Introduction: The importance of Identity ………………Jn 13 v 1 – 5
‘It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world He now showed the full extent of His love. The evening meal was being served. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power and that He had come from the God and was returning to God, so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing and wrapped a towel around His waist….and began to wash their feet’…
Notice that Jesus knew….
a) Who He was
b) Where He had come from
c) Where He was going
In the light of this understanding He……..took a towel.
The knowledge and assurance of His own identity produced security and servant-hood. We too need to know who we are in order to fulfil our personal destiny! We too need to be clear as to who we are in Christ. We know that we have been adopted into the family of God. As such we are His ‘sons and daughters’, being made to reflect the image of His Son, have His DNA… We are ‘spirit beings’. We are no longer just human beings. We are of a new species. We are ’spirit beings’ in a body not human beings with a spirit. There is a commonality of our new nature with that of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’
As a community of His people we are to
a) Grow more like Him
b) Impact our community
The impact on our community is directly proportional to the degree of our ‘likeness’ to Jesus. But today we are in a new season. Today the Father is revealing end-time truths and is positioning us differently as a consequence. How you see yourself changes all you do and directs your whole focus towards your destiny!
God moves in seasons. Today we are in the Season of the Bride. I feel deeply the importance of this message. This message is not just a sermon based on another biblical subject, neither is just a look at another aspect of our identity. It is a passionate plea, I believe, from the Spirit of God to us, the Body of Christ, to understand what we were created for. It is a reminder of how He sees us and how He relates to us.
I believe that…..
- The Bride is the Central theme of the whole of scripture
- It is what natural history is all about and the ultimate purpose of all creation
- To understand this will alter the direction and focus of our lives and ministry
- It will become the foundation stone of all we live for
- The spring board of all activity
- The very purpose of our being
Much of what I understand has come to me from the Lord as I have sought Him in the early hours of each morning. My personal journey is therefore important to this study. I trained to become a school teacher and followed that career for 37 years, but the ‘Call’ on my life to be a missionary or ‘sent one’ came when I was a young teacher of 23 years of age, when two intercessors whom I’d asked to seek the Lord about our forthcoming marriage, prophesied that ‘One day the Lord will call you out to an international ministry’. However I knew that this would not happen until the end of my teaching career when I would be around 59/60.
In 2003 God called me out of teaching at the age of 59 and told me to… “Leave school, sell your house and car. I’m sending you to Africa”. Immediately I received invitations to preach at a number of Crusades in Kenya and Malawi. As I prepared for these missions three things happened:
1) Firstly I became aware that I was concerned with a number of issues:
a) the place of prayer
b) the need for righteousness in our personal lives and in the Church generally.
c) the need for a personal anointing of power for preaching and for miracles for the trips.
Yet I knew these were only aspects of something else. They were facets of the diamond but were not the diamond itself.
“What is the diamond?” I cried out. “What’s it all about Lord?”
The answer I got set my heart and my life in a completely new direction.
“ It’s for My Bride. To get My Bride ready. To get Her dressed!” was His reply. It shocked me! I had never thought of the Bride before.
“Tell me more!” I shouted out…..and a voice from heaven cried…. “Read Psalm 45 ”
I eagerly turned to it and was amazed to read under the title of ‘Psalm 45′ the words…’The Song of the Bride’. It was about the Bride! I didn’t know this. IT was a shock to me.
Let’s look at Psalm 45 v 1-13 briefly. The first 8 verses are about the majesty of the Bridegroom King. Verses 9- 13 begins to describe the Bride Herself. V13 describes the Bride being dressed in ….’clothes embroidered with gold’. I asked the Lord what these clothes embroidered with gold were?” He answered….
“Read Revelations 19 v 7”
“For the wedding of the lamb has come and His Bride has made herself ready, in fine linen, bright and clean”. (These are the righteous and mighty acts of the saints).
These two facets were items of Her clothing. ‘Righteousness’ and ‘Mighty Acts’. These were two of the issues that I had become concerned about as I prepared for the mission trips. I now understood.
When the church is 1) doing the mighty acts of the holy Spirit….the miracles and moving in the power of the Holy Spirit gifts and 2) Walking in righteousness then She is getting dressed
2) Some time later and several missions later the second thing happened…..I got up to pray and He shouted from Heaven
“The Spirit and the Bride says ‘Come!’ ”
Then the Lord spoke into my spirit…
“The Spirit has always been saying ‘Come!’ but the Bride is not saying ‘Come!’ . She doesn’t know She is a Bride”
Some few months later He said….. “The trouble is…My Church has an identity crisis. She doesn’t know who She is!”
As I pondered on this revelation I began to see how significant was the lack of understanding. If the Church doesn’t fully understand who she is then she is unable to fulfil her destiny. So often she does not understand Her destiny in relation to Her Bridegroom King and Her eternal future. This ignorance means that she not getting prepared for Her wedding. She does not know what the wedding clothes are and even if she does, in not ‘trying them on’ to see if they fit well, in order to become comfortable in them. She is not saving up (equipping Herself) for the marriage and married life….’bottom draw’. Note: When you know you are getting married you tend to become obsessional
3) The third thing that happened was that I began to realise that the Bride was indeed the central theme of scripture, of natural history and the ultimate purpose of creation. This came about in a number of ways.
I was reflecting on the oddity of God choosing the Jews…’How odd of God to choose the Jews’ (NB God created or formed the Jews. He did not chose them from nations or races that already existed) So, I asked Him why. He responded by asking me the same question. I replied by given the answer I had gleaned from theology school, Christian books I had read and sermons heard.
This was my answer…..Because You are a God of love and love is creative and has to give and so must have an object of its love. You needed to create the Jews as your people so that you could lavish your love upon them.
“ How dare you!” was Gods response. “I NEED NOTHING! The relationship of love between Myself, My Son and the Holy Spirit is perfect. We need nothing else. We are complete! Nothing I do is out of NEED but is out of GRACE! I created the Jews so that they and the adopted gentiles whom I called, would be formed 1) into a family, my family, with whom and in whom I could live on earth, 2) so that from this company of people of every tribe and every race I could give a love gift of a Bride to My Son. It has always been My desire to give My son a Bride….”
Now these were the revelations that I have received over the months and years since I began this journey of discovery about the Bride. They have come as I have been listening to the Lord each morning early. BUT do they agree with scripture? What does the Bible have to say? If these revelations are in conflict with scripture then they are wrong!
So….. let’s look at these statements in the light of Scripture.
1) the Bride is the central theme of scripture
2) the central theme of natural history
3) the purpose and focus of creation
In other words God’s ultimate purpose for His creation is to provide a
1) a home for Himself…on planet earth and
2) a family for Himself with whom and in whom He may dwell and from them create
3) a Bride for His Son as His eternal companion to reign with Him forever.
Scriptural basis for 1) A home for Himself.
Genesis 3 v 8 tells is that ‘ God walked in the garden in the cool of the evening’ . This was God’s original intention to create a dwelling place on planet earth with His creation but because of rebellion and sin God had to withdraw.
Exodus 3 v 8 tells us that God had seen the suffering of His people when they were slaves in Egypt, had heard their cries and felt their pain and had come down to deliver them.
Exodus 34 tells us how during Moses leadership he was invited to meet with God ‘on the Mountain’ and speak to him face to face. God presenced himself on the earth.
Exodus 26 records how Moses was instructed by the Lord to build a tabernacle for God to dwell in. Moses regularly experienced the glory of the presence of God there and God spoke with him face to face.
In 2 Sam 7 David was told that although he had wanted to build a more permanent structure for God could dwell in Jerusalem, the place he had erected there would have to suffice, since his son Solomon was the one chosen to build the temple.
In Ex 30 v 34 when Moses dedicated the tabernacle and Solomon, the temple, in 2 Chron 5 neither Moses nor Solomon’s priests could enter the buildings because the glory smoke and the presence of the Lord was so thick. God inhabited both the tabernacle and the temple as long as the people kept the covenant. He was dwelling on earth in the midst.
However sin prevailed and God withdrew again and again. But the Lord God had a greater plan, a plan which the prophets had announced in advance that He had purposed.
In Ezekiel 36 v 26 God declares that one day He would create a Temple made of flesh, a people, with hearts that were ‘not made of stone but of flesh’. ‘He would take out the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh and write His laws upon their hearts and cause them to walk in His ways’. So when Jesus came as the Saviour and died on the cross, the church, His Body on earth, was created. The born again believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit , the dwelling place of the Lord. The mystery of the gospel is, according to Colossians 1 v 26 and 27…’Christ in you the hope of glory’ and so collectively the Church is His dwelling place once again on planet earth….the living temple.
And finally, after the rapture, the millennium reign and the creation of the new heaven and the new earth, the dwelling place of God will be on earth for ever.
Rev 21 v 1- 3 ‘Then I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a Bride beautifully dressed for Her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling place of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God’
Scriptural basis for 2) A family for Himself…’sons and daughters’
‘And I shall be a Father to them’
Jn1 v12 …’Yet to all who received Him , to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God’
Gal 4 v 7…‘So you are no longer a slave but a son, and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir’
Scriptural basis for 3) A Bride for His Son
Eph 5 v 31 ….‘For this reason a man shall leave His mother and father and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church’
The relationship between Christ and His Church was to be like a marriage. Therefore the Church was to be like a Bride to the Son. One day they would get married
Rev 19 v 7-9……‘For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made Herself ready’
Rev 21 v 9-10……‘I will show you the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. And He carried me away in the Spirit and showed me the great city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven’
Scriptural basis for 3) To reign eternally with Him:
Rev 3 v 21 …..‘To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on My throne’
Rev 5 v 10 ……‘And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign with Him on the earth’ (NB Earth not heaven)
So is the Bride the central theme of history and scripture?
Seeing the ‘Bride of Christ’ from an overview of Scripture, the whole of scripture can be viewed from the standpoint of the Bride and of marriage
a) So we start in Genesis 1 v 20b – 24 with a bride and a marriage
“ …But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and while He was sleeping He took one of the man’s ribs and clothed it with flesh. Then the Lord made the women from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to him.The man said…’This is my bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called women because she was taken from me’.For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife (cleave to) and they shall become one….”
But the Church, the Bride of Christ, was also born out of the rib of the second Adam, Jesus, when the spear was thrust into His side at the cross and blood and water flowed out. The Church was born on the cross… not at Pentecost. She was empowered at Pentecost. Blood speaks of forgiveness and atonement. Water speaks of cleansing, refreshing, the Holy spirit and the ‘Water of the Word’.
The Bride was born out of the rib of Jesus. She was spiritually speaking flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone.
Cleaving back – Eve was formed and became a separate being. She had to cleave back to become ‘ONE’. The Church has been formed but has become separated from and often independent of Him. Let this be that generation of believers who will ‘cleave ‘ back to Him and become ‘ONE’ Jn 17 v 21 and 23
THIS IS THE SEASON OF THE BRIDE!
b) In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus begins his ministry to the apostles by revealing Himself as the Bridegroom God
Matt 9 v 15…’Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them. The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away”
He ends it by calling them to cultivate intimacy with Him as the Bridegroom God in the story of the ten virgins Matt 25
c) In John’s Gospel the ministry of Jesus begins with the wedding at Cana (John chp 2) and, before His arrest in Gethsemane, ends with the wedding betrothal supper with His disciples known as the Last Supper Jn 14 v 2 – 3
“ Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God. In My Father’s house are many rooms (enough room for everyone). If it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that where I am you may be also”
A Jewish Wedding has no ceremony as we have. The Betrothal ceremony is the essential place of commitment. The ratification and celebration is the wedding Feast and the consummation is when they enter their prepared house together and then the marriage bed of intimacy. At the betrothal or engagement meal they share the cup together and He speaks words of promise and commitment. He says I must go away to prepare a house for you but I will come again to take you to be where I am… The house the bridegroom was to build was usually adjacent the fathers property or on the roof or an extension to it. Only the father knew when it was complete enough and ready for his son to bring the bride. Remember Jesus words about His return….” Only the Father knows the hour …not even the Son”.
Jesus heart cry for His people of John 17 v 21 and 23
This prayer was no passing comment, no impassioned request. It was a cry of agony from the heart…..
“Father I pray that they may be one”
Note: Not a prayer for unity but for ‘Oneness’…..the same word as used in Genesis ‘to cleave to’……..that the two become one! This oneness was to be a reflection of the same Oneness in the Godhead. It was of Bridal union.
d) St Paul’s Words
He understood the identity of the Church that he was called to serve. His heart desire was to present Her to the Lord as a pure virgin Bride.
2 Cor 11 v 2…’I am jealous for you with a Godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him’
So central was this theme that he compared the relationship between husband and wife as that of Christ and His Church.
e) We began in Genesis and we end in Revelation with the marriage feast of the Lamb Rev 19 v 7
‘The marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made Herself ready…He said to me “Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb”
This marks the end of our Natural History. At this point we are ‘raptured’ for the wedding, perfected and sanctified without any sin principle in us, and so are able to co-partner with Him in the millennium reign. So begins a new dispensation.
The days that preceed that moment in natural history will be
1) Marked by a deep unity between the Spirit and the Bride.
“The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!’ Rev 22 v 17 Both will be crying the same cry!
We are not there yet! The Church of Jesus worldwide still needs to hear this message of the Bride in order in order to respond to it. Notice that John doesn’t say “The Spirit and the Family or the Spirit and the Body says ‘Come!’ So this remains the Season of the Bride!
2) Marked by it being the most sinful generation and emotionally broken generation in history (Dan 8v 23, Matt 24 v 10-24, I Tim 4 v 1-3 and 2 Tim 3 v 1-5)
“In the latter time…..when the transgressors have reached their fullness”…Dan 8 v 23
3) Marked by the Holy Spirit’s emphasis on Jesus as the Bridegroom King and Bridegroom God. This revelation has been strategically reserved for the last generation to empower the church to overcome the most awful lawless, fearful, demonic and sexually perverted generation in history. Does that sound as if I’ve just read last weeks News Report?
I want to finish by referring to Song of Songs 1 v 1 “Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth”
The significance of the verse…….Intimacy…..A call to intimacy…to Bridal love!
No-one invites a kiss on the mouth unless they are desiring to arouse deep feelings of intimacy. This book Song of Songs is a prophetic book for today. It is the song of the Bride and Bridegroom….the Church and King Jesus
This is the cry of the Holy Spirit to us today….”.Come! See the Bridegroom. You are His Bride and He is your lover”
So…..Let us be those who:
Know who they are (Identity)
Who know their eternal destiny here on earth as reigning in ’Bridal Oneness’ with Him
Who desire to love Him, the Bridegroom King intensely
Who are preparing themselves as a virgin Bride and who are getting dressed for the wedding by
…’keeping themselves unspotted by the world!’ (separation from)
… putting on the robes of righteousness, the garments of salvation and praise, the armour of God
… and walking in humility.
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