The Bride of Christ
One of the most powerful examples that we have in scripture, which many experience in the natural as a part of daily life, is that of marriage. Marriage as characterized in the Word is literally a representation for the very existence of humanity. I know for at least 20 years I had wondered why people came into existence and what was truly so unique about him that God just adores us above all other beings. Once the revelation behind marriage started coming to me it unfolded the very answer to this question as well as answering other questions that I had not really realized I was asking.
2 Corinthians 11:1-3 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2 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. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
We start with this scripture because it accomplishes two things. First and foremost it defines that we as believers in Jesus HAVE become his promised bride, or as Paul puts it espoused to one husband. To those of us who live in the western culture this is what we would call an engagement, but to the Hebrews who received their concept of what this means straight from God it is more than this. In the west an engagement is a promise that two give to each other because they desire to be married and is the time between that proposal and the actual union in marriage. But for whatever reason that engagement can be broken with little if any real repercussions to such a decision. Even until today though in the eastern culture being espoused is more of a legal binding contract of marriage, in which for all tense and purposes the couple usually lives a lifestyle of a married couple, but have not consummated this union yet until after the wedding ceremony. If for some reason the couple decide not to get married they must get a certificate of divorce even though the marriage has not been consummated. This is something that has taken place as a believer in Jesus with Jesus so as we go through this teaching keep in mind that this is not something to yet occur but has already happened when we believed.
The other thing that stands out in Paul’s statement is that the power behind this relationship is in its simplicity, yet because it is so simple it is easily corrupted. If we choose to allow our hearts to be persuaded to believe something that is not a result of this relationship we will not bear the fruit of this relationship. I know there has been a lot of cause and effect from the single decision of Adam but the reality to this simplicity is that by one man all have sinned and by one man all have been reconciled unto our Father. By believing on Jesus, who he is and what he did, we have been reconciled back into the family of God. It is all about relationship and not works, our identity as sons and not servants. We as the church are the bride of Jesus and are no longer subject to the old man but to Jesus and Jesus exists only in love and not manipulation.
Genesis 2:21-24 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
There is a powerful foreshadow here in that woman existed in her fulness or entirety when she was still in man before she was ever taken out of man. So when a man and a woman join together in marriage and become one, they are once again complete as they were when they were both in Adam. They are two yet they are one. As a side note I wondered what Adam was thinking about when he was told he left his parents to be with Eve? He was probably feeling a little confused wondering where his parents were. j/k
Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
We see here what the perspective of the wife should be going into this relationship. Paul starts out by stating that the wife is to submit to her husband. Too many times people only look at negative aspects that can occur in an ungodly relationship when they hear the term submit. But there is more to this then just looking at it as some type of permission for abuse to enter into a relationship. If the wife is submissive to her husband then she is also going to rely solely on him to be taken care of by him. We will see how this fits in when we get to the husband’s roles, but being submissive is to be supportive, encouraging, empowering one to make good decisions and not condemning when bad things happen, resting in the husband for provision and nurturing.
A Godly wife can bring out the best in her husband and encourage him to be the type of husband that God would have him be, since he is a shadow of Jesus unto the world. Even in extreme circumstances women have influenced their husbands through the love of God to turn from sadistic, evil, vile, demonic, abusive beings into great men of God. I am not advocating that any woman stay in an abusive relationship, because that is a decision that only she can make, and without God being the focus there more than likely would never be any change. There is a great difference in demonstrating the love of God to someone and empowering them to be wicked. When a spouse lives life with the love of God as the source of their existence, just as Jesus who was the very embodiment of love on this earth, then that love influences the life of their spouse eventually turning the hardest of hearts.
Another quick aspect here is that the church is clearly the bride in this relationship. Many times religion tries to turn the roles around where we become the husband and Jesus the bride. Where we try to tell Jesus what to do and try to force him to submit to our wills or even have him respond to us in some form or fashion that is characteristic of the wife. Bluntly this will not work at all ever and if anyone ever thinks that anything good has come into their lives out of trying to do this they are greatly deceived. As the bride it would be in our best interest to just humbly submit to Jesus and allow him to provide for us the way he desires and has promised to do so.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 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. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 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. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Christ’s love for his bride is pure and undefiled. I used to use the term unconditional love until God showed me that there is no other type of love because if someone calls it love but there are strings attached to it then it is a counterfeit to love but not love. It is impossible for God to love you any more than he does and he will never love you any less. Notice that Jesus is the one who has cleansed the church by his sacrifice and that the church, his bride, is perfect. The bride contributed nothing on her own, just like we can cannot out of our own efforts, to being holy or blemish free.
Paul at the end of this statement then says that he is speaking of a great mystery in that our relationship with Jesus is that of a marriage and what has taken place in the natural between a husband and wife is what has taken place in the spiritual between Jesus and the church. We the church body are the wife of Christ and we are told then that not only in the natural how a marriage relationship is to be but how Jesus being the husband now interacts with us.
A NEW MARRIAGE
Romans 7:1-4 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
There is another aspect to this marriage that we need to consider and that is before being married to Jesus we were married to another. Prior to becoming the bride of Christ all of humanity was married to a very abusive husband. No matter what one did to try to please this husband it was never enough and the desire of this husband was not just to keep his bride in bondage but to ultimately kill her. This marriage took place the moment Adam left God our Father and took his new bridegroom which was conceived through Satan. This new bridegroom came in the form of man’s new-found consciousness and was the law of works righteousness which believed that through ones own efforts they could be just like God apart from God.
When Adam fell from grace, he entered into a relationship that produced sin consciousness and death by sin. This resulted not only in a physical death over time but more importantly and eternal separation between man and God. Personally when you look at the tree of knowledge and what it did to man I believe that humanity originally was created without a conscience all together because they did not need one and when they ate of the tree they gained consciousness. At any rate man became bound to a law system, a union that once entered into could not be broken until its requirements were fulfilled. Man then had entered into a covenant that he would never be able to get out of since he could never fulfill it. So what was needed was someone who was not a descendant based on this covenant, still innocent of sin, to come into existence and yet live a life that never violated the covenant in place.
Since God himself does not approve of divorce, because the two are now one flesh, the only legal way for the bride to become free again is if the spouse dies. Jesus then came in the flesh and fulfilled the law for all righteous requirements, taking upon himself the law and the sins of the world then died, thus killing this old abusive husband so that the bride was once again free. Jesus then became available once again to be our bridegroom when he rose again. As we believe upon Jesus we receive him has our new good and perfect husband. But there are many who do not realize their old spouse is dead and try to make someone happy who does not even exist anymore. They try to fulfill the expectations of a corpse, and then there are some who even after being remarried try to have a relationship with their dead spouse. Let the dead be dead.
THE FRUIT OF RELATIONSHIP
John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; because apart from Me you can do nothing.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control–against such things there is no law.
It is the wife who bears fruit but she alone does not produce fruit. It is up to the husband to plant a seed and then as the wife is nourished the seed grows until the time that the seed is full term and the wife gives birth. The wife can only bear fruit as long as there is intimacy between her and her husband. As we abide in our husband Jesus then, he continually plants seeds into our heart, the Word, because it is his desire that we bear much fruit. For this to happen we need to be constantly intimate in our relationship with Jesus.
The fruit of the Spirit then comes about as a byproduct of our intimacy with Jesus. Of ourselves we cannot produce this fruit no matter how hard we try, because it has to be conceived out of our relationship with Jesus. This means that all the fruit of God that is produced in our lives comes not by our own efforts, but has to be conceived out of a relationship. If the fruit is truly good fruit then it has to be of God, but what about the fruit that is produced daily in great volumes that is not good and how do we know the difference if it is good or bad fruit. Obviously the root of this issue is the source of the seed. If the conception is effortless and everything just appears to happen with a result that glorifies God then this is a spiritual birth. On the other hand though if every step of the way is frustrating and if something finally is birthed and it creates a burden to sustain it then this was a birth out of our own will which is our own works.
Even fruit that appears to be exactly the same fruit which is produced out of a relationship with Jesus can be bad fruit if it is not conceived by Jesus. This is the same thing as spiritual adultery because out of our own efforts we try to produce the promises of God without being intimate with him. The reality is that if we try to produce the promises of God in our lives then we reinforce the notion of being self-righteous or self-sufficient, instead of being right with God through Jesus and Jesus alone. We tell our hearts that we do not need our husband to meet our needs and can become cold to him.
Abraham is the perfect example of this. A promise of God to Abraham was that of a son. Now as with all births there is some time between when the seed is planted and when the fruit is birthed. This can be almost instantaneous on one hand to the other extreme like Abraham was experiencing in that it took many years. Quite often it is dependent on what our hearts are persuaded to believe because our hearts are the soil for the seed to grow in. Abraham believed God in that he would have a son but got impatient and took Hagar who conceived Ishmael. As we know Ishmael represents the Law where out of mans own efforts he tried to be like God separate from God. Even though Ishmael fulfilled the result of the promise in being a son he was born out of the seed of works righteousness instead of the Spirit.
Later though by faith Sarah conceived Isaac who was the true fruit of the promise. Notice also that Abraham loved Ishmael more because Ishmael being conceived out of his own effort was more like Abraham. We can too easily fall in love with the fruit of self-righteousness and this is a good enough reason to not try to produce the promises of God on our own. Later God even tells Abraham to cast out the bondwoman and her son, noting that God did not even want Abraham to acknowledge that Ishmael was his son. So Abraham casted out the bondwoman and her son which represented him casting out the bondage of the belief of self-righteousness and the testimony of his works.
I know not everyone has or is experiencing a marriage to their spouse which is perfect in the natural, which after seeing this relationship we have with Jesus I find myself wanting to conform to this image which he has given to us as an example, but no one should judge their relationship with Jesus in any way based on what they are experiencing with other people. In fact this is why Satan is attacking marriage in such a strong way to weaken it in hopes that the value that truly lies in this God designed union between a man and a woman, would cease to exist so no one would understand the power in the intimacy we have with Jesus.
Because we are talking about fruit which is a result of intimacy with Jesus many may ask how we can righteously be intimate with Jesus but we know the marriage supper has not taken place yet? Contrary to western custom, in a Jewish marriage the bride leaves her father’s house on the day of the actual marriage ceremony, which is normal though we know that in some cases the bride moves in with the bridegroom before that day. Mary for instance took up residence with Joseph before their ceremonial day, yet he did not have union with her even on their wedding day until after Jesus was born. The day of the marriage celebration though when the bride arrives the bridegroom takes the bride into a marriage chamber and consummate the marriage before the celebration. So the marriage supper of the lamb actually takes place after the union. In the natural this is the very same day but in the supernatural what is time? Time as we know it, in the supernatural is usually based on events instead of hours.
1 Corinthians 6:16-17 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Just like God created Adam both male and female and then took woman out of man so that when the two marry they become one, we are now one with Jesus. This can be one of the most powerful revelations that you can get next to believing in Jesus to receive salvation.
1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
In these scriptures the point that I want to tie together is simply this; when Adam was created both woman and man were in him and then so that Adam would have someone to share the good things in life with, especially love, God separated woman from man and then they were reunited to become one. This is the great mystery that Paul was talking about in our relationship with Jesus. Adam was placed in a deep sleep as Jesus was also for 3 days and nights was in a deep sleep. Adam’s side was opened and Jesus side was opened. Out of Adam came forth woman, his bride, and out of Jesus came forth the church who is his bride. When Adam rose he was united with his bride and when Jesus rose he was united with his bride.
Here is even more revelation in that before Eve was taken out of Adam everything that Adam did they experienced together as one for they were one. Everywhere Adam went male and female went. Everything Adam did, male and female both did. Everything Jesus endured his bride endured. Everything that Jesus went through and experienced for us we were there, whether one believes and receives or not, they were in Jesus. Everything that is Jesus’ is mine and all that is mine is his. As believers we are no longer separate but we are one with Jesus.
This is why Paul could so adamantly and rightfully declare that it was not he who lived but Christ in him, the hope of all glory. It is not we who live but Christ in us and this is the whole point of dying to self so that Christ in us can live. For example I know that in myself I cannot heal anyone of anything yet when I release healing into someone it is not I who does it but the Spirit of life in Jesus who has made us free from the law of sin and death. When we do good, we can not do it out of ourselves but we do it because God in us does it through us. Even Jesus stated that no one was good including himself but the Father only and Jesus only did what he saw our Father do.
This is one of those unique paradigms where it is not all about us but it is all about us. Everything that exists in this realm exists because it was made for us to enjoy so that we could share in the same experiences that God has. Everything Jesus went through and does is for us, yet we can do nothing, for anything we do of ourselves does not glorify God. Everything that we receive from God and release through the spirit is not of our own effort, which is why it has nothing to do with us, is what glorifies our Father.
A practical example is this; there are over a million millionaires in existence today and yet the majority of these people have nothing to do with God, though many of these people give vast sums to charities which seem to be doing many great things. Feeding the poor, providing water or medicine and so forth. Yet not one single act of this great kindness has any value even if it saves ones physical life simply because none of it leads anyone to Jesus nor is it birthed out of a seed that was sown in one’s heart by Jesus. Every “good” act that is not of God only drives a wedge between man and God because it reinforces the notion of self-righteousness and the lack of a need for God. There is no eternal value in anything that man can do. Now on the contrary everything that is of God that comes through man has eternal value because it points to Jesus and what he accomplished thus glorifying God. Yet this has nothing to do with man himself other than man being a willing vessel along for the ride. In other words even if I try to do something good to glorify God, this is self-righteousness because it was not born of God but out of my flesh and does not glorify God because it teaches me to live independent of God, which even Jesus would not claim to do. But if there be any good thing that glorifies God that has come through me then it was born of God that man would look to God and see his goodness which has manifested out of my lack of effort.
Sometimes people have a hard time dealing with this because through tradition we are told that we need to serve God in order to please him. This could not be father from the truth because God is totally content with us no matter what. I did not marry my wife because of what she could do, I married her because I love her. When I married her I did not first qualify her by thinking what she could do to contribute to the marriage. Things that in the world one may consider like can she cook, does she have a good job, can she clean and anything else that we would typically share in a marriage that needs to be done. No her only qualification was my love for her and the hope of sharing the good experiences in life with her. This is the same way we qualify for a relationship with Jesus and out of his sacrifices he made the way possible to share his love for us with us and the only thing we can do is receive it. We marry out of a desire to share the good things in life with someone close to us and this is what we should expect in our relationship with Jesus in receiving what he wants to give us.
Many people are producing much fruit in this world with the sad delusion that they are influencing their eternity for the better because of it. Yet in reality all the fruit they produce is a growing testimony of their love for a dead abusive husband which will do its best to stand in the way of ever having a healthy relationship with the one who desires to give life. Anything and everything that is not produced of God does not glorify God and stands to be a testimony in rebellion to God no matter how good that fruit may seem to be. Only the fruit that is produced of God glorifies God because it is his seed and not the seed of the world.
The fruit out of ones own works is always bad regardless of its appearance or reasoning, because it is not the fruit born of the seed of our new good and perfect husband. But there are those who believe and wholeheartedly give all of themselves to our new husband and because of their intimacy with God bear much fruit out of their relations. We are not to bear fruit at all, that even resembles the fruit of God’s type, out of our own efforts but we will bear much of his fruit out of an intimate relationship with God. For the fruit that we try to produce is known as a bastard and tries to separate us from God, but the fruit of God produced through us causes us to love him more and draws us closer to him.
Here is an example. Lets say we have a young married couple who want to have a child. The husband has been called away for three months to start-up a new company and one day near the end of his time he talks to his bride who is all excited. She says honey I have some wonderful news. You know how we wanted to have a child, well I am six weeks with child. Now the husband is not going to be all excited and is going to wonder what his bride has done in trying to destroy their marriage. The bride may have had the best of intentions but the point was not to bear fruit but to bear the fruit of her husband.
Many are frustrated trying to produce fruit without realizing that is not their job nor responsibility. Again when this couple was married the ability to produce fruit was not placed upon the wife. Even in the bible the records always state that someone was the son of their father as in Issac the son of Abraham but not Issac the son of Sarah. This is because the seed must be planted to bring forth life and it was not out of great effort that fruit is produced but out of intimacy. Intimacy with Jesus is the key to bearing much fruit.
The question arises where someone states they are divorced and therefore either God does not or cannot love them on one hand or they may simply ask does God still love them. There is no doubt that God hates divorce itself, and we’ll see why, but for the people involved not just both spouses but all the family that is affected God’s love does not waver at all. No one can truthfully declare that God stopped loving them because of something they did. For God not to love any of humanity means God would have to cease to exist because God is love. Jesus was asked a question.
Matthew 19:3-9 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Here Jesus makes two things clear. The first that God never allowed divorce and the other is it was man who permitted it not God. Why? For the reason that marriage in the natural represents our relationship to Jesus and it is to be a covenant, a bond, that will never be broken. If God had allowed divorce then we as the bride of Christ would be given a reason, but not justification, to look at our relationship based on performance. The notion that Jesus could end the marriage if he decided one day that he no longer wanted us would be too great of a temptation to do what many already do in the natural most of the time and that is base their relationship on how well either they or their spouse perform. The sad thing is that this is the state of most marriages that exist now yet they do not even realize it. Especially those who have that perfect marriage and are in denial that it is performance oriented. I am not saying every marriage is performance oriented though, and in understanding our marriage to Jesus my hope is that more marriages in the natural will be based solely out of love.
God himself said that two shall become one flesh and that no one shall separate them. Yet delusionally we think Jesus changes his view or opinion about us and because in believing this we often commit adultery with the dead old man. Mainly because we are going by feelings or circumstances, then the desire to once again try to earn or perform to gain acceptance from God becomes a focus in our lives. Yet this is the very thing, this type of performance driven approval, that we were separated from when became the bride of Jesus.
In this marriage relationship with Jesus there is an issue that needs to be addressed which reminds me of the old flower pedal game of “he loves me, he loves me not.” God’s love for us never stops nor varies or changes in any way. His love for us is always in its fullest and he is always sharing his love with us. There is never a moment when he stops loving us but there can be several when we choose not to receive his love by not believing he loves us. This has nothing to do with the love of God but what we choose to believe instead of the truth. Out of God’s love then come provision, not to prove he love us or to persuade us to love him, but because he loves us. Motive is everything and remember that everything that is good that we can experience in the natural was all created by our Father for us to enjoy.
Because we are his bride what is ours is Jesus’ and what is Jesus’ is ours. We are to see Jesus as our only source of provision. When we read the Word and look at how husbands and wives are to interact one with another and the relationship they have we need to see Jesus as our husband and place his name wherever we see how a husband is to treat his wife. In this case we had mentioned provision and according to the word a very strong statement is made in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” We know that this is to be a part in the natural of how we treat and act towards one another but in every way this applies to Jesus too as our provider. Meaning that if Jesus did not provide for his bride he would have to deny the faith. Too many times we let pride enter and think on one hand that I can take care of everything which is arrogance. Or on the other hand out of false humility, which is just another form of pride, feel unworthy to receive from Jesus, which regardless of the reasoning not receiving from Jesus does not glorify our Father. We need to wake up and see that it is not only Jesus’ desire to provide for us but it is his great pleasure as well that our Father be glorified and we experience the quality of life God intended for us to have.
1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
Many pass over this scripture without giving it any thought about why the woman, specifically in context the wife of a husband, is the glory of the man. It is because when people see the wife of the husband they can tell how good of a husband he is by how well his wife is provided for not just in physical needs but in all ways. As the husband loves her and cares for all of her needs the joy and contentment will just flow from her and the love that she receives will flow from her to others. We do not glorify God by singing to him, serving him or doing anything that causes us to do things out of our own will, but we glorify God when we walk and live a quality of life that God has provided for us. There is nothing wrong with worshiping God or expressing your love for Him, but glorifying God is receiving and walking in what He has given you. Walking in your true identity as a son of God and all his benefits is what glorifies God not what you can do on your own.