The Bride

“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.

The Wedding Feast

“Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honour to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.””
Revelation‬ ‭19:6-9‬ ‭NLT

At last! The long promised “wedding feast of the Lamb” is about to happen. The excitement gripping all those living in heaven, “a vast crowd”, is palpable, and they shout out with a roar that sounded like “mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder”. They proclaim the reign of God’s Kingdom, with rejoicing and honour to “the Lord our God”. There is a special wedding coming up, and the bride, God’s holy people, the Church, will be wearing the “finest of pure white linen” which, we are told, “represents the good deeds of God’s holy people”. 

There’s a bit to unpack here. Most of the references in the Bible to the “wedding feast of the Lamb” occur in the Book of Revelation. But Jesus, of course, taught about this momentous event, and His words were recorded in Matthew 22:1-14. This feast is to be a celebration of the marriage of the King’s Son to all those who have accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour, His Church. In the parable, Jesus sent out His servants to tell those who had been invited that the banquet, the wedding feast, was ready. But His invitation was refused by many, who, as we have been seeing in the Revelation story, came to a sticky end. But those who did respond to the invitation were welcomed. Well, all except one, who tried to get into Heaven by some other way, other than The Way, and he was not wearing the righteousness that comes from repentance and faith in Jesus. He came to a sticky end as well. Paul, the Apostle, said this to the Ephesian church, “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.” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:25-27). Paul, in his illustration of the marriage between a man and a woman, referred to the true husband, Jesus, and the lengths He went to, to ensure the Church, His future Bride, was “holy and clean”.

We have to be careful in understanding the “good deeds” relating to the white linen garments. It does not imply that we can be part of the Bride of Christ purely by doing good deeds to others, which some claim. Paul wrote, again to the Ephesian church, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭NLT). We won’t gain entry to Heaven by being good, as the man in Jesus’ parable discovered. But the good deeds we pilgrims do through the grace of God, led by His Spirit, will define the garments we will wear when we take our seats at the banquet that surpasses all other banquets. Eating with God Himself in Heaven. 

The angel told John to write these words down, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb“. And we know that he did, because we read it in Revelation 19:9. Are we pilgrims feeling blessed today? Have we received our invitations? Just imagine how excited we would feel to have a personal invitation from God Himself sitting on our mantelpiece, taking pride of place in our living rooms. Well, the Good News is that we have already received it. Ephesians 1:4-5, written by Paul, says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Worth a wow and amen? If not, I don’t know what is!

Father God. We look forward to that wonderful day, when we enjoy the banquet high above all banquets. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.