The Present Work of Christ Part VII: The Present Work of Christ in Heaven (Part 5) -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:487 (Jul 1965)
Article: The Present Work of Christ Part VII: The Present Work of Christ in Heaven (Part 5)
Author: John F. Walvoord

The Present Work of Christ
Part VII:
The Present Work of Christ in Heaven
(Part 5)

John F. Walvoord

Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride

The figure of the bridegroom and the bride picturing Christ in His relationship to the church is properly included in His present work, but is more eschatological in its character than any other. While the consummation of this truth is in the future, the present activity of Christ for His church has in view this future goal and for this reason it is also related to His present work. The present work of Christ is designed to prepare the church to be His bride and to prepare a place for their eternal fellowship in glory.

The Church as the Bride

Some confusion has arisen concerning the nature of the church as the bride of Christ stemming from the larger problem of the nature of the church itself. The viewpoint of covenant theology, which regards the church as the term including the saints of all ages, tends to obscure the particular line of truth relating to the church as the bride including only the saints of the present age. At the other extreme is the viewpoint of Bullinger and Sir Robert Anderson who distinguish two bodies of believers in this present age, namely Israel and the church, and limit the concept of the bride to Israel only in the New Testament.1 This view is usually associated with the distinction between the apostolic church as being Israel, the true bride, and the later or postapostolic church as a Gentile church, the body of Christ, but not the bride. If the church is considered a term properly applied to the saints of this present age beginning at Pentecost, then the body of

Christ and the bride of Christ, are identical in reference and refer to the same believers.

Even if these premises, however, be granted, there is still a measure of confusion in the figure of the bride as related to the church because of the fact that marriage is used to illustrate many spiritual truths in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament Israel is regarded as married to Jehovah. Her disobedience to the law and worship of idols is regarded as being spiritually unfaithful to her husband and a violation of her marriage vows (Isa 54:1–17; Jer 3:1, 14, 20; Hos 2:1–23).

In contrast to the use of the marriage figure as it relates to Israel in the Old Testament, the church in the New Testament is referred to as a bride, but ...

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