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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Preparing the Bride for the New Earth

Eureka moment

Sitting with a group of Christian artistic friends last evening and sharing insights about GOD’s direction for the Arts, I had a Suddenly! — you know a sudden moment when a lot of understanding comes all at once. This suddenly is about GOD’s preparing the Bride for the New Earth.

Angels and Heaven

In recent weeks, I’ve been studying about angels (as suggested by a bishop friend) and about Heaven (as encouraged by a pastor friend). I’ve been in agreement with the general thrust of what I’ve been looking at, which is that life in eternity is on a real planet, where we are flesh and blood, have proper jobs and responsibilities, with perfect bodies and perfect peace.

Carrying this perspective into the meeting last night, I listened as one in the circle said she’d been preparing for ministry in the Arts through prayer, sowing into the ground as though a crop of potatoes was ripening but unseen, and that we were meant to continue in fellowship and prayer without developing any particular project going forward.

And there-and-then I had a “suddenly” about this internet posting stream: Preparing the Bride.

We are being prepared as the bride for the New Earth

I’ve been writing about developing our character to be ready for Jesus for some years now. I’ve been examining and exploring our depth and breadth of understanding and maturity in Jesus. That’s all fine. BUT I’ve just realised that matters are changing….

All that we as a body of believers are doing right now, all we’ve done, all we are called to do in this life going forward is more about being and about being ready, than it is about doing. The being is not only for the next phase of our journey with GOD here on this earth, but also (and probably more) about living with each other and with Jesus on the New Earth.

We will receive crowns in heaven (Revelation 4:10-11). We will have jobs to do as opposed to sitting on thrones (Revelation 20:4, 6).

He is preparing us — whether it’s for rapture or for Heaven, depending upon your theological perspective and level of revelation with GOD — He is preparing us to be His bride for eternity. That destination ultimately, is the New Earth: His New Earth (or the revitalised Earth that we inhabit now, reclaimed and renewed by GOD). (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1)

On the New Earth, we will not be singing and strumming harps endlessly, and floating on clouds in spiritual-rather-than-physical bodies, but (according to my reading of scripture and secondary readings) we will be living life on this renewed planet Earth, with joy, peace, love for one another, free from strife, anxiety or any other sort of pain, eating and drinking, working and playing, with Jesus, in perfect fellowship altogether. (Revelation 21:4)

In order to live that life, we need to prepare for it now.

And now, what we need to do is hone our fellowship skills

For some of us, the preparation now is on our fellowship skills. Some of us have used our talents (Matthew 25:14-28) to the best of our ability. Some of us are aged or infirm or have disability. Some of us are healthy, fit and full of zeal to do GOD’s will. But whatever our situation or condition, He is calling us to deeper fellowship with Himself and with one another.

He delights in our unity. (Psalm 133)

In John 14:2 Jesus says,

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

As we meditate on this scripture, and any others you look up which I’ve referenced above, please let’s all wait on Him and begin to absorb the current responsibility we carry: to grow in our fellowship so that we are the beautiful Bride He will have with Him in the time to come.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Working in partnership

We are meant to be partners with GOD. God working in partnership with us is His heart and it is the means to transforming society, bringing mankind back to Him.

How to partnership with Yehovah GOD

Writing from GOD’s perspective as I have been attempting to do for the past several weeks, I can’t possibly assume I know what He’s thinking or wanting to share; and yet, He reveals things to us through His Word and through His Spirit that complement one another and encourage us. GOD lives and breathes in and through us to the degree we allow, through our obedience, surrender, engagement and worship. We are saved individually, but also for the purpose of bringing others to Him. He is a good GOD, the righteous and generous father of mankind, giving good gifts to His children and desiring that none should perish.

“GO and make disciples of all nations…” said Jesus in Matthew 28.

A leaf from GOD’s STORY

So, this piece is not a part of GOD’s STORY per se, but about our relationship with Him and the depth and breadth He can draw us to Him.

Why did GOD create mankind? 

GOD created mankind for relationship — with Him, as well as with one another. 

Reading Genesis 1, He reveals Himself as 3 persons with 3 identities, aspects, personalities in the One Person of GOD. He is 1. Creator who creates. 2. The Word who speaks 3. The Spirit who hovers over the waters from the beginning. GOD spoke and creation happened. He was and is and will be GOD: “In the beginning, GOD”. 

As GOD is Creator, Word and Spirit – He is one GOD revealed in three persons, He is and always has been in relationship. Likewise, when He created Adam in His image, He did so for relationship. And then, He said it was “not good” that man was alone and He created woman. More relationship. 

And so it is with us, we who are born again, we who speak of a relationship with GOD, we who have faith and follow Him through His Word and by His Spirit — we are in relationship with Him.

In Partnership

But I choose to go a step further today to say: Yes, we have relationship, fellowship… and also partnership with Him.

I read a book recently which offered good teaching for young people about following GOD. I won’t quote it but I mention it to say this: It has solid information but it lacks one thing: It does not teach about partnership through Holy Spirit.

The book taught that since Word became flesh and that word has been written down, everything Jesus had/has to say to us is in the Bible; by following that Word, and using sound judgment, we walk the Christian life. This is true but it is leaving out a vital point: through Holy Spirit we have fellowship with GOD and the opportunity for complete partnership with Him. 

The Father wants relationship with us. He is relational; it’s a part of His identity. Even following the Bible with the best will and passion in the world, we are still walking in the flesh, which is still finite and, I purport, still limits our engagement with GOD. 

Only through the power and presence of Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives are we walking in complete partnership: yielding our flesh to His Spirit with each step that we take.

This does not mean we cannot tie a shoe without asking GOD. As the book rightly suggests, GOD is Sovereign and in that, He gives us freedom and room to choose, to think, to delegate, to “live and move and have our being” while He is also fulfilling His plans and purposes. 

But our walk can be so much more than applying the Bible to our lives. Applying the Bible is good! but it is still not the fullness of what GOD asks and what He offers. Rather, He offers and seeks intimacy that comes with constant fellowship — conversation with Him, seeking Him out, allowing Him to fill us with His supernatural presence and power through the person of Holy Spirit.

John 3:6 says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being”

Faith is Trusting in GOD

First and foremost, we commit our lives to faith in Jesus, as son of GOD, as the one who died and rose again. We trust Him with our salvation and with our lives, both here on earth and in heaven after our physical presence on earth ends. We believe and we trust. But there is more…

Rigidity without Holy Spirit

There is a danger in following the Bible totally fastidiously:  that danger is to become rigid in our thinking, becoming religious or even self righteous. Without the Word we have no compass. But with only the Word we can become legalistic, dictatorial. Alternatively, our attempting to follow the Holy Spirit can become whimsical, irrational, or can even lead us toward error in our thinking without the Bible support. If, for example, we think “GOD said to do X” when X is clearly contradictory to the Word, it cannot be true. We do need both the Word and the Spirit to walk with Jesus in the way He has always intended.

The Word keeps us on a righteous path. The Spirit keeps us surrendered to GOD. 

Jesus said he did only what the Father told him to do (John 5:19). His Spirit will never contradict. We need to know the Word so we recognise the voice and the will of Jesus. But Jesus left earth in order for Holy Spirit to come, and we need that Helper to help: to lead, guide, teach, correct us. Father, Son and Holy Spirit will always have the same message, though they may express themselves to us differently. We need all three in our lives. We need Holy Spirit in order to grow in our intimacy with GOD, in order to become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), in order to fellowship with GOD and with one another to the capacity GOD has for us.

There is nothing trivial with GOD!

Some might say that GOD isn’t interested in what we should eat for dinner, or whether we should wear these shoes or those, take this job or that, marry this Christian or that one. But I disagree. 

“As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13) He is watchful, He is engaged, He is interested.

Jesus adored and encouraged the children to come to him. Likewise, the Father relishes our time with Him. It is narrow for us to think He isn’t interested or that what is trivial to us is also trivial to Him. That is looking at ourselves as equal to GOD, as “adults”… but we are neither equal nor adult to Him.

1 John speaks of children, young men and fathers. And yes, we in the faith, mature. And Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians of teaching “meat” versus “milk” to the believers. We do grow in maturity as re are ready to hear.

But GOD does not limit our access to Him nor our prayers. Yes, He wants us to move and respond freely and as we grow, in a mature way. But this takes time and experience. We learn the Word and we discover Holy Spirit: both Jesus and Spirit of GOD are equal and of equal importance to grow us into the people GOD has created us to be. 

In one sense, we will always be His children.

Predestination v Arminianism

I think the debate between predestination — where everything is pre-ordained, and arminianism — where GOD gives us freedom to effect the outcome of our lives, is futile, because both purport a one way or other way view. 

I think the truth is in between, a both/and reality. GOD is sovereign. And yet, we must wrestle against flesh and blood to grow into His likeness. 

The Hebrew people were completely able to recognise competing truths. I think we gentiles need to be able to do the same.

Sovereignty and Partnership

Recognising GOD as sovereign does not mean we are puppets. Realising the active influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not mean we can foul up the predestination of GOD. Rather, we trust in GOD’s righteous and powerful sovereignty even in the midst of our attempts and failures at following His voice today through Holy Spirit.

GOD wants partners. GOD wants us to grow to full maturity. GOD wants to engage with us. And in my experience, I grew more though Holy Spirit than without. I failed more often too. But here I am, more surrendered, more intimate, more in line with the character of GOD as revealed in His list of Holy Spirit fruits (Galatians 5) , than I ever would have become with the Word alone.

I have studied the Word voraciously. But that alone was not enough to curb my impulsivity, my fleshly temperament, my ego. I needed Holy Spirit actively in my life to ensure my dependence and eventual maturity in GOD. 

Flesh v Spirit: obedience, wonder, worship, surrender, grace

We cannot walk in the flesh forever. Ultimately and sooner-is-better-than-later, we need to walk by the spirit in us. How?

“I die daily.” 

“I am crucified with Christ.” 

We must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Centuries ago, priests seeking to be more like Jesus literally flagellated themselves to try to defeat the sinful flesh. In the 1800’s many preached hell and damnation, not erroneously but without love, and alienated for generations those who would be lost; today Christians still have a rotten reputation for hypocrisy and judgementalism rather than for the lovingkindness of Jesus.

Seek Jesus, Seek Holy Spirit, Seek the Father

The Word of GOD is wonderful. It needs no editing, no addendum, no apology. However, Jesus was openly declared at his baptism by the voice of GOD and the presence of Holy Spirit. Only then did his ministry begin. Likewise, we need Holy Spirit to live our lives as Jesus teaches us. 

If we resist Holy Spirit out of fear, suspicion or pride, we miss an essential part of GOD and forfeit the power and presence He wants us to have. 

We learn to worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth!

“Not my might, nor my power but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” (Zachariah 4:6)

As we ponder the Spirit of GOD, to the degree we allow Him to be active in our lives, we will determine our growth in character and our depth of relationship… that’s what I’ve experienced and that’s what I believe.

Going forward, I press on to the upward call of GOD in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13) and pray for the same for all of us. How we manage is up to the LORD and may we all surrender fully into this so that He can have His way entirely in our lives.

Shalom and GOD BLESS you!