Q. I’ve recently heard a well known teacher who claimed that at the rapture some of us will become the bride to reign with the Lord, while others will either be consigned to the outer darkness or to Gehenna. Do you believe that the entire church is the Bride or just those who endeavored to mature and press in to God? Will you sight scripture please?
A. The phrase “outer darkness” is used only 3 times in the New Testament and never in a context that involves the Church. In Matt. 8:12 it refers to Jews who reject the Messiah, and in Matt. 22:13 and 25:30 the subject is tribulation survivors. Gehenna is a Hebrew term that’s derived from the Valley of Hinnom, which was the location of Jerusalem’s garbage dump. Since it was always on fire, it became a euphemism for the eternal fire where the unsaved will go. It’s the Jewish version of the Christian concept of Hell.
Ephes. 5:25-27 says,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
This verse, and several others like it, tell us that it’s our acceptance of the Lord’s death on our behalf that makes us holy and blameless, not our efforts at spiritual maturity. Paul said that our righteousness is imputed to us by faith. (Romans 3:21-22)
The idea that we have to earn our position as the Bride is not supported by any scripture. It’s another in the long line of heresies that twist the Scriptures to combine grace and works in an effort to convince us that we have to be “co-saviors” with the Lord, as if His death was not sufficient.