(The Walk Applied continuing series is a comprehensive Christian biblical model
that is applicable for counseling, discipleship. mentoring, teaching, etc.)
One of the principal themes of the Walk Applied Model is to achieve an in-depth understanding of human behavior that is rooted in biblical truth. Indeed, The Walk Applied Model purports to present a comprehensive biblical theory of human behavior. Why do we do what we do? Why do we behave the way we do? What do we mean when we say "the sin nature" or "the flesh"? How does the flesh - the sin nature - operate in our lives? These are profound questions, and we will investigate compelling answers in the coming units - starting in #3. That said, in order to gain a foundation for a comprehensive understanding of why God created us in the way that He did, it is imperative that we take a couple of introductory lessons. Thus, units #1 and #2 will cover the Bride and the Fall - two very critical components in our understanding.
A foundational question that we need to examine is: Why did God allow the Fall? Why not just create us in His image and allow us to exist with Him for eternity? In other words, it seems counter-intuitive to create us to go through this natural existence. To gain a better understanding of why He elected to proceed with His creation in the way that He did entails that we first address the topic of the Bride.
THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
Jesus desires His bride (His Church) to share an intimate relationship with Him (Isa 62:5, Rev 19:7-9, Rev 21:2). Scripture doesn't tell us how the idea of the bride was conceived, but it does tell us that He will indeed rejoice over us as His Bride. A most comforting thought! The bible tells us that Jesus is coming back for His bride. Jesus bride - His church - consists of all those who are saved. It is not revealed to us as to why Jesus wants a bride, or what the purpose of the Bride is going forward.
It is also a mystery as to what it will truly mean to be the bride of Jesus into eternity. It seems intuitive that the intimate experience of marriage here in the natural likely gives us an inkling of what marriage as the Bride of Christ might be like, but that is anyone's guess. However, we can rest assured that it will beyond anything we can think of to be in the presence of Jesus! We do know that there will be the marriage supper of the Lamb. We also know two fundamental requirements of the Bride of Christ: The Bride must be perfectly righteous, and the bride must be faithful. That means you must be saved to be part of the Bride.
One of the basic tenets of salvation is that we are declared perfect and righteous. A property of those who are saved is that they must be faithful (Ps 37:28; Ps 97:10; Pr 2:8). Isaiah 1:26 says: "I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City." Psalm101:6 tells us "My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me." Matt 5:48: "...be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect." The only way is to be declared righteous via salvation.
Once we are saved; (i.e., declared perfectly righteous or, in short, perfect) our faithfulness will be tested at one time or another. When any one of us gets married (or engaged), we have an expectation that our (future) spouse will be faithful to us. Jesus, as our "fiancé", if you will, is no different than us in that respect. He is the Groom who will someday (soon, we pray!) return for His bride. Thus, Jesus, too, expects us to exhibit faithfulness during the "engagement". Jesus told us: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
The Word is also very clear in that we will be tempted in many ways. There are numerous passages that discuss temptation. Even though "Sin crouches at our door, and we must master It" (Gen 4:7), Jesus says this: "But I have prayed for you"so that your faith will not fail?. (Luke 22:32) God's word is clear: Jesus is our advocate in Heaven, interceding for us. so even though we will all fail many times, the key aspects are to stay faithful in the daily walk, ever persevering in our own human imperfections. The reward for persevering in our faith is indeed great: "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him". (James1:12)
FREE WILL & CHOICE
God has blessed all of us with the capacity to make choices. We all have a free will to choose who our spiritual authority will be. If you choose "the prince of this world" (John 12:31) a hellish eternity awaits you. Choose God's sovereignty and heaven is yours as is the privilege of being Jesus bride.
The Bible tells us that Lucifer, a full one-third of the angels, and Adam and Eve chose to come out of Godly authority, even though they were in the direct presence of a sovereign God. There can be nothing that is better that God and His environment. Thus, we can infer that free will and the seductive power of choice presents an overwhelming urge to know what we do not know; it manifests the alluring and virtually irresistible option to have what we do not have. "...the woman saw that the fruit was desirable for gaining wisdom." (Gen 3:6). How could anyone ever think that there is something better than God and what He brings to the table?To choose other than God seems to us to unfathomable, yet the aforementioned did just that.
THE BRIDE MUST BE FAITHFUL
Jesus bride must be faithful. If those who experienced God's direct presence chose to fall, then we, too, must be allowed to choose to accept or deny God as Sovereign authority. God, in His glorious wisdom, never forces Himself upon us. Our decision is binary: one or the other. On the one hand, we can believe in God and submit to Godly authority out of love, or we can submit to Satan?s power and control. To choose to deny Godly authority and, by implication, come under satanic control, is idolatry. There is no gray area.
The suggestion that we can choose to come out of Godly authority and consequently come under satanic control can be troublesome or controversial. For some, the notion might convey that Satan has authority where God does not (thus implying that God is somehow not sovereign). While this concept will be explored more fully later, perhaps it's easier to see it as the "intermediate authority" of Satan. God is certainly always in complete control, and He is sovereign. However, the Bible tells us no less than 5 times that Satan is the "Prince of this world".
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Next Time: #2: The Fall.
N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He has been the Director of Godly Training Ministries since 1993. He has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of the forthcoming book: The Walk Applied". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and 1 extraordinary son-in-law.