"The Bride of Christ" By Perry Stone
The Bride of Christ
What and who is the bride of Christ? I have been preaching on this topic all of my entire ministry, yet I often get letters and E-mails asking questions about who is the bride of Christ. There are many diverse ideas and theories on this subject.
Some say Israel is the bride of Christ. They base their opinion on a verse in Isaiah: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 54:5).
Others say the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ. They base this theory on their interpretation of Revelation 21: Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:2-4).
New Jerusalem was beautifully adorned as a bride, John said, because it will be the eternal home of Christ’s bride. But notice that while it was a prepared city and a beautiful city, it was never called the bride.
The Bible teaches that the church is the bride of Christ. To better understand this teaching about the bride of Christ, let’s review the ancient Jewish wedding.
Jewish Wedding Tradition
The Jewish wedding process began in a public ceremony when the couple announced their intentions to get married. This rite was preceded by an agreement between the two fathers and initiated the betrothal period.
The betrothal period lasted approximately a year, during which the groom returned to his father’ s house and began preparing a room for his new bride. Following completion of the room, a priest inspected the room to make sure it was better than the current living conditions of the bride.
In the meantime, the bride prepared herself for the wedding ceremony, which would begin approximately a year later. The exact day and hour were unknown, but the bride and the wedding party had to be prepared for the announcement of the coming bridegroom.
When the long-awaited day came, the wedding feast and ceremony started with one of the groomsmen leading the bridegroom through the streets, yelling, “ Behold, the bridegroom comes!” After a shofar sounded, the wedding party went to the bride’s house where the bridegroom claimed his bride, and took her to the wedding supper. The wedding feast would last seven days.
A Vision of the Bride
When John was exiled to the lonely isle of Patmos, he had plenty of time to worship and commune with God. He soon learned he was there by divine appointment because God began showing him visions, and revealing to him what to write in the last Book of the Bible.
In the grand sweep of the panorama of end-time events, John described what he saw:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 21:9-12).
As verse nine says, the bride is the Lamb’s wife. God is married to Jerusalem the holy city, and the redeemed of the Lord Live in Jerusalem, from every nation kindred and tongue. A name no man can number, God is not man so why can't he be married to a city, that great holy city. We should not look at spiritual things in such a mortal light. It is not obvious that the Son of God will not be marrying great, high walls with 12 gates; or streets of gold like transparent glass; or the other descriptions of the city John put in this book. Instead, the bride is the people of the city, those who have been raptured away by the Bridegroom and taken there for this occasion.
When I say, “ Chicago honors him,” it is obviously not the physical city that honors him; it is the people of the city. New Jerusalem had the tabernacle of God peopled with redeemed saints who had overcome the world and the devil and had become the bride of Christ.
This new city coming down from God out of heaven, is alluded to as both a city and a woman—just as the false bride, Mystery Babylon the Great, was both a city and a woman. A bride speaks of intimacy, and a city speaks of community. In that city, we will live in close intimacy, not only with the Lord himself, but with each other as well. John wrote in one of his letters:
It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed,we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2, 3).
A Friend of the Bridegroom
It was revealed to John the Baptist early in his ministry that Jesus, his first cousin, would be heaven’s divine Bridegroom sent to the earth. Knowing he was the final voice to Israel before the old era would be gone and the Kingdom preached, he knew he would not be a part of the bride of Christ. He told some Jews: You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’ s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:28-30).
Paul understood the church to be the bride of Christ, and wrote to a careless, carnal church at Corinth:
I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to herhusband. And now I'm afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2, 3, MSG).
Christ and the Church
The relationship Christ has with His church is a bridegroom relationship. He loved the church so much He was willing to die for it . . . and did! Why? So that just as the Jewish bridegroom would present his bride to himself, so Jesus may “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” (Ephesians 5:27).
He wants to present the pure church to Himself. Isn’t this what every bridegroom desires? During days of courtship she may go out with others; but when they are engaged, she is promised to be his alone. They both longingly await the day when this can be realized. When the wedding day comes, he is her’s and she is his for the enjoyment of each other.
Christ’s Love for His Bride
Understand that Christ has fallen head-over-heels in love with you. When Jesus said He loved us enough to die for us, He meant it literally. It had to be love that led Jesus to spread out His hands for nails to be driven through them. It had to be love for Him to allow a crown of thorns to be pummeled into His brow with a rod, when all the time ten million angels would have rescued Him.
Jesus could have ended the drama of His crucifixion at any time, but He loved you so much He couldn’t bear to spend eternity without you. So with His blood he paid the price for a royal wedding. Isaiah 61:10 says:
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Just as the process of preparing for a Jewish wedding was as crucial as the ceremony and the feast, so it is just as important for us to spend our time preparing for His presence in our lives on a daily basis. We must focus on our relationship with Christ. Being the bride of Christ is more than standing at the altar in a white dress,it is the supreme act of knowing personal, intimate communion with Him.
Look past the whole gender thing. God is talking about the most intimate relationship Christ could have with His people. The marriage relationship, properly perceived and appreciated, is the most intimate relationship two people could ever have. So the Bible uses the imagery of a bride and marriage to describe His relationship with His church. He wants us to recognize how deeply He loves us, and how intimately He wants to relate to us.
Eternity’s Crowning Event
In Revelation, New Jerusalem is described as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Everyone loves weddings. When the bride comes down the aisle, beautifully dressed for her husband, every eye is on her because she has prepared herself for her groom.
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:7-9).
All of heaven’s hosts rejoiced on the occasion of the Lamb’s wedding.
The bride was already with the bridegroom at the Wedding Supper.
The bride had made herself ready.
The wedding gown she wore was “the righteousness of the saints.”
Those who were called to the marriage supper of the Lamb were also blessed.
All the details of this story are accurate; they are the “true sayings of God.
The devil thought he was playing a joke on God when he crucified the Son of God. Because of the indescribable wickedness of sin, a high price had to be paid. So the devil, who had the power of death then (see Hebrews 2:14, 15), bargained. Jesus can have His bride if He will pay the bride price, Satan thought, but then He’ll be dead!
What Satan didn’t count on was the Resurrection! When we stand before the Bridegroom and gaze in rapturous love on the One who died for us, we will not be thinking of anything or anyone but Him! As Samuel Rutherford wrote in the 18th century:
The Bride eyes not her garments,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face.
And I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace.
Not at the crown he giveth,
But on his pierced hands,
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.
Destiny of Spirit United in His Love...