"THE BRIDE OF CHRIST"
I. THE CHURCH IS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.
A. In the Old Testament, God likened His relationship to Israel as a husband and wife.
1. There were many analogies likening Israel as married to God.
2. Her turning to worship and love other gods was likened to adultery and fornication.
3. The book of Hosea with his marriage to a wife who became unfaithful, and had become a prostitute, and was finally so low that she was being sold as a slave, and Hosea buying her and taking her back was a beautiful picture of God and the nation of Israel.
B. In the New Testament, the church is declared to be the bride of Christ.
1. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.
2. Jesus was asked one day by the Pharisee's how it was that the disciples of John and the Pharisee's fasted often, yet the disciples of Jesus did not fast. Jesus responded: Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
3. Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
C. At the present time the church is espoused to Christ as Paul said, "I have espoused you to one husband."
1. The espousal was similar to, yet a little more binding, than an engagement today.
2. You remember that marriage in those days was by arrangement. Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth as the father of the church, declaring that he had espoused them to one husband, even Christ.
3. In those days because marriage was by arrangement, many times a child would be engaged when they were just 6 or 7 years old. Their parents had already made the arrangement as to who they were to marry.
4. One year before the wedding, the engagement became an espousal. The couple had made a complete commitment of their lives to each other. You could not break an expousal except by divorce. During this time they were as married, yet the marriage was never consummated until after the marriage ceremony.
5. You remember in the story of Mary and Joseph, it was during the time of their espousal that Mary was discovered to be with child. Thus Joseph was considering putting her away privately.
D. It is here in chapter 19 that the announcement is made that the time has come for the marriage of the Lamb, and that His wife has made herself ready.
II. THE APPAREL OF THE BRIDE.
A. It was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white.
B. We are told that the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.
1. When Paul wrote to the Philippians he spoke of the righteousness that he sought to attain by the law. He had all of the right credentials.
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
2. Jesus had told His disciples that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, they would not enter the kingdom of heaven. Note how Paul was willing to forego the righteousness as a Pharisee, that he might have the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ.
3. Paul wrote to the Romans,
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
4. To the Galatians he wrote:
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
5. The prophet Isaiah wrote:
But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags;
6. This means that I can try to present myself to God in filthy rags, which is my utmost best, or I can be robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which has been accounted to me by my faith in Jesus.
7. The psalmist described the apparel of the bride:
All thy garments [smell] of myrrh, and aloes, [and] cassia,
The king's daughter [is] all glorious within: her clothing [is] of wrought gold.
She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework:
III. BLESSED ARE THEY WHO ARE CALLED TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB.
A. The word blessed is literally "O how happy."
B. Do you ever stop to think how glorious it is going to be in heaven?
1. Back in chapter 5 as we have been brought into the heavenly scene and we watch as our Lord receives glory, and we join in the songs of praise to the Lamb who is worthy of the honors that are being bestowed upon Him.
2. Now back in the heavenly scene in chapter 19, when the announcement is made concerning the marriage, and the invitation given to the marriage supper. O what joy will flood my soul.
3. It sounds like the most beautiful dream in the world, almost like a fairy tale, so much so that the angel affirms to John that these are the true sayings of God.
4. Have you ever thought of where you will be when all of this is taking place? One of three places at this time.
a. You might be in hell.
b. You might be on the earth having survived all of the hell on earth that we have been reading about from chapter 6 on.
c. You will be among those standing in heaven clothed in the righteousness of Christ hearing these glorious announcements concerning the marriage of the Lamb and the invitation to the marriage feast.
d. But as beautiful as our garments may be, as we sang, "The bride eyes not her garments, But her dear Bridegrooms face, I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of Grace. Not at the crown He giveth, But on His pierced hand, The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel's land.