Body of Christ or Bride of Christ?
by Joe Grant
Joe read my books and my Web page and realized the importance of understanding the difference between the Bride and the Body of Christ. He gleaned (Joe said, "More like 'reaped'") information from things I said, added his own ideas, and put together this most important message for the Church of today. I certainly appreciate his effort. So much to be said. So little time. --Marilyn
The following are some reasons for postulating that the Lord may come first for the Bride of Christ and that the Body of Christ is not the same as the Bride of Christ. Godly men and women disagree on this issue so we are wise to not be dogmatic. There is a strong tendency in our Adamic nature to want to be the speaker for God, "You shall be like gods". Nevertheless, God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power, love and discipline. There is very strong evidence indicating that the Bride will be taken out of the Body of Christ. When Christians are asked "Who is the Bride of Christ?", almost everyone answers, "The Church," or "The Body of Christ," meaning all saved people. However, nowhere in the Bible is the Church called the Bride of Christ. The Church is called His Body in Ephesians 1:22-23 but the Body and the Bride do not seem to be synonymous as has been supposed. The consequences of this, if true, are very significant, sobering and perhaps irreversible. This is a message of warning not of condemnation.
Proverbs 25:2 says "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but honor of kings is to search out a matter." God's glory is concealed through His Word but the believer as a king-priest should search it out. One of the richest veins of gold and silver in the Bible is the Bride of Christ. It is a mine that is rarely dug into and much priceless metal is to be found there. Gold and silver are generally not found on the surface but are found in deep mines.
Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." We need to ask the Holy Spirit to do that.
Saved through Faith
The Bible says quite clearly and unmistakably, "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast" Eph 2:8,9. All of our works of righteousness are as filthy rags when it comes to trying to earn salvation. It can only be accomplished through the blood of Jesus.
Running a Race
Yet the apostle Paul was running a race to win a prize. I Cor. 9:24f says, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." Why was Paul concerned about possibly being castaway (disqualified)? This is not a reference to salvation which is by grace through faith and a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. Paul talks about running a race to win a prize. Salvation is not a prize that is won by our efforts.. We run, we strive to obtain a prize, a crown. What crown?
If by any Means
In Phil. 3:11-14, Paul, the man that God used to pen a major portion of the New Testament, wrote. "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the HIGH CALLING of God in Christ Jesus." Again these scriptures indicate that there is something that Paul is striving for that he had not yet attained , "If by any means...not as though I had already attained...if that I may apprehend...I count not myself to have apprehended...I press toward the mark for the prize". Salvation is not a prize, it is a free gift. But Paul speaks of a prize that is earned by great diligence.
Bride Makes Herself Ready
In Rev. 19:7-8 it says, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (The bride is responsible for making herself ready. Never will you find an example of a groom preparing the bride for the wedding. That is her responsibility.) "And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." Also, the Philadelphians show love and are invited in and the Laodiceans are lukewarm and vomited out. (Strong language from the Lord, isn't it?) A bridegroom would normally pick a bride that was in love with him, not just lukewarm toward him.
Why Study Old Testament Examples?
*Because they are a part of the scriptures given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit which are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (II Tim 3:16)
*Because they were written for our instruction (Rm. 15:4).
*Because Jesus came to fulfill all that was written of Him in the "law, the Psalms and the Prophets".
*Because Jesus said, "In the volume of the Book it is written of Me." The intricate details point in some fashion to the person, work and glory of Jesus.
We know that I Cor. 10:11 tells us that "Now these things happened unto them (Israel) for examples and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (ages) are come." Thus we are justified in looking for correlations in the Old Testament. Indeed the next verse is a warning, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed (of these examples) less he fall."
Pictures of Bride Selection
Book of Ruth. Ruth (type of the bride) was a gentile who came from Moab. She married Boaz 'a mighty man of wealth and a kinsman redeemer' who came from Bethlehem (a type of Jesus). Boaz had many maidens that he could have chosen but he chose Ruth. It was Naomi (type of the Holy Spirit) who led her out of Moab* (a type of the carnal, self-pleasing life; a land of many idols) to Bethlehem ("House of Bread") and brought her to a position where she was selected by Boaz as his bride. It was Naomi who was encouraging, leading, counseling her. Ruth (bride) would never have been introduced to Boaz (Jesus) without the intimate leading and relationship and trust in Naomi (Holy Spirit). Neither will we without a very intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, far more intimate than most Christians are walking in today.
(*Moab is of no small concern to the Christian because it is closely tied to the message of the bride. The Church needs to be challenged to come out of the carnal, self-pleasing life with its many idols of frivolity, entertainment, sports, busyness and business. II Tim chapter 3 says this, reading from the Amplified: "But understand this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble- hard to deal with and hard to bear." It then lists 18 character faults starting with lovers of self, lovers of money, and ending with lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. We live in a world that is far more wicked than we realize and there is far more of the world in Christians than we realize and it results in a terrible loss of the presence of God. And the hideous thing is that we don't realize it. James wrote to Christians, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." When one grasps the glorious reward of being the Bride then the things of this earth "will grow strangely dim" and no longer have a dominant place in our hearts.)
Book of Esther. King Xerxes had many virgins to choose from but only one found favor with him, Esther. They all auditioned but "the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen". Mordecai (Holy Spirit) led her, and encouraged her and even challenged her. Everyday that she was in the 12 month period of preparation he inquired at the palace gates to see how Esther was doing. Esther was an orphan and she would never have made it without Mordecai and neither will we unless we have a very intimate relationship with him. Jesus said: Jn. 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, Jn. 14:17 [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Jn. 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans (i.e. Fatherless. "I and My Father are One," John 10:30) I will come to you.
Rebecca in Genesis 24. We have the story of Abraham (Father) who sent his servant (Holy Spirit) to find a bride (Rebecca) for his son, Isaac (Jesus). The servant was instructed to not go to the Canaanites (the world), but to go to his own people ("of my kindred, and of my father's house," the Church) to take a bride for his son. Notice how important the HS is here. He is entrusted to select her. He showers her with expensive gifts. (Who is the giver of gifts in the New Testament?) And He is the one who leads her back to Isaac. Rebecca had to completely trust the servant to led her to Isaac. She left family, siblings, friends, country, everything that was familiar to her and trusted the servant (Holy Spirit) to led her to Isaac (Jesus) and to become his bride. Note: She became his bride in "his mother Sarah's tent," and Sarah was already in Paradise (Gen. 24:67), suggesting that the Marriage of the Lamb will take place in Heaven. Also, Rebecca was given a choice whether to go with the servant right away or to wait 10 days. Could this be a reference to going in the first Rapture in 5758 or waiting 10 days (years) for the second Rapture in 5768?
Comparison of Two Adams
I Cor 15:45 refers to two Adams: "The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" That's speaking of Jesus. One of the many titles of Jesus is "the Last Adam". Let me ask you something. When God created a bride for Adam how did He do it? He didn't take every member of Adams body to make a bride. Just a small part of it, the rib. Again, a type and shadow. When God creates a bride for Jesus could it be that He is not going to use the whole Body of Christ but just a part of it? Note that the rib is near the heart. The Bride is close to His heart. The Lord said that David was a man after His own heart. Let's look at the New Testament.
The first parable in Matthew 25 is one of the best known and the least understood- the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. It's a parable that has intrigued me for years and that I've never heard a satisfactory explanation of. Who are the Wise, who are the Foolish? I think you will see that it is not too difficult to answer if we take the parable apart. But the difficult question is "What are the Foolish getting locked out of?" Let's take a closer look at some of the details (Matt 25:1-13) here and see if we can bring this into focus. Who are the players and what happens to them?
(1) All are called virgins.
(2) All of them are waiting for the Bridegroom to arrive.
(3) All of them get tired and fall asleep.
(4) All of them hear the call and wake up.
(5) All of them trim their lamps.
(6) All of them have oil in their lamps.
(7) The Foolish do not have enough oil and they have to go buy more oil.
(8) While the Foolish are on their way to get more oil the Bridegroom comes and takes the Wise.
(9) When the Foolish return they are locked out of something.
(1) Now I believe it is safe to assume that all ten virgins are Christians for the following reasons: they are virgins, they are waiting for the Bridegroom, they have oil, they call Him "Lord": The bible never refers to the lost as virgins. The Foolish are called virgins.
(2) The Foolish are waiting for the Bridegroom, who is Jesus. The lost are not waiting for the return of the Bridegroom Jesus. They don't have a clue about the return of Jesus. There are even a lot of Christians who aren't looking for the Bridegroom so I would say that all ten are in the category of born again Christians.
(4), (5), (6) We also know that there is a warning that goes out just before the Bridegroom comes so they are all awake. The problem is that 5 are ready and 5 are not. What's the matter with the Foolish?. The Foolish find out that their lamps are going out due to an insufficient amount of oil. Oil in the Bible is a picture, a symbol, a type of the Holy Spirit. The Foolish were not devoid of oil. They had some, but not enough. Their lamps were going out.
(7) So what did they do? The Foolish recognizing their predicament first asked the Wise for some of their oil. But the Wise said that they only had enough for themselves and they told the Foolish to go buy their own. So they left to go get more oil. Now some have postulated that the Foolish are Christians who have lost their salvation. But this is an indication that the Foolish are not Christians who have lost their salvation otherwise they could not go out and get more oil. They had some oil and apparently manage to buy more oil.
(8), (9) So what happened to them? When they returned they found out that those who were ready, the Wise, went into the wedding feast and the Foolish were locked out. It's a sobering, sobering picture. In desperation they cry out, "Lord, Lord open up for us". This is another indication that these are Christians. The lost don't refer to Jesus as "Lord". And then the Bridegroom, Jesus, answers: "Truly, truly I say to you. I do not know you." What a horrible thing to hear from Jesus, "I do not know you." When the bible says "truly, truly" or "verily, verily" that means 'listen up, take heed, this is very important'.
Luke Chapter 13:23-28
This sheds some more light on this parable in Matthew. This parable in Luke has been applied to the lost but I believe that this is a picture of Christians. Let's take a look at it.
"And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
:25"Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on
the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then he will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you
are from.' Sounds very similar to the Foolish virgins. I think these are Christians since
(a) they refer to Him as "Lord",
(b) they say "We ate and drank in your presence" (communion table?); "You taught in our streets" (preaching of the Word). But it's a little different this time. And the difference is this: these are referred to by the Lord as "evildoers."
Here's what I see as an application. The scriptures depict three types of Christians.
1. The Wise who have a sufficient amount of oil in their lamps.
2. The second category of Christians are the Foolish. They have oil but not enough to meet that required to be the Bride of Christ.
3. And the third category are the evildoers. Those, I believe, are the Christians who are out in sin.
Now we all sin and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleans us of all unrighteousness. But there are those who give themselves over to sin (drugs, pornography etc.) and don't fight it and repent and yet call themselves disciples of Christ. These are the hypocrites.
What Event is This?
Now there remains a major question that hasn't been answered regarding this parable and it begs to be explained. The explanation of who-is-who is reasonably evident. But what's going on here with the door being shut and the Foolish and the evildoers being shut out? If we thought that these were unsaved we could surmise that they are being shut out of heaven and cast into hell, end of parable. But these all appear to be saved people, [they were all waiting for Jesus, they all had oil, they all called him Lord] so what is happening here and why? What event is this?
I believe that this has to do with what is described in the Bible as the 'catching away of the saints' or in popular parlance, the Rapture. There is evidence of more than one rapture but the most important one is the 1st Rapture which will be for the Bride of Christ. Maybe this is why there are such strong and unyielding views on the Rapture. Nevertheless, whether you believe in a pre-trib, or a post-trib or a mid-trib or no-trib the heart of the issue is being ready. It applies no matter what position one takes on the timing of the rapture. If you are not ready you are in deep trouble, and we will see why in a minute.
Time and time again, when God is speaking about the marriage or the Marriage Supper of the Lamb there is one word that keeps repeating itself over and over again and that is the word 'Ready'. An understanding of the Bride of Christ and what it means to be ready is one of the greatest motivational factors to wake up, to take your walk seriously and get real with God.
Hints of Harpagesomepha, Rapiemir, or Natzal
Now some Bible scholars are quick to point out, and rightly so, that the word "rapture" cannot be found in the Bible. However, the concept that is represented by that word can be found. The word for "caught up" in I Thess. 4:17 is "rapiemir" in the Latin Bible. That is where our English word Rapture comes from. The Greek word "harpagesomepha," in I Thess. 4:17, means "shall be caught away." It is from "harpazo,' (Strong's #726, "to seize (in various applications):--catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force)." The Hebrew word "natzal" means to "snatch away" (Dr. Tabor's Note 9, page 17, Translation Sample from The Original Bible Project.) Would you rather use the Greek word, the Hebrew word, the Latin word, or the English word? Take your pick and just substitute. Personally I prefer 'rapture'. Hey, if 'harpagesomepha' works for you, go for it.
In the Lord's prayer we pray "lead us not into temptation [peirasmon: trial, adversity, trouble], but deliver [rhuomai: haul (rapture?) from danger, rescue] us from evil." The Lord wouldn't lead us into sin but He will lead us into trial if that is what it takes.
II Thes. 2:3 Paul tells us that the Day of the Lord will not come except there come a falling away (rapture?) [apostasia: defection from a state, separation (as in divorce), to absent oneself, to depart]. "Apostasia" was translated "departure" not apostasy, in at least seven early versions of the Bible including The Geneva Bible, Tyndale's translation, Cranmer's version, the Great Bible, Breecher's Bible, Beza's translation and the Coverdale Bible. The apostasia could be from truth, or from this Earth. It is a "defection." When someone defects from a state they leave that country. When someone divorces, they separate and one leaves that house. When the Rapture takes place, we will separate and leave Earth
Galatians 1:4 "Who (Jesus) gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver [exeletai: pluck out, rescue, extricate (rapture?)] us from this present evil world [aionos: age] according to the will of the Father."
Enoch, a gentile, was raptured to heaven before the flood.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ. The [apokalupsis: appearing or coming] of Jesus Christ.
Luke 21:36 "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape [pheugo: to vanish from (rapture?)] all these things and to stand before the Son of man"
Believers are called both "a kind of firstfruits" and "wheat". The firstfruits harvest was in the springtime around the time of the Feast of Pentecost. Ruth, the gentile bride, went back to Bethlehem during the firstfruits harvest. Later there is the main wheat harvest, at the end of the season. The "FIRST of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God" (Ex. 23:19)
Is. 57:1 "The righteous perisheth [abad: wanders away, escapes (rapture?)] and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil (Tribulation?) to come."
I Cor. 10:13 "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation [peirasmo: trial, proving, adversity, affliction, (Tribulation?)] also make a way to escape [ekbasin: go up out of (rapture?)], that ye may be able to bear it.
"Objection Your Honor!"
Legalism! Your may object "Brother, you're "co-mingling grace and legalism". Legalism, properly defined, is the doctrine of earning salvation by works. The Bible says quite clearly and unmistakably, "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast" Eph 2:8,9
Works! And if you object "Hey, your talking about works" to that I would answer "Yes I am, and so does the Bible." Read the very next verse in Eph.:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." "Works" has become a dirty word in the church. We need to change our thinking on that. What did James say? "Faith without works is dead".
Revelation 3:18, tells us to buy white raiment that we may be clothed and that the shame of our nakedness not appear. The white raiment is the righteous acts and deeds of the Saints. The word buy is used to show that it will cost the child of God to be among those who make up the Bride of Christ. It is going to cost but the reward is out of this world, pardon the pun. Rev 3:19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." We need to be zealous for good works. God is a God of love but He is also a consuming fire. If need be He will rebuke and chasten us (in the tribulation?) because He loves us. Behold the goodness and the severity of God Rm 11:22.
There are many truths that come out of the teaching on the churches in the Book of Revelation and one of them is that not every church is the same. The Philadelphia church is the only one of seven churches that the Lord promises a way out of the tribulation, through "an open door": "I know your deeds. He didn't say, "I saw that hand that you raised 10 years ago when every head was bowed and every eye closed even though I hung my Son stark naked on the cross". No. He said I know your deeds. And what was the promise? That He would keep them from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world.
Favorites! Suggesting that the Bride is different from the Body does not create the problem of suggesting that God has favorites. It's not really a matter of favorites though. It's a matter of how intimate we want to be. The freewill choice is ours. This picture of varying status, and worth and position among God's people is clearly taught thoughout the Old and the New Testament.
Look at the disciples that the Lord himself chose. John was so close to Jesus that he laid his head in his bosom. Historians say that he was the only disciple of Jesus that didn't suffer a martyr's death. (Do you have that level of intimacy that will make you worthy of escaping the things that are coming upon this earth?) Judas, on the other hand, was so far in sin that he betrayed him, committed suicide and went to hell. Thomas went down in history known as "Doubting Thomas". On the Mount of Transfiguration we don't see all 12 disciples, only three. Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus transfigured in his glory, heard the voice of the Father and saw Moses and Elijah. When Jesus raised the daughter of the synagogue official who was there? Peter, James and John. Where were the rest?
The parable of the talents speaks of different levels of faithfulness and reward: 5 talents, 2 talents, 1 talent. The parable of the Minas again reflects different levels of faithfulness and rewards. All were given one talent. One produced 10 more, one produced 5 more and one didn't do anything with the one that he had. Again, I don't think it is a matter of favorites. It's a matter of how close we want to be and how much effort we put into it. In any event there is a difference.
We are told that there are different types of hearts (represented by soil) and this effects how well the seed (word of God) grows, if at all. Some is rocky and the seed never takes. Some is in shallow soil, it sprouts and then when the sun (testing) comes it withers. Some is choked by the cares of this life (job, credit card debt, frivolous misuse of time, over emphasis on food). Even then, in the good soil, we are told that there are 30 fold, 60 fold, and 100 fold Christians.
In Rev. 3:11, Jesus tells the Philadelphians, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take THY CROWN." No crown is mentioned in the message to the Laodiceans. And they (those raptured) were "clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold" (Rev.4:4). Nowhere in the account of the Tribulation saint's arrival in heaven in Rev. 7:9f is there any mention of them receiving crowns.
In the Outer Court of Moses tabernacle anyone could bring a sacrifice. In the Inner Court only the priest of the house of Levy could minister. And in the Holy of Holes only the High Priest of the House of Levy could minister.
"Now in a large house ('whose house we are Heb 3:6') there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor (Wise) and some to dishonor (Foolish)."
Salt or Hypocrites
Matt.5:13 "Ye are the salt of the earth (Wise Virgins), but if the salt have lost his savor (Foolish Virgins), wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot (Tribulation) of men." Are you a preserving force in this culture or have you thrown your lot (Lot?) in with the rest of the world? When the salt of the earth (bride) is removed you will be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (this world) because the world hates you.
Matt 24:51. He will assign him (Foolish) a place with the hypocrites (Christian evildoers in Luke 13:25-28), where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (lost opportunity to be the bride and suffer in the Tribulation).
Rev 7:13-14 "Then one of the elders answered, saying to me,"These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from? I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Richard Owen Roberts made a statement that I think it was in regard to salvation, but it has just as much application to being the Bride of Christ. He said, "You can juuuuust miss it, or you can miss it by a mile. The result is the same. To miss it is to miss it!" It's the same with the Bride of Christ. You can be Foolish and not have enough oil and just miss it or you can be an evildoer and miss it by a mile. The result is the same. The Foolish end up with the hypocrites.
Marriage vs Marriage Supper
Look at the chronological order of Rev. 18:7f: "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB IS COME, and his wife hath (past tense) made herself ready...And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are CALLED (now, at the 2nd Rapture) unto the MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB." Doesn't it seem to you that the Marriage of the Lamb precedes the second calling (Rapture) of the saints and that this calling is before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and not before the wedding? The first Rapture is for the bride who will be called to the wedding, to the marriage and the second rapture will be the tribulation saints who will be invited to the marriage supper.
Reference to after the Wedding
Luke 12:35f may be speaking to the second group to be called to heaven after the marriage, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, WHEN HE WILL RETURN FROM THE WEDDING that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately (see Rev. 3:20). Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them (the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch and find them so, blessed are those servants." It seems that the Tribulation saints are called to Heaven after the Marriage of the Lamb takes place, just in time for the Judgment Seat of Christ as all the saints must be present to receive their rewards. Like Vashti, Israel was rejected for awhile as the Bride, and like Esther, the king chooses from among a group of virgins. To me, the wise virgins seem to be the Bride and the foolish virgins, the friends of the Bride.
What's the Age Limit?
How old does one have to be before he or she is accountable to be judged Wise or Foolish? The Bible doesn't say but note this: Mary and Joseph were believed to be in their teens when they were married, had the Christ child and had to flee to Egypt. Jeremiah was called as a prophet to the nations and he was only a youth.
Another look at Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision the people perish (or cast off restraint)..KJV." The Amplified says, "Where there is no vision [redemptive revelations of God] the people perish." The revelation of the Bride of Christ is a redemptive revelation that causes us to be restrained and to pray that we may be found worthy to escape the trouble that is coming upon this earth. Without that redemptive revelation we risk not being a bride that has prepared herself and thus perishing in the Tribulation as a martyr.
Called to Bear Fruit
Jn15:1,2 "I (Jesus) am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me (Christ) that beareth not fruit he taketh away (separation at the Rapture?)". It takes the Holy Spirit to produce fruit. Rms 11:21-22 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's *kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off (at the Rapture?).
Told to "Watch" or "Watch and Pray"
Jesus said not once, not twice, not three times but 23 times that we should "watch" or "watch and pray". Lk 21:36 "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy (have enough oil) to escape all these things that shall come to pass (in the Tribulation?), and to stand before the Son of man." (Why should we pray to escape something if we already have our 'ticket' punched at salvation?)
Matt 24:37-44 says, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left (rapture). Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left (rapture). Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
If we are the bride simply by virtue of being saved and in the body of Christ then why the urgency to be watching and praying? The Lord repeated this 23 times. The Lord also said "understand this" which means that this is very important. Hebrews 3:6 says that we are Christ house. Is this the house that will be broken up? The scriptures say in many places that He is coming like a thief. A thief does not come for the Tupper Ware and the matching set of plastic cups. He comes for the valuable gold, silver and precious stones and leaves the rest.
We could lose our white garments if we do not watch. Rev 16:15 "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Why would we have to watch and keep our garments unless we were in danger of losing them? Paul warned "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall I Cor. 10:12" Rev 3:3 "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Logic tells us that if we are watching we will know the hour (the time, the season) of His return. In I Thes. 5 Paul tells us that we are not in darkness that that day [rapture?] should overtake us as a thief. But if we are overtaken with dissipation [wasteful consumption or indulgence in pleasure; amusement; diversion], drunkenness or simply the cares of this life [running here and there; inordinately busy; worrying about housing, clothing and food etc.] he will come upon us like a thief.
Solomon told us that "A wise (Wise Virgin) man's heart discerneth both the time and the judgment. Eccl.8:5"
Matt. 26:41 Jesus said, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation [peirasmon: trial, adversity, trouble]". Could this be referring to the Tribulation?
Heb, 9:28 "So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who EAGERLY AWAIT HIM."
Heb. 11:5 "By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death (RAPTURE); he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he REWARDS THOSE WHO EARNESTLY SEEK HIM.
Parallels with Salvation
The Bride of Christ, and all that it entails, is the most important message that a Christian can hear and get a grasp of. Let's compare it to salvation and I think you will begin to see why
1. Eternal Gain or Loss
A salvation experience can result in the eternal rewards of heaven or the eternal punishment of hell. Like wise, if you are found worthy to be part of the Bride of Christ you will rule and reign for eternity. To miss it is to miss it for eternity. I don't think there will be make up. This is not missing salvation but missing a special place as the Bride of Christ.
2. Black and White
There's no gray area. Your are either ready or you are not. You can miss it by an inch or you can miss it by a mile but to miss it is to miss it. The world thinks God grades on a curve and that same philosophy prevails in the church.
3. Personal Choice
Salvation is a personal choice. You won't go because of the status of your parents or anyone else. Likewise the Bride of Christ is personal. You won't be chosen on the basis of anyone's effort but your own.
4. Extreme Results
The consequences of being or not being the Bride of Christ are extreme. On one hand the bride will be pampered and protected and provided for and sit at the marriage supper of the Lamb and be His bride for eternity. Those who are left behind will not only have the mental torment of realizing that they missed it and didn't have to but that they will go through what the Bible says will be the worse time in the history of mankind - worse than the Black Plague during the Middle Ages, worse than the Civil War, worse than WWI or WWII or the holocaust or anything before or thereafter. The Bible has much to say about this period of history. If anything God tends to understate things and he says this will be the most perilous time ever.
5. Narrow Gate.
The Narrow Gate is typically applied to the lost but it applies just as well to those who want to be the Bride of Christ. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction; and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few that find it."
6. Few realize their status.
One of the sad things about salvation is that few of the lost have a clue about the state of their souls. They think, that on the whole, they are doing OK and God wouldn't send them to hell. It's the same situation with the church. We think we are doing OK, on the whole, and God wouldn't reject us. He may not reject us for salvation but He may reject us for ruling and reigning with Him as the Bride of Christ and that is very, very significant. The Bible warns about presuming upon a relationship with Christ that we do not have.
7. Great Breakup
Families are going to be broken up. Churches are going to be broken up. Nations are going to be broken up. He is going to come like a thief. A thief doesn't come to steal the Tupper Ware. He leaves that junk. He comes for the precious things--the gold, the silver, the jewels. And that's what the Lord is going to do. The Bible says He is going to come like a thief and it is going to cause unimaginable chaos and grief in this world. "Watch therefor for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the head of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up...ye also be ready." Those who are the head of a house let me ask you, "Are you watching? Are you prepared? Is your family prepared? Are you going to have your house broken up? Are you setting an example that your children are following that is going to cause them to not only miss out on something that is beyond comprehension in it's glory but to go through a time that is beyond comprehension in its suffering.?
8. Nothing is worth missing it.
Nothing is worth missing salvation and spending eternity suffering in hell. Neither is anything this world has to offer worth missing out on being the Bride of Christ and going through the tribulation. The entertainment, the toys, the busyness, the striving or the out and out sin are not worth trading for this.
Utmost Importance of the Holy Spirit (oil)
I believe that it is the Holy Spirit who will select the bride. He will determine who has enough oil and who doesn't. Therefore it behooves us to become very intimate with him. If we are doing anything that grieves him (wrong music, bad movies, bad videos, bad activities, dissipation, cares of this world, or plain sin) then give it up immediately and ask him to forgive you for the way you have ignored him and grieved him. Then ask him to reveal to you where you stand on this issue. Our hearts are viciously wicked and deceitful and we easily fool ourselves. We may 'have a reputation for being alive (in our own estimation or in the estimation of the church) but we may be dead. Rev 3:1'. Only he knows. We cannot fool the Holy Spirit. He is the only one who can lead us and prepare us. I believe that he is the one who will do the choosing. Doesn't it make sense to become very intimate with him now while there is time to do something about it?
How Do You Obtain Oil?
The only difference between the 5 Wise and the 5 Foolish was the amount of oil that they had. They were all waiting for the Bridegroom. They all became tired and fell asleep. The all heard the call and woke up. They all trimed their lamps. They all had oil. But the Foolish realized that they did not have enough oil because their lamps were going out. And while they were on their way to buy more oil the Bridegroom came and they were locked out.
Before the church became fancy and added power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, leather interiors etc. it concentrated in three areas: the Word, Communion and Prayer. "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer Acts 2:42". We see a beautiful picture of this in the Tabernacle. In the Holy Place, which is a prophetic picture of the Church Age, there were three pieces of furniture: the Candlestick (Word), the Table of Shewbread (Fellowship, Communion) and the Altar of Incense (Prayer). Symbols of the Holy Spirit can be recognized with each piece of furniture: olive oil burned in the Candlestick; there was wine at the Table of Shewbread; there was fire at the altar of incense. This is another gold mine with priceless treasures that can greatly renew one's motivation to walk in this prophetic and practical truth.
Judgment begins at the house of God (I Pet 4:17). I believe that the greatest period of judgment "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall" will be kicked off with the rapture of the Wise. That will be a great judgment on the church because the Wise will be taken and the only ones remaining in the church will be the Foolish or evildoers. Families and churches will be broken up. Those that are left will know that, not only have they lost something that is of immeasurable value, they will face tribulation such as has never been seen before nor ever shall be seen in the future. Truly, judgment will begin at the house of the Lord.
Only God's word speaks for Him. The church of the living God has been called to be the pillar and support of the truth and we strive (as fallible beings) to be one that needs not be ashamed but rightly divides the word of truth. May God grant all of us grace in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, to show ourselves as an example to those who believe. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out Rm 11:33"
* 1998 is the 6,000th year since Adam was driven out of Eden. A day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. The sun was created the 4th day. Jesus, the Light of the World, came into the earth on the 4th day. God worked 6 days (6,000 years of man) and we are just about at the end of the 6,000 year. God rested on the 7th day and we are about to enter the 1,000-year Millennial reign of the Lord on earth, a time of great peace and rest.
* Gen. 7:6 "Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth."
* The Hebrew year 5758 (our 1998) spelled out in Hebrew is an acronym for the phrase 'the season of Noah', In fact, the last two letters of the Hebrew year 5758 spell the name 'Noah'.
* Noah knew that man had only 120 years before it would rain (Gen. 6:3). He knew when to have the Ark ready. He knew seven days before the rain because the Lord shut the door. He knew it was close before that when the animals started to arrive. "There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah" (Gen. 7:9). We are just about at that point today. Noah was 600 years old and l998 is the 6000th year since Adam left Eden, when man began to be tried as mortal and knowing both good and evil
* Numbers, chapter 4, verse one, Moses instructs the people that for a man to be a priest he must be at least 30 years of age but not more than 50 years. Then he may serve in the house of God. Jesus began to minister at 30 years. Exodus 19:6 the Almighty calls all Israel to be a nation of priests. This is their destiny. God is a God who often fulfills patterns which he established (...these things [in the Old Testament] happened as examples to us, upon whom the end of the ages have come I Cor.10:11) . At least 30, no more than 50. The city of Jerusalem became 30 years old, so to speak, on 6 June, 1997, 30 years after Israeli control since the 1967 war. Before that war, for almost 2,000 years, she was under gentile control. Israel, established in 1948, is 49 years, and will celebrate her 50th birthday in 1998. This is "a window of days" when, for the only time in history, both the city of David and the nation of Israel qualify at the right age to take up again the calling to be a nation of priests. The city is 30 years and the nation not more than 50. Could it be that Israel will begin to fulfill its final destiny in 1998?
* In a story that made the newspapers in 1878, there was a Noah Troyer who was ill and fell into a coma. Yet, while still in a coma, he stood up 19 times, and said essentially what Gen. 6:3 says, that man had another 120 years. This happened in 1878. (1878 + 120 = 1998)
* 1998 is a Jubilee year (when debts were wiped clean and land was returned to the original owner).
* The last time Hale-Bopp showed its cute tail in the inner solar system was 4210 years ago from calculations by Daniel W.E.Green of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. According to ancient Jewish text Seder Olam Rabah, that was the year Noah began building the ark.
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© 1997 Marilyn Agee