Book of Ephesians
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The biblical view of marriage, according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is not a sacrament, or simply a legal union. The biblical view is a covenant union between a man and woman that reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church. Because marriage is a picture of this relationship, Christians are not to marry non-believers who do not know Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to argue that Ephesians 5:22-24 teaches that husbands are to care for their wives in the same way that Christ cares for his Church, and that the wife is to submit to the husband as the Church submits to Christ. This submission is to be seen in the broader context of a loving relationship where both seek the good of the other. This does not make the wife inferior or less than the husband as some claim. Nor does this mean that the wife has to do everything that the husband commands without exception. For the wife is to serve God and Christ before any other. All believers are ultimately under the authority of Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that in marriage the wife is to submit to the loving and caring leadership of the husband, just as Christ himself submits to God the Father. Additionally, husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loves the Church. From Ephesians 5:25-33, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exhorts that every Christian marriage is to be marked by this love and service! It is not to be an oppressive and cruel union, but in all things it is to reflect Christ's love. It is also to be marked by real communion and fellowship between husband and wife. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says this to confront the error that says that all sexual and physical pleasure in marriage is either wrong or not important. The Christian marriage is one that involves many forms of love, including erotic and physical love. This is in stark contrast to those who teach celibacy and abstention from sexual pleasure as a higher life than that of the married. This kind of thinking completely misses biblical teaching that marriage is good and created by God for his glorification and human enjoyment. For it is God who made marriage as a representation of the great relationship between Christ Jesus and the Church.
Many in society have a very flippant view of love. This is seen when a couple confesses their undying love to one another and breaks up in a matter of days. Or as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones refers to, the many songs and poems that we hear and sing. But all of this is in stark contrast to how God’s Word presents love in general, as well as his love for Christians and the Church. This love is one that prompted him to send his only begotten Son to die a painful death as an atoning sacrifice for those who were his enemies. This is a sanctifying love that transforms and renews. It is not filthy or crude, but as Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes from Ephesians 5:25-27, it is the love that puts others before oneself. This is the love that is demonstrated on the cross and that is to be demonstrated marriage. For just as Christ loved his Church and gave Himself up for it, so also must the husband love his wife, even as he loves his very own flesh. This is the great calling upon all husbands, to love their wives just as Christ loves his Church in a pure and sacrificial love that is unblemished by sin and is without the taint of self service. This is the bountiful picture of love that God gives us in Christ.
Sanctification is an essential and inevitable part of the life of all who are truly regenerate and saved. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes from Ephesians 5:25-27, it is a lifelong process by which the believer is conformed to the image of Christ and grown in love and knowledge of God our Savior. It is the outworking of the justification and forgiveness of sin that all Christians receive at salvation by becoming partakers of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. The Word of God is essential to sanctification. However, this is not the belief that Christians are to let go and let God, but rather, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones states, it is the recognition that the Word of God is the means that the Holy Spirit uses to grow us in knowledge and love of Christ. Another erroneous view of sanctification and salvation is that of baptismal regeneration. This is the view that at baptism, Christians are cleansed of original guilt and the stain of sin. But biblically, baptism is a sign of the transformation and new life that we have in Christ, not the means of acquiring it. Another essential aspect of sanctification is the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. Here we see again how the Word of God, and particularly the ten commandments, can be used to further sanctify and bring Christians closer to God.
By the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, the church has been redeemed from sin and cleansed from all unrighteousness. Furthermore, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Ephesians 5:25-33, the bride of Christ comes to enjoy all the benefits and blessings that he brings. They are accepted before God the Father on the basis of who Christ is and their belief in him. This is one of the most central truths to understand the Christian life. For in it we see that the church has been seated with Christ in the heavenly places and delivered from this present evil age. Not only are we justified by Christ, but the church, and therefore all believers, have true and lasting fellowship with him. This is a great comfort for Christians who struggle and suffer in this world. For as Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes, we can turn and look to Christ knowing that he loves us and cares for us as deeply as a husband loves his bride. Christ in his love for his church also gives an example for all husbands for what it looks like to love their wives wholly and completely. It is Christ’s love of the church that should model for all Christian what true love looks like.
The duty of the husband in the Christian marriage is to build up his wife in the love of Christ. Sadly, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones confronts, many Christians never think through what the nature of a Christian marriage is. Instead, they simply adopt whatever is popular in culture at the time. In Ephesians 5:25-33, the apostle Paul gives us a conception of marriage that is understood in the beautiful metaphor of Christ and his Church. From this we see that the role of the husband in the marriage is one of great significance and importance, for as the head of his wife, the husband is to imitate Christ in his love of the church. There is no higher calling, for this is a great privilege and responsibility for the husband. The husband is to live with his wife as his other half, not simply another relationship in his life. This is completely unique to marriage relationship and demands the highest priority and care. It is the husband’s responsibility to put his wife above all others and to lead her in love and a spirit of gentleness. He is to help her love God and Christ Jesus more and more by loving care and leadership in the marriage.
About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.