What is Christ’s purpose in His cleansing and sanctifying work? It is that one day "He might present the church to Himself glorious" (Eph. 5:27). Christ is waiting for the church to be prepared and presented to Himself. "The church...glorious" in the original language means that the church is brought into glory. In other words, the church will put on glory or be clothed in glory. Ephesians 4 says that the church will arrive at the oneness of the faith and the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (v. 13). Then chapter five says that the church will be clothed with glory to be presented to Christ. God intends to bring the entire church to this state. This is indeed a great matter! When we look at the condition of the church today, we say, "How can it be?" We may even doubt God’s intention, but the Lord is working. One day the church will arrive at the oneness of the faith; she will arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; she will be clothed with glory and presented to Christ. This is what the Lord desires and will obtain. This is also what we desire and will obtain.
This glorious church will not have spot or wrinkle or any such things, but she will be holy and without blemish (5:27). The Lord will cleanse us to such a degree that it will seem as if the church has never had any spot or defilement. It will seem as if the church has never committed sin; nor will any trace of sin be found in her.
Not only is it without spot, but it is also without any wrinkle. We all know that children and young people have no wrinkles. Whenever wrinkles appear on a person, it means that he is getting old. The Lord wants to bring the church to the stage where there is nothing old, where there is nothing of the past. He wants everything in the church to be new. When the church stands before the Lord, it will seem as if she has never sinned, as if she has never had any history of sin. She will be without spot or wrinkle. In the future she will be the church according to God’s purpose at creation.
The church will not only be without spot or wrinkle, but she will not have "any such things." In the translation from the Greek, it can be read, "This or that kind of defect." She will not only be without spot and wrinkle, but she will not have any defect whatsoever; all the defects will have been excluded. The day is coming when God’s work upon the church will be brought to such a stage that she will be completely glorious.
Moreover, she will be "holy and without blemish." According to the meaning in Greek, this can be read, "That it should be holy and blameless." God will bring the church to the place where nothing can be said against her in any respect. The world will have nothing to say; Satan will have nothing to say; everyone and everything will have nothing to say; even God Himself will have nothing to say. In that day, when the church is so glorious, she will become the Bride of Christ.
We must see these two matters very clearly. First, today we are Christ’s own Body. As His Body, Christ is purging and preparing us so that we may become the church which God intended from eternity. Second, when the time arrives, Christ will come, and we will be brought into His presence to be presented to Him as a glorious church, His bride. Therefore, first we have the history of the Body of Christ on earth, and then in glory the history of the bride. Now we are in the process of being cleansed. Now is the time that we need the rhema. Christians who have never received direct revelation are delaying God. If we have never heard the Lord speaking to us, we are hindering the Lord from pouring forth His grace. May God be merciful to us that we may not be those who hinder Him. Rather, may we be those who hearken to Him and go forward so that the church may be brought to the stage of being the Bride of Christ.
(The Glorious Church, Chapter 3, by Watchman Nee)