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The Church, the Beautiful Bride of Christ

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

religion, articles, christianity

I. Introduction.

A. In his parable of the marriage supper, Jesus teaches some things about the church.

1. "And Jesus answered and spake again in parables unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the marriage feast: and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them that are bidden, Behold, I have made ready my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage feast. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise; and the rest laid hold on his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them. But the king was wroth; and he sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they that were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore unto the partings of the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage feast. And those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was filled with guests. But when the king came in to behold the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding­garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding­garment? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few chosen" (Matt. 22:1­14).

2. The kingdom of heaven is the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18­19).

B. Parable of the marriage supper is near the end of the life of Jesus on earth.

1. As his life drew to its close, he spoke often of the Jewish rejection of him, and of the consequent destruction of Jerusalem.

2. Jewish leaders reacted with resentment (Matt. 21:45­46).

a. Jesus was not afraid and did not apologize, but repeated the teaching.

b. His courage and boldness show his prophetic role.

c. We dare not be intimidated by the world and cease to teach truth.

II. Features of the parable.

A. The call to attend the marriage supper.

1. Old Testament prophets.

2. John the baptizer.

3. Jesus and his disciples.

4. Jesus and John commanded repentance, and declared the kingdom was at hand.

B. Refusal to accept the invitation.

1. The invited guests (the Jews) made light of the invitation.
a. They were busy with farm and shop.

b. Men often put off duty to God because they are too busy.

2. The messengers were killed.

3. The king sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

4. The parable anticipates the destruction of Jerusalem.

C. Others invited to the marriage supper.

1. The invitation is to all who will come.

a. The gospel is a "whosoever will" invitation to heaven.

b. Every creature in all the world is invited (Mark 16:15).

c. Acceptance requires obedience (Mark 16:16).

d. Grace of salvation is for all who will obey (Titus 2:11­12).

2. Anyone may accept the invitation by obedience to God's commands.
D. Time of preparation and waiting.

1. The church on earth is the betrothed but not the bride of the Lamb.

2. The marriage will take place when Jesus comes again.

3. The church must be unspotted from the world.

a. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25­27).

b. The church must not dirty her good name and the reputation of her groom.

c. The church is glorious and unblemished.

4. No blemish in doctrine.

a. Apostles were to keep the church free from error (Gal. 1:6­9).

b. Responsibility of maintaining sound doctrine passed to others (1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6; Titus 2:1).

c. These in turn passed the responsibility to still others (2 Tim. 2:2; Jude 1:3).

d. The gospel must be guarded, defended, and protected, or it will be mutilated, perverted, and altered (Heb. 2:1­3).

e. The church-the saved-is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

5. No blemish in behavior (Gal. 5:19­26).

E. The bridegroom comes.

1. Those without a wedding garment will be cast out.

2. "Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Rev. 19:7­8).

3. When the betrothed becomes this wife, her glory shall never fade nor pass away.

4. "And behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book" (Rev. 22:7).

Published February 1996