Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Institution of Marriage (Part III)

Thursday, September 1, 2016, 22:14
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By David Brand

The application of Christ’s death to the church is described in Ephesians 5:26 as “the washing of water with the word.”  That is the baptism performed by Christ–the washing of regeneration which always works in connection with the word of God.  By sharing the Word with his wife in the power of the Holy Spirit, the husband provides godly encouragement.  This is foundational for marriage and home.  Paul in Ephesians 5, verses 28-32, tells us that “husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies.”   Husband, put yourself out for your wife.  What are her needs?  Whatever they are–they are inseparable from your needs!  “He who loves his wife loves himself,” Paul states.  “No one ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his own body.”

Paul then quotes Genesis 3:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”   This “one flesh” relationship of husband and wife gives great joy and is designed for the procreation of children.  Being ready for marriage means being ready to welcome children–the fruit of marriage.  Psalm 127 reminds us that children are a heritage from the Lord–and the fruit of the womb a reward!  Blessed is the man who, like an archer with arrows, has his quiver full of them!   Paul acknowledges that this “one flesh” mystery is profound, saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  In the Incarnation,  the Son of God became one flesh with us that he might redeem a people to be his bride (Ephes. 5:29-32; John 1:14; Heb. 2:14)

This brings us to the transcendent marriage, the one to which earthly marriages will ultimately have to yield. Marriage, as God has designed it, symbolizes and anticipates a marriage that will far exceed anything ever known in this present age.  One day, Christians, will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb and enjoy the consummation of the transcendent marriage between Christ and the Church.  Christ will welcome His bride the glorified church.  No more dying, no more crying, no more sickness, no more heartache, no more weakness in the flesh as Christians will be given glorious resurrection bodies to be like his glorious body.  It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the archangel’s cry, at the last trump–when men least expect it.

Jesus said that in the life which follows the resurrection men neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven (Mark 12:25).  Men and women in their earthly marriages point to a glorious reality which we cannot fathom now.  C. S. Lewis related this fact to a little boy who asked his father what men and women did on their honeymoon.  After the father described the pleasures of marriage with discretion appropriate for his young son, the boy asked him, “Dad, can men and women eat ice-cream while they are having their honeymoon?”  Just as this boy’s highest conception of pleasure could rise no higher than ice-cream, so in this present world we may find it difficult to imagine the joy that will be ours when our Savior comes to meet us.  Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

After pointing out the great mystery of Christ and the church, Paul in Ephesians 5:33 closes with this reminder,  “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

The Church militant– still contending with the world, the flesh, and the devil– celebrates the Lord’s supper as she awaits the Church triumphant’s celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Would you please open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.  The Supper which our Lord instituted for His Church includes the bread and the cup as tokens of Christ’s affections for His Bride whom He redeemed with His body and blood.  Beginning with verse 23 The apostle Paul wrote,

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take eat.  This is my body which is broken for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.   Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

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About the Writer

David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary experience in Korea and Arizona. He and his wife reside in Ohio. They have four grown children and seven grandchildren. With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and writing. One of his books, a contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.

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