Is it correct to view the Church as the bride of Christ?
We are aware that some reject the thought that the Church is the bride of Christ and teach that the nation of Israel is the bride. While the imagery of the Old Testament suggests that Israel may be viewed as the wife of Jehovah, the New Testament, we believe, presents the Church as the bride of Christ. There are some beautiful pictures of the Church in the book of Genesis. The four brides Eve, Rebekah, Rachel and Asenath may be taken typically to illustrate different aspects of the Church as seen in the New Testament. But as the Church did not exist in the Old Testament we must confine ourselves to the New Testament for teaching as to the Church.
At least three passages support that the bride of Christ refers to the Church and not Israel. In John 3.29 we have an interesting statement by John Baptist who regards himself as the "friend of the bridegroom". The friend of the bridegroom may refer to Old Testament saints, including the Baptist. The picture of the bride shows she stands in nearer relationship to Him than Israel or the Old Testament saints. This verse shows the distinction between the Church and Israel. Certainly it must be clear from Paul's teaching in Ephesians 5.25-27 that the Church is the bride of Christ. One surely cannot read this passage carefully without such a conclusion. The marriage relationship of the husband and wife reflects the intimate relationship between Christ and His Church. It is a lovely truth setting forth the dignity of the Church.
In Revelation 19.7-8 we have the delightful picture of the marriage of the Lamb. Perhaps the invited guests to the marriage supper in v.9 are the Old Testament saints. If we insist that the Lamb's wife here is Israel are we to accept that the nation will be in heaven? The scene in vv.1-10 is heaven, but Israel's blessing and position in the millennial reign of Christ will be on earth and not in heaven. I have no doubt that the marriage referred to is that between Christ and His bride the Church. These three Scriptures considered briefly should be enough to settle the matter.
John J Stubbs
What advice would you give to young believers when they have access to all the electronic world before them? How can we deal with the fact that they feel that they do not need to attend many ministry meetings as they have generations of preachers to hear from the internet, etc.?
In a previous generation, "taped" ministry was often referred to as "canned" ministry! While ministry that has been given in the past and recorded for posterity can be helpful to all believers, particularly if it is of a doctrinal, expositional nature, and can be invaluable to those who, because of advanced years and increasing infirmity, are prevented from meeting with the Lord's people, there is no substitute for ministry that is current, meeting the present needs of the saints.
To be present when the teaching of the Word is given in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit and to know the presence of the Lord Himself in the midst is an experience not to be missed. The spiritual atmosphere of such a gathering can never be recaptured in recorded ministry. Incidentally, one is left wondering how much recorded ministry is actually listened to by those not present on the occasion when it is given.
Would the young believers alluded to in the question absent themselves from the assembly Bible Reading, the proceedings of which would rarely be recorded? What about the assembly Prayer Meeting? There is the need to continue stedfastly "in the apostles' doctrine (this comes first because it is the very basis of our fellowship) and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2.42).
The writer to the Hebrews speaks of "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner (or custom, habit) of some is" (Heb 10.25). It is in this context that we read: "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works" (Heb 10.24), and "exhorting one another" (Heb 10.25). How can we thus "provoke" and "exhort", if we are not having "face-to-face" fellowship? So the advice given, not only to young believers, but to every member of an assembly, is to be present, as health and circumstances permit, at every meeting of the local church. It will "do your soul good"!
David E West