Introductory Scriptures: Rev 19 v 7, Rev 21 v 9-10, 1-3 and 22 v 17
Rev 19 v 7…..“For the wedding of the lamb has come and His Bride has made herself ready, in fine linen, bright and clean
Rev 21 v 9–10…. “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.” 10 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.”
Rev 21 v 1-3…. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
Rev 22 v 17 “The Spirit and the Bride say “Come!”
A central belief of Christianity is that Jesus is coming back. The Bible tells us that He is returning to take His Church/Bride to the ‘Wedding of the Lamb’ and that when He returns He is coming as the Bridegroom King. This means that we must prepare ourselves and “make ourselves ready” as His Bride. Unfortunately the message of the Bride of Christ is perhaps the least taught message in the Church today.
Yet I suggest that the Bride is
- The central theme of Scripture
- The focus and culmination of all natural history. The Church has two histories a) The natural or mortal history of the Church and b) the supernatural or immortal history of the Church and finally…..
- The Bride is the true identity of the Church both corporately and as an individual believer.
The purpose of this message is to give a scriptural rationale for this belief but before I begin I would like to share something of my personal journey that led to this discovery.
Background and personal testimony
A few years ago I was preparing for another mission to Africa. Three significant things happened which were destined to change the direction and emphasis of my ministry.
A. As part of my preparation I became aware that the Holy Spirit was showing me a number of things He wanted to emphasize in my Christian life:
- The place of prayer in my life
- The need for personal righteousness and righteousness and holiness in the Church and ……
- The need for a personal anointing of power for preaching and for healing. If you like’ the might works’ that He said we would do
Yet as I pondered on these things I knew that they were only aspects of something else far greater. They were facets of the diamond but were not the diamond itself
“What is the diamond?” I cried out. “What’s it all about Lord?”
The answer set my heart and my life in a completely new direction.
“It’s for My Bride, to get My Bride ready, to get Her dressed!” was His reply. It shocked me! Who was the Bride? Yet I intuitively knew somehow that the Lord was referring to His Church.
“Tell me more!” I pleaded and the Holy Spirit responded…….”Read Psalm 45!”
I eagerly turned to it and was amazed to read, in my bible, written under the title Psalm 45 the words…’A Song of the Bride’. The passage was about the Bride!
Looking at Psalm 45 v 1-13 you see that the first eight verses are about the majesty of the Bridegroom King. Then verses 9- 13 the Spirit begins to describe the Bride Herself. Verse 13 describes the Bride being dressed in ….”clothes embroidered with gold”.
I asked the Lord what these clothes embroidered with gold were?” and He answered with a further instruction,
”Read Revelations 19 v 7….“For the wedding of the lamb has come and His Bride has made herself ready, in fine linen, bright and clean”. (These are the righteous and mighty acts of the saints or the Church) Rev 9:7
In a Jewish wedding when the young bride is getting prepared for the wedding she takes of her old clothes and attended by her maidens, she lies down in a bath of pure water and immerses herself completely, her attendants gently pushing her head right under the water. As she rises she is redressed in a garment of pure white linen that her husband-to-be has given her. If she was a royal bride as in Ps 45 then the linen was embroidered with gold.
These ‘clothes’ were two of the key issues that I had become concerned about as I prepared for the mission trip, clothes of purity and righteousness, clothes of empowerment for the mighty works of the saints.
And so began a journey of seeing the Bride as the central theme of all Scripture and the focus and purpose of all creation. It ignited in me a passion to understand more about the Bride – our true identity.
Now you have to understand that as a Christian the subject of the Bride of Christ was unknown territory to me entirely and to suggest I was a part of…..’the Bride of Christ’, was both confusing at the very best and at the worst rather disturbing as a male. I have now come to realise however that the bride is a concept to do with relationship rather than gender.
B) Some time later the second thing happened that caused me to see that the Bride was His central purpose for all creation.
I was reflecting on the oddity of God in choosing the Jews from all other nations … As the saying goes….’How odd of God to choose the Jews’. I realised however that God created or formed the Jews from the seed of Abraham. He did not choose them from nations or races that already existed.
I asked Him why He created the Jews and He responded by asking me the same question. I replied by given the answer I had gleaned from university, Christian books I had read and sermons I had heard.
“Because You are a God of love. Love has to be expressed and must have an object or focus for its love. There has to be both a lover and a beloved. You create the Jews as your people so that you could lavish your love upon them because of Your need to express love.” His response was devastating!
“How dare you! ……I need nothing! The relationship of love between Myself, My Son and the Holy Spirit is perfect. We need nothing else. We are complete! No! Nothing I do is out of need but is out of GRACE! I have always wanted to live with my creation. I have always wanted a home on Planet Earth so that I could dwell amongst my people and love them.
But there is a far greater reason still. I created the Jews so that they and the adopted Gentiles whom I call, would be formed into a family, my family. Then, out of this company of people of every tribe and every race, I would form a Bride for My Son.
It has always been My desire to give a love gift of a Bride to My Son.
She is the ultimate purpose of all my creation. She is the Central theme of all My sacred Scripture and the culmination of all natural history”
3. It was several mission trips later when a third experience brought further revelation.
I got up early to pray one morning and immediately it seemed that the Holy Spirit was impressing something deep in my spirit.
“The Spirit and the Bride says ‘Come!’ ”, I heard.
Then the Lord said…“The Spirit has always been saying ‘Come!’ but the Bride is not saying ‘Come!’. The problem is…My Church has an identity crisis. She doesn’t know who She is”
The importance of Identity
Knowing who we are in Christ is vital to fulfilling our destiny because it gives us self-assurance and confidence. It produces a servant heart and personal security.
In John 13 v 1-5 we read
“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world He now showed the full extent of His love. The evening meal was being served. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power and that He had come from the God and was returning to God, so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing and wrapped a towel around His waist….and began to wash their feet”
Notice that Jesus knew….
- Who He was
- Where He had come from
- Where He was going
In the light of this understanding He……..took a towel and washed their feet.
Note well this point that the knowledge and assurance that Jesus had of His own identity produced security and servant-hood.
We too need to know who we are in order to fulfil our personal destiny! We too need to be clear as to who we are in Christ.
- We know that we have been adopted into the family of God and as such we are His ‘sons and daughters’ made to reflect the image of His Son and have His DNA. We are ‘spirit beings’. We are no longer just human beings. We are of a new species. We are ’spirit beings’ in a body….. not human beings with a spirit. There is a commonality of our new nature with the nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’
- We understand that each individual believer is a member of the Body of Christ, that each local denominational or independent church is part of the Church of Jesus Christ in that town or area or nation. We have our ‘Churches Together’ in our towns and strive for a greater unity in the Body of Christ but …..
- We do not always understand however that we, most importantly, are part of Jesus’ precious Bride for whom one day He is returning to take to a wedding.
This is our true identity. We are not just sons of God, not just a part of the Body of Christ on earth but we are destined to be His eternal and precious Bride, the Bride of the Bridegroom King.
Until we know this and embrace it, we will never fulfill the destiny God has for his Church.
I believe that we are in a very special season in Church history, one in which the Spirit of God is pleading with us, the Body of Christ, to understand who we are and to prepare ourselves for His coming as the Bridegroom..
It is a message which underlines that….
The Bride is the reason for all natural history.
The Bride is the ultimate focus of all creation.
And most importantly…….
The Bride is the central theme of all scripture. In fact I suggest that the whole of scripture can be viewed from the standpoint of the Bride and of a marriage relationship.
In this teaching I want to give a biblical rationale for these statements because I am aware that when we claim to have received ‘revelations from God’, we must be sure that those revelations are compatible with the whole of scripture. So…having made these three statements I now want to see if they can be justified in the light of what God has caused to be written in His Word.
It’s very interesting that the bible story begins in Genesis with a marriage in a garden between Adam and Eve and ends in Revelation with the Marriage of the Lamb, between Jesus and His Church Bride.
The Bible begins in Gen 1:20b-24 with a garden, a bride and bridegroom and a wedding
“But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and while He was sleeping He took one of the man’s ribs and clothed it with flesh. Then the Lord made the women from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to him. The man said …’This is my bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called women because she was taken from me’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife (cleave to) and they shall become one….”
It’s interesting that in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus begins his ministry to the apostles by revealing Himself as the Bridegroom God
Matt 9:15 ’Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them. The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away”’.
And Matthew ends his gospel account by calling the apostles to cultivate intimacy with Him and readiness, when He recounts the story of the ten virgins in Matt 25
In John’s Gospel the ministry of Jesus begins with the wedding at Cana (John 2) and then in John 3 v 29 – 30 John the Baptist introduces himself as the friend of the bridegroom – the best man at the coming wedding if you like. “He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom” John says.
Before His arrest in Gethsemane, in John 14:2,3 the story ends with the wedding betrothal supper that He Has with His disciples and which is known as the Last Supper. It was actually an engagement party!
In John 14 Jesus tells His disciples that He is about to leave them for a while and sensing their anxiety He says in v 2 and 3 ….“Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God. In My Father’s house are many rooms (enough room for everyone). If it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you….and will come back….”
Now in Jewish weddings the betrothal ceremony or engagement party is the essential place of public commitment and of acceptance or rejection.
The ‘ratification and celebration’ is the wedding feast which takes place later when the home has been prepared and the ‘consummation’ is when they go to their prepared house and enter the marriage bed of intimacy.
At the betrothal or engagement meal the potential bridegroom offers the potential bride a cup of wine but if she refuses the marriage cannot be ratified. If she accepts then they share the cup together and the bridegroom speaks words of promise and commitment. He says… “I must go away to prepare a place for you but if I go, I will come again to take you to be with me so that where I am you will be also”. Isn’t this what Jesus said to His disciples during the Last Supper?
Interestingly the house the bridegroom was to build was usually adjacent the father’s property or an extension to it or was on the roof. Only the father knew when it was complete enough and ready for his son to bring the bride. Remember Jesus words about His return….” Only the Father knows the hour …not even the Son”.
Bridal significance within the story of the washing of the disciples feet
During the last supper which we suggest was the marriage bethrothal meal, John tells us in Jn 13 that Jesus asked if He might wash the disciples feet.
As part of the wedding preparation the bride would partake of a Mikveh, or cleansing bath. Mikveh is the same word used for baptism. To this day in conservative Judaism a bride cannot marry without a Mikveh. It is a vital part of her preparation. In the presence of her female attendants the bride to be takes off her clothes and dresses in a pure white linen dress which her bridegroom has sent her while he is away preparing the bridal home. During his absence he often sends her gifts to remind her of him and to help in her preparation. He does this via his best man.This for us is the Holy Spirit who is busy preparing us as Jesus Bride too. In fact Jesus said that He would send us the Holy Spirit, our ‘best man’, after He had returned to His father. Jesus said ”He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify me because he will take of mine and disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.… Jn 16 v 13 -15. And…. the Holy Spirit gives us gifts too.So….the young bride steps into a bath of pure water and lays down and submerges herself completely under the water. She even opens her toes and fingers to allow the water to touch and cleanse every part of her. Lastly her head is gently pushed under by her attendants.Do you remember that when Jesus gets to Peter and asks to wash his feet Peter refuses and Jesus says “Unless I wash all of you, you cannot be part of me”. Peter replies, “Then wash both my feet and my head also”. How significant.! Was this Peter’s bridal commitment? His Mikveh?
Now it is at this point that I want to suggest that there are hidden treasures discovered, regarding the Bride of Christ, by understanding the parallels between Adam and his bride Eve and that of Jesus and His Bride, the Church.
In scripture Jesus is called the second Adam, the Adam of Genesis being the first.
However some years ago I came to understand that the Church of Jesus was the Second Eve just as the Eve of Genesis was the first Eve.
I want to explore this idea more for it emphasizes much more our bridal identity consequently encourages us more earnestly to prepare ourselves as His Bride for the coming of our Bridegroom King.
The Bride of Christ, was created out of the rib of the second Adam
Traditionally the church has taught that its own birth originated at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon the waiting disciples.However I suggest that that was the empowering of the Church and that She was born on the cross when the rib of the Second Adam was pierced.
Just as the first Eve was drawn out from the rib of Adam in like manner, may I suggest, the second Eve, the Bride of Christ, was also created out of the rib of the second Adam, when the spear was thrust into His side on the cross and blood and water flowed out.
Blood speaks of the purchase price, of forgiveness and atonement. Water speaks of cleansing, washing, of live-giving and empowering. It is significant that both these elements were present and purposely mentioned by the Holy Spirit in Jn 19 v 34. These are the most significant marks of a birth. May I suggest that the Church, the Bride, the second Eve, was birthed not at Pentecost, but out of the rib of Jesus on the cross as the spear penetrated His body. The Church, the Bride was empowered at Pentecost.
In the story found in Genesis, the first Adam, was put to sleep and the first Eve was drawn out of his rib….from his ‘pleura’, and God split the Adam. The Septuagint which is the Greek translation of Gen 2 v 21 uses the word ‘pleura’.
Likewise Jesus gave up His Spirit (was put ‘to sleep’) and God allowed Jesus to be opened up by divine surgery as the spear pierced him and so Jesus, the second Adam, gave birth to the second Eve from out of His side.
It is interesting that the same word ‘pleura’ is used to describe Jesus’ side in Jn19 v 34 where it says “But one of the soldiers pierced his pleura and out came blood and water”.
The woman’ was in Adam and a part of Adam before she became Eve.
It is interesting to notice that ‘the woman’ who eventually became known as Eve, had been formed on the sixth day of creation but was at first still ‘in Adam’.
Gen 1:27 says “And God made man both male a female He made them”. She yet had to be drawn out of him. The word ‘women’ is from a combination of ‘wo’ which is ‘from’ and ‘man’…..literally ‘from out of man’.
She was also not yet ‘Eve’ but just known as ‘man’. This is still the case up till Gen 3 v 20 when she is named Eve, meaning ‘Mother of all living’. Before then she was simply Mrs Adam. She was Adam in another form.
This has such significance for us as the Church/Bride, the second Eve. We too were in Christ, the second Adam, before “the foundation of the earth”. Eve was in Adam from before she became woman …’from man’. Eve was of the same DNA as Adam. There was a woman in Adam that was to be His Bride just as there was a corporate woman ‘in Christ’, you and I, that was to be His Bride, before the very foundation of the earth.
Eve was born from Adam. We were born from Christ
Eve was born of Adam “flesh of His flesh and bone if His bone”. Yet we, the second Eve are also born of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam ….born Spirit of His Spirit….. “Not born of the will of man but of the will of God” Jn 1 v 13
In Gen 3 v 20 Eve is described as “the mother of all living things”
And scripture says that the Church, the Bride, the second Eve, is also the mother of all who are alive in Christ.
In Gal 4 v 26 Paul says that the “Jerusalem that is above is the mother of us all”. In Rev 21 v 27, those whose names are written in the Book of life, live in the city of the new Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ…..In Ps 87 v 5 it says, ”Indeed of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in Her and the Most High Himself will establish Her”
Eve was the Glory of Adam.
Eve was absolutely beautiful. She was the delight of Adam’s eyes, the fulfilment of all his dreams and desires. I can imagine him being so in love with her and finding such pleasure in just looking at her. She was the glory of Adam. In the Greek translation of the bible the Greek work ‘doxo’ is used when describing Eve. Our word ‘doxology’ comes from it. Paul says in 1 Cor 11 v 7 that woman is the “glory of man”.
In like manner the Church, the second Eve, is the glory of Christ. Just as Eve was the glory of Adam so in the same way scripture says, the Church is the glory of Christ. We are His doxology. He also delights to look at us and finds great pleasure in us. Song of Solomon 6 v 5 puts it so aptly when the King (Jesus) begs the Shulamite girl (the Church/Bride) not to look at Him so intently He says “Turn your eyes from Me. They overwhelm Me”, or as a modern translation puts it ..” Do not look at Me like that. You make Me go weak at the knees”.
A paraphrase of Eph 5 v 25 – 27 says ….” Jesus Christ loved the Church, His Bride and gave Himself to die for her in order to make her holy and pure. He cleansed her with His own blood, washing away every sin which she had committed or would commit. He cleansed her so that He could present to Himself a glorious church…..a church full of heavenly glory. She is now ‘without spot’ in His eyes. There is no stain upon her. She is without wrinkle. She, the bride of Jesus Christ which you are a part, is utterly flawless. She is as holy as the face of God Himself and is without blemish”.
The Bride is God’s masterpiece in creation.
Paul in Eph 2 v 10 says… “We are God’s workmanship”. However the Greek word used here for workmanship is ‘poiema’ which means masterpiece. The Lord only has one masterpiece and that is the Bride. We are His finest creation. We are His glory! The church is Jesus crowning Glory designed to express His own beauty and majesty.
Eph 3 v 10 says ….”His intent was the now through the Church (which is His Bride) the manifold wisdom (which is His glory) should be made known”
Jesus loves His Church so much and longs to take Her to the wedding for Jesus longs for intimacy with His Bride. He longs for us to return that love and to love Him deeply and unreservedly too. But in order to gain that bride He had to pay the dowry price which was His blood which He shed on the cross.
1Cor 6 v 20 “You are bought with a price. So glorify God in your bodies”
1 Peter 1:18-23
“Forasmuch as ye know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Eve was of a new created order
The bible tells us that God completed creation in six day including Adam and Eve. But Eve was formed differently. Everything in the universe was created out of nothing and then Adam was created from the dust of the earth. This was the old order of creation.
However, Eve was not created as other things were but was formed in Adam’s image, from out of his body,” flesh of his flesh” and of his DNA, as distinct from being created by God directly. She was of the new creation order, formed in Adam and coming ‘out of his flesh’ just like we are of a new creation, formed in Christ before the foundation of the earth and made in His image. But just as Adam had to be ‘put to sleep’ in order for the new creation to be taken from him so Jesus had to die (‘put to sleep’… Jesus always referred to death as sleep).
With this in mind I was reminded of John 12:2 “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remain ‘alone’ but if it dies it produces many seeds”.
Here Jesus is referring to His resurrection yet to come and that in order to produce many ‘sons and daughters’ (the many seeds – the Church/Bride) He must also be put in the ground as it were and die….just like a seed must be buried in order to produce more of its own kind.
In this respect Jesus paid the ultimate price. Adam just slept but Jesus actually died and so when He rose again He. Himself, was the first-fruit of a new race, the Church Race and the many seeds that would be produced and germinate were also of this ‘new creation’, which was destined to become His Bride.
His Bride had to be of the same substance as Himself in order to be compatible with Him and to marry Him and in order for this to happen Jesus had to lay down His life for Her. His dowry was His blood. His death, Her life. It was to cost Him everything. How much He loved us and how much He desired us. When Jesus died on that cross and His side was pierced the second Eve was formed ‘from Christ’ on the cross and when He rose on that resurrection morning, God breathed into her and she came alive. At that point He brought forth “many sons and daughters to life in the Spirit” and so the Church/Bride was born…..and her name was ‘ekklesia’.
The ‘Aloneness’ of the Son
There is something so significant in this passage in Jn 12 about the words that Jesus uses when He says….‘He abides alone’. V 2…“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remain ‘alone’.
As I pondered on this, I came to understand that the triune God, in their love and wisdom had placed within their character a desire for relationship that extended beyond just one another within the Godhead. And that there was pulsating within the Godhead the very essence of the deity, which is a passionate love that required to love and be loved. There was both a ‘lover’ and a ‘beloved’ within the heart of the Father since He is the source of everything. And he so dearly loved the Son. Jesus at His baptism heard the Father say….”You are my dearly beloved Son” and in John 17 v 24 Jesus prayed “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory which you gave me because you loved me”
The Father’s passion for His Son satisfied His heart’s desire. Jesus was the Father’s beloved and able to be so because He was His counterpart. He was totally compatible with Him and so He was able to be His ‘beloved’, the recipient and fulfilment of that passion. He was the one upon whom Father could pour out His love.
The Son however had no-one compatible to Him as the Father had, upon whom He too could also lavish His love. Although He passionately loved the Father He still had no one as His counterpart. He had no ‘beloved’. So he remains alone.
Christ Jesus ‘became flesh and lived amongst us’, so just as for the first Adam “it was not good for him to be alone”, God decreed that for the second Adam “it was not good for Him to be alone”. So God had put within His Son the ability for Him to experience ‘aloneness’ within His being as He waited for His compatible partner to be formed.
Until that Bride has “made herself ready” and cries out “Come Lord Jesus. Come!”…. He remains the ‘alone’ bachelor of heaven.
So ….. we began in Genesis with a bride and groom and we end in Revelation with the marriage feast of the Lamb Rev 19:7
‘The marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made Herself ready…He said to me “Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb”’
This wedding supper marks the end of our Natural History as we know it. The history of the mortal Church ends and the history of the Immortal Church begins. At this point we are ‘raptured’ for the wedding, perfected and sanctified without any sin principle in us, and so are able to co-partner with Him in our new perfection, as joint heirs and equal partners. Then we return to planet earth to co-partner with Christ in married ‘oneness’ during the Millennium Reign when “the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our God and His Christ”.
It is important that we understand in terms of the ‘times and seasons’ what the days will be like that precedes that moment in natural history when the Bride will have “made herself ready”.
1) It will be marked by the Holy Spirit’s emphasis on Jesus as the Bridegroom King and Bridegroom God as never before.
2) It will marked by a deep unity between the Spirit and the Bride.
“The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!’ Rev 22 v 17
Both will be crying the same cry! But we are not there yet! The Church of Jesus worldwide still needs to hear this message of the Bride and to respond to it. Notice that John doesn’t say “The Spirit and the Church, or the Spirit and the Body says ‘Come! but the Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!’”
2) It will be marked by it being the most sinful generation and emotionally bankrupt generation in history (Dan 8v 23, Matt 24 v 10-24, I Tim 4 v 1-3 and 2 Tim 3 v 1-5)
“In the latter time…..when the transgressors have reached their fullness”… Daniel 8
This revelation of the Bride has been strategically reserved for the last generation to empower the church to overcome the most awful lawless, fearful, demonic and sexually perverted generation in history.
I want to finish by referring to Song of Songs 1 v 1 “Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth”
Notice the significance of the verse. It is a call to intimacy…to Bridal love
No-one invites a kiss on the mouth unless they desire to arouse deep feelings of intimacy. The Song of Songs or Song of Solomon is a prophetic book for today. It is the song of the Bride and Bridegroom….the Church, His Bride and Jesus, the Bridegroom King.
This is the cry of the Holy Spirit to us today …. to recognise our true identity.
It is a call to us to cry out together as ONE BODY for He doesn’t have a HAREM but only has ONE BRIDE.
Maranatha! “Come Lord Jesus, Come!