Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
When He Is Come (2)
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15).
Christ’s earthly ministry covered a period of about three and one-half years; and near the end of this ministry, shortly before His crucifixion, He took the disciples aside and provided closing instructions for them. These instructions began with Christ washing the disciples’ feet in John chapter thirteen, and they continued with things surrounding His soon departure in chapter fourteen and beyond.
Christ began to provide these closing instructions for His disciples at a time when He was about to complete the work that He had come to perform, depart this earth, and be gone for a lengthy period. His death, burial, and resurrection lay immediately ahead; and His time on earth following His resurrection would be climaxed by a short ministry lasting forty days.
His entire ministry while on earth (both pre- and post-resurrection) had centered around one facet of truth drawn from the Old Testament. It had centered around regality. The Messianic King was present, and a kingdom (in which the King would rule) was being offered to Israel.
The kingdom being offered to the Jewish people by their King had to do with the governmental administration of one province in God’s universal kingdom — the earth upon which man resides (Matthew 2:2; 3:1ff; 4:17ff; 13:19ff; Luke 4:1-13; Acts 1:3). This was the kingdom over which Satan and his angels had been placed by God in the beginning (Ezekiel 28:14; Luke 4:5, 6; Ephesians 3:10; 6:12); and this is the kingdom that will one day be ruled by Christ and His co-heirs, following that future time when Satan and his angels will have been put down (Luke 19:12-19; Romans 8:14-23; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21; 12:7-12).
(Scripture, dealing with that future day when Christ takes the scepter, refers to this kingdom as “the kingdom of the world” [Revelation 11:15, NASB, NIV]. The gospel accounts, introducing this kingdom from the Old Testament [e.g., the books of 1, 2 Samuel, or the book of Daniel], refer to the kingdom mainly two different ways: calling it “the kingdom of the heavens,” and “the kingdom of God” [e.g., Matthew 19:23, 24]. And these two expressions are self-explanatory.
The former expression [“the kingdom of the heavens”] has to do with the manner in which the kingdom has been established — a rule from the heavens over the earth, beginning with God and progressing through the incumbent ruler, Satan. And the latter expression [“the kingdom of God”] simply associates the kingdom with God’s universal kingdom [though only a part of this kingdom]. Both expressions refer to the same kingdom, and both are restricted to that part of the kingdom of God having to do with the earth — “the kingdom of the world.”
God rules from a place in the heavens [in relation to the universe], over the entire universe. Satan also rules from a place in the heavens [but a place in the heavens in relation to the earth, not in relation to the universe], with his rule restricted to the earth. And God apparently established rulership after the same fashion all other places in the universe where similar kingdoms exist [an established rule from places in the heavens over other provinces in His kingdom (Psalm 103:19-22)].
God, at a time in the past, positioned ruling angels [along with other angels occupying positions under them] over provinces located various places throughout the universe. And God governs the universe through these ruling angels [Job. 1:6ff; 2:1ff].
But a problem arose when one of these ruling angels sought to “exalt” his throne and be “like the most High,” i.e., rule the entire universe rather than the one province in the universe over which he had been placed. And the manner in which God chose to resolve the resulting problem — through the creation of man, with man destined to take the scepter in this one province in His kingdom — is at the center of His dealings with man throughout His Word.)
Christ was about to leave His disciples and return into the heavens, for a revealed reason. He was returning into the heavens in order “to receive for himself a kingdom” (Luke 19:12) — the same kingdom in view throughout His earthly ministry, which was (and remains today) under Satan’s rule and control. This was the kingdom offered to Israel during the past dispensation, and this is the same kingdom being offered to Christians during the present dispensation.
All of these things anticipate a change in the administration of the present kingdom under Satan. Such a change must occur, for Satan has disqualified himself; and God will not allow a disqualified ruler to remain on the throne indefinitely. He, of necessity, must be replaced.
(Nor will God allow a disqualified person to ascend the throne, as Adam [following the fall] was not allowed to ascend the throne in the past, or as numerous Christians [following their being shown disqualified at the judgment seat] will not be allowed to ascend the throne yet future. Occupying positions of regality within God’s kingdom is limited to qualified individuals — whether those about to ascend the throne, or those already seated on the throne.)
The first man, the first Adam, through an encounter with Satan, found himself disqualified to take the scepter and ascend the throne. And because of this, it was necessary that the second Man, the last Adam, experience a similar encounter with Satan. It was necessary that He also meet Satan, with regality in view, in order to show that He was not only fully qualified to redeem that which the first Adam forfeited in the fall (placing man back in a position where he could rule) but to ultimately ascend the throne as well.
This is the “why” of the temptation account at the outset of Christ’s ministry (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13). And that toward which everything points (regality) also forms the reason Christians experience a similar encounter with Satan during the present dispensation (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Satan, “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” And Christians are called upon to resist Satan “steadfast [i.e., ‘standing firm’] in the faith,” with a view to being exalted “in due time” (1 Peter 5:6-9).
And relative to the entire matter surrounding Satan’s actions toward Christians today, note Christ’s promise to Christians in Revelation 3:21:
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
The Son showed Himself fully qualified almost 2,000 years ago, finished the work that He had come to perform, and is now at the Father’s right hand, waiting… (Psalm 110:1ff). And the day is not far removed when the Father will give the kingdom to His Son, followed by His Son’s return as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Then the Father will remove Satan from the throne and position His Son, along with the Son’s co-heirs (those who [at the judgment seat] will be shown qualified, who will comprise the Son’s bride in that day), on the throne (Daniel 7:13, 14; Luke 19:12ff; Revelation 11:15; 19:11-20:6).
With a View to…
With a view to all of this, beginning at Christ’s first coming, Scripture states:
He came unto His own [Gk., neuter word, referring to ‘His Own things’], and His own [Gk., masculine word, referring to ‘His Own people’] did not receive Him (John 1:11).
Christ came unto His Own things. He was born King (Matthew 2:2), and the things to which He came — things having to do with His regal birth, the Davidic throne, the throne of this earth, etc. — were not realized at His first coming. The Jewish people to whom He came and offered “the kingdom of the heavens,” rejected Him. This resulted in the events surrounding Calvary, the people to whom He came (Israel) being set aside, His departure into heaven, the Spirit being sent, and the “one new man,” in Christ, being called into existence.
Very early in His ministry, Christ had called twelve disciples. These were individuals whom He could instruct and who would have a part in His ministry to Israel (Matthew 4:18ff; 5:1ff; Mark. 1:16ff; Luke 5:1ff; John 1:37ff). He later commissioned these twelve to carry the same message to Israel that He had been proclaiming (Matthew 10:1ff) — a message that had begun to be proclaimed by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1ff). And throughout the entire course of His ministry with the disciples, as He and His disciples proclaimed this message to the Jewish people, Christ continued to provide instruction for them (e.g., Matthew 13:1ff; 16:13ff; 17:1ff; 18:1ff).
But near the close of His ministry, though the disciples had been in His presence for over three years, there were still numerous things that they had not been taught. Christ had purposely not taught His disciples in certain areas, for a revealed reason.
Christ, referring to this matter, told the disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). These were things that the disciples yet needed to know and understand, but these were also things that, at that time, they were not able “to bear” (in the sense of the manner in which this same word [Gk., bastazo] is used in Acts 15:10).
Instruction extending throughout Christ’s ministry had not occurred over a sufficient length of time for the disciples to attain the necessary maturity to understand the “many things” of which He spoke. The disciples, at this point in time, still lacked an understanding of certain things in God’s revelation to man, things that it was necessary for them to understand prior to being taught these additional things.
However, “another Parakletos” would take over at this point (John 14:16), provide additional instruction in the Word, and lead the disciples into an understanding of the things to which Christ referred. He would lead them “into all truth” (John 16:7, 13).
A comparable (yet different) situation surrounding a knowledge of the Word can be seen in Paul’s experiences, beginning about five years later. Paul was converted on the Damascus road; and, though he apparently had a vast knowledge of “the letter” of the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 9:20-22, 29; 22:3), that same knowledge did not extend over into “the spirit” of this same Word (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-16).
Paul had been brought up “at the feet of Gamaliel [one of the greatest teachers of Scripture of that day], and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers” (i.e., according to the strict manner in which the Jewish fathers viewed the Old Testament Scriptures). Paul knew “the letter” of the Scriptures, but not “the spirit” of the Scriptures. However, knowing “the letter,” he was in a position where he could be taught “the spirit.”
And when his eyes were opened on the third day following his conversion (Acts 9:9-18), Paul possessed a sufficient knowledge of “the letter” of the Scriptures that he, over a very short period of time, was able to begin seeing certain things having to do with “the spirit” of the Scriptures. Only a few days following his conversion, after his physical strength had returned (resulting from his ordeal, beginning on the Damascus road), Paul went into the synagogues in Damascus and proclaimed “Christ…that he is the Son of God” (vv. 19, 20). And he proclaimed this message after the same manner shortly afterwards in Jerusalem as well (vv. 21-29).
Paul not only possessed the ability to proclaim this message shortly after his conversion, but he possessed the ability at this time to proclaim this message in such a manner that he could prove to the Jewish people (which could only have been through using their own Scriptures) that “this is very Christ.” And Paul’s ability to use the Old Testament Scriptures in this manner resulted in the Jews attempting to slay him in both Damascus and Jerusalem , forcing the Christians both places to physically remove Paul from these cities (vv. 24, 25, 29, 30).
Paul, through his prior knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, was able to put certain things together in a correct manner, on his own, to an extent. Then, because of his knowledge of these Scriptures, the Lord was able to take Paul aside a short time later, personally appear to him, and build upon that which he already knew (over a period of time probably lasting about three years). And, in this manner, the Lord taught Paul what is called in Scripture, “the mystery” (Romans 16:25; Galatians 1:11-17; Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:25-29).
“The mystery” had to do with Gentile believers being “fellowheirs, and of the same body” with Jewish believers; and this, in turn, had to do with both (Gentile and Jewish believers), in the same body, occupying proffered positions with Christ in the kingdom (Ephesians 3:1-6). It was this message that Paul had been called to proclaim throughout the Gentile world (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:2, 7).
The disciples, though they had been with Christ for over three years, had yet to be taught “many things”; Paul, though he had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel and taught “according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers,” still needed to be taught the various things surrounding the gospel that he had been called to proclaim; and Christians today, though they have “another Parakletos” Who has been sent to open the Scriptures to their understanding, will always find themselves in a position where they need to be taught.
It is evident from both the testimony of Scripture and one’s own experience that a mature knowledge of the Word of God is not something that a person acquires over a short period of time — weeks, months, or even several years. Neither the disciples nor Paul came into a mature knowledge of the Word in such a manner. And it is no different for Christians today.
Rather, multiplied years of study are involved in Christian maturity. A proper, mature knowledge of the Word takes time, lots of time — time which few are willing to devote to such a study.
The price that one must pay for a knowledge of the Word of God, in this respect, could be stated in two words: Eternal Review. And few are willing to pay that price.
Note several principles set forth in Isaiah 28:9, 10 surrounding the possession of a knowledge of the Word:
Whom will He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept [one part of that which God has stated] must be upon precept [another part of that which God has stated; i.e., Scripture must be compared with Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:9-13)], precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9, 10)
Then, a true and correct study of the Word, in line with the preceding, can only be a study under the ministry of the Parakletos, Who has been sent for this purpose. And this Word must be studied under the ministry of the Parakletos after the same fashion in which the Parakletos previously gave the word (e.g., Scripture has been built around a septenary structure that was set at the very beginning [Genesis 1:1-2:3; Hebrews 4:1-9], the Old Testament is highly typical in nature [Luke 24:25-27; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11], and regality is the central focus throughout [with redemption, which enters the picture following man’s fall, always related to regality — allowing man to be brought back into the position for which he was created in the beginning (Genesis 1:26-28; 22:1ff; Exodus 12:1ff; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21)]).
And it is completely immaterial whether one views the disciples (including Paul) studying under Christ’s ministry or Christians today studying under the Spirit’s ministry. One group would have no advantage over the other. Both (the disciples then, and Christians now) must be looked upon exactly the same way — studying under the ministry of the Parakletos (Christ then, and the Spirit now), Who are both One with the Father.
Christ had slightly over three years from a prior dispensation to teach His disciples. The Spirit, on the other hand, has an entire 2,000-year dispensation in which to carry out this work, along with the lifetime of individuals within the dispensation.
Thus, it can easily be seen and understood why there were things that the disciples were in no position “to bear” at the end of little more than three years of instruction, though having spent this time under the ministry of Christ Himself, one Parakletos. And it can also easily be seen and understood why these things could subsequently be opened up and revealed to the disciples under the ministry of the other Parakletos, Who would be sent following Christ’s departure. The coming Parakletos (the Holy Spirit) could not only build upon the work of the prior Parakletos (Christ), but time constraints would be quite different for those receiving instruction under His ministry.
He Will Guide
John 16:12-15 continues the thought from the preceding verses (vv. 7-11), which center around the reproving work of the Spirit (following His being sent) among Christians throughout the present dispensation. This reproving work of the Spirit would have for its goal “a bringing to light,” for Christians, all matters surrounding His mission in the world. The Spirit’s mission would center around His search for a bride for God’s Son, with a view to the Son’s coming reign; and, contextually, the Spirit would accomplish this task through calling attention to things in three realms: sin, righteousness, and judgment (vv. 8-11 [ref. chapter 3 of this book]).
And these same three realms, about to be used by the Spirit in His dealings with Christians, can be seen encompassing the whole of Christ’s previous ministry to Israel. In fact, these three realms together are inclusive to the point that they can be seen encompassing the whole of God’s dealings with man at any time throughout man’s history, beginning with Adam.
Relative to sin, righteousness, and judgment, as it pertained to Israel, the nation was sick — “from the sole of the foot even to the head” (Isaiah 1:6) — and this sickness was the direct result of “sin” (Isaiah 1:4). Because of Israel’s sickness in this respect, the message proclaimed to Israel, beginning with John the Baptist, was “Repent [change your minds (relative to sin, disobedience)]: for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand” (Matthew 3:1, 2; cf. Matthew 4:17; 10:5-7).
That which was to follow after the matter of “sin” had been dealt with was “righteousness” — right living. The Jewish people were living in a manner completely contrary to that which God had outlined in His Word for the nation to follow. They were living in an unrighteous manner. And it was this turning about, by means of repentance, which was in view through Christ’s statement to His disciples about “righteousness” at the outset of His ministry:
For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees [reflecting on Israel’s condition through the condition of the nation’s religious leaders], you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens” (Matthew 5:20; cf. James 5:19, 20).
Then, that which was to follow both “sin” either being or not being dealt with and “righteousness” either being or not being effected (through “sin” either being or not being dealt with), was “judgment.” Judgment would follow in either case, though the only ones who need fear judgment would be those who had not dealt with sin, with unrighteousness rather than righteousness following.
And to use the words later directed to any Christian who would follow the same example surrounding sin and disobedience, such individuals would one day find it to be “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [at that future time of judgment]” (Hebrews 10:30, 31; cf. vv. 19-29).
1) Many Things
The “many things” that Christ had not taught the disciples, cannot be separated from that which He had previously stated about sin, righteousness, and judgment. And sin, righteousness, and judgment cannot be separated from either Christ’s preceding ministry or God’s dealings with man at any other time in man’s history. Then, all of this can be seen centering on one thing (regality) and moving toward one goal (that day when God’s Son takes the scepter, with a view to effecting order where disorder had previously prevailed).
Thus, the Spirit subsequently leading individuals “into all truth” could, contextually, center around only one realm — that dealt with in the Scriptures that lead into this section. And this really goes all the way back to Genesis chapter twenty-four (the search for a bride for God’s Son), and back behind that to Genesis chapter one (the reason for man’s creation in the beginning).
That seen in both Genesis chapters one and twenty-four (the reason for man’s creation in the beginning, and the search for a bride for God’s Son) would reflect on the whole of the mission of the Spirit in the world today. The sequence of events detailed in Genesis chapter twenty-four were made necessary because of the sequence of events detailed in Genesis chapter one.
The Son doesn’t presently possess a wife; and, if the Son is to rule during the coming age, provision must be made at a time prior to that (which Scripture places in the present dispensation) for a wife to be procured. The Son cannot rule without a wife to rule with Him, for to rule apart from a wife would violate a principle that God Himself established in the beginning (Genesis 1:26). The man and the woman must rule together — He as King, and she as consort queen. In this respect, Genesis 1:26 anticipates that seen in Genesis 24:1ff.
Thus, an entire dispensation has been set aside; and God has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to acquire a bride for His Son, with a view to the kingdom that follows. And the Spirit is to accomplish this task through reproving Christians in the three-fold manner set forth in John 16:8-11.
2) He Shall Not Speak of Himself
A major problem in Christendom today is not only a magnification of the Spirit by man but also a magnification of the Spirit apart from the true work of the Spirit. The Spirit though, to the contrary, never calls attention to Himself; and His ministry is always seen channeled toward one goal — bringing to pass that for which He was sent.
In the type from Genesis chapter twenty-four, Abraham’s servant was careful not to call attention to himself about anything. The ten camels that he had brought into the land were laden with “all the goods of his master,” which his master had given to his son (vv. 10, 36; cf. Genesis 25:5). And making known his mission involved two things alone:
1) announcing that he was there to procure a bride for his master’s son (vv. 37ff), and
2) displaying that which the father had given to his son (vv. 22, 47, 53).
And matters are exactly the same in the work of the Spirit among the people of God during the present dispensation. They would, of necessity, have to be the same. The type has been set, and the antitype (the work of the Spirit in the world today) must follow the type (the work of the servant in Genesis 24) in exact detail.
The Spirit in the world today, in accord with the type, does not call attention to Himself. And He makes known His mission in the world through the same two means seen in the type:
(a) The announcement concerning His mission was made about 4,000 years ago during Abraham’s day, and this was recorded for all to see about 3,500 years ago during Moses’ day. Then attention was called to this announcement (in complete accord with the type) about 2,000 years ago by Christ during His earthly ministry. And commentary on the announcement (again, in complete accord with the type) was subsequently given as the Spirit of God Himself moved men to write the book of Acts, the epistles, and the book of Revelation.
Then, continuing to remain completely within the type, the Spirit conducts His ministry during this present dispensation through:
(b) displaying before the people of God (using the Word in His possession) all the things belonging to the Father, which the Father has given to His Son.
3) But Whatsoever He Shall Hear…
The Spirit, exactly as Abraham’s servant in the type, has all of the Father’s possessions (which the Father has given to His Son) at His disposal. And, as previously seen, these possessions are opened up and revealed to the prospective bride through the Word, which the Spirit Himself moved different men to pen in time past.
The Spirit takes this Word in His possession and opens the Word to an individual’s understanding. He takes this Word and spreads before Christians all the “jewelry of silver, and jewelry of gold, and clothing [which can only be an allusion to things having to do with the wedding garment, made up of ‘the righteous acts of the saints’]” (Genesis 24:53; cf. Revelation 19:7, 8, NASB, NIV).
Abraham’s servant made known and carried out his mission in exact accord with the instructions that he had previously received from his master (Genesis 24:33ff). Nothing else was involved in his mission — only those things surrounding a search for and procurement of a bride for his master’s son.
And it is exactly the same in matters surrounding the ministry of the Spirit in the world today. His mission is being carried out in exact accord with the instructions previously received from the Father. Nothing else is involved in His mission — only those things surrounding a search for and procurement of a bride for the Father’s Son.
He Shall Glorify Me
There is a dual emphasis in Christ’s statement to His disciples concerning the future work of the Spirit. There is an emphasis on (1) the manner in which the Spirit would conduct His ministry (vv. 8-11), and there is an emphasis on (2) that which the Spirit would use as He conducted this ministry in the revealed manner (vv. 13-15).
As previously seen, the manner in which the Spirit presently conducts His ministry has to do with a reproving work surrounding sin, righteousness, and judgment. And, as also previously seen, that which the Spirit uses in the process of carrying out His ministry in this revealed manner is the Word of God.
It is the Word alone that reveals all that belongs to the Father, which the Father has given to His Son. And the Spirit glorifies the Son through taking the things belonging to the Son and revealing these things to the people of God.
These are the things to which Christ came approximately 2,000 years ago, having to do with regality (John 1:11). And these are the things to which He is about to return, having to do with the same regality.
It is a present glorification of the Son by the Spirit through revealing, from the Word, the Son’s coming glory. It is showing the people of God “things to come” through opening the Word and revealing all that belongs to the Father, which the Father has given to His Son. And it is through this means that the Spirit leads individuals “into all truth,” with the whole of the matter centering on regality and the Son’s coming glory.
Christ was born King at His first coming, though separated at this time from His glory (Matthew 2:2; Romans 8:3). He was rejected by the Jewish people, arrayed as a mock King and mocked by the Roman soldiers (along with being spat upon and beaten), and then crucified as “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:15-37).
But He will return in a completely different fashion than He was seen at His first coming. There will be no mock King, no crown of thorns, no mockery by the people, no mistreatment, no crucifixion.
Rather, He will return in all His power and glory as the “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (Matthew 19:11ff). He, in that day, rather than being rejected by the Jewish people, will be accepted by them; He, in that day, rather than being improperly arrayed, with individuals bowing the knee in mockery, spitting upon and beating Him, will, instead, be properly arrayed and properly recognized.
He, in that day, will be arrayed in royal apparel, He will have on His head many crowns (diadems), and “every knee” shall bow and “every tongue” confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11). And in that day, the same scenes that witnessed His sufferings and humiliation will witness His glory and exaltation.