THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
There are four stages of the marriage of the Lamb: the formation stage, the reconciliation stage, the union stage, and the manifestation stage. The marriage supper of the Lamb, which will take place at the return of Christ to the earth, will be the manifestation of the marriage of the Lamb, a marriage that was accomplished previously. It is the previous operations that are essential.
Table of Contents
The bodies of the members of the Bride are redeemed
We are joined together with the Lord Jesus
The Lord and we become visible to the people of the earth
We (the Lord and we) crush the forces of wickedness in the earth
We bring life and restoration to the material creation
THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
There are four stages in the marriage of the Lamb: the formation stage, the reconciliation stage, the union stage, and the manifestation stage.
- The formation stage.
- The reconciliation stage.
- The union stage.
- The manifestation stage.
We can notice three of these four stages in the marriage of Adam and Eve, which is a type of the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride.
The formation stage was the forming of Eve from the rib of Adam.
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, … (Genesis 2:22)
The reconciliation stage was not necessary because Eve had never been in rebellion against Adam.
The union stage consisted of Eve being brought to Adam and his acceptance of her.
… and brought her unto the man. (Genesis 2:22)
The manifestation stage was the declaration by Adam to Heaven and earth that Eve was his wife.
And Adam 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. (Genesis 2:23)
The manifestation stage is the closest phase to what we would refer to as a wedding ceremony. But there is an important difference between the manifestation stage of the marriage of the Lamb and a wedding ceremony as ordinarily conceived. In the case of a marriage today, the actual marriage, the uniting, follows the wedding ceremony—if in fact a union ever does take place.
However, the marriage of the Lamb occurs as the believer takes up his cross and follows the Lord Jesus. The marriage supper will follow later. The manifestation stage, which includes the marriage supper, will be just that—a manifestation of what has taken place previously.
Adam and Eve had no wedding ceremony because none was necessary. It was not possible for Eve to be “married” to anyone else because she was of Adam’s bone and flesh. She “was” Adam.
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (Genesis 5:2)
“Called their name Adam”!
Eve was not created as an individual person who could choose whether she should marry Adam, remain single, or marry someone else. Eve was created as a helper suited to, and a completion of, Adam. Eve was formed because the Lord God had determined, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
All subsequent human marriages can never be more than a shadow of the joining of Adam and Eve because Eve was created from and for Adam alone. The union of Adam and Eve was more than a partnership, it was the enlarging and completing of one person. If Eve had married anyone else it would have been Adam marrying that person.
The two were one flesh.
There was a forming, a uniting, and then a manifestation of what had been formed and united. A wedding ceremony was not necessary because a wedding is the moment in which the final decision to unite is made in the presence of witnesses. In the case of Adam and Eve the decision was made when God formed Eve from Adam.
Today a ceremony, a wedding, is necessary at the beginning of a marriage. By definition, fornication is the act of living together outside of legally-sanctioned marriage. Fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The unscriptural doctrine of the “rapture” suggests that the believers will be caught up to an Anglican-type wedding ceremony in the air or in Heaven. The all-important forming, reconciling, and uniting stages, the actual marriage, are ignored in favor of a one-time profession of faith. “If I accept Christ as my Savior I will be included in the wedding ceremony that will take place in Heaven.”
We are being taught that the “rapture” will bring us to the wedding ceremony of the Lamb. This analogy has proceeded from fleshly thinking. Such a ceremony would be superfluous. The marriage supper of the Lamb, which will take place at the return of Christ to the earth, will be the manifestation of the enlargement of the Lamb that was accomplished previously. The Bride makes herself ready in advance. All of the saved creation is invited to this most glorious of events, according to our understanding.
It is the previous operations that are critical. The necessity for the prior forming, reconciling, and uniting operations are not given nearly enough stress in our day.
God has determined it is not good that the Lamb should be alone.
It is not possible for us to comprehend the reasoning of the Lord God of Heaven. We could think of many reasons why it would be good for the all-sufficient, sovereign Lord Jesus Christ to remain as He Is—the only begotten Son of God, the Word of God, the revelation of the invisible God.
We can see why it would be desirable for the Lord Jesus to retain His individuality—especially when we review our own shortcomings.
God is God, and love is love. If God has placed in the heart of Christ a love for us which is sufficiently intense to cause Christ to forgo His individuality (never His identity!) in favor of being one with us, our proper response is to rejoice. It may be a long time before we are able to grasp the magnitude of the love of the Lamb for His Wife.
The fact is, the love of Christ for His Bride is the principal motivation behind all God is performing in the heavens and on the earth. All else is second in importance. Christ’s love for His Bride is the wisdom and power that governs the universe.
The Lamb of God has never been married before.
Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper.
The Formation Stage
The Lord Jesus Christ created every angel and every human being. He Is the Word of God.
Why then, would the Father invite Christ to pray that the nations would be given to him as His inheritance, in view of the fact that Christ Himself had created them?
Ask of me [the Father invited Creator Jesus], and I shall give thee the heathen [nations] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalms 2:8)
Why should Christ be required to petition the Father for what He Himself had created?
It is because the peoples of the earth cannot be “possessed” by the mere fact of creation. Their hearts must be won. Winning the heart of an individual is not always an easy task. People are exceedingly complex, wonderful creatures.
The Father knew that Christ would have to pray, and then suffer exceedingly, before He would be able to possess people in the only manner in which they truly can be possessed. The Creator can create people in His image, but getting them to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength is another matter.
Human parents can have a child, but getting the child to truly love them requires much more than giving birth to them. We cannot obtain the love of our children by coercion, money, or by informing them of their obligations toward their parents.
The dictators of the world possess authority and power over the bodies of their subjects. But they have no authority or power over their hearts. Thus, the dictators possess flesh, “grass”—nothing of value.
God has created all the people of the world of today, but few of them truly love Him and gladly keep His commandments. God has made it possible for people to choose to give Him their love or to withhold their love from Him; to serve Him or to disobey Him.
The Father has added something else. The Father has planted in the Spirit of Christ the understanding that contained in the multitudes of the earth is a special prize—an elect who will become to Him what Eve was to Adam: that is, an enlargement and completion of Himself. With this understanding has come the fiery love of the Father into Christ—a love so intense, so consuming, that death itself cannot stand in the way; a love that finally brought Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Lord Jesus Christ is motivated by the most powerful of all motives. He never can be satisfied until His Eve is with him. At the present time Christ is incomplete—the Lord God has made Him incomplete. Christ never again can live in peace and satisfaction until the day in which the Spirit proclaims, “The marriage of the Lamb is come”; until the second Adam can announce, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”
The Song of Solomon gives us a faint idea of how the Lamb feels about His Bride.
It is the hope and desire for His Bride that moves Christ to keep on working with the Jews and with the other nations of the earth. It is the thought of His Bride that provides life and splendor to Heaven and earth. As far as Christ is concerned, the creation waits for the touch of her hand.
The formation stage of the marriage of the Lamb comes about as we partake of His body and blood, and then as we learn to live by His body and blood, by His indwelling Virtue.
The calling out of the Bride from the multitude of believers can be witnessed in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John.
Thousands had partaken of the five barley loaves and two small fish. They had followed Jesus and His disciples to Capernaum, hoping to have more free food.
Then, deliberately, the Lamb of God began to speak of His body and blood—of that by which the true Bride lives. The Bride of the Lamb is created from the body and blood of Jesus just as Eve was created from the bone of Adam. The bone became Eve. The body and blood become the Wife of the Lamb.
Jesus knew that all would leave except the twelve whom he had chosen. Even the twelve disciples had further refining to undergo; for there was self-seeking among them, and one of them (even though he had been chosen!) would betray Him and die separated from God.
Thus the true, eternal Bride of the Lamb finally will be distinguished from the multitude of Christ’s followers.
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are a love letter from the Lamb to His Wife. There are the seven churches, and then there are those who overcome all hindrances until they finally are revealed as the Wife of the Lamb.
Jesus gives freely of His holy body and blood to all who ask. The Bride is formed from those who choose to live by the inner life and strength that Christ provides. The majority of believers choose to maintain the life and wisdom of their original personalities and because of this do not enter the formative stage of the marriage of the Lamb.
When Christ created Adam He observed that none of the other living creatures was suitable as a helper for the first man. He recognized also that He—Christ Himself—was alone. None of the angels of Heaven could be His helper because they are different in kind and unsuited as companions for Him.
Christ set about to create another human being who would be suitable for Adam, who would complete Him.
Christ caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, typifying His own death on the cross of Calvary. The Lord then took one of Adam’s ribs, a part of Adam, and closed up the flesh in its place.
Then He built the rib into a woman.
And the rib, … made he a woman, … (Genesis 2:22)
The rib (part of Adam) was made a woman. God did not use the rib as a nucleus and build Eve around it such that she was a separate person having one of Adam’s ribs. Rather, the rib itself was built into a woman. This means that every part of Eve, from her hair to her toes, came from the substance of Adam. In this sense, Eve “was” Adam.
The same identification is true of the Wife of the Lamb. The Wife of the Lamb does not consist of individuals who have a piece of Christ in them. The Wife of the Lamb is made up of those who have been created from Christ just as Eve was created from Adam.
There are many believers today who have had the Substance of Christ conceived in them, but not all are pressing forward until every aspect of their personality has passed through the death and resurrection necessary for the formation of Christ in each element.
The Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was hammered into shape from one mass of gold. So it is true that the Wife of the Lamb is hammered into shape from the Substance of Christ.
We live, but it is no longer we who are living but Christ who is living in us.
If we truly are following the Spirit of God, some aspect of our personality is being brought down to death each moment of our discipleship and is being raised again, through the body and blood of Christ, into newness of life in Christ. The “wood” of our personality is passing away while the “gold,” which was begotten in us when we received Christ, is being hammered into the shape the Lord desires.
Let us say there is a person whom we despise. We carry bitterness and hatred in our soul toward that individual. We must come to understand two facts: (1) the bitterness and hatred are coming from our original personality and are being intensified by Satan; and (2) the hatred never will be accepted in the Wife of the Lamb. If we are to be a member of the Wife of the Lamb we must get rid of the hatred toward another person no matter how justified we may believe our bitterness to be.
We go to the Lord. We confess our hatred. We ask the Lord to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness through His holy blood.
The Lord responds by forgiving us so we may remain without condemnation. Then He begins to remove this darkness from us. This is salvation. He may require us to perform some act of repentance or restitution. Or He may do the work Himself without any further action on our part. However, it is our responsibility to resist the enemy when he seeks to move us to continue in hatred. The Lord will help us resist if we ask Him.
God uses the body and blood of the Lord Jesus to form new Substance in us. Divinity is added to us. Change enters us from Heaven. New life comes forth while the old personality withers and dies. The finished product is a new nature. In this manner we continually are passing from death to life. We are washing our robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Every aspect of love for the world, the lusts of our flesh, and self-will that are in us are dealt with in this fashion. God keeps on bringing tribulations and enemies upon us in order to display the evil that is in us. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He forms Christ in us. We ourselves must judge ourselves, as the Spirit directs us, and ask the Lord to cleanse us. The Wife of the Lamb is not formed in a moment.
No element of our personality is permitted to remain unchanged. Flesh and blood never enter the Kingdom of God. All must become new in Christ.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, … (II Corinthians 5:17,18)
Because of the current overemphasis on imputed (assigned) righteousness, and the error of stressing that we possess an experience merely because the Apostle Paul stated the principle in the Scripture, passages such as the above are taken for granted by those who have “accepted” Christ.
They do not understand that God speaks of things that are not true as though they were true, not because His Kingdom exists in words alone, having no reality, but rather with the intention of bringing to pass what He has declared to be true. God affirms the vision He has concerning us, and then we must through faith grasp and follow the vision until it becomes reality. Otherwise the reality never comes into being.
God calls us new creations in Christ with the intention of making us new creations in Christ. He begins the new creation the moment we receive Jesus. Our life now is to be one of total diligence in following the Holy Spirit in putting to death the original personality and bringing forth the new creation—the Wife of the Lamb.
To insist we have all of salvation “by faith” (which is not faith at all but mental acceptance), and then continue in the world as usual while we are waiting for the wedding ceremony to take place in Heaven, is the error of contemporary Christianity. There is no understanding, in such an approach to salvation, of the Kingdom principle of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping.
Every molecule of Eve was fashioned from the rib of Adam. Every “molecule” of the Bride of the Lamb will be fashioned from the Lamb. All things will be new and all things will be of God.
Adam’s reaction, on being presented with his complement, is interesting. Adam did not exclaim about her beauty or express pleasure and thanksgiving to the Lord for giving him a companion. Adam declared: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Adam recognized immediately that Eve had not been formed from the dust of the ground but from himself. Eve “was” Adam in another form.
Eve was a human being like Adam. She was the image of God. More than that, she was Adam. Adam was beholding himself in an external form, a part of himself that had been taken and formed into a fellow creature.
We realize, therefore, the importance of the formation stage of the creation of the Wife of the Lamb. We cannot just “accept Christ” and then wait until there is a wedding ceremony in Heaven.
If Christ were to bring into Heaven the believers of today, would He behold with delight a creation formed from His body and blood? Would He be viewing a spotless completion of Himself, created from the Substance of Divinity? Would Christ be seeing Himself in an external form, a part of Himself that complements Him, making it possible for Him to enter the fullness of His inheritance from the Father? (There might be many such pure believers from among the butchered Christians of Uganda but perhaps not too many from the Western nations of today.)
Would there appear before Him the treasure for which He has been waiting for so many thousands of years; for the touch of whose hand the creation waits in its chains of futility?
Or would He be facing the typical assortment of unchanged believers who serve Him when it is convenient for them to do so, whose understanding of Jesus is that He is their servant and their “ticket” to everything they want?
The Wife of the Lamb will be formed by the Lord God until she is perfect—without spot or wrinkle. She will not be formed in righteousness at the last minute, according to the Scriptures. When the Lord is ready to appear with her in glory the Bride will be clothed in the “white raiment” of righteous works.
The white raiment of the Bride is formed from the continuing process of death and resurrection she experiences throughout her pilgrimage (II Corinthians 4:17, Revelation 19:7,8). The Bride makes herself ready for the marriage by cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He delivers her from the lusts of the flesh, love for the world, and self-centeredness and personal ambition.
The formation stage of the marriage of the Lamb is of the greatest importance. It is during this stage that the Wife is created from the eternal Substance of the Lamb.
We stated before that it was not possible for Eve to choose not to marry, or to marry anyone other than Adam, because she was formed with the purpose of being the fullness of Adam.
The forming of Christ in us changes us from an individual who remains free to choose his own destiny into a person who has only one possible destiny. We no longer are individuals who roam about the universe according to our “free will.” Rather, we are moving toward only one, goal—that of being the completion, the fullness of the Son of God.
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:23)
It may be true that many contemporary Christians never will accept the formation stage of the marriage of the Lamb because the supreme virtue in the eyes of the “Laodicean” believer is his right to remain an individual and continue to make his own decisions. If receiving Christ cannot be a means of realizing one’s potential, of bringing personal fulfillment and satisfaction, then Christianity is not a religion that has as its goal the “welfare of people.” Therefore, (according to the Laodiceans) it is not in the best interests of people to embrace it—at least not to the degree of fervency Jesus advocated.
The preceding concept, that an acceptable religion or philosophy must have as its supreme goal the personal fulfillment and satisfaction of human beings, is the position of the humanistic believer of our day. It is an attitude that will increase until all that is of the Spirit of God is driven from the Christian churches.
In these days we must be listening carefully to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches.
The Reconciliation Stage
It was not necessary for Eve to go through the second stage, the reconciliation stage, because she never had been in rebellion against Adam. Each of us who believes in Christ is, at the time we commence our pilgrimage, filled with rebellion and lawlessness. Whether or not we know it, our hearts are desperately wicked.
Our conflict with the Nature of the Lamb is in three areas: love for the world, the appetites of our flesh, and self-love and personal ambition. These are our three principal idols. We are involved in the spirit of the world, we break God’s moral laws, and we are self-willed.
After we are covered by the blood of the Lamb, have been born again, and some progress has been made in the forming of Christ in us, the Lord Jesus Himself comes to us through the Holy Spirit. He is ready to wage war against the wickedness that is in us. He reveals before His judgment seat what we are and what we do. If we follow Him through judgment He works with us until we have been delivered and healed.
The coming in the Spirit in personal judgment is a real coming of the Lord. It is an important part of the personal, secret coming of Jesus to those who are seeking the Lord, to those who belong to Him.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)
“I will come again.”
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
“Will manifest myself to him.”
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
The coming of the Lord to His people in judgment was announced by the Hebrew Prophets.
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
“The Lord, … shall suddenly come to his temple.”
This is a coming of Christ to His royal priesthood, not to the world but to the dedicated believers—as set forth in John 14:18-23.
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
This passage from Malachi is speaking of the cleansing of the royal priesthood of God, whether Jewish or Gentile by natural birth.
The Lord Jesus will come suddenly to each member of the royal priesthood, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, and refine by fire the believer’s redemption (silver) and his faith (gold).
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;… (Revelation 3:18)
We Christians have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Now we must be baptized with the purifying fires of God.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)
“He shall baptize you… with fire.”
That this verse is speaking of the same coming of the Lord announced in Malachi 3:1-3 can be observed in the verse that follows:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
“He will throughly purge his floor”!
If we apply Matthew 3:12 to the Jews, as some are doing today, then we must reserve the baptism with the Holy Spirit for the Jews.
The result of separating the Gentile believers from the Israel of God has been doctrinal chaos.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)
Paul considered the Galatian believers, who were Gentiles, to be the “Israel of God.”
It is time for Christian scholars to take a close look at the effect the Dispensational model has had on the straightforward, coherent interpretation of the Scriptures. It is certain that the concept of the Kingdom of God has been lost by the teaching that there are two separate kingdoms—one of elect Jews and one of elect Gentiles. It is time, we believe, for a reformation of Christian thinking concerning God’s plan of redemption in Christ and the nature of the one Kingdom of God, the Kingdom coming from Heaven.
The coming of Christ to reconcile himself to His people, as set forth in John, Chapter Fourteen, Malachi, Chapter Three, and Matthew, Chapter Three, is not the manifestation of Christ to the world (Revelation 1:7).
The coming of Christ to His elect in judgment and reconciliation must take place before the appearing of the Lamb and His Wife. The appearing to the world of the Lamb and His Wife is the manifestation stage of the marriage of the Lamb. By the time of the manifestation stage the Bride already has been judged and reconciled, as evidenced by the clothing of her with the white raiment of bodily immortality.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous behavior] of saints. (Revelation 19:7,8)
The expression “to her was granted” signifies that a judgment has been made concerning her eligibility to be arrayed in immortal righteousness. It is obvious that the Bride will not, after she has been arrayed in immortal righteousness, be required to stand before Christ in judgment.
It is not possible she will be declared to be the Wife of the Lamb by virtue of being clothed with immortality, and then be baptized with purifying fire. The baptism with fire must take place before her glorification (manifestation). The stage of reconciliation must precede the stage of manifestation. Malachi 3:1-3; Matthew 3:11,12; and I Peter 4:12-19 must precede Revelation 19:7,8. The believer must be made manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ before being presented to the universe as the Wife of the Lamb. It is not possible we can be clothed with bodily immortality and after that stand before Christ and receive the evil things done in our body (II Corinthians 5:10).
Before the Lord is ready to reveal His glory in us He first must wage war against the wickedness that is in us. A forerunner of Armageddon will be fought in the personalities of the members of the Bride of the Lamb before the battle takes place against the nations that come up to attack Jerusalem.
You may recall that before the Lord revealed His glory in the presence of Pharaoh He sought to kill Moses because Moses did not keep the covenant of circumcision (Exodus 4:24).
The Lord God of Heaven will cleanse His Church in the last days. The cleansing of the Church, the Bride of the Lamb, is one of the purposes of the great tribulation. The great tribulation will refine the elect until many of them will become fit to be members of the Wife of the Lamb. The tribulation will seek to kill the adamic nature of the members of Christ’s Body.
The “great tribulation” is so termed, not because the sufferings will be more intense than those that Christians already have suffered throughout history but because it will be worldwide rather than confined to one area. Many who walk with God through the great tribulation will come to high rank in the Kingdom of God.
Also, the great tribulation period and the reign of Antichrist will divide between those who will rule with God (Revelation 20:4) and those who will be tormented with fire and sulfur (Revelation 14:10). The coming of the Lord in judgment and fire makes His way straight in the hearts of His people and then in the whole earth. The Divine judgment begins with the household of God.
The Wife of the Lamb will be reconciled to Him by fire.
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:3,4)
This passage parallels in meaning Matthew 3:11,12, Malachi 3:1-3 and the fourth chapter of I Peter. This is the reason we must “through much tribulation” enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
“The Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, … by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.”
This is the baptism with fire. This is the reconciliation stage of the marriage of the Lamb.
Before the Lord receives Jerusalem He fights against her.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:2)
“Her warfare is accomplished.” It is the Lord’s way to wound us and then heal us.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (Hosea 6:1)
Many of the Lord’s people of today need to understand that the Lord brings judgment on us. It is happening to them and they cannot understand the reason for it. The false prophets of our day are teaching that if the believer is not healthy and prosperous he is out of the Lord’s will. According to this false teaching the believer has two problems: the fact of his suffering, and then the guilt of displeasing the Lord (so he imagines).
It appears that many Christian people are passing through Divine judgment without any idea of what is taking place in their lives. They do not know whether they are backsliding, or Satan is attacking them, or just what is happening. They could profit more from the Lord’s chastening if they understood that all whom the Lord receives must undergo prolonged chastening before they receive the peace and righteousness they are seeking (Hebrews 12:5-11).
The reconciliation stage is set forth in type in the Old Testament Day of Atonement (Leviticus, Chapter 16).
After the feast of Pentecost there were three final feasts celebrated in one month (see Leviticus, Chapter 23 for the seven feasts of the Lord):
- The blowing of Trumpets.
- The Day of Atonement.
- The feast of Tabernacles.
The feasts of the Lord speak of Christ, of the kingdom-wide acts of God, and also of the work of redemption in the individual believer. In terms of the individual believer, the memorial of blowing of Trumpets portrays the coming of the King, Christ, to wage war against the rebellion and lawlessness that are part of the human personality.
The Day of Atonement speaks of the removal of all rebellion and lawlessness from us, the reconciling of us to the Lord God of Heaven.
The final feast, the feast of Tabernacles, typifies the union stage of the marriage of the Lamb, that is, the Father and the Son entering us in complete union, in untroubled rest. This is the “rest” of God spoken of in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
Back now to the Day of Atonement, for we are speaking of the second stage of the marriage of the Lamb, that is, the stage of reconciliation.
During the annual Day of Atonement, as described in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, the sins of Israel were forgiven and then placed on the scapegoat and removed from the Presence of the Lord’s people.
The initial act of salvation in our lives, as portrayed in the first feast, the feast of Passover, is a blood-shield over us as the Lord brings judgment on the gods of Egypt (the world).
When we come to the Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation) our rebellion and lawlessness are made manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ and our sins are dealt with through the authority of the blood of the Lamb and the power of the Spirit of God.
The term atonement means covering, and also reconciliation. At first God covers our sins under the blood of the cross. Later in our experience, after we have received the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost, God reveals our sinful personality to us and helps us get rid of what is displeasing to the Lord.
This does not mean God brings to our attention the sins we committed before we became Christians. The guilt of our sins is gone forever provided we follow Christ.
There is a double work. First, the Lord forgives the sins of the past and covers our sinful personality. He no longer “sees” our sinful personality because of the righteousness of the blood of the Lamb.
However, the Kingdom of God does not consist of people who have rebellious and lawless personalities that the Lord cannot see because they are protected by the blood of Christ. Such a condition is temporary, being a necessary beginning phase of the Divine redemption.
The new covenant primarily is one of transformation. It is not primarily a covenant of forgiveness (Hebrews 8:8-12) although it often is preached as such today.
The Lord forgives us initially so He may proceed with the work of creating us in the image of Christ, for it is to such transformation that we have been predestined (Romans 8:29).
This double work, first a forgiveness, and then a bringing out and slaying of evil, is typified by Joshua’s tactic with the five kings of the Amorites.
First, Joshua imprisoned the five kings in the cave at Makkedah (Joshua 10:18). The rolling of stones against the mouth of the cave portrays the covering of our lawless personality by the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus.
At a later time Joshua brought out the five kings and slew them (Joshua 10:26). This typifies the work of judgment and reconciliation, the baptism with fire that the saint experiences as he follows the Lord.
At this point in our study we have come to what, from our point of view, is one of the principal errors in Christian theology. This one error has kept the churches of Christ in a state of babyhood.
The error is in viewing the salvation that is in Christ as only a forgiving and covering of us so God cannot see our sinfulness. It is taught that God no longer sees the kind of person we are but only the righteousness of His Son, Christ. This commonly is held to be a perpetual, eternal state, rather than what it is, a temporary legal device while we are being transformed.
There are many fine Christians who follow the Lord into powerful ministry and spiritual maturity even though their doctrine is limited. We think multitudes more would profit from the correct understanding of the Divine redemption.
As we work outward from this commonly-held concept, in the drawing of conclusions and in application, a part of the writings of the Apostles becomes unintelligible.
If God no longer sees us but only the righteousness of His Son we need have no fear at the Judgment Seat of Christ—and this is what many Christians are teaching. Their conclusion is consistent with their fundamental concept.
But this is not what the Scripture teaches!
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
Obviously, if God does not see the behavior of the believers but only the righteousness of His Son, and if this condition holds true at the Judgment Seat of Christ, then it is not possible for the Christian to receive the bad he has practiced in his body.
In defense of their position, some Christians claim that the Judgment Seat (beema) of Christ is the place where the believers receive only their rewards for their works of Christian service. This is not accurate, for two reasons: (1) the verse includes receiving the bad we have practiced; and (2) the term beema is used consistently in the New Testament to mean a court before which persons accused of crimes are brought. It never is used as a place where contestants receive laurel wreaths. Jesus was brought before the beema of Pilate.
We know from the Scriptures that when any person receives Christ as his Savior His past sins are washed away. We know also that God covers him with the blood of Christ so he is as righteous as though he never had sinned. We know this is true. It is the foundation stone of the Divine redemption. This part of current teaching is scriptural.
The extension of this concept to mean that all the aspects of our inheritance, including marriage to the Lamb, are imputed (legally assigned) to us for eternity while we remain unchanged, is not scriptural.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy—all in the Holy Spirit. If the only righteousness of the Kingdom is that which is legally assigned to us, then the peace and joy of the Kingdom would also be legally assigned to us rather than experienced, and we certainly would not desire this! If the peace and joy are actual, then the righteousness is actual and not merely imputed.
Christian teachers sometimes state that “the things done in his body” (II Corinthians 5:10) refers to works of service and not to moral behavior, not to sin.
If such were the case, how could the believer receive the bad practiced in his body, unless we consider the absence of works of service as the “bad” that Paul mentions. In that instance, are we saying that the absence of Christian service is not a moral transgression? Jesus commanded that the man who had wasted his talent be cast into the outer darkness. He received the bad he had practiced while in his body. Lack of service, or improper service, leaves the offender spiritually naked in the Day of Christ—and sometimes subject to severe chastisement!
Let us consider the verse once again. Is it referring to rewards for Christian service, or is it referring to righteousness and unrighteousness?
… that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
At the Judgment Seat the believer receives the consequences of the good things he has done and the bad things he has done. The issue is not that of good and less good, as is taught commonly, but of good and bad. The Judgment Seat of Christ has to do with the evaluation of the good we have done and the evil we have done.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;… (II Corinthians 5:11)
To hold that the Judgment Seat of Christ is an awards ceremony is not consistent with the New Testament usage of the term beema, the express statement of the verse, or the context. Paul’s exhortation continues, in II Corinthians, until he says:
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17)
Also, in Romans, Chapter 14, in a discussion of holy living, Paul exhorts the stronger believers to cease judging their weaker brothers, for the weak will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and be judged concerning their holiness or lack of it (Romans 14:10).
Every knee will bow to Christ and every one of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:11,12), concerning not only our Christian service but also all we have done in the body. According to Paul, the day will come when all the deeds of the believer will be brought forth into the light, just as the five kings of the Amorites were brought forth from the cave of Makkedah.
It is evident, then, that being clothed with the righteousness of Christ holds true under a specific condition. It is not an eternal amnesty we obtain by confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. We fall into error when we receive only a part of the counsel of God.
The specific condition is that we are obeying God. As long as we are walking in obedience, walking in the light of God’s will for us, the blood of the Lord Jesus serves as a compensating righteousness that makes up the difference between what we are and practice and the standards of Divine righteousness.
As we follow the Spirit of God, putting to death the deeds of our body, the Divine Nature that is entering us is creating in us the standard of Divine righteousness. Meanwhile the blood-covering makes up the difference.
If we persevere in following the Lord our behavior finally will attain the quality of righteousness and holiness necessary for immortality in the body when the Lord appears. This is what Paul means by “attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11).
The concept of the blood-covering serving as a compensating righteousness while we are being transformed into the image of Christ is the central concept of the new covenant. It is radically different from the currently-expressed doctrine that the blood-covering is an eternal screen that prevents God from witnessing the actual personalities and behaviors of His children.
We are stating here that the Judgment Seat of Christ is part of the reconciliation stage of the marriage of the Lamb. It is not possible for us to be raised from the dead, to be changed into an immortal being, to ascend to meet the Lord and be ever with Him, to enter marriage with Him, shining in glory before all the world, and after that receive the bad we have practiced in our body (II Corinthians 5:10).
The members of the Wife of the Lamb must be made manifest before the Judgment Seat of Christ prior to the first resurrection from the dead. We must be revealed now—in the present hour—before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Is it scriptural that the household of God is to be judged in advance of the world?
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)
Isn’t it true that we are judged after we die? (Hebrews 9:27).
Yes, but consider that the death into which the true saint is brought, in being made conformable to Christ’s death, is a true death. Although it is not a physical death it is a genuine death of our first personality. The Spirit is bringing us to the point where we can say, “It is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me.”
As we are brought down to death by the Spirit of God the work of judgment commences.
Do we receive the good and the bad we are practicing?
Yes, we do. From the bad we are practicing comes the tribulation we experience. This tribulation results from the judgment passed on our personality by the Lord. We suffer pain in this world (and no doubt in the next) because of the rebellion and lawlessness in us. This is the meaning of the fourth chapter of I Peter.
And notice carefully:
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)
What are our persecutions and tribulations? They are “a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God.” They are God’s judgment upon us.
God sends fiery judgments on us for the purpose of burning sin out of us so we may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. We are suffering so we may enter the Kingdom of God. We suffer so we will cease from sin (I Peter 4:1). The righteous are saved with difficulty as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
How about the good we have done. Do we receive the good also? Yes, we do. We do not always witness the outward manifestation of our rewards during our lifetime on the earth. We receive our rewards spiritually, and they enable us to pass from glory to glory in spiritual authority and life while we yet are in the world.
Perhaps many of the rewards set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are given us now in the reality of the spirit realm although the outward manifestation of them is not present as yet.
How true it is that God is not mocked! We receive the consequences of what we practice. This is the fundamental Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.
The attempt to evade the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping is based on a misinterpretation of the arguments of the Apostle Paul against the Judaizers.
It is true that the principle of compensating righteousness we have mentioned permits us to escape the full consequences of what we have sown. But the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping never was set aside. Christ on the cross reaped what mankind has sown.
The Lord never intended that the Divine pardon should be used permanently as the means by which rebellious, lawless people can sow sin and reap eternal life. Rather, the Divine pardon operates to enable us to approach God as a sinner, receive eternal life, and then go forth in the Spirit to become a new creation.
In the meantime, much tribulation comes on our rebellious, lawless personality in order to transform us from corrupt souls into life-giving spirits. We suffer so we will cease from sin.
… for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (I Peter 4:1)
There is a difference between the concept that the blood of Christ is a covering of righteousness placed on us so God can give us the glory of the Kingdom no matter how rebellious and lawless we are, and the concept that the blood of Christ is a covering of righteousness on us while God transforms us until we are worthy of the Kingdom, until we are suitable to be members of the Wife of the Lamb.
The first concept is the prevailing doctrine and it appears to date back to the Protestant Reformers. It is erroneous and has produced moral chaos. The second concept is scriptural. If we follow its guiding principle we will be transformed from rebellious, lawless individuals into people who live righteous, holy, and obedient lives in the Presence of the Lord. The blood will have accomplished its purpose of redeeming us from the hand of the enemy.
What about the statement the righteous shall live by faith? Doesn’t that mean we are saved by our profession of belief in Christ apart from any conversion into righteous behavior on our part?
No, it does not. “The just shall live by faith” means we are to live by faith in God, not by our own wisdom and strength. The faith is in the trustworthiness of the character of God. It matters little whether the individual has a completely correct understanding of doctrinal issues. The believer who is living in true faith in Christ is diligently seeking to walk by the Spirit of God. He is being changed into the image of the Glory of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18).
Much of what is practiced in the Christian churches of our day is not of the Lord. It has more of the characteristics of Babylon, Laodicea, and the False Prophet than it does of Christ.
The prevalent and unscriptural thinking that underlies much of the current Christian preaching and teaching is that Christ alone is worthy and we are clothed with that worthiness, that we need not be overly concerned with our behavior or with the Judgment Seat of Christ because we are “saved by grace through faith.”
“Saved by grace through faith” is interpreted to mean that God, in His love and mercy, having decided that man is hopelessly corrupt, has extended to him an eternal amnesty. God forgives man because of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, with the intention of bringing man to Heaven where he never again will have to choose between good and evil.
This is the basis of Christian theology and it is largely erroneous and destructive of the Kingdom of God. It is not, by any means, the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The current thinking is that there are no rewards for our works because God does not regard our works. Once we are “saved” we cannot be lost because God does not see what we are or what we do. This in spite of clear scriptural teaching to the contrary.
Let us consider for a moment the concept that our behavior is not critical to our salvation because we are covered with the righteousness and worthiness of Christ.
In his writings the Apostle Paul warned the saints that those who persist in sinning will not inherit the Kingdom of God. These warnings are inconsistent with the teaching that God does not regard the behavior of Christians.
After enumerating the sinful practices of the flesh, Paul says to “the churches of Galatia”:
… they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
“Do such things.”
“Shall not inherit the Kingdom of God”!
Why will they not inherit the Kingdom of God? Because they have practiced adultery and the other works of the flesh.
If they continue in the works of the flesh they cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, whether or not they are professing Christians. Thus the purpose of redemption is not only, or even primarily, to cover people with the righteousness of Christ, it is to change them so they have both the desire and the ability to do good works.
One of two things is true: either current doctrine is incorrect, or Paul is not speaking to people who have been saved, who have believed in Christ.
It is obvious that the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians is speaking to Christians. By no means is Paul teaching that if the unsaved commit adultery they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The converse of this would be that if the unsaved ceased from the works of the flesh they would inherit the Kingdom of God.
Paul is saying to believers in Christ of the churches of Galatia, as he wrote also to the believers in the other churches, that if they continue in sin they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
“But,” our fellow Christians may protest, “those who live a sinful life never were saved in the first place.”
This is their argument. What they are saying when they respond in this manner is a true Christian is identified by a righteous, holy, and obedient life and that apart from godliness there is no salvation.
No matter how we turn and twist, the Divine truth is facing us: those who practice sin will reap death, whether or not they believe in Christ. They shall not inherit the Kingdom of God!
The current Christian teaching that the Gospel of Christ is the covering of men’s sins so they can enter the glories of the Kingdom of God apart from any transformation of their personalities, any ceasing from sin, any conversion into the image of Christ, is false. It is destructive of the Kingdom of God in men.
Grace is not a waiving of the Divine requirement of righteous behavior. There is a grace period to be sure, but after that the necessary obligations must be assumed. This is true of any business transaction.
Faith from which no righteous works proceed is a dead faith. Righteous works are the life of true faith. Where Christ is there is righteous behavior. If Christ indeed is in us a new creation is coming into view. The true Christian keeps Christ’s commandments (I John 2:4).
The Lord Jesus said the same thing to the members of the church in Thyatira:
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
To maintain the above verse is not referring to “Gentiles who are saved by grace” is to fumble about ineptly in doctrinal chaos. The truth is, this verse does away with the current teaching that Christianity primarily is imputed (assigned) righteousness.
There is another consideration. The Spirit warned us not to tamper with the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22:18,19). The contemporary doctrine makes the words of Christ of none effect. Why should any “saved Gentile” take heed to Revelation 2:23 if he is covered eternally with Christ’s righteousness and God cannot see his deeds? It makes the clear warnings of the Book of Revelation of none effect.
The doctrine that salvation is only a covering is expanded to include the idea that all Christians will receive the same reward, our behavior being of no consequence. This is in opposition to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
The idea of this verse is that each individual will be rewarded specifically in terms of his work.
Because Jesus declared (John 6:29) that the work of God is that we believe in the One whom God sent, are we to maintain, therefore, that all that is required of us is that we believe that Jesus is Christ?—that the Christian work is only to believe in the Divinity and claims of Jesus? Such a conclusion could be reached from scattered verses but it is in opposition to the greater part of the writings of the Apostles. It is to remove John 6:29 from its context and ignore the bulk of the admonitions of the New Testament. It is the practice of cultists, not of saints, to seize on a few verses and from them develop a body of faith and practice.
The abominable, the sorcerers, the immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and the liars are not allowed into the new Jerusalem (Revelation 22:15). Can a liar enter the new Jerusalem by believing in Christ? Can he gain the right to the tree of life apart from performing the commandments of God (Revelation 22:14)?
Contemporary Christian teaching answers, “Emphatically, yes!” The Scriptures thunder, “Never!”
“But what about the thief on the cross,” those who want an excuse to sin may ask.
We know nothing about the thief on the cross except that Christ promised him he would be with the Lord in Paradise (not in the Kingdom of God) that day. We do not know what events had brought him to that point; what covenants he had made in his heart with God; what crying out and repenting he had done.
We do know that numerous “believers,” desiring to worship Satan throughout their lifetime and then “receive Christ” in a deathbed conversion, have comforted themselves and others with the story of the thief on the cross, not understanding what Jesus meant by His statement that the thief would be with Him in Paradise. All such will receive their due reward.
The Holy Spirit does not intend that Christ’s goodness to the thief on the cross be used to cancel the warnings of the New Testament.
The doctrine that the Christian redemption primarily is a covering with Christ’s righteousness is expanded to include the idea that once we are “saved” we cannot be lost because God no longer sees what we are or what we do. We are saved by “grace” and our works have nothing to do with it.
There are many passages that invalidate this concept:
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (II Peter 2:20,21)
Sometimes it is taught that such individuals never were truly “saved.” This argument is weak.
The Scripture states they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Christ. They have known the way of righteousness. Obviously this is referring to true Christians.
They did not maintain their good work of following the Lord Jesus Christ. They turned back into the pollutions of the world. They drew back from the way of righteousness. They turned away from the holy commandment.
Did they stop believing in Christ? Maybe they did or maybe they did not. Perhaps they continued to live in the terror of Divine judgment as they wallowed in the cesspool of the flesh. We have known some of whom this was true. The point is, they stopped serving the Lord. Our behavior is the evidence of the state of our faith. Faith apart from works is dead.
It is our behavior, our works, that Christ judges, not our faith. Or rather we should say, Christ judges our faith by our works. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, which is the “faith chapter” of the Scriptures, is a record of the works of righteous men and women. It describes what they did, not their doctrinal position.
The teaching that the Christian salvation primarily is a covering of us with Christ’s righteousness, and therefore how we behave is not critical, is expanded to mean that “to overcome” is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:5)
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation have the most to say about the victorious saints. The one statement Christ made to each of the churches is “I know thy works.” These two chapters refer to the behavior of the Christians, not to their doctrinal position.
First John 5:5 means if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God we will be able to overcome the world, not that it is the belief itself that is the overcoming (except in the sense that to maintain true faith enables us to overcome the lusts and malice of the world). True belief in the Lord Jesus is the basis for, and results in, overcoming the world. Belief is not an alternative to actually overcoming the lusts of the world. If such were the case, the verse would contradict the context of I John.
The same thought occurs in the preceding verse:
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:… (I John 5:4)
This does not mean being born of God is the overcoming of the world, it means that whatever is born of God will fight against the world until the world has been overcome.
Faith is the victory that overcomes the world because through faith we are able to follow Christ rather than the ways of the world. True faith always enables the believer to achieve victory over the world, over sin, and over self-will. Apart from faith we cannot overcome the world.
According to the same writer, John, we overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and by loving not our life to the point of death (Revelation 12:11).
If it were true that to overcome merely is to confess Christ; that our only work is to believe; that to behave righteously is desirable but not of critical importance because when God looks at us He sees only the righteousness of the Lamb; that we will receive neither the good nor the evil we have done because God no longer sees us or our behavior but only the righteousness of His Son in us; then most of the exhortations of the New Testament from the Gospel accounts to the last chapter of Revelation do not apply to us.
The concept of the blood-covering is scriptural in its context but it has been carried to an extent neither Christ nor Paul ever suggested. When faith is not balanced by righteous behavior we have a destructive error.
We hope by the foregoing words to have supported our emphasis on the reconciliation stage of the marriage of the Lamb. It is time for the Bride of the Lamb to awaken and wash her robes in the blood. It is time for the Bride to come out (in a spiritual sense) from the babylonish (manmade, man-centered, man-directed) confusion of the churches and to seek her Lord.
The winter is over and past. The time of the singing of birds has come. Can you hear His voice? He is calling to you. He wants you to be without spot or wrinkle. If you will go with Him He will make you His spotless bride.
“It is time. It is time. It is time. Arise, Bride of the Lamb, go with your Husband. He has come for you.”
The marriage of the Lamb contains a formation stage and also a reconciliation stage. The reconciliation stage is the coming of the King to us in fulfillment of the old covenant Blowing of Trumpets and Day of Atonement to cleanse us from all rebellion and lawlessness.
We have pointed out that such judging and cleansing cannot take place when the Lord appears, for we will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4). How could we appear with Christ in glory before we have passed before the Judgment Seat of Christ, before we have been reconciled to Him completely and perfectly?
Perhaps the reader is going through just such a season of fiery trials. You are seeking the Lord to the best of your ability but are undergoing prolonged difficulties. No explanation has been given as to the reason for them and it is not possible to determine how long they will last. Problem is heaped upon problem until it seems impossible to bear them any longer.
Keep in mind what the Apostle Peter said: “the righteous scarcely be saved” (I Peter 4:18). Judgment begins with the household of God, and even those who are close to the Lord are saved with difficulty. Your fiery trials are “saving” you. You are being redeemed by judgment. You are being reconciled to the Lamb by the tribulations you are suffering.
Compare your life before your suffering and after your suffering. You may notice an increase in godliness, in faith, in peace, in compassion. Tribulation produces patience. Patience is one of the principal characteristics of the Kingdom of God. Or, if you have blamed people or circumstances for your suffering you may have become bitter.
The cross we carry teaches us to wait patiently for the Lord. Those who are impatient seek to avoid the cross. They want to have their desires fulfilled now. The “faith” teachers promise instant gratification by faith. The way of impatience and grasping is the way of Satan. The way of cross-carrying obedience and patience is the way of God—the way of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wait patiently on the Lord. Pray fervently. Ask God to deliver you according to His holy will. As much as you are able, refrain from complaining and blaming people for your discomfort. Do not become angry or impatient with God. Jesus will pray for you that your faith does not fail.
Remember this: the day will come when your warfare has been accomplished, your iniquity pardoned. The day will arrive when God says, “Enough.” The day will come when your cross will be lifted from your shoulder and you will enter green pastures. Peace and righteousness in the Presence of the Lord will be your portion.
The brush of the most gifted artist, the pen of the most talented writer, could never portray the glory that will be given to the believer who keeps plodding ahead faithfully through the flames and floods that are sent to purify the Wife of the Lamb. These troubles help her wash her robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. The overcomer inherits all things, and God is his God, and he is God’s son.
When the three Hebrew children came forth from the furnace only their bonds were destroyed. The same is true of the members of the Wife of the Lamb.
The Union Stage
So far we have discussed the formation stage and the reconciliation stage of the marriage of the Lamb. In the formation stage the Substance of Christ is given us through the Spirit and we pass through repeated deaths and resurrections until our first personality passes away and in its place stands a new creation, a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45). This is “Christ in us” in the sense of being a transformation of what we ourselves are. It is a recreation of our personality from a dead soul into a life-giving spirit. Christ is a life-giving Spirit and He must be wed to what is like Himself in Substance and Nature.
Eve was created as the completion of Adam. She was created as his flesh and bone. No other destiny was available to her. We are being created as the completion of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being created from His body and blood. We can never experience that for which we have been created until we have been joined eternally to the Lord Jesus.
In the reconciliation stage the King, the Lord Jesus, comes to us and begins to receive us to Himself (John 14:3). He being what He is, and we being what we are, a reconciliation process is necessary. We are reconciled to Him, and He to us, by a change in what we are. Christ does not change. He is perfect, having been made so through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). Now we must be made perfect through suffering.
As the transformation from dead soul to life-giving spirit takes place in us, the Lord Jesus Himself comes to us through the Spirit in the union stage. This is not a change in what we ourselves are, as is true of the formation stage, but a coming to us of the Person of Christ. He comes to be with us, to dwell in us, to prepare a dwelling place for God. We are being created the eternal Temple of God.
It is true that the Lord Jesus is in Heaven at the right hand of God and is making intercession for us. It is true also that Jesus comes to the saint, through the Spirit, and personally supervises the completing and perfecting of the Temple of God, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem.
When the Scripture teaches that the Lord comes to us through the Spirit it does not mean the Spirit comes as a substitute for the Lord; it means that Jesus Himself comes through the Presence of the Spirit, rather than in Person as a separate Being as will be true at His coming to the earth.
The Persons of the Godhead are never confused as to identity.
None of Them is an individual for the Three are One. We ourselves are learning to forsake our individuality in favor of being made an eternal, integral part of that Oneness. However, neither we nor They ever lose our identity. The Father is the Father. The Son is the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. There are three Persons who are One in Divine Being, Substance, and Nature.
Yet they are distinct as to identity. The Father did not cry out to the Son, “Not My will but Yours be done.” The Holy Spirit was not slain for our sins. The Father did not learn obedience to the Son. The Father is greater than the Son. When the creation has been made subject to the Son, the Son will be subject to the Father so God may be All in all (I Corinthians 15:28).
The reason we are emphasizing the distinctness of the Persons of the Godhead is that it is impossible for us to understand the marriage of the Lamb, particularly the union stage, unless we perceive that the Godhead consists of three distinct Persons who are One in Being, Substance, and Nature but who are distinct as to identity.
If we view the Godhead as one Person in three manifestations such that distinctness of personality is impossible, the marriage of the Lamb cannot be comprehended fully. If it is true that the Father and the Son are the same Person, much of the New Testament is incoherent. If Jesus is the Father and not the Son of the Father, the Scriptures may be a theologian’s delight but they are a jumble of confusion to the average believer.
If Jesus were praying to Himself in Gethsemane we have a Godhead that is impossible to comprehend. If Jesus was praying to the One whom He always obeyed, to His Father in Heaven, we have a Godhead we can comprehend. We can comprehend a Father, a Son, and a Spirit who are One in Being, Substance, and Nature but who are three Persons.
The reason we can comprehend this is that we are being created an eternal part of the same Oneness. This is what the marriage of the Lamb is. It is nothing less than the bringing of us into union with Christ as He dwells in eternal union with the Father.
We become one with Him in Being, Substance, and Nature. Yet, He remains distinct from us and greater than us. He loses His individuality in favor of becoming one with us, and we lose our individuality in favor of becoming one with Him. Christ is Christ, and we remain ourselves.
Paul said, “I am not living, nevertheless I am living. Yet it is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me.” The Lord Jesus spoke the same thing concerning Himself and the Father: “The words I am speaking, the deeds I am performing, are not proceeding from Me but from the Father who is dwelling in Me.”
It is relatively easy to understand the Godhead, and our being made One with Christ in the Godhead, if we believe and hold to what the Scriptures teach. If we delve into theological statements we will become hopelessly confused.
Theology often is the attempt of the mind and soul of man to comprehend Divinity. Only confusion and failure can result. Divinity is experienced by our recreated spiritual nature. The Life of Jesus is the Light that illumines the Godhead to our new spiritual nature. The mind of the soul is at enmity with God and cannot comprehend the things of God.
In addition, the Scriptures came as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures cannot be interpreted correctly by people, no matter how scholarly, if they are not holy and moved by the Holy Spirit of God. The modern translations have a few misleading passages because the translators do not have the Spirit of revelation in the things of God.
The marriage of the Lamb is stated with clarity (to the spiritual man):
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)
These three verses mean what they state. We are being made one in the Son and the Father just as the Son and the Father are One. We are being created an integral, eternal part of God. This is marriage to Christ, the Son of God. This is what the Scriptures declare. This is what is true. It is wonderful beyond belief but understandable. Let us accept the statement as it stands.
The union of the Lamb and His Wife, which is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles, is proclaimed by the Lord Jesus in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
“In my Father’s house there are many abodes.” The house, the dwelling place of God, is a major topic of the Scriptures. The eternal house, the temple, the tabernacle of the Father is Christ—Head and Body. There is no other house of the Father.
God dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the hearts of the saints. He never again will dwell in temples made with hands. Christ is the chief Cornerstone, and we are the living stones, of the eternal Temple of God.
In Christ there are many abodes. Because there is a double abiding (we abide in Christ and Christ abides in us), both Christ and we must be prepared. A place must be prepared in Christ for us and a place must be prepared in us for Christ.
While the Lord Jesus Christ walked as a man on the earth it was impossible for us to dwell in Him or Him to dwell in us. He was not prepared and we were not prepared.
Christ went to the cross. His side was pierced, symbolizing the opening to us of the way into the House of God. He ascended into Heaven, there to sprinkle His atoning blood before the Presence of the Father. The sprinkling of the atoning blood made it possible for sinful man to enter the Most Holy Place in prayer.
By means of Christ’s atoning death and triumphant resurrection, a place in Christ, in the Father’s Temple, has been prepared for the believer. No such place was available prior to Christ’s death and resurrection.
Now the Lord Jesus is coming to us, in the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement, in order to prepare us for His dwelling in us. Christ is our dwelling place and Christ is the Father’s dwelling place.
We enter the Father’s House when we enter Christ. Christ, and only Christ, is the Dwelling Place of Almighty God. By becoming a living stone in the eternal Temple that is Christ we become an abode in the House of God.
The new Jerusalem is the eternal Tabernacle of God. There is no temple in the new Jerusalem because the glorified city itself is the House of God, the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the fullness of Christ.
… I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)
The coming of the Lord begins the moment we first are drawn to the Lord Jesus by the Father, and will be fully revealed when the Lord appears in and with us at His appearing to the world. Receiving us to Himself to the extent we are able to dwell with Him where He is, in the bosom of the Father, requires the works of formation and reconciliation we have mentioned already.
The immature believers of today are hoping they suddenly will be caught up into God’s Presence. It is the Father’s love that prevents this from happening. Christ is a consuming Fire. Were we suddenly to be drawn into His Presence our human personality would be burned up in a moment.
A thorough work of transformation and reconciliation must be performed in us before we are able to see Him as He is, to be with Him where He is.
There may be spirits in the heavenly realm who see the Lord Jesus from afar off, in a diminished glory. But the Wife of the Lamb is being called into that holy Fire who is Christ—the Lord of Israel. We are being created “bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.” Everything we are and do is undergoing change from mortal soul and flesh into the eternal fire of the life-giving spirits.
We shall behold the Glory of God just as He is and not be consumed. We are being created the eternal completion of Christ who Himself is the Fullness of the Glory.
This is why we are not to complain or become impatient because of our fiery trials. If Christ was required to learn obedience through the things He suffered, what will be true in our case?
Christ comes to us through the Spirit and Personally supervises our transformation and purification.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18)
This is a real coming of the Lord to the believer, not merely a figure of speech. Jesus comes to us and enters us in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. This experience will increase in substance throughout the great tribulation period causing us finally to be filled with Christ, and the Father in Him.
The indwelling fullness will be made manifest at the “marriage of the Lamb.” Then the nations of the earth for the first time will realize it was the Father who sent Christ, and that He has glorified His saints and loves them just as He loves Christ.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19)
We see the Lord faintly now, but as the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles increases in power we will be able to see Christ with ever-greater clarity. Also, the external tribulations and pressures will become so intense we shall have to depend on His Life to enable us to survive. We shall learn to lean on the Lord Jesus and to look to Him for every aspect of our personality and actions.
Trouble is soon to come. With it will come revelation and glory if we truly are serving the Lord and are not caught up in the “Laodicean” errors of the churches.
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20)
The expression “at that day” refers to the Day of the Lord. Whenever the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles begins to come to maturity in us, the characteristics of the Day of the Lord are revealed in our personality.
“The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” In the Day of the Lord, Christ is All and in all and God in Him. We rest in Him. He is our Salvation. He is our Joy. He Himself is our Strength, our Peace, our Wisdom, our Sanctification, our Song.
All the workings of God in us are to bring us to the place where it is no longer we who are living but Christ who is living in us.
The error of the “rapture” teaching is that it seeks to gain entrance into the external kingdom before the internal kingdom has been perfected.
It is disastrous to bring people into the Presence of Christ until the Presence of Christ has been brought into them. The fleshly believers will never understand this and will fall deeper and deeper into deception. In the last days the worldly believers will persecute the true saints viciously.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
It is taught commonly among Christians that if we believe in Christ we are not required to keep the commandments He gave us, as recorded in the four Gospel accounts, or that the Apostles set forth in their writings. We ought to try to observe them, but since we are saved by grace through faith there is no penalty for failing to keep Christ’s commandments diligently.
What an enormous error this is! What a misunderstanding of the new covenant!
Notice the following:
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (I John 2:3)
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
Concerning the last two verses, the argument is made that these are Jewish believers in that they keep the commandments of God.
But when Paul wrote concerning the fact that we are not saved by works but by faith in Christ he was addressing Jewish believers. Therefore, claiming that it is Jewish believers who must keep the commandments of God is not logical. It was Jewish believers to whom the grace of God first came!
The truth is, those of us who have the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ are supposed to be keeping the commandments set forth in the writings of the New Testament. The division between Jewish believers in Christ and Gentile believers in Christ that is taught today is unscriptural. It has proceeded from fleshly thinking. Such a division is specifically contrary to the teachings of the Apostle Paul concerning the one Israel, the one family of God.
The evidence we love Christ is that we keep His commandments. There is no true faith in Christ that does not keep the commandments of Christ. Such a barren “faith” is not faith at all but a mental acceptance of theological truth. There is no redemption, no Kingdom of God in it.
When we, through His grace, diligently do what Jesus instructed us to do, and what Paul commanded us to do as well as the other Apostles of the Lord, then we truly love Jesus. He who loves Jesus will be loved by the Father. Jesus will love that individual and will reveal Himself to Him. This is the beginning of the union stage of the marriage of the Lamb.
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? (John 14:22)
There is a personal coming of Christ to the faithful believer. The personal coming takes place before Christ’s coming in the clouds of heaven. It cannot be witnessed by the world. It is the coming of the Lord to us in the spiritual fulfillment of the old-covenant feast of Tabernacles. This experience is as real as being born again, as real as the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is the third work of grace and it prepares us for the worldwide coming of the Lord.
It is the rising of the Day Star, Christ, in our heart (II Peter 1:19).
As we stated before, the personal coming of the Lord is beginning now and will increase in revelation and power throughout the great tribulation. The personal coming will attain its climax in the revealing of the Lord from Heaven with His saints. The personal coming is for the purpose of building the inner kingdom of God. The inner kingdom of God will come to the Lord’s firstfruits before the external Kingdom is revealed to the world.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
- The first major work of redemption is repentance, being washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus, and being born again of the Divine Nature of Christ.
- The second major work of redemption is the baptism with the Holy Spirit of God.
- The third major work of redemption is the entering of the Father and the Son into us through the Spirit. It is this third work that is being emphasized in the present hour by the Spirit. Those of us who have been saved and filled with God’s Spirit are to press forward until we are filled with all the Fullness of God.
The experience of Pentecost is that of the rain of the Spirit coming upon us. God pours out His Spirit on “all flesh.”
The spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles is an individual work. It is the developing of a well of water, so to speak, in the believer who “follows on to know the Lord.”
The “rain” of Pentecost and the “well of water” of Tabernacles.
Notice what Jesus declared while the Jews were celebrating the feast of Tabernacles:
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
Notice also what the priest chanted during the observance of the feast of Tabernacles, according to Jewish tradition:
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
It is God’s will that each of His saints become a well of the waters of eternal life so that throughout the darkness to come, whoever chooses to do so may drink and receive the Life of God. During the age of oppression that even now is beginning there will be deliverance in Mount Zion, that is, in the true Church of Christ.
The following passage characterizes the saints of the end-time:
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:6,7)
The coming days will be so filled with spiritual darkness, delusion, and terrors of every description that only the believers who are filled with God will be able to stand. As the darkness becomes increasingly intense the light of God’s Presence in the true saints will become increasingly bright. God will reveal His Glory in us and we shall see Him and live by Him.
The darkness and the glory will grow in power until finally, at the time of greatest darkness, the fullness of the Lord’s Glory will be revealed in His people. The saints will be as lights on the earth. Then the Lord will be revealed from Heaven and the lesser lights on the earth will be gathered up to be joined with the greater Light in the air.
The formation, reconciliation, and union stages are the internal development of the Kingdom of God. The manifestation stage is the external revelation of the Kingdom of God.
The formation, reconciliation, and union stages take place in the Spirit of God. They do not operate in the physical world but in the realm of the Spirit. This is why the woman “clothed with the sun,” the Bride of the Lamb, is a great sign, not on the earth but in the heaven.
The manifestation stage is the “with” stage—not only in, but also with. The “with” stage is the emergence of the Kingdom of God from the spirit realm into the material realm. Christ Himself will be seen by every eye and the sons of God will be revealed. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God spoken of by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus.
Today we cannot see Jesus as He is. The reason we cannot see Jesus as He is, is that we are not like Him. When we are like Him in internal spiritual life, are one with Him and the Father, and have been glorified in external appearance, we shall be able to behold Him as He is. This joy is yet ahead of us.
The inner life and nature of the Kingdom of God must be perfected before we can enter the external life and nature of the Kingdom, before we can be associated with the Lord Jesus in His glory.
The Lord Jesus yearns for His Bride, that she may be with Him. For Him to take her now would be useless. She is not like Him in internal substance, nature, or life. She is filled with soulish, fleshly death, with her old ways of sin, rebellion, and lawlessness.
Christ must come to her and hurl shafts of eternal life into her, driving out the old, dead personality and ways and causing His Divine Substance to penetrate and transform every atom of her being. The Lamb is gloriously alive and He desires that His Life fill His Bride.
What pleasure can she be to Him, what can He do with her, while she is filled with the corruption and death of the soul and flesh? She is not suitable as a completion or helper while she abides in her uncleanness, spiritual sluggishness, and immaturity.
She must be transformed in spirit, soul and body.
She must be reconciled to His thinking and ways.
She must be brought into such total, complete, restful union with Himself that the two lives become one. She must become Him—bone of His bones, and flesh of His flesh. When He sees her He must be beholding Himself.
If the believer is lacking in formation, or reconciliation, or union, he is unsuitable as a member of the unblemished Bride of the Lamb. He must ask the Lord to form him, reconcile him, and bring him into union with Himself. Christ is both able and willing to do this.
Christ will perfect us. We must desire perfection with our whole heart. The day of the divided heart is over. From this point forward the way of the Lord must be made straight. Let the holy be holy and the filthy be filthy. Let us make up our mind we are being formed for the sole purpose of being the fullness of Christ. There is no place here for the believer who still is flirting with the demons and attempting to preserve his own life and ways.
The marriage of the Lamb is near and the Bride must make herself ready. Let everyone who is thirsty come and drink; for out of the Bride will flow rivers of living water without price. Blessed is every person who is called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The Manifestation Stage
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:7,8)
A parallel passage is found in the Book of Isaiah:
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:10,11)
There are five major aspects of the manifestation stage:
- The bodies of the members of the Bride are redeemed.
- We are joined together with the Lord Jesus.
- The Lord and we become visible in glory to the people of the earth.
- We (the Lord and we) crush the forces of wickedness in the earth.
- We bring life and restoration to the material creation.
The bodies of the members of the Bride are redeemed. We find in Revelation 19:8 that the Bride is arrayed in “fine linen.” A similar expression occurs in the passage from Isaiah: “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation.”
The fine linen, the garments of salvation, refers to the raising (or changing) of our physical body into a state of incorruptibility.
It is important to note that the “fine linen” is the “righteousness (actually, righteousnesses, or righteous acts) of saints.” The fine linen is not that of imputed (ascribed) righteousness but of righteous works—works that have taken place because of the Life of Christ that has been formed in us and is dwelling in us. Every righteous act proceeding from the Life of Christ in our personality directly affects the body we shall receive in the day of resurrection. Every wicked act proceeding from Satan and our adamic nature also affects the body we shall receive in the day of resurrection unless through the Spirit of God we confess our sin and turn away from it.
When “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:54), it will in fact be the “incorruption,” the “immortality” that has been gained from following the Lord. Righteous works that are performed in, through, and by the saint, as Christ enables him to overcome the death against which he struggles continually in the world, result in eternal resurrection life.
In the fourth chapter of II Corinthians Paul describes how the tribulations that fell on him produced a response of resurrection life from within him:
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (II Corinthians 4:10)
The process of victory coming forth from affliction created for Paul a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Corinthians 4:17).
In the following chapter (II Corinthians, Chapter Five) the “weight of glory” is shown to be a “house” from Heaven, that is, a body that will clothe our present body:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (II Corinthians 5:1)
The “building of God,” the “house not made with hands,” is the “fine linen” of Revelation 19:8, and the “garments of salvation” of Isaiah 61:10.
Paul then goes on to speak of the Judgment Seat of Christ, saying we will receive the things done in our body (II Corinthians 5:10).
If we, through the Lord Jesus Christ, bring forth deeds of righteousness and holiness, these deeds become our incorruptible body of eternal life that will redeem our mortal body at the last trumpet.
If we do not bring forth deeds of righteousness and holiness, do not enter the formation, reconciliation, and union stages of redemption, no body of life has been formed. Therefore it is impossible for us to be changed from corruption into incorruption at the last trumpet.
If we sow to our flesh we will reap corruption in the Day of the Lord.
In the preceding pages we have discussed the timing of the Judgment Seat of Christ, giving our point of view that we are going through judgment now.
There are some verses that give the impression Paul regarded the Judgment Seat of Christ as taking place in the future:
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)
There are other passages that suggest the Judgment Seat of Christ is taking place now:
Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick [living] and the dead. (I Peter 4:5)
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)
We would suggest that the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a special trial of Christians that takes place during a (supposed) time period between the first resurrection and the appearing of Christ. The term refers, rather, to the evaluation of every person of the world and takes place at any time Christ chooses. Even the living may be judged (I Peter 4:5).
As far as we can determine, there is no scriptural basis for the occurrence of a special trial of Christians at the descent of the Lord from Heaven or when the saints are caught up to meet Him in the air.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ we shall be made manifest and we shall receive what we have practiced in the body.
The faithful saint walks in trembling, watchfulness, and readiness to repent. The Lord brings him through fire and water and he always is repenting and confessing his sins (as the Spirit of God leads him). Yet he has victory, peace, and joy. Many aspects of his life are judged—in fact, he judges himself (I Corinthians 11:31). He asks the Lord to search him, try him, cleanse him of secret sins. The Lord answers his prayers.
Thus the Lord Jesus is able to bring forth a new creation of righteousness in his personality. The righteous deeds that are brought forth are woven into a robe of incorruptible life, a house from Heaven, with which he will be clothed when Christ appears. In this sense, the manifestation stage of the Judgment Seat of Christ is future but the necessary preparations are being made today. We are being judged and transformed now so we may be saved in the future—“saved” in the sense of entering life and glory at the appearing of the Lord.
The lukewarm believer, of which there are numerous examples today, does not walk in trembling, wariness, or readiness to repent. He is not always repenting and confessing his sins. He does not judge himself and he does not believe the Lord judges him.
Because of false teaching he believes all has been accomplished for him through “grace.” He believes that when the Lord comes he will be raised into incorruptibility, will ascend to meet Christ in the air, and will go through a meaningless “judgment.” At this time his good deeds will be rewarded marvelously while his wickedness and carelessness will be ignored because of “grace.”
After that he will rest at his ease in a beautiful mansion of gold while the Jews, without the Holy Spirit, attempt to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in the face of Satan and Antichrist. Such is our Christian “vision.”
The fact is, the lukewarm believer is not diligent with his talents (which is enough to put him into the outer darkness). He carries on many flirtations with demons although he does not understand this is what he is doing, that his behavior is sin and is bringing death to him. He participates in the spirit of the world. His life is self-centered not Christ-centered.
Obviously, such a careless Christian life is not creating a weight of glory at the right hand of the Father. He has sown to his flesh and will reap corruption in the Day of the Lord. He will be spit out of the Lord’s mouth.
At the last trumpet he may or may not have obtained enough righteousness in Christ to clothe himself with incorruptibility. He may be found naked in that day. Whether or not he is brought forward into the Kingdom of God will be determined solely by the evaluation made by the Lord Jesus Christ; for the Father has authorized the Lord Jesus to be Judge and Lord of all men.
The concept that we can sin in the flesh and reap immortality in the Day of Christ is without scriptural foundation. It has left multitudes of believers unprepared for the return of the Lord.
Here is the righteousness of God: we reap what we sow. If we sow to righteousness we will be clothed with the consequences of that righteousness, which is eternal life. If we sow to the flesh we will be clothed with the consequences of that corruption, which is the loss of all our life has produced. If we are saved at all it will be into a Lot-type barrenness. God is not mocked.
The resurrection of our body into incorruptible eternal life will take place at the last trumpet. The resurrection is an important aspect of our redemption, being the unveiling of us as sons of God and members of the Wife of the Lamb.
And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
The resurrection to victory described in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of I Corinthians is not an expected end of the passive believer, an outcome to be taken for granted. The resurrection into glory is a state that must be attained (Philippians 3:11).
The redeeming of the physical body is the result of eating of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. It marks the restoration of what was lost originally. The resurrection into incorruptibility, into immortality, is victory over the last enemy. Victory is possible because through the Lord Jesus Christ we have overcome sin and have exercised righteous behavior. Eternal life always is the fruit of righteousness, never of unrighteousness no matter how clothed in “grace.”
No individual who continues in sin will acquire a redeemed body on the basis of mercy and forgiveness. Mercy and forgiveness operate to enable the sinner to repent and turn to the way of righteousness and holiness. It is righteous and holy behavior that results in eternal life (Romans 6:22).
Death is the result of sinful behavior. The person that sins will die spiritually, unless he repents, whether or not he believes in Christ.
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (I Corinthians 15:56)
God gives us victory over death by giving us victory over sin. When we are able to overcome sin through Christ we then are given access to the tree of life.
We reap what we sow. This may be the most neglected, most misunderstood Kingdom law in all modern Christian thinking and teaching.
The Lord Jesus Christ has come to give us victory over rebellion and lawlessness. He does this by breathing His eternal Life into us, by forming His Substance and Nature in us, by reconciling us to himself by judgment and tribulation, and by entering us through the Spirit, bringing the Father with Him.
There is enough grace here to enable us to conquer the world, Satan, and self-love. If we do so, when Christ comes He will clothe us with the righteous behavior He Himself has produced in us. This righteousness will be to us a house fashioned from the substance of eternal life.
What can we say then concerning I Thessalonians 4:13-18—that which will take place when the Lord appears in the clouds of heaven?
Of one fact we can be certain: no Christian who walks in unrighteousness will be arrayed in fine linen, in the robe of incorruptible life, because that robe is the righteous acts of saints.
Doesn’t this passage from I Thessalonians give the impression all believers in Christ will be raised from the dead, ascend to be with the Lord, and after that always be with the Lord where He is?
Yes, it does give us that impression. This is because our current practice is to see the writings of Paul in terms of our own standards of Christian behavior. We interpret “the dead in Christ” and “we which are alive and remain” to mean all who make a profession of faith in Christ.
When we read the epistles of Paul and notice his standard concerning the Christian saint, the normal believer, we find that contemporary Christian behavior is far below Paul’s expectations. For example, how many believers are presenting their body a living sacrifice to God as their reasonable service of worship?
A careful study of the whole New Testament shows that those who are to be raised when the Lord comes, who then are to ascend to meet Him and be revealed in glory, are the victorious saints. They have overcome the world, sin, and their self-love. They are not the typical believer of today.
What of the multitude of nominal Christians? We do not know. We do know, however, that each individual will receive the things done in his body. Those who have sown to eternal life will reap eternal life. Those who have sown to their flesh and self-love will reap their flesh and their self-love: that is, they will reap what is perishing, that which cannot enter the life, substance, and nature of the Kingdom of God.
It is not possible, in the Kingdom of God, to sow what is worthless and reap what is priceless, to sow disobedience and sin and reap glory and fellowship with God. It is taught today that the new covenant is a means of evading this basic Kingdom law. Such is not the case.
What about those who have died before they have had an opportunity to practice righteousness? This question frequently arises when one speaks of the life of victory, of the consequences of how we live the Christian life.
Sometimes the question merely is an attempt to evade the issue: “They didn’t have an opportunity to overcome and so I don’t have to.” The Lord would say to this individual, “What is that to you? Follow me.”
The question may be an expression of genuine concern for those who, because of conversion late in life or because they never had been taught beyond the first principles of redemption, lived what appears to us to be a nominal Christian life.
In the first place, only Jesus knows what goes on in the heart of any person.
In the second place, our whole concept of redemption is far too simplistic. Our neat little doctrinal formula has God all figured out. This will happen then. The other will take place later. There is no pain, correction, or growth after we die. The few who hear the Gospel and approve of it go to live in luxurious mansions forever, doing nothing of importance.
It is implied that the majority of earth’s people will be cast into the Lake of Fire, there to be tormented forever. It is a little doily patched together from tiny pieces torn from the galactic tapestry—a tapestry woven in the mind of God before He spoke the world into existence. Yet, many saints of God have performed righteousness and served Christ even with this limited understanding.
“Knowledge will be increased,” Daniel wrote, and so it may be true in our day that the Lord will help us gain a broader understanding of the Divine redemption.
Let us consider the following:
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)
An atonement has been made for the guilt of all the sins of mankind. It is an eternal atonement. There never again will be another sacrifice. The one sacrifice made by Christ on the cross of Calvary has satisfied God’s sense of justice and righteousness. God has been appeased with regard to the sins of men.
Because of this total, eternal atonement, guilt, as such, is not the principal issue of redemption. Guilt indeed does remain an issue until the Divine conditions are met, but the principal issue is that of correction. God gave the Lord Jesus Christ to us so we may be saved from sin, that is, that we may be spared from the penalty of sin until He has had a chance to make us righteous, holy, and obedient to God.
Our redemption is infinitely more than forgiveness for what we are. It includes this, but its main purpose is to change what we are until we are pleasing to our Creator.
Jesus forgave the guilt of mankind so mankind may be changed from the life and works of Satan to the life and works of God.
Christ died for the sins of mankind and therefore “owns” mankind.
Christ gives eternal life to whomever He will, as the Father directs Him.
Christ is the Judge of all creatures—men and angels (John 5:22).
After Christ rose from the dead He began the work of judging the creation, beginning with His elect (I Peter 4:15,17). Christ is seated on His judgment seat. Sooner or later all creatures must pass before Him.
The term Judgment Seat of Christ does not refer to a special judgment of believers that will take place during a short period of time after the believers are raised from the dead. The Judgment Seat of Christ has to do with the judgment of every creature regardless of when the judgment takes place. It includes the so-called “white throne judgment” (Revelation 20:11).
The Judgment Seat of Christ began when Christ sat down at the right hand of the Father and will conclude with the judgment that takes place at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ and His saints over the nations of the earth.
The judgment of God’s people, His elect, is taking place now (Matthew 3:12; I Corinthians 11:32; I Peter 4:17). This judgment results in a chastening of us so we will stop sinning and find peace in God’s will. All our guilt was forgiven by the atonement, provided we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the work of putting sin and rebellion out of our life.
The atonement for past sins has been made. The task now is the chastening of the creation, beginning with the saints. Each person who refuses Christ, or who accepts Christ but refuses to be corrected, will incur the Divine anger. He may suffer greatly as God attempts to bring him to redemption.
If he continues to stubbornly refuse to obey the Lord Jesus he will be excluded from the forgiveness produced by the atonement made on the cross. He will be cast into the everlasting torment.
- First, Christ Himself was perfected in obedience through suffering.
- Next, the saints are chastened and corrected.
- Finally, the nations of the saved will be chastened and corrected by the rod of iron in the hands of the saints.
All who believe in Christ and accept correction will be saved to eternal life in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. All who refuse Christ, or who refuse to be corrected by Christ, will be cast into torment.
The chastening of the individual commences in this life and very well may extend into the next (Luke 12:47). The exception to this is the believer who passes through the Judgment Seat of Christ while alive in the world. Such deliverance from bondage is possible but it requires strict cooperation with the Spirit of God, stern obedience to the Father. Christ alone determines when we have passed successfully through His Judgment Seat and have been purged of rebellion and lawlessness.
It is clear in II Corinthians 5:10, Luke 12:47,48, and similar passages that our correction will continue in the spirit realm. People will receive the evil they have practiced. Some will be assigned to the Lake of Fire without hope of reprieve.
The Song of Solomon 8:8,9 suggests a growth in the “relatives” of the Bride that will take place at some point in time. Also, the thousand-year Kingdom Age will be one of correction and teaching, as we understand it.
The destiny of the weak Christian is not set forth in the New Testament writings. All we know from the Scriptures is that we will receive the things done in our body, whether they have been good or bad. The glorious rewards go to those who overcome through Christ, but sinners never will enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem.
The Book of Hebrews is a warning to believers to not neglect their salvation. This one book alone is sufficient to reveal the error of the current overemphasis on “grace” as meaning a device whereby we evade the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.
There does come a time when our warfare has been accomplished, our iniquity has been pardoned (Isaiah 40:1,2).
Some human beings will share the fate of Satan and his angels, that is, they will be tormented forever without hope of being redeemed. This is a fate so terrible we are unable to grasp it. This is the maximum, ultimate sentence.
The bulk of mankind suffers in the world, and no doubt most of us will continue to be instructed in the next. There are the few lashes and the many lashes, the outer darkness, Hell, and finally the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. It is the last named that is the second death and the wicked will be cast into it.
What we Christians must come to understand is that the Lord God is interested in righteousness and obedience. We do not accept Christ in order to avoid punishment for our behavior but in order to gain the opportunity to repent and begin to do the things that are pleasing to God. The salvation that is in Christ enables us to be accepted of God by turning away from our former manner of living, by embarking on the program of transformation into righteous behavior.
Sinners always are in death. The righteous always are eligible for eternal life. This is the nature of cause and effect in the spirit realm. The Lord Jesus did not come to change the immutable laws of the spirit realm but to convert sinners to righteousness so they may gain eternal life.
The Christian redemption includes the forgiveness of our sins but is characterized primarily by raising us from the death of sin into the life of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct. When we conceive of salvation as a “ticket” to Heaven we are missing God’s purpose in bringing us to Christ.
God sends tribulation, pain, suffering, on all of us. Those who receive His Christ and who, through the grace of the Lord Jesus, wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, enter the Kingdom of God. Those who reject Christ, or who continue in sin, cannot enter the Kingdom of God. This is true in the present world and also in the world to come (Revelation 22:14,15).
We are saved, and we enter the Kingdom of God, through much tribulation (I Peter 4:18,19; 5:10).
The manifestation stage is the fourth part of the marriage of the Lamb. The redeeming of the bodies of the members of the Bride is the first aspect of the manifestation stage. It is the raising of our bones and flesh from the grave and the clothing of them with the white robe of incorruptible, righteous, eternal life.
The raising and glorifying of the saints is announced in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians, the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, and the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation (see also Isaiah 60:1-3; 61:10,11).
Until our body has been redeemed we cannot be joined together totally with the Lord Jesus; we cannot become visible in glory to the peoples of the earth; we cannot crush the forces of wickedness in the earth; and we cannot bring life and restoration to the material creation.
The raising and glorifying of our mortal body is a major goal of the Christian life. It is an important part of our “Canaan,” our land of promise. It is the hope offered by John 3:16. It is victory over the last enemy. It is the Good News of the Kingdom of God. It is the end of Satan’s dominion over us. It is the beginning of life as God meant life to be lived and enjoyed. It is the recovering of what was lost in Paradise because of the original sin.
It is the final step in the marriage of the Lamb.
We are joined together with the Lord Jesus.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6)
Why all these powerful voices? What is the occasion for the ascribing of glory to the Lord God of Heaven?
The marriage of the Lamb has come. His Wife has prepared herself. His Wife is clothed in immortal righteousness.
As far as the Lord Jesus Christ is concerned, this is the greatest of all moments. To Him, this is a greater event than His resurrection from the dead because it gives meaning to His life. Apart from His Wife the creation is meaningless.
There are multitudes of people who will be saved and live in the new world that is coming. There is only one Wife—she who has been redeemed from among the peoples of the earth as a firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. The love of Christ for her is very intense.
The Lamb has given His flesh and blood for her forgiveness and transformation and has worked patiently, according to the wisdom and power of the Father, to create her after the desire of His heart. He lives in her and she lives in and by Him.
One day He will have her by His side where He can see her and speak to her. Jesus has given His glory to her and wants the creation to know that she is of His Life, Substance, and Nature. She reveals His Personality, being one with Him in every element of her being.
The Lamb has surrendered His individuality in favor of being one with her, and she has surrendered her individuality in favor of being one with Him.
The Lamb has never before been married and no doubt never again will be in the future. The marriage of the Lamb is a unique event in eternity and is one of the major purposes for the creation of the universe.
Human marriage is a shadow of this stupendous event. God has brought forth on the body and blood of Christ a completion, a counterpart of Christ. God loves her as He loves Christ. She shines as He shines, being covered with His glory. She is His body, His fullness.
The marriage of the Lamb is the beginning of history; for all that has gone before is perishing and soon will be discarded.
The Song of Solomon speaks of two different kings and two different sets of “Israelites.”
The one king is Solomon. The daughters of Jerusalem adore and follow him. Solomon represents the pomp and finery of the Judaic-Christian religion, while the daughters of Jerusalem portray the worshipers who participate in the life and culture of the temples, synagogues, and churches.
The other king is not named but is referred to as the “beloved.” The shepherdess adores and follows him. The shepherdess portrays the often-despised remnant, the members of the true Bride who attempt to pursue their beloved amid the clamor and confusion of church life and programs. Their King, their Beloved, is the Lord Jesus. They are not satisfied with “Solomon,” with the elevation of men to power in the ecclesiastical systems.
They are not married to the churches, they are married to the Lord Jesus.
They are “black,” that is, they have been burned by the purifying fires of judgment (Song of Solomon 1:6). They are not “pretty” in the eyes of the church world but they are marvelously beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.
The true Wife is not in love with the house of God, as are the daughters of Jerusalem. Rather, she is in love with the Lord of the house of God. The Song of Solomon contrasts the daughters of Jerusalem, and those who do not fit well in the scheme of things because they long after the invisible Christ.
Jesus accepts the daughters of Jerusalem just as Eliezer accepted Laban and Rebecca’s family. But He is seeking “Rebecca”!
The Holy Spirit has come to the Christian churches of our day with all kinds of gifts and blessings. Many of the churches receive these gifts and blessings gladly and profit from them.
All this preliminary activity is necessary. However, Christ is seeking a select group—two or three here; one there. He is looking for those who are not content to be married to the church but are striving to find Him.
When all has been completed, “Solomon,” the ecclesiastical systems, will be paid off in “shekels.” The shekels are for Solomon and his helpers. But the Lamb and His Wife are for each other.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. (Solomon 8:12)
Christ is upholding the universe because hidden in it is a rare treasure whose price is far beyond rubies. The whole earth and its nations of people belong to the Lord Jesus, but there is one who gives it all purpose.
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. (Song of Solomon 2:14)
Each member of the Wife of the Lamb must climb “the secret places of the stairs.” The daughters of Jerusalem may be enjoying themselves hugely in the activities of the churches, but the Wife patiently climbs one difficult step after another, her love for Jesus bringing her through the long night of prolonged tribulations and trials.
She is being created as the completion of the Lord Jesus. No aspect of her personality can remain in its original state. All must be re-created in the Lamb. All must be made new. All must be of Christ, of God.
Only her God-given love for Him, and for Him alone, keeps her plodding along day by day—many times along paths she does not understand.
Why does He deal so rigorously? Why does He bring every motive into examination? It is because He is the Lamb, the Son of God, the Creator of all that is. We are the dust of the ground. He is lifting us to the throne that governs angels and men. It is not surprising that He is seeking a Bride without spot or wrinkle, without any kind of defect.
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. (Song of Solomon 6:8,9)
The above two verses signify that there are all sorts of people in the Lord’s family; but the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, is of special quality in the sight of the Lord.
We can observe the same distinction in the eighth chapter. We have those who are related to the Bride but are immature (Song of Solomon 8:8). The Bride herself is strong and mature and has found favor in the sight of the Lord.
The love of Christ for His Wife is extraordinarily intense:
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. (Song of Solomon 8:6,7)
This means the Wife of the Lamb is more precious in His eyes than the remainder of the creation.
The Lamb wants His Wife with Him:
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards. (Song of Solomon 4:8)
Whatever else may be true of the Scriptures, they are a love story. As soon as our relationship with Christ ceases to be a love story we become part of the “daughters of Jerusalem.” We grow skilled in the ways of the churches but lose that keen edge of closeness with the Person of the Lord. There are a multitude of duties to be performed in the churches, and many believers accomplish them with competence and diligence. Then there are a few people who dream of “lions’ dens” and “mountains of the leopards.”
There are Marthas and there are Marys. The Mary who waited for the resurrection of Jesus represents all the “Marys” who see past the things of the churches and desire to be with the Lord.
The Lord is bringing us to the place where we not only are in Him, and He in us, but we also are with Him.
… that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, … (John 17:24)
… so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
The Wife of the Lamb is a firstfruits to the Lord of the harvest of the earth. She shall be with Him forever.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
In the beginning Jesus is external to us. When we are unsaved we come to the external Jesus. After we believe, repent, are baptized in water, and then are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Lord begins the works of formation, reconciliation, and union. These are Divine operations that bring to perfection and union our inner, spiritual personality. The Lord is in us and we in Him.
Our body, the external part of our personality, remains dead because of the sin that abides in our flesh.
After the Lord completes His work in our spiritual personality He is ready to enter our external personality—our body. This He will do at the time of His appearing. He and we will appear at the same time. When Christ appears we also shall appear with Him in glory.
The redemption of our body and our appearing in glory with Him is the outward manifestation of the marriage of the Lamb. Now the Lord Jesus will take the greatest pleasure in presenting His Wife, His completion, His counterpart, to the host of Heaven and to the nations of the earth. It is clear that she bears His name and has received of the fullness of His Glory. Now Jesus has found pleasure and purpose in the creation and is ready to bring all Heaven and earth into line with His Person and His will.
There is no temple, no church in the new Jerusalem, in the Bride of the Lamb. God and the Lamb are the Temple of it. All the ecclesiastical trappings we associate with “church” are gone. They have been scaffolding that has served its purpose. The organs, pews, stained glass windows, steeples, altars, so dear to the heart of the devout, are needed no longer. Now we have Him. The churches have performed their role by making possible our marriage to Him.
Christ will not permit any kind of barrier, any type of institution or priesthood, to come between Him and His Bride.
The Wife of the Lamb is the new Jerusalem. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of the new Jerusalem. The saints will see God’s Face and serve him as sons. We are God’s eternal Tabernacle, the Body of Christ. His name, and the name of His city, have been written on us for eternity.
We have no concept of the intensity with which the Lord Jesus longs for the manifestation to take place. He yearns for the moment when we are with Him. He is upholding the creation with the operations the Father always performs through Him but His heart is thinking of something else. He thirsts. He thirsts for the hour when she is with Him. Everything lacks luster, significance, joy except as it pertains to her.
His wife is being prepared, and He is waiting at the right hand of the Father until every enemy has been made His footstool.
Let each of us do everything in his or her power to bring about the perfecting of the Bride of the Lamb so Jesus’ heart may be made glad.
How wonderful will be the day when we are joined together with the Lord Jesus!
The Lord and we become visible in glory to the peoples of the earth.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
… that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)
… that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles preached the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, is the Kingdom of God.
There is an internal kingdom and then there is an external kingdom. The formation, reconciliation, and union stages result in the developing and perfecting of the inner kingdom in the members of the Wife of the Lamb.
As soon as the internal kingdom has been perfected it is time for the external kingdom to be brought forth. The external kingdom is the revealing of what has been performed in the invisible spirit realm. The material creation, including the nations of those who are saved, is awaiting the revealing, the manifestation of the sons of God.
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints. Today the Kingdom of God is invisible to the eyes of the nations. The marriage of the Lamb will result in the coming of the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will in the earth. The glory of the Lamb and His Wife will be revealed in the sky for all people to behold.
Those who resist the appearing of the Lord and His Wife will be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon. The remainder will be saved. They will be governed by the saints with love coupled with the exercise of irresistible force. All rebellion shall be crushed.
The appearing of the Kingdom of God will be good news for the meek of the earth but bad news for those who desire to do as they wish apart from the will of Christ. The meek will inherit the earth. The wicked will be destroyed out of it.
The Kingdom will appear in glory. Nothing that corrupts or rebels against God will be permitted to remain in the earth; for the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord.
In the following two verses from Isaiah we can observe how the marriage of the Lamb results in the bringing of righteousness and praise to the nations of the earth. First there is the joy of the Lamb and His Wife over the manifestation of their marriage. After that, the coming of glory to the nations is proclaimed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:10,11)
“Before all the nations.”
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
The appearing of the Lamb and His Wife will cause a division in mankind. Those who hate God will fight against Christ and His saints and will be destroyed. The man of lawlessness and the False Prophet will both be cast alive (in their bodies) into the Lake of Fire. Those who love God will receive Christ and His saints and will be blessed by the Presence of God in His saints.
There only are two kinds of people in the world, in this context: those who love God and those who hate God; the righteous and the wicked; the wheat and the tares. The Lord Jesus Christ is the point of division.
Those who are of God receive Christ and His true saints. Those who are not of God will receive neither Christ nor His true saints. They are the tares, the wicked mentioned so many times in the Scriptures. The appearing of Jesus always results in a separating of the righteous from the wicked of the earth.
The appearing of Christ with His saints will cause multitudes of the meek of the earth to come to the Glory of the Lord being revealed in His people.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1,2)
Notice that the manifestation stage of the marriage of the Lamb will take place in the hour of earth’s greatest darkness. The same concept appears in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, where we see those who are blessed being called to the marriage supper (Revelation 19:9), but at the same time the going forth of the Lord with His linen-clothed armies to destroy the wicked of the earth (Revelation 19:11).
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3)
This is the appearing of the Kingdom of God in the earth, and the meek and righteous of the earth will come running to the light of God now appearing in His eternal Temple.
Notice that the peoples of the earth do not see the Lord or run to the Lord. Rather, they see the Glory of Christ in His saints and run to the saints. We are the Lord’s inheritance. The nations are our inheritance.
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)
This is the hour when the saints “take the kingdom.” It is the greatest of all revivals.
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)
The heart of the Lamb is in His Body, His Wife. It is His pleasure to fill her with His glory and to call those whom He has chosen to save to the festivities that will be celebrated in honor of the marriage.
The nations of the saved will be invited to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Presence of the Lord in His saints, to keep the feast of Tabernacles in this spiritual sense. Those who do not come to honor the Presence of God in His saints will be punished.
This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:19)
When God brings His Kingdom into the world, His royal priesthood, He expects the nations to pay homage to Himself in the nation He has chosen, which is true Israel. The nations of the earth that scorn the Presence of God in His elect will perish.
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)
It is true even today that people who assist and show mercy toward God’s chosen are rewarded by the Lord. Those who, knowing an individual is a servant of Christ, do not assist but rather injure that person, will be dealt with harshly by the Lord. He who rejects the true saint rejects Christ Himself, and he who rejects Christ rejects God and will be treated accordingly.
This Kingdom principle does not apply to the self-seeking, self-aggrandizing churches. They are not God’s chosen, the brothers of Christ. God will use the unsaved to cast down the self-seeking churches, for such churches are not the servants of the Lord. Babylon (man-directed Christianity) will be burned with fire by the ten kings who serve Antichrist, and the Lord’s apostles and prophets will rejoice because Babylon has always murdered the true saints.
The most important work of the two thousand years that have elapsed since the birth of Jesus has been the forming of the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ. Soon it will be time for the revealing of the Wife, although first must come the latter-rain revival, and then the great tribulation.
Much work remains to be done and it will be accomplished quickly. The Spirit of God will bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth, the hour of tribulation will purify the Bride of the Lamb, and then it will be time for the Kingdom of God to enter the material realm.
The peoples of the nations are to repent and embrace the good news. We, the saints, as the Lord directs, are to go to every city and village under the heaven, casting out devils, healing the sick, and announcing the good news of the soon coming of the Kingdom to the earth.
The peoples who receive us will be saved in the Day of the Lord, as was true of Rahab of Jericho. The city or village that does not receive the true saints of God will be destroyed in the Day of Christ.
The Day of God Almighty is at hand and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will be joined together with His Wife. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).
The Wife is true Israel and her city is Jerusalem. We who were born Gentiles have been made a part of true Israel in that we have become a part of Christ. We will not permit the current Christian teaching to rob us of our inheritance in Israel, in the Wife of the Lamb.
We (the Lord and we) crush the forces of wickedness in the earth. War and destruction do not delight the heart of the true saint for he or she is a person of peace. War and destruction do not delight the heart of God, for He also is a Person of peace. God’s preferred expression of His Son is the “Lamb,” for the lamb is the meekest of animals. God much prefers meekness and gentleness.
There has been a rebellion against God and it must be crushed. There is a time for war, and when that time arrives the war must be pursued with the same vigor we apply to the pursuit of peace.
We do not enjoy the prospect of crushing the wicked, much preferring that they would repent and serve the Lord. But as we look about us in the world of today and see what the demons are doing through people, we are ready to ride with Christ in the attack of Armageddon.
The corrupting and destroying of all God has created, all that is decent, wholesome, edifying, lovely, must be stopped. It must be stopped totally. It must be crushed. The memory of Satan and all who follow Satan must be removed from the creation for eternity.
The lukewarm Christian is apathetic about removing all evil from the earth. The true saint, the member of the Wife of the Lamb, is not apathetic about removing evil from the earth. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. He is grieved exceedingly (although not fretted) by what is taking place today.
He longs for the giving of crowns of authority and power to the saints so they may be able to govern with a rod of iron, overpowering and eliminating all resistance to the rule of God in Christ. Satan himself will be crushed beneath their feet (Romans 16:20).
But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:23,24)
We have the promise of God, the directive of God. Christ is waiting until His enemies have been made his footstool. We of the Body of Christ are being prepared for the hour when God decrees that His enemies (and ours) are to be driven from the earth.
The tribes of Israel did not exercise the diligence and courage necessary to drive the enemy from their land. They were slothful and weak in this respect. We are to learn from their example and be diligent and courageous in casting out Satan and his forces from the earth, as our heavenly Joshua leads us.
Not one sin is to remain. Not one act of rebellion or lawlessness. The believers who are not determined to destroy sin from the presence and memory of mankind are not ready to be members of the Wife of the Lamb. They still are part of the problem, part of the rebellion against God.
They are not persuaded God is right and Satan is wrong. If they are to be saved they must be taught by the sons of God. The nations themselves will be smashed and governed by a rod of iron. This is because lawlessness and rebellion are so deeply ingrained in mankind.
The Wife of the Lamb is beautiful in holiness and ready to drive the enemy from the Lord’s (and her) earth.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. (Song of Solomon 6:4)
This is why the invasion of the earth by the armies of linen-clothed saints takes place immediately after the marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7,8).
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
The decisive battle cannot be fought until the saints conquer the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11). Those who ride with Christ in that Day are called, chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:14). They are “a great people and a strong.” They are the Lord’s “troops” (Habakkuk 3:16), the army of Christ (Joel 2:11).
As we stated before, the Divine redemption is a correcting of mankind, commencing with the saints—with those who are closest to the Lord. When we present the Christian salvation as primarily the forgiving of people we miss the point. The Christian salvation indeed does include the forgiving of people but with a view to their correction, their change from the ways of Satan to the ways of God.
Imputed (assigned) righteousness is a temporary provision. God is seeking actual righteousness on the part of His saints, and also on the part of everyone on the earth. The Kingdom of God brings about actual righteousness—the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.
The saints themselves must be purified from all sin and rebellion. When they are purified they will work with Christ in purifying the remainder of the saved creation. Unfortunately, not all men will accept Christ, or God’s correction. The rebels will be cast into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
There is no sin that is acceptable in God’s sight. All sin must be driven from the earth.
It is not possible that someone can ride with Christ in the Day of the Lord on the basis of imputed (ascribed) righteousness. Those who ride with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. They are called of the Lord. They are chosen because they have decided to turn away from all else and follow Jesus. They are faithful because they have kept their vow throughout the pressures and pains with which they have been tested.
The saints will execute vengeance on the nations and will chastise those peoples whom God is redeeming.
To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; (Psalms 149:7)
The wicked will attempt to resist the invasion of the earth by Christ and His saints, but to no avail.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1)
And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)
Thus far we have discussed four Divine works that are associated with the manifestation stage of the marriage of the Lamb:
- The redeeming of the bodies of the members of the Bride.
- Our being joined together with Jesus.
- Our becoming visible to the peoples of the earth.
- Our being given the authority and power of God for the purpose of cleansing all wickedness from the earth.
When we consider the awesome implications of these four aspects of redemption we can appreciate the necessity for the formation, reconciliation, and union stages of the marriage of the Lamb. Consider the present spiritual condition of the members of the Christian churches, and then imagine the chaos that would ensue if they suddenly were made immortal, joined with Jesus, made visible to the peoples of the earth, and given authority and power over the nations of the earth.
God is not foolish, neither does He place people in situations for which they are unprepared. Men do this sometimes, but God is careful to direct those who trust Him into areas of growth and service suitable to their maturity and ability. The wise placement of Christians on the earth is evident, and the Christian mystics, such as Sundar Singh, teach us that appropriate placement of people occurs in the spiritual world where we go when we die physically.
The final aspect of the manifestation stage we will mention, is the role of the members of the Bride in bringing eternal life to the dead creation.
We bring life and restoration to the material creation. The waters of eternal life flow from the personalities of the members of the Wife of the Lamb.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)
Blessed is every person who is called to the marriage supper of the Lamb because the waters of life will flow in abundance from the Wife of the Lamb.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Pentecost is characterized by the outpouring of the Spirit of God on us.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles is characterized by the springing up of a well of water from the depths of our personality. When the Lord Jesus is crowned King on the throne of our personality, the waters of eternal life begin to flow from the throne. As this takes place we become a tree of life.
It is the “trees of life” who will sustain the seekers after God, especially the believing Jews, during the hour of trouble that soon is to fall on the earth. These same trees of life will nourish the material creation throughout eternity to come.
Eternal life springs from those who have entered the union stage of the marriage of the Lamb.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2,3)
Notice that the abundance of union and life is ours after the reconciliation stage has been accomplished:
And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. (Isaiah 12:1)
The material creation, including the inhabitants thereof, is dead because of the curse of God that has been placed on it. It awaits, in its corruption and futility, the living touch of the Wife of the Lamb.
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
The members of the Wife of the Lamb will pass throughout the earth bringing spiritual life and freedom to all who were not destroyed in the Divine fury of Armageddon. They are the trees of life. Those who eat of their fruit will live, and their “leaves” are for the healing of the nations.
The forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel portrays the judgment and reconciliation of the saints, their entrance into life in ever-increasing fullness, and then their ministry of life to the dead creation.
The reconciling judgment is portrayed by “the man that had the line in his hand” (verse 3).
The entrance of the members of the Wife into ever-increasing depths of eternal life is typified by the waters “to the ankles,” “to the knees,” “to the loins,” and finally by the waters “to swim in” (verses 3-5).
As soon as the process of judgment and life has been completed, the waters of eternal life will flow from the saints into the “dead sea” of humanity, bringing the creation into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
Now will the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Now will the Lord’s trees of life bring deliverance to mankind. Now will the redemption performed on the cross of Calvary be revealed as to the full effects of its authority. Now will the Lord Jesus see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. (Ezekiel 47:7-9)
Because the Wife of the Lamb has been called to the highest throne of the universe her training is full of prolonged, tiring, and sometimes painful hardships. Only those Christians who are willing to give their first attention and energies to their discipleship have any hope of arriving at the first resurrection from the dead, that is, at the level of spiritual readiness that will enable them to be raised from the dead and glorified without further judgment and reconciliation.
Any individual may choose to be one of Jesus’ conquerors, one of His victorious saints. Remember, the gate is small and the road is narrow and full of obstacles. Through His grace you can overcome every obstacle. Only believe.
Indescribable glory is waiting for those who endure to the end.
(“The Marriage of the Lamb”, 3529-1)