Recently while reading Paul Billheimer's book "Destined for the Throne" (one I highly recommend) this thought crossed my mind. He was talking about the Bride of Christ, which as you know is one of the scriptural names for the Church that Jesus is in the process of building. He used the term "multiple" bride, which I had never seen in print before, that I can remember. The very thought of a bride being other than a beautiful young lady in the prime of life being joined in holy matrimony with her groom at the alter of a church, is not something we can easily grasp! Yet that is what the Bible says the Church is. No wonder Paul speaks of this as being a "great mystery" which God had revealed to him about the Church. (Eph 5:32).
We understand an earthly marriage to consist of a bride (female) joined to her husband, and the two becoming one, in spirit, soul, and body. The very idea of a multiple bride somehow doesn't fit in our thinking. But not only Paul refers to the Church as the bride of Christ, John in (Rev 21:2, 9-10) calls the Church "the Bride, the wife of the Lamb". We know from this chapter that John has seen in a vision the "Completed Church" composed of every born again member of the true Church that ever lived, from every Nation. This will truly be "a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb". (Rev 7:9). We must grasp this concept of the Church before we can ever expect to see true unity in the Body. Truly a "multiple Bride", as brother Billheimer calls the church.
We will close this short article with a quote from page 55 of his book "We consider the human body as a single entity because it is united in a single consciousness. Yet Paul emphasizes it is not one, but many members. Just so, the Holy City of John's vision, which constitutes the heavenly Bride, is inhabited not by one but by an immense multitude. Yet because it will be united by a single consciousness it will compose a single, harmonious whole comparable to the human body. This is the unity toward which the Church is moving in time and which will be realized in absolute perfection by the bridehood inhabitants of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, which John saw descending out of heaven from God. That city will be inhabited by an innumerable throng so perfectly fused into one consciousness by holy passion for her heavenly Bridegroom, that it will constitute a single organism. Can this be why God prizes unity among His people so highly and why Satan fights it so desperately?" I believe that what wse have referred to as the "church" in this 21st century, is something far different from God's concept of the "Church", the "Body of Christ", that Jesus stated just after Peter had made the declaration in (Matt 16:16) "You are the Messiah, the Son on the Living God". This statement prompted Jesus to declare "On this rock I will build My Church" (Matt 16:18) NLT. Jesus clearly meant on Peter's declaration of faith, and not on Peter himself, as some people have believed!