The Church As the Bride of Christ
by Pastor Jack Hyles
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 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. Ephesians 5:21-27
Baptists have been educated by inter-denominationalists, so we have garnered much of the doctrine that was taught by the Protestants and not by our Baptists forefathers. One of those doctrines is concerning the bride of Christ. Our inter-denominational friends have influenced us to believe that all believers are the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, and the church.
Recently, I was reading a book by a well known interdenominationalist. All through the book he presumed that all believers formed the church, and if you are saved, you are a member of the church. No, if you are saved, you are saved, but you are not automatically a member of the church. I have no axes to grind with him about salvation. I strongly disagree with him about the church. Likewise, most Christians have automatically assumed that everybody who is saved is a member of the bride of Christ.
All believers do not form the bride of Christ.
1. The word bride is mentioned only five times in the entire New Testament. John the Baptist used it once when talking about being the friend of the bride. They thought he must be the Saviour. He told them that he was just a wedding guest and that the Bridegroom was coming later. He was not referring to all Christian people. He was merely talking about himself.
The word bride is not mentioned in any of the Epistles. In fact, it is not mentioned again until Revelation 18:23. It is also mentioned in Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:9 and Revelation 22:17.
And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: Revelation 18:23a
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talk with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. Revelation 21:9
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. Revelation 22:17a
Apart from John talking about the bridegroom in a brief illustration about himself, there is not a single mention of the word bride, in any connection, until Revelation 18:23. The rapture takes place in Revelation 4:1, so the word bride is not mentioned until after the rapture.
Revelation 21:2 refers to the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of Heaven after the millennium.
Revelation 21:9 and Revelation 22:17 refer to the same thing, all of which transpires after the rapture.
All saved people do not become a bride until after the rapture. There is no bride of Christ today. There is no place in the Bible where it mentions anything about us now being the bride of Christ. That is only in some inter-denominational theologian's commentary. It is not in the Bible.
I make an issue out of this because I am bothered by the fact that fundamental Baptist churches are swallowing the fallacy that all believers form the church, the body of Christ, and the bride of Christ; none of which is true.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:7, 9a
The marriage supper of the Lamb takes place after the marriage. It is the reception. Revelation 19:7 talks about the marriage of the Lamb. The marriage of the Lamb takes place during the seven years after the rapture. We are caught up in the air and during that seven year period, there is the marriage of the Lamb.
A woman becomes a bride at marriage and not before. The marriage of the Lamb is in the air after the rapture. Only then will we become a bride. You become a bride after the marriage, so we will not form the bride of Christ until after the rapture. The word bride is not mentioned in the entire Bible concerning God's people until after the rapture, because we are not His bride until the wedding has been performed.
All believers are members of his family, but all believers are not members of the church. You must join a church to be a member of a local body. The church is His body, so all believers are not in His body. All believers are not in the church, and all believers are not in His body. When Jesus comes again, at the rapture all believers will be called out and will assemble in Heaven. All believers will then become members of the church, because then we will all be a called out assembly. That called-out assembly, or church, will become his bride, but this does not happen until the rapture.
2. There is no mention of the church now being His bride. In all of the letters to the churches there is no mention of them being His bride. In fact, the word "bride" is not mentioned in any of them.
3. The bride and the body are never the same in this age. There are people who believe that they are the same. Consequently, they believe that only the people who belong to the New Testament church are members of the bride and that everybody else will be wedding guests in Heaven. That is not right. All people who belong to a New Testament church are simply church members now. At the rapture when all of us form a church in the sky, all believers will be the bride and the church, but this is after we have been called out and have assembled.
4. The future church will be the bride.
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. Ephesians 5:23
The local church is His body by possession. When it says that He is the saviour of the body, it means that the only way to continue being called a local church is to continue being purified by Jesus.
Speaking to the church at Ephesus, Revelation 2 says, .. . repent, and do thy first works; or I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick.... The candlestick is the church. He is saying that He would not recognize them as a church unless they got back to soul winning.
Jesus is the saviour of the body. The body is the church, or the called-out assembly. The only way a church can continue being a New Testament church is to yield to Him and He will preserve it.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you the overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:28
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Acts 20:17
Paul called for the preachers of the church, not churches, in Ephesus. It is referring to the local church in Ephesus. These preachers at Ephesus could not possibly feed all believers. They could feed only that local assembly; yet, he commands them to feed the whole assembly of God which He hath purchased with His own blood. Jesus purchased, not only our salvation, but He also purchased the local church when He died on the cross. He not only died to save us from our sins, but also so that we could have an organization to feed and mature us in the Lord.
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. Ephesians 5:25
The word sanctify means to set apart. The local church is not the bride of Christ, but it is set apart to become the bride of Christ. In Bible days, an engagement was stricter than it is now. It was a legal and binding contract, and could not be broken.
I will be His bride, but nothing can allow the contract to be broken. Neither party can break the contract.
We sing, "A glorious church without a spot or wrinkle, washed in the blood of the Lamb" I am not against singing this, but it is not yet true. The church has spots, and it has wrinkles, otherwise Jesus would not need to keep on washing it. At the rapture we will be a glorious church. The word glorious means perfect. We will be a glorified church when all the believers are caught up in the air. Our bodies will be changed, we will be like Him, and we will be without spot or wrinkle. Then we also will be His bride. We are not yet fit to be His bride. He wants a glorious bride without a spot or wrinkle.
When the rapture takes place and all of us are caught up in the air, the church, the body, and the bride will all be the same. We will not be the bride until we get to the wedding, but we are already sanctified or set apart.
The church is the only institution in this world that was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. It is His unit of battle. It is His dining hall where we are fed. It is His arsenal where we get our weapons.
The Bible gives no evidence that all Christians are a church. The word church is the ekklesia, meaning called-out assembly. When did all believers ever assemble? They did not. In Acts 7, the Israelites were called a church, but they were not called a church in Egypt because they were not assembled in Egypt. It talks about the church in the wilderness. They became a church when they were called out of Egypt and assembled in the wilderness.
On the Passover night, they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt and were called out into the wilderness where they assembled around the tabernacle. A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night guided them. There they assembled and were called a church because they were a called-out assembly. There was no church in the Old Testament, except when God's people assembled in the wilderness.
Likewise, God's people will not be a church until we are out of this heathen land and are caught up to assemble in the sky. Then we become the church, and then we will be married to Christ at the marriage of the Lamb. We are already members of the family of God. We are going to Heaven when we die, and we are going to form a group at the rapture that will be His bride. Until then, the church and the body are the same because the church is the called-out assembly and that called-out assembly is the body of Christ.
Maybe this worries you a little. All of your life you have been taught that we are the bride of Christ. What I have explained in this chapter is exactly what Baptists were taught historically. Too much of our theology has come from those who came from Protestant backgrounds, like the inter-denominational colleges. We must go back to the truth of the Bible and teach our people the truth concerning the church and its importance to the work of Christ.