Vol. 5, No. 11
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I. Jesus' Present Bride
John the immerser (Matthew 3:1) physically was a cousin of Jesus (Luke 1:36), and was his "friend" (John 3:29). Since John was "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15), by inspiration he knew that Jesus spiritually would be pictured as marrying his church, and so the elated John, standing and listening to Jesus, rejoiced "greatly because of the bridegroom's voice" (John 3:29). Ahead of time, John announced that "The bridegroom has the bride" (John 3:29).
Figuratively, the dowry that Jesus paid for his bride was "not by perishable things (as silver and gold), . . . but by the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus' bride is "my church" (Matthew 16:18) whom "he bought with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
No one joins the church, but God adds "to the church daily the ones . . . being saved" (Acts 2:47). The "saved" are those who believe "that God has made" Jesus "both Lord and Christ" and have repented and have been baptized "into the forgiveness of" their "sins" (Acts 2:36, 38).
Collectively, all the saved are the bride of Christ, whom he "loved" and "gave himself for" her," having cleansed her in the washing of the water by" the teaching of "the word, that he might set her apart, to present her to himself in splendor, having no spot or flaw or any such thing, that she might be unblemished and set apart" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Thus the marriage ceremony for every sinner ("all have sinned," Romans 3:23) is three-fold: (1) a confession "that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 4:15); (2) repentance (Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19; 11:18); and (3) a cleansing from sin "in the washing of the water" of baptism (Acts 22:16; Hebrews 10:22). Spiritually, therefore, every cleansed sinner is part of the bride of Christ, and glorifies God in wearing the name of the bridegroom, "Christian" (1 Peter 4:16), a name meaning "belonging to Christ," having been "married" (genesthai) "to the One who was raised from the dead, that" the new Christian, married to Christ, "might bear fruit to God" (Romans 7:4).
An unknown lad somehow connected fruit bearing as the result of someone's being "God's wife": It's a cold day in December in New York City. A little boy about ten years old was standing before a shoe store on Broadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, "My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?" "I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boy's reply.
The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get a half dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel. By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she then purchased a pair of shoes for him, and tying up the remaining pairs of socks, gave them to him. She patted him on the head, and said, "No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?"
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand and looking into her face with tears in his eyes, he answered the question with these words: "Are you God's wife?"
As Christ's bride, shouldn't we all be? ~ Author Unknown
II. Jesus' Future Bride
The members of the Lord's congregation in Corinth had become part of the Lord's bride by the marriage ceremony of faith, repentance and baptism, and so "were washed" and "set apart" and "justified" (Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 6:11).
But the Spirit-inspired Paul (1 Corinthians 2:13) also presents faith, repentance, and baptism as a present day engagement to be married: "I have promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Thus every sinner, after faith, repentance and baptism, is pictured as accepting Jesus' marriage proposal, becoming his fiancee, but the wedding will be in the next world! At present, each Christian, each fiancee, is preparing herself figuratively "as a bride adorned for her bridegroom" (Revelation 21:2).
In the future, "Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give him glory! The Lamb's marriage has come, and his fiancee has prepared herself" (Revelation 19:7). At that time, each Christian who has been faithful as a fiancee, will "be clothed in fine linen, bright and splendid. The fine linen is the good deeds of the saints" (Revelation 19:8). A never-ending happy marriage is next, "forever and ever" (Revelation 22:5).