The Church, The Bride Of Christ
(Pictures Of The Church)
Few analogies manifest the intimacy the church sustains to Christ like the figure of: “The Body Of Christ”. The most obvious feature of this Divinely designed relationship is that Christ is the head.
Paul in Ephesians 1:22- 23 states that God has: “put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” He further stated: “18And he is the head of the body, the church:” Colossians 1:18..
In one passage Paul says: “the church , the body”, in the other he says: “the body, the church”. So we may speak of it in either way. “The church is the body”, and “the body is the church”. Not only does the Bible tell us the church is the body of Christ, but it tells us that it is an exclusive body. Ephesians 4:4
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.”
If one God is exclusive, one Spirit exclusive, one Lord exclusive…. then there is but one baptism exclusively, and one body, exclusively. And does it not follow if there is one body exclusively? There is one church exclusively?
In Matthew 16:13-18
13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Christ said, “I will build my church” it’s Christ’s church, thus Paul writes in Romans 16:16 “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you”.
So Paul sets forth this beautiful relationship: between “Christ and His church” in Ephesians 5:23
23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body.
The husband represents Christ, and the wife represents the church, and that just as a husband and a wife become one, forsaking all things else, blending their lives into a oneness, (Matthew 19:3-9).
From our text Ephesians 5:23 there is the suggestion of the closest of relationships known to man “The Marriage Relationship” It was predicted by Isaiah that God’s people would have a name better than “son” or “daughter”, Notice Isaiah chapter 56 and verse 5: “Unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”
A Divine name was to be given to all God’s people both Jews and Gentiles, (Isaiah 62:1-2) The name “Christian” is a Divinely given name: Acts 11:26. We wear the name of “Christ”, just as a woman takes the name of her husband after marriage. Our text extols this beautiful relationship (Ephesians 5:23).
“For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body.”
Please allow me to emphasize this: “just as the husband and wife forsake all things and become one, and thus blend their lives into one, even so every Christian must do the same”. We must forsake all and blend our lives into that of the Lord Jesus Christ, Then… another thing; In the very beginning God brought Adam into existence, and after the creation of all things, God brought the creatures to Adam to see what he would call them, “and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18-20
Notice the particular way in which this was done: We read from Genesis 2:21-22
“And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man”. Next in verses 23-25 this familiar passage often used in our weddings today:
“And the man said, This is now bone of my
bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken
Just as in the beginning, when God brought Adam into existence. and then made a help meet for him. Adam was put to sleep; then his side was opened; a rib was taken; the woman was then brought into existence. Then, And Adam and Eve were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. (Genesis 2:18-20).
Follow with me now in the steps of the formation of the church, the bride of Christ: Just as Eve was brought into existence according to the process described, in later centuries the church which was to become the bride of Christ, was to be formed. As a deep sleep came over Adam, even so, the Christ lived upon the earth for about a third of a century, thus fulfilling the predictions of the ancient prophets regarding him, He was crucified. Read now this account from the gospel of John
“The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross upon the sabbath (for the day of that sabbath was a high day), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32The soldiers therefore came, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him: 33but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34howbeit one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and straightway there came out blood and water. 35And he that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye also may believe. 36For these things came to pass, that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” John 19:31-37.
John tells us, while Jesus slept the sleep of death, a Roman soldier, who was standing nearby injected a spear into His side and opened up the literal flesh of the body of Christ, and from His side there came forth His precious blood which was to purchase the church. We learn this from a number of scriptures. In Acts 20:28, “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.”
Again 1 Peter 1;18-20
“knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ: 20who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of times for your sake”. Thus the purchase price of the beautiful bride of Christ the church? The blood of Christ.
After the price was paid, and sacrifice made the next step was, the woman or the bride of Christ was brought into existence; and thereafter to be characterized as the wife, the “bride of Christ”. The church could not have been in existence as long as the law stood. The Jews could not have been reconciled into the one body, and neither could they be married to Christ as long as the Law of Moses stood.
Hear Paul argue this in Romans 7:1-4
“Or are ye ignorant, brethren (for I speak to men who know the law), that the law hath dominion over a man for so long time as he liveth? 2For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. 3So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man. 4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God.”
Now, what are the facts? The Jews were married to the law of Moses. So long as that law was in existence, had they been married to another it would have been spiritual adultery. But if the first law be wiped and blotted out, they then, become free from it, and are not adulterers though they be married to another. (Romans 7:4)
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, .”
Christ was resurrected, ascended back to His Father, The marriage thus consummated. What next the command to be fruitful and multiply. Mark 16:15-16
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Finally this admonition: Ephesians 5:25
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; continuing verse 28…”Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30because we are members of his body. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. 33Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband.”
So my friends, the church of Jesus Christ, having become married unto Christ, as the consummating act, has the right to wear the name of the husband., “Christian” (belonging to Christ).
And any children resulting from that union have that same right. And are beneficiaries of Christ’s will , hence “heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ” Rom.8:17.
And so, it is a privilege which you and I ought to appreciate and exalt above the loftiest mountain the privilege that we may become members of the body of Christ, the church of the “living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” It is a privilege to take upon ourselves the name “Christian” to wear it proudly and with the highest dignity.
But in order for us to do so, we must submit to Heaven’s terms. We must fall in love with our expected husband Christ, resolved to forsake all others and turn to him by repenting of our sins, confess his name.
Finally let the wedding ceremony began, in the name of the sacred Three, arise from the waters of baptism, our relation-ship to the world changed, now married unto him who purchased us with his blood and rose from the dead, assured that he will give us a crown of life.
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ