Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 8, 2015
Today marks our second week in our sermon series on marriage. After last week, Tristan asked me if anyone had any negative comments about my sermon last Sunday, and I can honestly say no, but that doesn't mean that your weren't thinking them. I will admit, at times, I get somewhat passionate about God's Word. However, if you do find something I say disagreeable please come and talk with me about it. Don't just stop coming. My advice is that when you hear or read something in God's Word that you do not like, do not run from it, but lean into it, and allow God to lead you into all truth.
Today we are going to unpack the profound mystery of marriage. It is a mystery that I was not aware of until about five years ago, which is sad because I have now been married for eleven years. Perhaps this mystery had been taught to me when I was younger, but I didn’t have ears to hear.
Having said that, I want my hands to be clean as it relates to Cornerstone Church. I want everyone in this room to understand the ultimate, and specific reason as to why God created the institution of marriage. I want all of us to have our eyes on the purposes of God as it relates to marriage. I want us oriented with a proper trajectory so that our marriage reach the destination that God desires. However, before we read our text and unpack it, let us review.
Last week we examined the very first wedding ceremony as found in Genesis 2. This marriage was officiated by none other than God himself. In Genesis 2 we observed the foundation of marriage. We discovered that marriage is created by God, implemented by God, provided by God, and joined by God. No matter how you look at marriage, you can only reach one conclusion, it is Gods institution, not mans, not governments, not anyone else’s but Gods. God has complete and utter authority over this institution. Therefore, in order for us to have any hope of seeking answers in the mystery we call marriage, we must look in the Bible.
As we saw last week in Matthew 19, this is how Jesus approached questions on marriage. His preface to their marital questioning was, “Have you not read?” These words “have you not read” echo still today, and we, the Church, should pick up the baton and continue to pose the same question to ourselves, our family, our friends, our communities, and our government “Have you not read?” For the Word of God, the Bible, is the ultimate authority regarding all things, especially marriage.
Today, however, I want to ask the next logical question, “Why?” Why does an all-powerful, all knowing, perfectly Holy God, create such a mysterious thing as marriage? We can agree that God didn't have to do it this way. God could have chosen a variety of different ways that humanity exists, but he didn't. Our perfectly wise God, omniscient God, intentionally chose for a man and women to be joined in holy matrimony. Why?
Before we begin, I want to stress how important this question is of why is. Understanding the purpose of marriage determines whether your marriage flourishes or flounders. If you want you could exchange the word purpose for goal, and ask what is the goal of marriage? Keeping your eyes on the goal helps keep you pointed in the write direction. It helps you filter out things that either support the goal or interfere with the goal. It gives you a proper perspective in times of difficulty. It produces in you a motivation. Think of this question of why as our attempt to set a correct trajectory for your marriage. Too many of you have worldly coordinates plugged into your marriage, therefore instead of hitting the moon, you miss your mark and drift off into darkness. Understanding the purpose of your marriage is the key to satisfying your hearts longing that we unpacked briefly last week.
For the Glory of God
To answer the question of why let us start, once again with a foundation. If I were to ask you, why did God create the Universe, what would you say? Hopefully many of you, here at Cornerstone, would respond that God created the Universe for His Glory. We regularly cover this topic. The Chief purpose of all things is the Glory of God. How do we know this? Because God tells us this fact in His Word.
They question is do you see your marriage through this lens? Do you recognize that not only is marriage through God, but it is ultimately for God. Your marriage is for His glory. Let’s say that again, your marriage is for the glory of God. It is not for your glory. It is not for your spouses glory. It is not for your kids glory. It is not for this nations glory. Marriage is for God's glory.
So often we commit the sin of Romans 1:23 and we exchange the glory of God for the glory of man. When we do this, things start to fall apart. Why? Because the foundational rock the institution of marriage has been replaced by sand.
For the Glory of Jesus
Having said this, I think we can narrow the purpose of marriage down even more then the glory of God. Colossians 1:16 says this about Jesus.
Once again, is this how we think? When two people stand before God and are joined in Holy matrimony, are they ultimately doing it for Jesus? Do we live out our marriage for the purpose of Christ? Do we lay our marriage at the foot of the cross and say it is yours to do with it as you please?
My guess is that the answer is no. You do not view your marriage through the lens that it exists for Jesus Christ. Instead we approach marriage as if it is ultimately a gift for us. We are like little children that scream, “MINE!” We have bought into the lie that marriage is for the preeminent purpose to make us comfortable, or wealthy, or sexually satisfied. And when it fails to produce those things we think it is broken. This is the wrong way to view marriage, because ultimately your marriage is for Christ, not you. Using it to be your ultimate source of happiness will fail every time. Marriage is not a candy machine that exists for your passions and pleasures, it is an God ordained Union for the glory of His Son.
For the Pinnacle of God’s Glorious Grace
But once again, I think we can get even more specific then this. Yes, marriage is for the Glory of God, and yes, marriage is for Christ, but there is something more profound going on in the creation and implementation of marriage by God. Turn to Ephesians 5:22-33.
First, let us recognize what Paul is quoting. Paul is quoting the same text that Jesus quoted in Matthew 19. He is quoting Genesis 2:24. When Paul is attempting to teach on marriage and to unpack its purpose, he goes straight to God’s Word as the ultimate authority and foundation to the conversation. So once again we need to recognize that the two main people in the Bible who teach on marriage, Jesus and Paul, both see the Bible as the light upon the path when seeking answers about marriage.
The next thing we must see if this wonderful nugget of truth hidden in verse 32, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” What is Paul saying? He is saying that this unity of husband and wife is a reference, or pointer, to the union that takes place between Christ the Church, those he died for and rescued from Hell. Verse 32 is saying the ultimate and specific reason why God created the institution of marriage was for it to be a living display of the Gospel.
When we think about this, this makes complete sense. In Genesis 1:27 we are told that man and woman are created by God in the image of God. Then in Genesis 2 He takes these two image bearer and joins them in marriage so as to image, or display, the most important truth in the Universe, the Gospel. God desires this image of the Gospel to cover the earth just like his image bearers. So once again we understand why marriage is a universal and cross cultural longing in humanities heart. Therefore, the primary and specific purpose of your marriage is to image forth the love between Christ and his Church. Ephesians 5 is not the only place you see evidence of this mystery. The bible regularly speaks of Jesus and His Church as the bridegroom and the bride.
And, once again, this makes sense. If as we already said, God created marriage for his glory, and he also created marriage for His Son, then it makes sense that marriage would point to the pinnacle of that glory of Christ which is the laying down of the Bridegrooms life for His Bride. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the apex of the Glory of God and marriage is its image.
The Overwhelming Implications
The realization that your marriage and every marriage is a shadow of the of the glory of God in the Gospel should have a monumental effect in your life. If the purpose of your marriage is to point to the Gospel it should change how you talk to your spouse, eat with your spouse, live with your spouse, and love your spouse. It should change everything about your relationship.
This is one of the greatest problems that marriages have. Couples have the wrong purpose for marriage in mind. They believe the purpose of marriage is the American Dream. They believe the purpose of marriage is economic freedom. They believe the purpose of marriage is sexual satisfaction. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. This is why your marriage is failing. You are trying to make marriage do something that is not its ultimate purpose. It is like trying to train an eagle to swim. Eagles are not made to swim, they are made to soar.
But this is what is beautiful, when you lay aside your idolatrous purposes and allow God to be the Lord of your marriage, out of your Gospel driven marriage will flow joy, contentment, peace, intimacy, love, and a thousand other Spirit given fruits. God will give you a taste of the Garden of Eden before the fall. The question, as always, is will you trust God? Will you trust God enough to reorient your marriage to be all about reflecting the Glory of God in the Gospel of Christ?
Next week we will begin to unpack the specific ramifications for embracing this Gospel centered purpose of your marriage, but until then, let us pray that God would push this mysterious truth deep into our hearts and deep into our marriages. Let us pray that God would make the Gospel the rudder of our union with our spouse. Pray that starting today every decision will be filtered through this glorious reality that our marriages are designed to point the World to the glory of God in the person of Christ in the manifest love of ransoming his bride.