Monday, May 19, 2014

Is The Bride Prepared?

We know with great certainty from the scriptures that the Church Saints are considered to be the Bride of Christ ( see here and here ).

We also know that the ancient Jewish wedding customs along with the descriptions and parallels given in John 14 dictate that Christ will return suddenly and unexpectedly to gather up His bride in order to return to "the Father's House" as the final stage in the marriage ceremony ( see here ).

We know that the time is approaching rapidly -  as we watch the last days of this generation. This really leaves us, the bride, with three simple questions. 

Are we prepared? 
Are we ready? 
If so, like a bride should be, anxiously awaiting the wedding ceremony? 

This thought process can't be complete without looking at Revelation 2 and the letter to the church of Ephesus. After telling them about their good works and what they had endured, Jesus had this to say:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

What does this mean? Below are a few links which give some interesting commentary:

No, the real problem with the Ephesians was that they had lost something of their understanding of God’s love for them. 

They had forgotten that they were beloved sons of God. They were a busy church but their works were based on their love for God, rather than His love for them.

In writing to the Ephesians Paul prayed that they would know the love of Christ (Eph 3:18).
 He did not pray that they would grow in their love for Christ. Some people think we are filled with the nature of God to the degree that we love God but that’s not what Paul said. He said we’re filled to the degree to which we know the love of Christ.
John, the beloved disciple, was at one time a member of the Ephesian church and he was famous for reminding people of the Father’s lavish love toward us. “Love comes from God” (1 Jn 4:7). “Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us” (1 Jn 4:10). 
Our love flows out of, and is a response to, his love. 
In Revelations 2:4 Jesus says to the Ephesians, “You have left your protos agape” or your foremost or primary love. What is the source of our protos agape? It is a revelation of Christ’s love for us.
Why do I say the Ephesians had become religious? Because Jesus commends their hard work but then says they’re not doing the things they did at first. So they’re working hard but to some extent is the wrong sort of work.
From this we can conclude that the Ephesians were a hard-working, non-loving church. That sounds a lot like a church that’s coming back under the law. They may have started out with grace but they are now trying to attain their goal by human effort.

Our first love, if we are believers, is putting Jesus ahead of everything else. This church's problems spiritually, can be seen in most of our churches today. God will not allow compromise, but on every hand we see just that.
In II Timothy 3:5: It says, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." Probably this church has gotten too sophisticated for healing and deliverance.  Perhaps some of the world's music has crept in unaware.  Perhaps this church has begun to entertain more than teach. This church is more appealing to the world than to God.
As we look at all of these churches, we must examine ourselves and our church and see just what category we fall into.
Our first love, if we are believers, is putting Jesus ahead of everything else. 
This church's problems, spiritually, can be seen in most of our churches today. God will not allow compromise, but on every hand we see just that.

How many of our churches today are lifeless, dull, and mechanical? How many lack the light and witness of Christ and His power? The condition in this church, and in our churches and individual lives, did not happen overnight. It was a gradual process whereby believers left their "first" love, their passionate "bridal" love for Christ. The "first love" to which Christ called the church in Ephesus to return can be with the "bridal" love in a marriage relationship.

A new bride is so in love with her husband that he is the central focus of her life. When she takes her wedding vows, she promises to forsake all others and give herself solely to him. She eagerly anticipates his desires and lovingly tries to meet all his needs. She spends every possible moment with him. In this "bridal love" relationship, there is a special intimacy that develops between the bride and her bridegroom. She longs to know everything possible about him. She opens her heart to him, revealing her innermost secrets and desires. While they are apart from one another, she longs for him and eagerly anticipates when she will be with him once again. Because of her love, the bride puts her bridegroom first, before all else, including her own needs, desires, and ambitions.

It is this type of pure, fervent, self sacrificing "bridal love" for Christ that made the disciples willing to give themselves 100% for the cause of Christ. It was this type of love that burned up their own selfish desires, motivated them to serve Christ with single hearted devotion, and made them willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ. It is this type of love that we must have burning within us to enable us to fulfill the purposes of God in these final moments of time before Christ's return. Just as Christ called the church in Ephesus to return to their first love, He is walking among us today, calling us to repent and return to our first love.

Here are seven warning signs that signal that a church or individual has left their first love.
  • Christ is no longer the central focus in your life.
  • You neglect your relationship with the Lord and spend less time in prayer, worship and the Word.
  • You allow family, friends, job and your own desires to come between you and your relationship with God.
  • There is a loss of intimacy in your relationship with God.
  • You are caught in a cycle of dead works
  • You are more tolerant of sin
  • You will no longer have a burning passion for the lost

Your works were motivated by intense love and devotion to the Lord. Compare your love for the Lord today with what it was then. Has your love grown deeper or has it lost its fervency? Are your works motivated by a passionate love for God or are you doing them merely out of a sense of duty? Ask the Lord to forgive you for leaving your first love. Begin to do your first works again. Make a new commitment to the basics of prayer, worship, and the Word. Fan the flame of the dying embers of your first love through renewed communion with the Lord. This fervent love is required of all those who belong to the Lord. Jesus called this the first and great commandment:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." (Mat. 22 v.37-38)

The Ephesians distanced themselves from their first love. They no longer loved the Lord Jesus as they did when they first came to Christ. They not only took their eyes off the Lord but they lost fellowship with Him. The principle is that regardless of how much of the Bible we may know, how much we serve Him, or how many past victories we have, we cannot walk with the Lord without loving Him. It is significant that of all the sins Jesus points out in these seven, the first sin He names is the one that grieves Him most: a loss of affection for Him. Our God is a jealous lover.

I remember attending my final Dean’s Chapel before graduating from Multnomah Bible College. The male Resident Director, Duncan Sprague, asked us, “Can you honestly say that you love Jesus Christ more today than you did when you first came to Multnomah?” This question haunted me. I thought long and hard about it. I immediately assumed I loved God more because I now knew Inductive Bible Study, Greek, Theology, and had studied through all 66 books of the Bible. Yet, I was flooded with memories from the summer before I enrolled at MBC. During those summer months, I prayerfully studied the Word on my knees with greater fervor and diligence. Now on the verge of graduating, I finally had to conclude that in many ways, I probably loved Jesus more before entering college. As a result, I’ve determined to do everything I know how to ensure that my love for Christ never leaves.
Ladies, imagine that your husband came home and said, “I don’t love you anymore. But nothing will change. I’ll still earn a living and pay the bills. We’ll still sit together and sleep together. I’ll still father our children. I just don’t love you anymore. Would that be good enough for you? No way. You would be devastated. Yet we say that to the Lord. “Jesus, I don’t love You like I once did. But I’ll still come to church. I’ll still serve You. I’ll still witness for You. I just don’t love You.
That’s not good enough for Jesus either! He wants a relationship, not a performance. Jesus says, “You’ve lost that loving feeling.” Is this serious? Absolutely: Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God (Matt 22:37-39). We must love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we fail to love Him, we disobey the greatest commandment. It doesn’t matter what else we obey, if we fail to keep the highest commandment. We have struck out! Leaving our first love is the greatest sin!

Also see:


Waterer said...

Thank you Scott!

Dutch Treat said...

I posted this awhile back; but thought it appropriate to do it again; and Scott, thanks for all you do for us. Lord knows I could never do it.

Dutch Treat said...

THE WEDDING OF WEDDINGS: We're living in a world that's spinning out of control; and for many people it's taking a heavy toll. For they wander through life with gloom and despair, caught up in the negative vibes which fills the air. If you're one of those who are constantly singing the blues, an event is coming up which will bring good news. You're cordially invited to a wedding in the sky, that's been arranged by our Father up on high. For on that day the knot will be officially tied. Jesus is the groom; and we'll be His bride. Just come as you are. It'll be a spectacular sight. For as His bride He'll clad us in robes of spotless white. Admission is free. He's paid for everyone. We couldn't afford it anyway. It cost Him the life of His Son. Some time after that The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will begin; and just thinking about it is making my head spin. For we'll be treated to a dinner that's out of this world. For all the heavenly food imaginable wlll be unfurled. You can eat as much as you want. It'll taste oh so fine; and you won't have to worry about an expanded waistline. For drinks there'll be wine and living water which will be served for free; and you can drink as much as you like without having to pee. Then He'll stagger us with gifts of life, joy, love, peace, contentment and so much more; and form then on we're with Him forever more. For the supper we'll be joined by all the Saints of old. For in the Bible their tales are prominently told. From Adam and Eve to John the Baptist they'll join us in breaking bread, along with the Saints who died before Jesus rose from the dead. It will be such a thrill to be in the same room, with all the heroes of the faith as we salute our groom, who sacrificed His life to free us of all sin; and by accepting it a new life in Him we begin. Just contemplating these things give me nothing but goosebumps; and keeps me from getting too far down in the dumps. All it takes for you to come is a willing heart; and He has given the assurance of a brand new start. So I hope you'll join me there. You won't have any remorse. For it is the one marriage that can never end in divorce. So send your RSVP to the Father. He must know ahead, so He can reserve a table for you in His glorious homestead. Then He'll enter your name in the Lamb's Book of Life. So when you're Raptured up you'll be free of any strife, when peace love and joy will forever last; and grief pain and sorrow will be a thing of the past. You'll be extremely blessed to be called to this affair. Please don't wait too long. I hope to see you there. With love, Dutch!