CONCEPT NINE: EVERY MAN, EVERY WOMAN - GOD’S SPECIAL TREASURE

© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2015

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 relationships with each other within the church we have in our care and at our mercy someone who is treasured by God. This is really heavy in its implications!

Revelation 5:9 – purchased by the blood of Christ
1Peter 1:18,19 – redeemed with the precious blood of Christ
1Corinthians 6:19,20 – the temple of the Holy Spirit and bought with a price
1Corinthians 7:23 – bought at a price
1Corinthians 8:11-12 – people for whom Christ died

The death of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is the measure of the value of the Christian man and the Christian woman. This gift, this sacrifice, did not occur because the man and the woman are valuable: rather the gift, the sacrifice, is what endows the man and the woman with this extreme value. [This is in addition to the value in place because of the Creation Factor.] In all but the first of the above references this extreme value is mentioned by the Biblical writers to put a boundary around our actions and attitudes to ourselves and to the other. There are some things that simply are out of place given the high value of each man and each woman in the light of the death of Christ.

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. Again, these verses outlaw actions and attitudes of man to woman and woman to man which contradict and offend this limitless love of God.

John 3:16    Loved so much by God that he gave his only Son to save us.
Romans 5:8    Loved so much by God that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
Romans 8:35-39    Loved so much by God that nothing can ever again cut us off from him.
Ephesians 2:4    Loved so much by God that he acts towards us in rich mercy.
Ephesians 3:18-19    Loved so much by God that it can’t be measured.
1John 3:1    Loved so much by God that he calls us his children.
1John 3:16    Loved so much by God that Christ laid down his life for us.
1John 4:9-10    Loved so much by God that he sent his Son to die for us.

This immeasurable and costly love of God for the man and the woman forbids us to mistreat him/her. Indeed it is the measure of the kind of love we should have for one another. In our consideration of the respective roles of men and women within the church this measure of love must reign.

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.

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

Each Christian man and each Christian woman is the recipient of this amazing undeserved grace and is expected to act towards the other with this same grace – irrespective of whether or not that other is conforming to our perceptions of the respective roles of man and woman within the church. We will look at further implications of this in a later concept.

C. GOD’S CHILD
Each Christian man and woman 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. Each Christian man and woman 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. In this adoptive action God has changed our status:

Instead of being sons of hell [Matthew 23:15], children of the devil [John 8:42-47; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10], children of disobedience [Ephesians 2:2; 5:6], children of wrath [Eph 2:3], every Christian man and woman has been legally adopted a son of God [Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 1:6]. This same legal standing is assumed when all Christians are designated ‘heirs’ of God or of Christ, and equal recipients of the ‘inheritance’.

Because of this,  any mentality within the Christian church that supports unequal rights between men and women, or unequal status between men and women, or that generates disrespect and discontent between men and women, effectively undoes the legal adoption which God has put in place on the basis of the death of Christ and the regeneration by the Spirit.

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.

Relevant scriptures here are Acts 26:18, Romans 15:16; 1Corinthians 1:21, 30; 3:16,17; 6:11; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:11,10:10; and 1Peter 2:9. Each Christian man and each Christian woman is designated ‘holy’.

This conferred holiness – this dedication of the Christian man and the Christian woman by God, to God and for God – means that each Christian man and each Christian woman is no longer for common use.

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

We do not have the right to treat either as we please. This person, this man, this woman, belongs to God. This man, this woman, is holy.
 
E. SET APART AND SAVED TO GLORIFY GOD
Both the man and the woman have been saved and set apart to glorify God. This is something the man and the woman can help each other to do. How they relate to each other, and what they expect of each other, either helps or hinders the fulfilment of this God-ordained purpose of his glory in the life of the other.

[The following scriptures affirm our individual and corporate purpose and responsibility of glorifying God: Matthew 5:16; Romans 15:6; 15:7; 1 Cor 6:20; 10:31; Ephesians 1:12; 2:10; Philippians 1:9-11;1 Peter 2:9-12.]

Note that this salvation purpose of glorifying God links back directly to our creative purpose and identity as the image of God.