THE CHURCH BEING THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” The bride refers to the saints throughout the ages who are the overcomers reigning with Christ in the millennial kingdom. The readiness of the bride indicates growth and maturity in life. When we are saturated by the Triune God so that He flows out of us, we are completely built and fitted together to become the glorious church, the beloved bride of the Lord Jesus.
“The marriage of the Lamb has come.” Who will the Lamb marry? The Catholic Church? No! Only the golden lampstand can be the bride of Christ. We need to live out the life of Christ. We do not care for even any goodness that comes out of ourselves, not to mention any wickedness that comes out of ourselves. We care for the tree of life; we care for the Triune God; and we care for Jesus Christ as the all-inclusive Spirit. Whether we are at home with our spouses and children or in the church meetings with the brothers and sisters, we all need to live out Christ. If we live by Christ, then what we live out is the pure gold that shines forth the light; then we can become the bride of Christ to satisfy His desire.
THE CONSUMMATE MANIFESTATION OF THE CHURCH BEING THE NEW JERUSALEM
Revelation 21:2 says, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The bride here refers to all the saints, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, as the counterpart of Christ in eternity.
Revelation 21:9-10 also tells us that the angel said to John, “Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” John was carried away in spirit onto a great and high mountain where he saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. This tells us that the bride of Christ is a city—the New Jerusalem. Verses 12 to 20 go on to tell us the dimensions of the holy city itself and of its wall. The New Jerusalem is a cube; its length, its breadth, and its height are equal, each side being twelve thousand stadia, which equals about twenty-three hundred kilometers; it looks like a great and high mountain. This city is built upon twelve foundations, and on them are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, representing all the New Testament saints. This city also has twelve gates, on which are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, representing all the Old Testament saints. Hence, the New Jerusalem is the aggregate of all the saints in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This is the ultimate manifestation of the church. What a mystery!
The New Jerusalem is built with three kinds of material. The city proper with its street is of pure gold, the twelve gates are pearls, and the wall and foundations are various kinds of precious stones. We have already said that gold signifies the Father’s nature, indicating that the Father is the substance of this city. Pearls signify the death and resurrection of the Son, indicating that His overcoming death which terminates everything of the old creation and His glorious resurrection which imparts new life become the gates of the New Jerusalem for us to enter in. Precious stones signify the transforming and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, indicating that under the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, we, the saved and regenerated ones, become precious stones as the materials for God’s building. Hence, the city, the New Jerusalem, is the enlarged embodiment of the Triune God. The church today is the golden lampstand which expresses the Triune God in each locality in this age. The ultimate consummation of the church is the New Jerusalem, which will express the Triune God in the whole universe in eternity.
Revelation 22:17 says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come!” In Revelation 2 and 3, it is the Spirit speaking to the churches (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), but at the end of the whole Bible it is the Spirit and the bride speaking together. The Spirit is the ultimate consummation of the Triune God as the Bridegroom; the bride is the ultimate consummation of the redeemed man. After this universal marriage, the Triune God and redeemed man are not separate. They do not speak separately, but the two have become one couple, so there is the speaking of the Spirit and the bride together. Hallelujah, God and man are mingled and united to become the universal and eternal couple, moving together and speaking together! This is the accomplishment of God’s ultimate goal.
The five great mysteries in the Bible are first, the mystery of the universe, which is God; second, the mystery of man, which is also God; third, the mystery of God, which is Christ; fourth, the mystery of Christ, which is the church; and fifth, the mystery of the church, which is the organism of Christ as the overflow and enlargement of Christ, the house of God, the golden lampstand, the bride, and the New Jerusalem. This is the ultimate mystery in the universe. Today, God is moving on in every place throughout the whole earth. Every local church is a mystery as the organism of Christ, the enlargement and overflow of Christ, the house of God, the golden lampstand, and the bride. Finally, in eternity we will all become the ultimate expression of God—the New Jerusalem. Then God will achieve His ultimate goal in the universe.
(Five Great Mysteries in the Bible, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)