Volume. XXX, No. 7
Sunday, 16 August 2015


A Christian Marriage - II: The Mystery of Marriage Part C


Marriage is a union between a man and a woman. It is a great mystery of Christ and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:32). In this mystery, the wife becomes part of the husband’s flesh (Ephesians 5:28). It is an intimate union whereby the two individuals become one flesh (Genesis 2:23, 24; Ephesians 5:31) and this union is permanent (Matthew 19:6). This marriage union takes precedence over the parent-child relationship (Genesis 2:24).

 

1. God’s involvement in the mystery of marriage.

In a marriage, the man and the woman “are no more twain, but one flesh.” These two unrelated individuals become one! This is a mystery because God is involved. Actually, a man is not joined to his wife, but rather, he is joined to his wife by another! That other person is none other than God Himself.

 

“The glue of marriage is God’s glue, as the act of applying it is God’s act” (Marriage – The Mystery of Christ & The Church by David J Engelsma, page 18, 1998 edition).

 

God applies the glue and He joins the man and the woman in a marriage. This glue is so strong that God commands“let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). The bond between a man and a woman must not be parted. It is permanent.

 

Only God can and only God may dissolve a marriage bond. For this reason, a marriage ceremony should be regarded as a solemn and serious occasion. It should not be considered as a frivolous matter. The solemnity is that God is making a man and a woman into one flesh. The seriousness is that God is involved and only God can or may dissolve it.

 

Any marriage ceremony is to be done with seriousness, preparation, with proper décor and attire, and with proper order showing respect and reverence to God who is invisibly present.

 

2. Evidences of the intimacy of marriage in the mystery of marriage.

When there is a separation from each other and attaching to another partner as in a divorce and remarriage, “guilt feelings” and “mental distress” are common consequences. The partner who is left behind may suffer psychological problems, loneliness, rejection, lack of confidence, and withdrawal from social contacts with children and friends. Similarly, the other partner who has left and remarried is also likely to suffer psychological distress.

 

Another evidence of this intimacy of marriage is the sorrow, pain and grief suffered by the surviving partner when the other dies. There are some widows or widowers who suffer grief and depression for years. They become distressed and grieved on the birthday of their loved one who had departed, and on other occasions such their wedding anniversary, Christmas Day and other festivities. The surviving widow or widower still goes on living when the other part has died. He or she may feel that a part of his or her life is missing and incomplete.

 

A third example of the intimacy of marriage is something you may have noticed before - a similarity in appearances as the couple ages.  If you look at a photo of a newly married young couple and compare it to the photo of the same couple taken when they are much older, you will find that the faces of the husband and the wife appear to look similar in the older photo – like a brother and a sister. This is the mystery and intimacy of marriage.

 

3. Marriage is a Symbol in the mystery of marriage

a. Marriage as a symbol is “a great mystery.”

 

Let us go back to Ephesians 5:32. In this verse the Apostle Paul calls the intimacy of marriage between a man and a woman “a great mystery:”

 

When the word “mystery” is used in the secular world, it gives us the idea that there is something strange, secret, weird or unknown. In Ephesians 5:32, when Paul says that marriage is a mystery he means that a marriage between a man and a woman is of such complexity that it is difficult for anyone to comprehend.

 

In the Word of God, “mystery” has a different meaning.  God’s eternal plan of salvation for us is a “mystery” because it is hidden from us, and no man can figure it out. It is incomprehensible. However, God has revealed this “mystery” in our Lord Jesus Christ by the Gospel and, through this, those who believe can and do have knowledge of this “mystery”.

 

Our Lord Jesus declared this mystery in Matthew 13:11 “(I)t is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”. This ‘mystery’ is revealed to those who believe.

 

In Ephesians 1:9, Paul confirms it: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will”. It has been made known! Believers know this mystery! Therefore, this “mystery” is not a mystery at all in a secular sense, but it is the gift of God, and that gift is the salvation of God (Ephesians 2:8,9).

 

b. Paul connects the gift of salvation and marriage.

 

i. Marriage is God-ordained.

 

Why does Paul speak of the unspeakable gift of salvation when he touches on the issue of a marriage between a man and a woman?

 

In Ephesians 5: 32, Paul says “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Note the second part of the verse “but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” As he writes to the Ephesians, Paul has marriage in his thoughts. He states that a human marriage as a mystery is a divinely ordained sign or symbol of the relationship of Christ and the church.

 

ii. Marriage is the union of Christ and the church.

 

Marriage is the union of Christ and His bride, the church and such a relationship is so intimate, so glued, so joined, that the two become one.

 

Such a strong union between Christ and the church is mentioned in Ephesians 5:23: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Christ Jesus is the Head of the church, the church is His body, and He is the saviour of the body.

 

Further in Ephesians 5:30 Paul says: “(For) we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” We are members of Christ’s body, of His flesh, and of His bones. We are in everyway joined or cleaved tightly to our Lord Jesus.

 

4. In the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, this great mystery of the relationship between Jehovah and Israel was presented as a marriage. Jehovah God was Israel’s husband, and His wife was Israel: “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD” Jeremiah 31:32.

 

When Israel committed idolatry or was unfaithful, Jehovah declared that she had committed adultery: “But as a wife that committethadultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!” Ezekiel 16:32.

 

Indeed, the Old Testament prophesied the mystery of the union of Christ and the church. This union was described as a marriage.

 

5. The relationship between Christ and the church is described as a marriage.

The woman was created after Adam. She was created for Adam, and not Adam for her.

 

In the case of Christ and the church, Christ is first. The church, like Eve, is second.

 

It is not Christ who existed for the church, but it is the church that exists for Christ. The church exists to serve Him and to praise and glorify Him forever.

 

In the beginning, man was created first, and the woman was created out of a man. She was not created like Adam was. By the same token, the church has her beginning from Christ. The church was created by Christ’s atoning blood and sacrifice, by His Spirit and Word.

 

As the woman was created from a man and for the man, she can therefore maintain the intimate relationship to the man as a wife. In the case of the church, she can be the bride of Christ because God has specially made her suitably for Christ in His eternal counsel and because God has formed her by Christ’s own spirit which is the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, marriage is a close and intimate union, where man is male and female (Genesis 1:27), and these two are one. In the case of the mystery of salvation, Christ is Jesus, and He is the head, and the church is the body. These two are one!

 

6.Supreme Doctrine of Marriage in the Mystery of Marriage.

a. Believers’ view on marriage is of a high standard.

 

i. Marriage is a God-ordained symbol of Christ.

 

Believers see marriage as the mystery of Christ and the church. Therefore, the believers’ view of marriage is of a very high standard. This standard is obviously not shared by non-believers and the secular world because they see marriage as a human institution.

 

Believers view marriage as a high standard because marriage is an institution and is a God-ordained symbol of Christ.

 

ii. Dishonouring of marriage leads to corruption.

 

Many people in this world, and even some ‘believers’ claim to honour marriage as a high standard, but they really do not. As a result, this leads to every corruption in the marriage.

 

b. Paul’s teaching calls us to regulate marriage to a high standard.

 

By regulating marriage to a high standard, it:

 

i. Leads to happiness.

 

Paul’s teaching in Ephesians calls us to regulate our marriage according to the high standard of Christ and the church. By following this high standard true happiness in a marriage results.

 

ii. May lead to affliction.

 

In a marriage, happiness is not the only thing. In some cases, obeying God’s high standard of marriage will cause severe affliction and ridicule. Whatever it is, the main thing is that as believing husbands and wives, we remain faithful to God and to His law governing the institution of marriage. Let us not be persuaded otherwise!

 

iii. Convicts us.

 

What would happen to us when we regard marriage with a high standard? We will be convicted daily of our sinfulness in the area of marriage. It makes us to confess and repent of our sins and flaws in marriage. The husband and wife will make great efforts to make their marriage work!

 

c. The marriage of Christ and the church gives us a pattern to aim and work for in our own marriage.

 

Let us be honest. No marriage is perfect. No marriage is without problems. Many times, we struggle with difficulty to conform our own earthly marriage to the heavenly one between the bridegroom, Christ, and His bride, the church. Admittedly, this is no easy task. But, note what David J Engelsma says when the husband and the wife struggle to achieve a high standard: “This is the glory and beauty of marriage”.

 

d. Only believers can achieve this high standard.

 

Not everyone can accomplish this high standard of marriage. Only believers can achieve it. Only believers “know and care about marriage as the symbol of the union of Christ and the church” (David J Engelsma). Only believers have Christ dwelling within them and enabling them with humility and longsuffering to accomplish their calling in marriage, whether it is by husbands loving their wives or it is by wives submitting to their husbands.

 

                                    Elder Michael D Lee

 

(Reference: “Marriage - The Mystery of Christ & The Church” by David J Engelsma, 1998 edition)

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Today: Group A. Next Lord’s Day: Group B.

*Welcome to Mr & Mrs Brett Ryan of “Focus on the Family” to our Church.

*Please note: Due to seminar, today’s Lord’s Day fellowship lunch will be catered. For catered lunch, cost is $3 for adults, FREE for primary & pre-primary children.

*Baptism, Re-affirmation of Faith or Transfer of Membership will be held on the Lord’s day, 30 Aug. For candidates or parents of infants, please write a short testimony and email it to Ps Ki by TODAY.

*New Basic Bible Knowledge course to commence 6 Sept. Please let Elder Michael D Lee know if interested.

 

 Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo & others arriving safely at their destinations.

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. Safe labour & delivery in London.

6. 1st Anniversary Thanksgiving today - Providence BPC (Mawson Lakes).

 

 Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe & others in affliction.

2. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

3. Cambodia Missions

4. House of Hope, Cebu - Pastor Roel M Allocod, staff & volunteers; treatment & salvation of drug addicts; Provision of car & sufficient funds for ministry.

5. New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.

6. Covenant BPC (Perth) - purchasing of church property.

7. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

8. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

9. Journey mercies: Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo (Adl) & all those who are travelling.

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

12. Persecuted believers in Islamic countries.

13. Voice of Martyrs: staff & volunteers. God’s protection of volunteers who distribute Bibles.

14. Protection & Preservation of Israel. Salvation of Jews.

15. God’s guidance: purchase of new church property.

16. Australia: God’s wisdom for our political leaders. People to repent and turn to God.

17. “Focus on the Family” Seminar: Speakers - Mr & Mrs Brett Ryan & attendees.

 

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063