Sunday, March 17, 2013

P4 Biblical Foundations for Marriage - Conversion

Matthew 19:7 "they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

In the past three days we have considered thus far three of the four foundations of Biblical marriage: Companionship, Covenant and Communication.  As we finish up this series today, we will return back to the passage with which we began - Matthew 19.  Jesus was pointing his listeners back to God's original design for marriage.  In what we read in the above opening verse of today's blog, Jesus' comments on the first marriage gives us our fourth and final foundation: Conversion. In other words, if a marriage is to be a valid Christian marriage, the two people getting married need to had been born again unto salvation. 

Biblical Foundation #4 : Conversion
So why this fourth foundation of conversion?  A quick study through the Bible will reveal that for a God-centered marriage (and not just any marriage) to start off on the right foot, both marriage partners need to be believers.  We gain this foundation from the following considerations:

1. The Pattern of marriage in original creation.  Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 2:22-25
When Adam and Eve were joined by God, they were joined prior to the fall.  In fact, both of them were not only in right relationship with God, but both were perfect (hence their marriage was the only perfect marriage in the history of the world!)  However by Genesis 3, both Adam and his wife rebelled against God, breaking the original covenant given to them.  At that point they were separated from God.  Now granted, their marriage covenant was not dissolved, however their companionship and communication were greatly affected. 

2. The Pattern of marriage in redemption.   Genesis 3:20-21
When God clothed Adam and Eve with the coats of skin, it was clear they had by grace through faith received the "Seed" promise of an ultimate redeemer given in Genesis 3:15.  Adam's naming of his wife "Eve" (mother of all living) was his confession of faith.  Eve's embracing of the covenant spoken to her by God in the first presentation of the Gospel indicated her reception by faith.  Only when the promise and plan of salvation is embraced by faith can the blood be applied.  Both were now reconciled to God and really to one another.  Communication and companionship was restored - as only can be the case when both the husband and wife are dwelling at the cross. 

3. The pattern of converted people go into marriage is reinforced throughout scripture
As a minister of the Gospel, one of the qualifications I expect of any couple approaching me to be united in the bonds of holy matrimony is that they be both Christians.  2 Corinthians 6:14-15 spells out this point - "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?"  Now what is the principle is also to be the practice, as revealed in 1 Corinthians 11:3 "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."

So how will it be that Christ is the head of the husband unless he is first in Christ by grace through faith?  Likewise, how can the wife be considered praying with her head uncovered in 1 Corinthians 11:5 unless she is a Christian?  In otherwords, Paul is outlining the order of Christian marriage: God-->Christ-->A Christian man-->A Christian woman.  

Now we know that if two people get married who were both non-Christian individuals, and one of them gets saved, that does not invalidate the marriage. (compare 1 Corinthians 7:12-14)   If you trusted in Christ after you got married, and your spouse has still remained unconverted, consider these words from 1 Peter 3:1 "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives".  Pray for that spouse and be the Christ-like example to them. 

With that counsel from God's word, let me say this to young people contemplating marriage: under no circumstances should a Christian marry a non-Christian. A non-Christian spouse won't have a heart for God, no matter how well-meaning they may be or how tolerant they may attempt to be in allowing the Christian spouse to practice their faith.  The principle is plain: Christian people should only marry other Christian people if they want to have a Christian, Godly marriage.  This foundation, along with the other three foundations, are what the scriptures reveal to be the essentials for a bibilically sound marriage.

We have explored the Godly foundations for marriage ordained by God in Genesis 2:18-25. We first saw that in companionship the husband and wife reflect the inner reality of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Second, marriage is a covenant wherein husbands and wives demonstrate the covenant relationship God desires to have with His people.  Thirdly, communication, speaks to the intimacy between husbands and wives on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels.  This reflects who God is in His role as the supreme communicator. Satan’s plan for destroying marriages is to interrupt communication. If that takes place, breaking of the covenant and companionship will follow. Then finally, in order to have a Christian marriage that is biblically sound, Christian people should marry only other Christian people.  Conversion to Christ must be in place for there to be Christ-centered marriages.  With these four Biblical foundations: Companionship, Covenant, Communication and Conversion, the hope is that all of us who are married, or any of you reading this who are seeking to be so, will attain long lasting, Christ-honoring marriages.   

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