THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

 

INTRODUCTION

[Some years ago, during a conversation with a Christian friend about selective rapture and resurrection and of being "considered worthy" to rule and reign with Christ in the Millennium, he rejected these teachings and replied: "Christ's bride is not a mutilated bride".

 

The vast majority of Christians refuse to believe that the Word of God teaches selective rapture; (i.e., a removal of living saints who are "careful" and "able to escape") before the Great Tribulation, (Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10); and they doggedly refuse to accept the teaching of a selective resurrection - (i.e., a resurrection of saints who will be "considered worthy of taking part in"  ... "the resurrection [out] from the dead" (Greek, Luke 20: 35), at the time of the Second Advent of Christ, (1Thess. 4: 16). See also:- Phil 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35; Rev. 20: 4-6; John 14: 2, 3, etc.

 

For some, their whole basis for such a refusal to believe in the above mentioned doctrines, is the assumption that the Church is the Bride; and all regenerate believers in the Church, must therefore rule and reign with Him during the Millennium.

 

This is an objection which is constantly urged against the severance of believers millennially, and which assumes that the Church must be complete and entire at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, because the Church (according to their theory) is synonymous with both the "Bride" and the "Body": and it is therefore inconceivable (as far as they are concerned) that either can appear mutilated, or be excluded from ruling with Christ in the Millennium. This is the whole thrust of their reasoning and the sole grounds for their rejection and disagreement. -WHT.]

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The reply is fourfold:

 

1. It is a law of exposition that the literal must rule and explain the figurative, never the figurative, the literal; for we know that we understand the literal, whereas in the meaning of the figurative we may always be mistaken. There is no doubt, and can be none, concerning the meaning of the literal passages which make rapture contingent on readiness.

 

2. No Scripture states the completion of the Bride, or Body, pre-millennially: Their completion belongs to the Eternal Ages, when responsibility, which divides, is eternally replaced by privilege, which unites: the one is millennial and transient, the other is eternal and permanent.

 

3. The Body (or Bride) will be no more divided, in the sense of mutilation, than is already by Scriptural excommunication, in which the person of the believer is cut off from the Church, and his flesh given over to the destruction of Satan (1 Cor. 5: 5); or by the vast present separation of the dead and the living.  But even were it so, the coming judicial Age is the very epoch of division; (so that the Church never appears as a unity in the prophecies of the Apocalypse); and the final and indivisible union awaits that Eternal State which begins where reward for earthly service and fidelity ends.

 

4. That the Apocalyptic Bride, which is complete and entire at the Advent (Rev. 19: 7), and which is the Bride of the Marriage Supper, is NOT the whole Church is manifest ... "His wife hath made herself READY: and it was given unto her" - from the inexhaustible reservoirs of grace on which she can draw - "that she should array herself" - her active application of that grace to her own heart and conduct - "in fine linen, bright and pure: for fine linen is the righteous acts" - the holy behaviour, the sanctification and not the justification - "of the saints" (Rev. 19: 8).     - D. M. Panton.

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THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

 

By  A. E. WILSON.

 

 

1. REPARATION OF THE BRIDE

 

When the midnight cry rings out with the announcement, "Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him," the question arises, how can I prepare to meet the Bridegroom other than by having confessed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Meeting the Bridegroom involves preparation for the wedding, which is set forth in very descriptive terms in Naomi's advice to Ruth.  In the 3rd chapter of Ruth, verse 3, Naomi tells Ruth, "Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee ..."  We also call to mind that Rebeka - journeying with Eliezer to the home of Isaac - on seeing Isaac approaching, alighted from her camel and put her vail over herself.  Rev. 19: 7, 8 also tells of preparation for the meeting of the Bridegroom, and Matthew 22: 11-14 tells of what happens to the saved who are unprepared for the wedding. *

 

[* See note on "outer darkness".]

 

Let us take Naomi's advice to Ruth and consider that in a little more detail.  First, Ruth is commanded to wash herself.  That type is drawn from the use of the brazen laver used by the priests to cleanse themselves of the defilement accumulated on the hands and feet after they had offered the sacrifice for atonement on the brazen altar.  The New Testament way of cleansing is the washing of water by the Word, which is very clearly expressed in 1 John 1: 9:  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Ruth, washing herself, typifies the Christian cleansing himself of un-forgiven sins.  And as we who are Christians anticipate the soon coming of the Bridegroom, the first thing we are to do is to cleanse ourselves of all known sin and unrighteousness.  This is done by a confession of our sins.

 

In the second place, Ruth, having washed, is then to anoint herself. This anointing was with oils, symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  It is not sufficient to wash.  One must be anointed with the perfumed oils, etc., in completion of preparation for the meeting of the Bridegroom. We who are Christians need not only the Holy Spirit indwelling us but we also need a special out-pouring of the Spirit of God for service and power.  This we receive after we have been washed.  The Holy Spirit is given in power to those who obey the Lord.  Such an individual has already received the indwelling Spirit when he believed (John 7: 37-39).  This anointing on the part of a Christian is typified by the extra vessels of oil which the wise virgins took but which the foolish virgins neglected.

 

In the third place, Ruth, having washed and anointed herself, is to put on her raiment; that is, her wedding garment.  Again referring to Rev. 19: 7, 8 and also Matt. 22: 1-14, we learn that the wedding garment is made of the good deeds, righteous acts resulting from the life of obedience.  There are Christians today looking for, waiting for, longing for the coming of the Lord but because of ignorance not having washed themselves, nor anointed themselves, neither have they prepared a wedding garment.

 

Perhaps the most pressing need of Christians is to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom by washing, anointing, and putting on the wedding garment.

 

2. WHO IS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST?

 

When asked the question, almost everyone answers, "The Church," or "The Body of Christ," meaning of course, all saved people. However, these people never give scripture proof to back their statement, nor is it possible for them to do so; for nowhere in the Bible is the Church called the Bride of Christ. The Church is called His Body in Ephesians 1: 22, 23; but the "body" and the "bride" are not synonymous as is assumed. (See also: Rom. 12: 4, 5; 1 Cor. 10: 17; 12: 12; Eph. 2: 16; 3: 6; 4: 4, 12; 5: 23; Col. 1: 18).

 

If we observe the "rule of first mention," a term with which all students of the Bible are familiar, and keep in mind that the things written in the Old Testament are types and examples for our learning (Rom. 15: 4; 1Cor. 10: 11), we can see that the Bride is taken out of the Body.

 

Two examples from the Old Testament illustrate this truth, as well as many others:-

 

1. The first bride, Eve was not the body of Adam, but was taken out of his body. "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from the man made he a woman. ... "And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken OUT OF man," (Gen. 2: 21-23). Adam is a type of Christ.

 

2. In the twenty-fourth chapter of the book of Genesis we have the story of Abraham who sent his servant to take a bride for his son, Isaac.  Most people use this as a type of God the Father sending the Holy Spirit into the world for the calling out of the Church.  It is true that He does this; however, this is not the teaching of Genesis chapter twenty-four. The Gospel is to go into all the world, but in this story, Abraham told his servant not to go to the Canaanites but to go to his own people and take a bride for his son.  The person familiar with Bible types can readily see that here we have set forth the following: Abraham, a type of the Father, sending the servant, a type of the Holy Spirit to his own people, a type of the Church, to take a bride for Isaac, a type of Christ.  When the message of salvation goes forth, it goes to all; but when God calls for service, surrender, fellowship, purity of life, love, devotion and many other terms which are applicable to the word "bride"; He calls not the world, but His own people, or His family.

 

Our Lord used the term "family" because of its meaning to us in our physical life.  We are born the first time into a physical family.  When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting Him who died in our place, we are born again, into the family of God.  I believe the word "bride" is used in the same sense as the word "family".  We know what the blessings of family life involve.  We also know that the bride and groom, while in the family, share a closeness and an intimacy, which is not shared by other members of the family.  With these thoughts in mind, we can see how the Lord calls those who are His to come up closer.

 

It is not to this world, but to His own that He says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12: 1-2).  Not many regenerate Christians will heed this direct command.  Many who are saved never experience sweet communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus; and like Esau, they forfeit future spiritual rewards for present carnal gratifications.

 

In writing to the carnal Corinthians, Paul tells them that they are espoused to one husband, that is, they are promised in marriage or as we would say, engaged.  This certainly shows us the possibility of all Christians being the bride of Christ.  He continues by saying that he fears lest they be beguiled by Satan and have their minds corrupted.  This is the state of many Christians today. This shows the probability of many failing to meet the qualifications for being called out of the family to be the bride of Christ.  This word "espoused" is the same word used in Matthew 1: 18; where we read of Mary being espoused to Joseph.  Before they came together, he was minded to put her away because he thought she had been unfaithful.  Many believers today are unfaithful and there is a sense in which the Lord will "put these away".  Such Christians as these are in urgent need of repentance, forgiveness, restoration, strength and a desire to live a holy life.

 

This does not mean the loss of eternal salvation, for that is not dependant upon anything a believer does, whether before or after receiving it.  In Rev. 16: 15 we read: "Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments lest he walk naked and they see his shame." This does not refer to  Christ's righteousness with which He clothes us for salvation - ["For He (God) hath clothed me (i.e., every regenerate believer) with the garments of salvation" (Isaiah 61: 10)] - but a garment of good works which may be maintained with a profitable result, or which may be lost to our shame and loss at His appearing. (See 1 John 2: 28, Titus 3: 8; 2 John 1: 8).  Revelation 19: 7 shows that the bride makes herself ready for the marriage and the marriage supper by providing herself with a garment of good works. In the days when this was written, the bride literally made her own wedding garment, putting many hours of hard work into it. All Christians do not work for Christ, therefore all will not be the bride.  The absence of this garment will cause an unfaithful Christian to be "put away" as it were, in the darkness outside the wedding feast.  "Outer darkness" is not "the lake of fire" for unprofitable servants are there.  It is the darkness outside the feast where the unfaithful will be, while those who have been faithful, will be enjoying a communion and fellowship not shared by every Christian. In Matthew 25: 14-30 the Lord is dealing with His own servants and we find the unprofitable servants cast into outer darkness.  We have a parallel passage in Matthew 22 where one without a wedding garment is cast into the darkness outside.*  Keep in mind that he would not be there if he did not belong to the Lord.  This has to do with the time when we as Christians will give an account of the deeds done in the body whether good or bad, (2 Cor. 5: 10). No doubt unconcerned, unfaithful, unrepentant, disobedient Christians will weep over their failures for it is only after the Millennial Reign of Christ has ended, that God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, (Rev. 21: 4).

 

Revelation 3: 18 tells us to buy white raiment that we may be clothed and that the shame of our nakedness does not appear.  As we have already seen, the white raiment represents the righteous acts and deeds of God's redeemed people.  The word "buy" is used to indicate to the child of God that it will cost to be among those who make up the bride of Christ.  Yes, a separated, surrendered, godly and obedient life is costly but how great will be the "reward" - (a word often excluded from today's popular preaching and scripture exposition!), - of those who dare to pay the price. Isaiah 55: 1 speaks of buying without money.  We do not speak of money; but the Christian who has proposed in his/her heart to live completely for the Lord Jesus Christ knows that it costs plenty.

 

It may cost in hours of Bible study, prayer and witnessing. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come ... "  All Christians do not work for the Lord, providing themselves a garment of good works, neither do all Christians invite others to come to Christ.  Therefore, all Christians cannot be the bride of Christ.

 

The word "body" is used to show unity.  I believe that all the saved (from all ages) are members of the body of Christ. "The mystery or secret which the apostle announces in Ephesians 3: 6, was not that a new thing called the church had commenced at Pentecost (there is no hint of such a thing), but that into the old and well known body of Christ, THE CHURCH, the Gentiles were to be introduced and set on the same level as the ancient saints" - says a well known Bible teacher and faithful servant of God - "is how I interpret the apostle's language."  Today Christians are scattered throughout the world; yet there is only one body. There is coming a day however, when every child of His will have to render an account of himself - "For we must all be made manifest before the judgement seat of Christ: that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5: 10).

 

There will be "a just recompense (repayment) of reward," that is to say that each child of God will be rewarded exactly as he is due. Christians work and serve their Lord in varying degrees and will be rewarded in this manner, (Luke 12: 41-48).  Some do not serve Him at all, these will suffer great loss.  Those who have not provided themselves a wedding garment will be spiritually naked and ashamed but not eternally lost.  In Romans 8: 35-39 we learn that even nakedness, which refers to the loss of the garment of good works, will not separate us from His love.  However, Titus 3: 8 tells us that to maintain good works is profitable.  The profit, or loss as the case may be, will be manifested at the judgement seat of Christ where every Christian will give an account of him/herself to the Lord.

 

Eternal salvation is a gift of God which cannot be lost. Rewards, crowns and an inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, are all based upon the believer's [or servant's] work, faithfulness and obedience to Him, (Col. 3: 23, 24).  One of the highest rewards will be to be among those who make up the bride of Christ.  This is a figurative term and simply refers to those who are clean, pure and yielded to Him, those who have lived in communion and fellowship with Him, all who have been to their Lord all that is implied in the word "Bride".**

 

[**See in Notes: "The Wedding Garment."]

 

May I say again that the "Church" is one body, made up of all believers of all ages in Christ.  It is to the Church that the epistles are written.  The Church at Corinth, as well as all others, was composed of two classes of believers, the carnal and the spiritual. (Read 1 Cor. 3).  Many, although in the Church, will remain carnal until the end of their lives on earth; they are eternally saved but they will suffer great loss and severe punishment, (Luke 12: 46).  Let not Christians such as these deceive themselves by believing that they belong to the bride of Christ; and that they will rule and reign with Him during His millennial kingdom. Only by confession of sin, repentance, restoration, forgiveness, and perseverance in obedience to the Lord's commands, can such carnal Christians ever hope to be part of the bride of Christ.  "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am about to spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest I am rich, and have become rich, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind" - blind to the coming kingdom of reward and glory; blind to the conditional promises of God; blind to the responsibility truths; blind to the importance of obedience and the consequences of disobedience to the Lord's commands. - "and naked: I counsel THEE to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou be rich; and white garments, that thou be clothed and the shame of thy nakedness be not manifested, and eye-salve to anoint thine eyes, that thou see.  As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Lo, I stand at the door and knock:" - a text so often applied to unbelievers; but here it is shown to be addressed to the regenerate - "if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Who overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. Who hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith TO THE CHURCHES" (Rev. 3: 15-22).

 

These truths every disciple should know, the apostle Paul says to the Church of the Ephesians (5: 5).

 

Who then is the Bride?  Those who are providing themselves a wedding garment of good works, and those who are inviting others to come to Christ.  Let's face it, Christian friend, all will not qualify to rule and reign during the Millennium; all will not be resurrected at the first resurrection; all (who will be alive at the time) will not have to go through the Great Tribulation; and all will not be rapt before that tribulation begins. - WHT.

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FOOTNOTES

 

* THE OUTER DARKNESS.

 

Wilbur M. Smith, teacher of English Bible in Fuller Theological Seminary, said that G. H. Lang had the greatest grasp of the whole Scripture. Here is what Mr. Lang says on outer darkness:-

 

"Few expressions have been treated with more laxity and liberty than this, though, seeing its solemnity, it should have received very exact study.

 

It cannot point to the world of the dead, Hades, for there Dives and Abraham could see one another. Nor can a lake burning with fire be a place of darkness, and moreover that most dreadful of all regions is visible to the eye, for its torment is 'in the presence of' (under the eye of, enopion) holy angels and the Lamb (Rev. 14: 10; 19: 20; 20: 10).

 

With its too common inexactness the A. V. gives simply 'outer darkness,' ignoring the two definite articles of the Greek. The R.V. gives 'the outer darkness.'  English does not readily allow 'the darkness the outer' of the original language, which is a pity, because the repetition of the article throws emphasis upon the second noun: it is not just any darkness but darkness outside some region of light.

 

Only our Lord used the term; and only Matthew records it (Matt. 8: 12; 22: 13; 25: 30). Christ repeated the statement of Matthew 8: 12, as reported by Luke (13: 24-30), when 'outer darkness' became simply 'without.'  This somewhat reduces the severity of the thought.  Nor is the change without significance. The region is simply outside some other region, contiguous to it.

 

On each occasion those cast into outer darkness weep and gnash their teeth. The only other place where this sign of grief and rage is mentioned is Matt. 13: 42, 50, when the angel reapers cast the wicked into 'the furnace of fire.' This is not set by the Lord as the final judgement, the great white throne, but at the 'consummation of the age,' that is, in connection with the clearing of the wicked from off this earth when His Millennial Kingdom is about to be established. But, as remarked above, darkness and flaming fire are incompatibles. Such important chagrin and rage can mark both spheres and therefore do not identify them. Moreover such distress is possible in this life, and does not require death to induce it: 'I am faint and sore bruised: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart ...My groaning is not hid from Thee' (Ps. 38: 8, 9).

 

A too little considered feature of the three references to 'outer darkness' is that each pictures a house of feasting. In Matt. 8 and Luke 13 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are represented as reclining at table and others from all quarters joining them, while the 'sons of the kingdom,' those to whom the house and its pleasures more naturally belonged, see this feasting but are driven away from it into outer darkness.

 

In our present passage it is the same. The King comes in to see the guests, that is, into the banqueting hall. It is thence that the man is cast out.

 

In Matt. 25 the lord of the house has returned thither from his journey, which is to be celebrated as a time of joy, implying a feast; it is to share this joy of their lord that the faithful servants are welcomed, whereas the unfaithful man is cast into outer darkness. In the second instance the man is bound hand and foot.

 

This element of the one picture really gives the clue to the interpretation, when it is remembered that in the East such a festivity usually took place at night. Staying in a native quarter in Alexandria I was on the other side of the road from a large Oriental mansion. One night the whole house was brilliantly lit, a blaze of light from every room, evidently for some special affair. By contrast the street outside and the garden around were in black darkness, and nothing further was required to correspond to the term 'the darkness the outer,' which term equals the darkness which is without, outside the house.

 

It were but an event to be expected that an Oriental despot, of royal or lesser rank, if offended with one of the slaves, should order that he be bound and thrown into the garden. There the unfortunate man, with the common Eastern emotionalism, would bewail the dark and the cold, and the danger from hungry dogs and jackals, and would gnash his teeth at being deprived of the pleasures forfeited.

 

This is the picture; and, whatever may be the reality, it is not the same as the enemies of the king being slain in public, as in the parable of the pounds (Luke 19: 27), nor as the tares, the very 'sons of the Evil One' being cast into the furnace of fire, as in Matt. 13. Such obviously distinct pictures must be viewed as distinct, and distinct meanings be sought. To blur the picture and confound the lessons can be only confusing and misleading, as had commonly been the case in the treatment of this parable.

 

In relation to things future and unseen, wisdom would lead each to say with the village idiot, when asked if he knew anything, 'some things I know, some things I don't know' - a much wiser state of mind than when a preacher speaks dogmatically on such a theme, as if he knows everything.

 

Of Hades, the Abyss, the 'Lake of fire' - of these some definite knowledge is imparted, though much is left unrevealed; and it is not for us to speculate, least of all to be positive.

 

It is outside the kingdom of heaven when pictured as the temporary festivity at the return of the lord of the house or as the wedding feast of the son of the house. It is marked by loss of liberty (bound hand and foot), by forfeiture of privilege (the 'joy of the lord'), by decrease of knowledge (the pound withdrawn), by deprivation of service and reward ('have thou authority'). It will be healthful that these solemn elements weigh upon our minds and warn and stimulate, though where and how the realities they picture will be experienced may not be known.

 

In the interests of sound interpretation as well as of moral effect, it is vital to recognise that it is 'sons of the kingdom', those to whom by calling it naturally belonged; it is the 'friend' who had accepted the invitation and taken his place; it is the personal slaves of the house, of the lord of the house, who are bidden to value their rich privileges lest THEY lose them and fall under his displeasure. The apostles regularly describe themselves as "slaves."

 

It was 'his own bondservants' to whom the lord of the house entrusted the talents. What relationship this term indicates is not questioned when it is used of the shepherd calling 'his own' sheep and going before them (John 10: 3, 4). To avoid this meaning in the former case is to deal deceitfully with Scripture as well as with one's own soul and that of the hearer. The blessed Lord who loved and redeemed them, made it abundantly plain that one of His own servants may render himself obnoxious to this intensely solemn penalty of being bound and cast forth from the grand reality of the marriage supper of the joy of the Lord. Nor is the spiritual reality at all unknown now. There are children of God, servants of Christ, who through misconduct have forfeited the once-enjoyed liberty of sons, no more share the joy of their Lord, and are in distressing darkness of soul. Experimentally they are outside the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14: 17).

 

But the very fact that this is possible to one of 'His own' itself proves that the penalty cannot be eternal, for all such have eternal life and can never perish. No one grasping the illustration used would suppose that the unhappy slave would be left in the garden to starve to death, or that the dark night would last forever.  Day would dawn, his bands would be loosed, life would be resumed, but he would have missed the joyous festival forever, for the wedding feast would never be repeated. That is to say, the special pleasures, honours, splendours which are to accompany the return of the Lord from heaven and the setting up of His kingdom at the consummation of this age, ARE TO BE A REWARD FOR FIDELITY, FOR RIGHTEOUS AND DUTIFUL CONDUCT IN HIS ABSENCE, AND WITHOUT THIS MANNER OF LIFE THEY MAY BE FORFEITED. "

 

Dr. I. M. Haldeman, for over forty years pastor of the First Baptist Church in New York City, in his book Ten Sermons On The Second Coming, says:

 

"The Christian who shall not be found faithful will suffer loss. He cannot enter into the joy of the Lord.

 

Those who have preached by their preaching have built nothing better than wood, hay and stubble on the foundation of Christ will be judged as unfaithful stewards of the Word of God.

 

At the Judgement Seat the preachers who have been willing to make the Church a rubbish heap will be fully revealed. Men who have mixed law and grace, the righteousness of God with the righteousness of man; who have preached prohibition, socialism and state legislation; like Lot have endeavoured to clean up Sodom, and like Lot in Sodom have vexed their righteous but unspiritual souls with their daily and manifested inability to keep it clean.

 

The preachers who in spite of all the blindness and blundering of their wood, hay and stubble work have been really regenerated, have had some element of divine life, the foolish and deceived workers who have mistaken quantity for quality, will in that hour when they stand at the judgement Seat of Christ be accused of unfaithfulness to their trust and shall suffer loss. None of these shall enter into and share the joy of the Lord. THEY CANNOT TAKE PART IN THE KINGDOM ON THE EARTH.

 

Christians who have refused to give of their substance; who have been willing to spend it on themselves, but not on God, that class of Christians who are always revolting against 'expense' in the Church and Judas-like are continually talking of 'this waste' these shall miss the joy of the Lord.

 

Christians who live notoriously and intentionally inconsistent lives; who openly dishonour the name of Christ; who are impervious to spiritual appeal; who claim the assurance of salvation; who no doubt really believe, but refuse to bring forth the things which accompany salvation, these shall suffer loss. Amiable Christians, decent Christians, Christians who always go to church, but never do anything for Christ; who still sit on the cushioned seats of easy security and repeat to themselves as complacent justification, 'not of works lest any man should boast' - Think of it! Redeemed by blood, made partakers of the divine nature, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, linked up to a risen Christ, claiming all the guarantees of salvation; and yet, never doing anything for Him who has done all things for them. O the pitiableness of it. Redeemed and doing nothing for Christ.

 

And these shall suffer loss, the loss of what they might have had. They will miss the 'well done.' They cannot enter into the joy of the Lord. They will have no part IN THE KINGDOM OF THE THOUSAND YEARS ON EARTH."

 

Alexander Patterson in his book The Greater Life And Work of Christ says:-

 

"The rewards are the glory, power, and privilege. The glory, as has been shown by Paul, differs as one star differs from another. The power, as the ruler over ten cities is superior to the ruler over one city. Among the privileges seem to be nearness to the person of Christ. There were two who asked that they might sit on His right hand and left. Christ said this was to be given to those for whom it was prepared. The twelve, He promised, should 'sit with me on my throne.' In the distribution of rewards it is not against one that he came in at the eleventh hour.

 

The believer is also to be judged for the things done in the body which were bad. This also looks to services. Paul speaks of such works: 'For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man buildeth on the foundation, gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet as through fire.' (1Cor. 3: 11-15).

 

There is a searching process here which will be terrible to works done from wrong motives, or works left undone. Christ said to each of the seven churches, or rather to the angel or minister of the church, for these seven letters are to the ministers of these churches first of all: 'I know thy works.' The judgement of Christ is of the persons as well as their works. 'Saved as by fire' intimates a searching personal examination. The Christian life will be gone into by Christ as we are told by the apostles. Every secret thing not repented of and confessed, will be exposed, to the shame and mortification of the doer. Paul writes of issues to come up in this judgement: 'Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.' (1Cor. 4: 5). All wrong estimates of men will be set right, and the result will be as Christ has said, 'many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.' All idle words, as Christ said, will be accounted for at the day of judgement. All unsettled quarrels will be brought to account.

 

The fact of the chastening of the unfaithful servant at the judgement of the saints, is also taught directly by Christ in this scripture: 'But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming,; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. And that servant which knew his lord's will and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.' (Luke 12: 45-48). Here is certain exposure, condemnation, and more, for the fruitless and faithless servant. 'Beaten with many stripes' does not mean the loss of the soul but does mean more than has been generally taught. The 'stripes' are connected with the coming of Christ. The same truth is taught in the parables of the same talents, when the unprofitable servant is cast 'into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matt. 25: 30)."

 

Olshausen comments:

 

"'The reference is not to eternal condemnation, but to exclusion from the Basilia (kingdom) into which the faithful enter. The Basilis is viewed as the region of light, which is encircled by darkness.'

 

'Concerning the children of light who are unfaithful to their vocation, it is said they are cast into the skotos (darkness): but as respecting the children of darkness, we are told they are consigned to the puraionion (eternal life) so that each one finds his own punishment in the opposite element.'

 

'The judgement and rewarding of the saints continues as long as there are those who are Christ's to be so judged. This continues, as we will see, during the whole age of the judgements in which the gospel is preached, and some are being saved. The number is not therefore complete until the close of the period of earth judgements; and as it seems probable that Christ Himself does not appear visibly upon the scene until the close of the judgements upon the earth, it is fair to assume He is occupied with His people above.'"

 

** THE WEDDING GARMENT.

 

The wedding garment ("fine linen" in Rev. 19: 8 is specifically said to be composed of the "righteous acts of the saints" (ASV).  The word translated "righteous acts" ("righteousness," KJV) is plural in the Greek text (dikaiomata) and cannot refer to the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Dikaiomata in this verse has to do with "righteous acts" producing justification.  In this respect, these are "justifying acts" of the saints (the same word, appearing in the singular, is translated "justification" and "righteousness" [referring to justification by faith, made possible through Christ's righteous, justifying act] in Rom. 5: 16, 18; and the cognate verb [from dikaioo] is translated "justified" [referring to both justification by faith and justification by works] in (James 2: 24). Works emanating out of faithfulness, resulting in one's justification by works, provide the Christian with a wedding garment.

 

Apart from the wedding garment, a Christian will be found naked at the time of Christ's return.  Having been justified by faith and clothed in the righteousness of Christ, he can never be separated from the love of Christ.  He can never be found naked relative to his justification by faith; but, failing to be justified by works following his justification by faith, resulting in no wedding garment (nakedness relative to justification by works), will meet with dire consequences at the time of Christ's return (note: "judgment" on the basis of works [1 Cor. 3: 12-15; cf. Matt. 16: 24-27; Luke 19: 15-26])

 

Appearing in the presence of Christ without a wedding garment is portrayed in Matt. 22: 11-14 by a man (from among the "guests," Gr. anakeimenon, "reclining ones") appearing at the marriage festivities without a wedding garment.  This man would not have been at these festivities in the first place had he not previously been justified by faith.  This section of Scripture is prophetic in its scope of fulfilment.  The festivities portrayed here have to do with events surrounding the marriage of the Lamb; and this marriage, with its festivities will occur ... at the end of the present age.

 

The man without a wedding garment was questioned concerning both his presence at the festivities and the manner in which he appeared.  The subtle distinction between two different negatives in the Greek text of verses eleven and twelve (ou and me) show that the man knew that he was supposed to have a wedding garment, but he knowingly, defiantly appeared without the necessary attire.  Because he was not properly clothed, he was denied admittance, bound, and cast into the darkness outside.  That is, he was found naked, denied admittance, bound and cast into a place comparable to a darkened courtyard outside a brilliantly lighted banqueting hall.  This man sets forth the fate awaiting, not unsaved individuals, but certain saved individuals. The wedding garment (righteous acts of the saints) is in view, not the imputed righteousness of ChristThis man typifies those Christians who, in that coming day ... seek admittance to the festivities surrounding the marriage of God's Son without being clothed in the proper attire - the wedding garment."

 

- A. L. CHITWOOD.