Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Leadership in Ephesians

April 9th, 2019

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One. (Ephesians 1:3-6 BSB)

It is telling that in the letter that Paul says the most about leadership in the church, in the family, and in life, he starts out by emphasizing the common grace we share. He first lays a strong foundation of the equality of all the saints in terms of the choosing, blessings, planning, and working of God through Christ. And only after he has laid such a wonderful theological foundation for the equality of all believers does he venture into the areas of leadership. 

He deals with five key relationships in this epistle: (1) Christ and the church; (2) gifted people and the church; (3) husbands and wives; (4) parents a children; and (5) employers and workers, or masters and servants.  The first and most important is the relationship between Christ and the church. There is no question that Christ is a gracious and loving Savior, who died to redeem us and who has given His Spirit to mark us as His, who also wishes to display for all eternity His great love and our great redemption.

I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe. He displayed this power in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. (Eph. 1:18-21)

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-8)

The astounding truth is that despite the disparity that exists between the believer and Christ, despite His greatness and our fallenness, that God will still raise us up and seat us with Him in the heavenly realms as demonstrations of His great grace and kindness. 

So when the letter says that “God put everything under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church” (Eph. 1:22), Paul has more greatly emphasized God’s love and grace to us and His blessings to us. There is no question but that Christ is Lord, and that we should bow down before Him in surrender and submission, but the tone of the letter much more strongly conveys His love and the blessings of grace than the terror of Christ the Judge. 

So, upon that example and those principles, Paul then simply teaches about leadership in these other areas. What leader cannot read this epistle without being touched? This teaches us that the leaders of the church are not to lord it over their brothers and sisters, neither is the husband to lord it over his wife, nor is the parent to cruelly exasperate his child, nor is the employer to harshly disrespect his worker. It does not dismiss the leader’s role, not in the church, nor in the marriage, nor in the family, nor in the work place. But it does paint it the color of grace and respect. 

The Christian leader is the one who is most like Christ, who knows when to chase the money changers out of the temple, who knows when to ask the tough questions, who knows when to rebuke the sinner, but who also is willing to die for the ones he leads, who is willing to suffer disgrace and embarrassment if others will be blessed, who seeks to lift up and strengthen those he leads. The Christian leader is not the one who puts others down, but the one who lifts them up, that they might become more than he is. 

In whatever capacity God has given you the opportunity to lead others, seek to lift them up and not to tear them down. There may come a time for rebuking, but God never rebukes that He does not also plant a seed of hope and explain how things can be put right. Remember that the word of God is inspired and useful “for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The last part of that quote from 2 Timothy, “that the man of God may be complete,” does not refer only to the preacher or to the teacher or, for our purposes, to the Christian leader. It also is relevant for the one who is taught or led by the Word, that the word of grace lifts us up from our failures and Christian leadership should fully equip the saved for every good work.   

Ephesians, Leadership, Marriage

Children and Parents

May 2nd, 2014

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right…Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1,4

The preciseness of these words should be well-noted. The first command above is to children, who in their formative years are under the authority of their parents. They should obey their parents, and this is specific, not theoretical. He did not say that the children should respect adults in general, nor even parenthood in theory, but that their specific parents they are to obey, “For this is right.” This command does not depend on the character of the parents, whether they are wise, or good, or intelligent, or irresponsible, rather it depends on the way in which God has created the world, that He has placed children in homes and there they are to learn discipline, develop character, and this through obedience to their parents.

But this obedience is to be done “in the Lord,” which in the context clearly refers to Christ. It bring us back to 5:21 that speaks of mutual submission in relationship “out of reverence for Christ.” This means that the attitude of the child toward the parents is to be similar to the child’s belief in Christ. It is a spiritual worship for a child to be obedient to his parents. But also the obedience has a limitation, that the child is not under obligation to obey the parent when that obedience would be against the clear will of the Lord. The child is not under obligation to sin against Christ in the name of obedience to or respect to his parents.

I have known many young Christians in Asia whose unbelieving parents insisted that they participate in some non-Christian religious practice that a Christian’s conscience will not allow him to do. It is one of the most difficult tests of faith in life, and though a Christian must always and continually show respect and love to his parents, the Christian has only one Lord, Christ Jesus Himself, and cannot in good conscience participate in non-Christian religious observances, and is under no obligation to do so. But the love of the Christians toward their parents has often been the very thing that God used to win the parents to faith in Christ.

To the father, however, is the command to be gentle and nurturing to their children. We presume that the command was given to the fathers, not because the mothers have no similar obligation, but that the fathers were the ones most likely to abuse their child, to be rough and uncaring and even cruel. The natural created order for the human family is that the father will take leadership and will exercise that leadership in compassionate, tender, mutually-submissive love. The one who is the strongest and who is likely to earn the most money should use these strengths not to abuse or control others, not to lord it over them and get his way, but to love and support and care for them. The mark of a Christian man is this considerate, loving, caring, and sacrificial giving leadership in the family.

The two words “discipline and instruction,” or “nurture and admonition” (KJV), of the Lord give the parameters and the nature of Christian instruction in the home, indeed they include virtually the entire process of raising up children. The phrase “of the Lord,” as it does throughout this passage, significantly colors the entire meaning. As the Lord deals with us graciously, patiently, kindly, and lovingly, so the parent should deal with the child. But the Lord does not hesitate to use discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11, e.g.) with us, nor apologize for it, and neither should a parent believe that discipline, when applied fairly and justly, is an insult to grace and love. True love does not spoil neither disciples nor children (Luke 17:10).

The first of these two words is paideia and describes a general training, education, or instruction. Christian education in the home and in the church is pervasive and involves learning about many things namely the word of God, but also how it is to be applied, as well as the challenge and encouragement given to obey. Christian education can never be separated from Christian character, and the subject that is taught should be done in a spirit that is agreeable to its nature. Kindness demonstrated in teaching and dealing with others is essential when one is teaching about kindness.

The second word is nouthesia and means “to put into the mind” and here it is a more personal and individually suited training that is considered. The general principles of love and grace, as well as holiness and righteousness, are not enough, but each of us also needs personal attention in our individual lives in how to personally apply these matters. It means to be reminded of one’s own faults, his specific failures and weaknesses, as well as his own strengths and abilities. “Admonition” is the word that is often used to describe this, but it cannot be only negative admonition. It must also be positive encouragement. In this word is considered that the parent should not only teach what is right and what is wrong, but should also help the child to obey.

It is the mark of the Spirit in dealing with us that He never convicts us of sin without also assuring us of the possibility of forgiveness and the reality of grace. So in dealing with our children we should be hopeful and positive. Strictness should never destroy the child’s spirit, but rather they should also know that there is grace and restoration and redemption possible. God says to us, “Come let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). And this should also be the attitude of the parent in dealing with the child.

Our salvation in Christ and His work in us should be demonstrated in our homes. Is your marriage and home what you would like them to be? What are the specific admonitions that the Lord is placing on your heart, that He has given to you to do in these passages? Take the first step toward being a better family member and you will find the strength of God is available for you to continue in this journey. To paraphrase 5:28, the one who loves his family loves himself.

Christian Parenting, Ephesians, Marriage