04/08/16One of the most common messages I heard from the earliest days after I received Christ as Savior was that Jesus is coming back for a Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish, and if I wanted to qualify to be taken by Him in the rapture, He had to find me totally pure. No taint of sin in my life. And so for years, I worked as hard as I could to get rid of the spots and wrinkles in my life, which were quite many. In fact, the more I tried to get rid of them, the more they seemed to increase and the more conscious I became of them. Over time, I became very frustrated because I wasn’t making progress at all and I got so scared that if Jesus came back right then, I certainly wouldn’t be among the number to be taken. I simply wasn’t good enough. And as I got older and started seeing wrinkles appear on my body, I became even more desperate.
The teachings I heard appeared to suggest that things would be better for the believers who would have died by the time Jesus came, because they would all be resurrected whether or not they had died with spots or wrinkles in their lives, but for those who would be alive, if Christ found them with any sin in their lives, they would not be taken in the rapture and thus would be lost forever. So I concluded that the best way to prepare for Jesus’ coming was to die before He came, because then at least I would be sure of being resurrected with a glorious body and meeting the Lord in the air! But then I didn’t want to die right then as I believed deep down in me that I still had a purpose to keep living for a while longer. But on the other hand, living meant being insecure and only hoping that if Jesus happened to come on whatever day, He would find when I would have just completed confessing all my sins, which at least would make me pure enough to be taken. But then He said no one would know the hour of His return. So it was a matter of trying and hoping that by some luck, He would find me ready.
Jesus is the One to make the Church without spot or wrinkle
Then by the grace of God I found out a liberating truth in Ephesians 5:25, ‘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’.
Here are the truths the Lord revealed to me from the above passage that totally set me free and till today, I rejoice in these truths:
1. I had heard that the above passage taught that the Lord Jesus was not going to come back until the Church made herself ready by ridding herself of all spots and wrinkles.
But as I studied, I couldn’t see anything like that said here.(It is amazing how many things we believe that are not even in the Bible).
2. In His love, the Savior gave Himself for the Church, so that He would sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the Word.
3. That He would present the Church to Himself, having no spot or wrinkle, blemish or any such thing but holy and without blemish
The teaching here is not that the Church died for herself, and sanctifies herself and cleanses herself; and then presents herself to Christ without spot, wrinkle or blemish. It is Christ who does all these things all the way. He is the One who works on the Church, makes her ready and then presents her to Himself. So the readiness of the Church to meet Him is not dependent on man’s work but on Christ’s work.
[b]The body will always have spots and wrinkles
I found out that it was a lack of revelation of what happened in me at the new birth that had made me think I was full of spots and wrinkles and therefore was unready for the rapture. I thought being without spot and wrinkle meant being 100% perfect in my spirit, soul and body, and that I was the one to do it all.
Writing in 1 Corinthians 15:50, Paul stated that‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption’. The subject matter in this chapter is resurrection and the rapture. Paul said that the physical human body as it is – flesh and blood – can never inherit the Kingdom, which in context here refers to being taken to heaven in the rapture, because it is corrupt. It is tainted with sin.
No matter how holy a believer gets to be in their actions in this life, they will always have a corrupt body i.e. a body that has spots, wrinkles and blemishes. Romans 8:10 says that the body of the believer is dead to God (separated from God) because of sin but the born again spirit is alive to God because at the new birth it is made the righteousness of God in Christ. The mortal, human bodyas it is cannot become alive unto God.
Therefore, the body can never be without spot, wrinkle or blemish in this life. Paul said our bodies are continually perishing (2 Corinthians 4:16). Perishing is not of God. Christ came that we may not perish. The fact that the body perishes is evident that it is not alive unto God; it is dead. And that will always remain the state of the natural human body. Through faith in the indwelling Holy Spirit, the body can experience the life of God – be healed, strengthened, aging rate reduced, long life, etc – but it never becomes alive unto God in itself. When Jesus comes back, He will find the bodies of all believers full of spots, wrinkles and blemishes, and that is why He will have to change them into glorified bodies, before He can take them with Him to heaven.
Therefore, the Church being without spot or wrinkle is not referring to the physical bodies of believers being perfect and sinless.
The soul will always have spots, wrinkles and blemishes
The soul – the mind, emotions, will – too never becomes perfect, without spot and wrinkle in this life. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 states that, ‘For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away’. There is never a day when any believer in this life can say, ‘I know it all. My emotions are 100% in agreement with the Word and my will conforms to God 100% of the time’. That is why we never stop renewing our minds (Romans 12:2).
It is the born again spirit that has no spot, wrinkle, blemish
The only part of the believer that ever gets to be without spot, wrinkle, blemish or any such thing is the born again spirit. When a person receives Christ and becomes a new creature, their spirit is re-born without any imperfections or corruption it. At that moment, the Lord Jesus sanctifies and cleanses the believer’s spirit with the washing of the water by the Word so that it becomes perfect.
In Peter 1:23, the Bible says that we are‘born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abidethforever’. You see, the born again spirit is birthed out of the incorruptible seed, by the Word of Truth. That means it is without corruption. It is spotless. It is clean. It isn’t waiting to be cleansed or washed one day, after we struggle. The moment we receive Christ, in the twinkling of an eye, our spirits are cleansed and washed from all the filth of sin and we are presented to God perfect. It is God doing it all through. We do nothing except believe. In that powerful experience, we become one – identical – with Christ Himself:
The Church – the born again family of God - is right now without spot or wrinkle or blemish in the spirit. Understanding that will make you stop wondering whether Christ will ever have a Church without spot or wrinkle. He already has her. And if you are born again, you are in there too, praise God. Every one born again child of God is without spot or wrinkle or blemish in their spirits, else they wouldn’t have anything to do with the Lord.
The Lord Jesus is not coming for your body which is so full of spots and wrinkles. He will have to change that. And He will have to elevate your soul too so that you can know as you are now known. But nothing will be done to your spirit because it is already without any spot or wrinkle. That is why the Holy God lives in your spirit. If your re-born spirit had any spots or wrinkles, God wouldn’t be indwelling you, since He cannot co-exist with sin.
Right now, you are perfect in your re-born spirit
Hebrews 12:22-23 says, ‘But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect’As a born again child of God, youhave come – not will come some day in the future after you struggle, and strive, and moan – to Mt. Zion, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the First Born (Jesus) who are written in heaven and to the spirits of just men made perfect. All these are present realities.The company that you become part of by the new birth is one of ‘spirits of just (righteous, justified) men made perfect’. In other words, all people who belong to the Church of the First Born have their spirits made perfect – i.e. without spot or wrinkle or blemish, whether there are on earth or in heaven. The spirit of the believer already qualifies for what is written in Ephesians 5:25-26. Your born again spirit has already been presented to God perfect. It has been re-created, cleansed and washed by the Word.
1 Corinthians 6:17 says‘But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit’.If we are one spirit with the Lord, that means what the Lord is, we are in spirit. Therefore, for the born again believer to have spots or wrinkles in theirre-born spiritwould mean the Lord Jesus has them too. But since He is holy and righteous and pure, we are too, in our spirits. That is what 1 John 4:17 is talking about: ‘… as he is, so are we in this world’. John didn’t say as Jesus is, so shall we be in the next world. No. As Jesus is, right now, so are we in this world. That can’t refer to our bodies or souls, because it is obvious they have spots, wrinkles and blemishes all over.
Beloved, the day the Lord Jesus returns, He is not going to find a Church that is a stranger to Him; a bunch of desperate folk, working hard to make themselves ready by ridding themselves of spots, wrinkles and blemishes. To begin with, you have absolutely no ability to sanctify or purify yourself enough for God to pay you back with the rapture. No. The rapture is going to be a work of grace, and it will be the Lord doing it. And He has made you ready and qualified you to partake of it the day you accepted Him as Lord and Savior by giving you a spirit that has no spot, wrinkle or any such thing. You are ready to meet Christ in the air, if you are in Christ. Now, if you haven’t believed in the Lord Jesus as Savior, you are not ready to meet Him at all. But that can all change by simply inviting Him to come into your life, and in an instant, your spirit will be made without spot, wrinkle, blemish or any such thing, ready to meet Him at the Second coming.
God will have a Church
Friend, when the Lord Jesus set out to establish the Church, His vision was (and is) for a victorious, holy, spotless Church. Now if you know anything about Jesus, you know that when He sets out to do something, He is going to get it done. He set out to establish a holy, sinless Church, and He is going to have her. He is not a quitter.
In Philippians 1:6, Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi that thegood work God had begun in them, He was going to accomplish it. He didn’t say they were going to accomplish it but that He (God) would.
The Lord Jesus has never left the destiny of the Church in the hands of fallible, weak, human beings. He died for this thing, man! The Church being without spot and wrinkle is not in the hands of preachers, or anybody else. No. The Master promised that He (not some man, woman or whoever) would build His Church and no devil, no sin, no preacher’s mistake, no attack would bring down His Church, praise God (Mathew 16:18). That is shouting ground right there, isn’t it?
A few years ago, the media in Uganda was awash with stories daily of preachers messing up in all kinds of ways and there were believers who got very worried that the Body of Christ was going to suffer irreparably, and maybe the Church would collapse. I told them that the destiny of the Church is not in the hands of human beings so that when they mess, the Church goes down with them.
Friend, the Lord gave His life for this Church, and you can be sure He has not left her destiny to the performance of imperfect human beings. This Church is going to turn out as Christ envisioned her: strong and without spot, wrinkle or any such thing. No man, no power, no devil, no sin, no wickedness, nothing in this world or the next is going to stop this from happening. The Church, my brother, is in good hands! Jesus is going to have His Church presented to Him, now and throughout eternity, spotless,pure, holy, without blemish or wrinkle-less. And if you are born again, you are already among the number. Rest in total trust in your Savior and let Him do what only He can do. Say it with me, ‘In Christ, I have been sanctified and cleansed with the washing of the Water by the Word, and my Lord Christ has presented me and will present me to Himself without spot, blemish or any such thing, but pure and without blemish’.