As we plow through mountains of correspondence here at the the mystical teachings of jesus, there is often a recurring theme. Of late, many have been inquiring as to whether or not the Body of Christ is the Bride of Christ. We have always taken this to be the leading of the Holy Spirit since these letters come from different parts of the country, indeed, the world. If the ministry has taught us one thing, it is this: Birds of a feather flock together! In other words, if one has a question of this sort others are normally standing in the shadows pondering the same thing.
Although the Bride of Christ falls under the classification of a “secondary issue” the very nature of the subject has a profound effect on how certain passages are interpreted. Through the years, Pastor Stam and I have been in about 85 percent agreement when it comes to rightly dividing the Word of truth. However, one area that we have never seen eye to eye on is the issue under consideration. Brother Stam believes that the Body of Christ is numbered with the company of believers commonly known as the Bride of Christ. We have had a number of spirited discussions on the matter, all of which ended in the old “Mexican standoff.” There were times as we left the room together, he would chuckle and exclaim, “Paul, some day you will see the light!”
Mindful of whom I was discussing these eternal issues with, I have weighed the evidence very carefully under the microscope of Paul’s gospel. After bringing everything into focus, I am more convinced than ever that the Body of Christ is not the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. To me it seems terribly inconsistent to make distinction after distinction between Israel and the Church and then turn around and say that they are one in the same, that is, the Bride of Christ. Of course, some teach that the “Body” is the Bride, not Israel, but this is simply not supported by the facts. One thing is clear in this discussion: the opinions of men are inconsequential in view of the eternal question, “What saith the Scriptures?”
WORDS AND PHRASES
In our quest to rightly divide the Word of truth certain “words” and “phrases” are identified with the Prophetic program while others are associated with the Mystery. Interestingly, the “Bride of Christ” is an unscriptural phrase that is foreign to both programs of God. It is merely a theological expression that originated in the futile mind of man to describe those who will be present at the marriage of the Lamb preceding the kingdom (Rev. 19:7-9). The exact phrase used in prophecy is only found in the Apocalypse where one of the seven angels said to John: “Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 21:9).
The terms “bride,” “Lamb,” and “wife” (in relation to the marriage of the Lamb) are woven throughout the pages of prophecy. For example: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom” (John 3:29 cf. Jer. 2:32). “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 cf. Isa. 53:7). “…for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7 cf. Isa. 54:4-7).
One will search in vain to find any of this terminology in St. Paul’s epistles. In fact, Paul frequently makes reference to Christ as Savior, Lord and Head, but he never speaks of Him as the Lamb of God and for good reason. In prophecy, God had graciously imparted the sacrificial system which foreshadowed the once-for-all sacrifice. Thus, Christ was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God who satisfied the righteous demands of the law. He was consistently portrayed as the innocent victim–a lamb being led to the slaughter (Lev. 4:32-35; Isa. 53:3-8). With the introduction of a new dispensation, Christ is portrayed in a completely different light by the Apostle Paul. Today, He is the Lord of glory, the mighty victor who has conquered sin through His death and resurrection (I Cor. 2:8; 15:20-23).