GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 02/15/04.
The Third Witness in the Church Age. Part 2.
Ephesians 5:22-33

We are now studying the great mystery of Christian marriage in Eph 5:32, and how the Last Adam (the Lord Jesus Christ) restored all that the first Adam lost at the fall. We have seen that the first Adam lost the divine provisions established by God in the Garden of Eden. The Last Adam recovered all these blessings and gave them back to man, while even building upon their original design. This is a significant part of the historical angelic conflict.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam, the original man, possessed absolute righteousness, lived in perfect environment, and was given the gift of a relationship of intimacy with the woman, and he lost all three. However, in the Church-age, the Last Adam provided a way for man to recover all that the first man lost, and even more, 1CO 15:22,46. We have been given more than Adam ever had in the Garden. Original man received the natural provisions first, but now through the Lord Jesus Christ man receives the greater provisions, which are spiritual.

The laws of evidence as they relate to the angelic conflict are important to understand in this doctrine. The laws of evidence throughout the Bible state that there must always be two or more witnesses in any trial. The witnesses must be interrogated separately and their testimony must agree. In correlation with the laws of evidence in Jewish Jurisprudence, there are three witnesses in the Church-age:

1) The Lord Jesus Christ.
2) The invisible hero (individual believer).
3) The final witness, which is Christian marriage.

Christian marriage based on the supernatural power of the spiritual life restores the third realm of man’s life that Satan destroyed in the Garden of Eden-the gift of a relationship of intimacy between the man and the woman. Like the Lord Jesus Christ and the winner believer, Christian marriage is “interrogated” and tested separately by Satan. Although a minimum of two witnesses is required, the Lord still called the third witness.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the “star witness,” and the invisible hero of the Church-age is the second-most important witness in the appeal trial of Satan. For those who are married and do not see any spiritual light at the end of the tunnel, this doctrine can still apply in the future. The same is true for those who were married but no longer are, and it applies especially to those who have not yet been married. We have been created to glorify God in the appeal trial of Satan in the angelic conflict. 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 (A1), and MAT 1:25, the birth of the Last Adam (A2).

After the first Adam fell, the Last Adam would come to accomplish the strategic resolution of the angelic conflict, and share that resolution and victory with winner believers throughout the ages. After Satan’s appeal comes the rebuttal phase, which began at the birth of Christ and continues to the Rapture of the Church. In the dispensations of the Hypostatic Union and the Church, the prosecution has its answer to Satan’s appeal. In the third and final phase of the trial, the closing arguments and summary of the prosecution are presented, and this will begin at the Second Advent and continue through the Millennium.

Christian marriage goes beyond the general institution of marriage and is unique. The standards and values of Christian marriage, as outlined in Ephesians 5:22-33“>EPH 5:22-33, are higher than any other standards that have ever been communicated to mankind. These standards can only be fulfilled through the spiritual life of the Church-age.

There are two major problems between the man and the woman that they must face in marriage. The predominant problem with the woman toward the man is lack of respect, 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, EPH 5:25,28-29; COL 3:19, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter against them.” The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and love her as himself. As a man of God, he must have some measure of confidence and spiritual self-esteem, which is important for the woman as well.

When a marriage fulfills the spiritual life corporately, that marriage becomes a corporate, or collective, witness in the prosecution of Satan, and receives the very highest and best from God, beyond calculation, as well as the recognition of that marriage throughout the eternal state-true fame where it really counts. 

Elect angels observe human history while fallen angels oppose human history. In the Church-age, mature believers and those who are dedicated to the plan of God, are on the front lines, and Satan sets himself against these believers with all his “principalities and powers” in all areas of life, including Christian marriage. There is assembled in the heavens the entire angelic host, who are observers in this stage of history.

The concentration and the focus of the elect and fallen angels were greater at the time of the Hypostatic Union than at any other time. In the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, angels observed every detail of the first advent and incarnation of our Lord, 1Ti 3:16, “And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”

In the dispensation of the Church-age, angels observe members of the Royal Family of God in their failure or success to execute the pre-designed plan of God, 1CO 4:9, EPH 3:10, 1TI 5:21, 1Pe 1:12. Angels even observe believers receiving commands from headquarters, 1TI 5:21. Both demons and elect angels are watching Christian marriages, because it is a significant aspect of the uniqueness of the Church-age. Just as the humanity of Christ was observed by angels, so you are observed by angels.

Christian marriage is a part of the testimony against Satan in his appeal trial. Marriage of two believers is the proving ground for the mandates and duties that demand the highest form of virtue that has ever existed. The basis for fulfilling these mandates is two problem-solving devices-personal love for God the Father and impersonal love for all mankind. The mystery doctrine of the Church-age includes a new phenomenon called Christian marriage, Eph 5:32, “This is a great mystery; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Precedence for marriage as a divine institution was established in the Garden of Eden with the divine creation of the man and the formation of the woman from his rib.

When the woman starts to react to her husband, the solution to her problem is responding to the Lord Jesus Christ with personal love for God, and responding to her husband with impersonal love. The husband is mandated to love his wife with a virtue-love of leadership as Christ loved the Church. True, honorable, virtue-love expresses itself in sacrifice for the wife. This is the basis for stability in the national entity.

After the original sin of our first parents, the divine institution of marriage included both believers and unbelievers. No changes were made over thousands of years until the dispensation of the Church. The revelation of the mystery doctrine of the Church-age added a new dimension to marriage. It is only in the Church-age that every believer has a fantastic portfolio of invisible assets for the execution of the spiritual life. The mystery doctrine is revealed exclusively in the New Testament epistles, and established a new manner of lifestyle for Church-age believers, including Christian marriage. Whereas the original divine institution of marriage was for the entire human race, Christian marriage is for Church-age believers only.

A divine institution is for believers and unbelievers, but a Christian institution is for Christians only. In the Church-age, Christian marriage has been given the highest standards that have ever existed or will exist in the human race. God has separated Christian marriage from the original divine institution, and in so doing, He has entered marriage into the prehistoric angelic conflict.

The divine institution of marriage, which began at the creation of mankind, is perpetuated through the entire history of mankind on earth. The sin of Adam and the woman resulted in several changes in the institution of marriage; for example, the purpose of sex in the Garden was for recreation only, but after the fall of man and subsequent spiritual death, a second purpose was added to sex in marriage-procreation for the perpetuation of the human race. The perpetuation of the human race was necessary for the appeal trial of Satan.

The Greek word musterion (mystery) refers to the unique doctrines of the Church-age, which were never before revealed; these aspects of marriage were not known in the Old Testament. The Church is the unique dispensation of history. During the Church-age, Christian marriage has taken on far greater challenges and rewards than ever before. Married believers have a special witness for the prosecution and all angels are watching carefully; therefore, the pastor-teacher is mandated to communicate these doctrines.

One of the reasons for this angelic observation is that angels do not experience the intimacy of marriage, MAT 22:29-30. They were all personally created by God, PSA 148:5. Therefore, angels observe members of the Royal Family of God and learn from them, EPH 3:10, 1Pe 1:12. Angels once taught mankind, GAL 3:19; now, in the Church-age, they are being taught by mankind, EPH 3:10. This is why in 1CO 11:10, concerning Christian marriage, it reads, “Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”

Marriage is the most demanding of all human relationships, and comes with “double trouble,” 1CO 7:28. However, it can be so much more rewarding when the spiritual life is the center of the marriage, as is true in all relationships,1SA 20:23, “The Lord is between you and me forever.” To have fellowship with believers based on fellowship with God is something very rare in Christianity today.

Part of the mystery doctrine of the Church-age is this new phenomenon called Christian marriage, Eph 5:32, “This is a great mystery; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

God created a new category of marriage for the Church-age, and He gave it the highest form of standards that have ever existed in a relationship between any two people in the human race. If these standards are upheld in a generation, the result is a pivot of mature believers and blessing for the nation. Christian marriage in the dispensation of the Church is part of the testimony that once-and-for-all condemns Satan and all fallen angels to the eternal lake of fire. Therefore, the standards for Christian marriage are much higher than the standards for the unbelievers’ marriage.

This doctrine emphasizes the principle of freedom, authority, and values in marriage. All three are necessary for the intimacy of divinely appointed relationships. Freedom without authority is anarchy, disorder, and confusion; in any institution, there has to be a final authority. Authority without freedom is tyranny. To avoid anarchy, freedom must have values; to avoid tyranny, authority must have virtue.

The testing ground for these principles is Christian marriage. Authority in marriage belongs to the husband, but this authority must be exercised in virtue-love with integrity. This means that personal love for God must provide motivation and correction of action in marriage. Freedom in marriage belongs to both spouses, but such freedom must be exercised from spiritual values, so that freedom and authority in marriage are not in conflict. They are designed by God to establish a testimony in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial. The husband and wife are given divine directions in the Word of God, through their pastor-teacher, 1PE 5:3, ACT 20:28. When God gives you commands, you have freedom to execute those commands. The source of your freedom is volition.

When a husband exercises tyranny toward his wife, he has taken from her what is most valuable-her freedom. No woman can love a man without being free to exercise her love. This is true of friendship, romance, and marriage. A woman can never love a man when he violates the third law of marriage-“Forgive as Christ forgave.” The Three Laws of Marriage are as follows:

1. The responsibility of the man, EPH 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself as a substitute for her.” God does not assign the role of leadership in marriage without also assigning appropriate responsibility.
2. The responsibility of the woman, EPH 5:22-24,33. EPH 5:24 says, “As the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
3. The mutual responsibility of husband and wife, EPH 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tender?hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

How can a wife love her husband, when he is a jealous, bitter, vindictive, implacable loser? When a woman’s volition is taken away from her, she has no way of loving her man. A woman can only respond to a man in freedom. If you have no values, you are not capable of love. It takes a greater capacity for love on the woman’s part to respect a man and function under his authority. Respect must be the mandate for the Christian wife, because she is under the authority of her husband. When a woman respects her husband, there is no danger of her transferring her affection to another man outside the marriage. Virtue and values always meet in one place, coalescence of bodies and coalescence of souls. This is why premarital sex can destroy what would have been a fantastic marriage, long before the marriage even takes place. Freedom in marriage belongs to both spouses, but must have values to avoid chaos. Freedom must be exercised on the basis of spiritual values related to the mystery doctrine of the pre-designed plan of God.

Freedom in marriage demands a personal sense of responsibility. Having freedom does not mean anything unless you exercise responsibility with that freedom. Freedom without responsibility is apathy, which is tantamount to negative volition toward Bible doctrine. Apathy means failure to follow the pre-designed plan of God and therefore failure in Christian marriage. Marriage is a testing ground for the spiritual life.

If you can make it in marriage, you can make it in any relationship in life. Marriage is much more demanding than any other relationship and can also be much more rewarding. This new attitude toward marriage only exists in the Church-age, because this is the only dispensation where every believer can use the fantastic spiritual life provided by God to fulfill such principles as Phi 4:11-13, being content in any circumstances.

So, freedom in marriage belongs to both spouses, but must be exercised through the spiritual values of the mystery doctrine of the pre-designed plan of God. Once the pressure is taken off the role of the husband and wife in marriage, and the focus is set on the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ, than neither partner will fall into unrealistic expectation in the marriage. They will live for Christ instead of one another.

For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1118 to 0190-1122.

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