Love and the Gospel

They say love and marriage goes together like a horse and carriage. But where does one insert the gospel when you have love and marriage?

John MacArthur wrote in his book on Ephesians, “Jesus simplified God’s law to two commands to love – to love God and to love others (John 13:34-35). This is the true measure of our faith. If our faith doesn’t show itself vividly in our interactions with other people, the onlooking world has every right to question the validity of our confession”. My question is this: How is the gospel portrayed through the Ephesians 5:21-33 passage to a viewing world?

In chapter 4 we saw God equipping the church and, in this passage, we see him equipping the home. Putting chapter 5 into the context of the whole book we see that our identity is found in Christ, that includes marriage. Verse 2 is the precursor for the last half of chapter 5, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” And in verse 23 we read, “Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” But again, where do you insert the gospel? Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

In order for a man to truly love his wife as Christ loves the church, he must place himself under the authority of Christ as his Lord. He must prefer what God prefers while exhibiting love to his wife. This love is not the love found in the world, but a sacrificial, placing one another above yourself kind of love. It is a love that chooses to go against our own self-preservation (see verse 25). It is a love that instills godly character in another (see verses 26 and 27). It is a love that nurtures trust and cultivates honesty (see verses 28–30). And lastly is is a love that is rooted in Biblical doctrine (see verses 31 and 32, Genesis 2:21–25). This is where the gospel is inserted.

But wait… marriage takes two. You are right. The biblical marriage portrayed in this passage is only the foundation for chapter 6:1-4. The wife is not without guidelines given to her as well. We could preach wives submitting to their husbands till the cows come home but it won’t get us anywhere. If you really want to preach submission, go back and read the previous paragraph. Ahem, submission starts at the top. The Greek word for submit in verses 21, 22 and 24 is a combination of multiple words and here it is hupotassoi which means ‘to put myself into subjection’ or ‘to place or rank under’. No where does it infer keeping her barefoot and pregnant or as the old ball and chain. Remember Eve was created to be a helpmeet (one who comes along side) to Adam not to be his personal beer runner and grub fixer. Your wife submits to you as you submit to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We as Believers are part of the Bride of Christ, the Church universal, and the Bride submits to Christ. This is the mystery of verse 32. If she views her marriage as the Bride to Christ she should submit and respect (see verses 22 and 33).

At the young age of 54, God has not given me a wife yet. I say yet as I’m not dead so there is still time. But what I have written to you includes me as a single. If I am not living my daily walk with Christ in view of the gospel and preferring another ahead of myself, how could I ever do so with a wife? Every day I must yield, submit, put myself into subjection under Christ and his authority.

I love myself every time I get in the car and go where I want to go. I nourish myself every time I purchase groceries and fix breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I cherish myself every time I bathe, get a haircut, or shop for clothes. Yet if I do not show love to others in the same way by offering rides to those who do not own a vehicle, or give to someone who needs food, or buy a homeless man an outfit, “I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” according to 1 Corinthians 13:1 because I do not have love.

Grace and peace, James

*Scripture from ESV, Crossway Publishers, 2001

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