Category Archives: The Church
(Ver 1.1) What a strange title for a Bible study? What could this possibly mean to us here in this modern world? Who was Saul? What is this spirit of Saul reference? I was recently awakened in the middle of the night at exactly 3 AM and suddenly these words arose up in my spirit saying “Beware the rise of the spirit of Saul”. Then Bible verses came to my memory about this actual historical man named Saul and this Bible lesson is the result of my middle of the night awakening. I believe this message was from God speaking to us all a warning according to His stated works in John 16:13. I believe God was informing us of a coming resurgence of an old spiritual force that persecuted the early church and I believe it will become as “great as” or even greater than what the early church encountered and endured. I believe that it is obvious that this is the increasing trend and movement found within the present unsaved world, all those living in darkness (Eph 2:2).
Modern unsaved people living in the world today are identical to all others that came before them. They are all opening a door to allow the repeat of a pattern of ignorance that causes them to not comprehend the difference between that which is called “good” or that which is called “evil”. In them there is no understanding or acknowledgement of who or what represents the true God of good or who or what represents the false deceiving god of evil (Satan). That which God called evil in His Word is being tremendously magnified and exalted by the unsaved world to be called normal and good and everything that God called “good” is being called evil at the same time (Isa 5:20). Anyone that speaks against what is called evil by God is being persecuted and called a bigoted intolerant hate monger. What a sad condition the world has fallen into and I believe by observation that it is getting worse.
Today Christians that are simply speaking the truth in love warning those that are on the way to hell are being labeled as evil. This must break the heart of God greatly and we will see an example of this in the lesson. If you knew that the highway that you were traveling on had a major bridge on it and that it had just collapsed, would you not try to stop everyone that was about to fall to their death because of the deep drop off? The drivers of the cars on the road at night are about to die because of their ignorance and inability to see the truth. Wouldn’t you warn them? That is what every mature believing Christian is faced with today. We can shut up and be silent or we can cry out and try to save them. It is our choice but any warning given may be ridiculed and laughed at by those being warned because probably most will not believe it.
Jesus gave us many warnings about these end times before His return to the earth. One warning to us was very clear when He said “As it was in the days of Noah and of Lot so shall it also be again in the days right before the coming of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26-30). I am very sure that this statement describes the exact days that we live in right now. It is by no chance or accident that Jesus (God in the Flesh) chose these two biblical events to describe the times directly before His return (2 Peter 2:5-6). However, that is really not what this Bible lesson message is concerning directly. The message of Noah’s flood and Sodom’s destruction is however an indirect applicable truth to this lesson of warning about the subject of coming persecution. Noah was laughed at and the angels in Sodom were commanded to come out and have sex with the men. How appropriate are these two witnesses of truth?
Introduction to the Spirit of Saul
Let us now get to God’s basic message concerning the “spirit of Saul” warning spoken to me. The main subject of today’s lesson is concerning the theme of persecution. We will be looking at this subject from at least three or four different perspectives. The first perspective is that of the persecutor. The second perspective is that of the Almighty God. The third perspective of persecution will be driven from the one being persecuted and these are Christians. And the final perspective introduced today is that of the enemy Satan..
- The Persecutor’s Perspective
- Almighty God’s Perspective
- The Persecuted Church’s Perspective
- Satan’s Perspective
We will similarly be addressing basic definitions and questions concerning this very important and timely subject. We will also look for scriptural answers in the Bible for why persecution occurs and who is ultimately behind it all. As part of the study we will briefly introduce why God allows persecution to occur and see what His attitude and response was in the past and could be again today since we know God does not change (Malachi 3:6). As a final part of the Christian perspective discussion in today’s lesson we will introduce how a Christian’s expectations should already be preset before this persecution occurs to them. Please don’t be surprise when God warns us that persecution will occur if we are living for God and obeying His Word and boldly declaring His truth in love to the lost and dying world.
2Ti 3:12 Yea, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
God promises us that we will be persecuted if we are living for Him and following after Christ’s example. It would be wise based upon these words to check if you are being persecuted. If you are not I would then check to see if you are following Jesus. In Luke chapter 21 Jesus informs us of the coming end of the age describing wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines that are already occurring and then in verse 12 Jesus said before the end of all these things you will be persecuted. Jesus’ warning to us in the Gospels is just another witness to the message that I heard from God personally.
Bible basics teach us that humans are designed by our creator God as a triune being made in the image of the Almighty God. A human is a freewill spirit being that possesses a soul (a mind, a will and our emotions) that lives in mortal human body (1 Thes 5:23). However, this spirit of Saul warning was not a warning that the natural man Saul written about in the Bible will return to the earth because that would violate scriptures and make God a liar (Heb 9:27). Therefore, we need to learn more about what the message could mean by rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). We will however, briefly study the life of Saul to learn from it the persecutor’s perspective and I will begin by reading a verse concerning the stoning death of Stephen in the early church description found in Acts 7.
Act 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
Please allow me to provide a very quick overview of the context of this verse so we can better understand this part of the message. The context actually begins back in chapter 6 and it is a story concerning a Christian man named Stephen. He was ministering to people and doing many signs, wonders and miracles the same as Jesus did before him here on the earth. It is important to know that Stephen was not one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus yet he did the same types of miraculous works as Jesus did. I find that fact very important and fascinating as many in the church today teach miracles passed away with the death of the 12 disciples. Oh well? Oh Lord, please help us all to see the truth.
These supernatural miraculous works done by God through Stephen were not well received because of the accompanying message being preached concerning salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ who was recently condemned to death by a similar type of court with made up evidence that Stephen stood before. Men from the synagogue accused Stephen of blasphemy and soon he was on trial before the leadership of the Jewish synagogue. It is during this trial that Stephen gives a great overview of the Old Testament and how it applies to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. However, this message was not well received either. The Jewish leaders refused to listen and stopped up their ears and then took up stones to kill Stephen. Stephen sees a vision of heaven while being stoned of Jesus standing at the right hand of God as they hurl their deadly stones. That brings us now to verse 58 which was just quoted.
This verse 58 is the first time that the name “Saul” is mentioned in the N.T. The Hebrew name Saul occurs approximately 26 times in the book of Acts alone. This N.T. Saul is the exact same Hebrew name as the first king of the O.T. nation of Israel. By the number of mentions in the book of Acts we can easily see that the man Saul was a very prominent figure to learn about and learn from. We learn from reading the N.T. that Saul was a young devout religious man and a very self-righteous zealot man during this time of the birth of the church in the first 8 chapters of Acts. We can learn more about the background of this man named Saul by reading in his writings because he wrote nearly 2/3 of the N.T.:
Php 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Php 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Php 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Reading here Saul/Paul claims to be of a very noble stock of the natural nation of Israel. He was circumcised according to Mosaic Law on the 8th day after his birth. He was by no doubt raised in a very strict home that observed all of the Jewish Holy days, laws and Sabbaths. He also must have spent a very significant time in reading the Law of Moses growing up in the strict order to become a Pharisee. I can speculate that Saul must have thought very highly of himself, during this time and he must have been very proud of his learned position of authority. However, if we read in Proverbs 16:18 we see a verse that Saul appears to have possibly ignored. This verse says “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”.
We can learn while studying his life that Saul spent a great amount of his time persecuting, hunting down, imprisoning and even killing any of those that confessed faith in Jesus Christ. However, was this natural man named Saul the actual main source of the problem of the persecution to the church? Could there have been a greater force of influential power behind this evil man persuading and even controlling his thoughts and actions? I believe according to the future writings of this man named Saul there was certainly a much greater spiritual force that helped influence him to do all this evil to other people on the earth. Let’s read one verse to confirm this reality:
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
What we must glean in the beginning of this lesson is that physical natural people that are persecuting us are not our real problem even though it looks like it on the visible surface. Saul/Paul in this verse teaches us that Christians are not at odds with anyone of the divinely created flesh and blood design order. However, he does reveal very clearly earlier in this chapter that we are at war and he names the enemy here in verse 12 of Ephesians 6 to be hidden unseen spiritual forces and the evil invisible rulers of this present world that rule the kingdom of darkness. This truth will become considerably more important as we continue this lesson to learn how we should react to persecution. This information helps to better comprehend who and what the “spirit of Saul” is referring to in the warning. I am completely convinced that the “spirit of Saul” reference on the rise in our world is a reference to Satan our adversary and all of his demonic followers. Let’s review what we should have just learned in this section:
- People Persecute Other People
- We Will Be Persecuted if We Live Right
- We are at War
- It Appears That Humans are Our Enemies
- But, Our Actual Enemy is Not a Human
- We are at War With Unseen Spiritual Beings
- These Invisible Spiritual Beings Influence Humans To Do Evil
Persecuting the Church Today is still the same as Personally Persecuting Jesus
If the naturally born Hebrew man named Saul was not the real problem being spoken of by the LORD, why would God say “Beware the return of the spirit of Saul” to us? The answer to that question is because as we should have learned that unseen spirit beings are at the root of every seen evil event occurring in the world. I am convinced that the natural man Saul was not who the early church was wresting against based upon what he later wrote in Ephesians 6. However, why would a man do something so evil and suddenly then change and not do it anymore? That is a really good and important question. I believe the answer to that is that the natural man Saul was unmistakably a very deceived man who bought into and believed in so many lies given to him from the real enemy Satan. I believe the natural man Saul was doing what he thought was right in his own blinded mind (2 Cor 4:4) and was performing what he thought was pleasing towards God even though what he was doing against Christians on the earth was very wrong and taken very personally by Jesus. Let’s continue reading additional truth in the book of Acts about the death of Stephen:
Act 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
These are some of the last recorded words spoken by Stephen the first martyr of the early church to his murderers and they reveal how their wrong actions were being received by the LORD Jesus. Please notice when reading this verse that in Colossians 3:1, Paul teaches us that the LORD Jesus ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven but here in this recorded vision of heaven Jesus is intentionally standing up on his feet observing the wrong being done to his servant Stephen. Wow this verse speaks literal volumes to me. Jesus showed such great love and concern for what is happening to Stephen that He makes the personal choice to stand up from His seated position of rest and authority to welcome Stephen into His spiritual realm presence. I believe that this position of Jesus standing teaches us that Jesus wanted to do more to stop it from occurring but did not again by choice. You might remember that later Paul formerly Saul would teach us “to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD” (2 Cor 5:8). Therefore, when Stephen was killed, his spirit immediately departed his physical body to be in the presence of Jesus where Jesus was personally standing up to observe and welcome him into heaven.
Since the murder of Stephen there have been countless numbers of other Christ followers that have been killed and have gone to be with the LORD simply because of their beliefs in Jesus. No actual crime was necessary for either Stephen or any other saint to be persecuted with evil acts. We should learn from “how was Stephen persecuted” in order to know what to expect again today. If you read the context of the chapter you will find that leaders gathered false witnesses to accuse Stephen (Acts 6:13-14). These false accusers used the semblance of law and order to justify their evil done to others. They were clearly disobeying their laws by speaking their lies and perjuring themselves before man and God but in their minds they were justified to do so. I recently learned this is taking place in people in Islam. They are taught that it is permitted for them to lie to others in the world in order to promote the greater cause of spreading Islam. This is clearly of demonic influence since the Bible teaches Christians that “all liars will have their part in the lake of fire” (Rev 21:8).
This is what is coming now to Christians here in this world whether you believe it or not. It is already occurring in many nations of the world right now. Terrorists kill many people just because they are Christian. Islamic governments and their extremist religious people of that nation are persecuting, imprisoning, torturing and killing Christians daily. Communist nations also throw into prisons people who are reading their Bibles and being a Christian that walks in love trying to save others from hell. Who could have seen all of this coming? I believe only Jesus and this is why the warning is being given to us today. Let’s please continue reading in the book of Acts:
Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Act 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
The Greek word G4909 that was translated as “consented” in Acts 8:1 is a word that means Saul was “very pleased” by the murder of Stephen. In fact this Greek word implies that Saul took great pleasure in watching Stephen die. The zealot Saul after the death of Stephen then takes out after other Christians to do the same with them. Saul is very intent upon forcing his will and reason upon everyone that is preaching Jesus to be the only way. This is a very common motivation for persecution. The demand is frequently made to Christians to deny the Lord Jesus Christ, convert or die.
Look at Acts 8:3 and notice what begins to happen to the Church of Jesus Christ. Both men and women were taken to prison just for being a professing Christian. Also notice in this chapter the complete removal of basic human rights of privacy by the people committing these evil acts. Acts 8:3 tells us clearly that there was a house to house search for Christians done by Saul. This is exactly what is about to happen and even has started to shine on the horizon here in America. For example, there have been Christian people who refused to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples because of their beliefs in God, Jesus, the TRUTH of the Bible and they have spent time in jail. I believe the house to house search for Christians will also come as the world continues to slip into greater realms of deceived darkness. It already has taken place in other nations.
Act 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Act 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Saul continued speaking his great threats of violence directed at and towards all Christians. He began moving out of the city of Jerusalem to other nearby regions. Notice that the persecution taking place was with the authority of the law givers and administrators. Wow, is this not happening now? Law givers and judges in America are making so many decisions that violate the Truth of the Word of God that it is literally shocking to me. Evil now is prevailing by the misguided interpretation of the law and the wrong definition of what is good vs. evil. Watch for laws to continue to come to support this evil behavior. Watch for the removal of basic human rights that have been guaranteed up until this point in time.
Saul was on the road to a city named Damascus in these verses of chapter 9 of Acts to bring about more evil in the name of good. However, things this time didn’t go so well for Saul’s way when the LORD interrupted his journey with a very personal touch and a very strong message of truth. Instantly a great light shown down from heaven and a powerful voice came down clearly saying to Saul alone “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me”. As in the death of Stephen again we can recognize how Jesus was taking personal notice of what was being done to Christians by this natural man named Saul. We can learn a very important lesson from these awesome words of truth. The first thing that we should have just learned from reading these verses is that coming against any Christian for any negative reason is the exact same thing as coming against the risen divine LORD Jesus Christ. The second thing that we should have just learned from this is that Jesus takes these acts of evil personally. Why does Jesus take persecuting a Christian the same as persecuting Him? Saul/Paul clearly writes to us later in the New Testament and informs us in 1 Corinthians 12:7 that “Christians here in this world are the body of Christ”. Natural people who choose to persecute Christians must learn and realize before it is too late that it is not wise to come against Jesus’ body here on the earth. Jesus Christ is a far greater Spiritual Force than the spiritual force that is tricking them to do this evil (1 Jn 4:4). Wow, I do not believe that very many people understand this truth yet.
I will go further and also say that this revealed truth is true regardless of your salvation state, being either saved or unsaved. If you are not a Christian and you are persecuting a Christian mentally, physically, emotionally, legally or verbally you are coming against the greatest spiritual force of power which is much greater than you can possibly imagine. My point is that this same message of warning is true for a Christian that comes against other Christians as it is for an unbeliever to come against a believer. This is still true even though you may believe that you are totally right and they are totally teaching false doctrines that you do not believe in. Let’s review a summary of the major points in this section of the lesson:
- Persecutors believe they are doing “good” in their own minds.
- Persecutors are very pleased when they are victorious over and even cause the death of a Christian.
- Persecutors are deceived people that believe they are good and Christians are evil.
- Persecutors obviously do not believe, know or understand that they are deceived.
- Persecutors will use the law to back their agenda of persecution.
- Persecutors love to force their will and beliefs upon others.
- Persecutors feel justified to do evil because their rule of law is in agreement with them.
- Persecutors will use lies and break laws if there is a greater good for the expansion of their beliefs to occur.
- Persecutor’s goals are the complete removal of all Christian freedoms and privacy and eventually the end of all Christians.
- God takes note and watches all persecution that occurs to the Church.
- God takes all human persecution of the church personally.
- God says to persecutors coming against the church “Why are you persecuting me?”
- A Christian is the Body of Christ on the earth.
- Anyone persecuting a Christian is persecuting the LORD personally.
- A Christian when killed by persecution goes to be with the LORD instantly.
- Christians will be persecuted falsely without doing any evil.
THE CONVERSION OF SAUL THE PERSECUTOR
God showed the evil man Saul some very great mercy by appearing to him on the road to Damascus. Paul the former Saul will forever be grateful for the exceeding great compassion given to him. While I believe it is within God’s power and ability for the Lord Jesus to do this with everyone that persecutes His body, I do not believe that He will and I may try to talk about this later but if not you will have to wait for another opportunity for me to try to explain why the Lord may not come down to save you from every evil doer on the planet personally. We should have learned this truth when reading about the death of Stephen.
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
I personally believe from understanding Romans 10:9-10 that Saul became a Christian falling on his knees on the road to Damascus. I hope you understand how you and I became a Christian. To be saved we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead after being crucified and buried 3 days and we must then confess Him as our LORD and Saul certainly did both of these while on the road to Damascus. We can confirm this belief simply by reading Acts 9:17 when God sends a disciple named Ananias to Saul for him to receive his sight and to be filled with the Spirit of God. Upon entering the house where Saul was waiting, Ananias calls the man Saul his spiritual brother and this is only possible and true if Saul has already received the Spirit of God being born again on the road to Damascus. Therefore, Saul became exactly what he was fighting against and persecuting and that was very fortunate for him.
1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
God gives us another quick confirmation for what was just taught concerning Saul’s salvation on the road to Damascus written directly from the hand of Paul. Here in this chapter and verse Paul tells us about several others seeing Jesus personally after His resurrection. Then Saul says that he also saw him providing us an incredible revelation that he was then reborn “abnormally” during this encounter. Saul was speaking of his spiritual rebirth (John 3:3) but I do not have the time to explain all of this more fully in this lesson. Please just accept the facts that 1) Jesus appears to Saul, 2) Saul asks who he was, 3) Jesus identifies Himself, and 4) Saul then believes what he heard and acknowledges Him as his LORD and that was the definition of an abnormal spiritual rebirth.
We are extremely blessed to have Saul the former evil persecutor of Christians become a Christ follower. After his salvation, Saul was given such great revelation from Jesus Christ of the Truth. Saul would go on in his life of Christian ministry to write approximately 2/3 of the New Testament. I believe that without Saul’s conversion that we would not have all of the information that we needed for us to be victorious Christians. I know that this salvation of a persecutor seems to be off the mainline subject but I believe it is very important to know as a Christian. Let’s look at some writings of Saul/Paul and learn from him what he thought of this great transformation that he experienced:
1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
1Ti 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
We can learn the most valuable information concerning a persecutor’s perspective by reading the N.T. since Paul was a former persecutor and he writes about it. As we can read in verse 12, Paul is so very thankful. Here is a man that has now realized that he was headed for an eternal existence of pain and suffering in hell but now suddenly has been given the free gift of eternal life, a purpose and a new destiny. I can identify with Saul’s heartfelt change. I know I am also eternally grateful for the free gift of God’s salvation and I know I don’t deserve it and neither did Saul. We are all sinners (Rom 3:23) and deserve hell but God paid the penalty price for our sins (2 Cor 5:21). Thank you Jesus!
Paul lists just a few of his guilty sins in verse 13 that he was personally participating in while persecuting Christians. Let’s go through these to better understand the dramatic change that took place in the heart of Saul. The first sin listed was Saul calling himself a “blasphemer” and this is a Greek word that reveals significant amounts of new information that we should learn from. According to the Strong’s definition of G989 translated as “blasphemer” it means to be scurrilous towards someone. This word scurrilous has the following dictionary definition:
Scurrilous : making or spreading scandalous claims about someone with the intention of damaging their reputation
This is exactly what Saul was doing to the early church. He used the words of his mouth to slander, accuse, condemn and judge the church falsely. But even though Saul thought he was fighting against evil human people that were deceived, Jesus informed Saul that He was blaspheming against God personally. This is pretty amazing information and I pray that it will hopefully cause someone to shut their mouth when speaking against Christians.
However, this Greek word G989 has some deeper more specific meanings for sinning against God with the words coming out of our mouths. Remember what Acts 8:1 and Acts 9:1 said that we looked at earlier? Acts 8:1 used the word that was translated as “consented”. This implies that Saul consented to words of others spoken against Stephen in addition to the actual murder of Stephen. Saul did both of these willingly, physically, emotionally, mentally as well as verbally as both a willing direct instigator and participant and as an indirect accessory that watched others cast the stones. These represent sins of both commission and omission.
Acts 9:1 is much clearer when it informed us that Saul spoke direct “threats” against Jesus and His body and this is a strong example of what blasphemy is defined to be in the Bible. I personally believe that a man or woman on the earth that speaks against a preacher or prophet of God or even just against one of God’s children is risking great consequences and danger if they do not repent like Saul did and change. Jesus will certainly take all of these words personally either now in this world or later at judgment day. Words have power and words have consequences.
The second sin that Paul lists is being a “persecutor” of the church, which is the body of Christ. This Greek word translated as “persecutor” means someone who is in pursuit of another. However, this type of pursuit can not be for the good of the individual(s) being pursued as revealed to us by God in the passages we read about Saul in Acts chapters 7, 8 and 9. Let’s quickly examine some synonyms for the word “persecute”. Persecute is the same as words like “oppress”, “abuse”, “accuse”, “condemn”, “ill-treatment”, “torment”, “torture”, “martyr” and others could be added and we get this idea of truth because these are exactly what Saul did to the Christian members in the early church. It is very important to note that Saul thought that what he was doing was what was right and good in the eyes of God and the government leadership of that day.
The third sin listed by Paul in verse 13 is “injurious” and this again is synonymous with the word persecute. Being injurious was a further explanation for what great evil sin he was guilty of. I believe this word literally means physical injuries were taking place upon men and women in the name of good. However, this word can also mean a verbal assault as well as a physical assault. I am convinced that doing any Christian hurt and harm physically, mentally or emotionally is equivalent to the abuse and persecution of Jesus Christ that the Jews did to Him personally when they crucified Him on the cross in the eyes of God.
If we continue to read past Saul’s list of sins in verse 13 we will observe Saul’s stated appreciation for the Lord’s mercy being provided to him. Saul informs us that he received mercy instead of what he should have been given. Wow, that is the amazing love of God being displayed to a very deceived and evil man.
Did you also notice in this written passage that Saul declared why he was given this great mercy from God? Why was this unthinkable mercy available to Saul even after all he had done? Why was the judgment of the Almighty God not immediately given to Saul? Why instead was mercy given? Paul tells us the answers in verse 13 that God’s mercy was available to him because of his own great “ignorance” of the truth.
This revelation of mercy based upon ignorance reveals so very much to us about God, people who persecute the church and about the Christian people who are being persecuted. According to God’s inspired Holy Word written through Paul, his ignorance and his unbelief were two of the main reasons that the church was then being persecuted and I believe these are the two main reasons the church is still going to be persecuted today.
Even though Saul was a very learned and educated man, he was extremely ignorant of the truth that really mattered. Yet Saul did not know how ignorant he was while he was sinning killing Stephen. Please understand that no one that is ever deceived believes that they are deceived. This is impossible simply because of the existence of their ignorance of the truth. That is everyone’s problem “we simply don’t know what we don’t know yet”. That is the mysterious advantage of the deceiver Satan. Satan uses the weapon of human ignorance to destroy us (Hosea 4:6). Satan can present enough lies with some basic mixed truth to allow a human to think that they are doing good for God when they are actually doing the evil plan that Satan desires them to do. Satan is a revealed master deceiver (Rev 12:9)
Persecutors justify their evil actions in their minds overruling the evidence for clear evil acts with the belief that they are doing a greater good for a higher power of authority. Recently here in North Carolina, USA we have been in the news around the world because our state passed a law that disallowed men from going into women’s restrooms and women from going into men’s restrooms. This law was designed to protect innocent children from predators. Yet, North Carolina has been accused of being biased, prejudiced, intolerant, discriminatory, bigoted and even hate filled towards a select few people who demand the right to go into any restroom that they sexually currently “identify” with. Wow, where has truth gone? Absolute truth, reason and morality have certainly passed highly over the minds of everyone that has been protesting against the law. All of these deceived people are extremely ignorant of God’s truth. We should ask ourselves a simple basic question, if truth is based simply upon how someone thinks and feels today; how and when will truth all change when they think and feel differently tomorrow? Where do we ever draw the line of absolute? It sounds like a constant moving target. If we change the line of truth drawn today that was established then tomorrow it will become even more distant away from the standard of truth tomorrow. I could teach an entire series on this but this is not the subject and I will not go there today.
Saul did such significant evil and justified it because he believed he was knowledgeable, correct and backed by the law. Saul was greatly deceived into believing in their popular religious human traditions. Satan filled the mind of Saul with replacement knowledge that sounded good to him. However, it was still Saul’s ignorance of the actual truth that caused him to carry out the will and plan of Satan. Once Saul came to the saving knowledge of the truth, suddenly the thoughts he had as a persecutor were gone. Wow, that is good news for persecutor’s today. There remains hope for everyone to be saved.
Just as Satan influenced and controlled the unsaved people like Saul nearly two thousand years ago to persecute the church, this is the same warning being given to us today. The spirit of Saul (Satan) is still at work in people today and these deceived people will rise up and begin to persecute the church with increasing enthusiasm before Jesus returns. It has already started and we can clearly learn this from the Spirit of God’s message of warning or we can remain an ostrich Christian and bury our heads in the sand and choose to ignore it pretending it is not happening. I would recommend that we do not ignore it or pretend that it is not happening already.
I personally expect some very negative comments for the truth that I published today. You will receive the same soon if you are speaking the truth to anyone in the world today concerning their life style personal choices. The spirit of Saul is alive and well on the planet.
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Did you know that God allows people to be ignorant, wrong and to even do evil and sin? This truth has always been an extreme mystery in the minds of many Christians “Why doesn’t God stop all of this evil?” This would take another series of lesson’s to explain this to you today. Therefore, I will leave that to another day also. But we must at least first begin to understand that God does allow evil to occur in the world and is not the one that is causing it to occur and we can simply learn this truth by reading the story of the stoning of Stephen in Acts. Jesus was found standing at the right hand of God observing the evil being done and did nothing to cause it or to stop it. Wow, that boggles the mind of many religious people in the world. I believe that God’s passive observation made it appear to Saul that he was doing what God desires and that He is for them and it temporarily reinforces their wrong behavior. However, the wages of their sin will still overcome them and they will be judged for what they have done on the earth according to the truth found in the Bible. The main point in this paragraph is that God will allow this persecution to continue so we better learn it is coming.
I have talked briefly about the persecutor’s reasoning and justification for persecuting the church as well as the superior divine perspective on the persecution situation to allow it to occur. Now in conclusion I want to speak to the church’s reaction to this coming persecution. What was the reaction to this evil in the early church and what will probably happen in these end times? I believe that the early church’s reaction was both natural and supernatural.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
Reread Acts 8:4. God reveals to us all the two fold reaction to the great havoc being perpetrated upon the church. First notice the fact that it did not stop the Gospel from being preached. It did however cause the people to scatter. What does scatter mean? This Greek word is a based upon a farming concept of “sowing” seed. This is a great revelation since it is concerning the “Word” of God being spread to the entire world. Remember when Jesus taught the parable of the Sower in Mark 4? The sower sowed the Word of God. The seed being sown was God’s Word and this is the only thing possible today in the world that can save people and turn them from hell.
The end result of persecution in the early church was a greater spread of the Word of God, an explosion of salvations in many new locations and this is exactly what will happen today in the end of the church age.
The Greek word translated as “preaching” in this verse is a word that means “to announce good news” to someone. What kind of person would still be trying their best to preach the good news of God’s salvation to anyone that was or still is trying to imprison and kill them? The normal human tendency or reaction against persecution is for us to fight back, or to defend oneself or even to run away and hide in a cave to not be found. I have seen people plan and do all of these in this modern world. Which would you do? Wow, that is a very great question to consider. If you are a Christian would you be able to do nothing but be forgiving and loving to the persecutor and turn your other cheek? Consider the warning and then make a good choice now before being faced with it.
- Persecutors believe they are doing what pleases God and their lawgivers.
- Persecutors don’t believe they are sinning.
- Persecutors believe their words spoken against Christians are good.
- Persecutor’s goals are to damage the reputation of God and Christians.
- Persecutors believe causing physical injury to Christians is good.
- Persecutors believe they know the truth and are not ignorant.
- Persecutors believe others are deceived and they are not.
- Persecutors believe there is no God to answer to or Satan influencing them.
- God sees all of the sins of everyone including persecutors.
- A persecutor can be saved and change their evil ways.
- God says speaking against a Christian is equivalent to “blasphemy”.
- God says killing a Christian is the same as nailing Jesus to the cross.
- God will show mercy to any sinner including murderous persecutors.
- God tells us that persecutors are extremely ignorant of the truth.
- A Christian has gained saving knowledge of the truth.
- A Christian was shown great mercy by God and is thankful for it.
- A Christian desires to share this saving knowledge of Jesus with others even though it costs them their own life.
- A real and maturing Christian begins seeing things happening in the world from God’s perspective.
In conclusion I want us to see a future prophecy concerning the coming persecution of the church. Revelation chapter 4 and verse 1 God calls for John to come up to heaven so that he can be shown things that will happen in the future and this includes this prophetic chapter of Revelation 12. Let’s read just verse 12 and 13 concerning our main subject study to learn Satan’s motivating factor for increasing persecution upon the church during the end time.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
This chapter in Revelation 12 totally fascinates me. I could spend a long time trying to convince you who the woman in this chapter symbolically represents but I have already tried to do this in another lesson series. I will summarize briefly that lesson series by saying this woman being described can only fit the pattern of the church that is being persecuted by Satan. We learn this easily by the symbolism that she is clothed with at the beginning of the chapter and by the statements within the chapter. For example read verse 11:
Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
This is the immediate preceding contextual verse and it can only apply to those that are in the church. I have heard this verse quoted in many church services and they are applying these words to themselves and their struggles in this life with the devil. It is the Word of God and the Blood of Jesus that were given to us by Jesus in the church to insure us we will overcome Satan. If you have not read the Revelation 12 series of lessons I would strongly recommend that you do so. I do not have the time to repeat every detailed verse.
Let’s go back quickly to verse 12 and review the message from God. This is clearly a warning from God given to the inhabitants of the earth through the apostle John. In this verse Satan has been cast down from heaven after a great spiritual warfare and according to this prophecy he is in a furious way committing murder on the earth. If you look up and study the Greek word that is translated as “wrath” it comes from a root word that can mean to slaughter, kill or sacrifice someone. This sounds a lot like what Saul was doing doesn’t it? This simply confirms what we learned earlier. It was the spirit of Satan influencing and controlling Saul through his ignorance that caused the persecution of the church to begin on the earth.
As it was in the beginning of the church age so shall it also be at the end of the church age. Persecution is the key word found in verse 13 of Revelation 12. Satan in this verse is still persecuting the same woman that he was persecuting using Saul that we read about in Acts. We in the church are not a different woman; we just have newly grown members within the same body of Christ. If you are confused about what I just said I would strongly recommend you read the Bible lesson that I wrote a long time ago about “How the Church Became the Body of Christ”.
During this end-time persecution it will also be Satan using new ignorant people with the exact same spirit behind it all. If you look up the Greek word in verse 13 translated as “persecute” it is G1377 which was also the word spoken to Saul while on the road to Damascus by Jesus “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” God connects the two verses with His word selection and the message is very plain to me that God is speaking of the same subject being done to the same church body.
Today’s lesson was just a basic introduction to the broad subject of “persecution” and the spirit of Saul that is behind it. I believe God awakened me in the night to bring this message of warning to those that would receive it and learn from it. There is a rising of evil on the earth taking place. The enemy’s rage is increasing as the end of the age draws closer. How you react to it may just determine where you spend eternity. A Christian that withdraws and conforms to the world view may be greatly disappointed with their choice. However, standing up for the truth of God’s Word and proclaiming it boldly will certainly cause us to be persecuted. I will conclude today’s Bible message with these words from my Lord Jesus:
Mat 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I wanted to talk more about Satan’s perspective for persecution today but I will try my best (the LORD willing) to cover this part of the topic in the next lesson Part 2.
Thank you for reading and studying the Bible with me. I hope this word of warning given by the Lord Jesus will be taken to heart and it will help you to prepare for what is certainly coming. God bless you all very much and thank you for your prayers for me as I will continue to pray for you also.
If you would like to continue to read the next lesson in this series please click here “PART 2“
(ver 1.1) My family and I were members of what started out to be a great church in Dallas Texas for several years until the church ministry suddenly collapsed from the Top down. This was much like what happened to the World Trade Center in NY almost 10 years ago. Attack it at the top and watch it topple. It seems that the greatest weaknesses can be those from high above. If an enemy can bring down the top layers the rest of the people do not stand a chance. The senior pastor of this church was led by God to start a church in a certain suburb of Dallas Texas where he started with nothing and no one and grew from there. He built up the church using a sound doctrinal church Bible ministry, preaching and teaching the Word of God. The church membership grew tremendously in a few years so they expanded from a warehouse to buy some land to eventually build a new church building. It seemed like God was blessing them immensely. The church continued to grow and finally went on TV locally broadcasting the Sunday morning service to the entire Dallas metropolis. Then the senior pastor also went on TV nationally and he quickly became very popular with a non-church based format using a little bit of the Bible and lot of talk about money. This was the first sign of the coming downfall.
The Senior Pastor’s new found popularity suddenly gained the attention of many desperate Christians and the news media especially after he began reporting income in the millions of dollars from people around the country that were sending in their money to sow a seed for their blessings of healing or other needs that they required from God. The pastor drove a new Mercedes Benz and moved to a gated community with no public access. He was suddenly becoming a recluse. Diane Sawyer and the rest of the godless media suddenly brought the full force of their investigational journalism upon the church as a whole and not just against the senior pastor. It seems everyone that attended the church was suddenly fair game for the attack of Satan. We had several media church plants and even one singing in our choir to do nothing but gather information on what we were doing wrong. One of the men was nick named leaping Larry and he played the part very well to seamlessly fit in. We had hidden cameras brought into our church services watching and waiting to catch what anyone would say or do wrong. The news media went through the parking lots and recorded the license plates of all of those in attendance. Because of all of this attention from the media accusations being fabricated as theatrical sensationalism we had the IRS and the attorney general suddenly investing the church to see if we were really a church and they were looking for any legal precedence to shut us down. You see the world never cares what a church does that is positive for anyone; they are only looking for ways to accuse you like the Jews did to Jesus. Crucify them, they cried in the press.
Of course the church back then had a Christian book store and I bought tapes of many of the services there all of the time because I was hungry for the knowledge of God and His Word. The senior pastor also sold his books there and his tape sets there and this was just the way things were done as a standard in almost every church in America. They would sell a tape that costs around 30 cents to produce with the Gospel recorded on it using a magnetic analog strip for 3 or 4 dollars and a high speed tape duplicator and we were all happy to buy it. After the attorney general came into the church suddenly the church store vanished. No longer did they sell Bibles, books or tapes because this is what the world does in their stores to make a profit and that is not supposed to be how a non-profit church operates according to those government lawyers. So rather than risk the removal of the 501c3 status the church quit selling tapes and they started giving them away since everyone still wanted their products. This was the first time I realized what was happening in the church by the subtle deception that had crept in and it had taken control of the preaching of the truth and it had placed severe limitations on the spread of the gospel by assigning a high price to the Word of God. I suddenly realized that the gospel with a price on it was only available to rich people who could afford to buy it. My spiritual eyes suddenly became opened very wide from this experience to the fact that the Gospel was being peddled for a profit and that is not what any Christian or any church should do if they are really trying to reach the lost unsaved world. No non-Christian is going to pay you any of their hard earned money for something they do hold as valuable. Do you get it?
People can always do the wrong things in ignorance but yet no one can ever call them acceptable regardless of if they were done in ignorance or done intentionally. No policeman or judge will care if you did not know the law if you were caught violating the law. Just because it is legal today to copyright and sell the Gospel of Jesus using manmade laws, does not mean it is ethical or even permitted in the eyes of God our supreme judge. Doing what is right sometimes requires a higher degree of commitment, a superior commitment to a higher standard and a greater effort not to conform to the lower committed ways of the world that are just floating down the stream like dead fish. Any dead fish can float down the stream, but it takes a live one who wants to do things different to swim against the stream to go where he has never been before. There are so many verses in the Bible on this subject that I could write a book. Selling the Gospel is strictly prohibited by the written Word of God. My favorite verse is “Freely you have received, freely give” (Mat 10:8). If you want to ignore this verse to continue to sell the Gospel of Jesus, watch God do something new and different before He returns and see if you do not get left in the dust of a new greater movement of God.
The church in Dallas Texas that had more than 5000 members once in its prime and it is now non-existent today. My family and I were chased out of the church by the senior pastor for opposing the direction he was leading us in. We left the church one Sunday after being confronted by the senior pastor in the middle of the service and we never went back. The senior pastor still had a few loyal blind followers who would follow him off of a cliff but the church dwindled and eventually was shut down and sold because the senior pastor had strayed from the truth to pursue another agenda. His first marriage had failed while we were still in the church as he secretly sought the company of other women. He married one false minister lady and that marriage also failed because of more sin. This minister surrounded himself with godless counselors and ignored the Godly council of the elders in the church. Why am I telling you this story today? Just to pick on the failures of a man? No I do not believe that is the reason for this story.
Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
There are no men or women in the world today that are beyond the deception of sin. We must begin to realize that the selling of the Gospel that was freely given to you is a plan of Satan to stop the Gospel from going around the globe. Mathew 24:14 specifically says that “This Gospel will be preached to the whole world and then the end will come”. If you are Satan and you can’t stop the end from coming, what is the next alternative approach to take? I believe you try to stop the Gospel from being preached by placing severe limitations and restrictions on it. There are many nations today that you cannot preach the Gospel without the fear of being killed. Every fundamental Islamic nation will cut your head off for the world to see for preaching Christ. Recently humanitarian aid workers in Afghanistan were killed because someone claimed they were trying to Christianize the population with their outreach of free medical care. Places like communist China will put you into jail for preaching the Gospel in public and they have forced the church to go underground for years.
What are the effects of selling the Gospel? The Bible says God is not mocked whatever a man sows that will he also reap. We learn from this verse that everything we do has a cause and an effect outcome. If you sow by charging for God’s Word, what are the results that you will reap? Does this modern Christian Ministry policy not enforce a philosophy that only the rich can afford to be saved? If the early church did not embrace this godless philosophy how can the modern church think it is acceptable now? You cannot find anywhere that the early church accepted money for the spiritual gifts that were given to them by God. Peter told one man in Acts 8:20 “Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God can be purchased with money”. The knowledge of God is a gift of God. No preacher would have anything to sell that would be worthwhile unless God had given it to him. Are you hearing what I said?
There are many lessons learned from reading this story of a church failure. Surrounding yourself with Godly council and listening to them is one lesson. Staying on the path of sound Bible doctrine is another valuable lesson to learn. But, the main lesson that I learned from this experience is that the Gospel must be preached and given away for free today to everyone if we want to see anyone else get saved. The advent of the internet has opened new avenues that permit truth to flow for little to no cost. No longer do you have to produce a book, tape, CD or DVD that costs a lot of money to produce and distribute for it can all be published on-line for everyone to access for free. No longer do you have to pay expensive TV time to preach the gospel you can gain a huge audience by posting your messages for free on “YouTube”. These are the doors that God has opened and created to spread the truth around the globe. Believe me when I tell you that Satan is using the internet to spread his lies, his deceptions, his agenda and his sinful traps to the people of the world. Satan does not charge you to get you hooked on sin. I hope and pray that you will share this lesson with someone that matters, like a pastor, a teacher, an evangelist or just a friend so that we can change the reality and eliminate the funnel from the distribution of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God Bless!
(Ver 1.2) Some of you may have noticed that I do not avoid controversy, I take on difficult Bible subjects that many like to ignore. The Bible has some very difficult things written in it and a woman teaching in the church is certainly one example of those. Vast numbers of ignorant men have long proclaimed dominance over women, placing them in subservient roles that are clearly biased to what they like or feel is the proper order of things. What these type of men do is jump on a very, very small number of scriptures that they whole hardly embrace and proclaim as the truth. This of course forces them to ignore vast numbers of other scriptures that do not fit their desired outcome. The Bible is a book of more than one scripture and you must balance every verse on the subject before you can say what is the truth. Have you ever studied the Bible on every scripture reference to women in the Bible? I say there is no way that you have done this. The Bible is way too complicated for anyone to say they know it all. So how is it that a man can get up and claim that women can’t preach or teach in the church based upon their limited knowledge? I mean who died and made them God? These men need to learn the lesson of Job. God told Job, who is this that darkens my counsel with words with no knowledge? When people teach that a woman is incapable of teaching or preaching in a church, I believe that this implies that women do not have the brains or mental capacity to know the truth. It also means that women can’t hear from God and shouldn’t be praying to God because they should only go directly through their husbands or the men in the church. People are so stupid when it comes to discussions like this that I find it baffling that those kinds of men are in charge of anything. What we are going to do is go through some Bible verses and examine what they say in regard to references to women in the Bible and their roles. I can personally speak for me and I will tell you that if it were not for Christian women in the church I would not be here today. It was only because of their direct involvement and leading of God in the ministry that I am even here today to write this blog. So I appreciate whoever God uses and I refuse to put limitations on what God can do through anyone.
1Ti 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
So here we go with the classic, shut up and just learn speech. However, I’m going to apply this verse to everyone today and not just women. If you are distracted, talking to others while the Word of God is being taught, are you learning anything? No, of course you are not! This was the situation in this letter. Paul was addressing a very specific problem in a very specific church and he was not establishing a law that women can’t talk. If the problem was that the males were talking in church, then Paul would have said, men keep quiet and learn. Humans both male and female were designed by God with a mouth and the ability to talk and communicate intelligently, so to say a woman can’t talk, is very stupid. So now this verse ends in the word “subjection” and this is not a bad word. It means you are “not in control” and you are “not the head”. Everyone on this planet is in subjection to someone or something. This word applies to men equally as strong as to women. If you have ever been in the military you understand “subjection”. You follow orders from the day you join to the day you leave. You are not there to do anything but to follow orders. The corporate business world is very similar but some people do get paid to be creative and come up with new ideas. However, this does not mean they can do whatever they want, whenever they want to whoever they want. They still have to be submissive to those that they are working for. To be submissive is a normal way of life; it promotes order and chain of command and designates responsibility as well as accountability. Even the CEO of large company is accountable to the stock holders. There is really no one on the earth that is in complete control of anything. Submission is not a negative thing and it should never be used to force anyone to do anything that they do not want to do. Learn from God’s example, the utmost highest Spiritual Being came to the earth and washed the feet of His disciples. Don’t make yourself better than God. If you are not serving someone else, you have become deceived.
1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
So here we go with another “Thus saith the Lord”! Oh yea, it doesn’t say God says this, it says I say this and that is certainly different, isn’t it? Did you know that Paul could have an opinion that could be potentially wrong? Was Paul God? Did Paul know everything? Were Paul’s views and words shaped by his life’s experiences and his surrounding world influences? I have no doubt that these words were inspired by God to be written down, but that does not mean God said them. Were women ever in charge of anything back then when Paul wrote this? You can find a few instances of women like Jezebel, Cleopatra who seemed to have some power and authority, but for the most part, it was a total man’s world. There are many religions in the world that still hold to this philosophy and I like to watch what the devil does and learn from how he wants to pervert things. Satan wants to either keep women totally ignorant or exalt them to the top of the food chain and make them run everything independently of men. It is either total submission like in countries like Afghanistan or total women’s liberation and independence like in Europe and parts of America. Both are perverted wrongs. Only a few Christian churches seem to have the correct perspective of a balanced approach of the truth being somewhere in the middle. So here is another problem, I have with this interpretation that a woman should not teach and to keep silent. According to correct Bible interpretation rules I need another witness that says this and so far I have not found it. The Bible says in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses let every word be established and here we read one verse and people want to make it the rule of their doctrine and force everyone to adhere to it. I searched through every N.T. verse that had any form of the word “teach” and this is the only verse that I found with the word woman used in this regard. I find that to be a major problem with your interpretation. You are trying to take one verse out of context and make it a rule that does not apply to every situation. So let’s look at some other verses in the Bible and see what they say about women and see if we can come up with a balanced approach to the subject:
Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
In this verse in Acts, Peter is quoting the Word of God from the Prophet Joel. Right there we know that means we possess two direct witnesses to what this verse says; so we are clearly on much safer ground for our interpretation of it. Do you understand that concept? It is so very important. According to this verse, God will in the last days pour out His Spirit upon “ALL FLESH”! This verse would certainly include both women as well as men as you can clearly see. This verse continues to say that both your sons and your daughters would “prophesy”. So let’s stop right there and ask the question what does it mean to “prophesy”? Can you or I prophesy in silence? What is the difference between teaching with words in a church and prophesying with words in a church? Can you think of any differences? Isn’t prophesying the act of speaking words out loud to someone else so that they can hear them? Then what is the definition of teaching? Isn’t teaching speaking out loud words for other people to hear? It would be useless for a woman to prophesy without someone to hear her. Uh oh? You can automatically and quickly see that this verse directly conflicts with Paul’s command to keep silent. You also have to remember that Paul did not really tell women to keep silent, he said to “learn in silence” and that is completely different than to never say anything.
Act 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
These 4 daughters were the children of Phillip the evangelist. We are clearly told that they were able to prophesy to others. This clearly means speaking out loud in an audible voice that can be heard and even directed at the men that were there in the house. Did you know that the early church met in houses? They did not have any synagogues, temples or church buildings to meet at, so they met in houses. If the daughters of Phillip prophesied in the house they were probably doing it during a church service, so we have a huge issue with should a woman keep silent in the church. So what is the technical difference between teaching and prophesying? Is there a difference? Are not both spoken words directed at listeners? I will say this, if you do not have women prophesying in your church services, you do not have a complete New Testament church. You have deviated from God’s plan observed in the book of Acts in favor of your ideas of order.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
According to the Bible, God says that we are all His children. So does God play favorites? Are the male children preferred above the female children? If you think that they are you are clearly ignorant.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
We can continue down this chapter and see that every Christian has been baptized into Christ and that makes us one with Him equally. This is an all-inclusive statement that includes both males and females.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
So here we go with another paradox and puzzle being presented. In Christ males and females are not different, but in the world we clearly see that we are quite different. This is the difference between naturally thinking and spiritually thinking. We know in the world there are both males and females, but in Christ we are all just one and no different from each other. Men who teach male dominance usually are just very carnally minded individuals who look at external things and do not try to see things spiritually as God sees things. If these ignorant men would just read and study their Bible’s they would discover that the church is called the “Bride of the Lamb” and that means we are all one woman in the eyes of God. So we are all in covenant and in subjection to our Head who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
So how can Paul write that women should not teach in one place in the Bible and then write there is no difference between men and women in Christ in another place? If you do not understand the conflict between these two contrasting statements you have a major problem. Here is my opinion and I usually do not give you my opinion so you do not have to take anything to heart that I say next. I think from a natural perspective that men counseling women or women counseling men should never be done under any circumstance. Here is the problem, men generally speaking like women too much. I have seen the best married pastors get into physical affairs with women because of this natural attraction that God created us with. Women should counsel women, and men should counsel men. This just makes the most sense to me. So I believe that counseling between opposite sexed individuals in the privacy of an office type setting should never be done under any circumstances. By avoiding the appearance of evil, men and women will not fall into these types of traps that Satan can use against them. However, what people do in a public church service is not limited by these natural types of rules. That was my opinion and there is no extra charge for that. So let’s see what else the Bible says about women:
Tit 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
This verse is directed at mature women, but I was shocked at how it ended. To be a teacher of “good” things implies that women can teach. In fact it clearly implies these women should be teachers. Obviously we have another verse that goes against the “keep silent” verse that some men like to see. So we have another conflict of whether women should teach or women should never teach.
Tit 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
Here we have the follow up to the previous verse and it clearly says that it is OK for women to teach other women. Now it is interesting that this verse directly contradicts again that women should keep silent that some men try to teach as the gospel. If a woman has the ability to teach another woman, then she has the ability to teach (PERIOD)! I want you to go back and read chapter 1, because in this chapter it is talking about Bishops in the church. God and Paul are clearly talking about women teaching in a church setting and not in a private setting. So instead of denying women who are called of God the right to preach and teach, you should be smart enough to recognize when God is doing something. If God is not behind it, it will not matter who it is that is teaching or preaching because there will be no anointing from the Spirit of God and it will eventually fail. My Bible says that unless the Lord builds the house, those that build labor in vain. So if God wants to use a woman, you better bow to the wisdom of God and keep your mouth closed while you learn. Learn the lesson that people try to only apply to women, learn in silence and you might be amazed at what God says through a woman. Let’s review our key verse that causes many to stumble again in the light of what we have just read in other parts of the Bible:
1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
Let me ask you how can a woman keep silent and still prophesy? She can’t! How can a woman teach other women in the church and still keep silent? She can’t! Did you know the word translated as “usurp authority over” is only in the entire Bible this one time in this verse and no other places? According to Strong’s it means “a worker” who acts of themselves. Do you know this is wrong for anyone to do regardless of gender? To act of yourself means to be self-appointed. To promote yourself and raise your ability to a level above where you should be. Men are guilty of this more than women are guilty of it. So I do not know of any verse in the Bible that says that a woman cannot be called by God, appointed by God, promoted by God and made to be a blessing to the church? God has already promoted several women in the church with large ministries that are way beyond many men on the earth. So be smart and recognize God and do not look at the gender of the person delivering the message. Learn to see people as God sees people and you will be far ahead of others who want to remain in their ignorance. I’ll end this lesson with an instruction that God gave to one man and you see if it is something that applies to you also:
1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
(ver 2.0) This is Part 3 in a series of reference documents about the multiple Names, Titles, Descriptions and Symbols of named Spiritual Individuals in the Bible. This document will focus only on the subject verses of the Church found in the Bible. It is not designed to teach anything other than give you a place to search from to find references to the Church in the Bible. This is a living document of references and it will change and be updated as I am led to additional scriptures. A Name is a direct reference to the individual. A Title is a given direct identifying appellation signifying status or function. A Description is something that represents the individual in expressive words. A Type is a real named person, place or thing that can be viewed to apply to a pattern of the spiritual individual not directly named. A Symbol is a natural object that describes the characteristics or features of a spiritual being that you cannot see or understand without first understanding the symbol. If you know of other references not named, please share them with me in a comment. Thank you.
Name, Title, Symbol, Type for the Church
|Abraham’s Seed||Those of Abraham’s Faith||Gal 3:29;|
|Babes||Newborn Children of God||Mat 11:25; Luke 10:21;|
|Beloved, Her||The Bride of Christ||Romans 9:25;|
|Blessed of My Father||The Sheep of God’s Pasture||Mat 25:34;|
|Body, His||Those married to Christ||Eph 1:23; Col 1:24;|
|Body, The||Those who are in Christ||Eph 5:23;|
|Body of Christ||She Who is Joined to Christ||Rom 7:4; 1 Cor 10:16, 12:27; Eph 4:12; Col 2:17|
|Born Again||Those Children of the Spirit||John 3:3-6; 1 Peter 1:23;|
|Born of God||Children of the Spirit||1 John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18;|
|Born of Him||Born Again of the Spirit||1 John 2:29;|
|Bride||Married to Jesus||John 3:29; Revelation 21:2, 9;|
|Bridechamber, Children of the||Those married to the Bridegroom||Mat 9:15;|
|Brother||Sibling of Christ||Mat 10:50;|
|Called, The||Those chosen by God||Romans 1:6;|
|Candlestick||The Light of the World||Revelation 1:20;|
|Chosen Generation||Highly Favored People||1 Peter 2:9;|
|Children||Sons and daughters of God||Roman 8:17;|
|Children, Dear||Those Loved By God||Eph 5:1;|
|Children of Abraham||Spiritual Israel||Gal 3:7;|
|Children of God||Born of the Spirit||Mat 5:9; Romans 8:16, 21; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:10;|
|Children of Israel||Spiritual Nation||Exodus 19:6;|
|Children of Light||God is Light, We are his children||Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Eph 5:8; 1 Th 5:5;|
|Children of the Day||Those in the Light of God||1 Th 5:5;|
|Children of the Free Woman||Born of the spiritual Jerusalem Above||Gal 4:31;|
|Children of the Living God||Those Born of the Spirit||Romans 9:26;|
|Children of the Kingdom||Those Who Belong to God||Mat 13:38;|
|Children of the Promise||Children of God’s Spoken Word||Romans 9:8|
|Chosen||Those Favored By God||Eph 1:4;|
|Church, Glorious||Noble and Honorable||Eph 5:27;|
|Church, My||Those Who Belong to God||Mat 16:18;|
|Church of Christ||Those who Belong to Jesus||Romans 16:16;|
|Church of God||Called Out By God||Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2, 10:32; 2 Cor 1:1;|
|Church of the Firstborn||Those of Christ Jesus||Hebrews 12:23;|
|City||The home of God’s people||Mat 5:14; Revelation 21:23;|
|City, Faithful||She who is faithful to God||Isaiah 1:26;|
|City of My God||Where God Resides;||Revelation 3:12;|
|City of Righteousness||The inhabits have God’s righteousness||Isaiah 1:26;|
|City of the Lord||Those of the New Jerusalem||Isa 60:14|
|City Not Forsaken, A||Those pursued by God||Isaiah 62:12;|
|Daughter of Jerusalem||She who is Born of the Spirit of God||Micah 4:8; Zep 3:14; Zec 9:9; Gal 4:26;|
|Daughter of Zion||She who is Born of God||Isaiah 52:2, 62:11; Mat 21:5;|
|Disciple||The Student of God||Mat 10:24-25;|
|Ekklesia (Church)||A Calling Out||Mat 18:17; Acts 2:47; Revelation 22:16;|
|Elect, The||Those Chosen of God||Mat 24:31;|
|Faithful Brethren in Christ||Those married to Christ||Col 1:2;|
|Fellow Citizens||Residents of the City of God||Eph 2:10;|
|Fellow Servant||Working Together in Unison||Revelation 22:9;|
|Field, His||God’s Garden||Mat 13:24;|
|Flock of God||Those in God’s Pasture||1 Peter 5:2;|
|Followers||Those that that imitate the Godly examples of others||1 Cor 11:1;|
|Followers of God||Led By the Spirit||Eph 5:1;|
|Friends||Jesus Laid Down His Life for Us||John 15:13-14;|
|General Assembly||Universal Congregation||Hebrews 12:23;|
|Glory and Honor of the Nations||Where God Resides||Revelation 21:26|
|Good Soldier of Jesus Christ||Those in God’s Army||2 Tim 2 :3;|
|Great City||She Who is Mighty and Strong||Revelation 21:10;|
|Ground, Good||The Good Soil of the Kingdom of God||Mat 13:23;|
|Habitation of God||The New Jerusalem God’s City of Living Stones||Eph 2:22;|
|Heir(s)||He Who Inherits||Roman 8:17; Gal 3:29; Gal 4:1; Tit 3:7; 1 Peter 3:7;|
|Heirs according to the Promise||Those who inherit||Galatian 3:29|
|Heirs of God||Those Who Inherit||Romans 8:17; Gal 4:7;|
|Heirs of Promise||Those who inherit by an oath||Hebrews 6:17;|
|Heirs of Salvation||Those that inherit the Kingdom of God||Hebrews 1:14;|
|Heirs of the Kingdom||Those that inherit the Kingdom of God||James 2:5;|
|Holy City||He has made her clean and ready||Isaiah 52:1; Revelation 21”2;|
|Holy Jerusalem||Blameless City of Jehovah||Revelation 21:10;|
|Holy Nation||Blameless People||Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9;|
|House, Christ’s||The Dwelling of Christ Jesus||Hebrews 3:6;|
|Household of Faith||Those in the Family of God by Faith||Gal 6:10;|
|Household of God||Those in the Family of God||Eph 2:19;|
|Household, His||Those in the Family of God||Mat 10:25;|
|House of God||Where the Spirit of God Lives||1 Tim 3:15;|
|House of Israel||The Spiritual Israel in Covenant with Jesus||Hebrews 8:8|
|House of Judah||The Spiritual Jews in Covenant with Jesus||Hebrews 8:8|
|Jerusalem||City Redeemed of the Lord||Isaiah 52:2, 9; Daniel 9:25;|
|Jew||Spiritual Israel; Circumcised of the Heart||Romans 2:29;|
|Joined Unto the Lord||The Bride of Christ||1 Cor 6:17;|
|Joint-Heirs With Christ||Those who Inherit||Romans 8:17;|
|Just, The||Those Who are Blameless||Mat 13:49;|
|Kingdom of Priests||Spiritual People||Exodus 19:6;|
|Kings||God’s Royalty||Rev 1:6;|
|Kings of the Earth||Rulers of the Earth||Rev 1:5, 21:24|
|Lamb’s Wife, The||Married to Jesus||Revelation 21:2, 9;|
|Light||Those of the Day||2 Cor 6:14; Eph 5:8; Php 2:15;|
|Light of the World||Those that Teach the Truth and demonstrate the Love of God||Mat 5:14;|
|Living Stone||The New Jerusalem of God||1 Peter 2:5|
|Members of Christ||The Body of Christ||1 Cor 6:1;|
|Mother||Spiritual Mother of God||Mat 12:50;|
|Nation, A||Those of Spiritual Israel||Isa 55:5;|
|Nations of Them Which are Saved||The Redeemed of the Lord from every nation||Revelation 21:24;|
|New Creature||Those Born of the Spirit||2 Cor 5:17;|
|New Jerusalem||The Lamb’s Wife||Revelation 3:12, 21:2;|
|One Body||One With Christ by Covenant;||1 Cor 10:17, 12:12;|
|One Bread||One With Christ by Covenant||1 Cor 10:17;|
|Peculiar People||Purchased Possession||Titus 2:15; 1 Peter 2:9;|
|People, A||God’s Spiritual People||Hebrews 8:10|
|People, Holy||Those made blameless||Isaiah 62:12;|
|People, My||Spiritual Nation of Israel||Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:25;|
|People Israel, My||Children Born of the Sprit||Matthew 2:6;|
|Pillar in the Temple of My God||Living Stone||Revelation 3:12;|
|Precious Fruit of the Earth||That Which is to Be Harvested||James 5:7;|
|Priests||Those who bring the sacrifice of Praise to God||Revelation 1:6;|
|Priesthood, Holy||Those who bring the sacrifice of Praise to God||1 Peter 2:5;|
|Purchased (Possession)||Those Bought with the Blood||Acts 20:28;|
|Rachael||The type of the Bride of God’s Week of Work||Genesis 29:18|
|Ransomed of the Lord||Those Bought with the Blood of Jesus||Isaiah 35:10;|
|Redeemed of the Lord||Those Purchased from the World of Darkness||Psalm 107:2; Isaiah 51:11; 62:12;|
|Righteous, The||Those Justified by God||Mat 13:43; 1 Peter 3:12;|
|Righteousness||Those Justified by God||2 Cor 6:14;|
|Righteousness, Servants of||Those who Serve God’s Purpose||Romans 6:18;|
|Royal Priesthood||Those who praise and worship God||1 Peter 2:9;|
|Ruth||A Type of the Bride of Christ||Ruth|
|Saints||Sacred, Pure, Blameless||Romans 1:7, 15:25, 16:15; 1 Cor 1:2, 16:1, 15; 2 Cor 1:1, 13:13; Eph 1:1, 2:19, 3:18, 4:12, 6:18; Php 4:22; Col 1:2; 1 Th 3:13;|
|Saints In Christ Jesus||Those blameless in Christ||Php 1:1;|
|Saints in Light||Those blameless in God||Col 1:12;|
|Salt of the Earth||Those who flavor and preserve||Mat 5:12;|
|Seed, Abraham’s||Those of spiritual Father Abraham||Gal 3:29;|
|Seed, Good||Those planted by God||Mat 13:38;|
|Seed, The||Those of the Promise of Abraham||Roman 9:8;|
|Servant||Those in service to God||Mat 10:24;|
|Sheep||Those in God’s Flock||Mat 25:33; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25;|
|Sister||The Sibling of Christ||Mat 12:50;|
|Sister Spouse||Sister Married to Christ||Song 4:9-10, 12; 5:1|
|Sons of God||Those Born of the Spirit||1 John 3:1-2;|
|Sons of the Living God||Born of the Spirit||Hosea 1:10;|
|Sought Out||Those pursued by God||Isaiah 62:12|
|Spiritual House||The New Jerusalem God’s dwelling place||1 Peter 2:5;|
|Spouse||The Bride of the Son of God Jesus||Song 4:8, 11;|
|Tabernacle, The||God’s Eternal Temple||Revelation 21:3;|
|Temple of God, The||God’s Dwelling Place||1 Cor 3:16;|
|Temple of the Holy Ghost, The||God’s Holy Living City||1 Cor 3:19;|
|They which are written in the Lambs Book of Life||The Church||Revelation 21:27;|
|Tree, Good||Those who produce Fruit of the Spirit||Mat 7:17-18;|
|Twelve Tribes, The||The Spiritual Israel of God||James 1:1;|
|Vessels||Those of the House in Honor||2 Tim 2:20|
|Wheat, The||That which is planted by God for Harvest||Mat 13:30;|
|Wife||The Church Bride of Jesus||Eph 5:25;|
|Woman, A||The Bride of Christ||Revelation 12:1|
|Workman, A||God’s faithful servants||2 Tim 2:15;|
|Zion, The||Those of the New Jerusalem||Isa 60:14;|
If you would like to read other reference documents about Names, Titles, Descriptions and Symbols here are some others that are available:
(Ver 1.2) This is now Part 11 in the series of advanced Bible lessons on the subject of the Bride of Christ Revealed. In my last lesson in this series we came full circle back to the New Jerusalem and today I want to address this bride city in more depth. This will probably be the last lesson in this series on this subject for now. Today’s lesson will cover the city of New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21 as the Bride of the Lamb and how she is representative of the church. This city has long been a point of controversy since she is described symblically and these symbols can potentally be interpreted to mean many things. However if we use the Bible to interpret the Bible we will only come up with one true identity that she can be. We have really covered a tremendous amount of new information found in the Bible in this series. If you have not read the first 10 parts of this series I would strongly recommend that you go back and start reading with Part 1.
I have already given you a lot of scriptures and references that the woman in Revelation 21 appears to represent the church. But we have certainly not exhausted the scriptures on this subject and probably would not be able to if we tried. The Bible is much more complex than what people see on the surface of the text. So let’s go through some more of the scriptures in this blog and see if we can find other confirming verses of the identity of the New Jerusalem.
Let’s look at some other scripture that I’ve heard does reflect the identity of the bride. In fact it is almost impossible to ignore since it directly reflects this title.
Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
It is very interesting to note that God finds it necessary to create a new heaven and a new earth. There is an implied problem with the old heaven and the old earth. Why buy a new car if your old car is still in great shape and useful. Why create a new family or a new covenant if the old is in such good relations. There lies the problem that God had and the solution that He has implemented with the establishment of a new heaven and new earth. If is also noteworthy that this verse says the “first” and not just the “old”. That actually tells us there were none others before this first heaven and earth. But yet it does tells us that there will be a second.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
I can’t emphasis enough the reality that this city is called the wife of the Lamb. We already have a good understanding of who the Lamb is, but many may still be struggling to figure out the identity of the city called New Jerusalem. So let’s look at some other verses in this chapter that describe this city:
Rev 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
Rev 21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Revelation gives us significant additional information that I think we should take a look at now in some depth. If the church is the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom, then God is also calling the church the “new Jerusalem” the new covenant city of God. I’ve heard some say that here in these scriptures it proves that the “new Jerusalem” is the bride and not the church. If this is true this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I’ll put it to you this way why couldn’t the church be both? In fact if you look at scriptures accurately I believe you will find out that the church is both. Someone said that we are the body of Christ and therefore, if Christ has a bride we have a bride. You know based upon scripture that I’ve shown you that this is not true. We have been called the body of Christ, but we are never called the Lamb. I don’t know of any scripture that says we are the Lamb of God and here in Revelation Jesus is referred to as the Lamb more than once. I’ve given several scriptures that demonstrate how the church became the body of Christ and that was clearly by a marriage covenant. So we have already established that the church is the bride of Christ, but now we need to further confirm that the church is also the New Jerusalem.
In Biblical days a city was usually a walled dwelling place where all the human people of a common nation lived. The reason for building a wall was for safety to keep enemies from stealing from them and killing them. This city is said to have 4 walls as if a square or a rectangular structure. Each of the 4 walls has 3 gates. Each Gate has an angel. It still appears that God is guarding the way in an out of this city. But all of these can also be taken symbolically. If we are talking about a symbolic city with symbolic gates, symbolic walls and symbolic foundations we really have a lot more to learn. I believe we make a mistake if we think of this spiritual city in terms that it is a physical place.
We have already discussed that a city represents a covenant and is referred to as a woman. The covenant is not with the city however, it is with the inhabitants or residents of the city. I could give you several good scriptures, but I’ll choose one that I liked and one that stood out to me. Let’s review the Word of God in Isaiah:
Isa 54:11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
Isa 54:12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
Isa 54:13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
These scriptures are an amazing parallel to the description of the city found in Revelation 21 called the New Jerusalem. We see the mention of many of the key qualities of a large city with stones, foundations, windows, gates and borders. We also see the mention of key stone types meaning they are valuable, precious and rare. These key elements describe a city for sure in verses 11 and 12 of Isaiah 54. However, did you notice the reference found in verse 13? It speaks of this city as a woman with children. Isn’t that an interesting commentary. I tell you when you see what the Bible is describing as a woman you begin to see a lot more clearly the things that are symbolized in the Word of God. We again see in Isaiah that a city represents a woman and not just any woman in our case it is called the bride of the Lamb in Revelation 21:9. A woman has children and that is one of the primary reasons for marriage.
There are so many good things within these scriptures in Revelations, but I saw a definite significance of the number 12 mentioned, did you notice that too? It is not an accident that there were 12 tribes in the nation of Israel for this was a type and a shadow of the spiritual Israel to come. It is no accident that Jesus choose 12 Apostles and the book of Revelations informs us that their names are written on the 12 foundations of this new city Jerusalem. If the names of the 12 apostles are written on the foundation doesn’t that describe the church? Who started the church if it wasn’t Jesus breathing on the apostles (John 20:22) I don’t know who it was. We also see the reference of 12 angels and of the 12 tribes of Israel so the new Jerusalem is comprised I believe of, at the least a part of all three of these groups. So if we get right down to it, I don’t think that the Gentile Church is the entire city, only a big part of it. Hopefully you will understand this more as the Word of God is revealed further. Let’s look at just one part of this new city and see the part that the church plays. Once you finally realize that this woman represents a covenant marriage relationship, then you can easily associate the role of the church to this woman.
Here is a good time to remind you of what we read earlier when God said my wife “Jerusalem” committed adultery (Ezekiel 16:32). Who did God call his female wife? The earthly city Jerusalem was referred to as “her”. This physical city is in no doubt a foreshadowing of the new Jerusalem the spiritual city that we just read about. The reference to a city is the a reference to the people within the city who were in covenant with God, Yes? The people living in the earthly city Jerusalem were in covenant and married to God. God calls all of these people by a name of Jerusalem and says she is my wife. This was the Old Covenant people or the earthly nation of Israel. So, who is in the New Covenant with Jesus Christ? It is those people in covenant or marriage with Jesus that are the residents of this new Jerusalem. The distinct parallels between these two cities are very numerous and cannot be ignored, unless you just want to remain ignorant.
Do you remember in the Old Testament the life of David the king of natural Israel? In the book of Acts David is called a type of God. If you understand the significance of Biblical Typology these Old Testament stories have meaning for us in the church today. The Bible in Acts 13:22 says that David was a man after God’s own heart. David had it in his heart to build a temple in Jerusalem, but God said it was not for him to do, but for his son Solomon (1 Kings 8:17-19). Solomon represents a type of Christ as I said before and he was the builder of the physical Temple of God in Jerusalem. But Christ Jesus was the builder of a spiritual house for God. Natural types are only God’s patterns or foreshadows of that which was to come. Jesus today is the builder of a new spiritual temple and we can prove this by reading the New Testament:
2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Here is a most significant scripture with great revelation. The implied reference is that of a building. But buildings are many times built within cities. It says God will live in them and walk in them. That sounds like a really big house or a city to me. If you live in Dallas Texas, and wanted to go for a walk, where would you be walking? But this is not a physical building or temple, for God in the same context speaks of this temple in the terms of people. In other words the temple is built with people. People are the spiritual building blocks that make up this structure. Do you understand that concept?
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Here is another scripture that says we are the dwelling place of the living God right here and right now. There is a clear implication of a building or a house or even a city within both of these verses. After all what does it mean to “dwell”? When it says God dwells in us what does that mean to you? If I said I dwell in Dallas Texas what does that mean? It specifies the location of my home. If I said I dwell in a big white house on Jones Rd. What does that tell you? It describes a building or house that I live in and helps give you the location of that house. I don’t know how we can be the bride and the temple and the city and the body of Christ and all of these things at the same time, but I believe we are.
What is a temple? A temple is a building or a structure that is created to be inhabited or occupied by someone. Modern temples are called places of worship many times. However, the original temple was put together by Moses according to God’s instructions and made out of tents. A tent represents a temporary dwelling place. It was not until Solomon, that the permanent dwelling place was built in the earthly Jerusalem. Both of these are representative of what the church is experiencing now and foretells that which is to come. Look at these scriptures:
2Pe 1:13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
2Pe 1:14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
This is a very interesting pair of scriptures and I believe they give us some light on the subject of the temple of God. These scriptures say that Peter was dwelling in a tabernacle. This is not talking about a physical house or a building made by the hands of man. In fact he is not talking about any kind of physical building at all with walls, doors and windows. No, it is speaking of his body that he and God dwells in. God has showed him that he was soon to die and leave his body and go and be with the Lord. The tabernacle represents a temporary dwelling place. The Greek word translated “tabernacle” comes from another root word that contains the meaning of a “tent”. A tent represents a temporary dwelling place and we know that if Jesus doesn’t come we will all die. However, when we are raised from the dead and given a new glorified body then we will have a permanent dwelling place for God.
2Co 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2Co 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
2Co 5:3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
2Co 5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
2Co 5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
2Co 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
These are very powerful scriptures and teach us many of the things that I’ve been attempting to convey. They speak of our current mortal bodies as a temporary home and even calls them an earthly tabernacle or tent. What is an earthly tabernacle? It has to be a tabernacle made of earth or dust as it says in Genesis that God formed the body of man from the dust of the ground. But it also gives us the hope of a new house that was not built with man’s hands, but it will come from God and will be immortal. So we see a pattern from the Old Testament where Moses established a temporary tabernacle for God made of tents. Then came Solomon and he built the permanent tabernacle. These are types and shadows of what Jesus has done and is doing.
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
These are some of the most interesting scripture references comparing the church to a symbolic building and they say that we (the church) are ALLL the habitation of God. Notice first in chapter 2 verse 19 God is referring to the church as being fellow citizens with the rest of the saints. A citizen is a resident of a city. Which city are we now citizens of? Isn’t that very relevant to what we are talking about in Revelation? God then implies that this city is where we were once on the outside of the walls being called strangers and foreigners but, we have now become a residential part of this implied city of God. Then notice all of the symbolic architectural terms and references in these verses. There is a clear reference to the act of constructing a building. Also notice in verse 20 the reference to the symbolic foundation of the 12 Apostles and prophets. Doesn’t that sound familiar? What about the description of the city in Revelations coming down from Heaven? It also had a foundation of the 12 Apostles of the Lamb. This is no accident, but demonstrates a confirmation of the relationship of the church to the city New Jerusalem. Going back to verse 19 you see the connection to the household of God and the spiritual building that God is putting together. These verses also further imply the members of the church are symbolic building blocks in this construction being joined together laid upon the foundation. These are amazing verses to remember for our study of the New Jerusalem. Let’s review an earlier concept and remember what God said in 1 Corinthians using new light:
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Don’t you know that you are the temple of God? What does that now mean to you? That means to me that each and every one that is born again represents a living stone in a new temple dwelling place for the True Living God. I know the natural earthly Jerusalem contained the temple of God as one of its key components. So at the minimum the temple of God is within the new Jerusalem and to say it is not the entire city would be difficult in my perspective. So if we are this new temple then we are at minimum a major or significant part of the new Jerusalem referred to in Revelation.
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
I included these scriptures as a contrast to what I was talking about previously. For they contain more building and architectural terms, but the reference is given in much different context. We see a foundation which is clearly Jesus Christ. Then there are references to other builders that continue to reveal the word of God. So does these scriptures contradict the others or complement them to give a different perspective or view. I say they only complement. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort showing multiple scriptures that at the minimum shows the church is a significant part of the new Jerusalem, if not the entire city. I don’t feel like I’ve exhausted the subject but I feel I’ve given enough scriptural evidence to justify the claim. So now I want to stir up a different point of view and look at some other scripture that seems to indicate to me that the church is this woman mentioned in Revelation 21.
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Verse 26 in Ephesians 5 specifically mentions the church as the bride and says she has been made clean by Christ. In verse 27 we see another inference of marriage in direct relationship to the church with the word “present” her. Present in the Greek means to stand beside. So if the church was only the body of Christ then there would be a direct contradiction, because how can a man stand beside himself? In a marriage ceremony usually the bride is standing beside the groom when taking the vows. Finally in verse 27 there is a reference to the church not having spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish. I know that is speaking of God’s righteousness that was bestowed or given to the church and not something that we earned or achieved on our own. But did you notice a distinct parallel to another verse in Revelation 19 where it speaks about the bride in this regard:
Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
This is a most interesting choice of words. It speaks of a cleansing process that has taken place. You might could infer a washing. Fine linen infers a garment that is spotless without stains, imperfections, rips or holes. Isn’t this what Ephesians was saying also? Also notice that it says in the last part of verse 8, the righteousness of the saints, not the righteousness of God. I fully understand it is God’s righteousness I’m just making a point. The word “saints” is used in other places in direct reference to the church. Look how God addresses His people in Rome:
Rom 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think the similarities and parallels between the scriptures in Revelation describing the bride as a city to other scriptures that are written directly to the church in the epistles are so amazingly related that they complement each other. They simply give a different perspective of the same thing. God simply uses symbolism that we can grasp hold of and shows us some natural things to help us to understand these spiritual realities. In this verse in Romans 1:7 that is written to the church, we are called saints of God. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard anyone besides the church ever referred to as saints. Have you? Then I noticed something very interesting in this verse, God calls the church “His beloved”. I don’t know if you noticed this or not, but this is a term used some 27 times in the Song of Solomon. The beloved is often times used in conjunction with a direct reference to his bride. Is this a coincidence or a clue to God’s purpose and plan? I believe it is a valuable clue to see. The church is this beloved, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”. To love someone that much to give yourself for them is an incredibly unselfish act.
Before I end the discussion in this blog, let me show a verse of scripture that has tremendous significance to the identity of the “Lamb’s Wife”. As you read this verse notice that Jesus is speaking and who Jesus is speaking to. I believe you will see Jesus is talking to the church:
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
I don’t know how you can read this verse and not see clearly that Jesus is speaking to the church. Jesus is telling the church some very specific things. These specific details confirm in other words what we read in Revelation 19 and 21 about the New Jerusalem. Again the city is referred to as the city of God and it comes from above. But the name of this city will be written on or given to them that have overcome. Who is it that has overcome? What city name was it that was to be written on them? Of course Jesus says that to those who overcome, He will write the name of the New Jerusalem upon them. Jesus also said these same people will be living stones or pillars in the temple of God. This confirms that the spiritual temple of God and the spiritual city New Jerusalem are one in the same thing. These are totally complementary views of the exact same spiritual structure. If you can see it you will understand some very powerful spiritual truths. Then there is the whole name changing operation that takes place at a marriage between a husband and the wife. The wife traditionally always takes the name of the husband and isn’t this what this verse is saying? The church is taking the name “New Jerusalem” and becoming the wife of the Lamb. This is all New Covenant language and spiritual truths that have been overlooked by many. I hope you have enjoyed this lesson the identity of bride of Christ. I know I did not cover everything that I could have, but hopefully I gave you some new things to think about and study.
(Ver 1.1) This is now Part 10 in the series of advanced Bible lossons on the subject of The Bride of Christ Revealed. Today will be a lesson on more Old Testament references to the Bride of Christ. I have already covered a lot of infromation in this series. For example, if we are talking about someone being a bride then there are implied subjects that we needed to be covered. For example, an implied bridegroom and an implied wedding or marriage. I went over the subjest that Jesus was the Bridegroom of the bride providing you with many scriptures. I then defined what a spiritual woman or a spiritual bride was in the eyes of God using the Bible to help us to understand her. I further have defined the reality that a marriage in the eyes of God is a covenant between God and his bride using several verses. If you have not been following this blog series from the beginning I would strongly suggest that you go back and read it from the beginning Part 1 The Introduction.
As we have seen, we know from the Old Testament prophets that God was married to the natural nation of Israel and the people of the earthly city of Jerusalem. Maybe you didn’t realize that, but it is there. What we see is a natural example of a marriage covenant between Israel and God the Father. This is a pattern and a foreshadowing of the New Covenant that was to come. When Jesus was crucified He implemented a new covenant, which represents a spiritual marriage to a spiritual woman called the new Jerusalem. The parallels between these two women are numerous and I really think they are obvious if you look for them. Here are just some of the parallels I found from studying these two women:
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Physical People||Spiritual People|
|Natural Nation of Israel||Spiritual Nation of Israel|
|12 Sons of Jacob||12 Disciples of the Lamb|
|Earthly Jerusalem||New Jerusalem|
|Unholy Jerusalem||Holy Jerusalem|
|Solomon Builds God a Natural Temple||Jesus Builds God a Spiritual Temple|
|Priests unto God||Jesus our High Priest|
|Blood of the Lamb on the Doorposts||Blood of the Lamb of God covers our Sins|
|Offers Yearly Sacrifices for Sin||Jesus the Lamb of God once for all Sin|
|Described as a Natural Woman||Described as a Spiritual Woman|
|Married to God the Father||Married to Jesus the Son of God|
|Abraham The Natural Father||Abraham the Spiritual Father|
|Called the Natural Seed of Abraham||Called the Spiritual Seed of Abraham|
|Circumcised in the Flesh||Circumcised in the Heart|
|Covenant of Mt Sinai in Arabia||Covenant of Mt Zion in Heaven|
So who is this new covenant with? It has to be the church, those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The parallels and patterns between these two women are very significant and intentional by God’s design. God implemented an Old Covenant to give us patterns into the New Covenant. Let’s go through some verses in the Old Testament now and look for the bride of Christ. Here is an Old Testament scripture that I believe is very relevant to the subject of the identity of the bride:
Isa 54:5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
We see a clear reference that God our maker is called the husband. I know this verse could be taken as directed at Israel and God, but I believe by the law of double reference it is referring to Jesus and the church. This is a prophetic verse of scripture for it speaks of God being “our” husband. How did I get to “our”? Because it says “thy Husband” is also called “thy Redeemer”. So who has redeemed us? Did you know we were redeemed from something, maybe that ought to be my first question. Here is a familiar scripture to some and others might not have seen it:
Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
You see in this verse that Jesus is called our Redeemer. God writes to the church and tells them that Jesus gave himself for them. Jesus did this to free them from their captive state and from the consequences of their sin. Here is another verse that speaks along these lines:
Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
So we see from Galatians 3:13 and Titus 2:14 that Christ has redeemed “US” the church. So who did Isaiah say our husband would be? He said our Redeemer would be our husband. These kind of scriptures are all over the Bible if you look for them. I know it can be like putting a big jig saw puzzle together, but the pieces of the puzzle only fit together correctly one way so keep trying them to figure out what is right and what works. God didn’t give you a puzzle that couldn’t be solved. I hope you can see why I included this scripture right here and how it also fits with the story of Ruth in the Old Testament. I talked about the story of Ruth in the last blog. Christ is our redeemer and he is now also our husband. We can see that this verse is one of those that I referred to as applicable to the church by the law of double of reference. It was historical and prophetical at the same time. You can learn so much if you can accept these simple truths. I think I should briefly talk about what “redeem” means. If you look this word up and see the definition, it informs us that God buys us out of an impending doom or disastrous state. The word states that the item being bought is on the verge of being lost and the buyer paid the price to save it. We were that item on the verge of being eternally lost and Jesus Christ with His blood bought us out of our impending disaster.
So many times people do not think when they read the Bible. If God had to buy us out of our sin and pay the price for our freedom, who did this payment go to? If you have never been in a pawn shop perhaps you do not know how they work. Someone takes in an item into the pawn shop that has some value to it. This item is pawned for a specific time period. The shop owner gives the owner of the item some amount of money, usually pennies on the dollar for the item and keeps the item in their vault until either the owner comes back and buys the item back or the time period elapses. If the time period elapses the pawn shop owner is then free to take the item and sell it for more than he paid for it and that is one way that they make their money. If the original owner of the item comes back for his item he usually has to pay what he was loaned plus interest to get the item back. So what does this have to do with God redeeming us? We were that item of value that was pawned and held for ransom. God in His infinite mercy paid the price for our redemption. Perhaps I’ll do a blog on this showing you the Bible verses in the future.
Let’s get back to the bride in the Old Testament. The book of Isaiah has several scriptures that can be taken to heart by the church and here is another example of one of these:
Isa 62:5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
This verse gives us a scriptural comparison of a natural and a spiritual truth. We can clearly see a reference given to a marriage between a natural man and a natural woman. We can then see that compared to a covenant marriage between God and his wife. By the law of double reference we can easily make the leap and see that this is Jesus and the church. Jesus as you recall was called the bridegroom with a bride in book of John. So as this verse says it says the bridegroom will rejoice over you. Who do you think “you” is? Of course it is the church. Who do you think the bridegroom is, who rejoices? Of course that is Jesus. Verses like this are so easily overlooked and ignored and people do it every day. But, when you see the truth it makes it easier to see other related truths in the Word of God.
We have seen two very significant verses in Isaiah that are relevant to the church, but there are also other verses and other prophets which can be viewed in more than one way by “the law of double reference”. What does this law of double reference mean to us? It simply means that it can be taken in a natural and a historical way according to the natural nation of Israel and then it can be taken in a spiritual or prophetic way that relates to the new Jerusalem and the new Covenant people of God. Here are a couple of verses that I think further reflect what I am telling you.
Jer 50:4 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
Jer 50:5 They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
We know reading this scripture in verse 4 that this appears to be addressed to the natural people of Israel and Judah. During this time period the prophet Jeremiah had seen the natural nation of Israel split into two opposing factions. This involved the 10 tribes of Israel to the north and then the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin to the south. Israel experienced a split and we won’t get into any of that because even though it is important, it is not relevant to the identity of the bride of Christ at least as far as we know right now. For you see there is a verse in the New Testament that gives us some clues into this statement:
Heb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
We can see from this verse written to the church that God is speaking of the New Covenant. God states that this new covenant is with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. But, since this is written to the church we can very easily say that we are them, the spiritual Israel and the spiritual Judah.
Look back at Jeremiah 50. We can see a stark change in context in Jeremiah 50:5 with these natural people being previously mentioned. Did you notice what they said? Probably you don’t fully grasp what was said without studying and finding out the significance of the words. It starts by them asking the way to Zion. They end with a statement that says let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant. A perpetual covenant means an eternal, everlasting, never ending covenant. We know from study that to join with another is a part of a marriage covenant. The wife is joined to her husband they become one flesh by the law of marriage in Genesis 2. So we are definitely talking about a bride and a her husband in this verse. But, do you understand what Zion is? It has far reaching implications that are very significant. I do not feel I can fully explain everything in this blog, but I will try to give you enough information to help you see what I am talking about. I’ll start by saying that Mt Zion has an earthly reference to a mountain in Palestine called Mt Hermon. This is not the mountain in this verse that the people are asking for directions to. If you think it is you are probably just confused. Let’s look at some key verses in the New Testament that will help us unlock the meaning. Here are two verses that are quotes from the Old Testament:
Mat 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Joh 12:15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.
Both of these verses say basically the same thing. But, it give us a key phrase or wording that maybe you don’t understand fully yet. These words are addressed to the daughter of Zion. Do you know who the daughter of Zion is? This may be news to many of you, but the daughter of Zion is the church. I think several readers just choked on their drink. Jesus is prophesied to be riding on a donkey into the city of Jerusalem. But, it says look daughter of Zion here is your King. Who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords? If you don’t know the answer to that you may need to do more Bible study. Who are the kings and lords that Jesus is King and Lord of? This is not a trick question. Let’s look at some more verses and this will become clearer as we do further study. Let’s first establish the location of Mt Zion. Where is Mt Zion, this mountain is not in Palestine or the natural nation of Israel. Here is a clue and a verse that might help you see it.
Rom 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Isa 8:14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
The Bible is so much more complex than we give it credit for many times. When we read the Bible most of the time we see Israel and Jerusalem and only think in natural terms of the physical country and city on the earth. However, there are more than one of both of these in the Bible. From what I have seen in the Bible there are three cities in the Bible all called by the same name Jerusalem. One is physical and two are spiritual. I really don’t have time to teach you this in this lesson. I have included more information on this in other blogs so go read and study. So who or what are these verses speaking of? Who is the stumbling stone? Who is this rock of offence? Here is another scripture from Isaiah that also speaks of this stone:
Isa 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
You can see that God has laid a stone in Zion to start a foundation for a building project. This stone was tried, which has all kind of implications on it. Jesus was tried by Pilot and sentenced to death. Then it refers to this stone as a corner stone. A corner stone in terms of building is the stone that all the other stones are aligned from. It is the first stone laid in a building project. God is talking about a building project, yes? Sure He is! However, God is building a spiritual building, a spiritual city which is to be His eternal dwelling place. This dwelling place is the church and it is called the New Jerusalem. Let’s read some very important verses in Ephesians 2:
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
You can clearly see a reference to a very, very large building project in these verses. This is a large building project because we have a really big God. God is building an eternal city, a holy city to dwell in. This city is of course the New Jerusalem. This city will be His eternal dwelling place and will be a glorious place to be forever. As you recall this city is described in great detail in Revelation and is called the Holy Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem. It is New because the Old is going away and being replaced totally and completely.
Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
So God tells us that the New replaces the Old. The New is not an augmentation or a modification of the Old or even an upgrade from the Old. The New is a better covenant, built upon better promises. God tells us that the Old will soon vanish away completely. We can see this repeated in the New Testament if you look for it. God tells us there will be a new Heaven and new Earth. So obviously both of these will also be completely replaced. It would appear to me that God is preparing a new spiritual world that replaces the old spiritual world.
So we are still talking about Mt. Zion and where it is. Who was this “Stumbling Stone” that Isaiah 8:14 is referring to? Of course it is Jesus Christ? Where is Jesus Christ today? He is in heaven sitting at the right hand of the Father. Do you agree? So apparently Mt Zion is in heaven. Here is a verse that will clear things up better for you since it tells us exactly where this Mt Zion is located:
Heb 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Heb 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
This verse is so clear and so informative that I wonder why we haven’t seen it before. Of course this verse is written to the church and it declares us, the church as having come to this Mt Zion. Then it reveals the location of this Mt Zion as being the city of the living God. This time it names the city directly as the Heavenly Jerusalem. As I hope you recall we have already seen this city named in Galatians 4, where it was called the Jerusalem that is Above. Who was this city according to Galatians? Wasn’t it the “Jerusalem from Above” that was the mother of the Church? Uh Oh? We are beginning to put together pieces of the puzzle that have huge implications to challenge our current understanding of God’s word. If you use your brain a little bit you realize that every covenant of God has a corresponding mountain associated with it. From reading in Galatians 4 the Earthly Jerusalem is tied to Mt Sinai where Moses received the law from God. This heavenly Jerusalem also has a mountain associated with it inferring there was another covenant that most of us don’t know about. If the heavenly Jerusalem contains the mountain named Zion and this city is said to be the mother of the church, could the daughter of Zion also be the church? If you keep studying longer you will come to the conclusion that it is, as I have.
Son 3:11 Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.
The daughter of Zion is mentioned in the Song of Solomon when speaking of his wife that he loves. Solomon is an O.T. type of Christ and a pattern for Jesus’ marriage to the church. The “daughter of Zion” again is a reference to the church a spiritual name for a spiritual woman.
I have in a roundabout way gone in a complete circle in this teaching about the bride of Christ. As you may remember, we started out very early with a definition of a woman coming from a description of the woman in Revelation called the New Jerusalem. This woman has suddenly reappeared from Old Testament references thus completing the circle. If you have been following this you will soon begin to understand the connection and the process of how we got to where we did. God does things like this on purpose to teach us. This woman called the New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God. The eternal dwelling place for the Spirit of God. The eternal covenant wife of Jesus Christ the Son of God. This city is a new spiritual habitation for God because the Old spiritual city in heaven will soon pass away. Why was it necessary for God to create a new spiritual city? Why was is necessary to create a new heaven and a new Earth? Why did God have to marry a new wife through His Son Jesus Christ? Why was the Church a necessary part of God’s plan as a woman and a wife? There are just so many questions to answer and research. Before I close out this incredibly long lesson, I’ll leave you with one more set of scriptures about this city called “New Jerusalem”:
Isa 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Isa 52:2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
Isa 52:3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
Here God is speaking to the New Jerusalem. If you noticed He again called it the “Holy Jerusalem” like He did in Revelation. There is a parallel given to us of a spiritual truth. We know the uncircumcised refers to those not in covenant. But, in the New Testament God informs us that we who have been circumcised in our hearts are the true Jews (Rom 2:29). So God is speaking prophetically as well as naturally. Then in verse 2 it says to free ourselves from the captivity of sin. Where we were bound in darkness to Satan we have been purchased and redeemed by God. As you can see in verse 3 it says we sold ourselves for nothing to Satan, but God has bought us back without paying any money for us. It didn’t cost God any money to redeem us, but it was not free either. God shed His blood, which was more valuable than anything else that He could have given and paid the price to buy us out of our dilemma.
So we have gone full circle and ended where we started. Funny how God does that. The City of New Jerusalem is the New Covenant wife of the Lamb of God and this spiritual woman is the church. There are certainly many other scriptures that I did not cover, but I know I have run very long in today’s lesson, so I will stop here.
If you would like to continue reading this series, you can go to “Part 11“.
(Ver 1.1) This has been a very long extensive advanced Bible study about the identity of the bride of Christ. This is now Part 9 in the series and is my 100th blog on this site. I have been going through an intentionally designed set of information to step you through a process so that you could clearly see and understand the identity of the Bride of Christ. We have discussed a lot of subjects and a lot of scriptures. These are absolutely critical for you to understand so that you know who you are in Christ. By knowing who you are spiritually, it clearly indentifies you and your responsibility in the spiritual realm and helps you to understand your covenant relationship with Christ. If you have not read these blogs from the beginning I would strongly recommend that you go back and start with Part 1 The Introduction and then continue forward in progressive blogs so that you can clearly see and understand what God is saying.
Within the Old Testament there are several styles of writings found within the pages. First we should realize that God originally started by giving the first part of the Old Testament to Moses. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible and these are many times referred to as “the law”. The law represents commandments and instructions given to the nation of Israel so that they would learn and know of God and His ways. There is a lot of information contained within the law, but most of it does not apply directly to the church. We know from the New Testament in verses like Romans 6:14 that it says the church is not under the law, but under grace. So we have to understand the law, but not live thinking that by obeying the law that is what saved us. Jesus also said that a new commandment I give to you and this was the commandment of Love. Jesus told us that in this one new commandment was summed up all the other commandments of the Old Testament. Next, we should see the Bible as a historical document with actual events, places and people recorded for our benefit. The Bible says these things were written to us for examples (1 Cor 10:11) so that we could learn from what they did right or wrong. Learning from History will help us to not repeat it, so the saying goes. So we should read first and foremost for examples that we could learn from. Next, there are prophetic words recorded of events and things which have not yet occurred. Jesus of course fulfilled many of the prophetic writings when he was born a man and walked the earth. Then he was killed and rose from the dead and these were all prophesied events. Events that were written hundreds of years earlier. So we should be reading the Old Testament for events that are soon to occur. The next type of Old Testament writing that we should be aware of when reading, is the fact that God has developed patterns, types and shadows of future events and people. Many times it is a natural occurrence of a specific event that parallels a future spiritual event. God informs us that the thing that has been is the thing that shall be again ( Ecc 1:9). He told us that there is nothing new under the sun. So what we can determine from this is that God has given us glimpses into future spiritual events by showing us previous natural events. So as we read the Old Testament keep this in mind and look for natural patterns, types and shadows of people, places and events. I believe there are many other types and styles of writings in the Old Testament, but there is only one more that I want to point out. The last type of writing that I want to make you aware of are scriptures that many call double references. In other words they may be words that are originally given to or directed at the natural nation of Israel, but these words can also be applied to the spiritual nation of Israel or the church as it is also known. The law of double reference represents words that come from God that can be viewed historically and prophetically simultaneously. The Bible declares that all of the promises of God are yes and amen to us (2 Cor 1:20). For example, some of these promises were from the Old Testament given to Abraham and his seed (Gal 3:14). But, we know from Galatians that now we (the church) are the seed of Abraham and whatever God said to him, he said to us also (Gal 3:29). We can see from this example, that the story of Abraham has vast spiritual implications for the church. However, without reading and understanding double references and O.T. writings styles, you would never know these promises were yours without Galatians 3. So let’s look at some Old Testament scriptures and see what God has revealed about the identity of the bride of Christ.
There are so many Old Testament references as well as specific patterns, types and shadows that reveal the identity of this woman called the bride of Christ, but unless you are looking for them you will probably glide right over them and not even realize it. For example, have you ever read the Song of Solomon? This man goes on and on about a woman, describing her in detail and speaking of his deep feeling of love for her. I really don’t know how you can read that and not realize that woman’s true identity, that woman is the church. The man speaking is God in the flesh. Jesus died and gave himself for payment to purchase the church with his blood. I think for time sake I will not go through that book, but it does have many verses that are relevant. I would strongly recommend that you read this book with a new perspective and focus and look for examples of the bride. We can easily tell because we know who the author is, who the male or bridegroom is in the relationship. Jesus made this statement,
Joh 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
So as you read stories about the man in the Song of Solomon, remember what Jesus said. Search the scriptures, but keep this in mind for they are written about Him. That will help you a whole bunch in figuring out what they mean. I’ll give you a hint that will help you maybe in your study of the Song of Solomon. The woman in the story is many times referred to as the “daughter of Jerusalem” or the “daughter of Zion”. In the King James Translation it is incorrectly translated as “daughters of Jerusalem”, but if you look up the word you will see that it should have been singular. So who was the daughter of Jerusalem? If you recall we read in Galatians 4:26 that the Heavenly Jerusalem, is the spiritual mother of us all (the church). That would of course help confirm the identity of the Bride as being the daughter of the Heavenly Jerusalem in the Song of Solomon. There are many other interesting things to read in the book of Song of Solomon so I recommend that you spend time in studying this book in great depth. For example, six times in the Song of Solomon the woman is called his “sister” and his “spouse”. The term “spouse” is obvious and it means wife. The term sister is of course is more difficult for religious people to grasp. However, the church has to be a spiritual sister to Christ since we have the same spiritual mother and father. But I guess I won’t elaborate anymore and get you upset at me.
Another classic Old Testament type and shadow of Christ and the Church is given to us in the book of Ruth. The entire story is about a woman who is the primary named character. This woman is a gentile woman and ends up marrying her Jewish Redeemer. Sounds kind of familiar to another story in the New Testament. People who don’t see the Church as this woman must be ignoring the obvious or just blinded by the enemy so that they won’t see it. The book of Ruth is not a very big book, it is only 4 chapters and you can read it without spending much time doing it. However, reading is not the same as understanding it. You are going to have to study to show yourself approved a workman unto God. Study involves digging for the big hidden nuggets of truth and not just scanning the surface for the easy stuff. Study will always involve work on your part. If you would like to read my blog series on this woman Ruth you can go to “The Book of Ruth“.
Here is a quick synopsis of the story of Ruth. It seems that this story begins when there was a time of famine that existed in the land of Israel. A man, his wife and two sons moved out of Israel to find food. They went to the land of Moab and settled down. The father of the family dies there. His two sons marry Moabite women to start their own families. However within 10 years time, the two sons also die leaving no heirs. With all of the Hebrew men dead that left the mother-in-law and her two daughter-in-laws only. Naomi, the older widow then attempts to convince her two daughter-in-laws to go back home and find new husbands because she can’t have any more children for them to marry. One daughter-in-law takes her up on this and one does not. The one daughter-in-law named Ruth declares where ever you go I will go, where ever you die I’ll die, your people will be my people and your God will by my God. This is covenant talk if you didn’t realize that. So Naomi and Ruth return to Naomi’s homeland where her relatives lived. This so happens to be in and around the city of Bethlehem. This is the exact future birth place of Jesus. This is certainly not a coincidence. Ruth must have become familiar with the law of Moses being married to a son of Israel or from her mother-in-law Naomi, because everything she does going forward follows the things written in the law.
The law of Moses provided for a method of raising up an heir in the case and circumstances that Ruth was experiencing. A man called a kinsman redeemer was responsible to marry the widow of the dead relative and have children with her. This child would become an heir for the dead husbands family. This kinsman redeemer was named Boaz in the book of Ruth. Boaz was a very wealthy man and owned a large field that Ruth would gleam from in order to get food to survive. Boaz ends up meeting this woman Ruth and finds out who she is. The net result of this meeting is a marriage. Boaz redeems Ruth from her widowhood and they have a child and an heir. This natural child becomes the great grandfather of David the king and eventually directly in the lineage of the birth of Jesus, our redeemer. You might be able to recognize the types of some of the characters in this story fairly easily and others will be much more difficult to see. Boaz is definitely a type of Jesus, the redeemer. Ruth the gentile is a type of the church. Naomi the mother-in-law would be a type of the nation of Israel. I don’t know of any type and shadow that is a perfect match otherwise it wouldn’t be a shadow it would be the object that is making the shadow. Everything may not fit exactly like you think it should, but I guarantee you everything is significant and has meaning, you just don’t know what it means yet. I could attempt to explain more things in this blog, but since it is not my primary subject it would just cloud the issue at hand. If you go and read the story of Ruth closely you will find that I didn’t include every character mentioned. I didn’t include every interaction between these characters either. There are certainly many more things to learn from this book, but you will need to wait.
I would highly recommend if you haven’t read those two books that you go back and read them and pay very close attention to what is being said. Take note of who the characters are and what they do. The patterns, types and shadows given are very relevant to our subject of the identity of the bride of Christ. Both books are about a male and a female relationship. Both books are about love and marriage. Both represent types of Jesus and the church.
So that was an introduction to two major patterns of Christ and the church in the Old Testament. You should be intimately familiar with these stories and have a really good understanding of them so that you will know who you are in the spiritual world. We will continue looking at other Old Testament scriptures for the bride in my next blog.
If you like to continue reading this series, you can go to “Part 10“.
(Ver 1.1) This is now Part 8 in the series of lessons on the Bride of Christ Revealed. I have been going through an intentionally designed set of information to step you through a process so that you could clearly see and understand the identity of the Bride of Christ. We have discussed a lot of subjects and a lot of scriptures. These are absolutely critical for you to understand so that you know who you are in Christ. By knowing who you are spiritually, it clearly indentifies you and your responsibility in the spiritual realm. If you have not read these blogs from the beginning I would strongly recommend that you go back and start with Part 1 The Introduction and then continue forward in progressive blogs so that you can clearly see and understand what God is saying.
I heard a minister say that speaking of Saul in the book of Acts when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, that those scriptures prove we (the church) represents Christ. Jesus says to Saul “why persecuteth thou me” in the book of Acts and if Jesus said you are doing something to me that proves we are Him. But, you see the reason that Jesus could make that statement, is because it says in Corinthians that the church is one spirit with Christ because they were joined or married to him. So we are not Christ, but have been joined to him by a marriage covenant, making us His body. This is the law of Genesis 2 concerning marriage, where God said the two will become one body. I tell you if you ignore these easy scriptures, you are going to have a lot of problems with the harder stuff in the Bible. In the last lesson we looked at the verse in 1 Corinthians:
1 Cor 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
This verse says that the church was joined to the Lord and became one Spirit. To be joined to someone is different than actually being someone. A wife is always joined to her husband and she becomes his flesh and bone. But that never means her role changes. She is never the husband or the head in the relationship. This is just basic reasoning and logic based upon scripture that we have read in Ephesians. Look at the Greek G2853 word translated as “joined” in the Strong’s dictionary:
From κόλλα kolla (“glue”); to glue, that is, (passively or reflexively) to stick (figuratively): – cleave, join (self), keep company.
The word translated as “joined” means to glue, cleave, or to stick together. This is another clear definition of marriage which is the act of taking two separate distinct people and making one out of them. That’s marriage in the clearest form of God’s definition given to us by God himself in Genesis 2, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7-8 and Ephesians 5:31. The two shall become one flesh. Glue is the joining substance and this could very well represent the Holy Spirit. But the purpose of glue is to take two separate and distinct pieces and join them or put them together and make one piece out of them. It is interesting that this Greek word is different than the previous Greek word that we looked at and since I am not a Greek language expert I don’t really have an explanation of why and how it is different. However, I did notice that the Greek word G4347 which is used in Ephesians 5:31, Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7 in the marriage law from Genesis comes from G2853 so they are definitely connected and definitely related and they definitely say and mean the same thing.
I don’t know how to make this any clearer. So if you think the church is still not the bride based upon these great witnesses I sure hope you will begin to see it someday. There are certainly more scriptures in the Bible that indicate that the church is the bride of Christ and I will give you some more for the stubborn and those who have chosen to close their eyes to the truth. Here is one that I found that I thought was very interesting and certainly fits together with a bunch of what we have been studying. This scripture is found in the book of Revelation and here we have Jesus himself again speaking to the church. Notice the words are in Red and then notice closely what Jesus is saying to us.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
I want you to first notice who this is written to, to whom is Jesus speaking? According to verse 13 of chapter 3 it is written directly to the church. That is certainly a critical point to understand up front. Then let’s go back to verse 12 and see what Jesus said to the church. The primary subject or theme of the verse appears to me to be a name changing operation. He says to them that have overcome, He will do what? He is going to give these people a new name. From what I see it could be three different names or all three new name references could also be the same. But did you notice the relationship to the new Jerusalem? This is definitely a part of the naming process. Who gets a new name in a normal wedding and marriage? Of course it has traditionally been the bride that takes the name of their husband. If the church was already the body of Christ, I don’t think there would be any need to write a new name on his body if the head already has a new name, then the body also has a new name. But, somehow Jesus finds it necessary to write a new name on the church, that sure sounds like a marriage to me. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together correctly sure seems to make things work together better. One of the main take away from this verse would be to see the association of the name “New Jerusalem” to the church. Are you one of the overcomers Jesus is speaking to? Jesus is telling you if you are, then you are the New Jerusalem of God. You are the city called New Jerusalem. You are the new house and temple of God. You have become a pillar in the temple of God. A pillar is a key part of a structure that holds the other parts together and keeps it from falling down. That is a major responsibility being given to us. What I wanted you to see was a verse of scripture that implies a marriage between a bridegroom and a bride. The bride should be willing to take the new name of her husband and this is what Jesus is telling us to do. What we have is a confirmation to the fact that the bride of Christ is a spiritual city of people called the New Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem is a New Covenant marriage between Jesus Christ and the church.
I want to show you some verses in the Bible written to the church that clearly reveal us to be a chosen woman. Do you realize that when a man asks a woman to marry him, that man has already made a choice. Out of all the women on the planet, that man chose this one. That was a selection of one and the rejection of all the rest. This is what Christ has done and you can find that in the Bible if you look for it. Let’s read this verse:
2Jn 1:1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
So what do you do with a verse like this? It is easily explained away or it can be taken and understood to be very profound. God is writing a letter to the church through the Apostle John and he calls all of us the “elect lady”. If you think only naturally you will try to say this is a letter written to a dear friend of John or maybe his wife. It is a great error to conclude that based upon the context of the words that are written. The “elect lady” being called “her” is the spiritual church of God. A lady by definition is a woman with character and moral standards. It would be the opposite of calling a woman a “whore”. Uh oh, I guess I won’t go there.
2Jn 1:5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
As you can see John and God calls the church a lady. The commandment of love was the same new commandment that Jesus gave to John and the rest of the disciples. This commandment is now being passed on to the rest of the body of Christ. However, you have to see that the church is called “a lady”. A lady certainly qualifies to be the bride of Christ.
It seems that there are numerous other scriptures that imply marriage even though they don’t say it directly. Here are some of those that I have found, you of course can disagree and ignore them if you like. Remember in the Old Testament the word “Knew” was used numerous times for a sexual act between a husband and a wife. It says “Adam knew his wife Eve and they had a son”. That of course represents a covenant act between a husband and his wife as we have seen before. There are numerous scriptures in the New Testament that could very easily be taken to mean the same thing but in a spiritual context, not a natural physical act. After all God is a Spirit. His Spirit resides in the believer and as we have seen they become one Spirit with Him.
Gal 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
You can see from this verse that there is a two way street being spoken of. We the church are now said to know God and now God also knows us. This is spiritual knowledge and represents a spiritual consensual covenant act. This is marriage in the purest spiritual form. We can easily ignore verses like this or overlook them or we can figure out what they are saying and believe them. Here is another example of God knowing us the church.
2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
We can again see a covenant act of consensual spiritual knowledge being expressed in this verse. It said the Lord “knows” them that are his. It would be the same as saying Adam knows his wife and they had a son. I guess some might say we shouldn’t be talking about this kind of stuff in a lesson about God. I think they forget who invented and created sex. You can see God all over it if you look at it the right way. The other critical piece of information in this verse is the reference to a name change again. Again this describes a marriage covenant act of a name change performed by the bride. This verse in 2nd Timothy 2:19 says that they (everyone) have taken the name of Christ. Here we can see another reference to how the church became the body of Christ, by taking his name in marriage. Moving on to a couple of other example, I found in the book of 1 John these verses.
1Jn 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
As you may or may not know, John wrote and delivered a thematic message of Love. Love was his primary theme throughout all of his writings. We again see the covenant act portrayed in verses like these in direct relationship with love. This of course fits precisely with God’s definition of a covenant marriage. It’s amazing how many verses you can find that speak of the church in terms of the Bride if you look for them. I hope I am helping you to see these verses in a new light. Here is another interesting scripture reference that also speaks of the church as the bride of Christ in a clear but indirect reference:
Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Rom 9:25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
You can see in verse 24 of chapter 9 of Romans that it is speaking to those God has called? I cannot speak for you, but I know that is me. He then informs us that this group of called individuals are made up of both Jews and Gentiles. That is correct, isn’t it? Then in verse 25 He speaks of the prophecy of Hosea and that is an interesting reference that we really haven’t explored very much. Let me first point out the last statement in that verse, that says I will call her my beloved who was not my beloved. That sure sounds like a marriage to me. If you recall, Hosea was commanded by God to marry a whore. He went and bought her out of whoredom and married her. While this could indirectly relate to the Gentiles, we know for sure that it is speaking of Israel as being the whore. The Old Testament quote is given that I will call them my people who were not my people. Right here we miss something that is implied and is dramatically different than what I’ve heard many teach. Many preachers speak of the nation of Israel as being God’s people today. I certainly believe that in the Old Testament, Israel were God’s people. But this verse says that I will call those that are not my people, my people. Do you understand the reciprocal truth given here? What is an inverse or reciprocal truth? I’m not sure if you’ve ever thought about that question or not. It is mathematical in its roots. The inverse or reciprocal of a number is the measurable opposite of what is given. In other words it is the opposite or negative truth of the positive truth that is given. It means the verse says more than what is on the surface. If the people who were not God’s people are now God’s people, what happened to those that use to be God’s people? The inference is that they are now not God’s people and can never be God’s people again because they were once God’s people. You see something that is pretty hard to grasp if you are not a logical, mathematical type thinker, grasping concepts and laws that are based in these verses can be difficult.
Since Israel is not my primary subject, I really can’t elaborate any more on verses like that one in this blog. I will recommend that you do some additional research on your own about Israel and their fate. I think where we need to go now is to review some more Old Testament types and shadows of the bride of Christ. So let’s dive into the Old Testament. In my next blog we will go back into the Old Testament and look for patterns, types and shadows for Christ and the church as the bride. We have already seen the Old Testament reference to the nation of Israel as being a woman, a wife and a bride to God in the Old Covenant. That is certainly a great pattern for the New Covenant, but there are other verse in the Old Testament that we should also be aware of. So until next time I hope you are having a great day.
If you would like to continue reading this series, you can go to “Part 9“.
(Ver 1.1) This is now Part 7 in this series on the subject of the Bride of Christ Revealed and I have covered a lot of information on the subject. In my last blog on this subject I introduced you to some very strong New Testament verses that confirm the identity of the Bride of Christ directly as being the church. Ephesians chapter 5 is predominately about the subject of marriage and the relationships between husbands and wives. We went verse by verse through key verses in this chapter and counted the references to see how many times natural husbands and wives were mentioned and then we looked at how these natural marriages fit a pattern for a greater spiritual truth. Jesus is clearly given to be the head, the husband and the bridegroom in these verses. The church is clearly given to be his bride, his wife and his body by marriage. If you have not been following this series from the beginning I would strongly recommend that you go back and start reading from Part 1, The Introduction. This series is designed to step you through the subjects in a way that you can more easily see and understand this very deep and complex topic. So read each part of the series in order and hopefully you will grasp all of the spiritual concepts.
I heard more than one preacher say “search the Bible and you won’t find one scripture that says the church is the bride”. I sometimes wonder what Bible they are looking at, for I found a bunch of verses that tell me the church is the bride of Christ. These were well known ministers and men who have been teaching and studying the Bible for 50 years. The main problem they are experiencing is one that Jesus said you will always find what you are seeking. Jesus actually said seek and you shall find. But the problem is when people seek wrong things you find wrong things. If you are looking for no verses that say the church is the bride you will find no verses that say this. You always get what you seek and not necessarily what is the truth. That is how God designed the Bible to give you a choice to believe whatever you want to believe. That is a law of Bible research and study. Here is another law of Bible interpretation, it tells us that in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established. I already showed you Ephesians 5 about Christ and His bride. So what other scriptures can we find in the New Testament that reveal the church to be the bride of Christ? Read these next scriptures very carefully, for they too are written directly to the church in Rome and they reveal very clearly the identity of the church as being the bride of Christ.
Rom 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
This is an incredibly critical verse to understand fully. It speaks about the law. Here is the important thing to grasp, it says as long as a man is alive the law has dominion over him. Do you understand that statement? The implication is that when a man dies, the law is no longer in effect over his life. But did you notice who Paul and God wrote this verse to? It says “brethren” and that would be the church, except then it qualifies it further and says to only my brothers who know the law. Do you understand that statement? I bet you don’t fully get it. You see to “know” is a covenant term between a husband and a wife. Adam “knew” his wife and she had a son. To “know” is a sexual type reference, but God is not talking about a physical intimacy but a spiritual intimacy. What God is saying in this verse is, these next verses are written to members in the church who were previously under the law of Moses and the Old Covenant wife of God.
Rom 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
So we see some more important information concerning marriage and the law. If you recall in an earlier blog I discussed the law of marriage using Genesis 2. This verse confirms that there are laws in the Old Testament that govern marriage relationships. This verse says that a woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as her husband is alive. Why is that? The law of marriage said that they are one flesh. You can’t cut off a piece of your own body and get rid of it and still be whole. In most marriage ceremonies there is usually a phrase “until death do us part”. God informs us that death is a legal separation of a marriage covenant. There is really a tremendous number of applications of this scripture to the women in the Bible. If you recall Israel was called a woman married to God. That is exactly why God is using Paul to write these verses to Messianic Jewish believers. He is informing them of something that is very profound and relevant so let’s keep reading:
Rom 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
I really don’t want to get off of the subject and go into a lot of detail right here concerning Israel, but I guess I will mention it so that you can do further research and see that it does apply. If you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea to name a few good examples you will see God called Israel a whore because of her unfaithful interaction with foreign gods and idolatry. God considered these acts as adulteress conduct of sexual perversion. God also considered these acts as covenant acts of marriage to these foreign gods and idols. So I gave you a lot to research, but let’s get back to this verse and what it says. It is speaking to those under the law and it tells them that as long as their husband is alive if they are in covenant with another then they are committing adultery. But then it says if a woman’s husband is dead, then she is free to marry or enter into covenant with another man. Remember these verses are written to brothers, males and these men are referred to as a woman. I think sometimes people don’t see this and miss out what God is saying.
Rom 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
I hope you are getting what these scriptures are saying for they end in a very clear statement in Romans 7:4 that says you are now married to another, the Lord Jesus Christ! Try to explain that away! I’m sure you’ll come up with something if you don’t want to see the truth. I could say a lot more about these scriptures because they reveal so much more that we haven’t seen, but since that is not my primary purpose in this lesson, I will not weigh you down with any unnecessary things to think about. The main thing to take away from these verses is the reference to a man married to woman and how she is bound to that husband until he is dead. If she marries another while he is alive she is called an adulteress. However, Paul clarifies the problem because he says the first husband died by the body of Jesus Christ. So now they are free to be married to another and that is to him that was raised from the dead. This is an incredibly detailed discussion about the law and the law in specific relation to marriage covenants. Only people under the law would have been concerned to this level of detail. Gentiles were never married to the law or God, so they are free to marry Jesus the same as a natural Jew is now free to marry the Lord. The primary point to see is that the New Covenant is a marriage. But instead of a covenant with the Father God, it is with the Son of God, Jesus Christ and that is a very important concept to note and pay attention to. There is always a reason for everything that God says and does and this is no exception.
So is the church the bride of Christ? Some sure have gone through great extents to try to prove that we are not. I don’t know how they don’t see it, it sure seems to be there to me. Are you seeing it? Let’s start going through some more scriptures and continue by looking at this important verse:
2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
This verse is another that some Bible teachers are determined to explain away not letting people know what it really says. All the ingredients of marriage are mentioned in this verse. The identity of the bridegroom is clearly given as Jesus Christ. The mention of being married or “espoused” to Christ is a very clear reference. So who is the verse directed to? The verse is written to the bride. Bible teachers who don’t believe this verse say it is just making a comparison with the word “As”. You of course know if you can read that the word “as” is added by the translators and is not in the original Greek language so that argument is shot down pretty easily. We can clearly see that it is not making a comparison but it is identifying the church to be the chaste virgin. The Greek word translated as “virgin” has the following definition in the Strong’s:
Of unknown origin; a maiden; by implication an unmarried daughter: – virgin.
The description of an unmarried woman is clear from this definition. The reference is specifically to an unmarried daughter being presented to Christ. The word “present” in this verse is the same word we looked at in Ephesians and it means to stand beside. So we again see the reference to a marriage ceremony. Then there is the Greek word translated as “chaste” in the King James Bible and here is what Strong’s says about it:
From the same as G40; properly clean, that is, (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect: – chaste, clean, pure.
Wow does that describe the church you know, it’s not a whole lot of the church I know. So you can read this verse in 2 Corinthians and do what you want to with it. But it clearly has all the necessary ingredients and parties of a wedding ceremony and a marriage covenant. The clear inference is this bride is unmarried and a virgin that has not been touched by another man. The reference is basically the same as a woman dressed in clean and white fine linen that has made herself ready for her husband. But I guess that is just me speaking isn’t it? I can’t prove it to you, either you see it or you don’t. It is so funny how that you can’t make anyone see the truth if they don’t want to see it.
I tell you if you look for scriptures that identify the church as the bride you will find them, the trouble is so many are just not looking for them. I know sometimes that verse can say things indirectly and sometimes not be totally obvious when you read it. Look closely at this scripture because you will find another reference to the church being the bride of Christ:
1Co 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
1Co 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
1Co 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Verse 15 starts with confirming the church is the body of Christ. God tells us that our bodies are like individual cells in the bigger body of Christ. We make up the pieces that His body is comprised of. It is a spiritual truth using a natural pattern of the human body. The natural human body consists of many different organs, tissues, bones, cells and other components that when working with each other make up a healthy living body. But as we have already seen we know how we got to be the body of Christ was by the law of marriage found in Genesis 2. That law states that two shall become one body after they are married. This marriage covenant between Adam and Eve was a pattern for the Jesus and the church. Finally, in this verse the subject of harlots come into play in direct relation to the body of Christ. The implication is given that the church now that they are married in covenant with God can still have spiritual sexual relationships with other gods and other spiritual entities. I will agree that these verse seems to go both for natural relations with whores as well as spiritual relations with whores. I believe there is a clear application to the law of double reference. Where a verse of scripture can be taken naturally and spiritually and both points of view are true.
Within the context of these scriptures here we see another direct reference to a physical relationship between a man and a woman. The reference is purely sexual in nature and contains an inference of a woman being joined to her husband by covenant. In 1 Corinthians 6:17, the husband is clearly the Lord Jesus so who is Paul writing to that has been joined to Him? What does it mean to be joined together in Holy Matrimony? Doesn’t this verse have the same contextual relevance to our subject of marriage between a man and a woman? God contrasts the union of Christ and the church to that of a man to a harlot. This is certainly a significant comparison and gives us a lot of information that we should be aware of. For example, having a sexual relation with a whore is called a marriage in the eye’s of God. The sexual act is a covenant act. So if the man has a one night stand with a whore, it declares that in the eyes of God they are joined together as husband and wife. I was watching TV and to my surprise there was a group of individuals sitting around a table and discussing how many sexual partners some of them had. Of course in the unsaved world to men it is a matter of conquest to say they have had a lot of female partners. Who knows who was lying and who was telling the truth, but a couple of them had estimated they had 40 to 60 different women in their lives. According to scripture God sees each of these relations as a marriage covenant act. Obviously men and women don’t see it the same way or they wouldn’t be so casual about who they married. If the courts viewed sex as God views sex, there would be a lot more alimony going out of some of their pockets.
Going back to the verse in 1 Corinthians 6:17 we see the same sexual act reference given but this time to the Church with Jesus Christ. If you don’t see this it is because you don’t want to see it. The difference or contrast is given that we the church have become one spirit with Jesus and the man with the harlot has become one flesh with her. Both have become one by a marriage covenant act. There is a very clear statement of the church being joined to the Lord Jesus. To be joined is of course a marriage. A marriage is always where God takes one male and one female and makes one body out of them. This is so critical to understand.
I have given you at the minimum three great witnesses found in the New Testament that all deal with the church being called the bride of Christ by a marriage covenant act of God. The law of marriage is applicable and helps to explain a great number of other Bible verses, like how the church became the body of Christ? So we have explored more than enough witnesses to confirm this truth, but I might give you some more unique points of view in my next blog on this subject. I think I have said enough today so I hope you have a great day.
If you would like to continue reading this series, you can go to “Part 8“.
(Ver 1.2) Today I want to begin to explore the New Testament references for the identity of the bride of Christ. I want to “present” you to the identity of the bride of Christ. You will see later why I said that so look for it. There are certinly many scriptures that identify the Bride to us, but I want to start with the strongest verses first. If you have not been following this series from the beginning I would strongly recommend that you go back and start reading from Part 1, The Introduction.
Here it is, one of the strongest scriptural evidence that I’ve seen concerning the identity of the Bride of Christ and it’s found in the New Testament in the book of Ephesians and chapter 5. These are words written directly to the church and specifically about the church so read them very, very carefully. Understanding Ephesians 5 is critical for you understanding your identity in the spiritual world. Pay close attention to the subject being discussed and then see how they fit together: I will go verse by verse starting with verse 22. I will keep a running total of references that I find on the primary noun subjects being discussed. So help me count as we go. Let’s start reading in Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 22:
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
We can clearly see that the primary subject of this verse is marriage because it is talking to wives and husbands. But did you notice who this verse is written to? It is written to the church, the wife of Christ. If you notice in this verse, it ends with “as unto the Lord”. The implied reference is that the church is the bride and Christ is the husband. There are clearly two patterns given to us; one is a natural pattern and the other is a spiritual pattern. The church is clearly commanded to submit to their husband, the Lord Jesus Christ. So while “wives” are mentioned only once, the implication is given that we the church are also a wife to Christ. If we count the references to noun subjects we have the following totals:
You will notice the primary nouns given in this verse is concerning wives, husbands and Christ. There is one implied or indirect reference to the church as being a wife. I hope you can see what this verse is talking about and who it is talking to. So let’s go to the next verse and see what it says:
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
So we have a continuation of the primary subject of marriage still in the context of husbands and wives being given to us. Again we see a direct relationship being established between the natural and the spiritual. The husband is said to be the head of the wife in the natural world and I refuse to comment on that statement. However, Christ is the implied husband of the church given the clear context of being the head of the body. The church is clearly given to be the body of Christ which is a direct parallel that we learned about when we studied about Eve being the body of Adam. We know that these are patterns for spiritual truths that God is communicating to us from natural truths. So let’s update our total number of noun reference counts.
So we are up to 2 direct references to husbands and wives and 3 direct and indirect references to Christ and his bride. Let’s continue with verse 24:
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Again in this verse we have two parallels given to us. Both of these patterns are implied covenant marriages given from the context of the subject being spoken of. The church is said to be subject to Christ and that is just another way to say we are to submit. We can clearly see that this implies Christ is the husband and the church is the wife, given the ending statement of the verse being directed to natural wives to be submitted to their natural husbands. These are God’s words and not mine so don’t shoot the messenger. Just read them and accept them. Let’s update our total reference count from this verse:
I do not know how ministers have read these verses and refuse to see what they clearly say, but that is the way the Bible is written, men see what they want to see. Let’s continue with the next verse in the chapter:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (her, the Church);
This verse repeats the pattern and speaks to husbands and wives again. It clearly implies that Christ is the husband that loves his bride, the church. It clearly says that He proves his love for her by giving Himself as a sacrifice for her. This verse should have used the personal pronoun “her” instead of “it”. The church is not an “it”. God did not send Jesus to die for an “it”. Let’s update our total noun reference count:
Let’s take a brief look at verse 26 even though this is a bit off the main subject of marriage. Take a look at what this verse is saying:
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
According to this verse “it” is again mistranslated as being a reference to “her”, the church. This verse is saying that Christ is sanctifying and cleaning the church by a washing process that involves the Word of God. This implies that the Word of God is a liquid like pure water with a power to clean dirty spots out. Isn’t that an interesting statement? Aren’t we talking about the church? I mean I can clearly understand it, but can you? If the church is the body of Christ, why would Christ need to give himself a bath to make himself clean? You see the problem with that logic, don’t you? That is why people who teach that the church is the body of Christ and only the body of Christ are severely mistaken. This is just further proof to me of how preachers have taught some incredibly stupid things. If the church was just the body of Christ we wouldn’t need cleaning or washing. Jesus is already clean and righteous. We are the ones with the faults and blemishes, the dirty spots that need cleaning off. But since we have become His body by a marriage covenant and we are a separate individual that still needs cleaning, we can more clearly see how we fit into all of these verses and not just some of them. As we continue with verse 27 we see more marriage terminology given to us about Christ and the church:
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
In reading this verse I think of many weddings that I have been to. The bride comes walking down the center aisle and is presented to the husband usually by the father of the bride. Ephesians 5 is primarily about marriage so we can know that Christ is talking about His bride in this verse. What we have seen in the last three verses are a extraordinary effort being put forth by Jesus to give himself completely for His wife. This is a process that involved Him suffering and experiencing tremendous pain and death on a cross. He shed His blood for us, because He loved us that much. Verse 27 informs us why He was willing to go to this extraordinary effort. Verse 27 declares so that He might present “it” to himself. We of course lose a lot by not studying the Greek to determine what this actually means. From the English translation in the KJV it sure sounds like a term for marriage. In many marriage ceremonies I have heard it said by the minister after the final vows, “may I present to you Mr. and Mrs. fill in the name. However, the Greek word translated as “present” actually has a literal meaning “to stand beside“. That is actually a fascinating contradiction of terms. How can the body of Christ stand beside Himself? You see it just doesn’t really make sense unless you put it into the context of a woman standing besides her husband in a marriage ceremony and the two becoming one flesh that way. Several times in these verses the church is referred to as “it” and this again is a mistranslation and the same word should say and mean “her” and it is translated that way in the New Testament many times. In fact it is translated as “her” in Revelation 19:8 when referring to the woman called the “New Jerusalem”. Isn’t that a coincidence? Let’s look at this verse just for grins:
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
I hope that you see why I included this verse, because it is so very similar to the one we just looked at in Ephesians 5:27. The first thing I wanted to point out is the term “G846” is translated correctly this time as “her” and not “it”. So how can translators make such obvious mistakes in one verse the word is “it” and another one it is “her”. That is a question that I suppose we all need to understand and see that translators are just men capable of making mistakes. Then the next thing I wanted to point out is what are the terms “clean and white” saying, is this describing what we read in Ephesians 5? Obviously they are references to what she is wearing a type of extraordinary piece of clothing or fabric. So how does that compare with what the woman in Ephesians 5 is wearing, it says “without spot or wrinkle” and this implies fine nice clothing also that does not have any dirty spots. I think we can clearly see that these two verse are speaking of the exact same woman. So again, what did Paul tell us that Christ was presenting to himself, a church without spot or wrinkle, clean by the washing of the water of the Word. It’s amazing how the Bible fits together, isn’t it? Both of these are describing the same wedding apparel if you ask me. What we see is that both of these women are described as being in perfect condition, wearing the finest clean garments. This is a clear picture of the church and this truth is reflected to us in the book of Revelation 19 when it speaks of the bride being adorned for her husband and how she has made herself ready. These are all pictures and patterns into a spiritual truth that I hope you are seeing and understanding. So let us update our running count of references that we have observed in these verses and see the new totals:
Let us continue with the next verse in Ephesians for it is really getting good now. In this verse we start to again see the law of marriage being restated in context with the husband and the wife in marriage:
Eph 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Are you understanding these concepts? God is reaffirming the law of marriage from Genesis 2 in this simple verse of truth. This verse speaks to men and instructs them to love their wives because they are his body. Since Eve came from Adam’s body, so a wife is joined to her husband and the two are now said to be one flesh. If a husband physically abuses his wife it is like him hitting himself in the head, and that is idiotic and crazy behavior. In this verse we have several direct and indirect references to husbands and wives and this now is reflected in our total reference count in the following:
The next verse continues with more about the law of marriage from Genesis 2, but now concludes with the revelation that this also applies to Christ and the church:
Eph 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
You see from this verse further confirmation that the woman and the husband are said to be one flesh or one in the same body. Whatever happens to one affects the other directly. However one treats the other is how they treat themselves. God is really saying to them to treat the other like he or she is you, because you two are one body. God then concludes this verse with the revelation that this applies to Christ and the church. Christ the husband and the church is the wife. Christ cherishes His bride, the church with great love and affection. The church is the Body of Christ. Christ dwells in us right here and right now if you are born again. Christ therefore loves the church because she is His body and His wife.
I hope you are following my count and seeing the references, both direct and indirect implications being given to us. These scriptures are very important to understand. We are finally getting to some great scriptures that we have been working up to and the anticipation has been building with great excitement:
Eph 5:30 For we (the church) are members of his (Jesus Christ) body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
You finally begin to see what God is speaking of about Christ and the church. This verse informs us in very clear language that we are the body of Christ and indirectly tells us how we became His body. But then did you notice that it also calls us his flesh and his bones. Isn’t this what Adam said about Eve? Adam said she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Do you understand the context? I put the description of who this verse was talking about in parenthesis so that you could better understand it. What we clearly see is a reference to the natural law of marriage given to us by God in Genesis 2. To reaffirm the connection to Adam, God repeats the law from Genesis in the next verse:
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man (Jesus Christ) leave his father (God) and mother (Israel), and shall be joined unto his wife (the church), and they two shall be one flesh (body).
God is directly saying that what happened with Adam and Eve was a pattern for Christ and the church. I included the participants in this verse and named names. I put these in parenthesis so that you would not confuse them with the original verse. I did not add to the verse I only clarified the subjects and references so that you could more easily see them. Did you see them? Did you understand them? That is the main part we are going for, if you can understand them, then Satan can’t steal them away from you. One of the key words in this verse is given to us and it is that the two will be “joined” together to be one flesh (body). The Greek word for “joined” literally means “to glue”. That is God’s definition of marriage, creating one body, taking two separate pieces and gluing them together to be one piece or one body. This is again basic math God’s way. With Adam he took one and made two, however God still called them one. You can see this from a multiplication perspective. One man times one wife equals 1 body. I’ve done wood working before, and I have taken two pieces of wood and using dowels and glue I’ve put them together or “joined” them and clamped them and let them dry. After sanding and staining it is incredible the strength and beauty of the one new piece of wood. There are in fact some glues that are so strong that if you would try to pull them apart the wood would usually break in a new spot. This is what God is trying to communicate to us. To join together is a process of marriage. Taking two separate individual pieces and creating one new piece. Here is a revised count of direct and indirect scripture references to the subjects in marriage:
We can see that from this total sheet that we have an overwhelming number of witness to the subject matter of marriage in context with all of these participants. God declares that just as husbands and wives are in covenant and become one flesh so it is with Jesus and the church. The next verse in Ephesians actually declares to us some very valuable information. This verse is the overwhelming climax to the subject of marriage in this chapter of Ephesians:
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
You see in this verse Ephesians 5:32 God lets us in on a secret that has been kept hidden since the foundation of the world. God had a plan and He patterned this plan after things that He created for us to see. God created a man and a woman and established the law of marriage. God declares that just as one wife becomes one flesh or body with her husband, so all wives become one flesh with their husbands. God declares this to be a Great Mystery. The Greek word for mystery here means “to shut the mouth” as in “keep a secret” from someone. Did you know God had secrets? God must have not wanted someone to see his plan and I believe this was Satan. God says that all of this chapter is about marriage covenant relationships and that this is or was a great secret, but He lets the proverbial cat out of the bag so to speak by telling us that this all has to do with Christ and the church. Jesus Christ is the bridegroom and the church, the bride. The New Covenant is a marriage and the result is the establishment of new family unit. Why did God have to establish a new family? Apparently He had a major problem with his old family. If you can see this and understand it you will be far beyond a lot of other Christians who do not yet know who they are. Satan has tried to confuse the identity of the Bride for many reasons. Even preachers have helped Satan to confuse us. God is doing a new thing in these last days, He is getting the truth out for us to see and to understand. I hope and pray that you can see it. We will continue in the next blog on the mystery of the identity of the Bride using more New Testament verses that confirm our true identity.
If you would like to continue with this series, you can go to “Part 7“.