THE MARRIAGE GARMENT
We have been invited to the marriage feast. We have been called, and we did not reject that calling. However, although we have accepted the invitation and have come, this does not in itself mean that we are qualified to participate in the marriage feast. After being called, we need a marriage garment. What is this marriage garment? In the Bible garments and clothing signify our righteousness. In some verses, such as Luke 15:22, garments signify Christ as our righteousness. However, in Matthew 22:11-12 and in Revelation 19:8, the marriage garment signifies the practical righteousnesses of the saints. According to Psalm 45, the queen who typifies the church has two garments. One signifies Christ Himself as our righteousness, and the other signifies our practical daily walk as our covering garment. We were clothed with Christ when we were saved. Christ as our righteousness qualifies us to be justified for salvation (1 Cor. 1:30). But after being saved and justified we need to live out Christ as our practical righteousness. This is the overcoming life. When we were saved and justified, we put on Christ as our righteousness. Because we are covered by Christ as our righteousness, we are justified. Once we are justified, however, we need to live out Christ. We need to live by Christ in order that Christ can be lived out of us. Christ lived out of us will become our practical righteousness to cover us. This is the second aspect of righteousness which is not necessary for salvation, but which qualifies us to attend and participate in the marriage feast. The marriage feast refers to the millennium, the one thousand year reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4-6). Christ’s marriage feast will not last twenty-four hours; it will last one thousand years. Only those who have a marriage garment will participate in that marriage feast.
To be saved we only need to have Christ as our righteousness covering us in the presence of God. Concerning this point we must be very clear. Christ is our righteousness by which we are justified. However, we should not think that all the problems are now solved. To be saved is one thing, but to be matured and saturated with Christ is another. We must go on to live by Christ, and not only to live by Him, but to live Him out, to manifest Him. We need to express Christ by continually living by Christ. The very Christ whom we live out in this way will be our marriage garment, our practical righteousness. When we come to God for justification, we simply take Christ as our righteousness. However, at that point we have only received Christ; we have not yet experienced Him. In order to attend the marriage feast we need to experience the Christ whom we have received. Christ must become our experience. When Christ has become our experience, He will be the subjective, experiential righteousness which qualifies us to attend the marriage feast.
Matthew 22:14 says, "For many are called but few are chosen." Here we see again the two steps. To be called is one thing; to be chosen or selected is another. To be called means to be saved. Whether or not we are chosen, that is, qualified for the marriage feast, is something pending. Christianity mostly preaches to people about being called, but hardly mentions anything about the Lord’s selection. But both Matthew 22:14 and Revelation 17:14 mention the matter of being called and of being chosen. I have no doubt that all of us are called. However, I have a real concern as to how many of the called ones will be selected. We have been called for salvation, but we must be selected for the marriage feast. For example, all the students in a school may graduate, but not everyone will receive a prize. This does not mean that if you do not receive a prize you do not graduate. You may graduate and yet not have a prize. Whether or not we participate in the one thousand year marriage feast on that wonderful, universal marriage day depends upon one thing: whether or not we live out Christ today.
Once again we see that Christ is the center. Many people claim to be Christ-centered, but I am afraid they may be Christ-centered in a very shallow way. We need to be Christ-centered in such a way that Christ will be not only our righteousness for us to be saved, but He will also be lived out in us as our subjective righteousness to qualify us for His marriage feast. We all need to realize Christ, and we all need to experience Christ. We should experience Christ to such an extent that He will become our marriage garment. Christ will then be our qualification, and the Father will recognize us as qualified for the marriage feast.
The parable of the marriage feast completes the answer to the question: "Who gave you this authority?" (Matt. 21:23). The Lord Jesus revealed much through these parables. In effect, He was saying, "I am the Son of God. I will be the resurrected cornerstone for God’s building. I will also be the stumbling block to you unbelieving Jews and the smiting stone to the entire Gentile world. You must realize that I am the universal Bridegroom, the center of God’s economy. You should not only receive Me, but also live Me out. You need to experience Me to such an extent that I will become your subjective righteousness which will qualify you to participate in the marriage feast."
(The Kingdom, Chapter 30, by Witness Lee)