Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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I got an email from a person today telling me that in one of our tracts we said that "the bride" was the true people of God (the faithful in Christ). However, they pointed out that the "bride" as mentioned in Revelation (and elsewhere) was actually the "holy city", the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2-11).
I looked it up in my concordance (the word bride) and I can't find anything that would contradict what they are saying. Are there places that I CAN'T find that say the bride is the faithful in the body as I had always assumed, or is their point a correct one in your opinion?
If one will concede (for the moment) that the saints who are saved in the end are the Bride of Christ, then he must also say that not everyone who is born again is the "Bride". That has always been my point. The Bible is perfectly clear in its declaration that only some of those who are truly converted to Christ will be faithful and, so, be saved in the end. All of God's people are called to the new birth, but only a few will be chosen to be saved.
The Scriptural facts that you mentioned are accurate, vis-a-vis the word "bride" in the King James Version of the Bible, but there is more to it than that. We cannot be led by the Spirit and boxed in by the Bible at the same time. "The Word of God is not bound."
Throughout the Old Testament, as you and all my other Old Testament students have seen, God's people are referred to as the wife (or, "Bride") of the Almighty. The references for this imagery are many, as you know. And in the New Testament, the saints are also referred to in this manner. Several of Jesus' parables have this imagery in them, one being the parable of the return of the Bridegroom (Jesus), which title requires him to have a bride. Other parables speak of a wedding feast being thrown by the Father for the Son, and this "marriage supper of the Lamb" is also mentioned prominently in Revelation. The apostle Paul plainly and repeatedly refers to the congregation of saints as the wife of Christ in Ephesians 5:23-32, and he told the believers in Corinth that his goal was to present them on Judgment Day "as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2Cor. 11:2), for, he said, "I have espoused you to one husband." Sounds like a bride to me. And there are a number of other passages that refer to the saints as being like a bride for the Lord. So, the fact that the New Jerusalem which John saw coming out of heaven is called "the bride, the Lamb's wife" presents us with insufficient cause for concluding that it is wrong to call the faithful saints of God "the Bride of Christ".
The kind of Scriptural precision indicated by the email you received may be interesting (we do want to know what the Bible says) but it can also be dangerous to one's spiritual health if the literal facts of Scripture become one's standard for judging what is true. The Bible is not the Word of God, nor is it the holy Ghost that God sent to "guide us into all truth." We are not trapped by the Bible's omissions or errors, nor are we chained by its limitations. (The word "God" does not appear in the book of Esther. Want to try to guess what some scholars have tried to make of that?)
Somebody is going to be a part of the Bride of Christ; that is, if Christ is a real bridegroom. And it is exceedingly difficult for me to imagine that Jesus suffered and died so that he could marry a city. I have always understood the verse in Revelation which refers to the New Jerusalem as being a reference to the place where the bride and bridegroom will one day meet to celebrate the eternal, happy union that they will share, and I see no reason to change that opinion.
A long time ago, I heard a man teaching that the city in Revelation is a figure of speech for the people of God who are saved in the end. I do not believe that. I think that man was straining at a gnat, trying to reconcile the fact that both God's faithful people and that city are referred to as the Bride. I believe that there is a real city on a real new earth and that there is a real Jesus who will really reign forever beside his real Father and with his real people. And I believe that Jesus' followers being united with him in glory is the "marriage of the Lamb", to which I pray to be worthy to go.
In short, scriptural precision such as the one dealing with "the Bride" in Revelation may have some benefits, but it can be deadly if one pursues it without reference to what the Spirit is saying to the Congregation of the Lord.