His Bride, the Overcomer
In each dispensation, according to revelation as then given, the Lord provided a way to attain perfection. Also, there were “representative” men who were examples of what the Lord required.
“Enoch walked with God….” Genesis 5:22
“…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9
“…The Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be you perfect.” Genesis 17:1
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Job 1:1
The Scriptures show that Jesus required perfection (growth into spiritual maturity).
“Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
The word “perfect” refers to our being spiritually mature. Paul also testified to this, and to the faithful assistance that God will render to all who seek to fulfill His will.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly….” I Thessalonians 5:23
Experiential blessings gained in one dispensation move into the following age, where they are enlarged and enjoyed. For example, Abraham became the father of all those who are “justified by faith” (Romans 4:8-16). The patriarchal period required a perfect walk with God. The dispensation of Law required the same, with additional ceremonial and moral obedience and sanctity. The Spirit dispensation requires a higher sanctity, along with an obedience to the leadings and workings of the Holy Spirit.
We are living in the “time of restoration” (Ephesians 1:10-11). Our privileges of experience are the highest ever known, since the attainments of the past increase, in the present. Healing, health, holiness, a walk with God, and a life in the Spirit are ours, bequeathed to us by past dispensational grants. All these are by way of restoration, and are given to us in a higher degree than formerly. And yet other “new” dispensational privileges, are being added as our inheritance in Christ.
Jesus Christ is taking from among the Church a “Bride” to Himself. This is a great condescension. For the Christ to take upon Himself the nature and form of man was certainly very humbling. But to take a Bride company from among men and then live through eternity with this Bride, in close association and fellowship, is beyond the comprehension of finite creatures.
A common teaching is that all classes of believers, regardless of their lack in attainment, will be part of the “Bride of Christ.” His Kingdom is altogether different and apart from the earth realm in which man is found. How entirely unreasonable then, to suppose that Jesus Christ would consider and accept as His Bride, immature Christians, who have never sighted, entered, or operated in this higher spiritual plane. The conduct of affairs in His Kingdom will be on this high Spirit plane.
We cannot sow in the realm of the natural and reap in the realm of the Spiritual. “Like begets like” is an inherent law. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9 NAS
“His bride has made herself ready.” The Lord is seeking out and qualifying a Bride. A clear vision and a practical understanding of the state and experience which is the divine standard for this calling is essential, if one is to enter this high calling. We must know and attain to God’s requirements.
In past ages, in order to prepare a bride as a queen for her intended King, there were elaborate, prolonged schooling and various preparations that were required of her. Such an occasion is recited in Esther 2:8-13. See further Psalm 45:13-14.
Insight into the character and nature of Jesus Christ will help us to understand the characteristics He expects to find within His Bride. Certainly He will require her to be of like character with Himself. This speaks of our becoming an overcomer, by which we rise up into a state of union with Him, fully prepared to become His Bride.
“…Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.” Matthew 11:29
The rest of God that is described in Hebrews 4:1-10 is the result of our having ceased from all independent, self-activity. Jesus lived in this state of rest from the works of man. It was this perfect state of union with His Father which enabled Him to say:
“…Verily, verily, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for what things soever He does, these also does the Son likewise.” John 5:19
“When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:28-29
“Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.” John 14:10-11
The Father’s indwelling of the Son was the foundation of their union. Jesus prayed that His disciples also should be brought into this oneness.
“As You have sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world... That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” John 17:18, 21
The Father and Son, by the Holy Spirit, seeks complete control of the whole man, physical, soul, and spirit. Nothing less than a union such as this “divine indwelling” and “co-working” could satisfy God. This alone will constitute an acceptable Bride for Christ.
“Treat one another with the same spirit as you experience in Christ Jesus. Though He was divine by nature, He did not set store upon equality with God, but emptied Himself by taking the nature of a servant: born in human guise and appearing in human form, He humbly stooped in His obedience even to die, and to die on the cross.” Philippians 2:1-8 Moffatt
If He, the “Worthy One,” so deeply humbled Himself, how lowly a place is our due?
Jesus humbled Himself and allowed those who accused Him as a blasphemer to spit on Him, smite Him, scourge Him, and crown Him with thorns. He allowed them to falsely bow as they decked Him with royal robes, and to nail Him to the cross between criminals. Although holy and undefiled, He took the defenseless attitude of a lamb, and became the victim for our sins.
The whole attitude of Jesus was entirely unselfish. “The Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister.” He never did a selfish act. Never were the works of the flesh manifested in His life. Let no one imagine that an intimate association with Christ is possible without being saved to the uttermost.
“…These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the Throne of God.” Revelation 14:4
“To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne….” Revelation 3:21
To “overcome” means to experience victory, to master. The absence of a qualifying or modifying word means that we are to overcome in all ways, and in everything.
“Now thanks be to God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ….” 2 Corinthians 2:14
This complete overcoming describes the way to a seat with Christ in His Throne. Therefore, it is important to have a clear understanding of what it is to overcome, and the means and methods by which it is accomplished. Chapters two and three of the book of Revelation describe several phases of overcoming. The Church at Ephesus was commended, but with one serious reproof:
“…You have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works….” Revelation 2:4 -5
A return to their first love and first works was their only means of overcoming. Today, there are those who make a great showing outwardly, but have lost their original passionate love for Jesus, and the control of the Holy Spirit over their lives. If in any way, we are among these, return and restoration must be our first step, if we are to become overcomers.
The Churches at Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira, also had much for which to be commended, but the Lord saw that there was among them the doctrines of Balaam, Jezebel, and Nicolaitanism. It is vain to think of being overcomers while linked with these false doctrines. Notice that Jesus is speaking in Revelation 2:24, to those who have not known the depths of Satan. They are admonished to “hold fast” and a promise is given them.
“And he that overcomes, and keeps My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” Revelation 2:26
In the Church at Sardis were those who were due for judgment. Their names would be blotted out (Revelation 3:5). If the Church at Philadelphia held out, they would receive the crown. Verse 12 speaks of the Bride of Christ.
The Laodicean Church which was rich and in need of nothing, in their own eyes, was “wretched, blind, miserable and naked” in the Lord’s estimation. They were spiritually blind and needed heaven’s eye salve, the Spirit of revelation. They thought earthly treasure was great riches, but of the “gold of faith,” the coin of the heavenly kingdom, they possessed little. To be spiritually naked, while outwardly clad in satin is a terrible deception. The Lord told them to buy of Him white raiment which speaks of spiritual garments.
It was this high estimate of their condition which caused them to settle into a self-satisfied carnal sleep. They became lukewarm which is to the Lord, a sickening condition. Many who are busy with valid responsibilities are spiritually lukewarm and lacking in godliness.
If we do not heed His warning to buy of Jesus “gold tried in the fire,” we too will be found of Him with only a pile of good works. That which appears to be gold to us may be only a stack of straw to be burned. Although straw and gold are the same color, gold is purified through refining fires, whereas straw is consumed.
In order to become His Bride, we must awake and overcome lest we find ourselves to have fallen short of His calling.