We at the Lion and Lamb Ministry firmly believe that The Bride of Christ and The Mystery, the Body of Christ, belong to different operations in the overall plan of God. Both are formed by Christ, and both are based on the redemptive work of Christ, but there are many differences, leading to the conclusion that they are in fact completely different.
They have different beginnings, different Apostles, different Gospels, there is numerous scripture that pertains to each separately, they each have different members, they each have different governing's, and they have different prophesies to them. What many fail to realize is this: because Israel, the first nation, nation #1, stubbornly rejected Christ the Messiah, God finally set her aside, (albeit temporarily never ever forget that), as a nation, as we read in Acts 28:28, and, in unmatched incomprehensible mercy and love, interrupted the prophetic program, to which it is written, "none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:8), ushering in the present parenthetical Dispensation of Grace, the Dispensation of the Mystery, through the Apostle Paul, who had been our LORD's enemy, but was now the appointed herald of His infinite Grace. Isn't that AMAZING!
The Bride and the Bridegroom, though in a sense are one, are yet distinct. And it is clear from all the scriptures relating to the Mystery, that the members of the Body of Christ, the Church of the Dispensation of Grace, The Dispensation of the Mystery, are part of the Bridegroom Himself.
FIRST, We have the earthly calling of Israel, called out from all nations, for blessing in the Land. Israel was the "wife," and is so spoken of all through the Old Testament; and the marriage will be consummated when Revelation 19:8 will be fulfilled.
I am sure we can agree that the great subject of the Old Testament prophecies is a restored Israel and a regenerated earth (Matthew 19). It is surely unnecessary to quote the many prophecies which tell of the time when the earth shall be full of the knowledge and glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Numbers 14:21, Psalm 72:9, Isaiah 6:3, Isaiah11:9, Habakkuk 2:14).
That kingdom and sphere of blessing and glory will be on the EARTH; and the new Israel with a heart of stone changed to a heart of flesh and with a new spirit, will bring forth "the fruits of righteousness ". This will be the regeneration when the 12 Apostles will be seated "on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).This will be the first and lowest sphere of blessing. It will be on EARTH, and under the whole heaven. These are "the people OF the saints of the Most High " (Daniel 7:27). All the nations of the earth will share in this blessing according to God's original promise to Abraham. This is the National Calling of Israel.
THEN, We have "the heavenly calling," distinctly spoken of as such in Hebrews 3:1, of which a certain class of believing Israelites were "partakers." Among these we may put all those whom we speak of as "the Old Testament Saints."
In spite of the earthly promises to Israel, and in the midst of all those who cherished those earthly promises, there was an ELECT "heavenly calling" of those whose hopes were not earthly, but heavenly. They looked for no earthly portion, but they looked forward with a heavenly hope to a heavenly blessing.
As it is written, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims (Genesis 23:4, 1 Peter 2:11) on the earth". For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a COUNTRY, a better country, that is, an HEAVENLY, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a CITY" (Hebrews 11:13-16).
And of Abraham it is said (Hebrews 11:10): "He looked for THE CITY which hath FOUNDATIONS, whose builder and maker is God."
When the angel, therefore, says to John (Revelation 21:9), "Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and he showed me that great CITY, the holy Jerusalem descending out of HEAVEN from God," what can we conclude that here, we have that "better country," and "the City" for which the Old Testament saints belonging to the "heavenly calling" looked?
It will also be noted that the names "on the GATES" of the city are "the names of the twelve TRIBES of the children of Israel" (Revelation 21:12), while the names "in the FOUNDATIONS" are "the names of the TWELVE APOSTLES of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:14).
NOW, if THIS is NOT "the CITY" for which they and the Elect Remnant looked, for what "City" DID they look?
Certainly not for an earthly city; but for this, of which we now see them, it's blessed and happy inhabitants. No other city has these foundations; no other city has apostles and prophets to prophesy concerning God as its builder. God builds one City, His prophets and apostles are all concerned for the building of the City of the eternal ages. Their message concerning this city came from its builder and maker. The builder of it puts their names in the foundations of its walls; and the adornment of its foundations are the names of the twelve apostles. No other city could have such immortal, priceless foundations. Blessed foundations. This was the city; for this alone has foundations, all others will have vanished in smoke; this abides. This, then, is what Abraham, and his seed, by faith, looked for. This is the Holy City.
The Bride, (the HEAVENLY Calling), Abraham and his spiritual seed are "the saints of the Most High " as distinct from "the people" (OF these saints) on the earth (Daniel 7:18, Daniel 7:22, and Daniel 7:25), and occupying a distinct place in the HEAVENLY SPHERE of this SAME Kingdom. From the call of Abraham there have ever been these TWO seeds, the earthly and the heavenly. The one was likened by Jehovah to "the dust of the earth" or "the sand of the sea" (Genesis 13:16; Genesis 22:17); and the other was likened to "the stars of heaven" (Hebrews 11:12; Gen. 15:5). Both expressions suggest multitude, but the former is specially associated with EARTHLY blessing, while the latter points to "the partakers of a HEAVENLY calling (Hebrews 3:1), these are The Bride of Christ!
The Bride is seen all through the Old Testament as being " the church or assembly of God," " partakers of a HEAVENLY calling, "possessing a heavenly hope, and looking for a heavenly sphere of blessing". Then in Romans 11:6 we have the "ELECTION" of Israelites by Grace; the rest of Israel blinded. "AS IT IS WRITTEN" in Isaiah 6:9-10. This blindness is still upon Israel.
ISRAEL WILL AGAIN BE ELECTED. As touching the "ELECTION", when Israel shall be saved, in fulfillment of Romans 11:26, this will be, because they are beloved for the fathers' sake, because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, because this is God's covenant when He shall take away Israel's sins. (Romans 11:26-29).
And then, we have the other "calling," of which we read in Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 4:1. It is a "HOLY calling" (2 Timothy 1:9). It is a Divine calling. HOWEVER, if we identify the calling of the Church of the Mystery, the Body of Christ, with the other callings we cannot but have confusion.
NOW, pay attention, God's ELECT in THIS CURRENT Age and Dispensation of GRACE, the Dispensation of the Mystery (Ephesians 3:9), those of the HOLY Calling, are members of the Body of Christ, and NOT "ELECT ISRAEL"! "Who hath saved us, and called us with an HOLY calling, NOT according to our works, but according to his own purpose and Grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus BEFORE the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9).
Members of the Body of Christ are the Church of the Mystery. A secret that was hid in God. His Body, to be to be joined with its Head, called home at the Rapture, the GLORIOUS meeting in the air, before the "Day of the LORD" begins.
In Revelation 21 we have the New Heaven and the New Earth; we have the Twelve Tribes of Israel; and Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. So, we have to ask, What has all this to do with the Body of Christ, the Church of the Mystery? OBVIOUSLY this has to do only and solely with the Holy City and with the Bride of the Lamb.
Christians, in their selfishness, intrude themselves into the place of others as the Bride, and thus lose the blessed enjoyment of their own place which is theirs as part of the Bridegroom!
The Bride and the Bridegroom, though in a sense are one, are yet distinct. And it is clear from all the scriptures relating to the Mystery, that the members of Christ's Body are part of the Bridegroom Himself. Whereas the elect Old Testament saints will form the Bride. See Isaiah 12:6, "Cry out and shout, thou Inhabitress of Zion: For great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." In Revelation 22:3, we read "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it." Of the glory of this Holy City other scriptures speak. Take a look at Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:14, 1and Isaiah 60:9-20; Revelation 21:23-24, and Revelation 21:27; Isaiah 54:11-12.
True, the Apostle Paul might address the saints concerning his desire to present them "as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). But this no more declares that the Church IS the Bride of Christ than that the Apostle himself was their father (1 Corinthians 4:15); or that he was their mother (Galatians 4:19). In the one case he spoke of the painful anxiety of a mother; in another of the loving care of a father; while, in 2 Cor. 11:2, he spoke of the jealousy of the friend of a bridegroom. The "Mystery" was a totally different thing.
Then in Ephesians 4:28-29, the argument is that husbands "ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord, the Church, for we are members of His Body," That is, AS Christ loves HIS OWN BODY (Himself (the Head) and the Church (the Head's Body)); so ought husbands to love their wives. Thus "the Mystery" is employed as an argument as to the reciprocal duties of husbands and wives. In NEITHER case is it said that the Church IS the wife, or that Christ IS the husband. But that AS Christ loves His Body (Himself and the Body of Christ), SO husbands ought to love their own bodies (that is, themselves and their wives).
The one thing that is clear, is that the Church of the Mystery is the Body of Christ; and that the members of that Body being "in Christ," are PART OF THE BRIDEGROOM. They cannot possibly, therefore, be the Bride herself as separate and distinct from the Bridegroom.
Another thing that is certain is that the mystery of the Church was not revealed in the Old Testament, but was "hid in God" (Ephesians 3:9) and "kept secret" (Romans 16:25); "hid from ages and from generations" (Colossians 1;26).
Before Israel was created for God's glory, before all of the promises concerning Israel's coming glory and the millennial reign of Christ on earth, even, before Adam had sinned, or was created, God PREDESTINATED that members of the Body of Christ should be conformed to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:28-29). They would be SEATED in the Heavenlies in Christ.
God's eternal purpose is to have a company of redeemed sinners SEPERATE and DISTINCT from ALL OTHER companies. Dwell on this.
These predestinated and justified believers are to be JOINED to Christ as ONE flesh, to make ONE New Man, the Perfect Man, with HEAVENLY citizenship, to appear with Christ in glory. (Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 5:31-32; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:1-4).
THIS the Father wants every Christian to make known (Ephesians 3:9). And, of course, Satan hates this message with a vicious hatred.
It is one thing to see an illustration of the Church in the Old Testament; but it is quite another thing to say that this is there revealed, which God distinctly declares was not revealed!
At the First Resurrection, following Christ's return to the earth in power and great glory, those of the Heavenly Calling will be resurrected, made ready as a Bride, to be married to Christ, both Head and Body, (the Body which was Raptured, and united in glory with the Head prior to the going forth of the Antichrist). THIS will be the time of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
In Ephesians 1:13 the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul declares that men are saved and sealed by hearing and BELIEVING the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation. Therefore, here, now, is declared unto you the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation: "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. BELIEVE today. The time is short.
So There You Have it!
Spread this message to everyone you know, far and wide.
Grace be to you and peace, from God: our Father, and The LORD Jesus Christ.
In The LORD Jesus Christ,
The Lion and Lamb Ministry
Pastor David Picos, D.D.
Minister and Ambassador for Christ in the Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20)