Friday, April 29, 2011

Suffering and the Kingdom (8) - Bride of Christ

Bride of Christ
The book or Revelation has been badly misunderstood by the church.

  • It is not time line for the second coming, as many think.
  • It is not a promise of a time when evil takes hold on the earth.
This wonderful vision explains how God will establish his kingdom on earth, but the story has an unexpected twist. God’s kingdom will not be established by a church that triumphantly expands its authority and control. The opposite is true. The Holy Spirit will give the Kingdom of God to the church when it has learned to serve and suffer. John refers to the church that embraces suffering as the Bride who has made herself ready. This is the climax of his Revelation.
Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready (Rev 19:7).
All of heaven and earth were looking for to the time when the bride would be ready. Those who live at this time are truly blessed.
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God” (Rev 19:9).
The next scene is not the second coming, but wonderful a description of the kingdom of God coming on earth, as the enemies of the kingdom are defeated and the work of God is victorious (Rev 19:11-21). The Bride does not get ready for the second coming of Jesus. She gets ready to receive the Kingdom of God as a gift from the Holy Spirit.

John explains how this bride can be recognised.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people) (Rev 19:8).
The Bride that has made herself ready is wearing fine linen. John explains that this is fine linen is the righteous acts of holy people. This can be misunderstood. All Christians are made righteous in Jesus, but this vision goes further. The meaning of the Bride’s garments had already been explained earlier in the fifth seal. The seven seals mark the end of the Times of the Gentiles and the beginning of the Times of Distress.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number were killed just as they had been (Rev 6:9,11).
The white garments are given to Christians who Christians who are persecuted for their testimony and their obedience to the word of God. Their emergence marks the beginning of a season of suffering, following the opening of the first four seals. They are told to wait for the Lord to do his work and bring in the kingdom. They will have to suffer until the time is right. Those who suffer for the gospel during this season will not be rescued. On the contrary, as they persist, their suffering releases the Spirit to do his work.

The size of this group wearing white garments is revealed in the next chapter.
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" Rev 7:9-10).
A huge multitude in white garments will be called to suffer for Jesus during a time of trouble on earth.

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