What Is The Bride Of Christ?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by th1bill, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. th1bill

    th1bill
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    What Is The Bride of Christ?


    ... This question is seen in many forms today and seems to be asked quite a bit. There are several directions to approach answering this question. My favorite approach is to go to the teaching of Jesus and to reinforce that with the explanations of Paul. First it is important to lay a foundation before we start to build. For the foundation we need salvation to stand on. Found in the Roman Road Method of leading folks to the foot of the cross is the passage found in Romans 10, verses 9 ad 10. Salvation requires faith to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and has the power to snatch us away from the clutches of Satan. Then we can call out to God for our salvation and the He will lead us into repentance.
    ... But, is salvation all there is to it? No, salvation is Fire Insurance, nothing more unless one chooses to follow God. There is an interesting and illuminating passage found in the teaching method of Jesus in Matthew 22. Jesus, as was His custom, taught in a parable. In this parable we find Jesus teaching of the celebration of the wedding feast that will occur in Heaven after the Bride, the members of the Church that chose to live a separated life to and for God, are raptured. Of course we find the Groom, Jesus, there and the members of the Bride but just as is illustrated in the parable, there are the guests.
    ... The guests are a seldom taught class of people in the church universal because that is not the calling of God but is rather a default position for a saved man. My preferred term for these folks is Pew Whale. Now it is very important that we all speak the same language and the term Pew Whale has a lot of usage and, in this case, needs defining. A Pew Whale, in general, is a person that comes in, sits down and wants to be fed. They do not study the Word of God for themselves and they do not pursue the fulfillment of the Great Commission. These are, by my understanding, the guests Jesus speaks of in the parable. They have their Fire Insurance but they have not obeyed, sought to follow God, His commandments to the best of their ability.
    ... The Bride will have members such as Peter, John, Paul and many others of worthy note. Then there is the absolutely amazing truth that people like myself will be members of the Bride. We do not have spotless testimonies and there are periods of great shame and failure in our life stories but because we repented of our past and because of the mercy and the grace of God we have been molded (Jer. 18) into New Creations. As new creatures in Christ we have sought after the separated life and lend ourselves to what ever the LORD may lead us to do.
    ... This same question is sometimes see as what church or domination is the Bride? There are many churches today that claim to be the Bride and that you must be a member of their sect to obtain entrance into the Kingdom of God but the study of scripture, all of scripture, demonstrates a completely different truth. Jesus never laid out a form for worship to be followed. He did state to the Samaritan Woman at the well that we must worship in Spirit and in Truth. It is my firm belief that there will be members of the Bride found in most churches that teach the Bible in it's true form. I even believe that a few members will be found in the LDS and JW congregations.
    ... Now... that I have lit the match that destroys, allow me to blow it out. These people are not saved in these heretical sects, they were saved before they were drawn away. I have a relative that is a case example. My aunt was a good Christian, taught in a good Christian Church in the country. Then she married and was influenced by her husband to join the Jehovah's Witness'. After a few years she came to her senses, went back to a Christian church and as a result ended up being divorced. She did not need to regain her salvation, salvation is eternal and that eternity begins the moment we are saved, she just needed to begin living in the truth once more. Had the Rapture occurred while she was in that congregation of heresy she would have been take up but would have had that mistake to be rekoned with. I suspect she might have lost a crown or two to that error.
     
  2. saturneptune

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    The group of people that are guests, or as you called "Pew Whale," I guess there are two issues here. The guests in the parable are saved, or they would not be there. However, do you think that those that spend 50 years just sitting in a pew, never helped with any of the church's ministries, are saved? Paul talks about Christians on milk and it is time to move on, and I agree, some are slower than others, but 50 years. Even more suspect to me would be those on the church rolls that have not darkened the door in decades except for the occasional pot luck dinner.

    Of course, we do not know anyone's heart, but it certainly suggests a lack of regeneration. We were never meant to be saved and stop. That was never part of God's plan. That is why there is a word called sanctification.

    That is a good question you pose though, who is the bride? My answer is that whomever it is, it is not bordered by man made institutions such as denominations.
     
  3. Tom Butler

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    The church as the Bride of Christ is a beautiful image. It will be truly that in heaven. John, in Revelation 19, relates the Marriage Supper, where the bride, the wife of the Lamb, has made herself ready.

    Revelation 21 speaks of the new heavens and the new earth. John sees the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband.

    In 21:9, an angel tells John to come with him and he will show him the bride, the Lamb's wife. In v. 10, the angel shows him the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.

    Then John goes on to describe the city

    So here we have the bride described as a city with specific dimensions. A city described as looking like the wife of the Lamb.

    To me, this is what we call on earth the Universal Church--the company of saints, no longer divided, no longer dysfunctional, no longer believing error.

    That which John describes as the bride certainly does not exist today. Unless it is a local congregation. There is a sense in which we might describe your congregation and mine as the bride, but most of the imagery points to the future.
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    One more thought. It's one which occurred to me, but which I don't bet the farm.

    When John sees the Holy City coming down out of heaven, I think it very well could be argued that this city, these saints, are coming to earth, where we will spend eternity.

    Rev 21:3 points in that direction, when the voice from heaven says "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them, and their God."

    Note that it does not say that the dwelling place of men is with God, but just the opposite.

    I just thought it was interesting.
     
  5. CF1

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    This is similar to the question "Which people are saved?"

    We don't know people's hearts or true beliefs. Only God knows for sure. However, we would reasonably expect to see fruit of the Spirit, if the Spirit is alive within a certain person.

    James 2:18 (New American Standard Bible)
    18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

    Romans 10:9 (New American Standard Bible)
    9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

    Galatians 5 (New American Standard Bible)
    22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    Mark 13:22 (New American Standard Bible)
    22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

    When you ask who is saved, it also leads to a question on who is the elect, which leads to questions on predestination and free will. That discussion is worthy of a separate topic all by itself.

    Since the Bible doesn't really provide any support about denominations that are saved or denomonations that are not saved, each individual person should be considered to have a heart and belief as an individual, not as part of any group or denomination.

    Missionaries tell stories of people groups that have been praying for someone to come and tell them of the Savior. If they died before the Missionary got there, was their faith a saving faith? We don't know for sure but I hope their faith would be like Abraham's faith and they would be saved.

    We can't know and understand all things now. All we can do is the work that is set before us to evangelize as God gives us the words to share with others about His great love for the world. Later, we'll know more.
     
  6. stilllearning

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    Simply put: The Bride of Christ, is one definition of the word Church.

    (1) The Church, as talking about “a local assembly”;
    Is made up of professing believers, and none of us know exactly what percentage of them are truly saved.

    (2) But the Church, as “the Bride of Christ”, is the other definition:
    It is made up of every truly born again Christian in existence, regardless of local Church affiliation.
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    That has always been the case. Judas, for instance. The presence of false professors does not make the group any less a New Testament Church.

    In a prospective sense, sure. In a present sense, sorry, no cigar. A useless fantasy which doesn't meet, doesn't worship together, doesn't evangelize, doesn't send missionaries, doesn't observe the ordinances. And it is made up of people who may be true believers, despite the fact that they hold to baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, the primacy of the Pope, the possibility of apostasy--you name it. Such an entity is fractured and dysfunctional, and does nothing to advance the kingdom of God.
     
  8. th1bill

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    ... You have nticed that I did not call John Doe, the Pew Whale a Christian, he's not. All he has is salvation and will not burn in Hell. I presented my case with scripture to back it up. If you have a scriptural case for disagreeing I would welcome the discussion. The only standard I demand, ever, is that the scriptures be held in the light of all other scripture and as hermeneutics demands, scripture does not disagree with scripture, it just must be viewed in one light.
     
  9. th1bill

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    Great points Tom. I'm getting points of interest from another Christian forum where I have posted this also. Tonight, before Prayer Service I had the honor of encouraging one of my email recipients that has determined himself to be in the P.W. class. He's a new Christian but growing and still in the process of becming involved.
     
  10. th1bill

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    Great Thoughts.
     
  11. saturneptune

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    Your posts are very well thought out and thought provoking. This is one of the best threads I have seen in a while.

    The first thing is, I agree that Scripture never contridicts itself. I suppose my definition of a Christian is anyone who is saved. Your definition seems to be (and I do not want to put words in your mouth) that person who matures in Christ. I really have no problem with that. I like your term for these people as having fire insurance. My thoughts were from the idea that Jesus said you will know them by their fruits. No one is perfect, and least of all me. It just seems very odd to me the number of people who do nothing within a church, and the few who carry the load of all the ministries. Tom Butler, who you have been talking to in this thread, serves at our church, and from my observation, takes his service to the Lord about as seriously as I have seen. On the other hand, there are many in our church who have not been in decades, or come for the pot lucks. The other group just comes on Sunday morning and does nothing to help the ministires of the church.

    If a person is saved, then you are right, he will escape the fires of hell regardless what he or she did with the rest of his or her life. The central question is, can a person receive such a great gift from the Lord, then literally do nothing with it? Or, is this a person who never received the gift? It is probably a combination of both.

    James says faith without works is dead. The guests in the parable, as I said above, are obviously saved, or they would not be there. What bothers me is can anyone discern a difference between those who escaped the fires of hell by the skin of their teeth, and the unsaved? These guests must of at some point in their lives, exhibited some signs of regeneration.

    You make a good point in your post about the difference. You said they want to be spoon fed the Word, whereas a lost person would not want to bother.

    I am forever grateful to the Lord for saving me, despite my past. I almost feel at times like the Lord is sanctifying me daily, sometimes with me fighting Him every step of the way. The Lord has been very patient and gracious to me. The church He lead me to and the spouse he gave me, have been major influences in my life in maturing as a Christian. Within our church, our present pastor, and Tom, whom I mentioned earlier, have had a major impact on my growing, (of course its all of the Lord) and again, they have been very patient with me.

    Again, very good thread, and I look forward to exchanging posts with you in the future, and welcome to Baptist Board.
     
  12. th1bill

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    ... Thank-you for the welcome. I am very accustomed to being banned from forums because I take a very basic, a.k.a. fundamental, stand on the Bible. I am not usually very dogged about secondary issues and, although I thoroughly believe this secondary issue, I will not stand or fall on this one either. For you, Tom and who ever might care I am just about through moving The Christian Newsletter that I no longer publish because of the lack of interest in Basic Christianity today. I have not published the email driven publication for over three years now but post on forums and of late blog a bit.
    ... On both the TCN and my Photo Repair site you will find the short form of my salvation story. The new address for TCN is http://th1bill.zxq.net and the site where I do free photo work is www.photorepaired.com.
    ... You are correct in stating that the difference between the guests and the lost men is difficult to discern. In the parable I see the called that were reluctant and were ordered killed as the average Jew. The Messianic Jew would definitely be members of the bride. I see folks that, as in the parable of the sower, exhibit various forms of growth and I believe that each of the teaching of Jesus bear on this secondary doctrine of the wedding as well as the primary doctrine of salvation. The difficult part for many to grasp is the truth that the God of the Old Testament, known to me as the Bible, is Jesus and that He did not change and is the same today as He was before He created the world.
    ... I often wish that I had been able to go further than the eighth grade and could have gone to seminary, there are so many difficult teachings in the Word of God and I wish to understand them all. But on the other hand, God has a fairly blank slate to fill and doesn't have too much garbage to erase.
    God bless.
     
  13. saturneptune

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    That brings up a question, not to derail your thread, but for years, I have heard different opinions about the four individuals that relate to where the seed was sown. Lots of people think only one of the four was saved, but I have heard the argument that the second one who was choked out by the weeds was also saved just not a person following God's will at the moment. What do you think?
     
  14. Amy.G

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    While you're waiting for Bill to respond :) I will share with you what I think. Only 1 of the four soils brought forth fruit. I believe this indicates that only the seed sown in good soil brings salvation. JMO.


    Another clue is the word "but" in Matthew 13:8. It indicates that something is different about this soil than the other 3.

    Mat 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
     
    #14 Amy.G, Dec 10, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2009
  15. stilllearning

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    Hello Amy.G

    There is another way of looking at the parable of the sower.

    It comes from the fact, that Jesus was preaching to God’s people(the Jews):
    So therefore this parable should be seen as talking about 4 different kinds of Christians, with 4 different kinds of hearts.

    Hard hearted Christians;
    Shallow hearted Christians:
    Crowded hearted Christians;
    And soft hearted Christians.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Sure enough, there are all kinds of professing Christians, with all kinds of problems;
    And all of there problems boil down to their heart’s condition.

    And most of God’s Word is dedicated to, helping us deal with heart problems.
     
  16. CF1

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    Something beautiful to reflect on that illustrates what is the Bride of Christ in song....

    Immanuel's Land

    O Christ, He is the fountain, The deep sweet well of love!
    The streams on earth I've tasted, More deep I'll drink above!
    There, to an ocean fullness, His mercy doth expand.
    And glory, glory dwelleth In Immanuel's land.

    With mercy and with judgment My web of time He wove,
    And aye the dews of sorrow Were lustred with His love.
    I'll bless the hand that guided, I'll bless the heart that planned,
    When throned where glory dwelleth, In Immanuel's land.

    Oh! I am my Beloved's, And my Beloved's mine!
    He brings a poor vile sinner Into His house of wine!
    I stand upon His merit, I know no other stand,
    Not even where glory dwelleth, In Immanuel's land.

    The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear Bridegroom's 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.


    Listen to Music
    http://www.saintsserving.net/saintsserving/pmwiki.php/Main/ImmanuelsLand
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    Very nice.

    And welcome, CFI, to the Baptist Board.
     
  18. CF1

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    Thank you for your warm welcome Tom. It's so good to be here.
     

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