Earth) is error.
My wife is a separate person, while in Christ we are one flesh our marriage is only an idea of the relationship of being one in Christ. We each have authority in Christ Jesus as Priests and Kings. 1 Pe 2:5-10; Rev 1:6; 5:10 This relationship exceeds marriage in many ways, which we will have to wait until we are with Him to explore. How can those images I provided earlier be remotely true to scripture? They are the ideas of men and women not found in scriptures.
We are the ‘body of Christ,’ children of God, joint-heirs, ambassadors, and more but we are nowhere called the ‘bride of Christ.’ Yes, we are often seen through the inferences in scripture connected to the term “as” a bride, but it is a shadow of what we are, a simile for comparison.
Where does “the church as the bride of Christ” doctrine come from?
I believe the entire history of the Bride of Christ doctrine has its roots from others, possibly gnostic teachers, and continued in the Roman Catholic Church and its traditions. At best, the teaching of the Church being the Bride is a misunderstanding of scripture made into what is widely accepted as orthodox and tradition.
As Israel went and ‘whored’ itself with other gods it was viewed as adultery, spiritual adultery Hosea 4:12. We as the Church of Christ must be careful constantly not to do likewise and remove teachings that do not strictly align with scriptures.
Look again at the images above and how it is being presented here to believers. There is so much focus on a woman in white meeting her bridegroom (Jesus) in the air with the faces of the believers on the train of her dress, or others where we are morphed into this female bride. No such image is ever inferred in scriptures, but scripture does paint the image of the Holy New Jerusalem descending from Heaven adorned as a bride!
We are called joint-heirs, the children of God, the children of the resurrection, the Sons of the Living God, the Sons of Glory, the brethren of Christ Jesus, and we will be one with God through Christ! We are the Body of Christ, Abraham’s seed, and the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham!
We are the elect, the chosen, the saints, ambassadors, and overcomers! We are the Israel of God, and His Church.
Think on these things without the presuppositional thought of being a bride as some would describe and picture us! The joy should surpass what we are able to feel in our feeble flesh! I am humbled and awestruck by our Creator!
Thinking of all I can see, hear, smell, taste or feel, and to know it is the God of it all who sought out this sinner before the foundation of the world, who was dead in his sin, is humbling indeed!
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
From Concise dictionary BRIDE-CHAMBER, SONS (CHILDREN) OF THE
(hoi huioi tou numphonos): “These were friends or companions of the bridegroom and were usually very numerous (#Mt 9:15; Mr 2:19; Lu 5:34). Any wedding guest might be included in the expression, or anyone who took part in the bridal procession and remained for the wedding-feast (see MARRIAGE). In the above passages “the sons of the bride-chamber” are the disciples of Christ.”
Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Mark 2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
Luke 5:34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
Revelation 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Connection to what I am talking about us being the sons of God and overcomers:
Revelation 21:2-3 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Hebrews 11:10-16 For he [Abraham] looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.