God Wants a Real Bride, Not a Trophy Bride
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Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Thessalonians 5:23

I have often heard that the Great Controversy between God and Satan is about whether we can keep God’s law, and that God is wanting to produce a people who perfectly obey His law before He comes.  However, in my own personal study of God’s Word, and the Spirit of Prophecy, while I find more than plenty of promises to help us obey His law, I do not find that is what the Great Controversy is all about. What I find, is that the Great Controversy, or the Conflict of the Ages, is about whether or not God is love. As a matter of fact, if you have ever read the 5 volume Conflict of the Ages, Series from the Spirit of Prophecy, have you noticed that the first line of the first book is “God is love,” and that the very last line of the last book is “God is Love”? That is what the conflict is all about!

Many are familiar with this passage from Christ Object Lessons page 69, “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  While nothing changes about the truth of that statement, I believe we need to change how we apply that truth. Have you ever heard the phrase, “trophy bride”? That is when a man who wants to impress his peers shows up at a party with his beautiful, perfectly proportioned, flawless-complexioned wife to show off for all to see. There may be no depth to their relationship but he likes to show her off to everyone.

Friends, I don’t believe God is looking for a trophy bride. I don’t believe He wants a perfect church to show off to the universe. I believe He wants a deep and meaningful relationship with His bride, the church. By God’s grace we can live victorious overcoming lives, but that is not what it is all about. God wants to remove sin, not so that He can show us off as some sort of trophy bride, but so that He can restore His relationship and dwell right inside us. While God dwelling right inside us will solve the sin problem, more importantly to Christ it restores the relationship. Meanwhile, with the relationship restored, the perfection of love is seen between God and His church and in the members of the church, thus letting the world see that God is love, so they too can make an intelligent decision to have or not to have a relationship with God.

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God Wants a Real Bride, Not a Trophy Bride — 10 Comments

  1. Though I would have wanted to agree fully with that statement I would dare not in light of the fact that if “trophy” means perfectly obeying God’s law through the working of the Holy Spirit in the mind, then I would have to say that He does want a trophy bride. Now what He does in view of the universe cannot be construed or compared to what a man does in “showing off” an attractive woman Psalm 50:21 …thou thoughtest that I was altogether [such an one] as thyself: [but] I will reprove thee, and set [them] in order before thine eyes… The controversy is deeper and God’s purpose in giving law to his universe is way deeper than fallen minds think…The whole universe with the exception of this earth, is perfectly keeping that law, because of that their relationship with God is harmonious.

    If God cannot rescue his bride fully from the cancer of sin can the rest of the universe confide and trust His power to keep them in freedom (true freedom is the absence of sin)? How could they trust His way if another force is stronger than His? If the church cannot be made perfect, cannot be made a spectacle to men and to angels, how can the universe be confident in the power and word of God if it will return to Him void?

    This is what God wants: “The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.” (The Great Controversy, Ellen White, p 678.3)

    What is love?…that is synonymous with the character of God…"The character formed here must be after the likeness of Christ’s character, or we can never hear the welcome, 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'”…(Manuscript Releases 9, Ellen White,, p 373.1)

    I would have loved to marshal more evidence that a positively growing relationship with God and complete surrender in strict obedience are synonymous and necessary for Jesus to finish His work of cleansing His church but I’m anxious to get a response so I will be tempered in my responses to see where this was headed…

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  2. God is Love. . .His Law is His Character. . .It demonstrates love through "judgment, mercy and faith" Matt. 23:23. EGW says "the same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law." It appears that unabashed faith, love and hope in the cleansing power and name of Jesus Christ to "keep us from falling" is the "trophy" God wishes to display to the universe!

    The story of Job confirms God's wish to "show off" the beautiful lives of those who love him and therefore eschew evil. According to II Cor. 5:17 and Col. 1: 27 & 28, the indwelling of Christ thru the power of the Holy Spirit is what we need to make it through what is now, and the terrible things to come.

    And at the end of it all, Revelation 12:11 says those standing in testimony to the saving power of Christ's blood will have overcome "by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony." James 1:18 says we are a kind of "firstfruits" of His creatures. God is looking for someone whom He can point to and say, "My child, my son or daughter, My Friend". . .

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  3. Adam and Eve were created for relationship with God. It's time to restore that experience. In doing so, we will keep the law but not in our own power or confidence. It will be a by-product of the relationship with God because without Him we can do nothing.
    Thanks for a great post William!

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  4. To compare how God displays his Bride to the universe with a man displaying a trophy wife to his friends is, with due respect, nearly blasphemous. However, having said that, let us compare the motives of one and the other,

    The man with the trophy wife loves himself. His motive obviously is to impress others, and he uses his beautiful wife. He probably does not love her. Should she become desfigured she would most likely be replaced. Jesus loves his Bride, the church. When she became desfigured, Jesus did not replace her. He gave his life for her.

    God is love. His motive is love, and when He displays something, be it the beauty of nature, the perfection of his servant Job, or the future perfection of his people, He is not selfishly motivated by a desire to be praised. His motive is love for all his creatures. Satan has said many lies, and belief in his lies has caused untold misery to God's creatures. One of such lies is that God is not fair in requiring obedience from fallen humans. His people keeping the law perfectly will prove that God is just and Satan a liar. This will not only help us, but all unfallen beings in the universe. This will remove doubts forever, so, God's motive is love always.

    You cannot say that any aspect of the plan of salvation is not important. But to compare God with a man who, by definition does not love his "trophy wife" but himself only, seems to me a proposition which does not pass the test of prayerful evaluation.

    God bless all of us.

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  5. Clay,you have changed my defination of what I meant by "trophy" and are trying to start an arguement. Sorry I won't take the bate. I am too busy spreading the gospel right now.

    Carlos, my post is quite clear that there is no comparrison between God and a man who just wants to show a bride off. That is the whole point of my post. Some people can never get past the legalism to see a God of love who wants a relationship. They are the ones who compare God to a shallow husband wanting a trophy bride, not me. Please be respectful even if you disagree and try to focus on what is actually being said. Thank you.

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    • Forgive me if I misinterpreted what you meant by the phrase "trophy bride"... If what the Jews in Jesus' day did by adding to the law in order to keep it in a desperate human effort to make themselves glorious then in that way I could've understood that with human devisings it could not work, God does not want a trophy bride that way because there was no cooperation with God. There was no argument intended I just wanted to see where you were going. When I read the Spirit of Prophecy it is clear that a proper definition of what love is and what a relationship with God is is essential in understanding the plan of Salvation. She says of Lucifer, To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God's love. Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. This choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him. But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan's sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God's love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God. {DA 761.5}.
      Be blessed.

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      • No problem Clay. Thank you for writing back. I think the prodigal son's brother is a good example of what I am trying to say. He worked hard in his father's house for years, doing all kinds of good works. However at the end of the story, the brother is complaining he has never had a big party in his honor. I can imagine this must have hurt the father. The father assumed the son was working because he was his son and loved him. The father thought the works were notivated by a relationship. Turns out no, it was motivated by self interest. So the father has a son full of good works, but not interested in a relationship with the father, as is seen by the fact that the brother distances himself from the family by saying "your son" instead of "my brother." God wants to remove the sin problem so He can have a relationship with his bride the church. Yes good works are important and good works are totally possible. Victory over sin can be ours. Still God's goal does not end there. He wants a relationship with his bride the church. When we see that God is love, our eyes are opened to Satan's lying accusations about God, which paves the way for overcoming sin.

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  6. In criticizing Williams article it seems that some have done what evolutionists do to Michael Behe's book "Darwin's Black Box." Most of the time they attack the examples used in the book rather than the main point of the thesis. It's like stripping a tree of all its leaves then declaring that you have killed the tree. The real issue lies at the root not in the peripheral things used in supporting the thesis. In my opinion William makes a very valid point concerning God's desired relationship to His creation which is the thesis of his article rather than the term "trophy bride".

    Even though that is my analysis of some of the comments that is not what concerns me the most. What I wish to comment about is the place of sanctification in the Christian life with respect to salvation which is something several comments bring up in one way or another. I think we all can agree that sanctification is very important and that without it salvation becomes meaningless. In other words, what use is there in saving a confirmed and hardened murderer? What change would there be on planet earth if that was the end result of the controversy? So to me there will be a change - sin will not be immortalized - it will be destroyed!

    Now, that being said we need to consider the value that Paul and others placed on sanctification as a means of salvation. I think it is obvious that throughout all the New Testament its writers expected the church to have good works for they constantly straightened out their congregations concerning what they did. But is that the means by which we are saved?

    Technically, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph 2:8-9 NKJV). We are indeed made for good works but that is not how we are saved. So, in keeping with the concept of the gift Paul spent the better part of two lengthy letters on the subject using the term "justification" which doesn't include our works (Gal 2:16). In my opinion the reason why he chose that term rather than sanctification is twofold:

    First sanctification concerns itself only with the present and doesn't have anything to do with the past. Because of that past sins are not dealt with and we are left with condemnation because of them. Justification, on the other hand, deals with both present and past therefore it completely clears the slate which leaves us without any condemnation to deal with.

    Secondly, the process of sanctification has to do with the improvement of ourselves throughout our lifetime while justification is strictly a product of the divine without our involvement. Even though we require God's power and guidance in order to produce a sanctified life we still enter into the picture through what we do on a physical level. Justification is different in that the only thing we have to do with it is to accept a declaration by God that we are considered righteous. Justification, therefore, doesn't require us to do anything physically but simply to believe by faith in what God has declared.

    Justification is only a declaration while sanctification is an actual change. That is one reason why God's covenant with Abraham was stated and ratified based on faith prior to circumcision rather than after it (Rom 4). It is also why scripture says that Abraham's faith, "was accounted to him for righteousness" (Rom 4:22 NKJV; see Gen 15:6) prior to the covenant as well.

    There are many texts that describe man's inability to perform good works by himself (Jer 13:23; Jn 15:5; Rom 7:14-23, etc.). That is why our salvation depends on a declaration by God rather than on our performance and why the new covenant doesn't include anything we are to do (Heb 8:10-12). Paul recognized that situation when he declared of himself, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Phil 3:12 NKJV). He recognized that sanctification never ends in this life and that we are actually perfect only through the declaration of justification. As Ellen White said, "Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. Satan lives, and is active, and every day we need to earnestly cry to God for help and strength to resist him. As long as Satan reigns we shall have self to subdue, besetments to overcome, and there is no stopping place. There is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained." (Review and Herald, May 6, 1862 par. 25)

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