THE GOSPEL AND MARRIAGE

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1 THE GOSPEL AND MARRIAGE TEACHING PLAN MARCH 13, 2016

2 THE GOSPEL AND MARRIAGE EPHESIANS 5:21-33 MARCH 13, 2016 TEACHING PLAN PREPARATION > Spend the week reading through and studying Ephesians 5: Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools (such as a concordance or Bible dictionary) to enhance your preparation. > Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group. > Pray for our church and pastor, the upcoming group meeting, your teaching, your group members, and their receptivity to the study. HIGHLIGHTS BIBLICAL EMPHASIS: Paul addressed submission in marriage as part of His instruction on Christian living. By comparing marriage to the relationship between Jesus and the church, he communicated the importance of a marriage centered on the gospel. TEACHING AIM: The gospel has the power to transform our marriages. 2 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

3 INTRODUCTION As your group time begins, use this section to help get the conversation going. 1 If you are married, then what has been one of the biggest surprises to you about marriage? If you are not married, then what is the biggest assumptions you have about married life? 2 People often say that marriage is a picture of the gospel, because it reflects Jesus love for and relationship with the church. What do you think this means? Throughout Scripture, we read about God s expectations and design for marriage. God has designed marriage to reflect Jesus love for the church because of the selfless, humble, and sacrificial nature a godly marriage requires. For this reason, we must learn how to apply the gospel to our marriages day in and day out. A marriage rooted in the gospel is one where we are able to love unconditionally, show grace continually, and serve limitlessly. In Ephesians 5, Paul describes Christian marriage in a way that helps us understand how marriages are to look when the gospel is applied to them. RELATIONSHIP WITH THOSE WHO KNOW CHRIST I apply the gospel to those closest to me starting at home. I am driven by the gospel to invest in my church family. I am experiencing authenticity & accountability with a group of 4-6 people. I am following the gospel pattern of equipping disciples who will equip disciples. UNDERSTANDING Unpack the biblical text to discover what Scripture says or means about a particular topic. > Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5:21. Before Paul described marriage (5:22-33), he briefly touched on the concept of biblical submission. What does it mean to submit to another person? 3 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

4 What connections do you see between submission and the gospel? At the heart of all Christian relationships should be an attitude of mutual submission a willingness to learn from others, serve one another, and place the needs and interests of others ahead of our own. Biblically, our submission begins with placing ourselves under God s authority, as Christ did (1 Cor. 11:3). In human relationships, which Paul addresses in Ephesians 5:22 6:9, submission and authority do not imply inequality. This instruction about submitting to others cannot be done alone. It requires involvement in fellowship with other believers. Just as Paul urged first-century Christians to submit themselves to one another, so we need to do the same today. > Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5: The first specific example of submission Paul gave was the husband-wife relationship. What is the command to wives in Ephesians 5:22-24? What are some practical ways a wife can submit to her husband? The responsibility of wives in submitting to their husbands is not contingent on whether their husbands are showing unconditional love, as they should. Wives are to have a servant s heart, placing their husband s needs before their own, as they would in serving Christ Himself. Paul compared marriage to the relationship between Christ and His church. How are these relationships similar? 4 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

5 How do we recognize and submit to the authority of Jesus Christ? How does this parallel help you understand the wife s call to submission? Both husbands and Christ have been called to be the head, or leader. Both wives and the church have the responsibility to submit to their leader. The church submits to Christ, and in the same way, the biblical ideal is that wives should submit to their husbands. This is a thankful acceptance of his care. Paul expected wives to submit to their husbands on the basis of their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. These verses are directed to wives, but they also have implications for husbands. A man is not to force his wife to submit. She is to do that as a voluntary act. In verse 23, Paul declared that Christ is the head of the church. What kind of leader is Christ? How does that description help you understand the husband s call to be the leader in the marriage relationship? The essential characteristic of Jesus headship is not so much dominating as it is delivering: He is the Savior of the body. His headship over the church is that of care more than control. Husbands can never be the saviors of their wives in the same way that Christ is their Savior. Yet Paul implied that wives who see their husbands exhibiting sacrificial care will have no trouble submitting to their leadership. The concept of biblical submission of a wife to her own husband can be fully understood only in conjunction with the verses that follow how a husband is to love his wife. Both the husband and the wife, as members of the church, are to submit to the leadership of Christ. > Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5: The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

6 What is the command in this passage? What basis is given for the husband to obey this command? How did Paul describe Christ s love for His bride, the church? What does this indicate about the husband s responsibility in marriage? How is a husband to love his wife? What should be his goal in giving his love to her? When the gospel is applied to our marriages, it means sacrificial love is foundational. The best love-pattern to follow is Christ, who gave Himself in sacrificial death for His beloved. Christ s love for the body of believers did not stop with His death. In His resurrection life, He has continued to show His love by everything He is doing on their behalf. Husbands are called to play an integral role in their wife s sanctification, becoming holy like Christ. > Have a volunteer read Ephesians 5: What new insight and commands about marriage did Paul bring up in these verses? What has always been God s intention for marriage? What is each person s responsibility in reaching God s ideal? As Paul concluded his instructions to husbands and wives, he emphasized that the expression of unity in a marriage goes far beyond sex. It includes every area of a couple s life and relationship. In marriage, two become one flesh. Quoted from Genesis 2:24, 6 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

7 this phrase describes the physical and spiritual union that binds husband and wife. Becoming one does not mean losing the individual personality and characteristics that make us distinct persons, but rather, implies a closeness such that what affects one person also affects the other. What do you think Paul meant when he said that the joining of a husband and wife illustrates a mystery about Christ and the church? Marriage should picture the unity we experience in Christ. Husbands and wives may have separate interests and friends, but these should always be subordinated to what is best for the marriage relationship, which is the higher priority. APPLICATION Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives. 1 What was the most impactful point for you from this week s study? How will that change your love for your spouse or others? 2 After reading and discussing Ephesians 5:21-33, how would you summarize what it means for the gospel to be applied to your marriage? 3 How does a proper view of marriage affect our relationship with God? How does it affect the lives of those of us who are single? 4 What are some specific ways our group can encourage and help each other to keep God and His gospel at the center of our lives and marriages? 7 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

8 P R A Y Pray that your group and The Heights community would be characterized by gospel-infused marriages where the love of Christ is modeled and mutual submission is pursued. FOLLOW UP Midway through this week, send a follow-up to your group with some or all of the following information: > Questions to consider as they continue to reflect on what they learned this week: What is something you and your spouse will commit to doing together this week to help keep God first? How can you encourage a friend who is struggling to apply the gospel to his or her marriage? > A note of encouragement, following up on any specific prayer requests mentioned during your group gathering. > The challenge to memorize Ephesians 5:33. 8 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

9 COMMENTARY MARCH 13, 2016 EPHESIANS 5: :21. Paul ends a list of actions that show the Holy Spirit s presence in a believer s life by commanding submission to one another. In today s society, the idea may seem odd. Yet in Christian fellowship we must be willing to learn from others, even from those who differ from us in age, gender, or station in life. We are also called on to serve one another and be willing to accept counsel and correction from others. An aggressive, arrogant attitude is the opposite of being careful in the way we live. 5: The wife is to be subject to her husband as to the Lord. This does not mean that she submits to her husband in the same way and to the same degree as she does the Lord, since the husband might ask her to disobey God. Rather she serves the Lord by having a submissive heart toward her husband and by obeying him as long as it does not require her to disobey the Lord. The reason she is called upon to be subject to her husband is that the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. As the church is to be subject to Christ, so the wife is to be subject to her husband. This subjection does not mean inferiority. It is clear that male and female are both created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and that in Christ, where personal worth is concerned, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). However, in the overall scheme of things, God has placed all of us in differing positions of authority and submission. The man may be in authority at home but submissive at work. The woman may be in submission at home and in authority at work. The point is, all social order depends on people s willingness to work together and ability to determine who is the head of certain endeavors. God s intention is that the husband be the head of the relationship with his wife. 5: After instructing wives to be subject to their husbands, he instructs husbands to love their wives so completely and so righteously that the wife need never fear or suffer from her life of submission. Husbands are to love [their] wives just as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He gave himself up for her. Jesus dedicated his life to the establishment and welfare of the church. He ultimately gave his life for the church. To that degree, and in that quality, the husband is to love his 9 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

10 COMMENTARY MARCH 13, 2016 wife. He is to give himself up for her. He is to dedicate his life to the physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare of his wife. Following the example of Christ, he is to give his wife not only all that he has but also all that he is. When a husband loves his wife so completely, the wife need never fear submission. Paul goes on to extend the picture of Christ and the church. Christ loved the church that he might make her holy, or set her apart for himself. He did this by the washing with water through the word. The result of this work of Christ is that the church is radiant without stain or wrinkle holy and blameless. If a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, his love and care will have a sanctifying influence on the wife, who will experience personal benefit and progress as a result. The wife will never be perfect, but she becomes more than she would if the husband does not love her as Christ loved the church. 5: After having presented the work of Christ for the church, Paul now comes back to the reality of husband-wife relationships. He repeats the fact that husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. Even though the husband lives in an imperfect body, he loves it, nourishes it, and cherishes it. So he is to do the same for his wife, even though she is imperfect. Paul repeats Genesis 2:24, establishing that a husband and wife are to become one flesh, and closes by restating that the relationship between the wife and a husband is like the relationship between Christ and the church. 5:33. After discussing the role of the husband, Paul comes back in a summary statement in verse 33 to add that the wife is to respect her husband. In summary, she is to be subject to her husband and to respect him. Respect (phobetai) literally means fear. It can refer, however, to the fear a person should have before God, a reverence and respect (Luke 1:50; 18:2; Acts 10:35; 1 Pet. 2:17; Rev. 14:7; 19:5). This type of reverence and regard should characterize the relationship of a wife and her husband. 10 The Gospel and Marriage The Heights

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