Preparation Of The Bride

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Part 1 of 4: What Is Holiness? (Volume 1)

By Derek Prince

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Part of series, “What Is Holiness?—Volume 1”

Now we’re going to make a proclamation from 1Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23. But we make it personal. So where it says “you” we say “us.”

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify us completely; and may our whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls us is faithful, who also will do it. Amen

With a transparent pulpit I can hide nothing from you. I hope I’m equally as transparent as the pulpit.

I want to enter into this theme of holiness by considering what is on the heart of Jesus. When two people are close together, say husband and wife or two friends, very often they don’t need to discuss something. They just, for instance as an example, we forgot to decide what Scripture we would proclaim and we have many, many Scriptures. So in the middle of the worship I turned to Ruth and I said, “I think we should do 1Thessalonians 5:22–23.” She said, “That’s the one that I was going to suggest.”

I think when a couple have been married any length of time, if there’s harmony between them, very often the wife will know what the husband is thinking without him saying anything. That’s a mark of closeness. And I feel that we should have the same kind of relationship with the Lord Jesus, that we should know what is on His heart and respond to it.

This was brought home to me about six years ago. I calculate time from the place where it happened, because I know I’ve been five years out of that house so it must have been six years ago. Our previous house in Jerusalem from which we moved, one night about 2 a.m.—and I find from time to time God chooses to speak to me about that time in the night between two and four a.m.—and I woke with a sense of tremendous inner excitement. Then I said to myself, “Well why am I excited?” And I felt the answer came, “Because all heaven is excited, and you’re just feeling a little of the excitement in heaven.”

So then I said, “Why is heaven excited?” And the answer came, “Because Jesus is excited and when He’s excited, all heaven gets excited.”

So then I said, “Why is Jesus excited?” And I felt the answer that came to me was, “Because the time is very close for Him to be reconciled with His brothers, the Jewish people.” And I had a little glimpse of how much grief Jesus has had in His heart for nearly two thousand years, because of His alienation from His own brothers and sisters. And I think that’s something we need to bear in mind.

Now the second thing that I feel Jesus has on His heart, even more pressing, is the preparation of His bride. Probably most of us here have been through marriage, or been married, and I imagine most of us approach the wedding ceremony with a sense of excitement. I know in my marriage to Ruth everything was just... nothing else was important for several days before we got married. I really wouldn’t want to go through that too many times. But I think generally most of you would agree that when you’re planning to get married you’re excited about it.

And the bridegroom is excited about the thought of union with His bride. And I believe that’s how Jesus is feeling right now. But there’s a Scripture in Jeremiah chapter 2 verse 32, which I think sounds a note of warning. This is the Lord’s complaint against His people Israel. The question asked is this.

Can a virgin forget her ornaments?

Or a bride her attire?

Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.

And I would apply that to the bride of Christ. “Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire?” And yet I feel, actually, the church, if we consider the church to be the bride of Christ, has forgotten her ornaments and her attire days without number. I find really there’s very little evidence in most of the places where I go that people are getting ready for the wedding supper. Very little evidence. I hear of all sorts of things discussed and preached and practically never is that touched upon. I think we are out of harmony with Jesus, because I think that’s first and foremost on His heart. As the wedding supper draws near He’s concerned about His bride. And He’s concerned that His bride is not very much concerned with Him, frankly.

I chose the theme which has been announced in your program “In Pursuit of Holiness”, which is taken from Hebrews chapter 12, “...pursue peace with all men and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” I was looking back, and I’ve been a preacher now for more than fifty years, and I counted recently forty-nine different nations that I’ve preached in and I’m sure there are more so we could say it’s fifty—from people from different denominational backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds—as wide a variety of people really as you could imagine. And I have to say looking back I do not recall ever being amongst a group of people who appeared to be pursuing holiness. Never. Now my memory may be at fault or I may have misjudged the people. But I don’t recall ever being in a congregation or amongst a group of people of whom you could say they are pursuing holiness. Maybe your impressions are different. But to me it’s like something that’s dropped out of our vocabulary.

I’m not a great student of Christian writings, but I would say something about the time of World WarI, something happened. Some things just dropped out of the thinking of Western Christians, and one of them was holiness. Another was sacrifice and another was self-denial. You read the writings of the people, Christian leaders in the last century, self-denial was a major theme. Today I never hear it taught. Never. We are in a very different frame of mind from the people whom Paul had in mind when he said, “Pursue holiness.” To pursue something is to aim for it and go for it with all your might. If you have to run fast if you had to go through obstacles, but you’re following after this thing.

Your impressions may be different from mine, but I honestly cannot think of any group of people that I’ve ministered to and been among that were pursuing holiness. It’s almost like—I closed my book They Shall Expel Demonswith a little picture about the attitude of the contemporary church towards holiness. Ruth and I used to organize tours at one time and you know you can get a tour packet. And then if people want to do something a little extra there’s and add-on for which you pay a little extra. Well it’s like holiness in the contemporary church is an “add-on.” But nobody bothers to pay for it. You may feel completely different from me. I’m not attacking anything. I’m just being objective as far as my own impressions are concerned.

So if Jesus is concerned about His bride, what is He expecting from her? And I feel it’s appropriately to turn to Revelation 19. Revelation 19 beginning at verse 6.

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

I notice there that it says his wife has made herself ready. By the time the marriage supper comes it will be too late to be getting ready. Only those who will be qualified, who have made themselves ready. And then it says, “...it was granted to her to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright...” What is the fine linen? It’s the righteous acts of the saints. When we come to Jesus in faith, I believe His righteousness is imputed to us. We haven’t earned it. We don’t qualify. But as we go on in this life, I believe we have to outwork the imputed righteousness of Jesus. It’s not just a label. Salvation is not just a change of labels. You had “sinner” on your back, now you have “saint.” It’s more that than. Something has to happen inside every believer. We have to pass from receiving Christ’s righteousness by faith to living out Christ’s righteousness in action. And the bride is not going to be clothed with imputed righteousness. She’s going to be clothed with righteous acts of the saints.

Then I asked myself, “Are we going to have enough material for the bridal gown?” It’s going to take more than a bikini to get married. Honestly, I feel at the moment the church would be hard put to come up with a bikini.

So then this lead me to inquire what are the righteous acts with which we should be clothed? And I’m going to suggest to you three. I’ll suggest two this morning, and one other this evening God willing.

The first of the righteous acts which I believe the New Testament indicates is one that is almost totally ignored in the contemporary Western church. There are wonderful exceptions, but they’re exceptions. If we turn to the Epistle of James chapter 1 and verse 27. I have to say I don’t want to appear negative, but the things I’m speaking about in my experience are hardly every touched upon in the great majority of “evangelicals” or charismatic churches. Probably they’re more touched on with evangelicals that with charismatics. You know one of the problems with us charismatics, and I’m a charismatic, is we got excited about the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we began to neglect the other things which are equally important; the discipline of Scripture and the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said when you assess the ministries of the last days you’ll know them by what? Their fruits. Not by their gifts. And I feel in the contemporary charismatic movement in some areas, there’s so much excitement about gifts and manifestations and experiences, that there’s very little attention given to fruit. This statement by James—it’s almost as though it’s not in the Bible for the kind of people I associate with, not you wonderful people, but other people.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Now I’ve been amongst groups that didn’t believe in being like the world, being definitely different from the world, but they didn’t have any thought about the first part of the verse “...to visit the orphans and the widows...” And yet that’s the first thing that’s listed in religion.

Now we have to distinguish between religion and salvation. Salvation is what God does for us. Religion is what we do for God. Religion without salvation is obviously worthless. But how genuine is salvation without religion? Is it just a label? What is pure religion.? “...and undefiled...” I love that, “before God and the Father.” It’s very solemn because it’s in the view of God Himself and Jesus, “...to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”

Now this is not to boast. I have nothing to boast of. But I need to say it because otherwise you’d be asking. Ruth and I between us are the head of the family of twelve fatherless children taken from various different racial backgrounds—Jewish, Arab, African, and English. So at least we know something about what we are talking about. I don’t really claim any credit for it because the Lord thrust me into it without my—if I’d known what I was getting into I might not have got in. But I fell in love with a Danish lady, a schoolteacher, in Jerusalem who had a little children’s home with eight girls. The day I married I because the father to eight girls. Believe me that was something of a culture shock because I am an only child. I never had any brothers or sisters. As far as I was concerned apart from a little flirtatious relationship, girls were a mystery to me. So there I was in a household of eleven people—eight girls, my wife, our Arab maid, all of them female and myself the only male in a household of eleven.

But I thank God because really without my even understanding the significance of it, I began my ministry in the right way. I began with the orphans and I began with the Jews. After all it is to the Jew first. Don’t forget that. And I’ve, I’ve learned a lot. I had a lot to learn. But I do believe in a way, when I stand before the Lord which we will all do, it would be reckoned to my credit that I gave up a University career and a lot of potential distinction and took care of eight little fatherless girls in the midst of a very dangerous situation, because this was at the time that the state of Israel was coming into being.

And at one point in Jerusalem we had to leave our house at nine o’clock in the night because the Arabs, the Arab legion were going to attack us. We filed out into the night, ten of us, plus a British Palestinian constable. He was the instrument God used to rescue us. We knew the Arabs were coming back at midnight. At nine o’clock we filed out into a dark, unlit, completely deserted street. The only sounds were a few rifle shots as snipers shot at anything they could see from a cat to a piece of newspaper. And we had no idea where we would go.

Well, I can’t go into the details, but we ended up... Because of the British Constable we were able to get inside the British Security Zone, and we ended up in an Assembly, American Assembly of God Mission building. We arrived there about eleven o’clock at night and said, “Here we are. Can you help us?” And, praise God, they did help us.

But let me tell you another part of this story just because you need to know the realities. Twenty-four hours later the American missionary in charge of the whole operation came to Lydia and me rather apologetically and said, “You and Mrs. Prince are welcome to stay with us, but we can’t keep the Jewish girls, because we’ve had a message from the Moslems that if we do they’ll burn the building down, and we have a pregnant lady with us. So if you can find another place for the Jewish girls, you can stay.”

So our response was, “We’re a family. Where they go we go and where we go they go.” So forty-eight hours later we’re in the street again looking for another place to live. Now I don’t want to go into all those details, but I can say in some measure that I have cared for the orphans and the widows. I am so grateful. I don’t claim any merit. I didn’t even really know this verse was in the Bible when it happened. But I am glad that it was so. And I have to say to all of you, there’s not any shortage orphans and widows if you’re interested in helping them. It’s estimated that there are ten million AIDS orphans in Africa alone, and India will be worse when the AIDS plague really hits. And in this country there are uncounted single mothers struggling to raise one or more children without the support of a man. Ruth was a single mother for several years so she knows what that’s like.

I want to challenge you. I don’t know whether you’re pastors or what you are, but what are you doing about single mothers? They’re not far away from any of us. In some ways I think their position is harder than that of a widow. If every family represented here were to take responsibility for one single mother, you don’t have to take her into your home, you have to let her know you care. Let her know you’re interested in her children. Maybe you have to offer her some financial help. I wonder what the churches are doing, how many churches accept the responsibility for single mothers even in their own congregation? This verse is really, it’s dropped out of most people’s Bibles. “Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is to care for the orphans and widows...”

I mean, if ever there was a time when there are orphans and widows that need caring for, it’s right now. If your eyes want to go a little further you can go to what was former Yugoslavia, there are thousands of them. And the Holy Spirit is marvelously at work amongst them. You see what I think we need to do is read the Bible with fresh eyes. We’ve got our certain passages we’re familiar with. We probably preach on them. So who’s going to care for the orphans and widows if we don’t? Well some government commission will be held and they’ll appoint an organization of some sort. I personally wouldn’t want to be brought up by an organization. What children need more than anything else is personal contact. Some of you are denying yourselves a blessing. It’s waiting for you. It’s not far away for most of you. What are you doing about it?

One thing I’ve observed amongst the Jewish people, generally speaking their attitude towards Christianity is not favorable for which there are many powerful historical reasons which most Christians know nothing about. We won’t go into that. But when they discover that we’ve been taking care of some Jewish girls their attitude changes. They say, “Well, we can see the point of that.” I feel the church in most nations has to repent. We have simply glossed over some passages of Scripture.

In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18—I suppose I’ll get back to say Isaiah if I stay here long enough. I know both languages, I’m bilingual. Isaiah 1:18 this is the Lord’s indictment of His people at the time of the prophet Isaiah. He tells them what He expects them to do. Verse 17.

Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Reprove the oppressor;

Defend the fatherless,

Plead for the widow.

Basically you read the Bible; those are two unvarying requirements of God. “Care for the widow and the fatherless.” Reading through the indictments of the prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and so on, you’ll find that there were three recurrent sins of Israel, generation after generation. Number one was idolatry. Number two was adultery, and number three was neglect of widows and orphans. And they’re all put on the same level. You see one of our problems is that sins of omission we’d hardly recognize, whereas sins of commission we have to recognize. I just wonder whether the church has got enough material to make a bridal gown. It’s the righteous acts that will provide the material.

One other task assigned to the church is Matthew 28 verses 18 and following—this is after the resurrection.

Then Jesus came and spoke to them [his disciples], saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Now I come from a military family. Furthermore I spent five and a half years in the British Army myself, not by choice. I was given no options. One thing I remember as a group of new recruits standing on the parade ground and there was the sergeant off somewhere bawling at us. And he said...first of all he said, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” He was very honest. Some of us would have to do the same. “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” Then he explained about orders. And he said, “Orders are posted. You’re expected to know them and when an order is given it’s enforced until it’s cancelled by someone with authority to do so.”

So here we have the standing orders of the church which are:

“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

Suppose we don’t go. Will Jesus still be with us? I’ve commented sometimes that the church is like a car parked on the church parking lot. Jesus said, “These signs will follow those who believe.” But how can you follow a parked car? And my observations almost anywhere in the world is, when the church goes the signs follow. All sorts of people you wouldn’t expect them to follow. But how can signs follow people that are not going?

So here are the orders of the Commander-in-Chief. “Go and make disciples of all nations.” And nearly two thousand years later we’re a long way short of carrying out His orders. We’re doing something about it, but we’re still far from fulfilling. And for many, many centuries virtually nothing whatever was done. But we’re confronted today with those words. No matter what other people may have done in the past, what are we doing? Are we going? Are we making disciples?

You see, again, Jesus never told us to make church members. One of our biggest problems is we’ve got a lot of church members and we’re trying to get them to act like disciples. They won’t do it. So really in a way we don’t have the material to construct the building. This is a problem that I find almost everywhere. And I don’t know that I can solve the problem in the confines of the regular church life. I mean, I have friends who are pastors who are really trying to do it, but I’m not sure that it can be done. If you’ve got a group of say a hundred people and they’re just church members, why should they become disciples? “You never told me that. You’re asking something of me you never warned me about.”

I have come to think that you have to start the way Jesus started, which is start with disciples. Then you’ll get the church members but it will be on a different basis. Jesus didn’t go for the crowd. Actually, as you know, He went for twelve men one of whom was unfaithful. The way Jesus did things, generally speaking, is the best. And I want to challenge you again concerning your righteous acts. How much material are you going to have? I would say, really, I’ve been Pentecostal since I was born again. I didn’t know there were any other kind of Christians except Pentecostals. It was a shock to me to discover there were people that didn’t speak in tongues. And it was a shock to them too when they discovered I did. They won’t follow you because you’re Pentecostal, or because you’re charismatic. They’ll follow you if you go.

Now there are many different ways to go. You don’t have to put on a pith helmet and walk through a jungle. There are concrete jungles right next door to you full of unreached, unchurched, hopeless young people and their numbers are swelling. But I’m asking you what are you doing? And I’m not merely asking you; I’m asking anybody that listens to this. How many righteous acts have you got to clothe yourself with? Turn also to Matthew 24 and verse 14, which is the motto of our particular ministry. Matthew 24:14.

“And this gospel of the kingdom [and notice Jesus is very precise. He doesn’t say ‘a gospel’ He says ‘thisgospel of the kingdom] will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”

So when will the end come? After the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world. Who’s responsible for preaching the gospel of the kingdom in all the world? We are. So if we don’t do it, we’re delaying the return of the Lord. I know that doesn’t fit in with some people’s theology, but it’s a fact. Jesus is never going to change His orders. He’s waiting for us to carry them out. And as far as we’re concerned, Ruth and I and our ministry, this is our motivation. We put it this way, to reach the unreached and teach the untaught. And it’s being borne in upon us more and more that it’s not enough to reach the unreached, you have to give them a teaching, otherwise they’ll be confused, they won’t stand. There are places where there’s tremendous mover of God going on, but very little solid Biblical teaching. We have a program which I’m not going to get involved in, but it’s reaching Generation X. Really they are almost a foreign people in a way. At least to people like me and I am to them. Are we going to ignore them?

I think one thing we have to do if you’re going to reach the French, you have to learn to speak French. Or in East Africa you have to learn Swahili. And I think we have to learn their language. Because once you’ve gotten their attention they can understand. But to reach them you have to be as much of a missionary as a person in a pith helmet in the jungle. But you’re in a different jungle. But you’ve got to be able to communicate. There’s a challenge for almost all of us who are here this morning. What are we doing about Generation X or Generation Next?

I had a rather interesting experience. I was in a conference on intercession, and they tacked on to it an extra meeting in a school auditorium with quote “young people.” And everybody had been telling me this is a terrible generation. It’s almost like you’re being thrown to the lions. And so I arrive at the door to the school and a boy about fifteen or sixteen said, “We welcome you as we would welcome the Apostle Paul.” I thought to myself, “Where have I got to?” Then the theme that was allotted to me was Bridging the Generation Gap. My talks were “There Is No Generation Gap.” God expects exactly the same of people at age fifteen as He expects of people at age sixty-five. There isn’t a special kind of Christianity for different age groups. Oh, that really angers me when I see young people being treated like babies. I mean I rise up.

You see, I ask myself when did the educational system here in Britain make the maximum demands on me? And I would say from the age of twelve to the age of eighteen maybe. And that’s when we should make the maximum demands on young people. That’s when they’ve got their lives ahead of them. They’re minds are clear. They’re uncluttered up with a lot of things. Then those are the people amongst others we should aim to reach.

I had an impression that I was talking mainly to people who were pastors or in similar situations. So let me challenge you. Ezekiel 44 and verse 8. Now here in this particular passage God is speaking through Ezekiel to those who were the leaders of his people, the priests, and the prophets. And He’s telling them where they’ve come short and failed in their obligations. This is just one of the things that he says in verse 8.

“An you have not kept charge of My holy things, but you have set others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you.”

Now it might not seem that that could apply to people here, but in a way what these priests were doing, they were hiring others to do the job that they were supposed to do. And I feel that that is often true of the church. We’re letting the quote “parachurch” do what the church should do. So we have YWAM. They’ll go into all the world. God bless them. Or there are intercessory ministries like Prayer for Israel which I totally endorse. But the truth of the matter is, those things should be done by the church. We have hired others to do the job. We should be the ones that are going into all the world. We should be the ones that are praying for nations.

We had a friend in Australia, Noel Bell, who founded what is called Intercessors for Australia. You know there’s a worldwide move of intercessors. And a little while ago he closed it down. He sad, “My job is finished. They’re doing it in the church. They don’t need me anymore.” That’s real victory, but it isn’t true in most nations. It is not true. The church is not doing the job that’s been done by the parachurches. I dislike the word parachurchmyself. One of the things that we aim at in our ministry is to never become a substitute for the church. We don’t have any large institution or what would you call it, organization, that does what the church, that takes the place of the church. You can’t join our ministry and be pastored. Although in a certain sense, a lot of people are. Not because we want to but simply because they’ve got nobody else to go to.

Let me say something about the ministry of deliverance from demons. I’ve been in this ministry actively for thirty-five years and I know it’s real. I have seen thousands of people delivered from demons and Mark here has been a witness to some of the thousands. But how many people are doing that? Jesus said:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved and these signs shall follow those who believe.” [What’s the first sign?] “They shall cast out demons. Then they shall speak with tongues.”

Why do we speak so much about speaking with tongues and so little about casting out demons? Are there no demons? Believe me the church is full of demons. I’m not theorizing. I mean because of my material we get people writing in every week. “Can you send me somewhere? Can you tell me of someone?” And most of the times we don’t have anywhere to send them. They’re too busy with I don’t know what. Religion. Not pure religion and undefiled either. Let me say something. Jesus is not coming back for the parachurch. He’s coming back for a church that’s doing the job.

Now let me say one other thing and after that if you can still endure we’ll come back for the next meeting. But I’ve heard it said more times than I can count, and this is probably something that some of you have said, your tithes belong in the local church. I don’t find that anywhere in the Bible. I do find in Malachi 3 verse 10,

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…

What is the storehouse? What do you expect from the storehouse? You expect food for yourself and seed to sow for a harvest. Now if the local church is providing food and seed, then by all means bring your tithes into the local church. But if it isn’t, don’t. That’s my advice. I don’t go around and preach this everywhere because I don’t believe in attacking people. But it’s not Scriptural. First of all, the tithes belong to Jesus. He’s our High Priest. And every time we genuinely pay our tithes we’re acknowledging His Priesthood. You see we’re going to have to answer, all of us, for the money that was committed to us.

I feel that a revolution is needed. When I was preaching to these young people the response was amazing. They didn’t tear me to pieces. For instance they said, “What do you believe about television and modern music and entertainment.” “Well,” I said, “I’m going to shock you but Ruth and I don’t own a television set.” There was a spontaneous applause form the whole group. Then a little later—what did they say next? [Ruth] What do you think about dating? Oh yeah. “What do you think about dating?” “Well,” I said, “To tell you the truth I think it’s a waste of time.” And again there was spontaneous applause. I mean they were really with me. I don’t suppose that all young people are like that. They were just from about four or five different local churches. They just came this one evening.

You see I personally believe that young people are looking for two things, especially the generation we’re talking about. Generation X. The first thing they say, “Is it genuine?” Or “If I scratch the gold, will I find brass underneath?” They’re very discerning. I mean most young people in that age are. They’re looking with very sharp eyes. They’re looking from underneath.

Of course, I was called up in the British Army as a conscientious objector for which I’m not offering explanations. But my whole family, every male member has been an officer in the British Army. So the highest I could ever rise was a corporal, and that was a mistake because I shouldn’t have been allowed to become a corporal. So I spent five and a half years seeing the people I used to mix with from underneath. And you know what I discovered? People look very different from underneath to what they look from when you see them on the same level. It changed my whole ideas about a lot of people. So the first thing they look for is genuine.

The second thing, and my opinion is what they want is something radical. They don’t want warmed up past generation. And I believe that if we can communicate with them on that basis they could be the most responsive generation that has appeared for a long while. You see, it’s almost traditional, every generation rebels against the previous generation. Well the previous generation rebelled against religion, but the present generation is rebelling against rebelling against religion. Isn’t that right? So.

Well we will turn to the subject of tithes. I don’t know if you’re a pastor or what you are. It’s not my business to inquire. But don’t tell them your tithes belong in the local church if the local church is not doing what the tithes are appointed to do. Because you’re bringing condemnation on yourself.

Let me just briefly outline what I’ve said. First of all the bride at the point of the marriage supper hasmade herself ready. It would be too late to be getting ready then. Secondly she’ll be attired in the righteous acts of the saints. So are we producing enough righteous acts to produce a wedding gown? I mean a wedding gown is usually a very full, flowing dress with a lot of material. You can’t skimp on a wedding gown.

What are the righteous acts? Number one; care for orphans and widows. Number two; make disciples. Number three; carry the gospel to all nations. As I see it, those are three simple priorities. And God is not going to change them. So if anything has to change, it has to be us. It’s all right to call people parachurch, but the point is most of them are doing what the church should be doing. I mean, there are off beat groups, but basically most of the ones have seen this. They say, “Well, the church isn’t doing it. We’ll go and do it.” I think that’s a reproach. I believe Jesus cares for His church. I believe Jesus has great expectations for His church. I believe it’s a tremendous responsibility to be in training to be the bride of Christ. As I understand it, we shall share the throne, if we make it, with Jesus throughout eternity. I mean if we have to go through a certain amount of discipline and hardship, that’s understandable in view of the responsibility that’s going to be vested in us.

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