THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MARRIAGE

STUDY NINE: YOU ARE MARRIED TO GOD'S SPECIAL TREASURE

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2004

How do you feel when you have to look after something that is treasured by someone else? Honoured? Perhaps. Rather apprehensive that you might lose it? Or break it? Or get it dirty? Sometimes we would rather not have the responsibility.

In our marriages [or our de facto relationships, or casual relationships] we have in our care and at our mercy someone who is treasured by God. If our partner is a Christian, his/her value to God cannot be measured. This is really heavy in its implications!

Write out and discuss the high value these verses place on the person redeemed by Jesus Christ:

Revelation 5:9

 

 

1 Peter 1:18,19

 

 

1 Corinthians 6:19,20

 

 

1 Corinthians 7:23

 

 

1 Corinthians

8:11-12

 

The death of Jesus Christ, God's Son, is the measure of the value of both you, the Christian believer, and your Christian partner. This gift, this sacrifice, did not occur because you and your marriage partner are valuable: rather the gift, the sacrifice, is what endowed you and your marriage partner with this extreme value. [This is in addition to the value in place because of the Creation Factor.]

A. LOVED TO THE LIMIT BY GOD

The verses below, revealing the love of God, express [1] his love for all the people of the world, and [2] his special love for those who have true faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, and who, through that faith, have become members of his family and his kingdom.

Read and discuss these verses. Include in your discussion the potential impact this fact of God's love has for [1] the value you place on yourself, and [2] the value you place on your marriage partner. Also discuss how the truth of God's love should affect the way we think, speak and act towards our partners.

John 3:16

 

 

Romans 5:8

 

 

Romans 8:35-39

 

 

Ephesians 2:4

 

 

Ephesians 3:18-19

 

 

1 John 3:1

 

 

1 John 3:16

 

 

1 John 4:9-10

 

 

This immeasurable and costly love of God for our marriage partner forbids us to mistreat him/her.

B. SMOTHERED WITH GOD'S GRACE

Lest we think that God's love is conditional on our merits, God repeatedly makes it clear that his love is sheer gift: unearned, unmerited, undeserved. It is the result of God's will and God's purpose and God's choice. As the Romans 5:8 verse above indicates God did not wait for us to become good enough to love, God did not require us first to turn over a new leaf before he acted on our behalf: he loved us while we were still sinners. This is the meaning of grace.

Read and discuss the verses below. What does each verse teach us about the meaning of 'grace'? What does this teach you about God's attitude to your marriage partner?
Scripture
Key words
Discussion

Romans 3:24

 

Freely

 

Romans 5:2

 

In which we now stand

 

Romans 5:15

 

Overflow

 

Romans 5:17

 

Abundant provision

 

2 Corinthians 9:14

Surpassing

 

 

Ephesians 1:7,8

Riches, lavished, with all understanding ...

 

Ephesians 2:7

Incomparable riches

 

 

1 Timothy 1:14

Poured out abundantly

 

 

2 Timothy 1:9

 

Not because of any thing we have done

 

Titus 3:5

Because his mercy

 

 

Our Christian marriage partner is the recipient of this amazing undeserved grace. We will look at further implications of this in a later study. For now, let us take to heart the principle expressed in 1 Peter 3:7 that marriage partners are ' heirs together of the grace of life' and allow this to impact our treatment of and attitude to each other.

C. GOD'S CHILD

Your Christian marriage partner is also God's child. The New Testament uses two distinct images to convey this precious and intimate relationship.

C.1 Re-born by the Spirit of God

As we saw in Genesis 3 'death' entered as a result of our sin. In its most intense expression this 'death' is separation from God who is the source and sustainer, not only of physical life, but also of spiritual life.

The New Testament confirms this death:

  • 'you were dead in your transgressions and sins' [Ephesians 2:1; also 2:5]
  • 'you were dead in your sins ... ' [Colossians 3:13]

And it tells us:

  • 'no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again' [John 3:3]
  • 'no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born ... of the Spirit' [John 3:5]
  • 'you must be born again' [John 3:7]

Then it assures those who believe in Christ:

  • 'He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit' [Titus 3:5]
  • that those who hear and believe have 'crossed over from death to life' [John 5:24].
  • That we have 'been born again ... through the living and enduring word of God' [1 Peter 1:23]

Referring to genuine Christian believers as:

  • 'born of him' [1 John 2:29]
  • 'children of God' [John 1:12; 1 John 3:1,2,10; 5:2,19]
  • 'born of God' [John 1:13; 1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18]
  • 'a child of God' [1 John 3:10]
  • 'from God' [1 John 4:6]

Here, in an amazing, deliberate action, God restores us to life; he gives to those who believe in his Son the eternal life as his children from which we were banned in Genesis 3. Our Christian marriage partner is, by the regenerating action of the Spirit of God, a child of God, brought to spiritual birth by God's will and power.

 C.2 Adopted by God

This image of adoption reminds us that we were not always God's children, that there was a point in time at which we changed families – when God by his will, by his choice, by his purpose, took us out of our original family and legally adopted us as his children.

Look up these scriptures. How do they identify the spiritual family into which we were naturally born?

Matthew 23:15

 

John 8:42-47

 

Acts 13:10

 

Eph 2:2 KJV; 5:6 KJV

 

Ephesians 2:3 KJV

 

1 John 3:10

 

Now look up these. What do they say about God adopting us and making us legally his children?

Romans 8:15-17

'sonship' = 'adoption'

 

 

 

Galatians 4:5-7 –'full rights as sons' = 'adoption'

 

Ephesians 1:5

 

C.3 Jesus called God 'your Father'

As a personal exercise and meditation : as you read the New Testament notice how often God is referred to as our 'Father' and note the significance that is given to this Father-child relationship.

In view of the fact that your marriage partner is God's child , discuss the questions below:

How would God view physical, verbal or emotional abuse of your marriage partner?

 

To what degree do marriage partners have 'rights' about how they treat their partner?

Why is it inappropriate to hold your marriage partner in contempt or disrespect?

 

 

Would you, as a parent, like someone to treat your child the way you treat your marriage partner, who is God's child?

D. DEDICATED TO GOD BY GOD FOR GOD

We often find the word 'holy' in the Bible, and we automatically assume that it means something like 'super-good in a religious, pious, spiritual way'. The word frightens and threatens us because, when we are honest, we know that we are not this 'super-good'. We know we are not even ordinary good, all of the time, most of the time or some of the time, according to our particular moods, personalities or perceptions. In fact the Bible states clearly that none of us are 'good' [Romans 3:12, quoting Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3]. So we don't like this word 'holy'.

But the Bible uses the word 'holy' and its relatives almost 900 times, so we need to come to grips with its meaning and its implications.

The bottom-line meaning of 'holy' is set apart by God for God, dedicated to God for his special use and purposes. The 'super-good' aspect flows out of it, and expresses it, but it is not the primary meaning. Related words, expressing the same root meaning, are: holiness, saints, sacred, sanctify, sanctified, sanctification.

Read and discuss these scriptures. What endows a person with this holiness – this dedication to God, by God for God? Is it something we ourselves have done or achieved? Or is it part of God's salvation package – part of our incorporation into Jesus Christ by the Gospel and the regenerating activity of the Holy Spirit? What value and significance does this holiness give your Christian marriage partner?

Scripture

What makes people holy, sacred, saints, sanctified?

Super-special Value and Significance of my marriage partner because of this dedication to God, by God, for God

Acts 26:18

 

 

 

 

Rom 15:16

 

 

 

 

1Cor 1:2

 

 

 

 

1Cor 1:30

 

 

 

 

1Cor 3:16,17

 

 

 

 

1Cor 6:11

 

 

 

 

Col 1:22

 

 

 

 

Heb 2:11

 

 

 

 

Heb 10:10

 

 

 

 

1Pet 2:9

 

 

 

 

This conferred holiness – this dedication of our Christian marriage partner by God, to God and for God – means that our Christian marriage partner is no longer for common use .

  • He/she belongs to God
  • He/she has been set apart by God for himself

Wow! Did we really want to know that?

E. SET APART AND SAVED TO GLORIFY GOD

Both you and your marriage partner have been saved and set apart to glorify God. This is something you can help each other to do. How you relate to each other, and what you expect of each other, either helps or hinders the fulfilment of this God-ordained purpose in each other's lives.

HOMEWORK TASK: During the week: Read these Scriptures together. Fill in the second and third columns as appropriate day by day as you notice things and discuss them together.
Scripture
Things we do that help, encourage or enable the other to glorify God
Things we do that discourage, hinder or prevent the other from glorifying God

Matthew 5:16

 

 

 

Romans 15:6

 

 

 

Romans 15:7

 

 

 

1 Cor 6:20

 

 

 

1 Cor 10:31

 

 

 

Ephesians 1:12

 

 

Ephesians 2:10

 

 

Philippians 1:9-11

 

 

1 Peter 2:9-12