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Friends of the Bridegroom

Two great mysteries in Christ

From Genesis to Revelation, there is one thought that runs through the Bible, that God has a plan.

Not only does this plan include man, but man plays a key role in it, being of critical importance in God’s plan. (“Man” represents both male and female, see Adam, man and woman.)

The end of man, as revealed in the Bible, including the Gospels, the apostolic epistles, and finally the book of Revelation, relates to two great mysteries in Christ.

First – the church, the embodiment of the redeemed new life in corporate, is the “bones and flesh” (body) of Christ, the bride of the Lamb.

Second – the redeemed individuals are conformed to the image of the Son of God, glorified in Christ, and become friends of the bridegroom and God’s servants in eternity.

The former is the final state of the church as a corporate body, while the latter the final state of each individual in his or her individual identity in Christ.

The bride and the wedding

The church is a corporate body built from the lives and experiences of the saints in Christ. It is the spiritual temple built by God (1 Peter 2:5) and the eternal holy city of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-10), the abode of the bride of Christ.

This corporate body does not simply refer to the collective of the churches as organizations that can be seen with physical eyes, but is a spiritual body of life that transcends eyes, space and time.

Speaking of Christ and the bride, the apostle Paul said, “This is a great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32).

This is a great mystery in and of Christ. It is the heart of the great end of the universe’s story.

The present universe in time ends with a wedding, the wedding of the Lamb and His wife.

The parable about the wedding feast (Matthew 22:2-10, Luke 14:16-24) points to this future. The holy epistles described this sacred relationship, and declared it a great mystery (Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:32).

And finally, in the book of Revelation, the final announcement:

“The angel commanded me, saying, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he said to me, ‘This is the true word of God.’ ” Revelation 19:9.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:2.

See The Great Ending.

The friends of the bridegroom

In addition to the end of the church as a corporate body, this mystery is accompanied by a major event in the life of each individual.

At that wedding there is the bridegroom, the bride, and the friends of the bridegroom.

“He who marries the bride is the bridegroom; and the friends of the bridegroom stand and rejoice when they hear the voice of the bridegroom.” John 3:29.

With what identity and relationship to the bridegroom one appears at the wedding feast is of great importance for each individual.

If anyone is still completely ignorant of this, and knows nothing about his situation at the wedding, he needs be anxious about it, about his future, for it is about eternity, for this is the unique and great end of this universe and everyone in it, and there is no other opportunity, and no other alternative version or remake.

If you tell yourself, “oh, it is only a wedding banquet! I can do without it, and it won’t be a great loss in my life,” then you’re mistaken. The biblical language is highly symbolic. Your identity, relationship and position at that banquet has everything to do with your identity, relationship and position, and quality of your life in eternity.

May everyone be not only invited and accepted as a guest, but also desire to be a friend of the bridegroom!

Who are the friends of the bridegroom?

The friends of the bridegroom are those who are partakers in the sufferings, the kingdom, and the patience of Jesus (Revelation 1:9).

“…who have persevered with me in my trials” (Luke 22:28).

Satan, the devil, does everything he can to resist God’s plan and to prevent Christ from gaining the kingdom. This plan of God in Christ, however, wonderfully places weak men, who are smaller than angels, in a key role to defeat Satan and to share the glory with Christ.

This is because the central issue in God’s plan is not how to defeat Satan (which would be easy for God to do), but about man and his end in eternity. God will not only defeat Satan, but He will defeat Satan by man (the redeemed new man), so that Satan may not only be defeated, but also judged, and the judgment is of absolute conviction, thus revealing that Christ not only triumphs, but triumphs in glory. See God’s plan and the history of man.

“They have overcome him by reason of the blood of the Lamb, and by reason of the word of their testimony, and have not loved their life even unto death.” Revelation 12:11.

“I John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and patience, in Jesus,” Revelation 1:9.

“But ye are they who have persevered with me in my trials.” Luke 22:28.

The controversy between Satan and God

Because of man’s position in God’s plan, man being the key to God’s solution against Satan, man has become the greatest controversy between Satan and God, and this controversy is both a challenge and an accusation.

This controversy began long before man was created.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning! Thou art cut down to the ground, that didst prostrate the nations! And thou that didst say in thy heart, I will ascend into the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit upon the mount of assembly, in the recesses of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14.

The multiple repetition of several words and ideas here is a summary of Satan’s character.

“I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, ascend up, up, up, up, up.”

Before Satan’s fall, his argument before God was:

“I am worthy.”

That is, Satan considered himself to be worthy. What caused him to think this way was the pride in him.

And the basis of his pride was the mighty wisdom and beauty that God had given him.

In other words, Satan used the power and riches God had given him as a reason to rebel against God. This is an absurd, irrational, and unjust rationale, but it is the root of all lies of the father of lies. The same lie continues to operate on earth today in the sons of disobedience.

After his fall, Satan’s argument before God ceased to be “I am worthy” (because that was patently defeated), but became:

“Man is not worthy.”

As to the former controversy, whether Satan is worthy or not, God has already determined and closed Satan’s mouth. However, the latter controversy, whether man is worthy or not, is a key in the story of man, and is what everyone needs to find out and conclude today in time.

“Man is not worthy” is an argument with strong factual basis. The story of the Garden of Eden is the beginning of this strong evidence, and the entire history of man supports the argument.

Satan’s real purpose of proving man unworthy was not about man himself, but about God, for, in Satan’s view, if man is proven unworthy, it proves that God is wrong and Satan is right, and that God will not be able to judge Satan through man.

For this purpose, Satan does all that he is permitted to do.

Satan made a strong case against man in his interaction with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and continued to make the case even stronger throughout the history of man.

The image of sinners after the fall

The image of sinners after the fall is a mirror image of the father of all lies. Those who fall into sin, their image becomes more and more like Satan himself.

The true image of man is most clearly revealed in the scene beneath the cross.

If you come under the cross, you will certainly hear the voices of men under the cross.

Those who cry out, “Crucify him! Crucify him! ” are undoubtedly on the side of the enemies of God, and are the representatives of Satan.

And what about the crowd who thought they were neutral and observed objectively from the sidelines?

They mocked Jesus on the cross, saying, “If thou are the Son of God, descend from the cross.” – Matthew 27:40. “Aha, thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself, and descend from the cross.” – Mark 15:29. “He saved others, himself he cannot save. He is King of Israel: let him descend now from the cross, and we will believe on him. He trusted upon God; let him save him now…” – Matthew 27:42-43.

Their mocking all focused on the fact that Jesus could not save himself. For them, that ‘objective’ fact proves everything they believe, and disproves everything Jesus said.

To understand the nature of their mocking, we should remember how Satan fell into his own trap, and took the power of God’s creation and the riches given to him for his own pride, to the point of corruption.

The lie that Satan tells people to slander the salvation in Jesus Christ is of the same nature, the very essence of the father of all lies.

Come to the scene where the Savior who took the form of a man in humiliation suffered and died on the cross for sinners, you will hear not only the crowd, but more piercingly Satan’s lying voice behind all: “Look at Jesus, so weak and lowly that he could not save himself, how can he save you?”

In other words, Satan deceives people to despise Christ on the basis of exactly what the Savior Lord Jesus had to do to save sinners, namely, the fact that He humbled Himself, became like a man, and bore the sins of men.

Satan provides to man the very fact of God’s great grace and life-giving love as a basis for his lie, just as he provided to himself the very creative power, riches and the kindness of God, as given to him the archangel, as the basis for his lie.

Man believes Satan’s lie, because after the fall, man has in him the spirit of Satan, the spirit of “I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, to ascend, up, up, up and up”.

This spirit hated the contrasting picture of Christ: Submitting to the Father’s will only, he descended down, down, down, down and down (Philippians 2:6-8). The image of Christ the Savior is shameful and scandalous in the eyes of man who is occupied by the spirit of Satan.

The character of Satan’s spirit is “pride”, which is the opposite of the spirit of Christ. It is the enemy of Christ and the enemy of God.

Man’s response to Satan is the connection between a son and a father in the very nature of life. It is an inner relationship of life, not an accident nor coincidence.

No wonder Jesus called them sons of the devil! – John 8:44. Their unreasonable lying mind is a reflection in the mirror with Satan’s unreasonable lying mind.

In regard to man’s “unworthiness”, Satan seemed to have provided conclusive evidence to support his argument.

God’s predestination of man

However, behind the scene, in which man has clearly lost, hides a great mystery.

God made His own case for man before the creation of the world and reached His own conclusion.

God’s conclusion:

Although man proves to be unworthy in himself, he is worth the work of God according to God’s plan in Christ.

It is not that man is naturally worthy, but that God deems the man worth the work according to His plan, and that God has made sure all work is accomplished in Christ.

All of this has to do with a very peculiar and valuable quality, a virtual, the most precious thing in the whole universe of the creation.

This quality is “faith“.

By faith man shall be born anew in Christ, and be conformed into the likeness of the Son of God and become the sons of God.

“Because whom he has foreknown, he has also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brethren. But whom he has predestinated, these also he has called; and whom he has called, these also he has justified; but whom he has justified, these also he has glorified.” Romans 8:29-30.

Though the old man is unworthy, the new man is worth God’s plan.


Thus, when God calls people according to His plan, there is only one type of person on the earth who can hear and respond correctly to this call, and that is those who have true faith.

This is a test, a touchstone to distinguish the “wheat from the tares” (Matthew 13:25-30); it is God’s predetermined rule, which can also be called the response mechanism of God’s calling of life, like a “key” for the gate of eternity.

All this is entirely the result of the grace and glorious power of God, not only because God has made in Christ a salvation by which man can be saved, but also because God has given man a treasure, faith in God, to be able to reach the salvation.

Man’s true faith in God is never a simple mental activity or a purely subjective thought, but a real characteristic that originates from God and returns to God. See God’s plan and the history of man.

Man’s faith, therefore, is the key that makes man’s “worth” in God’s plan, and is a fundamental focus of man’s value in God’s plan.

Faith, hidden in the heart of man but coming from God Himself, is what God has provided for man in order to fulfill His plan in him. It is a special gift from God to man, and is a fundamental element of what makes man different from all other creatures.

It is faith that makes man a suitable agent in God’s plan to defeat Satan.

The story of man, then, focuses on that special treasure in man, faith in God.

Thus, destroying man’s faith becomes the focus of all Satan’s work in man as well. Satan’s challenge to man before God, and Satan’s temptation, confusion, deception, and destruction of man, all revolve around man’s faith.

God’s Work on Man in Time

God’s plan does not stop at His predestination, but unfolds in time and history. What a drama unfolding scene by scene as it revealed in the Bible from beginning to end!

After the scene of the old covenant was drawn up and entered into the new covenant, God made a complete and systematic statement in the book of Romans regarding His views on man.

“There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:21.


“The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ is for all who believe…” Romans 3:22.

There, God is not just giving an opinion, but a clear declaration of what He has done in Christ, what has been already accomplished, and what conclusions are drawn, and gives clear and powerful explanations and instructions for man’s sake.

God has not only decided but in fact proven that man is worth the work. God arranged the entire Bible to make the conclusion clear, of which the book of Romans is the most explicit and official declaration.

If God has decided we are worth it, how can we think we are not?

But the important matter for us to understand is: Exactly who is worth it?

The old man is not. But the new man is because he is in Christ.

Satan’s scheme is to accuse man of being unworthy in front of God on the one hand, but to deceive man in front of man with a double lie on the other. Satan tells a proud man that he is worthy, and he can do it by himself, and does not need God; but to a humble man who is willing to seek God, Satan tells him that he is not worthy, and nothing he does is going to make a difference because God has already rejected him.

But both are lies.

The truth is secured in what God has accomplished and proclaimed in Jesus Christ: God’s choice in man is not wrong nor in vain, and God’s plan for man has been fulfilled in Christ, because although the fallen old man in the first Adam cannot, yet the new man in the last Adam can.

Although man is unworthy in Adam, God has determined to work on man, to give man hope to become a worthy new man in Christ. This is the value of man, because all who are foreknown by God will have a response of faith in God and God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, and through this faith God can turn man to Christ (John 12:32), and regenerate man in Christ as the new man, who is then conformed to the likeness of the Son of God, becoming sons of God.

This is an absolute conclusion with God, a fact that has already been accomplished and declared. Anyone who does not believe and accept, or is even willing to oppose this conclusion, is choosing to be on the side of the enemy of God. All he can rely upon is his own self-righteous, but in the end it will bring about his own destruction.

The whole Bible shows how God does this wonderful work.

God revealed a lifeline, starting with Abel (Adam’s second son) and ending with Jesus Christ. Among those who were hopeless, God always showed a seed of hope, revealed God’s position toward man, and shut the mouth of the enemy, Satan, until the Lord Jesus came to earth and accomplished redemption on the cross. There, God not only shut the mouth of Satan but in fact stepped on the head of the serpent.

This lifeline, from Abel, to Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, prophets, and finally to the Lord Jesus, who now continues in his own body, the Church.

The stories of each representative person contain not only God’s work in man, but also God’s answer to Satan.

The experience of each character is also a manifestation and test of God’s confidence in the treasure that He placed in man. It is faith found in man. Not in everyone, but in some, the elect by God.

In a corrupt and depraved world, God can actually find faith! This faith is the seed buried in a utterly desolate place, when everything seems hopelessly lost, God manifests in man His plan: that man in himself is unworthy of God’s righteousness, but is worth being worked on by God to accomplish redemption and salvation, worth God’s work in Jesus Christ.

Although there is no one in this world who can rely on his own righteousness to be worthy of eternal life, God has planted and grown in sinners faith in God. How precious is this in the eyes of God!

Precious in the eyes of God! This is exactly the parable of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, and when a man finds it, he hides it, and rejoices in selling all that he has and buying the field.” Matthew 13:44.

We often understand that the one who does business here is us, and the treasure is our salvation. This understanding is certainly appropriate in terms of our choices and responses to God’s salvation.

But in a deeper sense, the Lord Himself is the businessman, the treasure is the church, the assembly of the sons of faith, when viewed collectively, and the treasure is faith in each person if viewed individually.

In order to gain the church, the Lord bought (redeemed) the whole earth (that is, all the people on the earth, 1 John 2:2); in order to gain the faith in you and me, the Lord bought your whole being and mine. To gain the little precious thing, he paid the price for the whole.

This is the preciousness of faith in man in the sight of God.

Faith is the basic element that God finds in man and uses to respond to Satan. That is, although man is originally unworthy, but because of faith, he is worth the work of God and His plan.

After Eden, the story of man continued, and Satan’s challenge to man before God, that is, his accusation against man, also continued.

At that time, Cain became the evidence for Satan’s accusation against man. Solid evidence Satan had with Cain.

But God saw the treasure in Abel who martyred – the faith toward God. So God can say that although man is not worthy, he is worth it (worth God’s working on him).

In the days of Noah, the whole earth was destroyed, but God saw the treasure in Noah. So God can say, although man is not worthy, he is worth it.

After Noah, the whole earth started over again. God’s plan is a whole new work in Abraham, preparing and introducing him as the father of faith to illustrate the most fundamental principle of God’s work of salvation: justification by faith.

But before that, God decided to start a prelude and set a premise, because it was necessary to show again, as a more concrete principle, why man isn’t worthy, but worth it.

So God chose Job.


The Book of Job in the Bible is the most direct and detailed description of the identity and motives of Satan as an accuser.

But we must also notice that in the book of Job, it is God who actively challenged Satan, because this is a necessary scene in God’s redemptive drama on earth.

The Book of Job is the earliest book in the Bible when it was written. This is not accidental. Job was a descendant of Noah. Specifically, he was a descendant of Noah’s son Shem. Noah had three sons, Japheth, Ham, and Shem. Japheth was the representative of the Gentiles. Ham was the representative of the world and the flesh. Shem was the lifeline left by the family of God in the post-Noah era (Genesis 10). Abraham came out of Shem, but Job came out of Shem before Abraham.

The Bible says that Job was perfect and upright, fearing God and shunning evil. Such a positioning of Job often confuses us today in the New Testament age, as if God was using human righteousness to challenge Satan, which is obviously inconsistent with the principle of justification by faith.

However, that was not God’s intention. Instead, God chosen an ideal representative to represent the purest conscience of the people living on earth, in order to show the following principle: Although even the purest conscience cannot stand before God by its own righteousness, this man has something God wants that can be proven through afflictions. Having been deprived of everything, there is still a precious thing left in him, that is, the faith.

God put Job before Satan, and Satan challenged God in turn, implying that God’s choice of man was a mistake, because the representative of man, Job, could not have true faith, but was trying to be righteous only because God gave him benefits; and therefore it would not be right for God to consider such a man righteous. Satan implied that had God given him (Satan) enough benefits, he would not be unfaithful to God.

Thank God, Job successfully passed this test on behalf of man.

What God tested was not Job’s righteousness, but the seed within him – faith. Job and his friends all misunderstood the essence of this test, assuming that God was testing the righteousness in Job. If that were the case, neither Job nor his friends could stand.

However, in Job, God was victorious and made a declaration to heaven and earth again that man is the right choice according to God’s plan, paving the way for the work that was about to begin in Abraham.

The declaration is that, although even the purest conscience on earth cannot stand before God by his own righteousness, after all has been taken away from him, there is still one treasure left in him, which is faith.

Through this faith, God will justify man through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Job is the prelude to justification by faith.

After Job, God chose Abraham and began the next stage of His work to illustrate the weakness of the law through flesh, which is necessary to eventually prove the principlevof justification by faith.

In Jesus Christ, God revealed that the true goal of faith is salvation in Jesus Christ.

See more about Job: Job and people of heavenly kingdom; and Job and his friends.

Man is God’s active solution

The work of God in man, from Adam onward, is not a passive reactionary act, nor a mere demonstration of good intentions, but an active and purposeful declaration and testimony.

After Satan’s betrayal in heaven, the remaining creation, represented by the faithful angels, expected that God must make a declaration, come up with a plan, and finally reach a conclusion concerning Satan and his final end. But the creation did not know the nature and manner of this plan and conclusion.

The angels must have wondered at first about God’s plan with man (Adam).

But it became clear that God’s plan is not the old man in the first Adam, but a new man in the last Adam, Jesus Christ.

The history of man, however, is from the old man to the new man. This is a predetermined plan, not an improvised nor compromised solution.

And in God’s plan, Satan is only a vessel, which God uses to bring about the final fulfillment of all things in Christ. Man, however, is not merely a tool to deal with the problem of Satan. God has a more glorious plan and purpose for man.

Man is the chosen representative of God for all things. The end of man, according to the mind of God, is the new man, the new man in Christ, the Son of God.

“The creation desires to wait for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19.

Satan’s Role in God’s Plan

The role of Satan in God’s plan, as revealed in the Bible, cannot be seen in the context of man and earth, but needs to be seen in the context of God and heaven.

This is what the book of Revelation does.

The first 3 chapters of Revelation are a revelation about the church. There Satan the destructor, tempter, and deceiver appears in a hidden way, yet the central idea expressed in these three chapters of Scripture is that through it all God accomplishes His plan through the overcomers.

Chapters 4-11 of Revelation are a complete revelation of what will happen in the future, followed by chapters 12-19, which further develop some key aspects. All the plagues in chapters 4-11, including the plagues from the bottomless pit, no matter how terrible, were permitted by God to reveal the nature of Satan (just as God revealed the nature of the world and sin through the hardened heart of Pharaoh), and to judge the earth and everyone who has listened to and followed Satan in sin and rebelled against God. The plagues are in no way due to Satan’s strength to achieve much destruction despite God’s protection. It is a way God brings judgment to the world.

However, there was indeed a battle in heaven. Revelation 12 is a picture of that battle. The battle in heaven between Michael the Archangel and Satan (the dragon) appears head-on. But the result of this battle is straightforward. There is no detailed description of the battle. The Word of God simply says that Satan did not win, and there is no place for Satan and his angels in heaven anymore, but he and his angels are cast to the earth together.

“And I heard a great voice in the heaven saying, Now is come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast out, who accused them before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:10.

Therefore, the only decisive battle for the salvation and kingdom of God takes place in heaven, and not on earth. When Satan is cast down to the earth, the plagues and battles on earth begin, but the order in heaven has been established. The heavenly order ultimately determines the earthly order. Thank God, the order in heaven is the salvation, power, kingdom, and authority of God in Christ.

The wonderful thing is that although the battle was declared to be between Michael and his angels and the dragon (Satan) and his angels, the key to the victory over Satan was the brothers who followed the Lamb.

“and they (brethren) have overcome him by reason of the blood of the Lamb, and by reason of the word of their testimony, and have not loved their life even unto death. ” Revelation 12:11.

Ones who have ears to hear

At the end of the book of Revelation, after God had revealed the great end to the apostle John, the Holy Spirit brought John back to earth.

Because the Lord has not yet returned, His bride and His friends (servants) are waiting on the earth.

This is their time of waiting, their temporary sphere of the existence, their reality today.

But they wait in hope, for the Lord Jesus Himself said, “I am the bright and morning star.” Revelation 22:16.

The sun has not yet risen, and the night is not yet over, but those who know the Lord Jesus look up to heaven and see the bright morning star, and know that their Lord is about to return.

Both the Holy Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

He who hears also say, “Come!” Revelation 22:17.

Who are the ones that “hear”?

In Revelation 3, the Holy Spirit speaks to seven churches, each time with an emphasis at the end, “He who has an ear, let him hear! ” The word of the Lord was spoken precisely to those who have ears and only to those who hear. These appear again in the final scene in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, where they are with the Holy Spirit and the bride, waiting for the return of the Lord.

They are the friends of the bridegroom.

If you have new life in Jesus Christ, you have ears. If you love the Lord, and have a heart for him, and have not let the prince of this world block your ears, you can hear, you are the one who hears, and you are a friend of the bridegroom.

Then you hear both the Holy Spirit and the bride saying, “Come!”

Then you yourself will say, “Come! Lord Jesus.”