The following are excerpts from a nine-week short series I wrote and taught in the past titled “Secrets of the Bride”. Although the series is still posted here on my blog site, it’s been a couple of years and is in need of a bit of an update. That will happen soon. In the meantime, I thought you may enjoy this short, modified post summarizing some of the highlights.
Secrets of the Bride
It’s easy to see the world today is not the same as when we were young. Culture and society both around us as well as globally appear to be unraveling in a more intensive way than any other time in history, often leaving Christ-followers with a sense of urgency and concern surrounding this season of accelerated darkness.
If I were to ask you how confident are you in what you believe about the last days, what would say? Are you solid enough in what you believe to have a basic idea of what’s coming? Most people I ask this of today, believe it or not, tell me they are “pan-millennialists”, because they plan to keep their eyes on Jesus and know “it will all pan out in the end”. I have never liked that response because my first thought is, okay, perhaps for you it will – but what about for your loved ones, will it all pan out for them as well? My second thought is (here in America especially) that can sometimes be code for “I’m [too intimidated, too lazy, not interested enough] to study it out for myself.
But the Church in America is beginning to awaken now, wouldn’t you agree? The truth of the matter is, regardless if we are pressing hard against the second coming or maybe not quite yet, the bride of Christ is beginning to wipe the sleep from her eyes and to understand that we are in the midst of a spiritual war where, if not already then very soon, we, our loved ones, and those around us will be involved in an onslaught of attacks by the enemy on a daily basis, and we will be made to care. Better awake, sober, and ready than asleep and unaware.
What Secrets Does the Bride Hold?
In scripture, one of the identities spoken of the Church is “the bride of Christ”. We might agree that women tend to have an easier time identifying themselves as His bride, but there are many men and women alike who struggle with the bridal identity and often relate to Him easier as sons & daughters of the Most-High God and loving Father; as sinners in need of a Savior; subjects to the Almighty King; or in dozens of other possible ways.
While all of those are good and encouraged, what secrets does the bride hold in her relationship to her bridegroom that all of these other facets don’t fully hold? What sets the bride relationship apart from any other? I will tell you now and upfront, it is purity, passion, and partnership. Combined, these three facets bring a unique aspect into the bridal identity, making it vital for all of us to relate to Christ in this manner.
You have heard it said that sin cannot be in the presence of a holy God. Consider it isn’t that God is unable to tolerate sin in His presence, but the opposite. Because He is holy, sin cannot tolerate being in the presence of a holy God! It can be likened to a sinking ship. The deeper the ship falls the more it is crushed by the pressure and weight of the water. So in like fashion, the closer sin gets to the presence of Holy God, the more it also is crushed by the pressure and weight of His holiness. When we choose to believe in Him and accept Him as our Savior, His holiness is imparted to us, enabling us to stand in the presence of our holy Father without the pressure of His holiness crushing us.
Many equate purity with holiness. The Lord tells us to “be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Knowing His holiness has been imparted to us, and that we have the Holy Spirit now living within us, what exactly does it mean to be pure, or to be holy? Do you get the sense that it is intertwined with working out the gift of salvation that He has so freely given to us? I believe it does.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
For me personally, the words set apart or consecrated come to mind whenever I think of purity, and how, like a bride separating herself from all others for love of her bridegroom, involves a willful separation of a sinful past as we journey along our path of redemption.
The key to fully understanding the bride’s willingness to keep herself pure and submit to the will of her bridegroom is knowing that she does so not because she is forced, but because she loves!
I heard it once said that our greatest glory is that we can move God’s heart. To know truth, to understand God, I must love God (see John 14:17-21).
At the heart of the bridal identity is cultivating the oil of intimacy with our Lord – making relationship with Him – staying close to His heart – our passion, our first priority. Cultivating the oil of intimacy is a phrase I borrow from pastor and teacher Mike Bickle, and find very appropriate for this teaching. As I have mentioned before in the Foundations study, the Lord may not play favorites, but He does have intimates – those closest to Him who He reveals His innermost thoughts and secrets with.
” There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises.” – Psalms 25:14, TPT
One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from author A.W. Tozer, who once said “To have found God and yet still pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love”.
Why is partnership with Jesus critical in this day and age or any other. In Matthew 16 we find the Pharisees speaking with Jesus and asking Him for a sign in order to prove to them who He is. Knowing this, I imagine Jesus may have been a little irritated when He points out to them that they know how to look to the skies to discern the weather, but don’t bother to search out scripture in order to discern the times. They wanted Him to make it easy. Later on in that same chapter He tells us that becoming His disciple will cost us everything – but reminds us that our soul is worth it.
We are often no different today. We often question and test spiritual things because we don’t know the answers. There’s nothing wrong with that! Where we go a bit sideways is when we get lazy in the process, and sit by waiting for God to deliver a sign or a word to us (a “fleece” if you will), either directly or indirectly, on what next steps we should take. We would all rather be spoon fed, and sit around waiting for a sign to be given before we move or act.
Truth be known, waiting for someone else to deliver an agreeable word also easily absolves us from any responsibility, because if the word doesn’t come to pass, then it’s not our fault – it’s theirs. But just as sin is weighty, so too is the glory of God a weighty thing! As my pastor says, “choose your weight”! Those of us who chose the weight of glory should instead be trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Having those conversations and asking those questions directly of Him is part of cultivating the oil of intimacy, for as we study to show ourselves approved and search out the scripture for the answers and added insights we seek (see 2 Timothy 2:15), we develop a much needed trust, and our faith is increased.
In summary, the reason it is important for the bride to understand how she fits in (especially within the end times and the book of Revelation) is because it is critical for her to understand the role she plays in partnership with the Lord during the time leading up to and throughout the last days – engaging in the ministry that flows from intimacy – not only for herself but also to prepare the way for others within her sphere of ministry, so they don’t have to fall prey to the world narrative and risk losing everything in the process. A path of compromise begins with one small step, but courage is the first principle of leadership. We lead and influence many, whether we realize it or not.