A Runaway Bride: The Western Church?
The 1999 movie, "Runaway Bride" starred Julia Roberts.
The image is by Paramount Pictures.
The Western Church is running away from her pre-nuptial calling.
She baulks at her end time role as witness to her Bridegroom.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine has the Church deserting.
She 'skips out' seven years early to dodge the end time witness.
And the ever popular 'Left Behind' books are a case in point.
They are fostering a culture of "cut and run" and abandonment.
A study by Gavin Finley MD
endtimepilgrim.org - 2006
THE SPECTER OF THE "RUNAWAY BRIDE" IS IN THE NEWS AND IN THE CULTURE. IT SPOTLIGHTS THE ISSUE OF OUR CHRISTIAN DEVOTION TO THE BRIDEGROOM. IT ALSO SERVES AS A WARNING TO US IN THE WESTERN CHURCH TODAY.
Stories of runaway brides have always intrigued and haunted us. This curious and somewhat disturbing theme emerges from time to time in the news and in the culture. Every wedding story, no matter how difficult the preceding events might have been, should have a happy ending. But here we have a wedding story that fails before it begins. This is all very unsettling. We are left with loose ends and broken pieces. The relationship with her bridegroom is undone. And the precious fellowship she once had cannot be easily restored. The wedding has failed to come to its appointed consummation. The burning question always remains. How did this awful thing happen to a bride-to-be? And what was really going on inside her heart?
A woman is approaching her wedding, the most wonderful day in her life. But something dark and mysterious has happened in her heart and is reflected in her behavior. She gets "cold feet". She becomes a 'runaway bride'. These stories always bother us. They worry us down in the very deepest levels of our being. Why is this so?
The recent story of Jennifer Wilbanks was a case in point. Here was a lady who was about to be married. But she disappeared shortly before her wedding. When she was finally apprehended she was in another state. She said that she had been carried off, kidnapped. But this was not the case at all. It was just her fantasy. The story she presented to her family and friends was a strange one. And it was far from the truth.
It turned out that she had not been kidnapped at all. It seems that the realm of love has its deserters just as we see in the theater of war. Here was a young lady who was running away from her own wedding. She was deserting her bridegroom. She was, in fact, a runaway bride.
This story was in the news for a very long time. A veritable media feeding frenzy went on for some days. Everyone was offering their own explanations and special insights. People just could not get enough of this story. And why was that? Could it be that this story of the runaway bride is a fable, even a parable of our time?
Christian believers are described in scripture as the bride of Christ. And so the Western Church is also a "bride to be". Our apostle Paul spoke of a "great falling away", even a great apostasy, at the end of the age. Is there a risk that the Church could "fall away" from the faith? Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. Would she ever desert Him? Could the western Church become a 'runaway bride'?
This is an awful thought.
Let us hope and pray that it never comes to that.
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRISTThe Church is called to be the Body or the Bride of Christ. This is a high calling. She is a bride with blood covenant responsibilities. She is not just an indifferent purchased concubine with a ticket to a mansion. The bride is not passive in the covenant as a concubine is. She is always "on task" and "in the loop".
CALLED TO BECOME THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
The Church is certainly facing the prospect of having to endure some challenging times. This is happening right now in those countries under persecution. The suffering Church in places abroad does not have the political protection we enjoy in the west. Nor does she have the compromise that goes along with that. But the Western Church will certainly endure some trials and tribulations in times to come. And before all is said and done she will enter into the glory. The saints will all be glorified into new spiritual bodies at the Resurrection-Rapture at the end of the age. They are destined to be the Bride of Christ, the wife of the Lamb. They will then be gathered as one big happy party and ushered into the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The Western Church is in a somewhat problematical position. She sees the Church in the rest of the world. She also knows that they are under persecution. 500 Christian believers die for the faith every day . But this is not on our radar screens. We do not see it written about in our church bulletins. Nor do we hear about it on the evening news.
Christians in the west are still quite comfortable. We enjoy a significant measure of earthly protection and privilege from our friendship with kings and presidents and all their men. In the modern era the Western Church is now very much under the covering of the merchants of this world. This answers to the black horse rider with the scales symbolic of commerce, banking, and the legal justice brought to us by legislators and lawyers. Of course this is all very nice. Little Orphan Annie has her Daddy Warburg/Warbucks. And he has been very kind to her........ So far.
There is no question about it. We in Christendom have been greatly blessed under the merchants. And we owe them a debt of gratitude. For hundreds of years the commercial world has given support to evangelicals. Back in the 1500's the merchants in Europe helped hard pressed evangelicals to immigrate away from those European countries that were persecuting them. The merchant community also provided wonderful help with the smuggling of William Tyndale's English Bibles across the channel into England. The merchant world has continued to assist the Western Church mightily. But it is a worrisome collusion. Lately we are seeing a significant level of compromise to the faith. The "wealth/prosperity" cult has taken the Church by storm. The spirit of Mammon is putting popularity, church numbers, and financial "success" on a pedestal to be worshiped. Today's priorities relate to popularity and pleasing the crowd. This and "revenue positive church programming" have now taken precedence over true worship in the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Scriptures.
The neglect of the End Time Bible prophecy is also a big concern. Few in the western Church know that Jesus is the Cosmic Christ who became God in the flesh. He is the God of history and the Bridegroom who will be coming for His Church or Congregation. He will be returning after midnight in a coming time of great darkness. But the average Christian doesnít want to hear about this. The western Church does not know of her crucial role in this coming great adventure. Nor does she want to set her priorities and prepare her heart. A magnificent destiny is clearly laid our before her. This can be readily appreciated from a plain reading of the Holy Scriptures. It will be the consummation of the Divine Romance. But the would be bride of Christ is strangely indifferent to all this. She is self absorbed. She is drifting down the stream. She is asleep, in a swoon. Why? What is wrong with her?
RELIGIOUS HUMANISM, PSYCHO BABBLE, AND THE SELF ESTEEM CULT.It seems that the Church has been waylaid. She has been seduced. A time is coming when she will go up for witness before kings and rulers. The afterwards her Bridegroom is coming for her. But our would-be bride, the Church in the west, doesnít seem to care. She is too busy "relating" to herself, looking in the mirror and spending much time and money with her high priests of psychology. She is hard at work with her own agenda and formulating her own "purpose driven life". The love she might have had for her Betrothed is now fading into the mists. Slowly and sadly the would-be Bride is drifting away from her Bridegroom. Are we seeing the beginnings of that prophesied 'great falling away' from the faith? Let us hope not.
THE SEDUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY AWAY FROM HER FIRST LOVE.
Most Christians are indifferent to this impending drama. They take the current comfortable situation for granted. They think nothing will change. Church to them has become a psycho-religious smorgasbord. It is "all about me". And so they do not want to be disturbed by anything too challenging. They sideline the Great Commission and consider the way of the cross "negative". They are inclined to characterize these basic Christian mandates as "negative" or "exclusivist" . They also imagine that their great and unprecedented prosperity worship party will go on and bring them into world dominion. But it cannot. And it will not. (See Daniel chapters 7 and 12)
Most Christians are ignorant of Israel's history, Church history, and European history. They are quite unaware of what God has done so far with His covenant people. There is, in fact, an information war being conducted against the Word of God. Few have sought the face of God and done their homework in the Holy Scriptures to inform themselves of what He intends to do, even through them, in times to come. They do not understand blood covenant. Nor do they realize that a bride is more than just a purchased concubine. A true bride will always be a witness to her Bridegroom. The 'post-modern church' has almost completely neglected the call to blood covenant devotion. The popular Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine is a case in point. It says in effect, "Don't worry. We're outta here". This is a doctrine of abandonment and desertion. And yet this faithless and unscriptural doctrine has now become the established dogma in the evangelical family. Is this because it is scripturally true? No. It is because it is popular with the Christian masses. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture media industry has now become a multi billion dollar a year religi-business.
This is a shameful thing. In essence this Pre-Tribulation Resurrection/Rapture doctrine is an escapist eschatology pure and simple. The established Western Church has laid out a "cut and run" agenda for themselves in the end time just like the sailors in the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul. The Church is not being informed of the reality of the true end time bridal witness. They are drifting among the narcissus flowers on their way towards another "Great Disappointment". But Christians are not being warned to turn away from this great doctrinal error. Nor are they being properly prepared and built up in the faith for their witness in times to come. This is a very real concern. This critical weakness and vulnerability of the Western Church is precisely what Miss Corrie Ten Boom has warned us about.
Christians today have a significant attention deficit when it comes to the Holy Scriptures. They donít want to be "hassled" or bothered by any teaching on "deep" issues such as creationism or the truth about the end times. But they do not have ADD. (Does that mean "Acute Discipline Deficit"?) When it comes right down to it they are like a teenager distracted by their own personal video game. They are in fact quite capable of focusing in on their own 'purpose driven life'. All too often, that "purpose" is drawn up by "me, myself, and I".
"Self esteem" is the new mantra for Christians in the west. Let us put the boogeyman of "secular humanism" aside for a moment. That spirit is an obvious enemy. We can all see it. But the new god inside the Western Church is subtle and far more sinister. Like a serpent in the Church the spirit of religious humanism is slithering along the pews. It has now installed itself inside the Church.
Religious humanism is more dangerous than secular humanism. It is dangerous because it is unrecognized. The western Church has been taken over by a quasi-christian pop psychology. And that psychology is essentially godless. It is ruled over by a man centered humanistic Luciferian selfism. That is why western Christians are in a moral tailspin. And it explains why Christians are now actually more amoral/immoral than non-Christians.
But the Church feels good about herself. So she is unaware of this. Church today is less a place of worship and Bible study than an entertainment center. And the pew has been slowly and insidiously transformed into a couch for a churchy form of group psychotherapy. The Western Church is pouring out her heart to her new champions, the gods and goddesses of psycho-ministry. They listen carefully to discover what she wants. Then they tailor their church ministry accordingly. The church attendee loves this. The psycho-Church knows her needs! They are in touch with her feelings. And the Church leaders are so nice. They agree with everything she says!
The new post-modern psycho-church has downgraded the scriptures. In place of sound doctrine we now have a host of programs for personal development. But these "self help" and motivational programs neglect the basic tenets of the faith. In an age of "unity" and "tolerance" sound Biblical teachings are often deemed "divisive". So they are dropped from the church program. We do not hear much about the Great Commission, holiness, and the high calling in Christ. Nor do we hear much about the necessity of the "final witness" of the Church in the end time. This has been neglected in favor of programs that pander to an empty narcissism. The western Church has been eating the poisoned apple of false psycho-religion. Now she has gone to sleep. Like the Lady of Shalott she is slowly and sadly drifting down the river towards Camelot/Babylon.
Painting by J.W. Waterhouse (1849-1917).
Please click on the image above to go to the poem.
THE DIVINE ROMANCE IN THE CRUCIBLE OF THE END TIME DRAMA.The Church is asleep. She will awaken to a prince. But who? Which one will he be? Will he be the Prince of Peace? Or will he be a false messiah? And if those days should come upon her suddenly will she have had time to educate herself in the prophetic scriptures? Will she have time to prepare her heart? And if not, will she make the right choice?
AND THE WOOING OF THE BRIDE INTO BLOOD COVENANT DEVOTION.
The Church has a number of bridal responsibilities. We have been called to the mission of the Gospel. Most of that mission remains overseas. It is a far bigger portion than the mere 4% we now send to foreign missions. Sound and correct teaching of End Time prophecy in Holy Scripture is very needful. An understanding of the latter days adds zest and strength to our faith. We need a clear understanding of our essential role of witness in the end time drama. We are slated to bring our testimony of Jesus Christ to a world in crisis. Have we been told about this?
Our spiritual preparation for the end time witness is essential. We need to find the oil, just as the five wise virgins did. The oil of the Holy Spirit will be very necessary for us as we enter into that final blood covenant witness. Every Christian believer should make it a priority to seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need to have the oil of anointing and the oil for the lamps against the coming night.
There is no doubt that we live in dangerous times. That extra jar of oil will very likely be needed at some point in our lifetime. Spectacular events are slated for our future. The The Fall Feasts of Israel are up ahead. They are awaiting fulfillment. Each one will each erupt into holy history in spectacular fashion. The Feast of Trumpets will sound the warning when the Daniel 9:27 Middle East peace covenant is finally confirmed. Seven years later the Day of Atonement will wrap up this present evil age. Epic events are prophesied to unfold during the final seven years of this age. And this present era of humanistic Gentile rulership will surely come to its appointed end.
The Western Church has had political protection for quite a long time now. She has enjoyed this privilege for nearly 1700 years. Her first covering came from a Roman Caesar, the Emperor Constantine. Constantine called for the elders of the church to come to him, to make peace, (and to make deals), in 325 A.D.. This was the Council of Nicea. The pattern of this original church-state collusion has continued under the secular kings, princes, and merchants of western civilization. This is how the Church has become compromised. We left our first love, the Prince of Peace and like Gomer, the wife of Hosea, we sought the chivalry, the attentions, and the political and financial covering of the princes of this world. That decision took western civilization into the Dark Ages. And there is where Christendom stayed for a thousand years. During those centuries the Arab world was the dominant force in the Mediterranean.
For many Christians the medieval romances still have a hold on us. The Arthurian romances currently take the place of the Divine Romance. The call of the earthly princes is heard with all the phallic imagery of the sword and the gun. Sex and violence dominates the culture as the profane and genocidal children of Esau become restless and rise up just as Isaac prophesied they would. The world today also hears the call of the harlot and sees her harlot (Gr. "porno") pictures.
Biblically informed Christians are quite aware of all this. They know their true identity is in Christ. They know that they themselves are the Body of Christ and that Jesus Christ is their sacred Head. But they are not yet aware of where this relationship is going to take them. The Eternal Covenant supersedes all the deals the Church may have entered into. Her end time devotion is destined to trump all the other covenants and contracts she has made with her temporal worldly political protectors. So it is quite clear that things will change dramatically.
The Church is called to be the bride of Christ. This is not just a social club. Nor is it a political lobby group. It is not just an endless array of self-help seminars. Nor is the Church a psychological clinic for patching up the uncrucified flesh of uncommitted Christians. The would-be bride of Christ has been called to enter into blood covenant devotion to her Messiah. This is far more important than us wasting our time and efforts trying to pump up our own ego or self esteem. Our "esteem", (or self respect), and our "purpose" is not for us to craft anyway. As Christian believers we belong to Jesus Christ. Our self respect and our purpose will be found in our walk with Him!
The Western Church will surely come to a time for some quality decisions. Up ahead there is a big fork in the road. If she does not yet realize this then she should. Because she is destined to enter into a far more intimate relationship with Christ, her Ishi, than she currently knows. Even if she has gone the way of Gomer her Betrothed is still knocking at the door of her heart. He wants to sit down and sup with her.
'Commune with Me' - by Keith Goodson.
Click on the image to go to his gallery.
The Church in the west has been called to a wedding. It is her own wedding, even the 'Marriage Supper of the Lamb'. She is the Elect of God. She is destined to become the Bride of Christ. This is a high and glorious calling with great responsibilities. Does she appreciate this?
Those who truly love Christ will also "love His appearing". (2Tim.4:8) They will make it there business to be clued in as to what is going to happen. They will be paying attention to End Time Bible prophecy and not rejecting it as "unimportant" or "peripheral". They will also know what their role is to be. And they will understand why it has to be this way. A true bride, like the woman of wisdom in Proverbs chapter 1, will be fully aware of what is coming. And she will have resolved ahead of time what will be her stand when she comes to her 'hour of trial'.
The scripture record gives an abundance of information concerning the Second Coming of Christ. Our Messiah, will be coming again. And this present age will come to an end. On His return He will defeat His enemies. He will destroy the wicked. And He will rescue His Bride at the last day. YHVH-God's covenant people will have a big part to play in the latter days. And they will be very much involved in the Millennium of Messiah to follow. This is the high adventure and the divine romance of the end time. Is it something to run away from?
The Holy One of Israel is certainly not slack concerning His promises. There will in fact be a magnificent deliverance of God's Elect in the closing days of this age. This will be seen at Jerusalem at the Battle of Armageddon. Deliverance will also be seen out at the ends of the earth. The returning Messiah will be delivering His Elect from their place or places of exile under the jurisdiction of the latter day Edomites. Messiah will come to His covenant people as "the Breaker" in the awesome Bozrah Deliverance. All His saints from both sides of Calvary, both the quick and the dead, will be raised up and glorified into new spiritual bodies at the last day. There will be an all encompassing gathering of all of Christ's Elect at the Resurrection-Rapture.
This is a wonderful and comforting promise. But, ...... there are some challenges that must be faced before this grand climactic event. The Resurrection-Rapture must come at the end of the 70th Week of Daniel, (which is the final seven years of this age.) Because the First Resurrection we see in Revelation 20 is a late event. This final epic Resurrection of the righteous dead clearly includes, and even showcases, the Tribulation saints. (Rev.20:4-6) Four times in one chapter, John 4, Jesus said that He would "raise up" His covenant people at the last day.. Four times Jesus clearly states that this Resurrection of the righteous dead will come at the "last day". (John 6:39, 6:40, 6:44 & 6:54)
Our Apostle Paul fills in the rest of the story. He said that these precious dead in Christ would rise first. (1Thes.4:15-17) So at the "last day" the dead will be raised. And this must be that "First Resurrection" spoken of by John in Revelation 20:4-6. John also clearly states that this Resurrection includes martyrs of the Great Tribulation who refused to take the mark of the Beast.
OK, there we have it. The righteous dead are raised at the First Resurrection which is after the Great Tribulation. Again, Jesus tells us four times in John 6 just so we don't miss it. He will raise His people up in the Resurrection at the last day of this age. "Only then will we who are alive and remain be caught up" (or Raptured). Revelation 20 and 1Thes.4:15-17 nails it down for us. How much clearer can it get than this?
The Second Coming of Christ is must simpler and less complicated and confused than the Pre-Trib dual comings of Christ scenario we have been given. In the Olivet Discourse Christ Jesus spoke quite plainly of one gathering of one Elect at one time. In that same passage He told us what to expect. Then He said that His Bride, His covenant people, will be His witnesses. They will go up before kings and before rulers in a hostile world. (Luke 21:12)
King David wrote a song that gives us some further perspective on the end time. Psalm 2 gives us a snapshot of the end time international politics as we approach the end of this age. Quite clearly this world does not want Messiah to return. The nations, (the heathen), are not happy about His coming at all. In fact they are raging.
How will His prospective Bride respond to all this? She has made many covenants, contracts, and deals. She has many commitments with the various agencies of this world system. At a certain critical time in the future she will hear the trumpet call to assembly. Right then and there she is going to have to decide who will be her prince. And the false messiah, a political champion and a peacemaker in this current world system, will be on her doorstep. He will be coming early!
John was amazed at the vision. He saw a harlot riding a beast with ten horns. (Rev. 17-18) The book of Revelation can, in fact, be viewed as a story of two women. John also saw the woman of destiny. (Rev. 12) She was a woman in travail to be sure. But she is also the woman with the starry crown of twelve stars. Such is the nature of our high calling in Christ. Pray God that we do not run from it.
The marriage covenant is now laid out before the Western Church. The covenant has already been signed by her Ishi, her Beloved, even Her Bridegroom. He has already signed it, and in His own blood. He has atoned for sin and defeated death once and for all eternity. In the future end time drama it will be her turn to sign. What will she do? Will she cut and run? Or will she "arise as the dawn, as bright and dazzling as the sun", to face her accusers with a devotion "as terrible and majestic as an army with banners"? (Song of Songs 6:10)
As the bride of Christ the true Church has heard the call. In the crucible of the end time she is to become separated from the body of harlotry. She will be refined as gold and arrayed in fine linen to emerge as the woman of destiny. Then, immediately after the Tribulation the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood. Messiah will then return. )Mat.24:29-31) He will send the angels of wrath to destroy the wicked. (Mat.13:30) And He will deliver His Bride. His actions will be seen at Jerusalem and out at the "sheepfolds of Bozrah". (Mic.2:12-13)
Clearly the prospective Bride of Christ is due to come onto the center stage of history. She is being called to witness the Eternal Covenant along with her Bridegroom. Down at the bottom is the place for her to sign. O yes. This is the true "bottom line".
What will she do?
Will the Western Church desert Her Bridegroom before the wedding?
Will she miss out on the Marriage Supper?
Will she become another Runaway Bride?
Or will she sign the covenant and enter into the glory?
Painting by Edmund Leighton (1853-1922).
The Church Is The Bride Of Christ.
Holy History Will Certainly Call For Her Witness.
She Signs And Seals The Covenant With Her Bridegroom.
This Is Required Before The New Covenant Can Be Executed.
The 5th Seal Witness Of The Saints Will Be Seen By Men And Angels.
Then Comes The 6th Seal And The Awesome Deliverance At The Last Day.
Some more devotional articles on apocalyptic Biblical themes for the inquiring Christian.