Marriage as a metaphor for our relationship to Jesus Christ.
Marriage is used as a metaphor for our relationship to God many times in the Bible. Let's look at the picture God wants His people to see about their relationship to Him, and His relationship to them.
(1) Marriage is the foundation of our understanding of the unity and love within the Triune Godhead.
Divorce and adultery, related to marriage, are also metaphorically used in these ways.John 17:20-26 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."Rev. 1:20 & 25-32 also speaks of God revealing His eternal power and Godhead through creation. That necessarily includes marriage, one man for one woman, instituted by God but corrupted by man. Man did not want to retain the knowledge of God, being filled with sin and fornication. Men became convenant breakers rather than keeping their vows to God and to each other.Rom. 1:20 & 25-32 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: ... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.(2) Marriage is a lesser picture of the individual Christian's relationship to Jesus Christ.Gen. 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.(3) Marriage, the love of a husband for his wife, is an example of Christ's love for the Church as a whole.
John 3:29-30 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.Eph. 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.(4) The Church is the bride of Christ.
Eph. 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Eph. 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.Rev. 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.(5) Marriage is a picture of Israel's relationship to God.
Rev. 21:9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
Rev. 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.Hos. 1:2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD."(6) A woman's relationship to her husband is a picture of how the Church is related to Christ.2 Cor. 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
Eph. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
(1) Men in Israel were cautioned against marrying foreign women because as a nation they were set apart as God's holy people:
Gen. 24:3-4 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."(2) Adulterous wives are likened to Israel going after other gods.
Ezra 9:2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness."
Ezra 10:2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.
Ezra 10:10-11 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives."
Neh. 13:26 Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.
Neh. 13:27 Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?"Eze. 16:32 "‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!(3) An adulterous wife can return to the Lord because the Lord is always ready to love those who repent and return.
Hos. 1:2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD."
Mal. 2:11 Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god.Hos. 3:1 The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."(4) Married spouses were not to leave their spouse; unmarried husbands and wives were to remain devoted to the Lord only.1 Cor. 7:10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.
1 Cor. 7:27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.
Is there a similar mandate for Christians in the body of Christ to remain faithful to Jesus Christ, their professed Lord? Yes. The word "believe" in 1 John 5:5 and many other verses, is the Greek verb pisteuo derived from the noun pistis meaning "faith, assurance, belief". But a verb is an action word. The usage of the word pisteou means "commit unto, commit to (one's) trust, be committed unto, be put in trust with, be committed to one's trust." It's defined by Strong as being in the "aorist tense, active voice, imperative mood". This word is used 375 times in the KJV. So the word often translated as "believe" not only means to believe once but, in the most important verses, to commit to believing, to continue to believe. The word is translated "believing", "is believing", "those believing" and many other ways in one of the most literal English translations from the Greek, namely Young's Literal Translation. The YLT is a more literal translation than even the KJV, NASB, RSV, and other "literal" translations, and does a better job of giving the true sense of the original teachings of the Apostles on the subject of salvation. Compare this translation with your favorite one and you will begin to see that belief is more than a one time event in a person's lifetime. Look at the verses listed below to see that to "believe" is to make a commitment, continuously believe, and keep that commitment of belief. A person must not only believe once but continue to believe on through to the end. Belief is a commitment to believe, not just a one time acknowledgment of belief. In fact the one who overcomes the world is one who "is believing" that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:5 who is he who is overcoming the world, if not he who is believing that Jesus is the Son of God? (YLT) Notice that almost all the verses used in the presentation of the Gospel today are often not presented in the continuing tense in our English translations!
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, ‘If thou art able to believe! all things are possible to the one that is believing;’
John 1:12 but as many as did receive him to them he gave authority to become sons of God—to those believing in his name
John 3:15 that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during,
John 3:16 for God did so love the world, that His Son—the only begotten—He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.
John 3:18 he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing hath been judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36 he who is believing in the Son, hath life age-during; and he who is not believing the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God doth remain upon him.’
John 5:24 ‘Verily, verily, I say to you—He who is hearing my word, and is believing Him who sent me, hath life age-during, and to judgment he doth not come, but hath passed out of the death to the life.
John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of the life; he who is coming unto me may not hunger, and he who is believing in me may not thirst—at any time;
John 6:40 and this is the will of Him who sent me, that every one who is beholding the Son, and is believing in him, may have life age-during, and I will raise him up in the last day.’
John 6:47 ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, He who is believing in me, hath life age-during;
John 6:64 but there are certain of you who do not believe;’ for Jesus had known from the beginning who they are who are not believing, and who is he who will deliver him up,
John 7:38 he who is believing in me, according as the Writing said, Rivers out of his belly shall flow of living water;’
John 7:39 and this he said of the Spirit, which those believing in him were about to receive; for not yet was the Holy Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the rising again, and the life; he who is believing in me, even if he may die, shall live;
John 11:26 and every one who is living and believing in me shall not die—to the age;
John 12:44 And Jesus cried and said, ‘He who is believing in me, doth not believe in me, but in Him who sent me;
John 12:46 I a light to the world have come, that every one who is believing in me—in the darkness may not remain;
John 14:12 ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, he who is believing in me, the works that I do—that one also shall do, and greater than these he shall do, because I go on to my Father;
John 20:27 then he saith to Thomas, ‘Bring thy finger hither, and see my hands, and bring thy hand, and put it to my side, and become not unbelieving, but believing.’
John 20:31 and these have been written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name.’
Acts 2:44 and all those believing were at the same place, and had all things common,
Acts 10:43 to this one do all the prophets testify, that through his name every one that is believing in him doth receive remission of sins.’
Acts 13:39 and from all things from which ye were not able in the law of Moses to be declared righteous, in this one every one who is believing is declared righteous;
Acts 22:19 and I said, Lord, they—they know that I was imprisoning and was scourging in every synagogue those believing on thee;
Rom. 1:16 for I am not ashamed of the good news of the Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to every one who is believing, both to Jew first, and to Greek.
Rom. 3:22 and the righteousness of God is through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, —for there is no difference,
Rom. 4:5 and to him who is not working, and is believing upon Him who is declaring righteous the impious, his faith is reckoned—to righteousness:
Rom. 4:11 and a sign he did receive of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith in the uncircumcision, for his being father of all those believing through uncircumcision, for the righteousness also being reckoned to them,
Rom. 4:24 but also on ours, to whom it is about to be reckoned—to us believing on Him who did raise up Jesus our Lord out of the dead,
Rom. 9:33 according as it hath been written, ‘Lo, I place in Sion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence; and every one who is believing thereon shall not be ashamed.’
Rom. 10:4 For Christ is an end of law for righteousness to every one who is believing,
Rom. 10:11 for the Writing saith, ‘Every one who is believing on him shall not be ashamed,’
Rom. 15:13 and the God of the hope shall fill you with all joy and peace in the believing, for your abounding in the hope in power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor. 1:21 for, seeing in the wisdom of God the world through the wisdom knew not God, it did please God through the foolishness of the preaching to save those believing.
Gal. 3:22 but the Writing did shut up the whole under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ may be given to those believing.
Eph. 1:19 and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us who are believing, according to the working of the power of His might,
1 Thes. 1:7 so that ye became patterns to all those believing in Macedonia and Achaia,
1 Tim. 4:3 forbidding to marry—to abstain from meats that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those believing and acknowledging the truth,
1 Tim. 4:10 for for this we both labour and are reproached, because we hope on the living God, who is Saviour of all men—especially of those believing.
1 Tim. 4:12 let no one despise thy youth, but a pattern become thou of those believing in word, in behaviour, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity;
Heb. 10:39 and we are not of those drawing back to destruction, but of those believing to a preserving of soul.
1 Pet. 1:8 whom, not having seen, ye love, in whom, now not seeing and believing, ye are glad with joy unspeakable and glorified,
1 Pet. 2:6 Wherefore, also, it is contained in the Writing: ‘Lo, I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, choice, precious, and he who is believing on him may not be put to shame;’
1 Pet. 2:7 to you, then, who are believing is the preciousness; and to the unbelieving, a stone that the builders disapproved of, this one did become for the head of a corner,
1 John 5:1 Every one who is believing that Jesus is the Christ, of God he hath been begotten, and every one who is loving Him who did beget, doth love also him who is begotten of Him:
1 John 5:5 who is he who is overcoming the world, if not he who is believing that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:10 He who is believing in the Son of God, hath the testimony in himself; he who is not believing God, a liar hath made Him, because he hath not believed in the testimony that God hath testified concerning His Son;
1 John 5:13 These things I did write to you who are believing in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that life ye have age-during, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God.
necessary for salvation, is not a one time belief but a commitment.
This is why marriage is such an appropriate illustration of a commitment of faith in the grace of Jesus Christ. When a person is married he/she falls in love with his/her spouse. They decide to put their trust in each other and commit their life to each other for as long as they both shall live. They then make a vow, in front of witnesses, to do just that.
This is what we do when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We see how much Jesus loved us (1 John 4:10), how much we need Him because of our sin (Rom. 6:23), and we place our trust in Him (John 14:1). We place love and hope in Jesus Christ (John 14:23, John 21:15) and decide to commit our lives to Him (Ps. 37:5, 1 Pet. 4:19). We then make a commitment, a confession of our faith (Rom. 10:9,10), to make Him our husband, our Lord (Acts 16:31, Rom. 10:9), and to commit to being His bride (John 3:29) for the rest of our lives (Jude 1:21).
But there are also those who fall out of love with their wives or husbands. They go chasing after other men or women, after idols of wealth, youth, sexuality, and other things. They break their commitment to their husband or wife and seek a divorce. A Christian spouse does not want to give a divorce but if the husband or wife is bound and determined to leave and live a life of adultery the spouse cannot force him or her to remain. This causes all kinds of heartache on both sides, but it ruins the life of the one who went into adultery, unless he/she return to her husband or his wife.
And so it is with some people who call themselves Christians (followers of Christ). Their love grows cold (Matt. 24:12) because they have their eyes on the world (1 John 2:15), the flesh (John 6:63, 1 Cor. 15:50) and the devil (1 John 3:8,10). The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) begin to take priority in their lives. They sink into idolatry (Col. 3:5) and adultery (Mark 10:11,12; Rom. 2:22). They consciously or unconsciously break their vow, their commitment to Jesus Christ and sometimes even seek an open divorce (Heb. 10:39; 2 Tim. 2:18; Rev. 2:13). Jesus Christ is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9), but He will not force His will upon those who have made a marriage vow to Him (Heb. 10:38; Matt. 22:1-14). If a people are determined to go their own way, continually denying the commitment they made (Titus 1:16, Jude 1:4), defiling the marriage bed (Heb. 12:15), and grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) they begin to shrink back (Heb. 10:39). If they continue in unrepentance (Rom. 2:5) their faith can eventually be shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19) or destroyed (2 Tim. 2:18). Jesus said there would be those who believe for awhile but fall away (Luke 8:13). Were these people ever truly saved? From God's perspective, no. From a human perspective those who are saved are those who continue to believe, who grow to maturity, who produce fruit. The Lord continues to convict through His Holy Spirit in their lives (John 16:8; 1 Thes. 1:5), waiting with open arms to receive them (2 Cor. 6:17). But they must repent (Rev. 2:5,22) and turn from their wicked ways, for the vows can always be renewed as long as the Lord tarries (Eph. 4:22-30). By renewing the vows (in our metaphor) I do not mean being born again all over again. I mean making the same vow and keeping it, to no longer walk in the old man, the flesh, but to walk in the Spirit. Remember that salvation is not just one date on the calendar, but is something that is also a daily cross (Luke 9:23), worked out in our lives over our lifetime (Phil. 2:12). Salvation through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ alone is something we must lay hold of by faith (1 Tim. 6:12), a continued faith day by day (Heb. 10:23; Rev. 2:25, 14:12).
A vow is not a one way proposition--God has promised salvation as we hold on to our faith in Him (1 Tim. 6:12, Heb. 4:14, 10:23). This is why a vow is a dangerous thing (Duet. 23:21). God will keep track of vows made to Him (Ecc. 5:4, 5), and the most serious vow is when a person confesses (Rom. 10:10) that he believes and will keep believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:21, 1 Tim. 3:9) till the end (Heb. 3:14). This vow of faith will either bring salvation through God's gift of His Son on the Cross, the last and only sacrifice needed to pay the penalty of our sins--or it will bring ultimate judgment if we reject the Lord in unbelief.
Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (KJV)Belief is more than just acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Who He said He is. Even the demons believe and tremble (Jam. 2:19). Remember that demons Jesus encountered and cast out acknowledged Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Matt. 8:29, Mark 3:11, Luke 4:41). Does acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is the Son of God then constitute a saving faith? Not by itself, for the demons knew He was the Son of God but He was clearly not their chosen Lord. Belief is certainly confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9-10) implying that you (1) believe Jesus Christ to be (2) Lord and that He (3) rose from the dead, therefore is God. But belief is also a decision of the will, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), to follow Christ to death on the cross (Col. 3:5, Gal. 2:20, 5:24) once for all (Rom. 6:10) and daily (Luke 9:23). Belief is a promise not to run after another Jesus, a different gospel, a different Spirit (2 Cor. 11:4) only to end up believing in vain because we are not holding to the word of the Gospel as revealed to us by the Word (1 Cor. 15:2). Belief is a commitment (1 Pet. 4:18,19; 1 John 5:5; Ps. 37:5,6). Belief is obedience to the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 16;26; John 14:23,24, 15:9) proof of our love for Him. Belief in Jesus Christ will bring forth much fruit in our lives (John 15:5, 8), and will change us ethically (Rom. 12:2).
Rev. 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (NIV)
Remember, there will be those who cry "Lord, Lord" in the day of judgment (Matt. 7:22, 23). They are the ones who claim a belief in God but have wandered into the far off land called "self"--into idolatry and adultery without repentance. There were those who made a commitment of belief, a vow of faith, to the Lord in the Scriptures, such as Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:13), Solomon (Neh. 13:26), Judas Iscariot (Matt. 27:5), and others--who did not carry through on that commitment to final salvation. They were carried away from it by their own sinful desires for power, lust and greed. If they broke their vows-- Solomon having penned Scriptures and Judas being one of the original twelve disciples--so can "believers" today.
That is exactly what many who call themselves followers of Christ are doing in our time! It is what is happening in "churches" around the world. Many people are saying "Lord, Lord" with hands upraised in apparent worship. They start out by preparing a great wedding with flowers and gifts. They recite their vows publicly. They herald their decision to be married to their Lord with trumpets and music. They prepare feasts and dance in celebration. But some months or years later they lose their first love (Rev. 2:4). They begin to look at other gods ... gods of lust, self, money, power, fame, even though they have been warned by their Husband not to follow other gods.
Col. 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.They sneak out of their faithful home in Christ and off to rendezvous with the world. They lock their professed Husband out of the house while He stands patiently and knocks at the door (Rev. 3:20). Remember that Rev. 3:20 was written to the Church and to invidivual Christians! They live a double life, playing at marriage with Christ, while sleeping with the enemy. Eventually, being worn down by false teachers and false prophets, they give up their love of the truth (2 Thes. 2:10) and change their vows to include all kinds of other idolatries (Is. 57:8). They take the word "obey" out of their vow. Without the counsel of their avowed loved One, Jesus Christ, and out from under His Lordship they begin to run after all kinds of unbiblical things (2 Tim. 4:3). They are no longer willing to be exhorted, rebuked or admonished by their Husband (Rev. 3:19, Prov. 23:12), but they willingly listen to heretics with big imaginations and colorful stories (2 Tim. 4:4). They begin to idolize people rather than worship and serve their Lord alone (Mark 7:8). They open themselves up to fleshly experiences right in front of the eyes of the world and of their Husband. In fact, they blaspheme and claim those experiences originate from His Spirit. They flaunt their immorality, acting like it is a holy thing. But when judgment day comes, and they have to face the One they called their "Husband", the Lord they made their marriage vow to, they wonder why they don't get their reward. They cry "Lord, Lord" (Matt. 7:21-23). Didn't I follow what You wanted? Didn't I do all these things for you? But the Lord replies "I never knew you." ("I don't know you." (Matt. 25:12; Luke 13:25,27) Whatever you were doing you were doing for yourself. Then they have the audacity to act surprised that the Lord is sending them to eternal punishment.
On the other hand, those who have remained faithful sometimes don't even realize how much fruit they have because they have remained faithful, and they can only give God all the glory for anything in their lives that is of eternal worth (Matt. 25:31-46). The Lord reveals the fruit of love as a result of their lives lived in commitment to Christ, and tells them that they are "good and faithful servants". You are Mine. We are one. Go on to glory and live with Me forever, because you have kept your vow of faith to Me. You did what I asked, and because your faith did not waver (Heb. 10:23) and you took up your cross and followed me to death (John 12:24), you have borne much fruit (John 15:8)--so much fruit you may not even realize the extent of it (Matt. 25:33-40, Col. 1:5,6). You love Me for Who I am, not for what you could get out of Me. Because of your love for Me you followed me to death, crucifying your old man (Rom. 6:6) and reached out in love to others through My Holy Spirit. You believed in Me and kept believing all the way to the end. You overcame all obstacles, trials and persecutions. (Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). Go inherit ALL THINGS!
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.