Mystery of Marriage1)This teaching series is not restricted to married people because the main biblical teachers on the marriage of Christ and the Church are celibates i.e. Paul [Eph 5:22-33] and John [John 3:29; Rev 19; 21].
Revelation 1: Equality
“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
Introduction to Series
Across the Western world the state of marriage is in crisis. Marriage rates have plunged in Scandinavia, births out of wedlock are booming in the UK, seventy plus percent of couples live together before marriage in Australia, and the issue of “(gay) marriage equality” looks set to culturally redefine the meaning of marriage itself. All these issues point to a failure of the Church to be the salt and light (Matt 5:14-16). This is a series directed at encouraging Christian marriages to become hubs of revelation. Some believing partnerships are already like this, yet many are quite ordinary. Thankfully it is Jesus who transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Marriage has been especially designed by God to unveil his character to humanity.
This is why the bookends of scripture describe weddings; Adam and Eve are joined together by God in Genesis 2, Christ and his Bride are married in Revelation 19. At the very end of scripture there is a united call; “the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”” (Rev 22:17).
Marital bliss is the reality which in the End will fill the universe forever.
This series is an exercise in mystical theology. It doesn’t come out of my careful exegesis of the Bible or reading Christian books but from a spiritual awareness. Typically I am in bed with Donna at some very early hour, often in prayer, and I sense deeply inside of me a connectedness between my own marriage, the relationship between Jesus and his Bride and what I have read in scripture. This is a form of knowledge through presence, the presence of my wife and of Christ. It is the type of knowing spoken of in Genesis, “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Gen 4:1). Or most profoundly, ““This is eternal life, to know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”” (John 17:3). This mysterious intimate understanding simply happens to you. Insights simply spring into life. Such spiritual awareness is a highly prophetic reality that has the potential to transform the life of the Western Church and deeply impact the decaying culture that surrounds and threatens to overrun us (1 Cor 2:13).
Equality in Covenant
The one essential difference within humanity is sex. Men and women are radically different in many unquantifiable ways. Naturally speaking this makes living together as true equals extremely difficult; such difficulties however are a pathway to glory.
During the early years of our married life I was the “stand out” person in our relationship. Donna was following me around the country giving birth to and taking care of our five kids, whilst I was completing various degrees, preaching and pastoring. She was always in the background as the supportive minister’s wife. Some decades ago, the exact circumstances elude me, something wasn’t going well and I started to struggle with a deep sense of inner incompleteness. Being a very private person this discontent was all inside of me and unknown to anyone but God. Then one day with deep reluctance I knew what I had to do. In humility I swallowed my pride and pretentiousness concerning my superior theological abilities and Christian competence and confessed brokenly to Donna, “I NEED YOU.” At the time I could not have imagined the spiritual breakthrough this would bring, both within our relationship and in my entire life.
From that time on something broke open in the spiritual realm. Since then I have never ceased to be amazed at the grace and wisdom of God in giving me this wife and the spiritual riches which flow to me through her presence. Whilst this amazement includes receiving Donna’s astute counsel most significantly it is something I simply sense from being around her. I know it is both an encounter with God’s original intention that husband and wife be “one flesh” (Gen 2:24) and the even richer fulfilment between Christ and his people, “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Cor 6:17). This remarkable scripture concerning our spiritual union with the Lord is grounded in the equal access we share through him with the Father (Eph 2:6, 18; Col 3:1).
Jesus greatest act of humility was “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”. In dying for our sin on the cross Jesus’ identity as God’s Son was totally obscured, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34). There was in his experience no awareness of equality in Spirit with the heavenly Father. In the plan of God however humility always precedes elevation. The promise that the Lord exalts the humble has become pre-eminently true of Christ (James 4:10). The Father has exalted Jesus to “the highest place” giving him “the name above all names” (Phil 2:8, 10). The “man Christ Jesus” now enjoys the fullest possible revelation of the wisdom, goodness, character and love of the Father (1 Tim 2:5; Rev 1:1). He feels fully one and equal with God.
As Jesus leads us his Bride into ever deeper humility we enjoy with him an ever growing revelation of all that he has prepared for us. Marriage is a tremendously effective means of grace whereby the Lord crucifies and humbles us in order to raise us up and reveal himself; “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Cor 6:17). This journey of brokenness leading into illumination is my experience and it is the call of Christ for all his married followers.
In many marriages one partner feels stronger and the other weaker, one seems more dependent and the other less dependent; whilst this is quite natural it is far from God’s design.
The Spirit’s way of healing the disorder in our marriages is to break our independent spirits (Ps 51:17).
How he does this is up to his own sovereign will (1 Cor 12:11).
Yet because an abiding spiritual awareness of equality in marriage is foundational to revelations of what it means to be Christ’s Bride we must all ask the Lord to intensify our experience of the brokenness and humility of the cross.
Through such experiences, revelation from heaven will most surely break forth. This is my testimony and it is part of the prophetic testimony of Jesus (Rev 1:2, 9; Rev 12:17; Rev 19:10; Rev 20:4).
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|1.||↑||This teaching series is not restricted to married people because the main biblical teachers on the marriage of Christ and the Church are celibates i.e. Paul [Eph 5:22-33] and John [John 3:29; Rev 19; 21].|