This is a precious subject, dear to the heart of a true believer in our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ, and to look into the subject it will be helpful to contrast the true and the false, the Bride and the Harlot. This will bring out the issues more clearly and with the intention of helping to identify where the reader may be in this important matter and where changes needed for assurance that they belong to Christ to be part of Him for eternity.
The Bride of Christ, also known as the remnant, comes from among believers who have not been really satisfied with what they have experienced in ‘Church’. They do not sense a fit. Although they may have felt part of things at times, this has not been a permanent experience for them. They have asked questions but the answers have not been satisfactory. Charles Chiniquy (1809-1899), former Roman Catholic who later became a Protestant tells about how he would go to his superior with a troubling question and would leave with ‘peace’. But as he wrote in hindsight, it was not the peace of God, rather it was the peace of death. The life the remnant sees in the church today rarely matches the life of the early church as in the Bible, but rather a worldly one with little interest in the things of God. The real truth is suppressed and false ideas about their condition are promoted. The ones exercising their gifts are the leaders so others are not given opportunity to develop what the Lord has given to them. When the bride is shown the truth, she hears it. The false church will ignore, avoid discussion and will not hear about anything that differs from the beliefs of the group they are part of. If the believer continues to say these things, the leadership will take steps to suppress the person that does not agree with them. Making real progress comes from obeying what the Lord says in 2Corinthians 6:17-18 KJV “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” ‘Come out’ is in the imperative, and God keeps His promise!
The Bride of Christ is also described as sheep who hears His voice, John 10:27 KJV “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”: In this verse we may notice three things: Hearing the voice of Jesus, Being known by him, and obedience in following Him, taking up their own cross. The Lord is the author and finisher of our faith, Hebrews 12:22, He is the one who leads the believer in the path of righteousness. Hearing means also obeying, leading to real progress in our walk with Him. Knowing God is a requirement for eternity, Matthew 7:21-23. God’s problem with Israel in the Old Testament was similar in that they did not know Him. Isaiah 1:3 Brenton “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel does not know me, and the people has not regarded me.” (Brenton is a translator of the Septuagint, the bible the Bereans would have looked into, and clearer here). Sadly even those who today might be considered ‘Bereans’ may miss this truth if they have not been shown and embraced the key of knowledge since it has been obscured for a long time.
We hear about: Hebrews 10:25 KJV “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”This is often quoted to those who are at the point of leaving the organized church. But they do not connect this with the verse where Paul wrote to Timothy to have fellowship with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart: 2 Timothy 2:22 KJV “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” The Lord Jesus Christ made a simple statement in His Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:8 KJV “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Pure, cleansed. This is not a question of knowledge of the Word, but a heart matter, i.e., thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). How is this accomplished? By taking heed to the Saviour’s prompting as in this verse referenced earlier: John 10:27-28 KJV “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life. They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand”. The assembling together of those looking for the Saviour is in the context of end times, not only of our own situation but that of the world which is reaching its end in our day.
The bride, once freed from the church system, will flee from a false leader: John 10:5 KJV “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”
The bride obeys God and does not cover her sins, but quickly acknowledges them before God nor does she accept the view that God sees us in Christ, that we are positionally righteous therefore He ignores our real condition! This is surely a damnable heresy! (2Peter 2:1). Consider 1John 3:7 KJV “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” The truth is clear that the Lord knows our condition exactly from the very beginning and is waiting for us to respond to His promptings so that one by one the issues of our lives may be resolved and we are set free, John 8:31,32.
The bride fears God, while the harlot lives in a false sense of security, saying that we will see no sorrow: Revelation 18:7 KJV “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”
The Bride hears the Lord and not man. Nor does she follow or become entangled in man-made theological systems but only God’s word. The harlot systems are worldly and fight against one another. So much that is written is to promote a particular man’s doctrine, and to refute another’s position. The bride wants to hear from her Saviour and sit at His feet, fellowshipping with them who are walking the same narrow road to life.
The New Testament scriptures were addressed to the true church, not to the false one. The warnings were therefore against the false church, but in our day these have been turned around so that the false church accuses the real believers of being in error! This perspective is seen in 1John 4:6 KJV “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” The Pharisees resisted Jesus’s words, and the Jews resisted those of Paul. Be encouraged, if the Lord has given you the truth, it will also be resisted, Matthew 5:10-12.