In ancient times a dowry was expected before every marriage. It was a sum of money, or an article of wealth that was given to the parents of the engaged spouse. Even today, in many countries, this is necessary before a wedding contract can be completed. In India the bride must pay a dowry to the groom’s parents, while in Africa the groom must pay the bride’s family. In Israel, the bride had to bring a dowry to her husband. It is believed that the fragrant oil used to wash the feet of Jesus was indeed, Mary’s dowry; it was her life savings. Our relationship with Jesus involves a wedding covenant, for we are His bride. There is a dowry that disciples bring to the Lord, and in return, He gives a dowry back. I have discovered seven things that the Lord expects us to give Him, and seven things that He gives us. This exchange of gifts and blessings can only be completed if we are His disciples. It is important therefore that we understand the difference between being a believer and being a disciple, so we can fulfill the dowry. A believer is saved by grace, but may still, not be under the discipline of Christ. A disciple, however, is not just a believer, he picks up his cross and obeys the Lord with his whole heart.
Believers or Disciples
Many Christians agonize over the doctrine of salvation. Some are legalistic or heavy-handed, because they do not see the biblical distinction between believers and disciples.
Salvation is a free gift of God, not by works, lest any man should boast. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This happened with the thief on the cross. Repent, believe on the Lord Jesus, confess Him with your mouth, stay in God’s grace, and you will go to heaven when you die. As a pastor for more than 40 years, I have known thousands of people who confessed the Lord, and repented but did not live as they should. I know that most of them will still go to heaven, because of God’s grace.
That however, is a long way from being a disciple. A disciple is one who comes under the disciplines of Christ. They pick up their cross, deny themselves, and follow Jesus with faith and obedience. Unless a person denies himself and follows after the Lord, they cannot be His disciple.
Heaven is a big place, and no one goes there except through Jesus, but I am convinced that many who go there are messed up. I have known many messed up people.
The scripture says that narrow is the way that leads to life Mt. 7:13. The word life in this verse is not eternal life, it is the Greek word Zoe; it means abundant life. Narrow is the way that leads to abundant life. Jesus promises abundant life for disciples, but not if someone is just a believer.
The dowry Jesus gives is for those who meet His conditions. Perhaps you know of Christians who struggle, fail and scrape their way through life. It is not for us to judge them, for each one must judge himself, but God promises abundant life to those who give everything to Him. This teaching is a Bible truth. I have seen it fulfilled in the lives of other people, and I have experienced it myself.
Let us look at the requirements of being a disciple. Remember, you can be a believer and go to heaven but still not be a disciple. Here are seven things the Lord expects from His disciples.
The Disciple’s Dowry
1. Worship: To always seek the Lord and dedicate your life to Him.
2. Trust: To live by faith and enjoy your spiritual Sabbath rest.
3. Integrity: To embrace no lies or corruption, in your heart, or with your actions.
4. Love: To deeply care for others, and to show it by serving them.
5. Obey: To listen with faith hearing and then obey every confirmed word of God.
6. Work: To work hard and serve the Lord with everything you’ve got.
7. Give: Pour out your time, energy, and finances, as unto the Lord. God loves a cheerful giver.
In exchange for the dowry we give, the Lord promises to give a dowry to us. Here are some verses that describe these gifts. They are the blessings of an abundant life for disciples.
“Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children and fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mk. 10:28-30
“Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth … But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, … do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. … For the pagans run after all of these things, … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.” Mt. 6:19,20,32,33
Many religions of the world promise blessings in the afterlife, but only the Bible promises great blessings in this life as well. Those who seek Him and become disciples receive an amazing dowry now.
The Lord’s Dowry
1. Family – including 100 times more brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. Plus God becomes our Father.
2. Homes and Lands – including a loving welcome into the homes and lands of many people -to enjoy, find rest and fellowship, and maybe ownership.
3. Food and Clothes – including much more of these than we need, and lots to share with others.
4. Protection – including no disease in your dwelling, no arrow striking you and when enemies come at you from one direction, they flee from you in seven. Angels watch over you.
5. Righteousness, Peace and Joy – including love and strength inside of you so that life is wholesome, and satisfying. That is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
6. Purpose and Destiny – including a dynamic reason to live, and a great calling from heaven.
7. Eternal Life – including being heirs of all things and living with Jesus forever.
The Lord says to lay up treasures in heaven, and not on the earth. Then, surprisingly, He promises abundance in this life, for disciples as well. This is His covenant – ‘If we give everything to Him, He gives everything to us.’
The dowry exchange is on the Lord’s terms, because He is working in us to bring forth sons. Therefore, His timing, and the proportions of His blessings are determined by Him. He allocates to His children appropriately, according to His wisdom and kindness. Those who put their trust in Him will not be ashamed; they reap the rewards of the covenant.
Marriage was designed by God. He uses it to give us an example of the covenant we have with Him. Marriage requires passion, faithfulness, service and love. It involves patience, trust, and faith. When we live by these things, the blessings of the covenant are amazing.
“You need to persevere so when you have done the will of God, you will receive what is promised.” Heb. 10:36
“Through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Heb. 6:12
“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1Cor. 15:58
Let us review our walk with the Lord. Do a self test; answer these questions.
1. Am I a disciple, or just a believer?
2. Have I given the disciple’s dowry?
3. Have I received the Lord’s dowry?
Know this, that all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus.