Better Things are Coming
- Ephesians 5:22-33;
- 1 Peter 3:1-7
Christians are people who once were lost, but:
- who received a new life from God by grace
- who have an eternal hope which cannot be destroyed
- who believe that the Bible is about God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ
- who now live as aliens in this world
- who are now satisfied in Christ, and say “no” to sinful desires
- who now freely submit to worldly authority for the honour of God
- who only fear and ultimately obey God as their highest authority
- who need to bring holiness into the work place
- Irrespective of social standing, race or gender, all who believe in Christ are heirs of God’s grace in Christ
- All Christians submit to authority as God ordained for his glory
- The beauty of a Godly marriage is attractive, even to the unbelievers
More and more people seem to forget Henry Ford’s sage advice when asked on his 50th wedding anniversary for his rule for marital bliss and longevity. He replied, “Just the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model.” He’s talking about faithfulness. This advice does not rest on sound Biblical principles, but it reflects the principle which God instituted. Yes, marriage is between one man and one woman for live, with the exclusion of any other person. Any other definition cannot stand the test of Scriptures.
The fundamentals: all who believe in Christ are heirs of God’s grace in Christ
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7, NIV)
There are people out there who want to discredit the Bible, leaving the impression that it endorses an idea that men are superior to women. What a nonsense!
The verse we just read states very clearly: husbands and wives are both partners of the gracious gift of life. As far as a husband standing before he became a Christian is concerned, there is no difference between him and an unsaved wife: both stand guilty before the throne of God and both will end up sharing the same eternal punishment. If the husband became a Christian, God’s grace turns him over from eternal damnation to become someone who shares in the grace of God; the same thing happens with his wife. Other religions might want to treat women as second class citizens with no rights to forgiveness and salvation – this is not true of Christianity. Paul writes:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28–29, NIV)
As a matter of fact, up to this point in the letter Peter works on the principle that all who respond to the Gospel call and come to Christ, are partakers of the new birth through the Word of God. All, and this includes husbands, wives, sons, daughters slaves and free, become part of the holy nation and the royal priesthood spoken of in chapter two. Yes, they were once living in darkness, but are now called into the marvellous light of God. All thus changed by the grace of God find in themselves war against the things of this world, and find themselves on the road of a pilgrim in a world where they have no permanent address.
One very important lesson we need to take along from the Scriptures is this: most forms of relationships mentioned in the Bible reflects something of the relationship between God and his people. God says of Israel: I am your husband. Of the church the Bible says that she is the bride of Christ. God’s people are known as the sons and daughters of God. Even the relationship between slave and master reflects something of the relationship between God and his people. We saw that last week: Christian slaves in this world become salves to Christ, and brothers to other Christians.
This is an extremely important principle: healthy earthly social relationships do reflect the relationship God has with his people; warped earthly relationships make people to look at God in a bad way. We will come back to this point.
God ordained authority for his glory
As we have seen two or three weeks ago, God is a God of order: He ordained authority, even the authority of kings and rulers. Paul writes:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1, NIV)
The fifth Commandment forms the basis of all authority: “Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land Lord your God is giving you.” The Larger Catechism puts is this way: “… not only natural parents but all superiors in age and gifts and especially … those over us in authority , whether in family, church or government.”
As such we all honour governments, even the bad ones – although we reserve our highest respect and fear for God, who put all authorities in place; we also respect and honour those over us in the workplace and in the school. And, now – and this is the prickly point for some – we submit under God to what He instituted for the best way for a marriage and a family to work: wives submit to husbands, and husbands submit to God – not because the husband is intrinsically better or superior, or because the wife is fundamentally inferior. No, the same principle is valid in the workplace: the employer is not better than the employee, in the same way as the policeman is not intrinsically better that the citizen, or the judge is superior than the witness of the one charged.
God ordained order, because He is a God of order. And as far as marriage and family is concerned, God ordained for the husband and father to lead his family. It is never about the husband, but it is always about the husband between God and his family – all for the sake of God’s glory. In the end, my dear brother, you lead your family not to honour you; you are not the one who gets the glory – your responsibility is to live in such a way before your wife and children that they – and the world around you! – will find it easier to believe in God as Father. There are children wandering the streets who just can’t reconcile the idea of a loving God because they cannot fathom a Heavenly Father who loves, respects, is trustworthy and caring if they look at their own father.
The beauty of a godly marriage
O, if only we had enough time today to step by step go through the verses of our chapter.
Remember the remark of last week: the best gift the church of Christ can give to the world would be to live like the church of Christ. If only husbands and wives can be like these verses instructs us; if only dads and moms can consequently reflect the principles of these verse our world would be so much different.
The very principle that applied to all to submit to worldly authority, even to the godless Caesar, and the same principle that applied to salves in relationship to their masters, and to masters to their slaves, is continued into the next section. What does it say: Christians, now aliens and pilgrims in this world live under God, but obey Him as they submit to what He ordained for an orderly society.
For wives to submit, or to be submissive to husbands in our day is heresy. The spirit of our time, especially driven by the Feminist Movement, is to reject male authority, and even to hate it. Let’s add to this that scores of men hate the idea of being the leaders of their families. Yet, the God of order ordained it, and as such it must be good.
If wives really understand what God demands of husbands this godly submission will be a delight, and not a infringement on their social rights.
The behaviour of a submissive wive is ruled, first of all be here submission to God. God through his Spirit living in her, changes her whole attitude to those around her. If she became a Christian as a married wife, her life – even without words – can draw her husband closer to God. Everything she does is to live like the church as the bride of Christ before her husband. She is pure and reverent in living out the Gospel – the Word which her husband still does not want to hear, but now see being played out before his eyes. They way she does her homework, care for her family, and live in marriage relationship with her husband becomes a sermon preached well. Her obedience to God sets the example of reverence and worship to God. Her true beauty does not lie in outward adornment, but comes from her heart. If she can obey me because she loves her Saviour even if do not treat her well, then surely there must be something in this Saviour.
The Christian wive is not forbidden to have jewellery, but her beauty does not rely on the glitter and gold. Her beauty is not dependent on her hairdos, however, she will always present well, not because she represents a paint company or a cosmetics house, but because she represents her Saviour and his bride, washed and purified in his blood. The beauty she wants to display to her husband and family is the ageless beauty of a sinner restored to God.
That is why she has a gentle spirit. She is gentle, calm and collected. Why? She reflects the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Gal 5:22). This is what God looks on as being really beautiful; its the kind of beauty which God values greatest.
God-worshiping women who lived long ago did the same. Take Sarah as example. She was confident that God would fulfil what He had promised, and although Abraham kept seemingly aimlessly wandering from one point to the other, only holding on the the promise of God, Sarah called him, “My lord”. Although not always, she hoped in God and were tender and obedient to her husband. If Abraham is the father of all believers, then surely Sarah is the mother of them all. Take her example: even when she was beyond her years of childbearing, she trusted God through Abraham, and she experienced the joy of holding a baby of her own at the age of ninety.
My dear friends, the wives gathered here this morning, does your life display these qualities? Do you represent your Saviour to your husband and children with the beauty that lasts and comes from within? Are you a picture of the bride of Christ wishing to do the bidding of your Groom?
Evangelism, winning souls for Christ, can and should begin right in your house. Your family should always be your first target.
I love the words of this old gospel song:
While kneeling by her bedside in our cottage on the hill
My mother prayed her blessings on me there
She was talking there to Jesus while everything was still
And I heard my mother call my name in prayer
She was anxious for her boy to be just what he ought to be
And she asked the Lord to take him in his care
Just the words I can’t remember but I know she prayed for me
For I heard my mother call my name in prayer
So I gave my heart to Jesus and I’m living now for Him
And someday I’ll go and meet Him in the air
For He heard my mother praying and He saved my soul from sin
Yes He heard my mother call my name in prayer
Yes I heard my mother call my name in prayer
She was pourin’ out her heart to Jesus there
Then I gave my heart to Him and He saved my soul from sin
Yes I heard my mother call my name in prayer
- All who believe in Christ are heirs of God’s grace in Christ
- God ordained authority for his glory
- The beauty of a godly marriage – evangelism begins at home
Sermon Preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 20 September 2015