The Burden for the Bride
This is the first of two articles the Father has developed within my heart concerning His ultimate end times purposes to bring forth His Bride from within the church. The Father has constantly put forth plumb lines of reference through this ministry for steering our hearts straightway to the eternal. These two articles follow in that train and will help you navigate through the end time prophetic “noise, rumoring and prognosticating” out there.
The Father’s theme today is on the Bride. And it is important that as we start, you not be put off by the thought of another time-worn discussion on “the Bride” as it has come to be popularized in passionist circles. This is not another romance article bedecked with sweet flashing crosses, hearts and doves with flapping wings. It is not an article of fluttering emotive palpitations coming from the adolescent intercessory virgin pool.
An Obedience-Centered Lover
The Bride is a corporate companion for Christ who is fit and meet and equal to Him in perfected character and nature in every way except that She is created, not uncreated (meaning, She will never be or become God). Further, She has become perfected by following the Lord’s exacting footsteps in pursuing the Father as Jesus did when He walked among us. That simple. It is the Father and Son’s Burden to bring forth this Companion from His creation.
As Jesus unflinchingly walked out the path of the Father’s will, so this redeemed Body walks out that same path to the point that She qualifies to be clothed with the same glory with which He is clothed (Rom. 8:17; II Tim. 2:12). This resolute out-walking commands the definition of corporate brideship—a body formed from the courses of the many individual sons brought to glory (Heb. 2:10).
In this understanding of the Bride, all passion for the Lord follows on Her devotion to the fearful fiery will of the Father, not the other way around (Heb. 12:29; I Pt. 4:18). The Bride first negotiates the Lord as the “Judge, King and (then) Bridegroom” of Her own life before She ever sees Him as “Bridegroom, (then) King and Judge” (of the rest of the world) as prominently taught in the Passion movement.
If we have not first dealt with the Lord as Judge of our sin and King over our lives, we are not ready to know Him in passion as our Bridegroom nor is he ready to reveal Himself as such to us (Jn. 14:21,23). And if all we have is an emotional relationship with Him based merely on our experience of “His Presence” under His Cloud of corporate abiding, we are mere “teeny-boppers” on the order of the girls who once swooned over the Beatles—who will be as equally swayable by the emotive seductions of the man of sin when he finally appears. (Mark this, for it is what characterizes the depth of much worship today in the passionist Laodicean church.)
Before Earth’s Foundation
To understand God’s Burden for the Bride, we have to go back to time before time. We have to go back to life “from before the foundation of the world” when the Lamb was first slain (I Pt. 1:19-20/Rev. 13:8 KJV). This is the “oldest” event on record. It is the eldest event, the primordial event from which all subsequent creatorial event flows.
In another (as yet unpublished) place, we have written of how the entire purpose of the Creation was to provide a stage for the out-worked proving of the Christ’s capacity to perfectly steward Divine Passion under government of Divine Will. We have contended that it was for the manifest display of that perfected resolution within the divine heart that the creation story was brought forth. In our advisory on distinctive teachings, it is spoken this way:
In His eternal counsels, God has established the entire Creation story--its fall and redemption—as a theater for working out a mysterious "manifest reconciliation" of His own Passion to His Sovereign Will in Holiness. Specifically, God's ultimate purpose in Creation and the plan of salvation is to prove and display through Christ His chief attribute of perfected Holiness by demonstrating in Him the supremacy of His Eternal Will over His own Passion for His Creation…. Christ, and God's "need" to display His perfected Holiness through Him—not man and his need for salvation—is at the center of God's eternal heart and purpose.
Intrinsic (but not central) to this creational outworking was the coming forth of a Bride for the Son. The promise of this Bride, serving to evoke His passion, was to become the Son’s universal trophy for successfully proving such indefatigable love for the Father over and above His Own Passion for His Bride-to-be.
Allow me to repeat the phrase “intrinsic but not central.” It is the Father, not the Bride, who would always and forever remain the core reference point of the Son’s divine love. And it was the Son’s perfection, not the Bride’s salvation, which would always and forever remain the core reference point of the Father’s divine love. Any other emphasis on the Bride leads to worship, idolization and deification of the Bride—absolutely forbidden!
Thus we see that the Son’s quest to win His Bride, being set from before earth’s foundation (Eph. 1:4) was in order to prove God’s higher quest to demonstrate the superiority and command of His Will over His own passion through Christ, being the “whyfore” of the Lamb’s eternally conceived slaying. This is in fact the exact meaning behind Hebrews 2:10,
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons [ie, His Bride] to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
That manifested Perfection in the Son is the raison d'ętre of the entire creation story. Those sufferings were endured to test the Son’s capacity to subject His Divine Passion to Father’s Divine Will. And the obtaining of His Bride was ordained to be the literal ground for that proving.
This is the unrealized story in silhouette behind John 3:16 and the New Testament’s entire exposition of and appeal to our salvation. See here! Neither the Father nor the Son has ever been firstly governed by His passion for the Bride-to-be. Rather, the ordeal of procuring the Bride was ever for proving in the Son the government of the Father’s will over His Own passion!
Oh, how it is impossible to overstate the criticality of this unfathomable realization amidst our current humanist-centered, emotion-drunk concept of salvation and brideship! It was never ever finally about us. It has always been about Him!
Restating the Foundation of the Divine Burden
We have now established the foundation of God’s Divine Burden for securing a Bride for His Son. Again, that Burden was and remains to facilitate the superior pre-creational Burden of proving the Son’s capacity of subjecting Divine Passion to Divine Will. Jesus would win His Bride only through successfully passing the holy obstacle course of that proven government. In this quest, the Son Himself must directly participate through the path of the cross.
The foundation of this Burden explains exactly why in coming to seek and save that which was lost, the Son never once referenced His own passion for the world—not even in John 3:16. Not a single “I love you” spoken throughout His public ministry. He always referenced His obedient love for His Father (see Jn. 14:31). And when He finally confessed His direct love to His disciples in private (John 15), He did so again only in terms of that same obedience to the Father. No swooning heart palpitating expressions here! No secret romance between “two lovers.” Always is the Father present.
And thus, the proving of this obedience was the ultimate reason the Son had to die. As we said it in the advisory:
"The Lamb did not have to die because man sinned; man sinned because the Lamb had to die."
The perfection of the Lamb, not the winning of the Bride, was the arch purpose from before the beginning. Truly, this is “God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;” (I Cor. 2:7). It is the real meaning of first love.
This foundation brings us to immediately consider the contrast with Adam. You see, Jesus is referred to as the “second Adam” (I Cor. 15:45, 47). According to Paul here and in Romans 5:19, Jesus was to do right what Adam did wrong. Jesus was to go back and correct the error made by Adam. He was to prove that He alone could do right what Adam failed to do right.
We know of course that Adam sinned. But we need to explore the context for that sin. Because the context is everything. For the context of the first man’s failure will also govern that of the Second Man’s success. And here it is:
Adam sinned in context of relationship to his bride!
What happened? We all know what happened. Eve was beguiled by the serpent. Eve was seduced to disobey God by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge.
But the main character cited for sin in Romans is not Eve. It is Adam. Adam is the one pinpointed for blame. Jesus is not called the “second Eve.” He is called the “second Adam.” He came to get right what Adam got wrong, not what Eve got wrong (though by extension it includes what Eve got wrong).
So what did Adam get wrong? What did Adam do? How did he sin that Jesus had to do it over right?
Adam failed precisely in relationship to his passion for his bride. Adam failed to steward his passion for Eve under government of his love for the Father. Adam listened to Eve rather than to his Father. Whatever Adam was thinking when he took that fruit from her hand, the bottom line is that he put his desire for Eve ahead of his Father’s will.
Some Bible teachers try to paint Adam’s sin as a noble altruistic act of love. Adam reasoned (say they) that, given the consequences of what Eve had just done, she would now be alone from God and him forever, and to spare her from having to die alone, he was willing to selflessly die with her by eating the forbidden fruit.
This idea of Adam’s altruism is pure poppycock. First of all, the story contradicts such an interpretation. If Adam had been so altruistic, he would not have blamed Eve for what he had done when giving account to God for it! Second, this interpretation exalts emotive love above the true love of obedience. It is not based in the true love of God. This is the stuff Romeo and Juliet novels are composed of, not the word of God.
The fact is, there is no such thing as “selfless sin.” All disobedience to the Father is ultimately self-centered, no matter how it might be painted otherwise by passion. The fact of the sin defies the proposition of the selflessness. “Selfless passion” for another is still “selfish sin” if it must directly disobey God to express itself.
We must be clear. Adam disobeyed a personal command inside of eternal life, not a legal command under the knowledge of good and evil toward a “higher grace” (as these teachers might frame it). You cannot selflessly disobey a living command from God. You can passionately disobey God. But you cannot lovingly disobey God. It is an oxymoron. This is the line between passion and true love, between eros and agape.
Thus however sliced, Adam still sinned. He sinned by elevating commitment to his own passion for Eve above commitment to his obedience to the Father. Whatever motive Adam had relative to his passion in eating the forbidden fruit does not matter. It does not matter if you picture him as “selfless” or “thoughtless.” In the end, all that matters is that Adam put his passion for his bride above his commitment to his Father.
This is what it is all about. This is what Adam got wrong. He loved Eve (meaning his own passion for Eve) more than he loved the Father. His passion superseded his will. He failed to steward his passion under the government of his Father’s will in relationship to his bride. And it is this sin that the second Adam was specifically foreordained to repudiate and atone by obtaining His Bride in absolute conformity to His Father’s will.
With that understood, our understanding of the Burden for the Bride can proceed…..
The Spirit of Eliezer: Searching for the Bride
The Genesis 24 story of Abraham’s search for a wife for his son serves as a spiritual type of the Heavenly Father’s ages-long plan to find the Bride for His Son. The featured character in Abraham’s story is Eliezer, Abraham’s chief steward. Abraham sends Eliezer out into the land from which Abraham came to locate the perfect bride, who is Rebekah.
In the heavenly reality, the featured searcher is the Holy Spirit. The Heavenly Father has sent the Holy Spirit into the world since Christ’s ascension to work to gather out a people for the Son from every tongue, tribe, race and nation—a people that will be called and set apart exclusively unto Him to be His companion forever and ever. The Holy Spirit bears the Father’s Burden for the Bride throughout this age.
So it is that throughout the Book of Acts and to this day, the Holy Spirit is the arch player and prime mover for the execution of the gospel mission around the world. The Holy Spirit “proceeded from the Father and the Son” to seek us just as Eliezer was sent of Abraham.
The Genesis story tells us that Eliezer was specifically commissioned to go to a certain land and people from whence to derive Isaac’s bride. In the same way, the Holy Spirit has been specifically appointed regarding the lands and their times into which He is sent to bring forth this bridal people for the Lord Jesus. In Acts 16:7, Paul, relying on the Spirit, searches for direction as to where to go next. He wants to go to Bithynia, but “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.”
All of this demonstrates the orchestrated nature of the Father’s inscrutable wisdom in bringing forth the bridal plan of salvation, generation by generation, and continent by continent.
The Spirit of Elijah: Culling for the Bride
But in the plan for obtaining the Bride, there is not only an earthwide search, but also a refining selection process from among all who answer the Spirit’s call. Many are sought and brought in. But only few are the chosen from among the many (Mt. 22:14). Not only is there an in-gathering. There is also an “out-culling.”
According to this ordained design, hearers at certain times in certain lands will be brought into the nets of the kingdom (Mt. 13:47-50), wherein followers will be separated out from mere hearers, and faithful enduring followers will be further separated out from half-hearted, fair-weather and regressive followers. In every time and place that the Spirit has gone, His search for the Bride has been characterized by this multi-tiered sifting, beginning with Jesus’ own original ministry.
We saw how Eliezer portrays the Spirit’s broad searching heart call to earth’s peoples. We would identify this with today’s gift of evangelism. By contrast however, the Spirit’s culling mission is represented by Elijah. The Elijah spirit, which was passed down through John the Baptist and continues to this day, is the Spirit of preparation and perfecting of the Bride from among the called people.
It is with respect to this Elijah role of “making ready” a bridal people that John the Baptist refers to himself as the Friend of the Bridegroom (Jn. 3:29). Paul displays this same Friend’s spirit of perfected bridal sifting where he seeks to present the Corinthians as a chaste virgin to Christ while acknowledging that their internal dissensions are for proving those who are truly [bridal] approved (II Cor. 11:2; 19).
The layered unfolding nature of this ingathering reveals exactly what the Holy Spirit is seeking to bring forth by way of a Bride. Not all hearers will compose the Bride. Not all believers will compose the Bride. Not all followers will compose the Bride. No. A perfecting process is required of a complete hearer, believer and follower to become approved as part of the Bride of Christ. (For more on this distinction between the general church and the selected bride, please see Part 10 from The Woman and Manchild: Key to Understanding the Church Age.)
The Book of Esther tells us of another king’s search for a bride. In this story, we read of a kingdom wide search for young virgins who then must pass through various treatments in order to qualify for consideration as the king’s bride. This story portrays both the Spirit of Eliezer and Elijah, the spirit of the search and the spirit of the preparation. The king’s men had to first seek out virgins from the entire land. But then the virgins had to pass through various “beauty treatments” before being considered by the king:
[S]he had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. Est. 2:12 NIV
In this process of bridal preparation, we are speaking of the same process by which Christ Himself was perfected. Due to the plant crushing process by which it is derived, myrrh is prophetically associated with suffering. As Christ demonstrated and fulfilled the perfect submission of passion to divine will unto crucifixion in the quest for His Bride, so the Bride is made to be His perfect companion by equally sharing in the same process of suffering (Phil. 3:10).
The Bride-to-be must learn to subject Her passions to the divine will of the Father in all things, even unto death. It is here that Her compatibility for marriage to the Son is found. The Son’s eternal purpose is to prove His perfect subjection of passion for Her to Father’s will in winning Her. Her eternal purpose is to be that reciprocal demonstration of subjecting Her passions for men to Father and Son’s will in winning and/or relating to them. Whoever fails of this is unworthy of brideship (Mt. 10:37-38).
Further, the aspiring Bride must go on to discover the fullness of inner healings and wholeness out of those passion-crucifying sufferings. This is indicated by the “perfumes and cosmetics” in Esther’s story. She must be anointed with the oil of gladness before the king as Jesus Himself was anointed with gladness (Ps. 45:7). Many in the culling have endured the sufferings, but have failed to find the Lord’s healing (Heb. 12:13). They have been too wounded to be healed.
So it is that only those who are able to “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” in like perfecting process of suffering and healing are able to be joined to Him at the level of intimate bridal union. These things have defined the Spirit’s search for the Lamb’s bride from the beginning until now. The search actively continues! And so does the preparation.
In all, we see that to be a virgin makes not one a Bride. The virgins must be culled. Today’s “bridal” movement is actually a “virgins” movement undergoing the Spirit’s proving.
Correctly Calibrating Heaven’s End Times Clock
We live in a period of world history spiritually known as the “end times.” The feature expectation of these times is for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We all want to know when Jesus will come back. In consort with this is the observing of various signs and wonders informing us of the Lord’s nearness of arrival. This expectation has been especially active since the mid-19th century.
But the culmination of these times in Christ’s return cannot be rightly appreciated apart from the Divine Burden for the Bride. The Lord’s return is predicated on the Bride’s readiness for that return.
We have to understand that the Lord is not returning according to an appointed “set time” on a heavenly prophetic alarm clock. No. Rather, the time of His return is utterly keyed to the completion and readiness of His bridal people who are to be joined to Him—a people who must have first obtained the “fullness of His stature” through sufferings and healings to be made fit for joining to Him (Ephesians 4).
Therefore expectation of the Lord’s return is not and cannot fundamentally be about signs and wonders. Rather, signs and wonders themselves serve as points of testing of readiness. The Spirit uses our responses and attitudes toward signs and wonders in His determinations of our readiness for presentation to the Son at the midnight call. (More on this in the next part.)
In the end, we must see that heaven’s clock is not calibrated to the signs of the times but to the Father and Son’s Burden for the Bride—specifically to Their purposes and expectations attending that Burden. It is not as much about our waiting for Him, as it is His waiting on us for our completed development. And it is to this Burden therefore that our expectancy for the Lord’s return must also be fundamentally calibrated.
Five Offerings of Purpose
In our recent series on Revelation, we noted the difference between two kinds of expectancies for the Lord’s return illustrated by a wife and children awaiting “hubby’s” return from work. We saw that the children look for the husband’s return by going to the front window to count the cars coming down the street, guessing which car is dad’s. In contrast, the wife looks for husband by working to get a meal ready for him.
The children are focused on the “signs” of dad’s return. The readying wife is focused on meeting her man with a pleasing, acceptable “offering.”
According to the scriptures, at least five tracks of purpose must be fulfilled in order for the age to conclude and the Lord return for His Bride. These are purposes in which the Bride herself must participate to show her readiness in bringing forth that acceptable meal offering for her returning husband. These purposes are:
1. The gospel of the kingdom must be fully preached throughout the world (Mt. 24:14)
2. A full number of gentile peoples must be brought into the kingdom (Rom. 11:25),
3. A full remnant of the Jewish people must be restored to the Lord in the land of Israel to complete the one new man and trigger the resurrection (Rom. 11:15, 26)
4. A determined full number of martyrs for the gospel must be received under heaven’s altar (Rev. 6:11)
5. A decisive restoration of the church out of a corrupted state of worship must transpire by the Spirit of Elijah. (Acts 3:21 with Mt. 17:11; Mal. 4:5-6; I Ki. 18:30)
Each of these purposes constitutes an offering to the Lord. (See Rom. 15:16 for instance where Paul describes the bringing in of the Gentiles as an offering.) We can think of them all together as a “five course meal offering.”
The last course of purpose—the church’s restoration—is of special interest because it deals precisely with establishing the readiness of the Bride. We are being specifically told that the Lord cannot return until the Elijah spirit has sufficiently prepared (“restored”) the Bride on behalf of the Bridegroom.
Our immediate point however is that the Bride’s perfection is developed over her own investment in these five tracks of purpose. And her own perfection is synchronized to their completion. It is through her participation in completing these purposes that the Bride is brought to her readiness for receiving the Lord.
Signs vs. Purposes: Temporal Expectancy vs. Eternal Readiness
So it is therefore that we cannot afford to be tunnel-focused on signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are designed to excite our temporal expectancy, and we must have excited expectancy. Such expectancy adds to our purification (I Jn. 3:2-3).
But temporal expectancy is not eternal readiness, and it is to eternal readiness that the Bridegroom’s return is keyed, not our temporal expectancy. Eternal readiness in turn depends on our devotion to our own inner perfection process through investment into the appointed offerings of purpose above—all of which require completion for the Lord to return.
Again, it is to this summary accomplishment of purpose that heaven’s clock is calibrated. The signs will keep coming, and our expectancy should be awakened whenever they appear; but until these Eliezer and “Elijah tasks” are accomplished, the only message the signs can send is “please stand by.”
Today, the body of Christ is divided into three groups:
· those seeking only after signs and wonders in prognosticating the time of the Lord’s return,
· those devoted only to purposes of kingdom engagement with no meaningful near expectancy of the Lord’s return, and
· those maintaining a sense of imminent expectancy set upon a foundation of major purpose investment.
It is the last group who will comprise the Bride. The remainder are concluded in some degree of unbelief, but may yet qualify for entrance into the wedding supper and visitation rights into the Bridal City as long as they continue to “clean their garments” (Rev. 22:14).
Today’s ongoing eschatological controversies over signs and wonders with their susceptibility to hijacking under the specter of the man of sin leads us to part 2 of our study on the Bride:
the Battle for the Bride…..
Exchanging Burdens with the Father
A Word to the Readers Circle
When it comes to our own issues of pressure in this world, Jesus tells us to exchange yokes and burdens with Him. "Come to Me," He says, "all you heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take on my yoke....my burden is light." There is a reason the Father is sharing with us about His Burden for the Bride for His Son. It is not just to tickle our ears with more prophetic illumination. It is so we can enter into more practical covenant with Him in regard to our own burdens.
In this life, we are surrounded and pressed upon by many cares, especially those of us given to ministry and walking by faith. The more you walk by faith, the more natural capacity you give up for taking care of yourself and your own. The more mental capacity you give up, the more vulnerable you feel. Even small things for which you gave up the right and power and obligation to care for yourself become magnified.
And so the more vulnerable you feel, the heavier a burden you feel against the tide of life. Walking by faith magnifies the sense of natural burdens.
But it is precisely here that the Father also calls us to exchange internal burdens with Him and the Son. All these magnified burdens need to be exchanged for His Burden. What is His Burden? It is for His Bride. It is for His Church. It is for His Kingdom.
So if we will let go of whatever is pressing us and instead make the "mental shift" to take on His single minded Burden, He will supernaturally pick up for us regarding the multiplicity of natural burdens that become our lot due to our increased vulnerability through having sacrificed our own pursuits and abilities in this world. (You do understand that "mental shift" is the definition of "repentance." Saints, we are always repenting in order to keep living by faith.)
Anyway, this is His New Covenant with us. It is a covenantal exchange of mind and heart we are talking about. I encourage you to take up the Father's Burden for the Bride in exchange for whatever it is that is increasingly burdening your sense of vulnerability in this world due to your increasing faith walk.
There is Life in what I am talking about. Paul told us to know "nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Yet Jesus said that in knowing Himself, "this is Eternal Life." So, in knowing the crucified Christ, there is Eternal Life. In knowing Him in His death, we also are given to know Him in His Eternal Life that will never ever fail us. The longer you go on in your faith journey, the more important and real this becomes. This is what we all need right now.
Allow me to encourage you to re-read this article yet once more, not from a perspective of prophetic information, but from one of covenantal exchange. Read this again, telling the Father you want to cash in on His Burden for the Son's Bride, which is extremely simple, and therefore light, in exchange for all your other burdens over the this-es and the thats.
Start focusing on His desire for a purified people in the church you attend. You'll be surprised at the peace that passes all understanding and the love that overcomes all fear that you will find as you wait for the dust to settle over remaining shards of broken dreams, "failed words" and whatever else of this life meanwhile keeps besetting or even taunting and screaming at you to take action ("Save yourself, you fool, come on down off that cross if you really are a son of God!")
Start letting your angels do their jobs in ministering to you as an heir of salvation instead of trying to keep picking up the tab for your own life. Stick to the Father's care for the Bride in the face of every assaulting thought about your pressing needs. The angels will do the rest. Just get out of their way.....
Focus, people, really focus on that exchange.....
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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