Study Guide: The Bride Says “Yes” to the Dress

Sunday November 5, 2023 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

What is the endgame of all of Scripture? Since the Book of Revelation points to this endgame, it is crucial that we step back and look at the big picture of God’s purpose. This sermon answers this question by highlighting the goal of the preparation of the bride (God’s people) to be wed to the groom (Christ).

Extended Summary:

This sermon demonstrates how the book of Revelation brings the biblical narrative to a glorious conclusion as the Bride of Christ acquires an appropriate wedding garment. The biblical narrative is a story of God searching for a people who will reciprocate his love and be faithful covenant partners. One primary way Scripture expresses this quest is to say that God is looking for a faithful Bride. Ancient Jewish weddings happened in two stages. First, there was a betrothal period. Then there was the consummation of the marriage in a formal ceremony. God is seeking to be betrothed to a faithful bride, a people group who know him, love him, reciprocate his love and develop a character compatible with him.

Most of the references to Yahweh as Israel’s groom and Israel as Yahweh’s bride are in negative contexts. The betrothed bride is unfaithful and the husband is heartbroken. This is illustrated in Ezekiel 16.

When Yahweh enters our world in the person of Jesus Christ, he does it as a bridegroom who comes searching for his bride. John the Baptist announces this in John 3:29. Jesus speaks of this in John 14:1-3. When Jesus said that he goes to prepare a place for us, he is drawing on the imagery of Jewish marriage. Paul states in Ephesians 5:25-27 that the church is preparing itself that it might be presented to Christ “without spot or wrinkle.”

With this in mind, we can understand how Revelation paints the picture of God’s endgame. We read about this in the focus scripture quoted above. The time for the betrothal period to end has come and now it is the time of the marriage. The bride has made herself ready, for she is finally dressed appropriately. She is no longer naked or dressed like a prostitute. This isn’t about doing righteous deeds to win God’s love and become part of his corporate bride. No, we are already a part of the bride. Instead, we need to be asking what it means to dress appropriately so that our actions, thoughts, and desires align with who we are as the bride.

In Revelation 21, we read about the New Heaven and the New (transformed) Earth. The heavenly city that Jesus went away to prepare for us comes down from Heaven to the renewed earth. We don’t fly away to the home Jesus built for us. Rather, Jesus is bringing this home to us, on this earth. God’s dwelling place is his adorned bride and the dwelling place for the adorned bride is God himself. This is the goal of all things and has been since the very beginning.

What does this mean for us today? As Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In this betrothal period, the bride is to seek to be “rightly related” to all things. We need to examine our lives to determine if we are reflecting God’s priorities in all things.

The endgame is the bride adorned in a way that is appropriate for our coming wedding, to be decked out in righteous deeds and to develop a character that is compatible with God. Greg concludes this sermon by applying these principles to how we spend our money, asking us all to examine how our financial priorities align with who we are as God’s bride.

Reflection Questions: