The Glorious Destiny of the Church

Her Hope

The next event on the calendar for the Church, the Body of Christ, is the event known as the Rapture. It is that moment when the Lord will descend, and we shall be caught up (raptured up) to meet Him in the air (1Th 4:13-18). With the Rapture, local testimony will cease, having served its purpose; the Church, the Bride, will be eternal. Linked with the Rapture will be the truth of resurrection and change for those who have died in Christ (1Co 15). Mortality will put on immortality, and the corruptible will put on incorruption. And together, we shall all be changed, bodies no longer humiliated by sin but fashioned like His body of glory (Php 3:21). The result will be the fulfillment of the Lord’s intention “that where I am, there ye may be also” (Joh 14:3).[1] We shall be with Him when the awful events of the tribulation descend on this earth. We will be saved from wrath through Him (Rom 5:9).

But this all-consuming hope is only the beginning of an incredible series of events, each virtually outdoing the other in its grandeur and unimaginable wonder (if anything could ever surpass the thrill of seeing Him).

Her Honor

The Rapture will be followed by the Bema, the Judgment Seat of Christ, when “every man [shall] have praise of God” (1Co 4:5). How wonderful it will be to see saints, little heard of or appreciated on earth, receive their “well done” from His lips. How wonderful to see and apprise everything about our service and lives as He does. How wonderful to enter heaven with the praise of God ringing in our ears!

But events spiral upwards (and never downwards for us throughout eternity), and the Marriage of the Lamb follows (Rev 19:5-9). Clothed in the garment of her righteous deeds, the Bride shall be arrayed in all her beauty, a fit consort for the King of kings. It is then that the first of several presentations of the Bride occurs. He will present her to Himself, “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle” (Eph 5:27). This is followed by a presentation to the Father, suggested by the words of Paul, “unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming [in the presence] of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1Th 3:13). “And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Heb 2:13).

Then there is our appearing with Him in glory. And when He comes in that day, He will be “glorified in his saints, and to be admired in [not by] all them that believe” (2Th 1:10). Finally, would you indulge my view of the Marriage Supper as a Millennial-long display of the Bride to the entire globe? It will be a presentation and a vindication of the Church to the eyes of a redeemed universe. If creation is characterized with the metaphor of groaning in the present day, it is allowable to say that creation will sing with joy when the sons of God are made manifest.

Her Home

John affords us a picture of that holy city, the New Jerusalem, as it descends out of heaven. Within this city, the one for which Abraham looked, the habitation of the redeemed of all ages, is an entity set apart from all others. It is the “Church of firstborn ones” whose names have been inscribed in the census book of heaven (Heb 12:23). Here is the home of the Church as it descends from God out of heaven. Its description, dimensions, distinctiveness and dignity are beyond the scope of this article, but it must at least be said that it will be a place marked by sanctity, majesty and radiancy.

Paul spoke of being “present” (at home) with the Lord (2Co 5:8). All the imagery and joy that the word connotes, at its best, will be eclipsed by this “home.”

Her Heirship

During the Millennial reign of Christ and stretching on into His eternal kingdom (Luk 1:33), the Church will enjoy her inheritance as co-heir with the Lord Jesus Christ. All that He, as Son, will inherit will be shared with us. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psa 2:8). And that is only the beginning of all that shall be His and ours.

Her Homage

Here in this present scene, we are being prepared, honed and developed as worshipers. Eternally, we shall be a Kingdom of Priests. Our eternal occupation will be to render homage to the Lamb that was slain. The chorus of Revelation 5 is a sampling of the song we shall sing to Him forever. As age after age rolls its course, we shall discover new beauty and glory in His Person and work, fresh fodder for worship and deepening appreciation. Our “spiritual bodies” no longer hindered by the flesh and all the limitations it imposes and all the distractions it permits, we shall grow as worshipers, enthralled eternally with the wonder of His person.

Her Habitation Eternally

In Revelation 21, we are told of a city that has no need of light; the glory of God will serve as its light. All of that light, all of the glory, will be resident in a lamb-like Christ. There will be unimpeded access to behold that glory, as the gates of the city are on permanent “open.” No darkness will ever descend to dim that glory. No intruder will ever enter to disturb its blessed conditions.

In this eternal habitation, three blessings will mark its inhabitants: we shall see His face, we shall serve Him with undistracted devotion, and we shall reign for ever and ever (22:4,5). His request made to His Father in the shadow of the cross will then have an eternal fulfillment: “that they may behold my glory” (Joh 17:24).

Our service will ever be fresh and free of any mixed motive, our worship undistracted by earthly considerations, and our gaze never diverted from the face that was marred for us at the cross. “Forever with the Lord.”

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.