What is your hope for life after death? Because of Jesus’ sacrifice we have our sins forgiven and we can go home to Him and our heavenly Father for eternity. It’s an incredible future. Could there be anything better than that? The astounding truth is that, even though that will be truly glorious, there is a possibility for an eternal life that far surpasses even that. That is to be a part of the bride of Christ.
Those who are a part of Jesus’ bride will also be there in heaven, but their role there will be completely different. They are co-inheritors of all things with Jesus and will actually rule together with Him in eternity. They will not just be “residents” in heaven and in eternity. They will be His closest companions and share His nature and His life.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17.
How do you get to be a part of that group of people?
More than getting to know Jesus
To become a part of the bride of Christ, it is not enough to simply “get to know Jesus.” To read about His works and what He’s done for us, and worship and admire Him for that. It is not enough to find comfort in being washed clean in His blood, to live a “good” life, and be a “good” Christian. There is a life that goes deeper than performing outward acts of righteousness, and admiring Christ, and being thankful for the work that He did so that we can get our sins forgiven by His death on the cross at Calvary. That is only the beginning of a true Christian life. Something needs to be done about the root of sin in the flesh. Forgiveness of sins alone leads to heaven, or as Jesus called it, “Paradise” (Luke 23:43), but it doesn’t lead to sanctification, and doesn’t lead to membership in the bride of Christ.
Those who are a part of the bride aim to be like Christ, joint heirs with Him! (Romans 8:17) That’s the promise that they have, if they allow God to do a purifying work in them while they live on earth.
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3.
What does it mean to be part of the bride?
The bride of Christ gets to know Him through the fellowship of His sufferings. (Philippians 3:8-11) They voluntarily cleanse themselves from all sin, by putting it to death, just as Jesus did as a Man on earth. It’s this attitude of judging and hating the sin that they see in themselves that leads to them being conformed to His image. They are His disciples who do not just admire the work that He did, but follow in His footsteps, doing the same overcoming work He did, step by step. (1 Peter 4:1-2) In addition to receiving grace for forgiveness for sin they have committed, they receive even more abundant grace to come to an end of committing sin. The very root of sin is destroyed in their lives. They have a personal righteousness; they become sanctified. It costs them something, and there is a suffering involved in giving up the sin that lies so close to human nature. But it is in this fire that purges of all impurity and unworthiness, that they become like Him. Through obedience to God’s Word it becomes life in them, and they can be used as instruments of righteousness in God’s hands. This is how they become His helpmeet, bone of His bones, co-workers with Him, and He is not ashamed to call them brothers.*
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Hebrews 2:11
This is the calling of the bride. To be His equal, His helpmeet, His co-worker, so when we go into the Millennium, and then into eternity, we can be along in all of the works that He does, working side by side in fellowship with Him. We don’t just worship Him, but we are His intimates, His peers. Like an only child who wants siblings, He had such a longing for someone to share all that He inherits from the Father, that He left heaven in order to teach mankind the way to go to become like Him.
When God has completed the work He is doing in all of those who will be a part of the bride, they will be raptured to meet their Bridegroom in the clouds, and He will say, like Adam in the garden of Eden, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23)
An inheritor of all things
More than just being saved by forgiveness and reconciliation the bride is saved to the uttermost by sanctification and transformation to the image of Christ – partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
“… came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. … But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” Revelation 21:9-11,22-24.
*Note: Both “the bride” and “Jesus’ brothers” are pictures the Bible uses to help us understand the close relationship we have with Him, and that He wants to share all things with us.