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The Ultimate Purpose of God

5) The Church age connection to the Bride

Many may at this point be concluding that where I am going is to show that no one part of history is the bride but all are equally a part and phase of the bride. While this is true it is also woefully inadequate in understanding the Bride of the Lamb. When we understand what part we play in the development of the bride and our relationship to her, then and only then will we be able to operate the way our heavenly Father wants us to. So let’s look at what the New Testament says about the church (the word church will be used as referring to born again people not a building nor an individual theology).

In looking at this we will find that the scriptures are deficient when speaking about our direct relationship to the bride. However, the apostle Paul does address this indirectly. Those of us who are born again know how utterly transforming the born again experience can be. While the born again experience is just the beginning of God’s transforming power those of us who have walked faithfully for years with God realize there is no end to God’s transforming power in us. The apostle Paul wrote in the second book of Corinthians: 2CO 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. We should know this newness of life experientially. We will only know it if we are living our life the way God called us to.  Paul however also stated in Galations 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Here Paul tells us that not only did Jesus die on the cross but so did we. When Jesus was nailed to the cross we symbolically (this was actually a spiritual reality) also were nailed to the cross. We were in a real way crucified with our Savior. Our old lives stopped at the moment we are born again and we receive Jesus’ life in trade for ours. While this is not a widely preached theological understanding most of us would hold it as being true. Jesus’ life in us asks for complete obedience and dedication. We are no longer self owned but blood bought. This life is to be renewed according to God’s will and for His purposes. We are even told by Jesus to not worry about our lives, “MAT 6:25 not be anxious for your life, {as to} what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, {as to} what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?” Here Jesus is trying to tell us that the issue is about life and not the things that we need. If we realize that it is God’s life in us that we are living we should be able to understand how silly it is for us to worry about it. Our spiritual life comes directly from the cross and the work Jesus did upon it. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Is it true that I no longer am the one who is living? Should it be true experientially? Of course it should be. The soul of a man determines whether or not we surrender to the spirit or follow the longings of the body or soul. We know that the more we focus on the world and all the things in the world our lives are restricted from the anointing. We end up living like mere mortals and less like God’s anointed men. “1CO 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit {with Him.}” Books have been written about all the ways God tells us to abandon the world and live His life.

COL 3:1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory

Paul again declares to the Colossians “your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Our life is hidden? I thought we are living our life here on earth? No, we are living Christ’s life here on earth. We are not intended to live our life but to surrender to the anointing and allow God to live through us. Most if not all of us know little about allowing God to live through us. We may have our times when we surrender and let God perform wonders in behalf of others and yet they seldom last long. Are we really living Christ’s life here on earth? We should be living with the goal of seeking the things above with our minds set on the heavenly not the earthly. If we are focused on the world and the things in the world we are failing to allow the Christ life to live. Paul goes on and says, “Christ, who is our life.” Can we misinterpret what Paul is saying? Our life is hidden in Christ and Christ is our life. We must realize that when we squander our time we restrict the life of Christ in us. We limit what Christ can and will do through us. This is not to say we cannot enjoy ourselves or partake in a favorite pastime, but we must be more purposeful in our lives as a whole. We must determine to allow Christ to have total veto power in our life. If only we could see our lives through Christ’s eyes, from the beginning to the very end. Then we may understand what is required from us and what is forfeited when we fail to comply. We sometimes marvel at men in the past that forsook all in order for Christ to dwell in and through them. They did not live ordinary lives when compared to worldly man and yet their life should have been an ordinary life to the Christian. It amazes me how consumed we are with the world and its things. Jesus rightly said that the fruit of the plant is lacking because the cares of the world choked out its fruitfulness. Yet our lives are hidden with Christ in God. “COL 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” 

Paul is telling us that our lives will not be manifested until we are in glory and Christ is revealed in all His fullness. So why do we strive and struggle to have “things” and be respected among the world and its people? Do we really think that these things will follow after us into glory? Do we show God’s glory by the things that we own? I am not against owning things nor even the best of things but if we are proud about what we own and have attained, we have missed the point. Unless we see our wealth as a tool in the hand of God and use it to that end what good will our wealth be to us in heaven? Our life is hidden in Christ. How do we know what our life will look like when Christ is revealed? It is obvious that it will not equal our celebrity or worldly life. The poor who are rich in faith may be those who will stand head and shoulders above the rest. We know to the degree Christ is allowed to live through us will be the degree of honor we are shown in eternity. 1CO 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1CO 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. What more can be said? This scripture sums up our lives and yet we ignore the principles as though they were extreme. Our bodies are just a shell where the Holy Spirit resides. They are the utensils God desires to use to touch the world. He should have full rights over their use. Will we live according to our pleasures like it is our life or will we defer to God and His desires?

We are either releasing the Christ life in us or we are squandering it. We are not living our lives because our lives are hidden in Christ. We will come into greater revelation as we look to the church and see how it is designed. When we look to scripture, little about the churches role, structure, and existence can be found anywhere else but in Paul’s writing. While the other New Testament authors may have had this revelation it was Paul who wrote concerning it. We must also understand that Paul may not have possessed the complete revelation (nor do I for that matter) concerning the Church, for he states: “EPH 5:32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Paul recognized that this was first of all, a mystery and secondly, it is a great mystery. Paul’s mind was able to grasp and understand all kinds of spiritual truth (of course his spirit was open to receive it) and yet God saw fit to hold back this great mystery from him. Let’s look at what Paul says about the church. 

EPH 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. It was God who placed Jesus as head over all things in relationship to the church. Jesus did not take on this title of His own will but it was given to Him freely. We have spoken earlier about headship and what that means and how it comes about. Just as a short recap, we saw that God is Jesus’ head because God put himself into the body of a man, that man being Jesus. This made Jesus His first born son who is subject to God as His father and head. We also saw how God took part of the man “Adam” and formed the woman Eve. Part of Adam was placed into the woman making Adam the head of the woman. We even saw how Jesus places part of Himself into the church (or the born again believer) making Jesus the head of the church. So this explains the scripture in first Corinthians: “1CO 11:3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” Some may want to take issue with the fact the scriptures say Christ is the head of “every man” not just the saved man. Well the fact is, when man was first created God breathed divine breath into man or Adam making all subsequent men submitted to God as head. The Ephesian verses tell us that the church is Jesus’ body and that the church is the fullness of Jesus. We must ask at this point, is Jesus literally the head of the body? Could He be the appendage called the head? While this is an interpretation many seem to have, we must understand that what I am dealing with is God’s ultimate purpose. God’s ultimate purpose involves not only the creation of a wife for his son but the replication of offspring. The answer to the question about Jesus being the literal head would be no! Jesus is the bridegroom as we have already seen and He is awaiting His bride. So even as the husband is head over his wife so is Jesus the head of His bride.

Now these verses also declare that the church is the fullness of Jesus. This should be clear if we understood that we are not living our life here on this earth. We are living the Christ life which is what? An infused part of Christ’s very life that He alone possessed and placed within us. Even as God placed this piece of Adam inside Eve making Adam deficient apart from Eve, so Jesus is not complete apart from His bride. Therefore Eve is the fullness of Adam even as the church is the fullness of Christ. Adam was whole and complete before God chose to split him into a man and woman. God from the very beginning has been placing the Christ life into His people from Abraham to Moses to David to Jesus and to each one of us until the end of this world. We are partakers and we share in the creation process. God is raising up this bride for His son through the very life of the people who seek to follow His leading. We must remember that this life is NOT OUR LIFE, because our life is hidden in Christ. We will receive back our life when we see Jesus fully revealed, as the scriptures declare.

When we look at scripture in light of this revelation we can receive greater understanding about our relationship with our wives and Jesus’ relationship with the church. EPH 5:24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives {ought to be} to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also {does} the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church

What Paul is not saying here is that there is an aspect of the church which is literally the bride of Jesus and that he expects us to behave in the same manor towards our wives as Jesus does toward His. The bringing forth of the Bride of Christ is really the main reason for our existence. We rejoice over our salvation and our adoption as sons and heirs to all that is Jesus’ but the marriage of the Lamb is what it’s all about. We just happen to benefit in playing our part and receiving our salvation through it. This means that we are living for the benefit of Jesus. Our life, which is really us living His life, is for Him and not for us. 2CO 5:15 He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him.... This doesn’t mean that there is no payout for us, because there is. What it does mean is that when we really live according to the anointing we are living a selfless life because we are facilitating God’s plan for bringing forth a wife for Jesus. While God is most concerned for the bride, He is also concerned for each and every cell. That is why Jesus told us that not only is He concerned for us but also the hairs on our heads MAT 10:30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” We may only be a cell in the bride but God is concerned for the cells’ very cells. The bride of course is the spiritual woman who is seen from the beginning of creation to the end which represents the spiritual unity of all those who believe in God and serve Him. The dispensations represent a different age group that this corporate woman lived through. More will be explained about this as we go on.

Paul speaks at length about this corporate entity called the church but we first want to look at what the apostle Peter says about it. 1PE 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

Peter calls Jesus a living stone. What kind of stone lives? Is Peter mistaken by his analogy of a living stone? I believe that not only did Peter rightly call Jesus a living stone but us as well. This is something that is beyond our ability to really comprehend but it is a fact nonetheless. There is an aspect of our life (really the Christ life that we are living) that is a tangible building block. Because this block is spiritual it is living and yet placed with other blocks it can create a house to live in. Peter tells us that once our blocks are placed together they will create this spiritual house that will hold a holy priesthood. This idea may seem farfetched but that is what is clearly explained by the scriptures. Yet this idea is just the tip of the iceberg which we will be looking at. We must understand that Jesus has the premier spot as the corner stone. The corner stone not only has all the information on it, it is also the stone in which all others are aligned to. We need to be aligned to this corner which is Jesus. Peter tells us what our outcome will be if we fail to be aligned.  1PE 2:6 For {this} is contained in Scripture: "Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner {stone}, And he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed." 7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner {stone,}" 8 and, "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this {doom} they were also appointed

We must not be deceived in thinking that because we claim Jesus as our Savior we are immune to stumbling over this stumbling stone. Peter tells us that those who will stumble will be those who are disobedient to the word. Those who are not saved nor care about God usually have nothing to do with the word. It is those who confess Jesus and read the word that are liable to be disobedient. So we should be careful that we do not stumble over Jesus, the stumbling stone.

Looking further into the idea of the church we see the exhaustive statement made by Paul. 1CO 12:12  For even as the body is one and {yet} has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Paul starts off comparing Christ and his body to the human body. He tells us that it makes no difference what color we are nor what our background is but what really matters is that we drink from the one Spirit which makes us members of one body. 1CO 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

This is the New Testament evidence that all of the church is seen as one corporate life as opposed to multiple entities. We have a tendency to look at the corporate body in a city, county, state or country but seldom worldwide. Yet God not only looks at the world wide body but the individual person as well as everything in between. We should never think God cares about one country more then another. It is a sad fact that because of the condition of some countries God cannot operate to the same degree as He does in others. God equally wants to work in the believers of all countries.

Paul tells us that even as the human body has hands and feet, eyes and a mouth so does this spiritual body. He explains that a spirit of competition will hurt us and not help. We should be happy with what God had called us to be and operate accordingly. It is physically impossible for our eye to hear or our ear to speak and yet all parts are needed. If we restrict the members of our body we will only prove ourselves spiritually retarded and not whole beings. Why would we want to stop our eyes from seeing or our mouth from speaking? Yet this happens all the time in area churches. I realize that we have yet to be refined to the place where we are accepted as we are but are still being forced to conform to some standard that is for the eye and not the hand. Until we enter a greater unity we will be controlled, abused and not allowed to function according to our purpose.

1CO 12:18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." We have not allowed the members of the body to take the place that is rightfully theirs and yet we are making head way. God is the person who places the members in the body and it is He who chooses what part they will play. We have no right trying to shut down, muzzle or alienate the members that we dislike. They have the same rights to operate as we have. They may not operate with the best discernment or diplomacy yet they have the right to operate. The very fact is, we need them. If we discount what they say because of some ignorant judgment about them, (they have no “authority,” they are obnoxious, who do they think they are?) we may be the fools.

“I rebuke that spirit of blindness and judgment that holds back God’s anointed and I command that your eyes open to the full body. That you would give place to His anointing, allowing it to lead and guide. That those who have been over looked will be seen and embraced as important and necessary members of His body.”

We need each and every member of the body not just those who fit in our neat little box. Just because we support or advance some individual doesn’t always mean that this is God’s will nor are they who God would promote. We must come to the place where we see and understand who God wants in a position. We should not promote those who have soulish abilities but lack the more important spiritual abilities. To discern spiritual fitness is more important than to test for mental and physical aptitudes. Just because someone has been supporting another person for a long period of time does not mean they should be advanced unless they have a defined and mature spiritual aspect about them. We must make sure they are spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity is about having a mature spirit (which can and must be discernable) and not just moving in a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts can and should be exercised by newly saved and spirit baptized people. For more information see the section on the spirit-in-us verses the spirit-on-us. The kingdom of God is about spiritual power not about some soulish appeal.

1CO 12:22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those {members} of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly {members come to} have more abundant seemliness, 24 whereas our seemly {members} have no need {of it.} But God has {so} composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that {member} which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but {that} the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. I wish this was how we lived. I believe that as we receive this revelation and understand the ultimate purpose of God, it will facilitate a more accurate life of the church. The fact is that we are members of one another. We may not like some people but if they are born again we are spiritually connected whether we like it or not. They do not have to join our church or be a voting member for them to deserve the same treatment every other member gets. We fixate on our own little kingdom and our own little group but we are not independent from every other born again believer in the world. When parts of the body fail we are all affected whether we know it or not.

EPH 4:11 And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

We should not over look the biblical reason for the five fold ministry. There should be no confusion about our job because it is clearly spelled out. The Analytical Greek Lexicon defines this word “equipping” in verse 12 as “a perfectly adjusted adaptation; complete qualification.” We are to make sure each and every member of the body is perfectly adjusted and has complete qualification to operate and be part of the whole. If we are not complete and whole in Jesus how can we help others to be what we are not? We need to be perfectly honest with ourselves concerning where we are. If we are lacking and extremely deficient we have no business being in a place of authority, for the position will only lead us into greater judgment. We may enjoy the position here in this world but the price we will pay for our incompetence when standing before Jesus will far outweigh any benefit we think we are gaining. We should also notice that our unity is in “faith” and the “‘epi’ knowledge” 2  of Jesus. Faith is a substance not a theology and “epi” knowledge is revelation knowledge, also not theology. There is unity when brothers come together who have this substance of faith and revelation. Trouble comes when people who do not have any faith or revelation attempt to lead others into what they have no knowledge about. According to verse 13 it is through this faith and revelation that the whole will eventually reach the stature of the fullness of the anointing. This fullness is our goal of which reason Jesus called us into this fivefold ministry. We are now embracing the ministries of Apostles and Prophets but yet are failing to lead the body to maturity. EPH 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him, who is the head, {even} Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

We are deceiving ourselves if we think that the members of the church are irrelevant and disposable. It seems that many think that only the authorities are the important part of any local body but this is not true. We do need most members actively working with the Head (Jesus) or there will be trouble. The body, according to Paul, is held together by what every member supplies not just a select few. Every member doing their part is what causes the growth of the body. We need to be reminded that this has nothing to do with the physical properties or needs of an area building. This is not about seeing all the ushers or parking lot attendants are in place. This is a spiritual reality of what we as parts of the whole have to offer. Unless we are spiritually developed and contributing to the whole the Church will be lacking. No one becomes spiritually equipped without a place that allows them the freedom to exercise their gifts.

COL 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on {visions} he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God  Every member of the body needs to grow up in the faith and revelation of Jesus. We all have to hold individually to that which we know to be true and rely on Gods power to go before us. We cannot live according to someone else’s faith. When we try, we end up in trouble because we really don’t believe it. Each of us needs to learn truth directly from our relationship with God and His Holy Spirit. If we are side stepping our responsibility before God not only are we hurting ourselves but the body as a whole. It is time for the body to step up to the responsibilities God has called us to.

We should notice that in Col. 2:19 we are told to hold fast the head. I think we do ourselves and the body harm when our loyalty to leadership is greater than our loyalty to God. Our connection to leadership is not what supplies our life but our connection to the head. We should be connected to our leadership but not at the expense of our connection to Jesus our head. Leadership will not always know what is best for us but God will. I am not trying to undermine leadership but to view them in their rightful place. Jesus is the head and we should all be hearing from our head concerning our lives. ROM 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {let each exercise them accordingly}: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

We have briefly looked at the body and how God intends it to be. No member is insignificant but vital to the whole. We all have a part to play and we must fulfill our part. It is not my intention to look closely at the church but just view it in general terms. It is my intention to look at what we are destined to be. We are members of one another and our sum is greater than any individual part.

EPH 2:20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner {stone}, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Paul here is telling us that the foundation of this building was made by the apostles and prophets. What apostles and prophets? Paul no doubt was talking about the Old Testament prophets who he studied in order to understand all the things he now understood. Paul however didn’t stop at the Old Testament but also included what the New Testament apostles saw and heard. I am sure Paul knew he was included in this statement seeing that he made this statement about himself, “1CO 3:10 ¶ According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. 1CO 3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Paul not only acknowledges Jesus as the corner but actually the whole foundation. While Jesus is the whole foundation it was not Jesus who explained the foundation but those who followed after Him. Therefore those who established the foundation get the credit for the area of foundation. This is significant when we look closer at the Bride of the Lamb. We should also notice that Paul declares that we “are being built together into a dwelling of God.” The essence of our lives lived here will make up the very place where God dwells by His Spirit. Now that we have covered most of the basics, let’s take a look at the Bride of the Lamb.


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