Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. More specifically today’s passage is found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book. “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a white behind the very chiefest apostles. But through I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offense in abiding myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: ;for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not afrer the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labour more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own younger men, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must need glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
When you come to the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul you will encounter the epistle itself drawing to a close. This particular epistle was the second of two epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and contains language that is altogether different from that which was presented in the first. As you come to the eleventh chapter of this second epistle you will find the apostle Paul beginning to speak about something concerning the Corinthian congregation that was not only dear and important to him but also something that worried him. If you read the words presented in the eleventh chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul entertaining the Corinthian congregation to bear with him in his folly and to bear with him as he wrote unto them. The apostle Paul then goes on to write unto the Corinthian saints and declare unto them his jealousy over them with a godly jealousy. This would be followed by the apostle Paul writing unto them how he espoused them unto one husband that he might present them as a chaste virgin unto and before Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this epistle for one of the greatest truths concerning the spiritual body of Christ the language used—specifically by the apostle Paul within his epistles concerning the body as the bride of Christ. Within the epistles written by the apostle Paul we find this motif concerning the spiritual body of Christ and how the spiritual body of Christ is indeed likened unto the bride of Christ who has been espoused unto Him as a chaste virgin. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning the bride of Christ is that the bride hasn’t yet been given to or presented unto Christ. There is indeed a day coming when the bride will be presented unto the eternal and only begotten Son by the Father and when the marriage supper of the Lamb will be celebrated, however, that time has not yet come.
In order to understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and the direct correlation of the spiritual body of Christ as the bride of Christ I am absolutely convinced we must needs consider the parables Jesus spoke during those three and a half years He walked among us as the Word which was made flesh and manifested unto and among us. What’s more is there is incredible language contained within the epistles written unto the Ephesian and Colossian saints that describes this reality of the church as the spiritual bride of Christ helping to further illustrate this point. Even more than this there is a portion of Scripture found within the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ that describes the marriage supper of the Lamb when the bride will indeed be presented unto the Lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world. Not only this but if you consider the narratives concerning the Last Supper Christ partook of and celebrated together with His disciples you will find that there is powerful imagery within these passages that allude to the marriage celebration and ceremony as Christ offered the bread and the cup unto His disciples—not only as a sign of fellowship but also as an invitation to partake in the marriage that would be celebrated again in His Father’s house and within His Father’s kingdom. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the spiritual body of Christ as the bride of Christ which has been espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ and will be presented unto Him by the Father at that moment in eternity when the bride is ushered unto heaven. In addition to this we must also examine the language that is found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning Jesus’ departure from this earth and return unto His Father’s house that He might prepare and make ready a place for His bride.
It is at this juncture I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following passages found within the New Testament gospel narratives concerning this motif of the wedding and a bride being adorned for the groom. There are a number of parables which Jesus delivered within the gospels which describe and speak to this concept of the church and the spiritual body of Christ being the bride of Christ and being presented unto Him by the Father which was in heaven. Having said this I now invite you to consider the following words which are found within the four gospels beginning with the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew. Consider if you will he following words which are found within these four New Testament gospels and the powerful language that was used to speak of this reality of the spiritual bride of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain. King, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my failings are killed,a nd all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they m are light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him a way, and cast him. Into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:1-14).
Consider the parable which Jesus delivered unto His disciples concerning the ten virgins—five who were foolish and five who were wise. The five virgins who were foolish brought their lamps which were indeed lit when the journey that evening began, however, as the night wore on and they were given to slumber their lamps went out. The five virgins who were wise not only brought their lamps which were lit but they also brought additional oil for their lamps that they might be prepared in the event that they needed more oil to keep the lamp lit. The parable describes how the virgins set out on their journey that evening to make their way unto the bridegroom, however, as the night wore on they gave themselves to slumber. While they all slept the oil in their lamps went out, however, the five virgins who were wise were prepared and used the additional oil they brought with them to light their lamps once more. The five virgins who were foolish entreated the five who were wise to give them some of their oil that they might light their lamps as well. The five virgins who were wise would not give of their oil unto the other virgins lest their not be enough oil for either group of virgins. Instead the five foolish virgins were entreated to go into the city and buy oil for their lamps that they might be lit once more. The danger with this, however, was that while they went into the city to buy oil the bridegroom came along with his cry and those five virgins who were ready went with the bridegroom and entered into the house whereunto he journeyed. When the five foolish virgins came unto the house after the door had been shut and began knocking on the door the bridegroom declared unto them he never knew them. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the first verse:
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and. You: but go ye rather to them that sell, and but for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say. Unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:1-13).
Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke and another parable Jesus spoke concerning a king who prepared and made ready a feast for his son and invited guests to come unto the feast:
“And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then saith he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I Pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove. Them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So the servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then t the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly in the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (Luke 14:15-24).
There is additional language found and contained within the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke concerning the motif of wedding and the reality surrounding being bidden to come unto such a feast and celebration. Consider the following words which are found in this particular chapter beginning with the seventh verse:
“And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:7-11).
“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or supper, call not thy friends nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed: for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12-14).
Within this passage of Scripture we also find a powerful invitation to discipleship and to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize that within this invitation and call to walk with and follow Jesus is a word of caution and warning that those who consider walking with and following Him consider and count the cost of what it truly means to do so. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found within these gospels it’s the tremendous need and responsibility we have to count and consider the cost of what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. If I am being honest with you who are reading the words found in this writing I would dare say there are many among us within our churches who might very well have made a decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, however, they have not counted nor have they considered the cost of what it truly means to walk with and follow Him. In the same chapter where Jesus speaks of being invited unto a wedding and being invited unto a feast we also find Him speaking directly unto the heart and soul of those who would come after and follow Him and spoke unto them concerning the tremendous need to count and consider the cost of what it truly means to walk with and follow Him. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with the truly incredible need for us to understand and recognize what it truly means to count and consider the cost of what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. Only those who have truly and carefully counted the cost of what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ will be those who will truly be able to stand in the days which are ahead for they know what walking with and following Jesus truly means. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke beginning with the twenty-fifth verse:
“And there went great multitudes with him; and he turned and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and b retired, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciples. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth t he cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest. Haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all t hat behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, golfing to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dung hill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).
Notice within this passage of Scripture how Jesus emphatically declares that if any man would come unto Him and that same man hates not his father, his mother, his wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters and even his own life—that man cannot be his disciple. What’s more is Jesus goes on to declare that whosoever does not bear their cross and come after Him cannot be and is not fit to be His disciple. The rest of this particular discourse describes the tremendous and inherent need when making the decision to come after and follow the Lord Jesus to count and consider the cost of what it means to walk with and follow Him. In all reality this is something which is evidenced elsewhere in the gospels when the apostle Peter would speak unto the Lord Jesus and speak of everything they left behind that they might walk with and follow Him. The apostle Peter would speak unto the Lord Jesus and speak of all they left behind and forsook that they might walk with and follow Him and would even ask Jesus what reward they had in heaven for making such a decision. The Lord Jesus would respond to the apostle Peter and declare unto him that which he could expect—and not only he but any of those who made the decision to forsake and abandon everything to walk with and follow the Lord—for making such a decision. I am convinced we must needs consider this particular exchange which took place between Jesus and the apostle Peter together with the other disciples as well as the words which our Lord spoke which are recorded in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Consider the following words which are found in the gospels concerning this exchange between the apostle Peter as well as the words which Jesus would speak unto His disciples concerning what it means to walk with and follow and come after Him:
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus aid unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:27-30).
“Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall b e last; and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31).
“Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake. Who shall not r receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:28-30).
Within each of these passages of Scripture we find the apostle Peter speaking unto the Lord Jesus concerning all those things which he and the other disciples had forsaken, abandoned and left for the sake of walking with and following the Lord Jesus. The apostle Peter would speak unto Jesus of all those things which they left and forsook that they might walk with and follow Him and Jesus would respond by declaring unto him that there was no man that had left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for His sake and for the sake of the gospel that shall not receive an hundredfold in the next. With this being said, however, it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize that in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark there is something additional that is added to this particular exchanged between Simon Peter, Jesus and the other disciples. In each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke—we find Jesus emphatically declaring that any who had forsaken all these things in this life would receive a hundred fold within this life upon the earth in the kingdom of heaven. With this being said, however, it is recorded in the gospel narrative written by John Mark that those who receive an hundredfold in this life would receive such with persecutions. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when we think of what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus we must recognize that not only does it require us to consider and count the cost, and not only does it require us to abandon and forsake everything we know and have known as Abraham did when he followed the voice of the living God but it can and will bring and carry with it persecutions. Those who truly know and understand what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus recognize and understand that it not only asks and requires of them everything and to consider and count the cost but it might also—and in most cases does—include persecutions. With this being said I invite you to read the following words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John:
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for. A testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when t hey persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of. Man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It. Is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear. Them not. Therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will IN confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny men before men, him will I also deny before myFather which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is. Not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say. Unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they seethe Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).
“These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they. Know not him t hat sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto. Then, they had. Not had. Sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they. Had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, t hat the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated. Me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall b ear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:17-27).
“These things have I spoken unto you, t hat ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killers you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not. Known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, becuase I was with you. But now I go my way. To him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest. Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless. I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of j judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see. Me no more; of judgment because the prince of this world is judged” (john 16:1-11).
“Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, becuase the Father is with me. These things I have spoken. Unto your that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have. Tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. (John 16:32-33).
With all of this language surrounding discipleship and its direct connect and correlation to the spiritual bride of the Lord Jesus Christ I find it absolutely necessary to turn and direct your attention real briefly to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistles written unto the Colossian and Ephesian saints. Within each of these epistles we find a tremendous amount of language concerning the spiritual bride of Christ and how even marriage itself—marriage between a man and a woman I might add—is patterned after this same reality and principle. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that a marriage, a union and a covenant between a man and a woman in marriage is to represent and be a powerful picture of the union that exists between the spiritual bride of Christ and the bridegroom. This is important for us to recognize for when we come to the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find him not only speaking of the Corinthian congregation and saints as a chaste virgin presented before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ but also how there was a tremendous need for purity, for truth, for holiness, for righteousness and for obedience in the sight of the living God. Not only this but we must needs recognize and understand that there is a direct connection between the holiness, the righteousness and the purity we have been called to in this life and the need for discernment as it pertains to false gospels, false spirits, false doctrines, false teaching and even false Messiah’s who have been presented unto us within our culture and society. There is a great need for us to recognize the tremendous assault and attack of the enemy and adversary to deceive the saints of God through false doctrine, false gospels and false teaching. Consider first and foremost the words which are found in the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian and Colossian saints:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of. The church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. SO ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man every yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she r emergence her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers provoke. Not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing. God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Colossians 3:18-24).
You will notice in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints that he speaks of them as being espoused to one husband that they might be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ. With this being said, however, the apostle Paul shifts gears and changes direction and goes on to declare how he feared last by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty so their minds would be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for the apostle Paul was concerned and worried about this particular congregation that they would so easily and so quickly turn away from the truth and the simplicity that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul spent eighteen months laboring among them for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and preached the gospel, the word and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul preached and delivered unto them the true gospel which he received from the Lord Himself and preached the suffering, the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the authentic gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In a world that is saturated by so many false gospels which masquerade and parade themselves as the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ there is a great need for us to be wise and discerning being able to not only hear and discern the true and authentic gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but also discern the voice of the Shepherd who is speaking unto us. We must needs make no mistake about it that there are indeed many false gospels which are being preached among us within this generation.What’s more. Is not only are there many false gospels which are being preached among us in this generation but there are many false Christs—false depictions and false images of who and what Christ looks like in our culture and society.
If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus speaking of the last days and describing how in those days there would be many who would come in His name professing and declaring themselves to be Christ. Jesus made it perfectly and abundantly clear there would be many false Christs and many individuals who would profess that they are Christ’s in that generation. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the last days—and not only the last days but also the generation in which we are living it’s that not only will there be those who will profess themselves to be Christ’s as in disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ but there will also be those who will present false images of Jesus and who He is and what He is like. There is not a doubt in my mind that in the last days there will be countless false gospels that will be preached and which are presently being preached which present a false Jesus whom the apostles and the early church did not preach. There are in these last days in which we are living countless false gospels which are nothing more than cheap imitations and knock offs of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which the apostles and the early church preached. There are countless individuals who come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and give the impression they are of Christ and are walking with and following Him and yet they are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. The apostle Paul was indeed concerned for the Corinthian congregation that their minds and hearts would be drawn away from the simplicity that was found in the person and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having written these words I find it absolutely necessary to not only call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew but also the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the same New Testament gospel. Moreover I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and how the apostle Paul emphatically declared that although we walk in the flesh we do not war in the flesh but against that which is unseen in the spiritual realm. It is also necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. It is also necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia as the churches which were in Galatia had not only entertained a false gospel and a false image of Jesus but they had also departed from the faith, had abandoned the freedom and liberty that is found in the Holy Spirit and were giving themselves unto a lifestyle or religion, of legalism and that which was contrary to the true and authentic gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the eleventh chapter of this second epistle written by the apostle Paul he writes concerning that one who comes preaching another Jesus whom they had not preached, of their receiving another spirit which they have not received, and even another gospel which they had not accepted. In all reality the apostle Paul was seeking to warn them concerning a false gospel, a false spirit and even a false image and presentation of the Lord Jesus which was contrary to the truth which they had heard and received from the apostle and his companions themselves. With this in mind I invite you to consider the above mentioned Scriptures and how they pertain to the need for discernment and wisdom in these last days as we guard our hearts, our minds, our souls and our spirits front hat which would seek to deceive and draw us away from the truth and the simplicity that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdoM: and there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you:and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” Matthew 24:4-14).
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and f also prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:21-28).
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto m e. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).
Consider the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of this same New Testament gospel concerning that which we must needs guard ourselves against in these Last Days in which we are living. Consider the warning Jesus gave concerning wolves who come in sheep’s clothing as well as the warning to those who would even proclaim “Lord, Lord” in the kingdom of heaven and yet would hear Jesus command them to depart from Him for He never knew them and they were workers of iniquity:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and m any there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23).
With this in our minds I would like to invite you to consider the following two passages which are found in the tenth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints:
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in the presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: but I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:1-6).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with t he preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
It is quite clear when reading these two passages of Scripture that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood and that our struggle and conflict is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places. We also. Recognize that although we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh and that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. This is something we must needs acknowledge and recognize in the days and generation in which we are living for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the need for discernment and wisdom during these days. We are indeed living in days of tremendous deception as there are false gospels and even false presentations of an image of Christ that is contrary to Scripture and to the true gospel. What’s more is this is even demonstrated in the image of Christ that is found in the least of these which we encounter on a consistent and every day basis. It’s important for us to recognize that we don’t merely hear of Christ through the preaching of the gospel but we also see and encounter Him in the least of the days. There is a great need for us in these last days to recognize the true gospel when it is being preached and that we shun and flee from any gospel that is contrary to that which is centered upon Scripture. Moreover there is a great need for us as the saints of God and disciples of Christ to recognize and know Christ—who He is, what he is like, what His voice is like and His nature and character—that we might be able to shun and avoid all who would profess they are Christ, would profess themselves to be Christ’s [followers] and those who would attempt to present a false gospel and false image of Christ during the days in which we are living. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbers up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out., and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleets: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleets, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I hav power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:1-18).
Please don’t miss the importance of what is found in this passage of Scripture for within it Jesus makes it perfectly clear that His sheep know His voice. It is because they know His voice that they are able to discern the voice(s) of those who aren’t His and flee from it. Notice within this passage that Jesus speaks of and describes those whose voice is not that of the shepherd the sheep not only refuse to follow him but they will flee from him. This is important for us to recognize for within Scripture we are given the command to flee from those whose voices are not that of the shepherd. We are given the commandment in Scripture to discern the voice of the Shepherd and if we hear a voice that is not the shepherd we are to flee from it. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask is how many among us are able to discern and recognize the true voice of the shepherd in this generation. How many men and women among us are able to discern and recognize the voice of the Shepherd and as a direct result of this are able to discern the false voices of the many who are present among us? Moreover we must needs ask ourselves how many of us recognize the true voice of the shepherd and even His appearance and flee from those who are hirelings. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to be such who are able to discern false gospels and false images of Christ which were formed and fashioned by men and women who neither know Him nor know His voice. There are many and there will be many who will attempt to present a false gospel and a false image of Christ and we must possess within our hearts and our spirits the discernment to hear and discern this false image that we might flee from it. Oh I firmly believe with all my heart that we as the saints of God must needs be those who are able to recognize a false gospel when we hear it and must flee as far and as fast away from it once it is recognized. I am convinced there are men and women among us in this generation who are and have been sitting under a false gospel and have been given a false image of Jesus and desperately need to flee from such a gospel as quickly as possible. What’s more is I am convinced that there are times when the image of Jesus is more clearly seen and visible in “the least of these”—those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who are naked, those who sick, those who are in prison, and the like—than in many of the so-called “gospels” which are being preached in this generation.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia. I am absolutely convinced that we must needs recognize the dangers which faced the churches in Galatia—and not only the dangers which faced those churches but also that which they gave themselves unto. What’s more is when the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church as he prepared to depart unto Jerusalem he would speak to and warn them of the same dangers which the churches of Galatia would face. I believe with all my heart that in these last days we not only need to know and recognize the voice of the shepherd but we also need to know the appearance and appearing of the Shepherd that we might recognize Him when He is truly among us. Not only this but there is a great need for us to recognize and acknowledge the true gospel when it is preached among us and if we are and have been sitting under a false gospel or even a partial or incomplete gospel we immediately flee as far and as fast as we can away from it. Oh that we would be those who guard our hearts, our minds, our souls and our spirits from the rampant and widespread deception that has been and is going to be present within this generation in our culture and society. It is with this in mind I leave you with the following words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia as well as the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church:
“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:25-31).
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).