I want to re-iterate, it is Jesus’s greatest desire, to have a Bride who “willingly” has given herself up to Him. There are those who believe that anyone who is saved, does not have to go any further than that. They believe that they are already His Bride, that it is automatic. I would like to address this. I believe some who read this series of teachings on becoming His Bride have a hard time grasping the concept of “faith”. I know that, for me, whenever I read in the bible what God expects, or what He would like us to do, the flesh automatically screams, ” I must perform!” It becomes hard for us to understand, “how to allow Holy Spirit” to do he work of grace within us, by faith, -vs- doing works or depending on our own strength or ability.
We must first understand that although God’s love for us is absolutely “unconditional”, that receiving His promises, are all “conditional”. For those who hate the spirit of religion, as I do, when one mentions receiving God’s promises are conditional, it can raise up major concerns. For years I have been hearing teachings against the “hyper grace” crowd. I myself have been accused of being “utopian” in my thinking. To me, a true hyper grace person believes that you can just do whatever you want, sloppy agape as some put it, be willy nilly about walking with God, and no matter what, He will just forgive you and it’s all ok. On the other end of the spectrum are those who the grace crowd call “religious”. They seem to walk by the “letter” of the law and not the “spirit” of the law. They appear to have very little grace or tolerance of sin or those who do. The hyper grace crowd would accuse them of “worshiping the bible”. The so called religious crowd would accuse the grace crowd of not walking in “holiness”.
Where can we find balance in all of this? Both sides can back up their thinking through the Word of God. In my opinion, both sides are out of balance and need to stop accusing others, who don’t think just like they do, and to keep their focus on building an intimate relationship with God. In my opinion, ALL of us have religious mindsets. All of us deal with the sin nature that Paul tells us to “consider” ourselves dead to. All of us are working out our salvation. We are all in various stages of spiritual growth in our walk with God, various stages of maturity, if you will. None of us should be accusing anyone of anything because we are all prone to sin and are all weak, without Jesus. We all need Him desperately. Jesus said, ” I am the Vine and you are the branch, and you can do nothing without Me”. Nuff said.
Our focus should never be on ourselves or on others, but rather always on Jesus. We should never be focused on sin or weakness but on the One who redeemed us and saved us from sin. We are not even supposed to be aware of sin nor are we supposed to be pointing fingers at others or trying to “correct” them. When we know who Jesus is, in our hearts, our focus is on walking with Him, and not on “trying not to sin”. If we are trying not to sin or trying to be holy or trying to be anything, we already have missed the mark.
Yes, God’s love for us is unconditional. Praise Him for that. None of us can do anything to get out of His love. You can be the worst sinner in history, yet His love is there and will continually pursue you. Love never fails nor will His love ever give up on you. We can do nothing to earn His love nor do anything to stop His love for you. When you truly accepted Jesus as your Savior, you entered into a covenant or love, that was between God the Son and God the Father. It is an eternal covenant and He has placed His seal on you. At that point, no matter how bad you sin, He will never withhold His love from you. No matter how bad we blow it, our Daddy will never withhold His love from us. In fact, He does not withhold His love from even those who are not born again. He continually pursues them as well. That is what Love does.
Now, when I say, receiving His “promises” are conditional, that is where we seem to get confused. Although Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, once for all, forever, only those who enter into this great covenant, qualify to receive the promises and benefits of God. Those who come to Him must first believe that He exists. “If we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths”….then we shall be saved. Whenever the bible uses the word “if”, there is always a condition there to receive. Being saved is not automatic. We must “choose” by “faith” to believe for without faith, it is impossible to please God. Although Jesus’s blood was shed for the world, those who reject it, have not chosen to walk in its benefits. One cannot force them to walk in salvation and it is not automatic. We must grasp this in order to understand why receiving anything from God requires a choice. We must understand this truth in order to understand why moving past salvation and on to becoming His Bride will require faith on our part. It is a choice. We are not automatically His Bride after salvation because the Bridal relationship is on a higher order than simple faith and requires surrender of self.
The Bride, “makes herself ready”. All of God’s children are invited to the wedding but not all of His children accept the invitation. All lost souls are invited into salvation but not all souls will “lay down their own lives” and accept Jesus by faith. Faith is the necessary action to receive any promise that our Father has offered to us. Some want to believe that we do not have to anything to be saved or to become His Bride or to receive His promises but that is just not so. “IF” always requires a choice. Salvation is only the beginning of us developing an intimate relationship with Jesus. Salvation qualified us to move further with Jesus. We had to have restoration of our broken fellowship with the Father by way of the blood of the Lamb in order to qualify for a now deeper relationship with God. After we made the choice to make Jesus our Savior, in a like manner, we get to choose daily, “to pick up our cross” die to the self life, giving up control of our lives to Him, and making Him or Lord.
We can have as much of God as we choose to have. Jesus Himself said, “If” anyone desire to be My disciple”, we must lay down our lives. It is a choice. It is not automatic and He will not force us to lay down our lives. In the same manner, in our walk with God, we have a choice, every day, how far we will go with Him. How far will we allow Him access to our hearts? It is a walk of faith, in the Spirit, not of works. Works is SELF discipline, SELF reliance, instead of relying on His grace and His Spirit within us. It is impossible for us to change ourselves, become His Bride, rid ourselves of sin, or to do anything with Christ, through the arm of the flesh. It is a work of grace by the Holy Spirit and that is where faith comes in.
Instead of “TRYING” to do something we simply accept by faith, choosing to believe the works of grace within us, that Holy Spirit is accomplishing within us the needed change of heart. We ask and we receive, by faith. We ask in confidence, “draw me”, and then rest, knowing Holy Spirit is doing the drawing. We cannot create our own hunger nor can we sustain a hunger that did not originate from the Spirit of God. Our part is faith and choosing to believe, we have what we ask because Jesus told us to ask and said we would have whatever we ask, if we did not doubt. This is the same principle for receiving all of God’s promises. So again, although His love is unconditional, His promise are conditional, and require us to use our faith, by choice. We give up our wills to Him by choice. We die to self, by choice. We accept His promises by choice. We are saved by choice. Nothing is forced on us or is it automatic. Faith is required.
God will not force us to go deeper in with Him. All He is really looking for is a genuine true desire, on our part, to move past the ordinary and on into a deeper place with Him, as His Bride. He will respond to that genuine desire in our hearts. No works are required but faith is. We asked the Lord to “draw us”, then we consecrated our lives to “run after Him”. We allow Him to draw closer and closer to us and we pursue Him, step by step, willingly and unconditionally. As we enter this place of “intimacy” in personal communion with Jesus, we will receive (as a result of our overcoming victory in being tested and proven) the “enabling power” that will strengthen and guide us through the steps that will prepare us to become His Bride.
In order to receive the strength (grace) and gain the capacity (willingness) that I need during these times of testing, we will be drawn upward into His chambers to spend time alone with Him in the intimacy of His presence. As we bask in His presence and “wait” upon Him, we will receive this enabling power (Acts 1:8). The time that we spend waiting upon the Lord is of utmost importance. Isa. 40:29-31. The King has brought us into His chambers, drawing us into communion with Him. When I enter His chambers and “wait” in His presence, the power of God will flow into my spirit.