Happily Ever After

Randy Murray
Sunday was the culmination of the "Happily Ever After" series, with Pastor Matt finally arriving at the verses (5:21-22) concerning the wives. I think the 40 minutes (or so) he spent on those are sufficient, and my attempts here will be more to circle the wagons and perhaps provide a synopsis of sorts of this series. However, if you have been reading the Elder Word during this group of messages, you have received what I believe to be outstanding instruction each and every week from those who have written, kudos men!!!!

Ephesians 5:25-33 is often plucked from the Book to use in marriage seminars and series (and countless "how to" books), often without acknowledging the preceding 122 verses. Chapters 1-3 are deeply instructive for us doctrinally establishing the facts of our "all spiritual blessings," which includes all the foundational understanding of redemption along with the unsearchable riches of Christ we receive when placed into union with him as we are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ. Indeed many of these riches are enumerated in chapters 1-3 as Paul delivers the essence of what is contained in the revelation of the Mystery. Justin Magness did an excellent job in week one of discussing much of this and admonishing us (men), explaining clearly that what is required of us as husbands is impossible without a growing understanding of who we are in Christ giving great attention to the teachings of the apostle Paul to whom was first entrusted the Mystery by Christ Himself.

Week 2 of the series then covered Security of the Believer. Pastor Matt went about using our own security in Christ as a type of security we are to provide our own spouse in the Ephesians 5 example. If we are to love our wives as Christ does the Church, our understanding of "holy and without blame before Him" is a must. Chris Williams did a masterful job of illustrating some of these truths in his "chair" example and I suggest rereading that as you contemplate one of his statements "I believe until you have the security issue settle, you'll never be able to move forward in your spiritual growth ."Then he used Eph 2:4-10 to show our seated position in Christ accordingly, expounding then upon his chair lesson to demonstrate our rest in this position. Back to Justin's week 1 lesson, "men we can't love our wives as our own body if we do not have a thorough understanding of what it means to be in the body of Christ, what it means to be IN Chirst and have Christ IN us ."Security is contained in that understanding, and it takes some effort to dig into a treatise like Ephesians and feast on such. Amen, Justin and Chris, just AMEN.

Week 3 of Happily Ever After was entitled "Crucified ."In this message, AnJo discussed crucifixion of our old man and referred us back to Romans 6, our key to understanding the separation from death and how we now live life. Cody Burt then delivered an excellent follow-up discussing a few of the "baptisms" of the Bible after quoting Rom 6:3-4. He then points out (with much gravity given to the implications) how we are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, which is the "how" of removing us from old Adam (the responsible man) and placing us into Christ. We are a part of the New Creature!!! Then Cody admonishes us to quit hauling around the dead man and uses that classic "Weekend at Bernie's" to permanently imprint his example on our minds. Great visual Code-man!! The point was well taken (as was his discussion of single men) that dragging the old man around pretending him still to be alive is exhausting and destructive. Reckoning the old man dead and walking in the newness of life is a cardinal element of growing in grace. Back to Justin's blog, to fulfill our Eph 5 obligation, there must be a continual renewal of the mind and growing in our understanding of who we are in Christ. Resting in our position has big implications on our condition and even bigger implications on how we clear the path for our wives' own spiritual growth.

In week 4, Matt dealt with the topic of redemption. It's a big, big word. The coupon analogy truly took me back, and the example was excellent! Kale reminded of us of this example in his blog installment "you have to do something in order to receive whatever the coupon promises and they always have expiration dates ."So analogous to so many "religious" systems, coupon ministries place us under a ministry of condemnation. They are inevitably a system which focuses on unmeetable demands and ultimately result in people giving up. Good call, my brother Kale, sounds like he might be familiar with the same? He then took us to Galatians to point out how Paul clearly shows that the Law was never given to impart life but to show that man in himself is incapable of good. Then to Gal 4:4-5 to show how redemption for the Jew resulted in adoption for us Gentiles!!!! Romans 8:1-4 rounded out Kales EW, NO CONDEMNATION (and no expiration date Chris!!! That chair is SOLID). Yes, I agree, Kale, contrast between Law of the Spirit, that of LIFE IN CHRIST and coupon religiosity indeed!!! Your daddy is dancin' a jig askin Paul to hold his mule!!!
How is this important to the Ephesians 5 marriage equation? Kale: "Instead of if you will then I will, we should approach marriage as because you are my wife....I will; we have become one flesh with them, just as we are part of the Body". It is precisely this order Paul follows in his epistles. It is enormously important that we always recall that if Christ's words in our Bibles are supposed to be in red, then every word in Paul's epistles should be red because that's Who gave'em to him!!! Ephesians 1-3 establishes who we are.........4-6 establishes how this affects the way we live our lives. The facts come first!

Week 5, the installment was "Sanctified ."Set apart. Matt used several references in scripture to show the meaning of this often complicated and even abused word in church circles. As a church, we are one of the few in this part of the world that teaches that our sanctification was accomplished by the work of the Cross and that it is our realization and perhaps appreciation of the same that is progressive, not sanctification itself. This is not a new topic, Matt is consistently mixing it into messages all the time, and to anyone who notices, I'll never apologize. We are complete in Him, nothing lacking!!!!! Stacy Warner then brought us a heartfelt EW discussing how being a New Creation with the Mind of Christ has moved him toward "how can I help you" stance with his bride rather than falling back to terms of endearment (which he noted are equally important that our wives hear). I love that. The Ephesians 5 model for marriage, remember, is part of a culmination of Paul describing what husbands, wives, children and and even servant/master relationships look like in the Body of Christ. This all begins as Stacy says with "He is the one that has perfected you and given you the mind of Christ and is working in you both to will and do of His good pleasure ."As husbands in this Eph 5 model, we are by design to nurture spiritual growth in our wives. We can't grow for them, but we have the absolute obligation to clear the path for their spiritual development. There is no joy like that of seeing your family grow in grace!!! That is not an accident!!!

I am not going to tackle wives. Matt did an excellent job Sunday; if you weren't there, go back and listen, then read all the blogs I have mentioned but first, before you do any of this, read the BOOK. There is not a more fundamentally powerful book in our Bibles than the book of Ephesians. You cannot be in the Bible too much!

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