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true church of God but those who are saved. This leaves every sinner outside of the newtestament church. The above being true, “holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, forever" (Psa. 93:5). In this house we gather and eat the bread of life and drink the crystal waters of salvation in the courts of his holiness (Isa. 62:9).
Under this figure the church is presented as a family. It is the family of God, one family in heaven and on earth. God has but one family, and that family includes all his children. Nothing less than this constitutes the church. Any institution or organization that does not include in its membership the entire family of God in heaven and on earth can not be the newtestament church. As a family, God is our Father and we are his children. Therefore we read in 2 Cor. 6:18, “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Some teachers in modern times say that we shall not really be the sons of God until the resurrection morning; but John says,
loved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3: 2. Not in the future age shall we become sons, but “now are we the sons of God." We become so through the new birth. “As many as received him, to him gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, . ... of God.” John 1:12, 13. We become children of natural families through natural birth, and just so we become children of God, members of his spiritual family, through spiritual birth. “Of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her.” Psa. 87:5. It would, indeed, sound strange for a child to speak to his parents about joining their family. Intelligence would teach him that he was a member of the family by virtue of natural birth. Just so is it ridiculous in the sight or eyes of the Lord for men to speak of joining the church after conversion or the new birth, for the fact is, the very moment individuals are born of the Spirit of God, they are then and there made members of his church. This church or family of God is termed in Gal. 6:10 “the household of faith," and in Eph. 2:19 it is termed “the household of God,” the latter term signifying to whom the church belongs.
As in every home there should be government, law, and order, so in the household of God, Christ is the head of the family. He has placed the members under government and rule, and he demands that they all be "obedient children." "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” The New Testament is the law by which this household is governed, and every member must observe all things commanded (Matt. 28: 20). If in anything any member of the Lord's household become unruly and fail to behave himself as Christians should, the rod of correction will be used (Heb. 12:5-11).
Under this figure, then, is brought out clearly the universality of the church, its exclusiveness, and its government.
One beautiful figure under which the newtestament church is presented is that of a woman. In Rev. 12:1 we read, “And there
appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." This woman represents the true church of God in her primitive beauty and glory. Her being “clothed with the sun" would signify that she was clothed with the authority, power, glory, holiness, might, and truth of Christ himself. The crown upon her head would signify that she was a queen. The twelve stars in her crown signify the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Thus the true church is presented to us under the figure of a beautiful woman, while in the seventeenth chapter of this same book of symbols the apostate church is presented under the figure of a corrupted, adulterous woman decked with the filthiness of her fornications.
Under this figure of a woman the church appears as a bride. Of her John the Baptist in his ministry said, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." John 3: 29. The bridegroom is Christ, and the bride is his church. Again, in 2 Cor. 11:2 we read, “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.” In these texts the re
lationship between Christ and his church, or people, is expressed as being an espousal. Jesus came to earth to purchase for himself a bride. He purchased her with his own precious blood, and under this figure she became his. During the present dispensation she is called out from this world of sin, and is robed in the garments of salvation, with his own righteousness, termed “white linen, clean and white,' and thus she is being made ready to be presented to him "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
At the second coming Christ will appear to receive his bride unto himself. This, in figure, is called the marriage of the Lamb. See Rev. 19:7, 8. “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb.” What that great supper will consist of we are not now able to tell, but then will be fulfilled the words of Jesus, “I will eat and drink anew with you in my Father's kingdom.” In that new earth the church is seen as a bride, the Lamb's wife, the marriage having taken place. Under this figure, then, our future and eternal union with Christ is expressed by the term “marriage” — the marriage of the Lamb.