May 1, 2023
Wedding Plans – Part 2
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 5: 22 - 33
Scripture: 

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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Transcript

Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians 5:22-33. We are in the book of Ephesians life together and we have not stumbled but entered upon a passage here that deals with marriage. And I want to spend a few weeks just working my way through it. We’re taking the big picture this morning as we did last week, and trying to answer the question, why marriage? What’s God’s purpose in marriage? And then next week we’ll look at the what and the how. What is it and how do we act within it as husbands and as wife? What is the role the Bible has indeed defined for a man and a woman together? But if you were with us last week, we started a two-part sermon entitled The Wedding Plans. God’s got wedding plans for Your wedding, God’s got purposes for your marriage.
And we want to understand them, we’ve covered two last week and we’ll cover another five this morning. Just remain seated as we read together Ephesians 5:22. Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church and he is the savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and give himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes it and cherishes it just as the Lord does the church.
For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself. Let the wife see that she respects her husband. So reads God’s word. The story is told about a boy who received a Bowen arrow from his father and immediately went outside for some target practice. Later the father went outside and saw that his son had shot some arrows at several targets he had drawn on the side of the barn. He was amazed to see that the boy had hit the bullseye on each shot and he turned to his son, he said, you’re a natural. I didn’t realize you were such a good shot, to which his son replied, oh dad, it’s easy. I shoot the arrows and then I draw the targets.
Now the story is a parable of how many people approach marriage today. They move ahead without any clear target in mind. If they have goals at all, they are usually self-defined, self-serving. They’re usually suited to the couple in particular. For many today, the institution of marriage still seems like a good idea, but it’s not a thought out idea. They don’t have any clear purposes as they enter marriage. They kind of go in with one eye closed and one finger crossed. In fact, ours is a society where you get to draw your own target around marriage. We have trial marriages through cohabitation, homosexual marriages, transgender marriages, non-monogamous marriages, polygamous marriages and marriages where the thought of having children is excluded. Marriage is a moving target today. People get to draw their own target around marriage, but what’s true of the culture must never be true of the church.
We’re in the world, yes, but we’re not of the world. It’s philosophy, its trends don’t shape us. Romans 12:1-2 tells us not to be pressed into the mold of this world but to be renewed in our mind that we might know what the will of God is and do it. The church doesn’t go along to get along. In fact, we saw, didn’t we? Back in chapter 4:17 of Ephesians. This I say therefore in testify in the Lord that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind. When we became Christians, we did an about turn and we started driving against the traffic. The church doesn’t go along to get along. The church marches to a different drum beat. We keep in step with this spirit and Jesus is leading the parade.
And if that’s the case, then the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, for them marriage is a creation ordinance lovingly provided by and clearly defined by the creator. Marriage had a beginning with God at the beginning. It’s not a human invention, it’s not a cultural convention. It’s a divine provision. It’s not what Jesus taught us when he was dealing with divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19. He said, hold on a minute guys, before we answer the question of divorce in marriage, let’s go back to the beginning because it was never God’s intention that divorce would be part of the human experience. In the beginning there was a man and a woman and God created an institution which would involve them leaving mother and Father joining to each other, becoming one flesh and indeed producing children. Marriage had a beginning with God at the beginning. It’s a kind provision from an all wise God.
And according to Hebrews 13:4, it ought to be honored among all men because it is honorable. God is the author of life. If we believe that in the beginning, God, if God is the author of life, you know what? Then he’s the authority on life and he has established marriage and he has to find it as we find it in scripture and taught by the Lord Jesus. Let me just give you a definition of marriage. I came across this one several years ago by John Scott, an evangelical Anglican in England. It’s as good as any I have seen. Marriage is an exclusive heterosexual covenant between a man and a woman. One man, one woman ordained and sealed by God, proceeded by the leaving of parents, consummated in sexual union, issuing in a permanent mutual supportive partnership and normally crowned by the gift of children.
That’s a mouthful, but every one of those words are chosen carefully and that’s a good statement. The church doesn’t get, neither do you get to draw a target around your own marriage. You’ve got to follow the maker’s manual. We need to hear what Mary said to the guests and to the host at the wedding in Cana. Remember what Mary said? Whatever he says to you, do it. So let’s come back to Ephesians 5:22-33. Now we haven’t got into the thick of the text yet and we won’t until the next time we’re together, but we have sought to answer the why question. We tend to answer three questions when it comes to marriage. Why, how, what? What is it? How do we pull it off? And how do we love each other? But what about the why? Why does it exist? What is God’s design and purpose for marriage?
We’ll see before we’re done here in Ephesians 5:32, that one of the purposes of marriage is to project and reflect the love that Christ has for his bride, the church. Before there was a marriage between Adam and Eve, there was a marriage in the mind and heart of God between Christ and his bride, the church. And that’s what Paul tells us here. I want to tell you marriage is a great mystery, but he doesn’t leave us hanging in suspense. And the mystery is that every marriage is a reflection of Christ’s love for his church. Hold that thought. But every human being by virtue of being a human created by God is to love God, that’s their primary obligation. You have a primary obligation in life and that’s to glorify the God who made you for his glory. Revelation 4:11, everything exists for his glory and for his praise.
And if that’s the case, then if you’re going to glorify God, if you’re going to love God, you need to align your desires to his desire, align your will to his will. And if that’s true for life in general, it’s true for sex and marriage in particular. What is the creator’s will in marriage? And that’s what we’re seeking to answer here. What are the purposes God established for marriage? I like the story of General Ulysses Grant going to Scotland and while he was there he was introduced to a game called golf. He had never played it, never seen it. So this particular man wanted to introduce Ulysses Grant to the game and so he teed up the ball and he took a swing out and completely missed. He did it again and completely missed. The third time he missed, the ball hit the ground. The only thing flying through the air was a claw of dirt. And this went on for a little bit and then Ulysses Grant said this, there seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.
Well, we want you to understand what the purpose of marriage is, what God designed it for. Now we looked at partnership and prosperity last week. It’s not good that man should be alone so God made it for him a comparable helper that together in partnership they might fill the earth and tend the garden, basically do the will of God. Then we looked at prosperity. The first institution was marriage. The first school is the home. The first hospital is the home. The first government is the home. The home is the building block of society. And when society regulate marriage and honor marriage the way God has intended for all people, then societies prosper. If children obey their parents, it tends to go well with them. Ephesians 6:3. Now we’re coming to a third purposes where you want to start writing again, partnership, prosperity, number three, procreation.
This is a purpose for marriage. Another clear intent that God has attached to marriage between a man and a woman, the bearing of children. Genesis 1:28, multiply, fill the earth. Listen, if you choose to marry, you have no choice but to have children because God has attached the bearing of children to marriage. We could start normally. Marriage is crowned with the gift of children. There may be circumstances that don’t allow that to happen. There may be physical issues that don’t allow that to happen, I get that, but normally marriage ought to be crowned with children. They were told to go forth and multiply. It’s not a hell I’ll die on. I was interested to read this week, William Graham says the word multiply seems to imply probably more than two children. Again, I’m not going to down that hill. I’ve got three, so I’m okay.
Here’s the reason he gives, just think about it, it’s not a bad thought. If you have two children, you’ve just replaced yourself, you haven’t multiplied. That’s his thinking. Take it or leave it. But here’s the point we’re making, have children. God wants you to have children. The two shall become one in sexual union and becoming one they’ll become two and sometimes three, sometimes four, sometimes five and more. Marriage is a matter of subtraction. Leave mother and father. Marriage is a matter of addition. Join yourself to another in a covenant relationship of the opposite sex, and marriage is a matter of multiplication. Bear children. As one writer says, add to the gardening team. What does he mean by that? Christopher Ash in his book on marriage talks about, Hey, God put Adam in the garden attendant and saw that he was alone and so he brought a partner in there so that they would indeed keep the gardening and fill the earth.
And when you and I have children, we add to the gardening team. It allows us to fill the earth and subdue and exercise dominion. Let me give you a couple of other verses just to reinforce this idea of procreation. Malachi 2:15 talks about marriage and it answers the question what for? And it goes on to say, offspring. Malachi 2:15, what is God purpose in marriage offspring? And he wants your offspring to become his offspring. He wants you to bear children and to disciple him. He doesn’t want you just filling earth with a bunch of sinners. He wants you bearing children and then growing them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. 1 Timothy 5:14, again, another verse that shows the connection between marriage and children. Paul addresses young widows, young wives who’ve lost their husbands early in life and he says, this is what I recommend the young widows, marry and bear children.
But there’s the connection. Marry and bear children. That’s the creation ordinance. What about Psalm 127: 3-5, the fruit of the womb is God’s reward and happy is the man who has his court full of them. Psalm 128:3-4 is a beautiful picture of human flourishing and human happiness and you’ve got a man at his table alongside him as his wife who’s described as a fruitful vine. She’s bearing him children and around his table are his boys and his girls, little olive plants who are beginning to grow themselves. What a beautiful picture of a growing family as a scene of great happiness. Having children ought not to be delayed but delighted in. We need to push back on the culture’s obsession with family planning. God’s plan is the family. God brought the first woman to the first man and it was God who blessed those first parents with the first child.
Go to Genesis 4:1. What does Eve say when God gives her a son called Cain? I have a man from the Lord. What a beautiful statement. I have a daughter from the Lord. I have two boys from the Lord. In a day in which the barbarism of late term abortion reigns, in a day when we have access to and the habitual use of birth control, in a day when society promotes autonomy and self-fulfillment, in a day when couples publicly celebrate the fact that they are childless. If you noticed that a few weeks ago, influencers and Hollywood stars celebrating the fact they’re childless. You ever wonder what would happen to them if their parents were childless? Just a thought. It’s a bit like Reagan. The only people that argue for abortion are those who are already born, but that’s the day we’re in and in that kind of environment we need to hear this loud and clear.
Multiply. God has attached childbearing to marriage. In fact, there’s an interesting verse, Genesis 49:25, where Jacob is blessing his sons towards the end of his life and he talks about, listen to this, the blessing of breasts and wombs. That’s a phrase in Genesis 49:25. It was a long time since I’d read that verse, the blessing of breasts and wombs. It’s children, it’s sexual union. It’s a blessing, it’s a gift from God. Marriage was not intended to remain inward. It was intended to turn outward in the growth of strong societies. Marriage is more than contributing to something bigger than yourself. It’s not about selfish consuming and consumption, it’s more about giving than receiving. We were designed to have children. Let’s look at the male body and the female body. What is a woman? Leave part of that definition, a person with a womb. We were designed to have children.
Marriage was intended for children. Early human flourishing involves the raising of children. God wants our offspring to be his offspring and our greatest work and greatest comfort in life will be our children. I think this is a good quote by a lady called Rita Grammar, raising children is probably the most effective form of social action in which most of us will ever engage. Very little, that most men and women do is as satisfying or makes as much difference. I hear a lot of young evangelicals talk about social activity, social activism. Here’s where you want to start young person, get married and have a boatload of children. It’s the best social activity you can get involved in. Disciple your children, send them out into the world as salt and light, and as a further fulfillment of the great commission.
I like the story of the lady who was pregnant, she had a couple of boys and she was out with one of her boys, Ryan, in a shopping mall and as they were out shopping a woman asked the little boy if you’ve excited about the new baby that was on its way and he said, yes, and by the way, I know what we’re going to call him. Really? Asked the lady. The little boy had kind of eavesdropped in a conversation between his mother and some girlfriends the day before and he said, yes, if it’s a girl, we’re going to call her Christina, and if it’s another boy, we’re going to call it quits.
Well, there might be a time where you call it quits, but not until you’ve multiplied. Procreation, just think about it, partnership, purpose, prosperity, purpose, procreation, purpose. Here’s a fourth purpose, pleasure. Marriage affords us a path to great happiness. The singular devoted love of another steeply satisfying, humbling conversation, companionship. Two is better than one. We get it, but the pleasure I’m thinking about more especially is sexual pleasure because while primarily we want to see sex in the service of God, that’s how one commentator describes procreation, sex in the service of God bearing children, discipling children, sending them out into a world for the glory of God. I do want to qualify that that while sexual union is intrinsically linked to procreation, it is also a means of fulfillment and pleasure. Sex is for procreation, yes, but sex is also for recreation. Yes, we could go to Song of Solomon chapter 1:2, probably the mildest of the verses in the song of Solomon.
I could read you, but here’s what we read. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his wife. For your love is better than wine. And if you follow that book, I don’t take it as an analogy between Christ and his church, it’s a description of the joy of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife in an exclusive heterosexual covenant relationship that brings about mutual support and partnership and normally is crowned with the gift of children. You could go to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, which we’re going to go to in a moment where the husband is to render the affection to his wife, that’s sexual, and the wife is to render the affection to her husband. That’s sexual. Hebrews 13:4 says, marriage is honorable among all men and the bed undefiled, the bed is a holy place. In fact, that word undefiled is used in Hebrews for liturgical worship.
The bed can be an act of worship, something we dedicate and devote to God’s glory as sex is a gift from God to be entered upon and enjoyed for his glory and purposes. But here’s the verse I would go to. I’d go to Proverbs 5:15-20. Let me read this for you. This is Solomon speaking to his son. He’s dealing with the birds and the bees so to speak, and here’s what he says. Drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets, let them be only your own and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of your youth as a loving deer and a graceful dough. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times and always be in enraptured or intoxicated with her love for why should you my son be enraptured by an immoral woman or embraced in the arms of his seductress?
Sex was a gift from God. Sex was for reproduction, sex was for bonding and unity and sex was for happiness. I think you get the analogy. Hey son, find yourself a wife. It’s like having your own well, a fresh, pure, satisfying water, uncontaminated and enjoy that. Be satisfied by that. He talks about, are you going to disperse your streams of water in the street? Are you going to cast your seed around the city? You’re going to be promiscuous? No joy in that. There’s no purity in that. That’s outside the world of God. No. You get your own well and drink deeply of the love of a woman within a covenant relationship. Just love that. Just not going to spend a ton of time on this. I think it’s interesting and sad to kind of point out that the church has not always seen the pleasurable side of sex, especially when you get into the medieval church, the Roman Catholic church marked by celibacy.
You have statements like this by people around that time. Peter Lombard said the Holy Spirit left the room when a married couple came together. Wow. Thomas Aquinas, the great 12th century theologian bemoaned that quote, even married sex adorned with the honorable ness of marriage carries with it a certain shame. Without a doubt then the state of virginity is preferable. Jerome, the great bible translator. A wise man ought to love his wife with judgment not passion. Crazy. He who ardently loves his own wife is an adulterer. If we abstain from sexual relations, we honor our wives. If we do not abstain, well what is the opposite of honor but insult? I mean I don’t know what they did with the Song of Solomon. I don’t know what they did with Proverbs five. I don’t know what they did with 1 Corinthians 7. Actually, this is kind of sad and funny all at the same time.
Gary Inrig in his book Pure Desire said that some medieval church officials even made a list of when it was inappropriate for a married couple to have sex. Since Thursday was the day of the Lord was arrested. Self-denial was appropriate, unexpected. And a restraint even more appropriate on Friday. That was the day that Jesus was crucified. Saturday abstinence honored the virgin Mary who was honored as a perpetual virgin. On Sunday, abstinence was a way to show respect for the day of resurrection and on a Monday it was a way to honor the faithful dead. Now if you’ve been counting, you’ve got Tuesday and Wednesday. Those must have been exciting nights in the medieval church, but that’s crazy stuff, isn’t it? And we reject that. That’s not biblical, it’s not balanced. Of course, sex has a purpose of function in the breeding of children and it’s for procreation, but it’s also for recreation.
It’s for unity, it’s for joy, it’s for intimacy. I’ll say this and move on. The Christian is not to have too low a view of sex making that argument. The church at times has been marked by legalism. Sometimes it’s been affected by gnostic doctrine that elevates the spirit above the material or the body. And sometimes it’s being shaped by celibacy. It’s battered to remain a virgin betroth to Christ. The Christian ought not to have too low a view of sex, but neither is the Christian to have too high a view of sex. If the one is produced by an imbalance church. The other is produced by a pagan society that deify sex and over sexualizes people. Let’s avoid those extremes. Let’s strike a good biblical balance.
Some years ago I was a young single guy, red blooded hoping for marriage, fighting the fight for purity. I remember we were on a retreat and we ended up heading to bed and we were lying on our bunk beds and then our room was a pastor. It became later a good friend of mine, pastor John Bernie. He pastored Cyan Mills Baptist church in Northern Ireland and he had seven children, so it’s a bunch of young single guys and verbally we talked football and life and ultimately we get round to sex and as he talked about it, we said, John, tell us about it. You’re plenty of practice. Tell us about it. And he just kind of paused. I never forgot his statement. He says, guys, it’s a great thing but it’s not everything. That was a good answer. That was the biblical balance. Yeah, you should look forward to it.
Yeah, you should keep yourself for it. It’s a great thing. It’s a gift from God, but it’s not everything. Only Jesus is everything. Owning a relationship with the divine person can fully satisfy the human spirit. Here’s another purpose, partnership, prosperity, procreation, pleasure, purity. I mentioned 1 Corinthians 7. Let’s go there quickly. 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, where Paul talks about the fact that one of the purposes of marriage is moral and sexual protection. This is a very interesting passage, one that every married couple should read when you go home and study. The context is Paul’s answering a bunch of questions and he was answering questions on singleness and marriage and divorce and the state of a believer in a marriage with an unbeliever, so on and so forth. Where he starts here is that he argues for the good of singleness. Verse one, it is good for a man not to touch a woman, that’s a euphemism for sexual encounter and intercourse.
It’s good for a man not to touch a woman, I would argue and he does in this book for the advantages of singleness. Giving the fact that time is short, giving the great kingdom needs marriage sometimes kind of kneels you down, limits your freedoms. You’ve got all kinds of responsibilities to your wife, your children, your house, but the single person can give themselves completely to the kingdom, but he does go on to say nevertheless, nevertheless, verse two, because of sexual immorality, let each woman have her own husband. Now while he is argue for the good of singleness, he goes on to qualify that to say that’s not the only good and he’s not implying that it’s better than marriage. Paul’s well aware as he quotes in Ephesians 5, that marriage was instituted by God for cu flourishing. He quotes Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5.
He tells us in 1 Timothy 4:3 that there were those in the church who said there were certain foods you shouldn’t eat and you shouldn’t marry, and Paul says, no, both those things are gifts from God to be sanctified and enjoyed. So he admits that singleness is his preference and he argues for it’s good, but it’s not the only good and it’s not better than marriage. In fact, given the pressure and danger of sexual sin, marriage is a provision in a fallen world and it protects. Verse two, nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his wife and each woman have her own husband. If you scroll down to verse nine, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. Sometimes God gives people grace to remain single and be able to control and handle sexual desires and urges, but in most cases those God-given desires that are harnessed for holiness, they will find expression and they should find expression and in many cases they must find expression in marriage.
That’s Paul’s point, purity. In fact, Paul is reminding us that a God honoring marriage is a God-given bull work against infidelity. If I was to preach on this passage, I’m not going to do that right now, but I’ll give you a quick little outline and we’ll just move through the text a little bit more to reinforce what I’ve just said. Look at the exhortation. Verse three, let the husband render to his wife the affection to her, by implication that is sexual affection, marital intimacy. Let the husband render to his wife the affections due her and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body. That’s an interesting verse in today’s abortion, to be it isn’t it my body, my choice? Who told you it was your body? One, if you’re married, it’s your husband’s body. And two, if you’re in with the Holy Spirit, it’s Christ’s body.
But by the way girls, this goes the other way too. Verse four, the wives do not have authority over their own body, likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority of his own body, but the wife does. Don’t deprive one another. So here’s this exertion, serve one another sexually within marriage, render affection, show love and do it on a regular basis. It’s part and parcel of the marriage experience. Sex is not a bargaining chip. It’s not some card you have up your sleeve that you play when you want something. No, it’s something you render to one another regularly. Don’t deprive one another. Now that’s the explanation. Then you’ve got the exception, which is verse five. Do not deprive one another except with consent, did you see that? Both have to agree. One doesn’t get to make this decision. I’m not in, but when the two agree, you know what?
For a time for the sake of praying and fasting, maybe you’re in a season where just an intense seeking of God seems appropriate. Then there’s a fasting on the sexual side of things, not only maybe of water and food but also of sex as you communicate to God some serious manner, something you need or whatever. But notice what he says. That you may give yourself to fasting and prayer but then come together again so that Satan doesn’t tempt you. Exemption and we’re going back to explanation. The explanation for what we’re reading here is verse two, sexual immorality. Verse nine. The burning of passion and marriage has been given by God as a release of sexual tension and temptation and we need to take that seriously. Listen to the words of this biblical writer, David Mees, married couples who call themselves Christians, owe it to one another to take their sex relationship seriously, to give themselves to it.
Holy, striving to invest it with all the warmth and richness which it should have for it is the God-given expression of their mutual love. You need to take this side of your marriage seriously. Find time for it, talk it out. Find ways to render affection to one another in an undefiled bed so that one, you’ll enjoy the bonding that that brings and the joy that it gives and the temptations that it helps fight. I think if my memory serves me right, it was Charles Swindoll at a pastor’s conference I attended, told the story of preaching in a city and after he had preached at the conference, he had been given a hotel for the week and he went back to the hotel and he’d get into the elevator. Two women came to the door of the elevator. It was very clear they were propositioning him, opening the door to invite them into his room.
Charles Swindoll said that he pushed the button of the elevator and he told those two women, no, I’ve got the real thing at home and he let the doors slam in their face. That’s a 1 Corinthians 7. That’s why you need to keep the home fires burning. It’s important because one of the purposes of marriage is protection or purity. Here’s another one, number six, piety. Hopefully you’re tracking piety. Another purpose is the promotion of godliness between husband and wife, between parents and child. Marriage and family ought to be incubators of spiritual life in Christ. I love what Joshua said in Joshua 24:15. Don’t you want it to be said of you, you and your wife, you and your husband, you and your children? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. That’s what our marriage is about. That’s what our home is about.
That’s what we intend to do. There’s a missionary and discipleship aspect to every marriage and every home. Godliness promoted within marriage is talked about in 1 Corinthians 7:14 even, where you have a relationship between a believer and an unbeliever and they’re wondering should that relationship continue? As Paul says, yes, the believer sanctifies the unbeliever and that marriage is holy. They have a sanctifying influence. Ephesians 5:22-29. Well get to it next time into the weeds of it. Husbands, you know what? Take your cue from Christ. Love your wife. Take a crucifixion audit every week of your life. Are you dying for her? Are you sacrificing for her? Are you serving her the way Christ serves the church. And Jesus washes the church in the water of the word. Are you sanctifying your wife in the Bible? Do you lead family devotions? Are you discipling your wife and your children?
Wife, you can serve your husband in the gospel by coming beneath him and alongside him and that to gather you fulfill God’s will. We’ll get into that. What about 1 Peter 3:7. Husbands learn to live with your wife with understanding she’s the weaker vessel. Don’t you know that both of you are errors of life and make sure that you’re living your life for gospel intent and purpose so that your prayers are not hindered. There’s a verse. Marriage affects the potency of our prayers. Good marriages lead to good prayers. Unhealthy marriages lead to weak prayers. But the point is this, those discussions simply remind us that marriage is about godliness and then godliness is promoted through parenting. Do we need to go to Deuteronomy 5:1-9, where we’re told to teach our children there’s one God. Teach them that when you’re sitting down, when you’re walking about when you’re at a meal.
Malachi 2:15, God wants offspring from our offspring. Ephesians 6:1-4. We’re told not to provoke our children to wrath, but bring them up in the treeing and admonition of the Lord. Listen, the family is the first church. The family is the first fifth community. The family is the first wave of great commission endeavor. The family is the first mission station. The home is the laboratory for learning to love. It’s the school for learning to serve. It’s the university for learning the love. It’s a lifelong course in how to become Christ-like. Listen to these words by Matthew Henry, the Puritan. Turn your families into little churches. If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion, the sweetest of daily delights and our family worship, the most valuable of all family comforts a church in the house will be a good legacy.
Nay, it will be a good inheritance to be left to your children after you. He goes on to say about the home here, the reformation must begin. Love the story of the little boy. He was asked why he loved God. He responded, I don’t know, but I guess it just runs in the family. Let me qualify that. We know that Christianity isn’t passed on through the bloodstream. John 1:12-13 reminds us that we’re not born of blood just because your mom’s a Christian and your dad’s a disciple of Jesus doesn’t make you one. But surely one of the quickest paths and the best paths to discipling the world is starting with our children. While faith in Christ is not inherited through family lineage, it certainly is instilled through family life. I love that verse in 1 Timothy 1:5. Hey Timothy, the faith that I see in you, I first saw it in your mother and in your grandmother, not beautiful, generational faithfulness, generational gospel blessing, grandmother to daughter, mother to son.
It’s like quite a statement. I trust that it might be said of your boys and my girls and our boys and girls, that the fear that people see in them was first seen in us and it was real and authentic and a priority because you see, one of the purposes of marriage is piety the promotion of godliness. Final thought, picture where we kind of started. Brings us back to Ephesians five. This has been a little bit more topical. We’ll get into the acts of Jesus, of the husband’s role and the wife’s role next time. But here’s the seventh and final purpose. Verse 31 and 32 of Ephesians five. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. That’s a quotation right from Genesis 2:24. Now notice this. This is a great mystery.
What do you mean Paul? A great mystery? Well, he tells us that marriage, that coming together of a man and a woman in an exclusive heterosexual covenant relationship, there’s something that not everybody got about that back then that’s now being revealed in the church age. That relationship is a visual aid to a marriage greater than it. And that’s between Christ and his bride, the church. And that’s what Jesus is called the bridegroom and the church is called the bride. Some of the analogies that the Bible uses of a church is a building, a bride, a body. According to Paul, listen, this is staggering. I should have given more time to this. According to Paul, marriage and the oneness of husband and wife is a sacred reflection, a magnificent picture of a deep, deep love and union between Christ and his bride, the church. Mystery is something hidden in the past that’s now revealed in the gospel.
In fact, this word is used in Ephesians 3:3, 4, and 9 to speak of the unique unity now in the church separate from Israel between the Jew and the Gentile, the mystery of the church, the dispensational distinctive of the church. Now he’s using it concerning marriage. Something’s being revealed now about marriage related to the gospel. See, before the marriage of Adam and Eve, there was the marriage of Christ and the church. And so you and I need to depict his love for us in our love for each other. That’s one of the purposes of marriage. Your marriage should allow people to some degree or another understand the love of Christ and the relationship between Christ and his church. That’s profound. There is a depiction of this love between Christ and the church in sexual union when you become one, verse 24. Where there is openness, devotion, communication, an ecstatic love, there is a depiction of this love between Christ and the church in the husband’s leadership and sacrificial service toward his wife and sanctifying influence.
There is a depiction of this love in the wife’s utter dependence upon and duty toward and respect for her husband. Verse 22, the point, the purpose and end of marriage is ultimately not the relationship between husband and wife, but that of Christ and the church. The Bible begins with a marriage, did you notice that? In the beginning? But it ends with a marriage in Revelation 19:6, where in heaven, Christ marries his bride, begins with a marriage, a human marriage, but it ends with a marriage, Christ in the church because every human marriage points to that one. It ought to. Marriage is sacred, it’s gospel defined, and any assault on it is an assault on God’s rule and Christ’s lordship. And here’s the big thing too. Marriage is momentary.
See, one of the things that this has us think about, one of the things that’s implied in this is that all marriages will come to an end. Then Jesus teaches that in Matthew 2230, there won’t be any giving of marriage in the world to come because the purpose of marriage will have served its purpose. All of those purposes, the six and this final one, because now in eternity, Christ will marry his church forever and there’ll be one family, the family of God. There’ll be one marriage, Christ and the church. And so I need to remind myself, and it’s my job to remind you this morning of you’re married, marriage is momentary. And let me just say a word to singles who desire to marry, but should you never marry, yeah, you’ll miss out on some temporary blessings but those temporary blessings are temporary because marriage is temporary.
But your relationship to Christ and your love for his kingdom, if you live that way, it’s forever. Just bear that in mind in your fight with loneliness or temptations sexually. But marriage is momentary. To look at some of us, you would think not. The time we spend on it, we make it so exclusive. We’ll let other things be surrendered for the sake of marriage. There’s a balance there, I get that. But you’re smart enough, you’re intelligent enough. Think that through. If it’s momentary, shouldn’t that shape the way we view romance and sex and childbearing? They’re temporary gifts. They’re penultimate, not ultimate. If marriage is momentary, it ought to transform the way we spend our time and treasure. If marriage is momentary, it ought to transform the way we parent. Our greatest joy will not be tied to what job our children have or what economic level they’re living up, but are they disciples of Jesus Christ bearing his image and loving God’s son?
It’ll transform the way you handle sacrifice and pain. Marries can be challenging and the kind of leadership God calls me to and every man here too, that’s challenging to be sacrificial. And sometimes marriage involves pain on both sides. But you’ll fight through that pain and you’ll make that sacrifice. Because remember, your marriage is meant to be a visual aid to people understanding the kind of love God has shown us. It will transform our view of the church. The church is not sacked into the home. In fact, the home points to the church, it will transform even the way we mourn the loss of our spouses. Because remember the relationship between you and your loved one, your spouse, is not ultimate. It’s penultimate. I had to counsel a friend recently. He’s really struggling with the loss of his wife in tragic circumstances.
And one of the things that helped him, he’s still wrestling was this idea, I said, you know what, brother? Do you love your wife more than Christ loves her? And he had to admit, no. Remember, your marriage points to a greater marriage between Christ and the church. So if Christ loves your wife in a greater fashion than you do, and he wants her in his presence, can’t you let her go? Can’t you submit to his lordship? Can’t you understand the love involved in that. Marriage is momentary, temporary. And I think if we grasp that and understand that it points to something beyond itself, it will bring a freedom and a mobility and a certain expectation to our marriages that will be good for them. That we don’t make them more than they are, but we make sure they’re never less than they should be because they’re a picture of Christ. Amen.
Father, we thank you for our time in the Word this morning. We thank you for these clear purposes that outline for us your wedding plans for our wedding. Your design for our marriage. Lord, forgive us for making it into something you never intended it to be. Lord, help us not to be self-defined or self-driven in our understanding of our marriage. Help us to be completely biblical. Help us to be Christ-centered. Help us to be eternally focused. Lord, we thank you for the partnership that marriage provides. Two is better than one. Lord, we thank you for the prosperity and national security that our intact family brings. Lord, we thank you for the joy of children and the blessing of birth. Lord, we thank you for the pleasure of intimacy.
Lord, help us to guard our marriages against sexual immorality. Lord, help us to make our homes little churches, incubators of godliness. And Lord, help us to remember that our marriage exist to point to Christ. And so whatever sacrifice is entailed, whatever the church requires, help us to bring our marriages to that purpose, that indeed people might see our love for one another and begin to get an inkling of the way God wants to love them. So we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.