'And a voice came from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His bondservants, you who fear Him, the small and the great." And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunders, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready"’ (Rev. 19:5-7).

Notice that it doesn’t say that the Lord made the bride ready. No. It says that "the bride made herself ready." It is WE who are to make ourselves ready for the coming of the Lord. Many believers know that if we walk in the light as God is in the light the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn. 1:7). But that is only one side of the truth. The other side of the truth is that we too must cleanse ourselves. Consider these three verses in this connection:

(1) 1 Jn. 3:3: "And everyone who has this hope PURIFIES HIMSELF as He is pure". The previous verse speaks about our becoming like Christ, when He returns. But what is the ONE mark of those who have the hope of Christ's return in their hearts? They purify themselves constantly. And when do they stop? Only when they are as pure as Christ is!! So we could say, quite Scripturally, that, "everyone who does NOT have the hope of the second coming of Christ can be identified by this fact, that he does NOT purify himself in his daily life upto Christ's standard of purity!!"

(2) 2 Cor. 7:1: "Having these promises, beloved, let us CLEANSE OURSELVES from ALL defilement of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God." The promises referred to here are the ones found in the previous verses (2 Cor.6:14-18), which are very similar to the exhortation in Revelation 18:4: "Come out of her, my people." Here we read: "'Come out from their midst and be separate', says the Lord, 'and I will receive you and be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.'" The condition for those promises to be fulfilled is that we cleanse ourselves. What do we have to cleanse ourselves from? From ALL defilement of flesh and spirit. It is thus that the Bride of Christ makes herself ready. So it is obvious now that not all believers can claim to be part of the bride of Christ, because the vast majority of them don’t have the slightest interest in cleansing themselves.

(3) 2 Tim. 2:20,21: "In a large house (this is the church) there are not only gold and silver vessels (these are the overcomers), but also vessels of wood and of earthenware and some to honour and some to dishonour. Therefore if a man CLEANSES HIMSELF from these things, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." We all start out as dishonourable vessels - converted but not Christ-like. But here we are told that we can cleanse ourselves and become honourable, sanctified (set apart from sin) golden vessels, that are useful for the Master for every good work that He has in mind for us. It all depends on how seriously we take our calling to cleanse ourselves.

Zac Poonen