April 7, 2016 • By Ed Wrather
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV.
The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery ALL THE NATIONS WERE DECEIVED. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth. – Revelation 18:23-24 NKJV.
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:2 NKJV.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. – 2 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV.
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. – 2 Peter 2:18-19 NKJV.
Brides, grooms, and wedding guests can now relax; the Bridal Bandit has been caught and given a seven year prison sentence. 50-year-old Denise Gunderson is the Bridal Bandit and as she posed as a guest she would steal everything she could. Denise stole cash, wallets, purses, and credit cards. She stole from the actual wedding guests and from bride and groom. She made fraudulent charges of thousands of dollars on the stolen credit cards. Most of the thefts were in San Diego County, although she was arrested in December for theft of a wallet at a church in Las Vegas. Denise admitted to having three prior felony convictions; however, since she used several aliases she may have had more. After she was arrested it was discovered there were warrants for her arrest already in San Diego and Riverside counties in California. (7SanDiego 04.06.16; KNSDtv; ABCNews; 10News 12.11.15)
Thankfully, I never had a bridal bandit attend any of the weddings I have officiated. However, there has been another type of bridal bandit show up at the churches where I have been the pastor. Let me explain. The church, which is not a building; but all born again believers, is the Bride of Christ. This picture of believers as God’s bride is in the Old Testament too as Isaiah 65:2 says, “And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” In Hosea 2:19 God says, “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy.” What would you call someone who leads believers away from the truth of the gospel? In 2 Peter we see that God calls them “false prophets” and “false teachers.”
The bridal bandits (false prophets and false teachers) work hard at stealing away the truth and joy of believers distorting the gospel, adding in false doctrines, and saying works are needed for salvation. Some of the bridal bandits I have encountered, spread the lie that you can live a perfect life, and must live without any sin to have salvation. In other words everything you think, do or say, or don’t do or say has to be without sin. This is a lie. Other bridal bandits demand that you work your way to Heaven by keeping certain rituals. Some claim that Jesus was not God, just an angel, or just a good teacher or not fully human and fully God. The lies of bridal bandits continue to multiply, but it doesn’t make them true. The good news is that there will be a day of judgment for the bridal bandits as we are told in the Book of Revelation.
How can we avoid becoming a victim of the bridal bandits? We must follow the example of the Bereans, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).” Search the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, memorize the Scriptures, and the bridal bandits will find it very hard to make you one of their victims.