GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 02/08/04.
The Third Witness in the Church Age
We have completed our study on the Israeli-Arab Conflict, and we are ready to return to our study of Philippians. We have begun to note that whenever a believer begins to attain any success in the spiritual realm, an attack will be made against him to stop his momentum in the plan of God. Once the serious student of the word of God (the believer who wants to have an impact in the spiritual realm) recognizes this, he will see the importance of God’s Word concerning relationships. This includes relationships between friends, fellow believers, members of the congregation, right man and right woman, and husbands and wives. One of the most subjective and sensitive areas of life is the relationship between a man and a woman, unless, of course, we see it from the divine viewpoint.
We have now resumed our study at the point that we left off, nearly 2½ years ago-the “mystery” in Eph 5:32, a mystery that has been overlooked and ignored by most preachers. After Paul describes the guidelines for marriage, he says in Eph 5:32, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” The mystery spoken of here cannot be the institution of marriage, because marriage has existed since the beginning of the human race. It also cannot refer to the Lord as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride, because the same analogy is used in the Old Testament for the Lord and Israel.
So, then what is the “mystery”? This mystery goes back to the Garden of Eden and what the first Adam lost in the fall and what the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, restored, and how it relates to the angelic conflict. One of the many blessings that we have because of the Cross is that our Lord not only restored all that Adam lost, but He enhanced it and built upon it. We can understand and experience a measure of these principles in the spiritual realm now; however, we will abide in them and experience them in totality in the eternal state.
The mystery of Eph 5:32 goes back to the Garden of Eden:
·The absolute righteousness that the first Adam lost is now duplicated and imputed in the spiritual realm to the believer in the Church-age, who receives a double righteousness (under the principle of the “double portion”) and will remain in that state of perfection forever, REV 22:11.
·The perfect environment in the Garden of Eden that the first Adam lost is now duplicated in the spiritual realm in the predesigned plan of God for the Church-age, and will be consummated in the eternal state with perfect environment for all eternity, REV 21:1-4.
·The original design of marriage that the first Adam lost can now be experienced in the spiritual realm for two believers in the Church-age, and becomes analogous to the eternal marriage between the Lord Jesus Christ and His Bride for all eternity, REV 21:9. This is the mystery of Eph 5:32.
This correlates well with the passage where we left off in Philippians, PHI 4:7, which says, “In fact, that spiritual peace and prosperity from the source of the God, which surpasses or rises above and beyond all comprehension, shall garrison your hearts [right lobes], also your motivation [minds] in Christ Jesus.” God the Holy Spirit has illustrated this principle with one of the most sensitive areas of human relationships, which is marriage.
Satan and all his fallen angels realize how Christian marriage glorifies God, and they have done a masterful job of destroying the institution of marriage and blinding the human race from its true meaning. They have succeeded to the point that the average believer disregards or rejects the biblical information concerning this subject. Solomon said inPRO 24:5, “A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.” The necessary spiritual information is all we need to combat any difficult situation. This “spiritual intelligence,” which was once “classified information,”concealed and restricted from both angels and mankind, is revealed in the Church-age as the mystery; it has been“declassified.” It is only a secret to those who are willfully ignorant. If a believer desires to know the truth, it will be revealed, JOH 7:17, JER 29:13.
Concerning mystery doctrine in the Church-age, ROM 16:25-26 says, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.” The“revelation of the mystery” has now been manifested by the Scriptures, and the pastor-teachers of the Church-age are called stewards, or dispensers of that mystery, 1CO 4:1.
In the book of Philippians we have seen the connection between the maximum glorification of God for which believers are created, the resolution of a prehistoric angelic conflict, and receiving the highest and best from God (the hidden assets of EPH 1:14). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is guarding something for us that is currently “on deposit” inEPH 1:3 and 1PE 1:4-phenomenal wealth for the soul of the believer throughout time and eternity. The born-again believer in the Church-age who reaches spiritual maturity and then passes the most serious undeserved suffering and evidence testing is the one who will receive fantastic blessings in time and greater blessings in the eternal state, to the glory of God. He becomes an invisible hero and receives the highest and best from God, beginning now, in time (MAR 10:30). Those blessings are so monumental that they cannot be contained, and they “overflow” beyond the believer himself, as in MAL 3:10. This blessing overflows to those in his periphery-family, community, nation, and even the entire generation.
As born again believers in Jesus Christ, we have the capacity in our local assembly, our marriage, our family, and our job to have a fantastic impact. We have the most phenomenal and magnificent privilege, potential, and opportunity. The unique spiritual life that was pioneered by our Lord Jesus Christ has been passed on to us. It all begins with motivation and the reason why we are here. And why are we here?
REV 4:11 “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”
ISA 43:7 “Everyone who is called by My name, I have created for My glory, the ones whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
ISA 43:21 “The people whom I formed for Myself, will declare My praise.”
JOH 15:8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
You have been created to glorify God in the appeal trial of Satan and the angelic conflict. The formal trial, Satan’s presentation of his appeal, was held between the creation of the first Adam and the incarnation of the Last Adam. Between GEN 2:7 (the creation of the first Adam) and MAT 1:25 (the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ) was the presentation of the formal trial.
The first Adam fell, but the Last Adam would come on the scene, strategically resolve the angelic conflict, and share that victory with winner believers throughout the ages. In the dispensations of the hypostatic union and the Church-age, the prosecution presents its answer to Satan’s appeal; this is the rebuttal phase of the trial. (There will be a third and final phase of the trial-the closing arguments and summary of the prosecution, which includes the Second Advent and the Millennial rule of Christ.) This rebuttal phase involves several witnesses, three specifically (although only two were required under Jewish jurisprudence). The Lord Jesus Christ was the first witness; He is the star witness and the “faithful witness,” REV 1:5; REV 3:14; REV 22:16. Any believer who becomes an invisible hero of the Church-age testifies as the second witness. The third and final witness belongs to two believers in Christian marriage.
The standards and the values of Christian marriage, as outlined in EPH 5:22-33, are higher than any standards that have ever been given to mankind, and can only be fulfilled through the spiritual life. There are two major problems that exist between the man and the woman.
The predominant problem with the woman toward the man is lack of respect; therefore, we are given passages such as EPH 5:22-24, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
The man’s predominant problem is bitterness and hypersensitivity, COL 3:19, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter against them”; EPH 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives [how?], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” How did Christ love the Church? He loved her with an impersonal unconditional love (a non-aggressive, passive love), and He gave Himself up for her.
Therefore, how should a husband love his wife?
EPH 5:28-29, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies [themselves]. He who loves his own wife loves himself [spiritual self-esteem]; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.” The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and also love her as himself. As a man of God, he needs confidence and spiritual self-esteem. When a married couple fulfills the spiritual life corporately, their marriage becomes a corporate, or collective, witness for the prosecution of Satan, and that marriage receives the very highest and best from God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the “bright morning star,” and invisible heroes of the Church-age receive the order of the morning star in REV 2:28. Satan saw Jesus Christ, the star witness against him, as a target for destruction, even before His birth. His attacks can be traced all the way back to Gen 4, in the murder of Abel, and Gen 6, when he attempted to destroy the line of true humanity with angelic genetic infiltration. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself became the star witness in His hypostatic union, and He is followed by individual witnesses of the Church-age, who make up the second witness against Satan. Finally, the third witness is the corporate witness, Christian marriage in the Church-age only.
GEN 2:18-24 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man. [Why? Because it was clear to Adam that he was a higher creation than the animal kingdom, therefore God gave him a helper (ezer, which means a responder and fulfiller).] So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. [From this rib is going to come a lot of man’s happiness and a lot of man’s troubles!] And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and the Lord brought her to the man. [The Lord did not hide her in the trees and say, “Now you find her”; He brought her to the man. God’s timing is always perfect.] And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman [Ishshah], because she was taken out of Man [Ish].” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife [the doctrine of right man and right woman]; and they shall become one flesh.
Adam did not have a father or mother, nor did his wife, so this passage is establishing precedent for human history. Under the first mention principle, when the Bible sets a precedent, it is establishing a principle from the beginning of time to the end of human history. In this case, this precedent is designed to prevent interference into the privacy of the two who have made the decision to marry. Marital problems are no one else’s business. This pattern of intimacy between the man and the woman was established at the creation of man, GEN 2:21-25.
In EPH 5:31-33, we have the principle that just as there is one edification complex for one soul (one developed system of thinking), there is one man for one woman in God’s design: “For this cause [the analogy between the Church and Christ in the previous verse] a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great [the oneness of the soul of the mature believer with the Lord Jesus Christ, developed by building the edification complex and receiving the mind of Christ]; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Our relationship and intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ on earth depends upon the edification complex in our soul (our soul structure). God has perfectly designed a system of thinking for our relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.
Is the woman commanded to love the man?
The answer is “No”! If she is the right woman, that will never be a problem. However, throughout this passage, the husband is commanded to love the woman, whereas she is commanded to respect him, EPH 5:33, “And let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.” The verb for “respect” is the present middle subjunctive form of phobeo, which means to respect, to be in awe of, to revere, and to treat with esteem, courtesy, high regard, or reverential obedience. When a man has the right woman she will respect him. When the right man initiates love to the right woman, she responds with respect. The key for the woman is not “love and hate,” but respect. Whether she loves him or is angry with him, she still respects him; these are all normal responses to the right man. The factor that will be developed in the woman’s relationship with the right man is respect; the factor that will be developed in the man’s relationship with the woman is love-an aggressive, initiating love.
There are three prominent grace gifts given by Christ to man in Scripture; this is the order in which they occurred in the human race:
1. The right woman. He built her, GEN 2:22.
2. Salvation. He did it, JOH 19:30.
3. Doctrine. He thought it, 1CO 2:16.
The first great decision that you make is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. The second-greatest decision you can make is to respond to the ministry of your right pastor-teacher, who can teach you Bible doctrine and the mind of Christ. Then, the third-greatest decision is finding the right man or right woman God has designed for your life. However, in all of human history, the right woman is the oldest human gift, when Christ brought the woman to the man in GEN 2:18.
Obviously, the fall of the man and the woman had a profound impact on their relationship, which is a part of our study concerning the mystery. The original design of marriage, which the first Adam lost, can now be experienced in the spiritual realm for two believers in the Church-age, representing the eternal marriage between the Lord Jesus Christ and His Bride, REV 21:9. God’s work is perfect and His gifts are perfect. Whether it is the gift of salvation, the gift of the right-pastor teacher, or the gift of right man or right woman, the gift is designed to fit you perfectly. As we read in DEU 32:4, “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.”
James wrote in JAM 1:17, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above.” Therefore, it should be no surprise that when the Lord gives you any gift, the gift will perfectly suit you. However, it depends upon your volitional (free will) decisions toward all three of these gifts.
For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1115 to 0190-1117.