There is an important question that many ask which seems appropriate to address here. Does the Lord make us into what we should be, or does the bride “make herself ready”?
There is sound biblical teaching that reveals both to be true. When we run into paradoxes like this in Scripture it is because there is truth to both. In fact, many of the historic heresies are the result of Christians embracing a truth without understanding and embracing the counterbalancing truth. These are like those who cannot see that a coin has two different sides and therefore half the coins they see, they believe to be fake.
It is an eternal truth that only the Spirit can begat that which is spirit. We cannot make ourselves into what we should be without Him. However, He will not change us without our desiring it. We must want the things of God badly enough to pursue them, as we are told in Matthew 7:7-8:
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”
When we are born again we begin coming to God like a newborn. We cry when we need something, and He usually responds quickly. Like an infant, we need affection as well as food, diaper changes, etc. Experiencing the affection of God is the greatest joy and fulfillment that we can know as human beings, but it is hard to receive it if we are hungry. Therefore, the Lord gives us food as well as affection. Even so, a touch from Him has the drawing power to lift our spirits into realms of glory and beauty that are far beyond the earthly realm.
Many have the false concept that the Father is this rigid, intolerant, holy God of the Old Testament, who would be smiting us right now if Jesus had not come to sacrifice Himself for us. The truth is the Father so loved the world that He gave His Son. The Father loves us and loves to affectionately hold His children. God is Spirit and His touch is not like a physical touch — it is much more than a physical touch could ever be. We need this more than we need the things that so often captivate us. The Father loves us much more than we could ever know. He loves us even when we are in sin. In fact, He loves us so much even when we were in sin that He gave His own Son to help us out of it.
Just as a father’s relationship to his children changes as they mature, so does the Father’s relationship with us change as we mature. When my daughters were small children, I could hold them for long periods of time without saying a thing and it seemed to be all they wanted. Now that they are teenagers, they want me to take them out to dinner, and sometimes just sit and talk for a while. In the same way, the Father’s love and affection for us is no less when we mature, but the way He shows it is different because He relates more to our maturing state.
When my children were very young their mother and I made almost all the decisions in their lives. Even when they cleaned their room, we would have to point out each thing to do. That’s okay for a three year old, but if we had to do that for a sixteen year old, we would have a problem! It does not mean I love my sixteen year old less because I do not give her specific instructions about every little thing, but that I trust her more. I would get very concerned and annoyed if I had to give her the kind of specific instructions when she is sixteen as I did when she was three. Neither is it pleasing to our Father in heaven when we fail to mature.
There is a reason why I went from talking about the way the bride makes herself ready to our relationship to the Father. Many fail to distinguish, or understand how to relate to God the Father and God the Son. I knew the day my girls were born that a day would come for each of them when I would no longer be the main man in their life. For a girl to mature into a woman, there are ways she needs a father, but there is a time when that changes and she needs a husband. Even though her relationship to her father will change even more drastically at that point, it can continue, and even grow deeper and more special. A wise father will consider all along that this change is coming, that it is natural and right, and will try to prepare his daughter for it.
Likewise, we need a special relationship with our Father in heaven for us to be prepared for the marriage of the bride to the Son. The Father loves us and we will always have a relationship with Him. It will grow deeper and richer for all of eternity, but there is a different kind of relationship that we are called to have with the Son. We are now preparing for the marriage, but for all of eternity our relationship to the Son will likewise mature and grow deeper. Both of these relationships are required for us to mature spiritually, thus becoming who we are called to be.
Paul Cain once said, “Spiritual maturity does not come by the passage of time, but by right responses to the dealings of God.” This is true. We could say that spiritual maturity can only come by right responses to our relationships to both the Father and the Son.
Great movements have recently been born out of the church’s need for the affection and love of the Father. This was timely, and badly needed. However, as we get closer to the end of this age the bride is going to be maturing, and she will start yearning for her Husband. Then she will begin to “make herself ready.” That will be the greatest sign of all that we have indeed come to the end of this age and are beginning the great day of the Lord.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|