“Then one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”“
Revelation 21:9 NLT
If someone invited us to go and see a bride what would we expect to see? A beautiful young woman dressed in an expensive white dress? Hair beautiful coiffured? Makeup expertly applied? Nails perfect? An excited smile on her face? Yes, all of these things would apply. But if we were asked to describe the “wife of the Lamb”, what would we expect to see?
The Scriptures describe the Bride being readied for Christ. Ephesians 5:25-27 reads, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” So we see that the Bride of Christ is the Church, made up of Christians, those who have become His followers through His saving sacrifice at Calvary.
But when we look at the Church of today, do we see a perfect representation of a Bride, in all her glory, in all her beauty? “Without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish”. Sadly, there would appear to be much in the Church of today that falls far short of the “glorious church” that Paul wrote about. But there are two things worthy of thought.
In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable about sheep and goats. The sheep represent those who were saved and redeemed through their relationship with Jesus, and they demonstrated their salvation through the way they treated those around them. On the other hand, the goats represent those who did not have a relationship with Jesus, but even though they may, or may not, have performed charitable and helpful acts to others, that was of no consequence to their status before the “Great White Throne” of judgement. So the sheep and goats template, when overlaid on today’s Church, might have some surprising results.
The other thing that church leaders fret about is church unity. Ecumenism is important when it is represented by different churches with the same fundamental beliefs in God and the infallibility of Scripture. Sadly, there are some denominations that claim a right to be part of the ecumenical movement, but who deny some of the “red-lines” laid down in Scripture. Thankfully, the washing “by the cleansing of God’s word” will make the Bride of Christ “holy and clean”.
In the end, what denomination we belong to is less important than the relationship we individually and corporately have with God. Jesus said in John 10:16, “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd”. Perhaps He was leaving the door open for His ultimate Bride, the Church, to have many representations, enriching her personality. It won’t matter whether we are Anglicans, Baptists, Charismatics or any other denomination – the ground at the foot of the Cross is level with all repentant sinners eligible for salvation. Eligible to be part of the “wife of the Lamb”.
Dear Lord. We thank You for Calvary and Your sacrifice for our sins. Your praises are always on our lips. Amen.