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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Biblical Evidence for a Baptist Bride

M. H. Hall

From The Baptist Challenge, May 2014

A short time ago I received a paper from the pastor of one of the largest independent churches in America. It contained a message by the pastor, and it was a good message concerning the work of the church, what they stand for doctrinally, etc., I truly enjoyed the message, and rejoiced in most all of it; however there were some statements with which I could not agree. I had heard different stories about what this church taught and practiced, and I was glad to have their direct statement as to the error of many of these rumors. The following are some of the quotes from this article:

“The local church is very precious to God.”

“The best definition of a local church is ‘A body of born again, baptized believers, banded together for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission. Every saved person should belong to that kind of a local church’.”

“There is no invisible, universal church. The New Testament church is very visible. There are thousands of them.”

I could go on and on giving quotations from this article to which I could say a hearty “amen!” This pastor spoke of the importance of baptism, that the authority for same was in the local church, that the mode is only immersion, etc. Then the following statement in which I could rejoice:

“We do not accept alien immersion here at ______ Baptist Church.”

I purposefully leave out the name of the church and pastor, lest someone should think that I am trying to be critical and unkind in what I shall later say here. This is not the case, for I thank God for the work of this great church and pastor, and to find that they stand as I do upon these fundamentals. The next statement in the article from which I quote is:

“At the same time, we do not believe in a Baptist Bride.”

He goes on to say that he believes that every born again believer will be caught up in the rapture, and will spend eternity with the Lord. This is true. Of course, his position is that of so many so-called “Baptists” today: that all of the saved will be a part of the Bride of Christ. This I do not believe. I believe in a Baptist Bride. To take the position that all saved persons will be a part of Christ’s Bride is the equivalent of saying, that one church is as good as another, and that all will receive equal honor at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Beloved, this is just not so. If this be true, then one might as well be a Catholic, or a member of one of the many other organizations which call themselves New Testament churches, but which, in fact, came into being fifteen, or sixteen hundred years too late to be able to make claim to New Testament authority.

As the writer of the article from which I have quoted rightly declares, all of the saved will be with the Lord in glory, and will be present at the wedding supper, but all will not be a part of the Bride, nor have the special honor which will be accorded to the Bride of our Blessed Lord.

Jesus Established The Church

This Day-of-Pentecost origin of the church is too ridiculous to merit consideration here. Jesus said that He — not the Holy Spirit — would build His church (Matt. 16:17-18). See Luke 6:12-16 where Jesus, after all night prayer, called His disciples to Him and, out of them, chose twelve whom He named apostles. See I Corinthians 12:28, where it is stated that the apostles were set in the church first. Neither time nor space will permit a full discussion of these things here; however, there are too many evidences of the fact that Christ set up the church while He was on earth to need discussion here.

The Baptist Name

Although Baptists have been called by various names since the days of the origin of the New Testament church, I believe that the name Baptist, itself, as relating to the church, is scriptural. John was called “Baptist” in the New Testament. He was sent from God to prepare the material of which Jesus would set up His church.

I believe that the one true church which Jesus set up was a missionary Baptist church. We realize that today the name “Baptist” is used promiscuously by many groups which bear little likeness to the New Testament church in doctrine, practice, organization, etc., True missionary Baptists today preach the same doctrines, have the same kind of organization, hold to the same ordinances, have the same kind of government, and recognize Jesus the one only true Head of the New Testament church (Eph. 1:22-23). The church is also called His body.

Now a church, according to the Greek New Testament can only be a visible assembly. Also the word “body” (Greek soma), which is used many, many times to indicate the church, means a visible, organized body. It cannot be invisible, or universal. Jesus used the human body to picture the structure of His church. The word is used 18 times in I Corinthians chapter 12, and every time it has to do with the church.

The Bride of Christ

The Bride of Christ will be composed of the aggregation of all true New Testament churches — of course, minus any unsaved who are members. I believe these true New Testament churches are true missionary Baptist churches. As to independent churches, we know that all New Testament churches were independent. There were no Conventions, Associations, Organized Fellowships, nor General Organizations.

Two Opposing Positions

There are two common objections raised pertaining to our claim of a Baptist Bride:

1. Opponents raise the question as to Paul’s words concerning Christ’s Bride, the church, as given in Ephesians 4:4 and 5:21-32.

In considering these scriptures, keep in mind that he is speaking to a local church; and truly there is only one church (one kind of church as set up by our Lord). Also he speaks of the church in an institutional sense, as we might say, “the home, the school,” etc., without reference to any particular local home, or church, or school.

As to Ephesians 5:22-32, church is used in the same institutional sense.

2. The second objection raised by opponents of the Baptist Bride position is, that the impurities, and disobedience of many of these churches, would disqualify them; hence the Bride will have to be made up of all saved people. This, too, I must deny, for Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us:

“Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, but holy, and without blemish.”

So, my friends, when the Bride is presented to Jesus, the Bridegroom, she will have been cleansed and made acceptable to Him.

Other Evidences

Matthew 22:1-14 is an irrefutable reference, for it is quite obvious that this parable has to do with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. And, beloved, there were “guests” at this wedding. Surely we never heard of a happy wedding occasion, such as this, with only the Bride and Groom present. Again, John 3:29 says,

“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”

It is easy to see that the friend of the bridegroom here is John, but he was not a part of the Bride.

I also urge you to read carefully Psalms 45:8-17. Without doubt, this is a picture of the happy occasion of the marriage, and glorious reception. Psalm 45:14 says: “She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework; the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.”

There is one other scripture which I shall mention here, which is usually referred to by the anti-Baptist Bride group — also by those who teach of an invisible, universal church, and that everyone who is saved is in the church, the body of Christ. This is Hebrews 12:22-23, where, in contrast with the law, we are told of that to which we come.

“But we are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”

Now it is quite obvious to those who know anything about the Greek rendering of this, that “general assembly,” and “church of the firstborn” are entirely two different things. The word used for “general assembly” is panaqurei, and means “the assembly of an entire people.” This evidently refers to all of the saved of all ages. However church, in “church of the firstborn,” is ekklesia, and means “assembly.” It is the word used for “church” throughout the New Testament. The “general assembly” and “church of the first-born” cannot be one, and the same.

Dear friends, I must stand upon the proposition, that the church that Jesus built while He was here on earth was an old time missionary Baptist church, and that the aggregation of such churches will constitute the Bride of Christ. All who are born again will be there, but only the Bride will have the place of highest honor. The Bride and the Bridegroom will not be alone at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9); the saved of all ages will be there.

And what a time of glory it will be! Hallelujah! There are so-called churches today which believe and preach salvation by works; the New Testament churches preached salvation by grace, through faith, and that unto good works (Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 3:5).

There are so-called churches today which believe and preach baptismal regeneration; the New Testament church preached the new birth by the Spirit of God. They made disciples, then baptized them.

There are so-called churches today which believe and preach sprinkling or pouring for baptism; the New Testament churches preached and practiced the only mode that can in any way be called baptism; that is immersion in water.

There are so-called churches today which believe and preach church government by a select few; the New Testament churches practiced authority and rule by the church, believing in the autonomy given the church.

There are many so-called churches today which believe and preach that a group must belong to, or be affiliated with some convention, association, fellowship or other organization. The New Testament churches believed in the absolute independence of every local body of Christ, and recognized no head except Jesus, the founder of the church (Eph. 2:23; Col. 1:18).

There are many so-called churches today which believe, preach, and practice “open communion” that is, let any Christian come and participate in that church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper; the New Testament churches observed the Lord’s Supper as a local church ordinance.

Limited time and space prevent our going on and on with this list of differences in the practice of many so-called churches, and that of old time New Testament Baptist churches today. But we stand upon the Book. In the light of these things, I must say that we believe in a true Baptist Bride. And we believe that the bride will have the place of honor. Otherwise, one church is as scriptural as another, and that is not so. All believers are saved, but all are not in the Bride of Christ.