“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:7–9.
Let us go back to the Garden of Eden where God officiated at the first marriage. How did Adam get his bride? God caused Adam to sleep, and as he slept, God took a rib from his side which He used to make woman. Charmed with her loveliness, Adam exclaimed with words that meant, “We are two of a kind,” when he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Genesis 2:23. And God pronounced them man and wife, saying, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24.
There is a very deep spiritual lesson here. For Adam typified the second Adam—Christ. He left His Father to seek a bride in this world. Christ also slept a very deep sleep, even the sleep of death. And through the twin streams of water and blood which flowed from His side, He won His bride.
“In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people.” The Mount of Blessing, 64. How beautiful!
Because of the limitations of language, the Bible frequently employs symbols to help us to understand. For instance, the Old Testament writers wrote of the Messiah “as a root out of a dry ground,” and “a Man of Sorrows . . . stricken, smitten of God and afflicted . . . And brought as a Lamb to the slaughter.” Isaiah 53:2–7. What a picture of suffering is revealed to us of the Messiah who was to come.
Isaiah painted the coming Messiah in a vastly different picture in Isaiah 63:1–6. Here Christ is shown as One sitting upon the throne of David, glorious in His apparel and treading down the wicked. Because of this description, the Jews had difficulty in reconciling the Messiah’s humiliation with the glory that He was to attain.
National pride wanted a Prince to deliver them from Rome’s galling yoke. But Jesus offered a different kind of deliverance. A deliverance from sin. In rejecting the Saviour they rejected the Holy Spirit that attested to His ministry. That is why Isaiah said, “Who hath believed our report?” Isaiah 53:1. It is the same today as then.
Understanding the Wedding Symbolism
Many make a shipwreck of their faith, when they misunderstand a principle of interpretation of the Scriptures. We need to comprehend that “the Holy Ghost teacheth comparing spiritual things with spiritual . . . which are spiritually discerned,” but “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14.
Let us look at some seeming contradictions. Isaiah speaks of the church as the vine. But “Jesus said, I am the vine.” John 15:5. Christ represented Himself, in Jeremiah 3:14, as married to His people. But in Revelation 21:9, 10, it speaks of Him as married to the New Jerusalem.
We need light about the wedding. There are two parables that provide the clarification that we need. The parable of the wedding garment found in Matthew 22:2–13 shows that a person’s welcome to the wedding depends upon his wearing of the robe of Christ’s righteousness. In Matthew 25:1–13, the parable of the ten virgins teaches that attendance at the wedding depends upon the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life.
Both parables emphasize that the redeemed attend Christ’s wedding and not their own. As we dig deeper, we find in Matthew 22 that the king made a wedding celebration for His Son and the king provided a wedding garment for all the guests. These garments symbolize Christ’s character (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 310.)
This wedding garment never hides unconfessed or unforsaken sin. “No man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ’s righteousness while practicing known sin, or neglecting known duties . . . In order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 366. This absolute truth is in direct opposition to the present false teachings of the new theology.
Before Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them with the light of innocence. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 310) This is further defined as “a covering of light and glory such as the angels wear.” The Story of Redemption, 21. This robe of light signified that they still faced a test of obedience, for the Bible never equates innocence with righteousness.
For example: A young lady in her innocence is pure as the new fallen snow. But when she is tempted to break her virginity before marriage, she cries, No, never! Now she has something more than innocence. For innocence tested has become virtue. So in the spiritual sense this can also be said of righteousness.
The King’s examination of the guests, represents a work of judgment. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 310.) The King sees a man who came to the wedding in his citizen’s garb. He now stands speechless as God asks, “Why did you ignore wearing the special robe that I prepared for you?”
When does the wedding between Christ and His bride take place? “I saw that while Jesus was in the Most Holy Place He would be married to the New Jerusalem.” Early Writings, 251. “While Jesus had been ministering in the Sanctuary . . . The subjects of the kingdom were made up . . . the marriage of the Lamb was consummated.” Ibid., 280.
According to the parable of the ten virgins, there were only five with oil who had made the needed preparation. How is this? “All had lamps, that is, an outward semblance of religion; but only five of them had inward piety. Five of them were wanting in the oil of grace. The spirit of life in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, was not abiding in their hearts.” Sons and Daughters of God, 118.
In speaking of Adventist believers, Ellen White stated in Early Writings, 255, “As they by faith entered the Most Holy, they found Jesus . . . It was represented to me that the remnant followed Jesus into the Most Holy.”
The five foolish virgins represent all those who refuse this light and “are destitute of the Holy Spirit.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 408. From these parables we learn that attendance at the wedding depended on two points. First, wearing the robe of Christ’s righteousness and second having the Holy Spirit abiding within them, controlling the entire life.
Going in to the Wedding
What does the symbolism of this message have as a spiritual lesson for us today? “The marriage represents the reception by Christ, of His kingdom.” The Great Controversy, 426. And in the book of Revelation, John in vision heard a voice saying, “Come hither, and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife . . . And showed me that great city, the Holy Jerusalem . . . prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband.” Revelation 21:9, 10, 2.
“The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is the capital and representative of the kingdom, is called, ‘the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ ” Ibid., 426. In the Revelation the people of God are said to be the guests at the marriage supper. If guests, they cannot be represented as the bride. How do we harmonize these statements?
The guests were not to be present in person at the marriage. For, it takes place in heaven while they are upon the earth. (See The Great Controversy, 427.) The followers of Christ are to wait for the Lord when He will return from the wedding. But we are to understand His work and to follow Him by faith as He goes in before God. It is in this sense that they are said to go into the marriage.
It is clear that we become the bride by first becoming the guests. The phrases, “not present in person,” and “to follow Him by faith,” help us to grasp the significance of the celestial wedding as it relates to each of us. Like Moses, we must follow Jesus by faith, “seeing Him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27. Ever since the disappointment of 1844, the wise virgins with oil in their lamps have entered, by faith, into heaven’s Most Holy Place to attend the marriage of the Lamb. And so today, everyone who is led by the Holy Spirit enters the Most Holy Place by faith. This is how God counts us as being present today. “All who through the testimony of the Scriptures accept the same truths, following Christ by faith as He enters in before God to perform the last work of mediation, and at its close to receive His kingdom—all these are represented as going into the marriage.” The Great Controversy, 427.
Have we entered the Most Holy Place by faith? Does the knowledge of what takes place in heaven’s sanctuary stir a deep devotion within our hearts to be ready for His soon coming? Why do I ask these questions? Because in 1890, many of the professed believers were unprepared. Ellen White said at that time, “The people have not entered into the Holy Place, where Jesus has gone to make an atonement for His children.” The Review and Herald, February 25, 1890.
That was a startling pronouncement for those living then. Have we changed for the better? Do we today live as wise virgins, keeping our lamps trimmed and burning with the oil of the Holy Spirit? “I am often referred to the parable of the ten virgins, five of whom were wise, and five foolish. This parable has been and will be fulfilled to the very letter, for it has a special application to this time, and like the third angel’s message, has been fulfilled and will continue to be present truth till the close of time.” The Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.
Ask yourself the question, “Has the subject of Christ’s righteousness become my daily object to be obtained in life? Can my neighbors see a living Christ enthroned in all that I do?” Why do I press this point? Because, “Not one in one hundred understands for himself the Bible truth on this subject.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 360.
This is why Satan is determined to keep God’s people from obtaining a clear presentation of Christ’s work for us in the heavenly Sanctuary. “For he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.” The Review and Herald, September 3, 1889.
Righteousness is Right Doing
What does this term, “righteousness by faith,” mean? If you will search the Spirit of Prophecy you will find some forty definitions. Here are some sample statements. “Righteousness is right doing.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.
“Righteousness is holiness . . . Righteousness is love . . . The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.” The Mount of Blessing, 18.
“The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God.” The Desire of Ages, 310.
This doctrine may seem simple to understand, but we will never obtain the righteousness of Christ if we are not daily filled with the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. In Selected Messages, vol. 1, 374, we read, “Through faith the Holy Spirit works in the heart to create holiness therein; but this cannot be done unless the human agent will work with Christ. We can be fitted for heaven only through the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart; for we must have Christ’s righteousness as our credentials if we would find access to the Father. In order that we may have the righteousness of Christ, we need daily to be transformed by the influence of the Spirit, to be a partaker of the divine nature. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to elevate the taste, to sanctify the heart, to ennoble the whole man.”
“Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. In that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us.” Steps to Christ, 63. Christ’s righteousness provides both an instant and a continual experience.
God wants us to take Him at His word, and God makes no idle promises. A story has been told of Napoleon and his horse that illustrates this point. During a battle, Napoleon’s white charger got away from him. A Private rushed out and caught the horse by the bridle and led him to the General.
Pleased, the General said, “Thank you, Captain.”
The Private saluted. “What regiment, Sir?” he asked.
The Private had accepted as a fact, what Napoleon had intended as a thank you. Napoleon could not go back on his word, so he made the Private a Captain.
We should take God at His word and press our petitions with a determination that cannot be denied. “If you believe the promise—God supplies the fact . . . It is so, if you believe it.” Steps to Christ, 51. The astounding truth is that at the moment a sinner becomes a believer, he stands before God as though he had never sinned.
What a glorious truth! Praise His name! The true believer always accepts God’s conditions—obedience, made possible by the help of the Holy Spirit. The believer receives even more than forgiveness. God places to His account the perfect righteousness of Christ. What a God of love! It sounds unbelievable, but it is true.
How can God make this possible? It is through the agency of the Holy Spirit that we become new creatures. “Made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. God holds nothing back. The Bible tells us of God’s righteousness. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.” Psalm 119:142.
Ellen White observes: “The provision made is complete, and the eternal righteousness of Christ is placed to the account of every believing soul.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 394. The eternal righteousness! God offers nothing less. God could not have offered more.
The term “righteousness by faith” in Christ, includes both imputed and imparted righteousness, for the Holy Spirit provides both. “Ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 2 Corinthians 6:11. We must understand that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us a fitness for heaven.
“It is by the Spirit of truth, working through the Word of God, that Christ subdues His chosen people to Himself . . . Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil.” The Desire of Ages, 671.
“When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.
This is what was stated at the beginning of this article. When God united Adam and Eve in marriage (Genesis 3:24), He said, “They shall be one flesh.” So now we can understand the statement that righteousness by faith is the third angel’s message in verity. Evangelism, 190. Because it represents the uplifted Saviour. (See Testimonies to Ministers, 91).
“Only those who are clothed in the garments of His righteousness will be able to endure the glory of His presence when He shall appear with power and great glory.” Sons and Daughters of God, 368.
“The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 97, 98.
Thus, we shall be imbued with the latter rain’s power. The Adventist message is to throb with such divine energy that it will go to the world. “Everyone is to hear the last call to the marriage supper of the Lamb. From town to town, from city to city, from country to country, the message of present truth is to be proclaimed, not with outward display, but in the power of the Spirit.” Gospel Workers, 27.
The Fellowship of The Spirit
No amount of preparation you make will avail you of a place at the marriage supper unless you personally experience the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. “The fellowship of the Spirit . . . could alone make you one with the joyous throng at the marriage feast.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 413.
This heaven sent light of the sealing, the shut door, and the wedding call, demands our whole hearted response—for this is our present truth. To look for more or greater light while neglecting these truths will result in spiritual darkness.
The apostle Paul describes such persons. “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth.” 2 Timothy 3:7. Jesus pleads, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35.
Some today imagine that the church needs more research, a new clarification of her doctrines, in other words, more new light. But what is needed now is to act upon the light already given. “The Lord does not propose to perform for us either the willing or the doing.” Testimonies to Ministers, 240. “Unless the human agent inclines his heart to do God’s will, and takes up God’s service, the light will shine in vain. A thousandfold more light and conviction would accomplish nothing. God knows He has sufficient evidence already.” Letter 135, 1898. (See Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 35.)