Being Loyal to Christ and His Bride

Read Revelation 17-18

What is the Bride?

As we know, the “Bride” is the Church. This is Christ’s identification with His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children.

This is beyond a mere metaphor as it is about the life, love, and joy that a first century marriage celebration represented that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with one another in our covenant of Grace.

And in Revelation, this is also a contrast to the divorce of the harlot and a stern warning to John’s people in his church, to not to cheat on our Lord by way of our pride, false worship, false teaching, or our apathy or arrogance, or anything that gets in the way of us pointing His Bride to the Redeemer (Ex. 22:16; Is. 54:5-7; Hos. 2:19-20; Matt. 9:15; 22:2; John 2:1-3; 3:29; 22:2-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Heb. 2:5; 6:5; 1 John 1:3-10; Rev. 19:7; 21:1-8 ).

The passage goes on to say that evil is judged and condemned while true spirituality in Christ is eternally rewarded and beneficial. This is also about our own vindication, and all the benefits we have when we are in Christ. We are a part of His Kingdom that is being showcased in this passage, so we who are in Christ can sing a loud and clear Hallelujah!

The imagery of Rome in this passage is “Babylon” and may be referring to the persecution and martyrdom the early Christians faced in life under Rome, perhaps as illustration for some of us and reality to many others today and the principle point to his churches. In addition, this is a template for how evil and its power operates in the past, present, as well as in the future. This is about how pastors and church leaders go wrong by chasing themselves and not Christ. This is about how evil does not always know it is evil, because it is blinded by pride and self will, in the church and in society. This is also leading to its future–its self-destruction.

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this. Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else? Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

Rome gave away food to appease its citizens while they enticed them with sins and heinous amusements of people being slaughtered in arenas. Placating to Rome gave one privileges; standing up to it gave one death or the loss of land and rights. The issue before the Church was compromise and loyalty–would their allegiance be to a prostitute Rome, to Christ, or to what?

Some theologians have suggested that “Babylon” referred to apostate Jerusalem, but there is little Jewish evidence for that. Jerusalem has already fallen. Also, the principle arguments against Jerusalem as the subject matter of this passage is that it does not sit on many waters nor did it reign over other nations at this time!

The bottom line for us in church leadership is, how is evil affecting and effecting your ministry, your vision, you perceptions and your church?

Other Significant Growth Factors that come from these top Seven

That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5: 19

8. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have leaders who focus on Christ and serve Him. Their leadership style is not by will; it is by being a servant. “Servant Leadership” is modeled and practiced.

9. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have people that are disciplined and growing in Christ. This is the reason they are loving and caring, practicing the “one another” passages. They are enamored by God’s presence in their church and life, and thus place Christ first, acting on His character and call! They are not selfish or inwardly focused, but care for others and focus on their community and world.

10. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a system of pastoral care. They train their staff and leaders to immediately respond when they hear of a church member in need. They hire licensed, qualified people and/or train and assign trained deacons or care workers; also, a key person is in charge.

11. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have effective evangelism, stewardship, and discipleship. These programs come from those top seven factors! As people are transformed, they can be taught and motivated. They also tend to spend at least one-third of their resources of budget and talent in outreach and missions.

12. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a well thought out, biblically empowered vision and mission statement. This is clearly defined by a purpose that points to Christ, and strategies on what God has called them to do and be. In addition, the people know this and are willing to act on it. It is one thing to write it out, but another thing to act it out. The vision does not lead the church; rather, it s a motto that encapsulates the work of the Spirit and the precepts of Scripture that calls, empowers, and employs the church. A vision is a sign to show what is happening and help others see the direction of the church so they know where to go. A vision will not motivate or lead, just as placing a label for soda on a can of water does not make it a soda.

13. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ tend to organize and mobilize their people according to their Spiritual Gifts! The people are more content and motivated so serve in a team manner when they serve in their area of their giftedness. The quarrels and apathy will dry up as the energies are redirected and channeled in a godly way. People will function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit.

14. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ empower the people in their care. They are training, discipling, recognizing, and encouraging their people, especially those in critical roles. They do not see or use volunteers just as helpers or as people to control and manipulate, but as the essential tools and prime resources with which to glorify God, enablers of the goals of missions and needs to be reached. These churches see the pastor as the trainer for the congregation. If the senior pastor feels they do not have the gifts and abilities to equip and train others to do ministry (what the biblical principle of a “pastor” is), the church hires or build teams around them that do! If the training is not done, the church will fail! Some pastors are great teachers, but cannot do anything else. A pastor must operate in his gifted area, and encourage others who will compensate for him in the areas where he is weak or does not have the time.

15. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ are willing to and do confront sin, evil, gossip, slander, manipulators, and heresy in the church—immediately! The leadership puts down gossip and solves conflict quickly. Healthy churches move ahead in purpose and unity.

16. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have pastors who are real, joyful, and authentic, and lead healthy, disciplined lives. Their leaders are learning and growing in community with one another, willing to go beyond their prejudices and fears and embrace Christ. They are willing to publicly repent, apologize for past mistakes, make improvements, and change. They do not have thick skin as much as loving hearts, and they give people grace and room to grow. They are not afraid to step on the toes of others, but remain loving, listening, and firmly uncompromising to the Word.