Tag: Bride of Christ

A Circumcised Heart – T. Austin-Sparks

Now we come to this matter of circumcision. I can only touch it very lightly, for it is a very delicate matter.

We have seen that in the Old Testament circumcision is a type, or symbol, for in the New Testament it is stated that circumcision of the heart – not in the flesh, but in the spirit – and it just means this: a heart that is wholly devoted to the Lord. By that symbol the seed of Abraham became God’s exclusive people for the time being, and everything that we have in the Old Testament about God’s wish for this people shows us how jealous He was over those people. God called Himself their husband (Jeremiah 31:32), and there was never a more jealous husband than He! Let Israel have anything to do with any other husband and you will hear the thunder, and the weeping, of the Prophets, God was so jealous for Israel.

Now see what Paul says about the covenant seed of Abraham. He heads this whole thing up into Christ: “Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew (or an Israelite), which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit.” So Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham, and Paul speaks of the circumcision of Christ.

Let me ask you a question: Has there ever lived on this earth a person more utterly committed to God than the Lord Jesus? He was indeed separated unto God, and different from all others. No one has ever borne the marks of spiritual circumcision more than the Lord Jesus. He was the Man of the undivided heart.

Let us go back into the Old Testament to that great Messianic chapter, Isaiah 53: “He shall see his seed… He shall see of the travail of his soul.” Well, we know more than the Prophet Isaiah knew about that! We have been with Him in Gethsemane in the time of the travail of His soul, and we are with Him, on the other side of the travail. How many are the seed of Christ since then! Dear friends, if ever you are tempted to think that Christians are few, and that we are only a very small people in the millions of this world – open the windows! Look into the book of the Revelation: “A great multitude, which no man could number… ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” The number cannot be expressed in human language – and they have been gathered since the travail of the Lord Jesus. He is indeed seeing His seed! Gethsemane has been the most fruitful garden in all history – and you and I are of His seed! We are born out of His travail and are in the covenant made with the new Israel.

But do remember that the meaning and the value of the covenant depend upon our devotion to the Lord! This is a thing which is so evident: the greatest fruitfulness has always come from the lives most devoted to the Lord, the people of the undivided heart. This covenant has two sides. As we have already said, the New Testament takes many warnings from the history of Israel, and we may fail of all that that covenant means if our hearts are divided and we try to live life in two worlds. Let us look at a little incident in the life of Abraham.

It is in chapter 15, when God came to make His covenant with Abraham and his seed, and something happened which many people have not been able to understand. The Lord commanded Abraham to bring certain things for a sacrifice either to a large altar, or to two altars, for the Lord told him to divide the sacrifices in two and to put one half on one side and the other half on the other side. Now notice that these are two sides of the covenant. On the one side is Abraham and his seed and on the other side is God. God is about to enter into a covenant with Abraham and his seed, but the covenant has two sides. Now notice what happens! The vultures came down to try and steal the sacrifices. How greatly significant this is! All the powers of darkness are against this covenant, and all those evil fowls of the air are out to rob God and His people of this covenant. It says that Abraham beat them off. His rod was busy that day, and the vultures said: ‘It is no good. We had better give up and get away from here.’ Then Abraham went to sleep and “an horror of great darkness fell upon him”. My point, and, I believe, the point of the Scripture is this: there is always a terrible battle with hell to secure a life utterly committed to God. No one who is going to be utterly for Him is easily won.

It may be that battle is going on in this very room. If the devil can prevent you from being utterly for God he is going to make a great big fight for it. Is that battle going on? The battle of the very covenant, the covenant in heart circumcision, a heart wholly for the Lord, a heart that is right out for God. If Satan can prevent that he will put up a good fight. What is your attitude to this? Are you careless about it? God alone knows how much is involved in it. Oh, take the rod of God and lay about these evil forces! Stand for the covenant! And when you have made that stand the evil forces will withdraw, the darkness will go.

There is a change of atmosphere in this story. At first the atmosphere is full of conflict and fear, for it is “an horror of great darkness”. There is a battle in the very atmosphere over this matter, but when Abraham has fought the battle for the covenant the whole atmosphere changes and becomes one of victory. If we put the history of many consecrated believers into this story, there would be many testimonies like this: ‘My, there was a tremendous battle over this matter! I was full of fears, but I took a stand, and with God’s help I came to a decision. I stepped over on to God’s side of the covenant and said: “Lord, I am Yours! I am with You!” then peace came, the peace of His victory. I went to bed that night feeling as though I had come out of a great battle, but it was into great peace.’

That is all in this little story in Genesis 15. It may be your story! This is something of what it means to have a heart that is circumcised, for the circumcised heart is a heart set free from all self-interest. Was that true of Abraham? After many years what had seemed impossible came to pass and God gave him a son; and that son was God’s miracle. You would expect Abraham to say: ‘God gave me that son and I am going to hold on to him. I will never let him go, because God gave him to me.’ There was a little boy once, and a baby came into the home. One day the mother said to the little boy: ‘We are going to take Baby to the meeting and give him to the Lord.’ The little boy’s face fell, and he said: ‘Mummy, you can lend him to the Lord, but we must have him back again.’ You know, that is the kind of consecration that a lot of Christians make; they have some personal interest in their consecration. But about that God-given gift to Abraham God said: ‘Take him and offer him!’ Friends, learn this lesson! Do not think that because God has given you something by a miracle you can take it for yourself. I will not try to say what it might be. It might be your very ministry, for there is always a peril of taking our ministry and using it for ourselves. But Abraham was truly circumcised in heart, and the same was true of Hannah. How long she waited for that child Samuel, and how much she suffered! How earnestly she prayed! And then, at last, God gave her the child. What did she say? ‘Thank you, Lord. I will never let this child go now!’? No, she said: ‘For this child I prayed and the Lord has given me my request. Therefore I have given him to the Lord for as long as he lives.’ She, too, was circumcised in heart.

From some of his Psalms we know that the one great ambition of David’s life was to build the temple, and he worked and sacrificed for that temple. He said: “I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalm 132:3-5). He was collecting private money, as well as materials for the temple, for he said: “I have a treasure of mine own of gold and silver” (1 Chronicles 29:3). Then he received the pattern of the temple from the Lord, and said: ‘The time has come, and my life’s ambition is about to be realized. The one thing for which I have lived is now going to be mine – but what is that? Someone is at the door. Come in! Oh, it is a Prophet. Yes, my friend, what have you come to say?’ ‘I have come to tell you from the Lord, David, that you shall not build the house. Thy son shall build it.’ What did David do? What would you do? Well, what did David do? He said: ‘It does not matter about my disappointment! The thing is that the Lord must have what He wants. My interests are nothing beside His interests.’ So he gave everything to Solomon. Perhaps he had seen something more: “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6), and that is better than any earthly house!

We never lose anything when the Lord has everything, and that is what it means to have a circumcised heart. May that be true of everyone!

Excerpted from God’s New Israel.

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The Bride Revealed – W.E. Smith

App. Running Time: 60 minutes

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The Bride Revealed – W.E. Smith

costly_oilIn this recorded message we continue further in the Word to see the Bride Revealed! Her uncompromising devotion to her Beloved; Her enduring love for Him! Her willingness to be poured out and wasted for Him, to be a living sacrifice such that He alone would be magnified and blessed! Her being dressed in readiness and righteousness!

May the Lord richly bless you upon the hearing of this word!

Thank you

TRANSCRIPT: THE BRIDE REVEALED

The Bride of the King is revealed throughout God’s Word if only we have eyes to see her. In Psalm 45 for example, we see the marriage celebration of a king, and from this psalm alone we can begin to form a much clearer picture of what is so special about the bride.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad. Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father’s house; Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.The daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor. The King’s daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, Will be brought to You.
They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing;
They will enter into the King’s palace.
In place of your fathers will be your sons;
You shall make them princes in all the earth.
I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever. (Psalm 45:6-17)

Here we see the king and his beloved, the bride, who is being transformed into a queen. As one can see, this is a very regal Psalm and what is being portrayed here is nothing short of that. I hope we can see the Father’s joy that is in this Psalm and that this beautiful queen, this daughter who’s been given to the king, this very worthy king, is something that brings tremendous joy to the Father’s heart. She gives herself willingly, and this is a delightful thing. She has forgotten her father’s house and her people, so everything behind her, every place that she’s been, all that she is left behind, such that she can join herself to the king and to lose herself in finding Him. We should also know, as the Spirit conveys to us, that the church as a whole is espoused to Jesus Christ, but not all the members of the church will comprise the bride, this daughter who will be ultimately represented in the queen.

Next, we have the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. We are not going to go there, but it should be most familiar to all of us. Only five of the ten, only a remnant, advanced into the wedding chamber, into the feast. The others were left outside, though they in every sense were in the running, so to speak. This should tell us a great deal about the character of the bride and what comprises those who represent the bride in the church at large. Again we need to reiterate here that the church as a whole is espoused to Jesus Christ, but not all members of the church, not all members of the body, will comprise the bride. There is some special quality about her love and devotion that we would do well to recognize and appreciate.

In Psalm 37, the reader is encouraged to –

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

The desire of the bride’s heart, the daughter who has forgotten her people and her father’s house (see Psalm 45), is for her beloved groom. She lavishes all her love on him. And, further in Psalm 37, we are enjoined to –

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.

So everything is invested in Him and in this time of waiting, this time of resting, this time of endurance and persistence, her love grows only stronger. It is steadfast and unshakable. These are the five wise virgins who had the oil in their vessels in addition to the oil lighting their lamps. She is the one who is willing to go all the way, to lose everything in this world for Him. And just an interesting contrast to the one who has forsaken her people and her father’s house, we can recall the words of

Jesus regarding the cost of discipleship –

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

As we examine the character and the nature of the bride, we would do well to understand just what it is that makes her the bride. What is it that makes her a blessing and a delight to her bridegroom? Why is it exactly that the King desires her beauty?

Before we look at some of those issues a little more closely, we should consider for a moment that love is a most fanciful thing. Unfortunately, within the human experience, it has been infused with all kinds of romance and airiness, but when you cut right down to it, what is love as defined by the Lord n His Word? It is nothing short of laying down your life as a living sacrifice. It is being poured out as fragrant oil on behalf of the one you love. There is nothing more than this, than to lay down your life, the sum total of your life, to leave everything and to be loosed of everything on behalf of the one you love. This is the love of the bride, the one that will become the queen, the one whose supreme beauty will attract the King.

If we consider Sarai in the Old Testament, and why her name was changed at the announcement of Isaac’s birth, we can begin to glimpse some further revelation about the bride. Now, from what can be determined, the very subtle difference from Sarai to Sarah is that (as Sarai) she was indeed the crown of Abraham’s life, a princess in the sense of that localized relationship. What Sarah represents, we believe, is the fact that now she has become a queen. Now it is so much more than just represented in her earthly relationship with Abraham. With Isaac comes the beginning of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, and so many more grander promises given to Abraham. As Sarai, she followed her lord on the earth, much like the disciples of the Lord Jesus; yet this was merely a beginning, the preparation for dominion and joint rulership in His Kingdom, which she could only enter into as Sarah. It is as Paul reminds us –

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1. Cor. 15:50)

The end of discipleship is nothing less than dominion. All training, testing and preparation in this earthly sojourn advances to this singular objective in the Christian life. The true beauty of the King’s bride is that she has made herself worthy, through abiding faith and faithfulness, to sit beside Him, and to preside over all His dominion, both in heaven and earth. In the heart and mind of God, there can be no love without faithfulness. Everything else is mere words and sentiment. To abide in Him is to trust Him and to live by every word that proceeds from out of His mouth.

And yet this love is also so much more, as the Scripture reveal. This love, this lavishing of all that you have, of all of your riches, of all the sum of your life, is really conveyed for us in John 12. Hopefully some of these examples and incidents will really bring this home to us.

Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:1-3)

Now saints, this is most interesting. If we recall, back in Psalm 45, we also have set before us a scene infused with fragrance; this whole aspect of scent and incense and all of that – all of these are very important in the Bible. They all represent many different things, but here it is being brought to the fore – this whole aspect of fragrance. She is dressed in fragrant garments (“with myrrh and aloes and cassia”), symbolizing special qualities that distinguish her in the court of the King. Now each of these spices have very important meanings in the Scriptures, and although we do not have space in this article,  you are encouraged to follow this though for yourself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

To continue –

But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. “For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” (John 12:4-8)

Here is this picture of Mary taking this costly perfume and just lavishing, pouring it out on her Lord. This is a very graphic illustration of this type of love that lavishes, that pours itself out, that really lets itself go to the uttermost. The bride is one who has left all to follow Him. She has left everything – her fishing nets, her business, her father’s house and her family. She has left all that she knows, the familiar life that she has lived in the world; everything that has, up until that time, served to define and shape her very existence. The Lord has a very definite way of expressing this leaving everything, this letting go of everything, this losing all that you are: “laying down your life.”

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

And again, this love is conveyed as not only hating (in a relative sense) everything else, but also one’s own life –

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

I believe we can substitute that word disciple for bride here without doing any damage to the meaning, for they are one and the same in terms of this relationship to the Lord. And if the espoused bride is not willing to give up all of these things and to put them after Him, then she cannot be His queen (His Sarah). There are many who are represented in the espoused bride of Christ who ultimately cannot go in because, for them, the price is simply too high. To be represented in the bride is to have a disciple’s selfless and singular devotion and we see this being played out in the gospels very clearly, where Jesus keeps asking increasingly more of them. And although they have seemingly given all that they have, the price, the ultimate price, becomes clearer as they walk more with Him and as they see and hear from Him.

Clearly brethren, as we hopefully can see, no “outside of the cup” religious pretension will satisfy the bride, for she knows that this is powerless against the trinity of death and defeat that is arrayed against her – the world, the flesh and the devil, that is constantly appealing to the lust of flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life, that represents her forsaken life in this world.

She carries her own cross. She has counted the cost. She has forsaken all her possessions, and let them fly from her heart. She now seeks His kingdom, as Luke 12:31 conveys (“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you”), above all else and His Righteousness. She knows that His righteousness is bound up only in His very life, and that she cannot have the one without the other.  She knows that to abide in Him is to lose herself; that to freely yoke herself to Him means that no longer can she set her own path in this world. Yet she also knows that only His might and strength, only His power, only His ability can do all that must be done to fulfill His (and His Father’s joy and pleasure.

On another level, her heart is represented in the good and fruitful soil, in the familiar parable of the sower. Hers is the heart, the soil that bears fruit, where the seed can bring forth life. This is a love that is fruitful and abounding evermore with each day. She finds rest for her soul in Him, for He is the life that brings forth fruitfulness and abundance. He is the living water and the heavenly bread that sustains the eternal life of the Father’s household. So she goes out every morning and drinks deep and gathers all that she needs for the day, that she might abide only in Him, and live in Him and move in Him and derive her very being in Him. No longer will she “work for the food which perishes”, but she will now work “for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to” her (John 6:27). No longer will she be content with mere signs and wonders performed by the Lord, or even His blessings, but only with He Himself, in all of His fullness and life.

The bride, the King’s soon-to-be Queen, recognizes most profoundly that Christianity is not so much about Christ, but it is Christ. She sees this most clearly, and although these statements sound very similar, she knows how very different they are. She values all preliminary and preparatory things, all those things in the Old Testament – the types, the shadows, the illustrations, the figures, the stories, the prophesies – all things that pointed to the Man Jesus and to the Savior Jesus and to the King Jesus and to the Groom Jesus, but ultimately she presses on to that which is most excellent, that she might apprehend and possess Him in all of His fullness and reality, as her very life. She has perhaps, once in her life, followed after a John the Baptist, but now she knows that this must give way to following He Who is the Father’s Beloved Son. For many years perhaps, she sat under the teaching of Gamaliel, but now she has seen the King, and has become blind to all that has gone before.

As we seek further revelation of the bride, let us continue by the Lord’s grace and provision, to Ephesians 5:27. This should be a fairly familiar New Testament passage pertaining to the character and the nature of the bride. She is described here as “having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” She has been cleansed with the washing of water with the word. Here again is this picture of purity and spotlessness. This really is what distinguishes her from the body at large and the fact that she is not spotted with carnality, worldliness or compromise. There are no hidden idols in her heart; no adulterous relationships; no infidelity or falseness in her love.

A compelling picture in the Old Testament, perhaps the most poignant example of that is Lot. We see Lot, at least in relation to Abraham, as the epitome of the compromised Christian. He first started thinking about his flocks and his interests, in terms of the land being able to support both his and his uncle’s needs. That was his first step towards the world, if you recall. And then, before long, he had pitched his tent towards Sodom, towards the valley, and then it’s not long after that and we find him within the gate and inside the walls. He has a house with a door. He’s sitting at the gate. He is caught up in the affairs, the interests and the life of Sodom. He’s a saved individual, he’s a saved man; God is not completely out of the picture or out of his heart, but here he is straddling two worlds and there is mixture and compromise. We know that from some of the things he says and does subsequent to the judgment being poured out on Sodom.

Dear saints, this is a most frightening picture of Christians who are in the world, who are caught up in politics and the favor of the world, and the goings on of the world, those who are not seeking first the kingdom of God or working for the food that does not perish. They are not up on the mountain with Abraham pleading for the life of those in the world, they are down in the valley consumed by temporal affairs. I thought of a term for these types of Christians, these “happy valley” Christians, utterly asleep and oblivious to the visitation and judgment about to come. This really is a picture of those who will not be ready at the end; those who simply do not see because they are asleep.

With that in mind, let us turn to Matthew 24, where this whole aspect of readiness is emphasized. Here we see that the bride is not only characterized by her willingness to relinquish all that she is, her father’s house and the world that she comes from and all her heritage, that she might be joined to the bridegroom. She is also dressed in readiness, having put on the Lord Jesus, and this whole aspect of readiness is vital. In fact, we will see that this whole exhortation to readiness, to being vigilant, to being prepared for the appearing of the Lord, is something that the Spirit is conveying in this time. Matthew 24 –

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matt. 24:42-44)

So this imperative for readiness is not for those in the world; for they can know nothing about His coming, the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12, Luke 19:44) or being ready for anything. They are utterly consumed by the world and their moment-to-moment appetites and interests. Here the Lord is suggesting that those among His own who should know and should be watching, are not; that they are in fact no better prepared than those in the world. Let us continue to verse 45 –

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

Here then is a clear and vivid picture of the bride, the faithful and sensible servant. There are many parables in the Gospels that convey this aspect of being reading, being accounted worthy to enter into the court of the King and His Kingdom.

“Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. (verse 47)

So here we have the transition from Sarai to Sarah, resulting from fruitfulness (consider that her name was changed in the context of Isaac – fruit borne of the faith and the life of the spirit); from those who have a local or a limited distinction to those being elevated to a higher distinction in the king’s house. I pray you can see this dear brethren, for it affects and involves all us without exception. How we walk in this world while we are waiting at the end of this age (called “keeping the word of His patience” in Rev. 3:10), is very much involved in the distinction and revelation of the bride.

Now for further help in identifying the bride, we can turn to Ephesians 5:15, where Paul exhorts –

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time…

In other translations it is rendered “redeeming the time”, and we are to be actively pursuing this –

…because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation.
(Eph. 5:15-18)

Here then is Sodom; the life of Sodom. That whole indulgence in the world; trying to fill so many lifeless hours and days, and that emptiness deep in the inner place of a human being, with wine or pleasure or things or acquisitions or politics or civic life, sports or anything. Do not get drunk with wine or any of those things, for that is dissipation, this is something that will prevent you from being ready and accounted worthy to go in as His beloved bride.

…but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Eph. 5:18-21)

Here we see the bride at this time of the night, this window when the thief is about to enter, she is filled with the Spirit and refreshing others; she’s caught up in the life of the body; she’s giving of herself; she’s proving faithful in the administration of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit; she’s entirely at the disposal of the Master. The life of the soul and the life of the body is subservient to the life of the spirit within. And the spirit is the crown of her life, just as she is the crown on the head of the groom.

So she is careful how she walks in this day. And she’s wise, not foolish. She’s not engaging in drunkenness and in the life of Sodom. She’s not compromised. She’s not a happy valley Christian. She’s not looking for a good time – she’s looking for her bridegroom. Her aim and ambition is nothing less than to attain what the Bible calls the fullness of Christ, to have His beauty and glory reflected in herself and that is an allusion to Ephesians 4:13 –

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”.

She, unlike Lot, has pointed her tent toward her beloved and His city, not to Sodom. She has forsaken the temporal blessings of the plain for a rugged sojourn in the mountain. This is where we last see Abraham, still dwelling in tents although he possessed temporal riches greater than most men in that day. He still sojourned in tents; he was in the mountains. And we see Lot, even after he was brought out – because he lingered, he was grabbed hold of forcibly by the angels and brought out – he didn’t want to go to the mountains, he wanted to go to Zoar, one of the other cities that was in the line of site for God’s judgment. So Lot is a city-dweller, not a sojourner, not a pilgrim. Remember that Lot had no vision of the heavenly city, as had Abraham. With Abraham, this is something that developed over time.

The bride is never content with the things that the world is consumed with. She sees something else. She’s enraptured and engaged with so much more than superficial things, worldly experience, second-hand revelation, mere descriptions of her Lord – what others have seen. She wants to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth. To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that she may be filled with all the fullness of God. She wants all of Him or nothing at all. She wants a personal and powerful experience; not merely to touch Him but to be touched by Him in every way, every spiritual sense. And she has emptied herself (Phil. 2:7), that she might be filled with her Lord. She has humbled herself before the King just as Abigail had humbled herself before David. And remember, at this time David was a vagabond. David had not yet assumed the throne and there was only the promise of that out ahead.

The bride is also aware (and this is also revealed in the types), that her family, the body at large, will try to delay and forestall her returning to the bridegroom. Yet she will have no part of it. Remember what Rebecca said when her family tried to restrain her and Abraham’s servant? She said, “I will go.” She said it forcefully, assertively, and without equivocation – “I will go”. Again we see this whole aspect of lingering. Lot lingered in Sodom and Lot’s family tried to keep him there, to prevent him from going on up to the mountain, leaving Sodom and the life of Sodom as did Rebecca’s family. But no, she said, “I will go.” This is interesting, this is very interesting, and we can learn much today about what it means when we determine to be represented in the bride.

Again, we will leave it to the Holy Spirit to make this real for each of us, but have you ever had other members of the body start acting strangely toward you when you start getting too deep, or when you start talking a different way; when your love for Christ, your devotion to Him and His kingdom, and your desire to be ready, your forsaking of worldly religion and the religious love becomes your prime ambition? We talked about what love was and there is this whole airy, sentimental, religious love out there. I tend to characterize a lot of contemporary Christian music in this category. The love of the bride is not a religious love, as strange as that sounds. It is not a sentimental, superficial, soulish love. It is also not really an emotional love or a romantic love. And I know many will disagree with me on this and start pointing to the Song of Solomon. Well, I believe if we approach that book with the our eyes wide open in the spirit, we will see there something so much higher than any familiar, earthbound love. I see in that type, and it does allude to a physical, romantic love that is familiar to us, but I see there a higher spiritual love. The Shulamite’s love was not one borne of passion and impulse. She has seen the king; she has counted the cost. She has determined to lay down all that she is as a living sacrifice that she might forever be with him, her beloved. And her love is proven, tested in the fire and in the refining of the sojourn and the waiting.

If one considers Sarah and the endurance of her love for Abraham, joining herself to him and to his faith despite all the mistakes they made, all of the missteps in the wilderness, in Canaan as they came in, all of the efforts to enact or expedite the will of God for him, as many of us have done many times, if we’re honest. This is the love that we have here. It is not a love that cannot possibly be captured in a three-minute song. It simply goes beyond words and sentiment and any other worldly notions.

The bride is represented by those uncompromising Christians, the remnant of those who are willing to forsake all, to go further, to press further, to run the race, as Paul says in Corinthians. She’s heavenly-minded, she’s kingdom-focused, she’s looking forward to His kingdom. Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and my righteousness. Most Christians, to be fair, and even myself at many times, seek those other things that He said would be added to us. The Lord does not love her because she is innately lovely but because it is His love that makes her beautiful. She loves Him because He first loved her and this is true of us. He saved her that He might love her and He has laid down His life that she might find her life as a new creation in Him, to bring Him blessing and delight.

A pretty good give-away for those Christians who are not represented in the bride are those who are constantly seeking blessings for themselves What can the bridegroom bring for me? What can He add to me? How can he bless me? How will my life be improved and my lot or my condition made easier by Him? The bride is concerned for His blessing and His delight and even better than that, for the blessing of the Father and how ultimately it is the Father’s joy, the joy of His house that really consumes her. Her one desire it to please her Lord, to delight Him, to honor Him, to increase Him, to increase His majesty, His glory – for He is the incomparable Christ.

Let’s go next to Colossians, where Paul says:

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. (Col. 1:28)

This is the bride, this is a picture of the bride, the one that is made complete in Christ. Then if we go to verse 2 of chapter 2 in Colossians, we see that the true bride seeks –

…all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2)

The bride sees Him; she sees that she has this full assurance of understanding resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself and she desires to walk in Him whom she has received. There are many Christians who have received Christ and they have begun their life in Christ, but one would be hard pressed to be convinced that they are actively, on a moment-by-moment basis, walking in Him whom they have received. This is the bride. This is what distinguishes the bride.

Moving forward, let us go to Colossians 3, for here there is much that will give us a clearer picture of just what it is that distinguishes the bride –

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

The bride is actively seeking those things above, right up to the end, and when He is revealed, she will be revealed with Him in glory. I’d like for you to hearken back to Psalm 45:8, that regal scene where we see the bride and the king revealed. Here again, the bride is one who is characterized by a focus on heavenly things, seeking those things above, not those things beneath. Consider Lot as contrasted with Abraham. The bride has died and her life is hidden with Christ in God and she will be revealed with Him having been made complete and fitted for receiving the dominion of all things. She has died to the law; she has died to external obligations. She has –

… died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (Rom. 7:4)

She needs no “thou shalts” or “thou shalt nots” to please her Lord. Think about that. If you need rules and obligations and you need them written down and you need them put on a wall somewhere or written on your phylacteries, if you need them constantly before you, then I don’t know how you can be represented in the bride. Her motivation, the impulse for righteousness, the drive, the desire, the force of her life that presses her on is not anything external to either herself or to her bridegroom. Her only law now is the law of the spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2) – here is the beating heart of the New Testament. That is what Jesus was trying to impress on us in the so-called Sermon on the Mount. Yes, her life will manifest a law, a righteousness, a set of principles, characteristics and a discipline. But all of these things flow not out of a law, not out of “thou shalt not do this” or “thou shalt do this,” not out of the weight of punishment hanging over your head, but from a love that is so much more than earthly love. Her only law is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. She has died to everything else and yet she lives on in Christ Jesus. She knows that all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). She knows from Philippians that He who has begun a good work in her will ultimately fulfill it.

Brethren, we can be absolutely assured that Psalm 45 will be fulfilled entirely. She will be revealed with her King. She knows that her love and her devotion and her strength and her exertion is insufficient, of and by itself, to maintain her vital bond with the king. He must hold her and keep her abiding in Himself or she will fail. She knows that. And she knows that to abide, to be made one is to live in and through another, to be joined in the true sense that the Scriptures give of this union and this life; this shared life. Her love abounds for her beloved in knowledge and depth of insight so that she might “approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10).

Dear brethren, we believe that the day of Christ is imminent. The time of the night (Matthew 24) is so very close or even upon us presently. This being so, we need to ask ourselves if indeed we are living in Him? For the bride, you see, to live is Christ and everything else needs to die; it needs to fall away, that she might gain Him. She has counted all things loss, that she might gain Christ, for to gain Him and to press on into Him is everything. For He is her all and her everything. Her devotion is steadfast and uncompromising. It will endure to the end, and although there will be many in the church who will try to hold her back, to constrain her by various means, she will press on. She wants nothing less than her Lord, and she will resist anything that prevents her from having Him in a most direct and personal way. Do you see this brethren? Is this our reality and experience in this time at the end of this age? Or do we settle for so much less than Him?

Today, what we see in the Christian experience are so many idols, so many humanly derived representations of Jesus Christ, so many men standing in His place and saying, “follow me.” So many doctrines and rules and institutions and restrictions and requirements that do little to bring one nearer into the intimate presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and into the life that pleases His Father. As the bride, we need to recognize these idols for what they are and reject them. Then in our own hearts we need them to be utterly deposed. And to the degree that the Spirit leads us, we need to be interceding for and helping others that they too will reject anything less than the One upon Whom the Father has set His seal.

The bride, unlike the many, is more than willing to waste herself on her Lord. Recall the perfume that was poured out and how Judas, a lover of money, thought it was a waste; yet Mary thought otherwise. She was pouring it out on her Lord as though it were her very life. Indeed, if she had ten times that amount of costly perfume, she would have lavished it on the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is a beautiful revelation of her life as well. She is ever willing to let her life be wasted. She is ever willing to lose friends or family, lose the church that she grew up in, if necessary, lose the pastor that everyone in town esteems as some great teacher. Once she has seen the living reality of her Lord and it has become crystal clear in a vision in her heart and her love is the impetus that drives her on, everything else, brethren, everything else will be revealed for what it is. Everything else will fade into the background; even good things, as the Lord is brought into focus in our spirit; as we begin to see Him as the Father sees Him; as He truly is in all of His beautiful majesty.

This type of outpouring love, this living sacrifice, is what pleases Him, for it is the Father’s perfect gift to His Beloved Son. It is the real heavenly love the Lord is looking for. Oh do not be fooled dear saints, for He is not merely seeking some pretty face or lovely voice. He is not looking for a selfish, sentimental or superficial bride. No and never; for He is looking for the type of pure and devoted bride that we have been considering here, one who has abandoned herself to Him, and become something new in Him.

Consider, if you will, this profound quote from Watchman Nee related to seeing Him –

“When once our eyes have opened to the real worth of our Lord Jesus, nothing is too good for Him.”

“Nothing is too good for Him”. Brethren, this is the very attitude the gospel is designed to inspire in us. This is where it all leads. This is where all of those words lead – to seeing Him and to fostering a love that perseveres and waits and remains faithful and steadfast and devoted and constant and uncompromising. Recall in the gospels the woman who grabbed the hem of the Master’s garment in the crowd? I tend to think that so vividly portrays so much of the Christian life that we see out there today, particularly in the western world. And sadly, this is the most that many believers will ever get and even want – simply to touch the hem of His garment. Now if we read the Song of Solomon and Psalm 45, we see fairly graphically something significantly more personal than a woman gripping the hem of a man’s garment. There is an intimacy and embrace portrayed there that transcends any sort of impetuous religious infatuation. The Bride of the King, the Queen, will never be satisfied with just touching His clothes, heaven forbid, for this would be worse than failure for her. She wants Him all, not just some “outside of the cup” religious experience. She loves His appearing; she fixes her eyes on her Lord and King. Her adornment is what Peter calls the hidden person of the heart, and what is elsewhere referred to as the beauty of holiness. She is as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. She tests the spirits in this time because many of them are false or a distraction. Though living in this world, and having to necessarily attend to temporal concerns, her time and attention is primarily spent on making herself ready for His appearing.

Brethren, the bride’s real beauty and appeal lies in the fact that she is pure, holy and poor in spirit. She knows she needs Him constantly, right up until the time when she has Him and she has apprehended Him fully. She needs Him constantly and as much as she appreciates everything else, all the helps, all the teaching, all the instruction, she is acutely aware that such things can only offer an outline of the reality of the One she loves – the Lord Jesus Christ.

The animating power of the bride is no longer the soul or the body, but the spirit that is enlivened and empowered by His Spirit. Hers is the pure religion of sincerity and truth because she wants nothing for herself. She wants only to magnify and honor and extol her King, for He alone is worthy of her love, adoration and devotion. When the Lord suggested that the Father will grant whatever she desires, she desires only Him, and so she prays constantly for more of Him; more of His fullness, more of His image in her, more of everything He is and represents. And the Father is only so happy to fulfill her request, for she is His gift to His Son. Oh the depth of this beauty and wonder, brethren, if only we have eyes to see it.

May the Lord bring this home to each one of us who are committed to having everything He has provided in Himself.

The Heart of the Bride – W.E. Smith

App. Running Time: 80 minutes (please excuse the gap at around 60 minute mark)

Right-click to directly save the MP3 below – The Heart of the Bride – W.E. Smith

shulamite

Introductory Message:

Dear end-time saints of God – there are some essential principles woven throughout the Word of God that help us to better understand the eternal purpose of God, as He works through the ages to bring forth His ultimate creation. While the world around us is unraveling like never before, and tumult and uncertainly shakes the very ground, it is the Lord’s purpose, what He is doing, that must occupy our attention and represent the source of our security and confidence in this hour.

One of these principles is that everything natural is preliminary, and will ultimately give way to the spiritual and heavenly. Natural things hold value only in so much as they ( as pictures) reveal the Creator’s ultimate spiritual purpose and plans. The physical man, woman, the physical body, marriage, etc – all of these are merely natural representations of something else that is spiritual, and they teach us a great deal about the Lord Jesus in all of His fullness as the “heavenly man”.

Now the Bible says that the woman was taken out of the body of the man, then presented back to him (as a gift of the Creator; she is a helper to the man) such that he would then be completed and deemed fit to exercise dominion over the earth as intended by the One who breathed life into him. The New Testament then conveys that this woman is not only taken out of the man’s body, but has authority over the man’s body. Please consider this under the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Now it is generally acknowledged that the church is what is represented by the body of the man, and this is true. Yet what has not been considered so widely is the place that the woman, or the bride plays in these natural representations.

Please review the following message prayerfully and consider. I humbly solicit your thoughts and comments in the spirit.

In purely prophetic terms, my sense is that only when this woman is ready to be presented back to the man (as the Father’s gift to His Beloved Son), will this present age come to a close. I also make the rather preliminary assertion that this present “church age” is giving way (or has given way already perhaps) to what can only be considered the age of the bride or the time when the woman (the bride) is being taken out of the body (church) to be presented back to the man (Jesus, the Son of Man).

Wayne

TRANSCRIPT: The Heart of the Bride

I would like to convey, in terms of setting the context of this message, that some years back I went to the Lord with this simple request –

“Father, I really want to see Your Son. I want to hear Your Son. I want to behold Your beloved Son in all His splendor and majesty and glory, in all His fullness as the sum of all things.”

And brethren, I have since discovered, quite wonderfully in fact, that our Gracious Father will most certainly respond to a petition such as this. If the Lord Jesus is indeed our first love, and the singular pursuit of our hearts and lives, then the Father will by no means give us a stone (Matt. 7:9), but all that we desire and more. For to see His Christ in all of His fullness and majesty; to truly and clearly apprehend Him with eyes wide open in the Spirit – this is the meaning of everything, the beginning and center of everything.

Yet the consequence of seeing the Lord as He truly is leads further to seeing what the bride is and how all of this weaves itself through the Word and the plan of God, especially pertaining to the end of this age. So, recently, I’ve been asking the Lord what He might be saying to His people right now; those with ears to hear. What is the prophetic message? What does He want us to get right now? What are we to be occupied with? What are we to be focused on? So I hope you’ll keep that in mind as we proceed.

Before we do, let’s just open with a word of prayer –

Dear Beloved Father, we give You the praise, we give You the glory, we give You the thanks for everything. Father, without Your Spirit we would see nothing and we would hear nothing. We would have mere words, mere outlines, cardboard cutouts of truth, but Father, by Your grace, help us to enter into that truth. I pray for everyone out there reading these words that they might truly apprehend what You are saying; Father, that You will impress upon them as deeply as You wish to penetrate them, Father, what it is that You have to say to Your people at this time. Father, help us to see the Lord Jesus Christ ever more clearly. Help us to hear what You are saying to us and help us to see this glorious bride. We just ask all this in the name of the King, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now in Genesis 2 we read –

The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:20-24)

Right from the beginning brethren, we see this whole concept of leaving, this foundational principle that the man is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife that they might become one flesh.

Then in Matthew 8, we read –

Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”  (Matt. 8:19-22)

Further in Matthew, Jesus says to His disciples –

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. (Matt.16:24-27)

As we continue, let us just turn over a page or two to Matthew 19, verse 16. And this should be fairly familiar; this is the passage regarding the rich young ruler.

“’Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking me about what is good? There is only One who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept. What am I still lacking?’ And Jesus said,” , “’If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement he went away grieving for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ And looking at them, Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” “Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed you. What then will there be for us?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, you who have followed Me in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last and the last first.’” (Matt. 19)

Now I want you to store that last verse, “many who are first will be last and the last first” in the back of your mind if you will. We are going to return to that later on, the Lord willing.

But again, here in this passage we see this principle of leaving. There in the very beginning in Genesis we saw that a man must leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and they will become one flesh. And then we also have the Lord here in a number of passages dealing with disciples. Some left everything to follow the Lord while others found the price too high. Here in Matthew 19, He says –

“everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms,” Okay, even your own business, your livelihood, “for My name’s sake will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

I’d like to press upon this issue – this whole matter of following the Lord and that in order to follow the Lord you have to leave something, you have to lay down something else. Truly, it’s impossible to truly follow the Lord with your hands full or with attachments or with your heart rooted somewhere else. And we are going to press that a little deeper in this message as the Spirit will allow.

And again, there in verse 30, that many who are first will be last and the last first. I believe, at the present time, this is a prophetic statement having to do with the fruitfulness of the saints at the close of this age and the bride of Christ who will come into her readiness at that time. I could be misreading this certainly, but as much as I am presently convinced of such matters, I offer them to you.

Now perhaps you have never really considered this before, brethren, but again, you must always leave something behind in order to follow something else or someone else. If we think of Abraham, Moses, Elisha, David’s mighty men, Abigail and Rebecca, and still others who left, those who left fathers and mothers, those who left husbands. In the case of Abigail, she turned her back on an easy life married to a rich old fool, to follow after a vagabond in the wilderness. Moses, who left the princely life in Egypt; Abraham, left his father and his homeland to blindly follow the Lord in faith to a strange territory he knew nothing about. And this whole sense that a bride cannot follow her husband and be made one flesh with him until she has left father and mother. Okay, these go together; you simply cannot enter into this new relationship or this condition of following another in love and loyalty until you are willing to lay everything else down. And we are reminded of this in Ephesians, if we can just go there, Ephesians 5, and this is just a restatement of what we have already read in Genesis –

“Wives be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ also is the head of the church, he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for it.”

Let’s skip ahead and read in verse 31 –

“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

So this whole heavenly relationship of Christ to His body is reemphasized here and Paul is conveying this fact, that the physical relationship of marriage was in many respects just a earthly precedent or type. It was a prefiguring of a spiritual union that resulted in the mystic Christ or the one new man and we’re going to look a little bit into that a little more closely as go along.

Let us look at some more examples of leaving all to follow the Lord and, hopefully, this will all start to come together. I leave it to the Spirit to do that. I have no grand conclusions planned, so let us proceed and see where this takes us. Matthew 4:18, and again, this concept of leaving –

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father,” so they were here with their father, going about their business, the family business, “mending their nets and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

I hope we can begin to see this dear saints. This is amazing really, that these seasoned fishermen left all that they knew and all that they were and all that they loved and all that was their livelihood, their sustenance and security in this world, to follow the call of this Man; and they did it immediately. You would think such a decision would not be very wise or prudent to make in such an impulsive fashion but the word says simply that they left. Then in John 1, we see the call of Philip –

“The next day he purposed to go into Galilee and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me.’” OK. “And so Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, ‘we have found him of whom Moses and the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,’ and then Nathaniel said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of from Nazareth?’ And Philip said to him, ‘Come and see,’ so Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him.” So both Philip and Nathaniel also came.

And if we go to Luke 5, we will just see one other example, if we could. In verse 27, we see the calling of Levi (or Matthew) –

“After that he went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth.” So this man was at work, “and he said to him, ‘Follow me,’ and he left everything behind and got up and began to follow him.”

He left everything behind, everything. I find this extraordinary and we can read over this so casually and yet just the magnitude of this in the lives of these human beings is extraordinary. Now think deep and long about what all of these passages are saying about leaving, about forsaking, about what you are giving up in order to follow the Lord. You cannot truly follow the Lord, you cannot come to Him and be joined to Him as His precious bride, until you leave everything else behind. Now I am facing this myself. I am having to come to terms with this. I wish I could convey how well I am doing but this is not always the case. And if we consider also that the Lord Himself, in order to follow the redemptive will of His Father, left His station in heaven and in glory. He left everything. He left the power and the majesty and all of the light and the splendor and the glory. It’s unimaginable what He was like. We have a glimpse of it in the Word, but He left all of that to be clothed in the flesh of humanity, just to fulfill the Father’s redemptive purpose.

Let us go to Philippians, if we could, and I did warn you we do have a lot of Scriptures and I hope they will convey to you what is the real meat of this message. They have more to say than I do, obviously. This is Paul in Philippians 3:7 –

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

Now perhaps we are all familiar with the story of Paul and the ultimate price that he paid. He truly gave up everything to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to come to this knowledge and apprehension of Him. As Saul the Pharisee, he enjoyed a life of prestige, authority and worldly honor – and he left it all. And we remember the vision he had, where he was blinded on the road to Damascus and he simply left all that he was behind him.

And if we go back, let us consider some of the things we read before. Remember the scribe who said to Him, “Teacher I will follow you wherever you go,” and Jesus said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Okay, He is saying well that is all well and good but you need to know what following me means; you need to count that cost. I believe there’s a Scripture that talks about counting the cost. You need to have a love that will endure. And as we go along we will see that there were many who did in fact follow the Lord but they turned back and they returned to that which they had forsaken. They didn’t have oil in their vessels to endure. The other one, who wanted to go and bury his father and the Lord said, in quite an abrupt statement –  “Let the dead bury the their dead.” I am quite sure He is speaking in relative terms here, that as important as honoring your father is, there is a commitment that supersedes everything else, even those things that are good and blessed and honorable and God-ordained even, all of those things have to be determined in their rightful place and we have to know what He means when He calls us to “follow me.” And we can all remember that time perhaps where He came into our path and He said, “Follow me.” Now with Matthew, it was at work and for the fishermen, it was on their boats mending their nets and they turned their back and they turned the other way and they followed. They followed the Lamb.

We see many examples in the Word of those who have left other things and let me skip ahead a little if I could, let’s go to Genesis 12. I did mention this briefly, this is the story of Abram. Go to Genesis 12, verse 1 –

“Now the Lord said to Abram, go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great and so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him.”

Abram went forth which is another way of saying immediately he left his father and his relatives, his father’s house and he went forth.

Let us go to Matthew 10:34 next –

“Do not think I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword, for I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it. And he who has lost his life for my sake will find it.”

As we see here, the cost of discipleship, of becoming the chosen bride of the King, is nothing short of everything. The cost is everything you love, everything you hold dear, everything you know, everything you are in this world; and these Scriptures, I hope you’ll see the common theme here; that these familial relationships that we hold so dear, these flesh and blood relationships – father, mother, sister, brother, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law – those of your own household, those things that have been so exalted, not only in the world, but especially in the modern contemporary church, in the teachings that have placed family and the life of the family and the marriage relationship, which as we see is just a figure, the relationship of a man to a woman is a figure, it’s a type. There is going to come a time, brethren, when these no longer exist, when these shadows become vapor, and are replaced by the substance. And the substance of this shadow is the Lord, the Lamb of God and His bride.

Jesus says that if you love these things, and hold them dear in your heart ahead of Him, then you are not worthy of Him. Now these are hard words. He says He did not come to ensure that you would have a happy family. He did not come necessarily to make all things well in your household. He came to ask you to follow Him and to pay whatever price required to make this so. Now keep that in mind. And He came not to bring peace but a sword. Now a sword cuts; it cuts deep, it divides, it pierces – it causes loss. He came to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. The message to us here is simple yet profound: Count the cost! Consider the price. You cannot follow unless you first leave. You cannot pick up the life of the Lord unless you lay down everything else. To abide in Him is an all or nothing proposition.

Now here we see what constitutes the heart of the bride – and this message at this point, is going to start to move into a new direction, I believe. I would like it all to relate back to Genesis 2, where we see that the man was put to sleep and he was cut open and the woman was taken out of the man. And the woman was presented back to the man and that subsequent to that Adam named her woman, or “isha” in the Hebrew, and later on he gave her the name Eve, which means “life” or “living,” a name pregnant with meaning when we think about what all of this is pointing to – the bride of the Lamb; the bride that’s taken out of the body. And here we see also what constitutes the heart of the bride, the one who has forsaken everything, even good and blessed things, as we have seen, in order to attach herself to the King. These are hard sayings, very hard sayings indeed; and in this age of zero-calorie religion, this exhortation may definitely seem out of place. Yet, this is the true meaning of discipleship, dear saints.

I am sure we have all attempted at some time or other to follow the Lord without letting others things go. I am certainly guilty of that myself and I would not be sharing these things as one who has no idea what they mean. Indeed I do, and I am learning the hard way to pursue the Lord with a bride’s love. And a bride’s obsession can only ever be an ‘either or’ decision. He must consume the heart entirely or not at all. And here, some of what we have been seeing and reading from the Word is what separates the bride from the body from which she is taken. She is taken out of the larger ecclesia. We must remember that, although the church comes out of the world, the bride comes out of the church, and represents a remnant group from among those who have been spiritually saved; or born anew in the spirit. The bride is taken from the body of Adam and presented back to Adam, and then named by him such that he can then assume the dominion over the creation as a perfected (meaning made whole) being in the plan of God.

Now the groom must consume the bride’s heart entirely or not at all, as we have said. And she is called out and into this intimate relationship with the Lord. This is a special relationship that the Lord has with His bride, not with the assembly at large, but with the woman taken out of the body and presented back to Him, having been made ready in that wonderful spiritual sense that we see in the Scriptures. I hope you can see this, brethren. I hope the eyes of your heart will be open to see this and that the Holy Spirit would convey these things to you.

Our Lord is indeed coming, brethren. His appearing is imminent (John 14:3). Yet I hope we can understand that He is not coming, initially, for the church at large or to judge the world even or to put all His enemies under His feet. Yes, He will fulfill all of this and more, but initially, He will come, as did Isaac, for the bride given to Him by His Father and called out of the body – not the world, again – but called out of the body by the Holy Spirit.

There is a wonderful Old Testament type for this in Abraham’s servant, Eliezer. Now Eliezer, which means “he who comforts”, was sent to find a worthy bride for Abraham’s son. So this servant is sent back to Abraham’s homeland – and the servant’s name means “he who comforts” or “the comforter” – to find a bride for his son. Then we see this wonderful picture, where Eliezer is successful in his mission and brings her back. And Isaac, who was 40 years old at the time, and fit to assume his place in the inheritance of his father’s house, comes to greet her. It is a truly wonderful picture. But here we have this picture prefiguring the Holy Spirit sent into the world primarily to bring forth out of the body a bride for the King. Now is this not marvelous? Is this not tremendous? We have this whole picture of Adam and Eve and the dominion over the creation and, yet, all of this leads us to some rather serious questions – What then is the bride? What characterizes her? How would we know the bride? What is it that makes her special to both the Father and the Son?

At this point, I would like to refer you back to that statement that we made at the beginning in terms of the first being last and the last being first. If you recall, Jesus followed that up with a parable about some laborers in the vineyard having to do with wages that remained constant for those that were hired at the beginning of the day, at the middle of the day and then those who were hired at the very end received the same wages, and so He was conveying in a figurative sense that the last will be first.

Brethren, I am going to suggest here what might be considered some new and perhaps provocative ideas that I believe are from the Spirit (yet in the all things may the Lord be the judge). I believe that the time we are living in presently, at the end of this age, is technically not the time of the church or what many will call the church age. I believe that the Lord’s focus and attention at the end of this age, at the end of the working day, is directed at those who were hired last. If you think about it, if you make ten dollars an hour and you earn the same daily rate after working an hour as those who have worked an eight-hour shift, you have actually earned more money in terms of labor invested. Think about that. Now I believe that what the Lord is saying right now and what is occurring presently is the prophetic fulfillment of this parable. Of all the prophetic signs and indications that are out there – Israel and the coming together of the nations and the growing storm of war and conflict that is coming – all of those things that may give us a sense that we are in the last days, as important as they are, I believe that they pale in significance to the fact that the bride is coming into her own, and being dressed in readiness for the Lamb and that the time that we are living in now in terms of the Lord’s special attention (wages) is the time of the bride – it is not time of the church.

Let us continue with that – we will let that settle in your spirit a little bit – but I would encourage all of you, if you haven’t recently done this, to read the Song of Solomon to get a pure and spiritual sense of what pulses through the heart of both the maiden and her beloved. For more than anything, and all of the quaint Sunday school stories and all of the ways that this book is used for marriage counseling and so forth, this living parable pictures the heart and the love that is compelling both groom and the bride. It pictures the love of one to the other, the absolute and uncompromising devotion, even the obsession, of a love that transcends all else. Every love story is but a dim outline of the one true romantic union of the king and his Shulamite maiden; she who abides solely in the love of her prince and her beloved. He is more than just her beloved; He is her very life.

Let us continue on to John 6, if we could. Here, from verse 53 on, Jesus is telling those in attendance that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in yourselves” and so forth. And because of these words, these hard words indeed, because of these words so many of His followers withdrew and returned to their lives in this world. “So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ And Peter answered for them all, saying, ‘Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” So here we see that following Him is something we must do to the very end and the bride will follow the Lord wherever He goes, regardless of the difficulty. Her love endures, for it cannot be shaken.

Another example of this that is worth considering, is Ananias and Sapphira. Every indication is that they were saved, but like the rich man, they were not willing to forsake their love of money and things, their place in the world and they foolishly believed that they could follow the Lord without relinquishing everything else; that they good have the good life in this world and the Lord of Life as well. And you really need to understand that both for the rich man and for Ananias and Sapphira, the issue wasn’t specifically about money. For the rich man and this greedy couple, it was the love of money. But for others it is the love of power, or the honors and claims of the world. For still others it is family, the love of father and mother and the household and the home life. For others it is children.

I know a little bit about that. I have a young son and I love him  ever so dearly and I pray often that the Lord will sanctify this love and not let it become more than it should be. Every parent out there, I believe, understands what I am saying. So, brethren, it is not just strictly money, but whatever you hold right at the very center of your heart, because that place belongs to the Lord. And in the case of the bride, that is where her Lord resides. If anything besides Him resides there, then it is an idol, and I am sure we all now what the Lord has to say about such things in His Word.

Another example still, is Israel. Israel left Egypt and yet, the pull of Egypt, the life they had in Egypt, once they got in the wilderness, kept calling them back and their devotion to their Lord and to their God was tested and many fell. In Revelation 2, we read of those who have left – this was the church in Ephesus – “You have left your first love.” Okay, this is a very direct way of saying that the Lord must be our first love. We can love many things but we can only have one first love, one preeminent love, and the bride loves the Lord more than anything. If we read the Song of Solomon, and we read about this relationship on both sides, we realize just how wonderfully this conveys the love the Lord Jesus Christ has for His bride and the love she has for Him. This, fellow saints, is what characterizes the bride at the end of this age.

I don’t know if you have  ever thought about this, but the church as a whole, the members of the body are to be subjects and citizens in the Kingdom and yes, they will honor the King, they will obey the King, they will even love the King. But only the bride will sit on the throne with the Lord. She will not merely be a subject or citizen in His Righteous Kingdom. She will most definitely assume a far higher and more privileged place than this. Just as we know that, in the type, the man and the woman become one flesh, we know in the fulfillment that the bride and the groom, the man and the woman, Jesus Christ and His beloved, will become one spirit. Only then, will He (the Heavenly Man) be deemed worthy to assume the dominion over all that the Father has prepared for Him.

The Shulamite in the Song of Solomon is primarily attracted to the physical beauty of the king, whereas the bride of Christ is attracted to the beauty of holiness personified in the Lord Jesus Christ. She is attracted to His righteousness and His devotion to pleasing His Father. So as you read the Song of Solomon, please  keep that in mind. It is most definitely conveying the sense that the Shulamite was compelled by the way the king looked, to his physical appearance, but the bride of Christ is attracted to something far deeper and more substantial than that. Now the world right now, as we look out there, is all too enraptured by looks and appearance and billions of dollars are spent trying to fabricate beauty, whereas the true beauty in the eyes of the Lord and His Son is the beauty of holiness.

The bride does not follow men or groups or traditions or even truth (as an abstract thing), but she follows He who is the sum of all truth; He who is the fulfillment of all life and beauty. The subjects of the King may honor and respect the King. And yes, they may even love Him in a certain respect. The bride, however, she loves Him personally and intimately. Her love is never that of a mere subject or citizen of the realm, but that of a lover and a help meet. She is joined to Him and made one with Him in a way in which the many know nothing about. Her love for her beloved is never based on what He gives to her, but for He Himself. She is one who holds the testimony of Jesus when all others have abandoned Him (see Rev. 1:2; 1:9; 12:17; 17:6; 19:10)

So we see that the bride was prefigured there in the beginning in Genesis, in Eve, in the woman taken out of the man, the “isha,” long before Israel or the church. The bride was forever in view in terms of the Father’s plans for His beloved Son. The church is the spiritual body of the last Adam, the Christ, but it is the bride and the bride alone that will reign with Him in His soon-coming and age-lasting Kingdom. She is the one joined together with the Son of Man by the Father (Matt. 19:6), of which no man can separate. She alone seeks first His Kingdom and follows the King. She alone is enraptured of the King and will thereby be raptured first, prior to the beginning of the end of this age, which is nothing more or less than the woman taken out of the body and presented to the man. That, dear saints, is all that the rapture represents. She has come to Him (Matt. 11:28), and she remains, not turning back, not divided in her love, not placing other things in that preeminent place of her heart. She alone has lost her life in Him and found it again joined to His person as one spiritual body. She alone has entered through the narrow gate which leads to age-lasting life (Matt. 7:13-14). And she alone has forsaken this present world and all of its pleasures, all of its claims and rewards, for the heavenly reward, for the riches to come, for the hidden treasures.

An illustration for this can be found in the example of Abigail, who left Nabal, the fool, to follow this vagabond king who had yet to assume his throne. Going from place to place in the wilderness, living in tents, living under the stars, living in caves, being pursued and hunted – this is what she attached herself to. Remember how she bowed down to him. It is truly a wonderful picture. I pray that you will read the story of Abigail to peer deeper into the heart of the bride who is worthy. Now please don’t try to convince me that Bathsheba represents that ultimate among David’s wives. That is not what the Spirit conveys to me at all. You can make your own determination most certainly, but Abigail left the familiar and easy life to follow hard after her king.

But the bride of Christ, the bride of the Lamb; she alone has sufficient oil in her vessel to endure until the appearing of the bridegroom, for her heart is turned only to Him and all else has been released, relinquished, forsaken, laid down, sanctified, and put in its rightful place in her heart. And although separated presently from her beloved, her love does not diminish, but grows stronger and more poignant for it is a love that endures, that waits, that trusts, that holds fast. Well, you may wonder if indeed there was separation in the Song of Solomon? Indeed there was. The Father knew all from the beginning. And the sum of all things, all types and shadows, all of these compelling stories in the Bible, every single one of them either directly or indirectly points to the King and to the prophetic fulfillment, the summing up of all things in Him. So although separated from her beloved presently, the bride lives each and every moment in the full expectation and anticipation of His imminent return for her.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there  you may be also.  (John 14:1-3)

Now there are many beautiful pictures in the Old Testament of the gentile bride. We have, for example, the wife of Moses. We have the wife of Joseph. We have all of these different pictures that point to the ultimate union and relationship as foreseen in the plan of the Lord God. If we go to Matthew 20:16, we have the conclusion of this parable of the laborers in the vineyard that we have mentioned. I have to say, I went to the Lord recently and I was confused by this statement – “so the last shall be first and the first last,” and I had no clear revelation of what was being intimated here. I believe the Lord is conveying that this is the answer to another question I put to Him and have been putting to Him rather routinely in the last many months –

“Where are we and what are You doing? It seems like there is deep and widespread infection and infiltration in the body at large, it seems like the testimony of Christ is being obscured and corrupted at every turn. So what is happening?  What are you doing Lord?”

So the last shall be first and the first last. At the last, the bride will be made ready and of all the other prophetic indications and of all the prerequisites for the Lord’s return, this alone is the singular one – that the bride has been made ready. In the Book of Revelation, we see that she has, at last, made herself ready. She is the last that shall be made first, which I believe suggests that the bride will come into her own, prepared and made ready at the end, just as those hired at the close of the work-day in this parable. This, brethren, is certainly something we can pray about, for greater clarity and understanding in the spirit.

Although Christians in general celebrate the revelation of the church or the body of Christ, I dare say that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit rejoice that the bride, drawn out from the body, is making herself ready, that she is being revealed. Think about that for a moment. For the bride, He is everything. The Lamb is everything. He is what inspires and captivates her to no end. He alone is the center and foundation of her life. He represents her breathing in and breathing out. For her, all revolves around Him, for He is her beginning and her end, the bright and morning star, the beginning of the creation of God.

We see that again in the Song of Solomon where poetry and language is stretched to great length, such that this Shulamite can describe the love and the physical attraction that she has for her beloved. The bride lives and moves and derives her very existence as she waits for the groom. She sees him alone, she sees him as he is whereas the church out there as a whole only sees concepts and shadows. And this is fairly easily proven for those with eyes to see. And they don’t hear Him, but she does. He is speaking today to those with ears to hear. He is, brethren, He is speaking to us, but the many don’t hear Him. I don’t think He’s speaking to the many, to be honest. In one sense, He’ is calling all who will come, to a more sincere and ultimate commitment. Yet prophetically, there is a season for all things, as the Bible makes quite clear.

Now brethren, just so we are clear; we are not suggesting by any means that any one member of the Body is more important or special than another (see 1 Cor. 12). But what we are suggesting, and what we see woven throughout both testaments in the Scriptures, is that the Bride  (although still very much a part of the body), in fulfillment of the type there at the beginning in Eden, is taken out of the body and represents a distinct spiritual personality. She is then given back to the Last Man to perfect Him, such that He can realize all that His Father has purposed for Him. Then, taken to another height, we see a two spiritual principles in 1 Corinthians that are most intriguing –

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Cor. 15-44-49)

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does;  and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Cor. 7:5)

Now I will let you reach your own conclusion about what this might be saying about the bride’s future authority and status in the Kingdom of God, in relation to the Lord’s spiritual body at large, but this is most interesting indeed.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:22-33)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7)

What is the Lord saying prophetically? What is He saying to us in all of these original principles? The bride hears Him, what He is saying in this hour; for she respects her husband. She is on intimate terms with her beloved, privy to His plans and purposes, unlike the many who are dull of hearing, cloudy of vision, hard of heart; who are like those who left and went back to their father and mother, to their farms and their fishing nets and their tax booths, back to the world. Yet she persists, she endures, she continues, she waits. For her, the religion of Christianity, such as it has become over 2,000 years, is just a figment, a two-dimensional representation of her Lord that she can never accept. She wants a living, breathing groom with a beating heart. She wants the real thing. She is willing to overcome to receive Him in all of His fullness, and to be with Him forever in His paradise, the Paradise of God.

Now, remember at the beginning, I asked the Lord some years ago that I might come to see His Son. I asked the Father, “please show me Your Son. Not what others see, but show me Him directly. Give me eyes to see Him Father.” And He most certainly did, by His grace and mercy, yet now He starting to reveal His great gift to His Son – the bride. For only the bride can see the Son. Think about that. Think about how true this must be, brethren. And unlike the many, she can never be content with the friends of the bridegroom. Remember John the Baptist, remember what he said? I am not going to go there, but the bride can only be content with the bridegroom Himself. She wants to learn where He is staying. Remember how the disciples of John came up to Him and said, “Teacher, teacher, where are you staying?” They left John. They left John the Baptist, the friend of the bridegroom. Well the bride is not content with that. As great as John the Baptist was, the bride is not content with a mere friend of the bridegroom. Everything else, even good things, are not good enough, for she is wise to every delusion and distraction and deception of the enemy, who uses good things, who uses mother and father and daughter and son and business and livelihood, he uses those things and he makes them our first love such that the groom has no place in our heart. Now she knows these things, for she is wise. She knows that only her beloved, in all His fullness and reality, will satisfy the desire of her heart, and her need for real spiritual life. She knows that to follow her Lord, she has to let everything else go, even good things. For He alone, as the Lamb of God, represents ultimate reality and fulfilment. He alone will make it possible that she overcomes the dragon at the end of this present age (see Rev. 12:7).

Dear saints, in one sense, we are always letting things go and we are constantly loosening our grip on everything else, but I would like to brings things forward to the present hour and ask you if you are willing, right here and now, to let everything go? Go to Him now and ask Him to help you to let it go. And I don’t think you can let it go until you actually come to see the Lamb. For in the same way that Paul was blinded to everything else upon seeing the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, only upon seeing Him will you see everything else as it truly is. Perhaps if you have not yet seen Him fully in all of His wonder and glory and beauty, like the Shulamite, then other things still have the preeminence in your heart. Even good things have to be seen in relation, they have to be loved in proportion to our love for the King. The bride is special because has let everything go such that the enemy has nothing for which to tempt her. She seeks only the King’s glory and her own is never to be bargained for.

The false one, the anti-king that is to rise for a time at the end is no threat to her, for she sees him for what he is – just another Nimrod – a pretender, a puppet with strings. No, she has seen the Lord, she has seen the King. And brethren, I would like to close if I could by turning to Revelation 19 and verse 7 –

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to him for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. 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.”

And if we go just a few pages over, Revelation 22:16 –

“I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”“The Spirit and the bride say come and let the one who hears say come and let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who wishes to take the water of life without cost. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book”

I don’t know if you noticed this, but it is the Spirit and the bride that say come – it is those who are thirsty and those who hear. Now Jesus referred to the churches in the previous verse but in verse 17 it doesn’t say “the Spirit and the church” or “the churches say come.” Why not? This is most interesting. It is the bride who is waiting, who is going to be ready, who is making herself ready, who is not going to be caught by the thief-like coming of the Lord. In fact, that is what consumes her attention. She is enraptured with the Lord. Her very heart and life is bound up in His coming for her. So even before He knocks on the door she is looking out the window excitedly, with great rapt anticipation. For at the very center of her heart is the Lord,  her bridegroom, and the marriage of the Lamb, which is the wonderful fulfillment of so many Scriptural types and shadows.

I would like to ask each and every one of you, here and now, are you represented in the bride of Christ or are you just one of the body? Have you been taken out of the body or are you still just a subject, a citizen, waiting for the Kingdom? We have looked at what characterizes the bride and what makes her special to both the Father and the Son. Christianity has been made into this great theological construct, this framework, but at the end of the day, please don’t misunderstand me when I say this, but at the end of the day, the Christian life is the life of the heart, it’s the life of love. Now this, again, is not a soulish or emotional love. No brethren, the love of the bride for the groom is so much more than that, so much more than what we think of as emotional or even romantic love. As wonderful as the Song of Solomon is in conveying the absolute obsession and devotion that each had for one another, it is nothing compared to what can only be distinguished as the real love. Everything else falls into place after that – all of the learning, all of the understanding begins with seeking first the King and His Kingdom and His righteousness.

I think this message has come to its logical conclusion. I do pray for you, brethren. This is a struggle for me, personally, I truly hope in this message and anything else that I share, that you do not think foolishly that I have climbed the mountain and am yelling back over my shoulder as someone who has surmounted the great peak and reached the heights. Not true at all. Heaven knows my brethren, that we are all down here together. Every day, like os many others in the Lord, I find myself picking things up and putting things down. Each day, I am trying to hear the Lord and so often it is a struggle. My heart is sincere but my flesh is weak and I am trying to put everything else in its proper place. I have days, admittedly, where my first love is not the Lord and this is so easily revealed by where my attention is, and where my anxiety is, where my cares are. Ultimately, when the bride is ready, He will come for her. Oh, how I want to be one of them. Oh, how I so very much want to be represented in the spiritual bride of the Lamb, and I pray for every one of you that you would be too.

Dear Father in heaven – this is our prayer today. Father, we have shared some strange and mighty things here. We have opened Your Book and  let the Word pierce our hearts. Father, if this is indeed the time of the bride, if this is indeed what You are saying to us, then please help us to respond appropriately in the spirit. Father, we pray for the love to love Your Son and to behold His supreme beauty and worthiness ever more each day. Lord, let everything be increased that is of You and everything else that is not, let it be decreased. John the Baptist said that, he said “I must decrease, but He must increase.”

Oh,  precious Lord Jesus, let us not settle for the friends of the bridegroom or any lesser thing. Let us not settle just to be a member of the body, but to be the bride that loves You with a spiritual and eternal love, an uncompromising love, a love that is worthy of all that You are and the Father’s love for You. May all this be done for Your glory and Your blessing. Lord, the greatest gift that the Father has given You is the bride and we often talk about the gifts that we receive, but I don’t think that’s what is important. I think the greatest gifts are the gifts that come to the One who is worthy and You are worthy, Lord. We do love You. Help us to love You truly. Father, we pray all these things and we love You too, Father, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Note: A follow up message can be found here – The Bride Revealed

Being Ready – W.E. Smith

Dear saints, all those looking faithfully to the imminent return of our Lord and Hope, Jesus Christ, the imperative for being ready for His coming is one of the most pervasive and incontrovertible themes of the New Testament.  Everywhere we look, it seems, from the Gospels, to the Epistles, to the final Book of Revelation, we are exhorted to be making ourselves ready. It is the Master Himself who has said –

“I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev. 3:11)

“… I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Rev. 2:23)

Yet, given the overwhelming silence and neglect in this matter of personal readiness, in relation to the Lord’s imminent appearing, one would be tempted to conclude that the Scriptures have little to say on this subject; that there is no real sense of prophetic urgency whatsoever. As we will see, nothing could be further from the truth. It would seem, in fact, that the enemy has effectively dulled the spiritual senses of the people of God in this momentous hour (much as he did to the people of Israel at Messiah’s first coming), and carried out a grievous crime against the work of the Holy Spirit, in preparing a people for the King and His coming for His own.

And so is this exhortation to personal preparation and readiness important? Is it, in fact, urgent and timely? Indeed, it is brethren. For the Scriptures convey that those of us in this dispensation will be found in only one of two possible conditions when He comes –

Drunk, complacent, dull of hearing, sleeping, and useless to the Master

or –

Sober, awake, vigilant, alert and ready for service.

This is conveyed most graphically in that dark night in the Garden of Gethsemane, at a time when the hour was “at hand”,  and momentous events were about to take place –

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. “Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand! (Matt.26:36-46)

Sleep for the body is necessary, most certainly, and there is a time for sleep. When drowsiness comes, it is impossible in the flesh to resist its power over us. Our attention drops, our eyes grow heavy, and the events of the world around us, however important, grow dim and fade to black. What this living parable teaches us is that only in the power of the spirit can we resist the weakness of the flesh, and remain watchful and alert. While the Lord watched and prayed and beseeched His Heavenly Father for strength in the moment, the disciples slumbered. When the hour at hand actually came, and when the Master needed them most, they were found unprepared. They were, in the end, not ready!

And so what does it actually mean to be ready? Before searching the Word for its fullest spiritual meaning, we can learn a great deal from the formal, literary definition of the term –

1. completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use: troops ready for battle; Dinner is ready.
2. duly equipped, completed, adjusted, or arranged, as for an occasion or purpose: The mechanic called to say that the car is ready.
3. willing: ready to forgive.
4. prompt or quick in perceiving, comprehending, speaking, writing, etc.
5. proceeding from or showing such quickness: a ready reply.
6. prompt or quick in action, performance, manifestation, etc.: a keen mind and ready wit.
7. inclined; disposed; apt: too ready to criticize others.
8. in such a condition as to be imminent; likely at any moment: a tree ready to fall.
9. immediately available for use: a ready source of cash. (from Dictionary.com)

Here we see that readiness involves making provision or preparation for something known that is imminent or about to happen. We hear thunder, for example, so we immediately set about to close all the windows in the house.

It is also essential to comprehend that readiness involves effort and commitment. It doesn’t just happen. It takes time, attention and concerted action, and those who will be found duly equipped at the Lord’s appearing will be those who have first recognized the imperative to be ready and then determined in their hearts to be so. This, brethren, is so tremendously important.

It is also vital, in this context, to understand that one of the primary purposes of the prophetic ministry in any dispensation, is to send forth the message of exhortation, at the appointed time, for the Lord’s people to make themselves ready. In the New Testament, for example, we recall the ministry of John the Baptist, who was sent to “make straight the way of the Lord”, by preparing the people of Israel for the imminent arrival of Messiah. John’s was a message and baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4), marking the need for the people to be consecrated, or made morally ready for the Lord’s imminent appearing.

This is mirrored in the Old Testament in Exodus 19, when Jehovah commanded the people to make themselves ready for His ‘meeting’ with them –

The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. ‘No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (Exo. 19:10-17)

It is indeed a fearful and serious thing to “meet God” dear saints, and it is the authentic prophetic ministry that prepares the people of God to meet Him in any age or dispensation. Here we see that the people of Israel were to prepare for the Lord’s descent into the cloud by washing their garments and abstaining from anything that rendered them unclean. This is quite interesting considering the Master’s exhortation to us in Luke 12 about being dressed in readiness

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. “Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. (Luke 12:35-38)

And the Lord’s sober words to the Sardis and Laodecian churches –

‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels . (Rev. 3:4-5)

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. (Rev. 3:17-18)

Whether our God comes for us on the third day or the third watch of the night, we are to be found clothed (covered) in the righteousness and life of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be found alert and watching with all vigilance and attention, with eyes wide open in the spirit. We are to be found pure and faithful. This is the exhortation to readiness at the close of this age. This is what it means to act upon the prophetic urgency and the imminence of His coming for His Blessed Bride! Until He comes, dear brethren, nothing is more urgent or more essential. And, just so there is no confusion in this matter, this has absolutely nothing to do with the gift of spiritual life that has made us His people.

The exhortation to readiness and the reward for those servants found in such a worthy condition, has to do with entrance into His Blessed Kingdom, and a distinguished place in His Eternal Counsel; what the Apostle Paul calls the prize –

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

Not all of His people will heed the prophetic ministry in this hour calling them to personal readiness. Not all will be found ready when He comes for them. Not all will run in such a way as to win the prize. Not all will be found dressed in white robes, such that they might enter into His Kingdom and millennial government. In fact, the Scriptures seem to indicate that not all of the Lord’s called out ones will hear the words “Well done, good and faithful slave… enter in to the joy of your master.”

This being so, blessed brethren, the Word of God is literally packed with warning, exhortation, caution and wisdom for those who have a heart to receive it. Here are a few such examples, and we will most certainly visit many others throughout this series of messages.

Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Eph. 15:21)

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:17-21)

Dear saints, it would appear (and I do hope I am mistaken) that there are far more messages being preached today to improve our lot in this present world than to prepare a people to meet their Lord coming for them from out of heaven. Where then, is the heaven-sent cry of the prophet ringing out from these modern-day pulpits, calling each saint to a commitment of personal readiness for the Master? Why, if all we have said above is true and endorsed by the Holy Word and Spirit, is there such relative silence and neglect in this most essential matter? Where indeed, are those saints who are found making themselves ready for their precious Bridegroom when He comes?

Have modern-era Christians learned nothing at all from the tragic example of Israel ringing out from history, when the overwhelming number of the people had little interest, knowledge or awareness of the imminent coming of Messiah among them? So many teachers. So many scribes. So much religion and tradition and expression. So many prophets saying so many lofty things. Then finally, even John the Baptist sent to prepare them, crying out in the wilderness. Yet when Immanuel arrived, seemingly only two (Simeon and Anna) among the entire nation were suitably ready and waiting for their Messiah.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matt. 22:42-44)

Oh Gracious Father, being found ready for your Precious Son involves so many things. And we thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to dress and prepare us to meet the Righteous One who has been found worthy to judge both the living and the dead. Oh Lord, please teach us from Your Word and Your Spirit what it truly means to be ready in this most urgent hour, and please grant us the grace to be found so. In Jesus’ Blessed Name, Amen.

(To Be Continued)

“Today If You Hear His Voice” – W.E. Smith

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb. 10-25)

Dear followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; all those who are patiently waiting and preparing for His imminent appearance – our sense in the spirit at this time, is that these are indeed the waning hours of this age. And it is vital for all of us that we know what the Lord is doing, what He is saying by His Spirit and His Word, and what He is impressing on our hearts in this momentous time. The world is poised to be judged by He who wields the scepter (see Psalm 45:6; Rev. 2:27, 12:5) and we know that it is hastening toward that judgment. We are watching with great anticipation as all things are being concentrated and intensified, in terms of the wickedness of this world, the spirit of this world and the prince of this world that is soon to be revealed. We know that our place in this world, and our approach and attachment to it, as end-of-the-age followers of our Lord Jesus Christ is so vitally important. And our ever-gracious Lord, in anticipation of all these things, has so graciously provided us with all we need in this hour in terms of spiritual instruction and exhortation. The Book of Hebrews, for example, is absolutely packed with such if we have eyes to see it, and a heart to receive such an urgent and important message.

We will begin by taking note of this particular verse that is talking about fellowship, real spirit-touching-bone fellowship – “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some”  Apparently, some addressed by Paul here were isolating themselves when the very opposite was needed – “but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” This encouraging of one another, the edifying of one another, we believe, is becoming so much more urgent as events advance. This exhortation is directed at all of us, and it is something that is most important to God. This is something that we need, something that the bride will need to make herself ready. We are to be doing this all the more as we see “the day drawing near.

So just what is this day? What is the day that is approaching or drawing near? If I read this verse correctly, there appears to be an assumption that those at that yet future time would be able to determine that the day is drawing near, that there will be indications that this day is imminent.

Now in terms of what this day might be, a few things might come readily to mind. Is this the day of the Lord? Is this the day of Christ? Is this as the days of Noah? These are all possibilities, to be sure, but I believe the most likely answer is found back in the third chapter of Hebrews –

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today”, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.” (Heb. 3:12-15)

Here Paul is quoting from Psalm 95, where we read –

For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice,  Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,

“When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways.

“Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” (Psalm 95:7-11)

This is obviously referring to Israel, and that wilderness generation that came miraculously out of Egypt and tested the Lord on the journey to the promised land. They were subsequently prohibited from entering into the land of promise and rest. If you recall, only Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter, based on their faith in Jehovah’s provision and victory. Now this entrance through the Jordan into Canaan, into the land of promise, was called the Lord’s “rest”.

Now, as end-of-the-age, wilderness Christians, as those who are chasing hard after their God at the close of this sixth day (2 Peter 3:8), we need to know that this new “day” is approaching. We need to know what this “day” is and we need to be sure that our hearts are receiving the strong exhortation contained in this letter to the Hebrews. We also need to have eyes to see what the Lord is doing, and ears to hear what He is saying in this hour. We also need to have a spiritual discernment that is deeper than any political or economic sense that this present world is reaching its end. If we back up to Chapter 4 of this book, we will find even more timely exhortation for us –

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

“AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” (Heb. 4:1-5)

That these were Jehovah’s redeemed people, there is no question. They were among those saved by the blood, those who were baptized in the sea, who beheld miracle and wonder and evidences great of the Lord’s deliverance and power. They were His people. They were not unbelievers. Nor were they strangers.

Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, (verses 6-7)

So he repeats it again, further emphasizing this point. Back in Hebrews 10, we have a people who are to see the day approaching, to have that special sense that the day is drawing near. Because of that, there is the exhortation to come together more so than usual for the building up and encouragement of one another.

He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (verses 7-9)

So now it is starting to become clear just what this day actually is – it is the Sabbath day. It is typified by the Creator’s seventh day rest from the creation (or restoration) of the earth. It is called a rest for the people of God and there is definitely some prophetic significance attached to this particular day. It is a type therefore. Like so many things in the Old Covenant, it pointed to some greater fulfillment in the future. It remained unfulfilled. Those originally intended to enter this rest failed because of a hardened heart of unbelief; a refusal to believe the Lord and to go all the way with Him. Now this, brethren, is extremely important, and it gets right to the heart of this exhortation to us in the letter to the Hebrews.

Let us return to Psalm 95 for a moment. There, the people in the wilderness, those who came out of Egypt, that miracle-witnessing generation, they are said to have tested the Lord. Though they had personally experienced His marvelous works over and over; though they had seen His great and mighty wonders; though He had proven Himself faithful and able to deliver them and to fulfill every one of His promises –

“For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways.” (Psalm 95:10)

Clearly, that generation coming our of Egypt did not have the heart to go all the way with the Lord, and to enter fully into His plans and purposes for them as a people. And this is a most serious object lesson for Christians living at the end of the age. I believe we will find some further evidence for this in 1 Corinthians 10, where we read –

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. (1 Cor. 10:1-5)

It is as painfully clear then, that this is a precedent and an example for us. This is a living and breathing exhortation of what will befall us if our hearts are hardened and we fail to enter fully into the purposes and plans of the Lord.

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, (verses 6-9)

Remember back in Psalm 95, we are told that they tempted the Lord; they tested Him for 40 years “as some of them did.” Remember that only Joshua and Caleb possessed the trusting faith to enter into the land of rest and promise (elsewhere referred to as an inheritance and a reward).

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (verses 9-11)

Now, I am not exactly sure what that last phrase means – “upon whom the ends of the ages have come”, but perhaps in some manner it links back to Hebrews 10, where we have an exhortation for the generation of saints found on the earth just prior to God’s judgment being poured out on the nations. Oh dear saints; where should our focused attention be right now in the time in which we are living? Oh, pray the Holy Spirit will make us ready in every way. Here again, is another warning in verse 12 –

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. (verse 12)

Coming Soon - The Prophetic Urgency!Perhaps we feel we are alright then; that we are standing firm; that we have a faith and a commitment able to withstand the adversary’s fiery darts (Eph. 6:16), and the Lord’s testing at the end of this age. Perhaps we feel that we are a Joshua or a Caleb and not a Korah; that the life of the world and the passing pleasures of sin in this present world (Heb. 11:25) are far behind us. Oh dear Lord, please make it known what is truly in our hearts!

Now to be clear, this is not referring to our standing in Christ as being covered with His blood and born in the Spirit; that initial saving experience; that is a free and unmerited gift and it is unequivocal. That was resolved once and for all. What Paul is saying here is –  let those who think that they are worthy of reward, that they have the faith that will lead them into the rest and into the day of God, into the kingdom, into the millennial rest of God, the seventh day, let them be careful not to take anything for granted. Let them remember the first people that were chosen, that elect generation, how they failed because of unbelief. They did not enter.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (verses 13-14)

What was it that snared the majority of those who came out of Egypt? It is made so very plain right here in this letter – “The people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play.” Does this sound like a people who were conscious in their spirit of a higher calling, to be a light to the nations of the world, to be a people of God, to be representatives of the righteousness of God? Does this sound like a heavenly people, a people so called that the Lord might manifest His holiness through them? Or does this sound like an earthly, worldly people, who were bound up in the lusts of the flesh, in the appeasement of appetites, in the gratification of sensual pleasure? “The people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play”. To many of them, Jehovah was simply a means to an end – their very own Egypt where they could be in charge.

It was idolatry, plain and simple. It was a hardening of their hearts. It was a dullness of hearing caused by worldliness and unbelief. It was a looking to God merely as the purveyor of earthly blessing, when the Lord wanted them to know His ways, to enter into His presence and His will for the salvation of the nations; and they failed. They failed terribly and tragically. And they represent a very penetrating example for all those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ in this present age.

Now I am going to speak somewhat pointedly here. I certainly do not mean to intentionally offend anyone. Yet, as I look out on the landscape, out on the body of Christ as it currently stands; as I look at those who claim the name and testimony of Jesus Christ, I see generally people who are sitting down to eat, who are sitting down to drink, who are standing up to play, who rather than fleeing the idolatry of the world and overcoming the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, as the Scriptures convey, are being enraptured, and given over to idols. I see quite generally a people who are blindly oblivious to the heavenly plans and purposes of the God who saved them at so great a price.

Remember, dear saints, the blood; the blood spread over the posts and lintels, the blood that pointed to the blood of the Lamb, to the blood of the Eternal Father’s Beloved Son. At what cost were they redeemed? And then they were baptized in the sea, and death encompassed them; yet they came up and out, through the grave, and unto newness of life (Rom. 6:4). They came forth, they burst forth, almost like a birth. You can almost picture these people coming out of the Red Sea as it closed in behind them, and they issued forth like a new child coming into the world. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians, makes no bones about it. It is unmistakable that the lesson of their failure is for us. And the exhortation is sharply pointed and severe. If this elect people of God failed, though in every way they were redeemed and delivered; if they were washed in the blood and in the sea; if they were claimed by the Lord as His own; if they were saved, in that initial saving experience, the beginning of a new life, and yet in the end, they failed to enter into the rest, what does that say to every single Christian alive in this world today?

Dear saints, this exhortation to us is powerfully clear – we will only partake of Christ and His Millennial Kingdom of rest and reward if we “hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” If, while we are still in the sixth day (while it is still called “Today”) we do not hear His voice because our hearts have been hardened, then we, like that generation coming out of Egypt, will most likely come up short up in terms of entering the Lord’s promised rest and reward.

The promised outcome for the overcomer is that of quintessential rest; it is the unparalleled joy, peace and blessing of coming into a new and better home. Only then will we come to a place of true belonging. Until then, however, we must trust the Lord and press on patiently with Him until every single one of His plans and promises come to fruition. We must endure through hardship and testing, such that the Lord alone will represent our hope and salvation. We must let the life of Egypt die in us and to us, for this ultimately is what the wilderness is for. We must live only by every word that proceeds the mouth of our God. We must walk only by faith and not by sight, for natural wisdom or experience cannot serve us here in this wilderness of testing. We must let the life of the spirit prevail, such that the life of the soul – the mind, the will, and the feelings in man – will be made subservient. We must live and abide wholly in Christ – the Life of the Living God – so that the enemy cannot distract, deceive or destroy us. We must, in the end, be made ready as only the Lord through His Spirit can make us ready.

It was for this very reason that the Holy Spirit was dispatched to this planet, and came to abide within our human spirit at our new beginning in Christ. He was sent down by the Lord Himself for a very specific purpose, and only if He is permitted to accomplish this purpose will we be deemed worthy to enter in the promised rest of the Lord.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you (John 16:13-14)

Dear saints, only as the Spirit takes what is the Master’s and discloses it to us, can we be truly ready for His appearing and His kingdom. Only as He conveys to us all the truth, and the things to come, can we hope to survive in these perilous times (see 2 Tim. 3:1-5), when lying spirits animate the air. By all accounts and evidence, we have indeed entered a day when every form of wickedness and offense is being increased – false teachers and false prophets spouting doctrines of demons, scoffers denying the Lord Jesus Christ and His promised coming, lukewarm and pleasure-loving professors of Christ holding a form of godliness but denying its power. It is rapidly becoming the time of the hired servant, only seeking wages, not the bond-servant, who cares only for the interests and pleasure of his Master. It is clearly not too difficult to appreciate just how absolutely vital it is to be hearing the Lord in this dreadful hour, and casting all else aside. Again, we are exhorted – “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

Oh Lord, let it be so! Let your people, your precious sheep, hear your voice and surrender their hearts and lives to Thee in this present hour, Oh Lord!

Before closing this message, let us double-back to Hebrews (chapters 3 and 10) to consider briefly this whole aspect of encouraging one another all the more as we see this day drawing near.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today”, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13)

…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb. 10-25)

Oh how great is the need in this hour for encouragement, comfort, instruction, material provision, exhortation and prophetic utterance, dear brothers and sisters. Oh, that His brotherly love for His body would fill us and work in us for the edification and preparedness of the saints, as we await His imminent appearing. I am quite convinced actually, that endurance is not possible without such encouragement, for in each of us the will to surrender and let go is strong. The encourager is always reminding his friends to –

STAND FIRM! HOLD FAST! BE ALERT! DIG IN YOUR HEALS! DON’T SHRINK BACK! FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT! KEEP YOUR EYES FIXED ON THE KING AND HIS COMING! DON’T GIVE UP – WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND I AM WITH YOU! DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE LOSS OF THINGS IN THIS WORLD!  BE STRONG IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS! WHAT IS IT YOU NEED MY BROTHER, FOR WHAT IS MINE IS YOURS!

This important and timely message is further conveyed by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians, where he writes –

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Eph.5 :15-21)

So it is vitally important that we are encouraging one another and emboldening each other’s faith in the Lord, especially as so much around us threatens to discourage us and fill us with fear and dread. This is most serious, dear brethren, and we would all do well to heed this exhortation just as it has been given. There are many ways to do this to be sure –  letters and email, blogs, journals, these are all wonderful. I thank God for them. But that whole aspect of spirit-touching-bone fellowship; being able to sit down together, being able to share the Word together, being able to let the Lord and the Spirit exhort and encourage each other, especially as we see the day approaching.

The question that presents itself to us then is this – Are we being careful how we walk in this ominous time leading up to the consummation of this age? Are we making the very most of the time we have, as long as it is still called “Today”? Are we investing ourselves spiritually and materially, as we are able, in the well-being and preparedness of others in the body of Christ?

Or are we effectively doing the opposite? We recall that when the spies came back from surveying the land, ten of them gave a most unfavorable impression of their prospects in the land, as they were consumed by a flood of unbelief and fear that blinded them to their real condition. Rather than encourage the people to go forth in the power and provision of the Lord and to advance in faith, as did Joshua and Caleb, they persuaded the people that all was hopeless; that the situation before them was greater than their God. Brethren, this lesson is most serious for all of us, and we would do well to allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to our lives as He deems necessary.

Now perhaps you may be wondering, what is the Lord saying to us now? What does He want us to focus on as we are beginning to see these dark prophetic clouds gathering over the nations? I believe, for the record, dear saints, that it is not so much a matter of months or weeks or days, but rather hours. I could be wrong, but my sense in the Spirit is that the events of the “last days” are imminent and that there is actually very little time remaining. This being so, I just want to encourage all of you, that as much as you are able, that  you come together, and speak the word, and exhort and encourage and edify one another, build each other, help each other to get our minds off the worries and anxieties and concerns of the world, and to focus on entering into that promised rest that is so very close.

BE STRONG MY BRETHREN, IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS! HOLD FAST TO THE KING IN THIS HOUR! FIX THE EYES AND EARS OF YOUR HEART ON JESUS OUR MASTER! HEAR HIM AND DO NOT REFUSE HIM WHO IS SPEAKING! PURSUE THE PRIZE WITH ALL SPIRITUAL VIGOR! BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL IN ALL SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING! WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOD WHO CALLS YOU INTO HIS KINGDOM AND GLORY!

Note here again in Matthew, how being actively ready is linked with the provision of food in the proper time on the part of those who are deemed faithful (knowing and then carrying out the will of the Lord) and sensible (aware of the urgency of the moment) –

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:42-51)

How then should we be spending the time that remains while He tarries (redeeming or making the most of the time)? There are many responses to this question, to be sure, but one answer certainly is that we are each exercising the spiritual gifts we have been granted to the edification and provision of the body.

“Kindle afresh the gift of God”, said Paul to Timothy. Don’t let it lie idle, in other words, but actively attend to it, asking the Lord for the measure of grace to exercise it for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). He then exhorts Timothy to “guard this treasure which has been entrusted to him” (2 Tim. 1:14). Then there is the Master’s parable of the virgins and the talents (Matt. 25), which expressly concern this whole matter of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and our accountability before the Lord who bestows them.

Dear saints, how tremendously vital it is in this dark and difficult hour, while it is still today, that we are actively hearing the voice of our God and mutually strengthening the hearts and hands of our fellow saints in this wilderness. How vital it is that we are found constantly on the alert and at the ready, and watching over one another, and encouraging each others’ faith and confidence in the only One who can deliver us and bring us into His promised rest.

Our prayer is that our Beloved Father would bless this message and help us to bring forth these things as He has given them in this word of exhortation to His people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hold Fast to the Lord – W.E. Smith

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:11-14)

Oh dear saints, what dark times are upon us, what dark, foreboding times indeed! And yet so many asleep; so many blind and distracted by other things; so many of the Lord’s heavenly people drunk with the bitter wine of this world. Staggering really! Oh Lord help us in this hour, help us to truly hear what You are saying through your Spirit, and to see what You are doing by Your Spirit, and to enter into Your eternal plans and purposes for this world – for Israel, the Church and the Nations. Oh Lord, you promised long ago that the Comforter would teach us all things, and abide with us forever. Oh Lord, let it be so that we might thereby be made ready and remain watchful. For our only Hope is Your coming into Your Presence for us. Our only Hope is You Lord. Only You. Please come Lord Jesus, come.

Oh Lord, though the times be perilous and fearful, let us not be anxious or afraid. Though there is abounding confusion and perplexity, let us not be confounded, for You told us what would happen long before it actually does. Lord, though there is growing distress and unrest everywhere, though all earthly things are unraveling at great speed, let us be at peace in Thee Oh Lord, just as You have promised. Though the nations rage against Thee Oh Lord, and the kings of the earth take counsel with the fallen ones on high, let us hold fast to our God. And even though You bruise us and train us, may we trust You forever, and know that You can do no wrong; that Your counsel remains steadfast and perfect forever.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. (Psa. 33:8-11)

Brethren, the world as we have known it, the world in which we have grown up, is speedily drawing to an end. All that remains is for it to run its God-ordained course to destruction. If you are still holding on to this world, and being conformed to it, then my word for you is to be prepared to be sorely and grievously disappointed; to suffer supreme loss.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

There is no future for this present world system and if you have any lingering expectations in it then these will be dashed to pieces in the days to come. If you love things and money and worldly security, your little plastic house, or just the easy life that we have come to know in the West, then be prepared to be shaken along with everything else. Our future is in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, not in this world of confusion and enmity against the Maker of All Things!

We are aware that many in the body are suffering great loss at the moment, and a time of tremendous testing is upon the people of God. The Lord must know what is in our hearts; whether we love Him more than everything else, including our own lives. He must have a Bride worthy of His love and glory. We will need Him more than ever dear saints, and we will increasingly need each other, as the darkness advances, and we begin to see the foundations collapsing – in the governments of this world, and the economies, and the food supply, and the climate; and as war erupts once again on this planet, spanning all continents and peoples. There is a violent convergence of calamities threatening all aspects of life in this world, like nothing ever seen, and all of the pundits and experts and scientists don’t have a clue what it actually happening, let alone solutions to advance. Rest assured, there is nothing cyclical or fixable in this present crisis – the stage is being set for the false one to arrive on the world scene, and to initiate all of the events that we know will bring about the end of this present age of gentile dominion over the earth.

My friends, I dare say that the USA, by all evidences and accounts, is in a state of free fall. What was positively unimaginable just a generation ago, is materializing before our very eyes. Although the recipient of such grace and blessing by the Lord, she has aligned herself with devils, and made herself an enemy of the Most High. This has long been true of other so-called Christian nations, and we see in the Psalms the Lord’s point of view regarding this present hour –

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?

The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish {in} the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psa. 2)

There is only one place to hide in this present time of tumult and trouble brethren; there is only place of refuge – “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” So I ask each of you, as you look out there at the gathering storm, the dark clouds rising, the echoes of war on the wind, the imminent collapse of once-considered inviolate systems and institutions, the very ideas and presumptions upon which the modern world is founded. It is a babel of humanism my brethren, nothing more or less, and its destruction has already been decreed from the highest heaven by He who scoffs at the sophisticated ideas of puny little men. He has been silent for a long time, yet soon, very soon He will speak to them in His anger and wrath. The ashes and smoke of Sodom will rise once more, as the Father’s Son stands up to receive His rightful inheritance as His possession.

Yet before that there will be a final shaking of all that which can be shaken, both in heaven and on the earth –

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned {them} on earth, much less {will} we {escape} who turn away from Him who {warns} from heaven.

And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”

“Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:25-28)

All this being so, the question that remains for each one of us is what part do we have in it – Will we be as Lot’s wife, or Demas, or Ananias and Sapphira, stubbornly clinging to our little earthly treasures like they were precious to us? Or are we already releasing them from our hearts, such that we can grip ever tighter the only One who can bring us through the gathering storm?

My heartfelt exhortation in the spirit for all of you brethren is that you would Hold fast to the Lord! Hold Fast Until He comes!

Hold fast to Him even though all the evidence of sight and sound and touch and smell screams otherwise. Remain steadfast though the world and its hob-kneed god relentlessly urges us to return to it, and to seek its fill, to seek the easy way of men and devils. Be content in this life with what He chooses to give you, sometimes plenty and sometimes much less. Remember that He will provide; and that He has so many ways at His disposal to do so. Assume nothing. Let the wisdom of the world and its ways melt away, for you are a servant in the King’s House, and He has His own way of doing things. Ask for eyes wide open in the Spirit to see the deep things in all that is happening in and around you; ask then wait and believe. You will see. You will see that the work He is working in your heart is an eternal one, wrought from the ages past, when He first conceived of His plans for men, and the dominion of His Kingdom. Having or not having – these are unimportant in the larger scheme of things; for we have access to the King, and He is our friend and advocate. We are forever one with Him in life and purpose.

I too am learning to take one day at a time; to pray over every little detail. The phone rings and I ask Him what I should do. Every significant expense too, for we have only so much and it is all His anyway. They are His books and He is keeping them. I have made and will continue to make many missteps, but my Lord is gracious and kind; He knows that I am but a hobbled child learning to walk with these new legs of faith and trust. Oh that one day I would run, and leap over a hedge. But for now I walk and stumble, for this way is all new, and strange, and my sense of faith is largely untried and untested. I have so much to learn and discover and hear and see. So many questions always, and so often silence. Or so it seems. Perhaps the answer is there yet I don’t yet perceive it in the spirit as I ought.

I often wonder this as I read how our Lord seemed to live on another plane of existence from His disciples as He walked among them. He was always vitally connected with His Father in heaven, and He wants to draw us out of our realm and into theirs, so be conscious of this as you begin to feel estranged from all around you. This is the reality, the consciousness and divine fellowship our Lord enjoyed as He walked on those dusty roads 2000 years ago. This world still weighs heavy under the curse, yet the Kingdom of God is so very much blessing and light. Soon, very soon, the former will be subsumed in the latter. In this we hope and His word will not fail. Indeed it cannot fail.

Hold on my brethren and hold fast to Him and to one another in the spirit. We are one.

I thank all of you for your prayers and thoughts. I am, at the moment, very much out of my element in terms of the world and making a living and taking care of myself and my family. Although I am being reduced in so many ways, he is augmenting me in other ways. I just want to see Jesus Christ in all His glory and power and wonder. This is all I live for now, and though this is so I have so much of the world and the flesh in me that prevents Him from more fully revealing Himself to me. In order to have more of Him there has to be less of me. It must go, that is all there is to it. I want His joy in me to be made full. I want the peace that passes all understanding. I want to be a faithful and profitable steward that He can rely on come what may to serve Him at the end of this age. I want to be decreased such that He alone might be increased. I want to be faithfully watching for the return of the King and to hear what He is saying to us now. I want to be where He is, and where the Father is, with eyes wide open in the Spirit. I want to share in the joy they have and always have had together. I want to be a source of blessing and encouragement to all those whom he puts on my heart; to faithfully express this gift of exhortation that He has granted to me. I want to confound the devil at every turn, and reject the urge to seek a place in this world, appeasing the lust of the flesh, and the eye and the pride of life. I want to see truly and deeply what the Scriptures are saying to us in this hour, in this time of prophetic urgency. I want nothing less than the Lord Himself, in all is His fullness and life!

Hang in there my brethren. Actually I will use a better phrase from the Bible – HOLD FAST! Hold on to our Lord in other words, and don’t let Him go, regardless of whatever does or does not happen, regardless of whether you have direction or relief at the moment or do not. Grip ever tighter to the only one who can save us! The image offered is that of Jacob gripping tightly to the Lord until He blessed him (Genesis 32:26). True faith is clinging to God long after we have given up on ourselves and everybody and everything else. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and the direction will come. I, too, am learning this very slowly and very painfully to be sure.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Rom. 5:3-5)

He will not ultimately disappoint us in the end because He cannot disappoint. Though we often fail to comprehend His ways and His wisdom, our hope is based on His love, and His love is ever constant and unfailing. Our faith cleaves to Him (and His word) in the spirit even when our soul cleaves to the dust ­–

My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. (Psa. 119-25)

Our lives in the world and in this body of death, such as it is or is not, means only as much as it prepares us for the Appearing of the King. He is preparing to judge this world of which we have all grown up in. All of it – all the of the governments, the nations, the wisdom of it – even the fallen hosts who rule over it presently. It is a finished thing. So it avails little to worry too much about our place in it or our future in it – even that of our children – for the Lord will have to save them each personally out of it just as He did for us. They will have to make a choice, and as much as we all want our loved ones to choose life, the fact is that only a remnant will be saved; only a few will be willing to choose the narrow gate; only a select number will love the Lord more than themselves and all that the world has to offer. The price is high and only a few will remain (see John 6:67)

Stay with Him dear ones, for where else have you to go? Chase hard after your God for He wants to know how much you want Him and how precious He is to you. He will test this always, to be sure your love is the love of a bride for her groom; where He alone is most precious and worthy. Fix your eyes and your heart on Him alone, so that all else dims out of focus. Grab hold and never let Him go, like the woman who attached herself to Jesus in the crowd, and caught His attention though there was a swarm of people around Him. Be as Simeon and Anna who devoted their lives to the appearing of their blessed Messiah, and never let go until that day when they held the babe in their arms, and looked down into the face of God. They held on, they waited, they persevered with all hope, always revived by the word of His patience (Rev. 3:10).

Use the time that remains to make yourself ready, to redeem the time you have, to be always prepared should He call you into active service. But do not despise the day of small things, as did the Jews when they beheld the second temple, for the Lord works mightily in the smallest of things, in a word or message, in a single touch, in an insignificant gesture. The big things belong to the world and to self-willed servants who are intent on running out ahead of the Lord in their own wisdom and power. The Lord, as with Elijah, is not (at this moment; this will change soon) in the BIG things, but in the still small voice. This is the time of the bride making herself ready (in the bridal chamber out of sight), and she is not all of the body, but only a small part taken out of it. Hear what these types are saying my brethren; please, please don’t hear me but hear what the Spirit is saying in this hour! Then all will be well I assure you.

Here are some further Scriptures, exhorting us to hold fast to the Lord and His word until the end –

“But the {seed} in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”  (Luke  8:15)

…by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Cor. 15:2)

… but Christ {was faithful} as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (Heb 3:6)

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,  (Heb. 3:14)

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Heb. 4:14)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; (Heb. 10:23)

‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Rev. 2:13 )

‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.’ (Rev. 2:25 )

‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Rev. 3:11)

Now, in the original Greek, this phrase ‘hold fast’ is da-bak, which means –

to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.

We will conclude this message with a passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians and Thessalonians, conveying the imperative for us to walk as those who have been removed from the spiritual darkness of the world’s system –

For this reason also, since the day we heard {of it,} we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please {Him} in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – (Col. 1:9-14)

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of {the} day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

We also feel compelled to remind you that we must not be tempted, in this evil hour, to resort to man’s resistance of the governing authorities set in place by God, however corrupt they become –

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Rom. 13:1-2)

I realize that it is most natural and difficult, my brethren, but civil defiance or disobedience is not of God. Our Lord, when on the earth, did not resist one of the most violent and corrupt regimes in the history of men, and neither should we. Rest assured, our Lord will supplant all things, but not before He comes in power and glory to establish His Divine Kingdom –

“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that  kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Dan. 2:44)

Be blessed by these words my fellow saints and bond-slaves, in Jesus’ Great Power and Name. Oh Mighty Father, that You might in Your grace send forth these words with great power into the hearts of Your beloved children that they might be made ready in this hour. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.

Related Posts by Austin-Sparks:

The Removing of Those Things that are Shaken

This Present Evil World

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled – W.E. Smith

Dear saints, precious to our Lord Jesus Christ and our Most High and Holy Father in Heaven, grace, peace and patience to all of you in these most troubling times. Oh how we need to pray for one another like never before, as the birth pangs of the end of this age appear to be increasing with each new day; as men’s heart begin to fail at the possibility that our modern, push button age of ease and enlightenment isn’t all that it promised to be. In preparation for this message, I encourage all of you to review John 14 in entirety.

Look around you dear brethren – increasing incidents of earthquakes and fierce storms, looming worldwide famine, fuel prices rising out of control and causing such fearful tumult in this modern, energy-drunken world, the threat of a complete greed-driven meltdown in the financial and banking markets. War and the rumor of war as the kings of this earth seek remaining riches and resources. Disease and pestilence beginning to surface, confounding man’s iron-grip trust in his medicines and technologies. Hundreds of thousands of human lives spent in just the past few months by all of the above. The nominal church seeking its way in the manner and wisdom of the world, reaching new and greater degrees of abandonment from the faith once delivered. Wolves and false prophets, deceivers all of them, spewing Christ-defying things from their mouths all in the name of our Father’s Beloved and Perfect Son. And oh so many in this hour being led away and devoured in their lust for self-gratifying religion and experience.

Oh but all this must be so, little ones, for man must come to the end of himself, and his trust in the great lie must be shattered into a thousand pieces. No, we are not like God. No, we cannot find our own way on this earth. No, our ideas, inventions, imaginations and solutions are not enough to save us from ourselves, the curse or the destroyer at the back of it all. No, greed is in fact not good. No, our modern oil-thirsty world will not last forever (much less than a few generations), and the curse on this earth remains, and will do so until the return of the King, who alone will restore all things. All things are happening just as foretold by our Lord and all His prophets, that we might see and believe; that our faith might grow stronger as the hour grows darker.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.” (John 14:29)

Oh little ones, be not afraid, for He will return just as certainly as He came the first time. The Living Word of God is sure and certain, a rock of salvation beneath our feet, and a rock of destruction to all the enemies of our God and King.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
(John 14:1-3)

Now, more than ever, we need to believe in both the Father and the Son, and look to His appearing as our only hope and deliverance. He does not want us to be anxious or afraid in this time brethren, but to look to Him who supplies all that we need. Only let us pray more urgently in the name of Jesus Christ that He would keep us in this hour, and strengthen our weak hearts. Until that moment when our Master descends to the middle heaven to receive His precious and beautiful Bride, He remains in the Highest Heaven, at the right side of the Father, interceding on our behalf, fulfilling whatever we ask in His name and as His will. He alone is our Faithful and High Priest, who has immediate access to the God of All Life, He who is our Most High and Heavenly Father. Our Savior knows our frame, for He was just as we are in this world, and He understands our natural tendency, as we look around at all of the frightening events in this world, to become fearful and easily shaken.

Brethren, those who are watching soberly for His imminent coming for His own, all is progressing precisely according to His plan and purpose. It should give us great comfort, those who have read the prophecies and are waiting expectantly and patiently for Him, that everything is in the Father’s mighty hands, as He turns all things over to His Beloved Son. All enemies of the Lord must be subdued. All pride must be broken. All lies must be made manifest and all sin must be laid bare. All darkness must be exposed by that great and awesome Light that is the Morning Star soon to break forth on this world.

He who saves us will indeed save us to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). Do we truly and deeply believe this dear saints? Oh, but we must, for He is our only hope. His name is Jesus Christ and He alone is the Savior and Deliverer of His people! His words are certain; they cannot fail, for He is truth and all power has been granted to Him.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

He left us most certainly, but He did not leave us alone, left to our own courage and devices, as sheep without a shepherd. He left us His mighty and indwelling Spirit, and the assurance that as He is so we will be in this world. He also assured us that He will in fact return for His precious ones, to receive them to Himself, and to present them pure and spotless to  His Father. Dear saints, all those aspiring to enter into the great wedding supper of the Lamb – it may not seem so, or feel like it at times, but –

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Our victory is assured, and it is only our faith or lack of it that will determine whether we apprehend it or not. The imperative for us in this dark and difficult hour is most clear. We must wait patiently, enduring however long He takes to fulfill all that He has determined.

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)

I know quite honestly, dear brethren, that in the natural part of me, I feel something like an orphan in a world where I don’t really belong; a world gone mad in its lust to live apart from its Maker. The man-led and man-honoring mega-church on the corner is not my home. The greedy, power-hungry kings of this world are not my King. The wisdom of this world, honoring and exalting man and his empty achievements, is not my wisdom. The hopes and dreams of most folks in my neighborhood are not mine. The religion of this world, honoring the god of this world, is certainly not my faith. The fickle and empty life that men live in the body is not my life (for He is my life now). The fleshly limitations to which men are subject do not describe me (for He will perform His works in me). So it is easy to feel something like an abandoned, unwanted orphan isn’t it?

Yet I also have his sure and unshakable word that He will not leave me as a fatherless orphan in this world; that He will return for me to bring me cleansed and sanctified to my own place with my Father in heaven. The question then is, do I really believe this? And do you? My friends, we must, and I encourage all of you now to read John 14 and other parts of His Word which convey such wonderful hope and promise in this hour. Then go to the Father and ask Him in Jesus’ name to help you receive every single word in faith and power; that it would settle in our spirit and establish us in the midst of such terrible times.

Brethren, be supremely comforted and encouraged by the fact that we are not alone, that both the Father and the Son abide within us if indeed we are His children; that we have His Spirit of comfort and help. Now I am aware that to most professing, church-going Christians, this means little in practical terms. Yet I hope better things for each of you reading these words. And indeed, if such assurances spoken by the Lord of Life ring hollow, as mere religious sentiment, then most certainly we know what we must pray for; and I pray all of this for you now in His wondrous name.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

Everything offered by this present world is empty and lifeless, as its present ruler has nothing but lies and dust to offer his citizens. Yet our Lord leaves us with peace, heavenly peace, soul-calming peace, fear-quenching peace. Consider David, full of the power of the Spirit, standing before giants calmly stooping down to pick up a few small smooth stones. The prospect of death was all around him and bearing down upon him; yet he was filled with a spirit-granted and courageous peace that was soon to lead to absolute victory for the glory of the Lord. And even so our Lord in human form, consigned to a most brutal and bloody death, yet perfectly resting in the care and purpose of His Loving Father. Oh that this kind of peace would be our own dear saints. Oh, how we desperately need it at the end of this age, as man is brought violently to the very end of himself.

Because I live, you will live also. (John 14:19)

And indeed now more than in any other time, we must be sure we know what the Christian life really means; what it is exactly and what it is not. For most who name the name of Christ I fear that this has become obscured and tainted in a world where religion has more to do with human energy and activity than the divine conception leading to living each moment abiding in He who is the Life of the World.

Here is a spiritual truth for those able to receive it –

There is truly one one life that is pleasing to the Father, and that is His Beloved Son. All those outside of Him are dead already regardless of religious or moral expression designed to simulate real life. Pure and living Christianity is Christ Jesus; it can be nothing less! It is not Adam on his best behavior, all dressed up in his Sunday best. It is not what men imagine it to be.

Be not deceived brethren – To live is Christ (see Gal. 2:20 and Phil. 1:21). It is nothing less and there can be nothing more. The preacher on the street, or the priest in saintly robes, or the slick-haired salesman on the television can promise you something other, but this is a LIE! Indeed, it is the first and only lie! As we look around us in this hour, what we are seeing, in essence, are the fruits of death, nothing more. All that is already dead is starting to rot and reveal its true state – DEATH!

The soul who sins will die. (Ezek. 18:4)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— (Rom. 5:12)

We who are called in the Lord Jesus Christ must choose life and know precisely what this means and what it costs. Do you have a claim or place in this world? Fine, then give it up, for it is nothing compared to the place He is preparing for you now. Are you a somebody in this world? Well my friend, better to become the world’s nobody that you might become a somebody to He who will soon rule all the universe with a rod of iron. Let it all go dear brothers and sisters, whatever it is, that you might gain the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the super-abounding life and light that comes with Him.

Beloved brethren, end-time saints of the Lord Jesus Christ – the time has come to lay down all that we love and cherish and trust in, that we might take up the Lord of Life, and all that He received in this world – ignominy, shame, rejection, a bloody, splintered cross. You each know what this means, and every heart knows what sits in the place of the Lord. It would be so simple and easy if we could love Him in addition to everything else, but it seldom works this way in the human heart. Those born of the Spirit know all too well that to love Him requires the letting go of so many other things. The cost of living in Him and loving Him is nothing short of everything dear saints.

“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25)

Dear brethren in the Lord, I pray that He would supply all of you with grace and peace in this hour and that you might be encouraged by His Words in John 14 and elsewhere. I also encourage you to join with each other in the Spirit to pray for one another, as indeed the times are growing deathly dark. I know as we look out with our eyes, and see the headlines foretelling grim tidings across this entire world, that it is easy to lose heart and to seek to grab onto something. Yet we must remember that our Lord is holding on to us, and will continue to do so until He comes to claim His reward, and judge this evil generation.

My encouragement to all of you in this hour is to pray and fast constantly, to study the Word, including (and especially) the many prophetic passages related to these latter days and our Lord’s imminent return, lest you be deceived by the false one who is also soon to appear. Remember your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, who are impacted by the deadly convergence of food shortages, fuel prices, storms and wars, and wickedness in high places. Pray for wisdom, understanding and patience, that He might find us watching soberly for His imminent arrival. Keep the faith! Walk in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will perform all that He has promised by His mighty power. Pray that all things will be done according to His eternal plan and purpose, for His glory alone. Seek His kingdom and not the future or betterment of whatever earthly nation happens to be printed on your birth certificate or passport. And most of all, let us love one another as He has first loved us, that the world might know that we belong to Him, and live only in Him.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

In Jesus’ Precious and Mighty Name. Amen.