Paul Sharp - Bride and Bridegroom - Rochedale, Greater Manchester, England Convention - 1978

John 3:29, "He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom.” Through the Gospel, we have been chosen to become the bride of Christ. We have now been betrothed to Him through the gospel and that union will only be made complete on eternity's shores. In the Old Testament, the bride was betrothed to her future husband and that was considered totally binding. This is our position and so we think of ourselves now as part of the Bride of Christ, and it is our purpose and desire to order our lives as becomes those whom He can claim for His bride.

John 3:29, one of the joys of God's servants: not united to those who carry the Gospel, but unto Christ. That person in their soul when they began to hear the Bridegroom's voice, and the souls of God's servants are filled with joy; I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in truth.

We love to see a chosen bride being true to the vows we made when we heard the Gospel. The joy will be the portion of God's servant’s when they-can present those that they have laboured for as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Going back to the Garden of Eden, the first earthly bridegroom and his bride. We have a picture of how that bride was created, the bridegroom being incomplete without the bride, and God cast a deep sleep on Adam and he took a rib and formed Eve, and gave her back to Adam as his bride. Willie Jamieson used to say that this is a picture of how the spiritual bride is formed - the love of Christ through those that would be anaesthetised - then others can be formed - the agony appeased, so that the bride could be formed. In the Garden of Eden, it tells that after the animal creation, God brought these creatures to Adam to see what he would call them. Names were appropriate to the nature these animals possessed. In this convention, God is bringing beasts before us and are we honest in the tags we put on them? The little girl said, "When I get angry, it is temper but when mother gets angry, it is nerves." What kind of tag do we put on our nature? Don't call a wolf a lamb. A Chinese saying, "Hang up a sheep's head and sell dog meat."

Another creature in the garden preceded the animal creation - the serpent came to Eve and she yielded to the temptation by what he presented to her. A good study is, the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane - the absence of struggle in the Garden of Eden, but the garden of Gethsemane was probably the greatest battle field that the world has ever known, and the greatest victory won there that has been seen through the ages. It was a battle field.

The banner that is used in the Indian army is, "Red over white" – which means, death before surrender. There will be a struggle against the enemy. Send us from convention with that banner over our head. When Eve was faced with that terrible enemy, her bridegroom was not at her side; perhaps he could not have helped her had he been - but when you and I are faced with the same enemy that brought Eve down, we do not have to go into the battle alone, when the bridegroom of our soul has faced and conquered the worst that the enemy could bring against him - not because or Himself but for us, the Bride. When the same enemy mounts his assault, we don’t have to go into the battle alone but our soul's Bridegroom desires to be at our side and He can help us to get victory. "The Bride coming leaning upon her Beloved" - leaning upon the strength of her Bridegroom, depending on Him, and that is God's plan for your soul and mine. What made it possible - for the bride to come out of the wilderness - it was because the Bridegroom was willing to go into the wilderness to seek for the Bride. Our past is like a wilderness, a place where you were trapped and helpless and hopeless, and then the Gospel came and our soul responded to Him and now we have been coming out of the wilderness leaning on our Beloved - the only way we will ever get out of the wilderness is as the result of the love of the Bridegroom for our souls.

Song of Solomon 6:10, who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? Only God can make a new day, and He is doing that over and over and over again, and teaching your soul and mine what we can become as the Bride of Christ. Every new morning, the same thing happens - the earth turns its face and the sun dispels the darkness that enclosed the earth, and everything of beauty and usefulness depends on the relationship that exists between earth and sun, and every day the earth turns its face, and everything begins to function as it should. Every true bride would like to be just as beautiful in the eyes of her husband every new day as she was the day they were united in marriage. That is not possible as far as men and women are concerned. Physically, the reverse takes place naturally, every day to renew her youth, and retain the youthful beauty that caused him to become the centre of her heart's affections, but a far more wonderful thing that the spirit is renewed - every new day, and we have the privilege of looking forth to the Bridegroom of our soul. Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners. The moon is seen when the earth is enveloped in darkness - the sun is shining on the moon and God intends His people should be fair as the moon.

The Bride and the Bridegroom: Mary and Joseph. Joseph was a true bridegroom, and a wonderful bridegroom too, but there was a time when Joseph misunderstood Mary. There are "no rights in nature." One thing that will get you and I into trouble is that we have the feeling we have a right to this. We have a right to be understood by our brothers and sisters and workers. God wants us to understand and to be understood. There was no wrong in Joseph that Mary was not understood.

Our brothers and sisters may not in any way be at fault. God has a right to test his workmanship, and Mary passed the test. Mary knew that when Joseph did understand her, she was understood in Heaven. We will find perfect and complete understanding in Christ. The relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom. Chapters 13-17 of John's Gospel. Revelation - the New Jerusalem - adorned as a bride for her husband. She would understand what would please her husband and then she would be willing for that kind of adornment, even if she did not like it herself. I want to be adorned as it pleases my Bridegroom. "The Blesseds" in Matthew 5 tell how we can adorn ourselves for our Heavenly bridegroom, "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you." The bridegroom has other ornaments to give us if we ask and seek and knock.

The bride and bridegroom enjoy fellowship together. Questions may have been asked and the bridegroom, by his answers, takes away the distress that was in the soul of the bride. The disciples of Jesus were conscious that He would soon be leaving them, and He was telling them things that would comfort them and help them in the tests. "Abide in me" - I am the vine, ye are the branches. The leaves of a tree are flexible, the branch may resist and at the trunk or the tree we find the rigidity, and when we come to the place where the branch is joined, it is absolute impossible to move it from the tree. In the old covenant, it ended in the breaking of the law, but the new covenant does not break the relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom; we are like a living branch. We are willing to bend - just learn to bend like the living Branch. A dead branch does not want to give an inch, and with a little pressure, it will break and give way at the trunk.

Proverbs 31, the virtuous woman - a wonderful picture of the true bride. "Virtue" what we do and what we say and what we are. Great deal told about what the virtuous woman did - she openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of Kindness. How will we stand up to that test? As the Bride of Christ, in touch with the Bridegroom in such a way that control from Him has come over our being and we can open our mouth with Kindness - a very demanding test; the law of Kindness. If what we say about and to others - if we would just apply that test that would help a lot.

Four statements in this chapter made about the bridegroom - these things tell us what the bride or the virtuous woman was like. The heart or her husband doth safely trust in her, etc. She loves him for himself alone, not buying and buying and buying him - that is the kind of relationship that should exist between us and our soul's Bridegroom. So knit to him that his heart can safely trust her, and he does not need to be buying his affection, and we are content to wait for His glory in 'the future." Do him good all the days of her life. "Her husband is known in the gates" - the picture that this world of our bridegroom depends on us as His bride. The bridegroom is respected because of us. "Her children rise up and call her, 'blessed.'" Her husband, he also praiseth her. Wonderful that God can be pleased and His Son can be pleased that, as we have daily fellowship, He can help us to win His favour and He sees us as “the fairest among women” and He will rise up and praise us to God among our brethren.