Ephesians 5 v 30
Please read 1 Corinthians chapter 12
The Kind of Love that a Man Should Have for His Wife
as reflected in the kind of love that Christ has for His church is the kind of love that Christ expects every man to have for his wife. This love is
1. A sacrificial Love.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Secondly it is
2. A Sanctifying Love.
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The third aspect of a husband's love modelled on Christ's love for His Church is
3. A Satisfying Love. v 28 – 30.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Our thoughts last week centred on verses 28 – 29
1. A Mandate for Men – v 28
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Christ’s love for the Church forms the pattern for a husband’s love for his wife – it is a powerful dynamic that drew us to a conclusion – that a married couple is two halves joined together to make ONE! Men when they love their wives are in reality loving themselves in the best sense of the phrase. A husband is no longer free to be a man on his own – his wife must be involved in all of his thoughts and desires. This is his mandate – to love his wife as much as he loves himself. Then there is
2. A Mutuality in Marriage – v 29
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Christ’s nurture of the Church forms the pattern for a husband’s nurture of his wife. God equips husbands to care for and nurture their wives as much as they care for and nurture their own bodies. Nurturing and cherishing are the manifestations of genuine love, of a husband for his wife, of Christ for the church. And when we put this teaching together with those things that the Bible says about wives and their loving submission, then the mutuality in marriage is a beautiful and glorious thing. This morning we return to the next verse in this triplet of verses covering the Satisfying Love of a husband for a wife. Verse 30 has as its central subject the word MEMBER. So our thoughts are now directed to
3. The Meaning of Membership – v 30
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Christ’s care for His church forms the pattern upon which a husband’s behaviour towards His wife is modelled and points to the relationship between Christ and the members of His church. There is a widening in the teaching in verse 30. The verse reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Body; it is going to instruct us further that wives and husbands are joined in unity as a body is entire itself; and then it brings in the clear teaching that true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are closely joined members of the one true body, the Church, and are obliged to express that membership in explicit union with other true believers – in what we know as Church membership. Some people have said to me that they are not or never will be members of a local church because they cannot see it in the Bible. What they are looking for is a direct uncomplicated commandment that says, “If thou art a true believer then thou shalt not in any wise fail to join a local church.” Not all of the directions and principles for Christian practice are framed in this way like the moral absolutes of the 10 commandments. There are many others that have to be deduced and worked out, believed and then obeyed. We could spend many sermons identifying such principles such as the Order of service for worship. But that is not the purpose this morning. The text of verse 30
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones
has the word FOR at the beginning connecting it to verses 28 and 29. The teaching about belonging and nourishing and cherishing continues into a statement of our position, our status as Christians. Member is the Greek word MELOS which can either mean a limb, hand, leg, arm etc or as a metaphor describing Christ’s believing people as members of Him. But now we appear to come across a mystery – a mystery that cannot easily be fathomed and will therefore have to remain a mystery until we get to heaven. Theologians have called verse 30 one of the most difficult in the New Testament. Heresies have been built on this verse – for instance the Roman heresy of transubstantiation – that at the Lord’s supper the bread and wine change in substance and the communicants actually get topped up with the flesh and blood of Christ. We have to be content to be straightforward in what we can understand. 1. We are members of Christ’s body. 2. We are partakers of His flesh and of his bones in the sense that as Eve was in relation to Adam – she was made of his flesh and bone, taken from his side, so we derive our spiritual relationship from the Lord Jesus Christ in the same way – it is an analogy. Let us stay with this thought of being of his flesh and bones and come back to membership a little later.
For we are … of his flesh, and of his bones.
1. Partakers of flesh and bones.
How can we begin to understand this? Often in scripture to partake of flesh and bones does not mean to partake of the substance of flesh and bones, which would be cannibalism – but it does mean to partake of a person’s life that is not physical but spiritual. Charles Hodge attempts an explanation this way,
“The substance of which any adult is composed is derived exclusively from the food eaten and the air breathed. A few years after the formation of Eve there was not one particle of Adam’s actual flesh left in her. The processes of growth and regeneration had given her her own flesh. Yet having said that she was then, as truly as she had been at the beginning, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, because she was derived from him and a partaker of his life.”
As we think about this it makes sense. We are said to be the flesh of Adam’s flesh and bone of Adam’s bone – but we are in no sense the actual partakers of the SUBSTANCE of his body. In the same way it is quite usual to speak of a man’s blood flowing in the veins of his children, and of their being his flesh. But this only means that they are partaker’s of their father’s LIFE. It is in this sense that we are members, that we belong to Christ. Let us now look into the Old Testament to see a Biblical Illustration of this whole principle. We will find it in the life of Israel as recorded in an incident in 2 Samuel 5 v 1–5.
1 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 2 Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
There are 3 things that we can observe here at Hebron. 1. The Tribesmen CONFESSED David’s KINGSHIP. They had gathered at the city of Hebron to make David their King over a united people. There had been sad divisions under Saul’s Kingship. The people felt that they were now like sheep without a shepherd. Saul and his sons had been killed in battle, Saul having finished himself off, so we read at the end of 1 Samuel. The elders came to plead with David to become their King. Judah in the south had already crowned David 7 years earlier and given him their allegiance and loyalty. Now it was the rest of the tribes who came to unite themselves under his sovereignty. What was it about David that caused them to recognise him as King? * David was a man who had already been anointed with holy oil. Samuel the prophet had, under God’s direction, set David apart to be King. Here the oil represents the Holy Spirit who moves in the hearts of God’s people. * David was a man who lived by faith in the Lord God. We have his Psalms that describe his spiritual thoughts and we have the records of his life and his utter dependence of the Lord his God. So it should be with every true believer – thinking spiritually and living righteously. * David was a man who lived in God’s favour. God blessed David right through his life and we could spend many profitable hours studying God’s blessed dealings with his servant David. So we as Christians know the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich and addeth no sorrow unto it. The elders and the people recognised these 3 features of David’s life. But there was also another significant factor that caused them to confess him as their King. The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 12 lists the tribesmen and their numbers. All who came to Hebron were recorded. But notice what the sacred record says in 1 Chronicles 12 v 23
And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD.
They were prepared to acknowledge that God had spoken about David and that he would and should become their King.
Several passages tell us this –
1 Samuel 16:1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
1 Chronicles 10:14 And Saul enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.
1 Chronicles 11: and the LORD thy God said unto David, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel.
2 Samuel 3:18 for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.
God had spoken clearly. No wonder they came to David in Hebron – to confess his Kingship. But they also came to 2. Confess his KINSHIP.
2 Samuel 5:1 then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold; we are thy bone and thy flesh.
They confessed that they were related to David; flesh and bones. In our own culture there is a Royal family. It is quite something to have a family connection to Royalty and much is made of this in society. Who is there here who has a flesh and blood relationship to Her Majesty the Queen? We would count it some sort of privilege to be able to say that. The elders of the 12 tribes came to David as relatives. It was in their interest to identify themselves as his kith and kin like Adam confessed that Eve was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. They could prove their relationship to David because of the special relationship that the sons of Jacob had about marriage – they only married within the family of Israel preserving the purity of pedigree. We as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have an honourable position and vital connection with regard to our relationship to Him. Being flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone points to a close and living union with Him our Saviour.
Romans 12 v 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
By grace we too can confess our Kinship to the King the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. The People COVENANTED with the King.
2 Samuel 5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
David’s covenant or league with the people was this – that being their flesh and bones he was prepared to protect and save his people and to lead them with love and sovereign care. This should ever be the role of a sovereign. David was a great king and a good king, one who was remembered with affection by his people. The people accepted this offer that he made – an everlasting bond of union was formed. A pledge and a promise were made that David’s wisdom and power would ever be exercised for their personal and national well-being. Can we see now the point of this Biblical illustration as it applies to us and our relationship to our King Jesus? We crown Him as our King and we have the benefit of His covenant promise – to save and sanctify His elect people – and His power to ensure their eternal security and happiness in heaven. We are glad to confess His Kingship. But it has its root in His confession that we are his KIN - we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone – by grace He has made it so – He has through our conversion, our regeneration, been made partakers of His body – we are members of Him, our King and saviour! A Christian belongs to Christ – of his flesh and of his bones – a spiritual union with Him that is permanent. Is this truly your experience this morning my friend? Are you a child of God? This then is the meaning of how we are partakers of his flesh and of his bones. Now some more about how
2. We are members of Christ’s body.
What does it mean to be a member of His body? There are 7 things that we can say about this – and seven is the perfect number – we’re potentially speaking about the perfect church of the Lord Jesus Christ – perfect because He sees the church as perfect NOW – but He also is MAKING the church perfect day by day. 1. As Members of the Church we enjoy one gracious privilege.
John 15 v 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
This verse says that it is our privilege to abide, to live in Christ and that He abides or lives in us. The Church is that part of the Lord Jesus, His body, that derives life from the head, the vine – the Lord Himself. My friends we are dead without Christ! If you are not a Christian this morning you are dead because you do not have the Lord Jesus Christ in your soul. Your soul is dead – you may be physically alive but spiritually you are dead! Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ is life giving. 2. As members we have one unquestionable Security.
Col 3 v 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Our lives are hidden safely and securely in the glorious life of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are dead to the old life of sin – and alive with Christ. And because of that we are going to appear with Him one day in heaven – safe for evermore – an unquestionable security. 3. As Members we obey one sovereign Will. As we saw earlier in Ephesians 5 verse 23 says,
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Since Christ is the head then we His members obey His will. We seek to know His will and then to obey it – as the head of my body tells the rest of my body what to do, coordinating every movement, making every decision, feeding, caring and so on, so Christ our head has the right to rule us and reign over us. And obedience can be our delight. 4. As Members we are energised by one mighty Spirit. We read from 1 Corinthians 12 earlier. Verses 7–11 record the teaching of the power of God the Holy Spirit dividing His gifts, as He will amongst the church. The Holy Spirit is the spiritual presence of our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. Once we are saved we come to realise the gift that has been given to us. But notice we exercise these gifts in the Church – not outside somewhere for our own benefit – not in the market place – nowhere else but inside the local church.
Verse 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
5. As Members we are united in working out one great purpose.
2 Corinthians 6 v 1 we then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
We as members are those who do not work alone: we are “workers together with him”; meaning Christ, he is the chief shepherd, we are under him; he is the chief master builder, we are under workers; he is with us, and we are with him, he is over us, and stands by us; we have encouragement to work; and hence it is that our Gospel work will be successful. His purpose is to bring home His sheep – His elect ones – into the fold. Some are waiting to be found – to be won. What a wonderful purpose for a church to have. 6. As members we have a special care for one another. What a very special thing it is to belong to a company of like-minded Christians who love one another! Our great purpose is to publish the Gospel, but in the process we care for each other as we go along!
1 John 3 v 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
There is that standard of love again – loving so deeply that we are prepared to lay down our lives for each other. True self-sacrifice is seen here in membership. Maybe this is why some do not join the Church – there is a reluctance to care that deeply for others. 7. As members we are especially cared for by the One to whom we belong. We come almost full circle with this feature of Membership of the Body of Christ –
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
It is in the local church that the members can know and enjoy the care of the Lord Jesus Christ to whom we belong. He has so designed the local church here on earth to be a caring and loving society. Now it is true that many fellowships and assemblies of the Lord’s people have failed dismally to be the agents of their Lord and Master to dispense the love and care to the members, as they should. This is a tragedy. Un loving behaviour puts people off. Heathens stay away from Christian churches because of the terrible way that Christians treat each other. Even unattached Christians who are not members of local churches can be put off joining by what they see and hear – or what they DON’T see or hear. But to be the members of Christ that we are according to verse 30, to be flesh and bones, to be kindred of Jesus, implies that we change – change from the old to the new. Change from behaving sinfully as we did before conversion, to reflecting our membership of the Body of our Great King and saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a family name to uphold. There are family rules to be kept and family loyalties to adhere to. So let us draw some conclusions about our membership of Christ’s body. Every member or part of a body shares the same life, is controlled by the same spirit, is washed by the same blood and is ruled by the same head. It is ludicrous to think of an arm, a leg or an eye existing independently, outside of the body. Christ’s life is our life. His love is our love. His Spirit energises our spirits. We must recognise our part in the body of Christ – if we are believers by grace. Because then we are members of Christ’s body, the high and holy standard of Christian marriage is reachable. This standard is not just a lofty ideal. Paul was not being idealistic when he wrote that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church – he was being very practical. A husband’s love can sometimes be lacking. But because the Christian husband is a member of Christ’s body then his lack of love is replaced by boundless love – Christ’s love. It is much more than a husband merely IMITATING Christ in the way that Christ loved – that would only be an imitation. Every Christian husband is to draw on the fact that he is a member of Christ’s body – of his flesh and of his bones. This is how he is able to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Paul’s whole idea of marriage was just a dream if this relationship between Christ and His church did not exist. But it does – and a husband, when maintaining a close walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, can love his wife as Christ loves him and the rest of the church. The converse is also true – faulty love of one’s wife can say a lot about the spiritual state of a husband. How we need to pay attention to this. Brethren let us not hide behind the defects and blemishes that we see in our wives characters and use them as an excuse for not loving them with Christ’s love. The sooner we commit ourselves to realising the power of Christ’s love flowing through us in favour of our wives, the closer we will come to Christ. There is an act of the will involved here. Love involves self-denial, self-sacrifice, putting ourselves out for our wives comfort – and so many other things. Will we do this for them, my brethren? Do we want to be closer to the Lord – really closer? Then let us start doing what we can – and change our ways and attitudes – and let the powerful love of our membership of Christ’s body overflow the banks of the narrow channels of our love for our wives. May we all take something from this message this morning that will enable us to draw nearer to our dear Lord Jesus Christ, our King, our saviour, our friend and the One who loves us to death?