Sermon given 9 December 2017

Ephesians Five - Revisited

by Ian Henderson

(PLAY FROM START)

Today, what I would like to do is I'd like to look at a section of scripture that we are all pretty familiar with; and look at it perhaps from a different angle, from a different perspective. So if you would like a title; 'Ephesians 5 Re-visited'. And please if you would please turn to Ephesians 5:1. Very briefly looking at the overview, of the actual chapter, starting off Paul writes:

"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us..." (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Down in Ephesians 5:6:

"Let no man deceive you with vain words...[a problem back then, and of course, still a problem today; verse 8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [Verse 10] Proving what is acceptable unto the [Eternal]." (Ephesians 5:6,8,10)

In other words, carefully determining what actually pleases God. As we go through this, we will see what actually does please God. Ephesians 5:15:

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise [be careful how you live, don't live like fools, but live like those who are actually wise], Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17)

In other words, don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what God wants us actually to do; and finally Ephesians 5:21:

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:21)

And then we come to the bit that we like to concentrate on; Ephesians 5:22:

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the [Eternal]. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Please note fellows; that the women get three verses. And then their husbands; the husbands obviously have more or a problems because they get seven verses. Ephesians 5:25:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh [then a verse that is very interesting] This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." (Ephesians 5:25-33)

Now what I would like to do today is look at this section of scripture from a different viewpoint; from a spiritual viewpoint. Because, in actual fact; we are all collectively the bride of Christ.

The Bride To Be (PLAY FROM 03:43)

So if we look at it from that point of view, we have the three short verses beginning Ephesians 5:22, thinking in terms of us as the bride of Christ:

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body [which of course, our husband is, isn't He, totally]. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Now it is interesting that the admonitions begin with the wife, don't you think? Because, the husband, let's face it, the husband is the one in charge, isn't he. He is the one who makes the decisions; he is the one who sets the pace. He is the one to whom the wife is obedient. Yet it starts with wives, which I find very interesting. Surely the man should come first? We are the ones that have got to be obeyed, aren't we - yes?

Turn to Revelation 19:7 if you would; all the time keeping in mind that this is the great mystery, this is the great mystery. Revelation 19:7:

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:7-9)

And you wonder why he added that, but you know, when you think about what it is talking about – the Church is the wife being married to the One who said; "...Let there be light..." (Genesis 1:3). To the One who created everything. That's our husband to be. Just make a note of Psalm 119:172:

"My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness." (Psalm 119:172)

That fine linen, that righteousness comes out of obedience to the law of God. That is the way God lives, it is the way we live because that is what are we going to teach. John 14:15, Christ makes this very clear; how people can say the law is done away with when you read scriptures like this defeats me:

"If ye love me [if you love Me], keep my commandments." (John 14:15).

He could also have said; "If you love Me, live the way I live, the way I conduct my life. That is how you have to conduct your life." Over the page to John 15:10:

"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:10)

We show our love for our future husband by obeying Him. This aspect in our lives is vital, because we are being tried and tested right now, all of us. This is not something that you just walk into. It is a putting to the proof.

The classic example, of course, is Abraham. You think of Abraham, he had been promised a son to carry on the family line and we all know the things that went on until eventually he had Isaac. He would have been the apple of his eye, wouldn't he? And then God said; "Sacrifice him." And Abraham just loaded up the donkey, or whatever, and off they went. Ready to plunge the knife down and the angel grabbed his hand and said; "No!" Genesis 22:12:

"And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God [now I know you fear God], seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." (Genesis 22:12)

In other words you get the inference from that, that up until that point, He wasn't quite sure; Now I know!!! In other words the commitment was there, the knife was on the way down. Total and utter obedience!

Even Christ was put to the proof, wasn't He? Turn to Luke 4:3 This gives us a bit of an insight into how to handle our problems as well. This is the temptation; remembering that Christ had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, which your mind boggles at being able to fast that long:

"And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread [now I mean if you were hungry, wouldn't that be a nice easy thing to do?]. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God [you see, He knew the scriptures because He had inspired all of it]. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it." (Luke 4:3-6)

Now Christ knew this. After all it was Christ who created Lucifer, wasn't it? So he wasn't telling Him anything He didn't know. He was the god of this world and he was saying to Christ, you can have it now. You don't have to wait 2000 years. You don't have to go through all the trouble you are going to go through, you can have it now. All you have got to do is bow down. And Christ said in Luke 4:7:

"If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Luke 4:7-8)

And there again we have the situation with the temple, down in Luke 4:11:

"And in their hands [the angels] shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." (Luke 4:11-13)

He departed and he was licked! He was beaten, he was defeated and he knew it. Christ was tried; He was put to the proof and repelled Satan. And how did He do it? By quoting scripture, by quoting the Word of God. We are told to pray every day in Matthew 6:13:

"And lead us not into temptation [Strong's 3986, the same word, it means 'putting to the proof'] but deliver us from evil [or the evil one]..." (Matthew 6:13)

Make a note of; "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;" (James 1:2). Again it is the same word – putting to the proof. God wants to see. We get put into situations to see how we react, and sometimes it takes us a little while for the penny to drop and say; "Oops, I need to get down on my knees to sort this one out: it is beyond me!" And we have all had problems like that. Faced with problems that you just cannot solve and suddenly things happen. It is amazing. James 1:12:

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (that is not temptation, it is putting to the proof; we have these trials and we work our way through them with Christ and God the Father to help us]: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (James 1:12)

The ones who love Him are the ones that are living according to His law. Christ wants to be sure that we will obey Him. I mean what is He giving us? What He is giving us is phenomenal, the amount of power. You would not bring up a son and teach him to drive and go and buy him a Ferrari. It actually happened didn't it, recently, I believe it was with an Indian family - a very, very rich business man. He bought himself a Bugatti Veyron for about a million pounds; and his young son got in it and drove it down the road and wrapped it around a tree. His father hadn't had time to insure it even. "Daddy; I've modified the car slightly - like it is in two pieces." He couldn't handle the power.

There is a promise here that is very interesting; "I know thy works..." (Revelation 3:8). We tend to look at that from a point of view of the Church, don't we? But it is talking to us as individuals; 'I know how you think, I know how you react'. And we get to a stage where we get to a problem and the first thing we do is to take that problem to God; like Hezekiah when he got that letter from the enemy saying; "We are coming to take your city." He took it straight into the temple, put it before God and said; "Look what these people are writing." Revelation 3:8:

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my [authority.]" (Revelation 3:8)

As the word should be there; that word name means authority. Not denied the authority of Jesus Christ; and people do that. Which seems rather strange when Christ is the one who actually created everything that we have physically. Revelation 3:10:

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of [putting to the proof], which shall come upon all the world [put them to the proof], to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10)

The temptation and to try is the same word. God will try and test every single person. It is interesting when yo go back to the children of Israel. They went into captivity and after a while they cried out to God and God heard them and God did something. But they had to cry out first. He wanted to see what they wanted. And they endured down in Egypt for 400 odd years. Then Revelation 3:11:

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast..." (Revelation 3:11)

We already have it. We don't need a new 500 pages dissertation on the fact that the calendar has been completely rediscovered, and revamped and it is wonderful. We have it, we have got the information. Mr Armstrong solved the calendar problem in one sentence; "It is the Jews' problem." The oracles of God were given to the Jews. Those are the days we keep. Next move on, there are more important things to life. Not that the Holy Days aren't important, but it is set in stone. Then going back to Ephesians 5:21 it says:

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:21)

So here you have wives submitting to husbands, husbands being told to love their wives, and yet together we are told to submit ourselves one to another. Because from the point of view of the end of the story, we are equal, we are equals. We are going to be the bride of Christ. Ephesians 5:25

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" (Ephesians 5:25)

The very reason that we are sitting here today, with this Bible, going over this material is because of what Jesus Christ did for us. He was prepared to divest Himself of His glory, be born a man, live a life as a man, preach for three and a half years laying the groundwork for His Church; and then allow His own creation to murder Him in the most brutal manner possible. Ephesians 5:26:

"That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. [Verse 30] For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." (Ephesians 5:26-28,30-31)

That family relationship is so vitally important to God. And what do we have today? It is the one thing that Satan has attacked probably more than anything else. We have three and a half million people cohabiting now in this country: not married. Three and a half million couples, that's seven million people. All producing children, with a great big chance of the whole thing falling apart; because it is a well know thing that people who are not actually married, separate an awful lot more easily than people who are actually married.

The Husband To Be (PLAY FROM 18:26)

Well let's have a look at our husband to be. First of all, we all know John 1:1, this is part of His CV, our husband Would you marry a man like this? 'Man'? Dare I use the word!

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4)

I would say, our husband can do anything, because He is in total control of the whole physical creation: which He created on the instructions of the Father. Look at the promises He gives us. Turn to John 14:21, if you really think about these words, it's incredible what is actually said here:

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him [so it is not just the fact that Christ is our husband, we have God the Father there as well]. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words [if a man love me, if a man wants to become my 'bride', then he has got to obey me; it is that simple]: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him [He will live in us through that Holy Spirit that He has given us]. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." (John 14:21-24)

What Christ is pointing out there is; "Yes, I am the One the Church is going to marry, but I am only doing what the Father said." In other words, He also is under authority. Turn to James 2:5:

"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5)

So this husband that we are going to be marrying is making some pretty big promises here, isn't He? Heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him. Them that love Him, obey Him, and they then will become the teachers in the world tomorrow. Let's go to I John 3:1, I don't know how people can read this and not – at least ask some sensible questions:

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not..." (I John 3:1)

And it doesn't does it? Mr Trump has gone and given frankly, a very good speech. And they have taken one line out of that speech and just created chaos around the world; about Jerusalem being made the capital. If we were to get up now with real power and tell the world what was going to happen; our part in it, the fact that Christ is coming back, the fact that the vast majority of the people on the earth today are going to be killed, and resurrected at a later stage. Could you imagine the uproar that would cause. Tell the Catholics, no this is not the kingdom of God, sorry, you got that wrong. I John 3:2:

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure [it goes back again to obedience of living God's way, because if we are not living it we can't teach it; it is that simple]. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (I John 3:2-4)

Once our lives are set to obey God's law, to live God's way, as a spirit being you can't sin. Just think of it; "...when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (I John 3:2). Turn to Revelation 1:12, this is the husband that we shall be marrying. Again one has to feel a little sorry for the apostle John because he was taken here in vision. This whole book, he could not understand most of the time what he was writing. Revelation 1:12 - this is in the New Living Translation:

"When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, 'Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.'" (Revelation 1:12-18 New Living Translation)

So whether we live or die, it doesn't really matter because we can be resurrected. We know this life is a very trivial part of eternity, for us. You know you get the threescore years and ten, which for some of us it past. We are living on borrowed time. But it doesn't matter because we know, we understand about the resurrection. Hebrews 13:5 here is another promise which bears reading again, and again, and again, particularly when we are going through a trial:

"Let your conversation [or your conduct] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)

Never, ever, it can't happen. We can forsake Him, but He will not forsake us, if we are loyal and faithful to Him.

The Great Mystery (PLAY FROM 26:19)

Now the other thing that is interesting in this section is of course, the great mystery. It is a great mystery. The world just could not understand it. If they understood it they wouldn't be so blasé in the way they totally wrecked the institution of marriage that God set up. It is not some man's idea, God set it up, it is God's idea; that is what He wants. That is why a man shall leave his mother and father and go and cleave unto his wife and set up another family unit.

Historians will tell us straight that; you wreck the family and the nation falls - always. You go back into all the great empires, the Romans are a classic example. They went off the track. The marriage thing went, the perversions all came in; and they were beaten. The greatest military powers on the earth at that time, beaten by the Vandals, Huns and the Ostrogoths. Mark 4:11, you often hear Mr Armstrong go back to this because he reads this quite regularly:

"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God..." (Mark 4:11)

Try going out there today and tell people that Jesus Christ is not long off coming back. That what is happening in the Middle East is all leading up to three and a half years of the most terrible time that has ever happened. And then Christ will return and take over all the governments of this world and Satan will be locked up. Or even saying; "Satan will be locked up." Most people would just look at you and think; shame, nice guy, little bit simple. Or; "Satan, who is Satan?" Not realising that he is the god of this world, and he is controlling an awful lot of what is going on. But of course, he can only do what God allows him. But just look at the crazy things that are going on in the world.

North Korea is a classic example, they can't even feed any of their people and they have locked up thousands and thousands, in prison camp; because they disagreed with the government. They are struggling to get food to eat and yet he is going ahead building rockets and nuclear bombs and everything else. And threatening America - and those threats are very real. They can't shoot those missiles down now it becomes known. So, not a very nice situation.

But we understand this. We know what the mystery of the Kingdom of God is. So many times in the past I have heard people say; "Oh Christ spoke in parables so that they could understand. Look at the beauty of the parables. A sower went to sow. We have all seen this, we all understand that don't we. Some of the seeds fell here and some of the seeds feel there, and he told them so we understand." No! He told them they wouldn't understand. Christ even says that quite clearly, quite clearly. Romans 16:25:

"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began," (Romans 16:25)

The revelation of the mystery; it was revealed to the Church only, not to the world. The world hasn't got a clue. "...the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began," (Romans 16:25). At that time that was 4000 years, today it is virtually 6000 years. Ephesians 6:19:

"And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, [why?] to make known the mystery of the gospel," (Ephesians 6:19)

He was preaching it and some people listened, some people were baptised, some people were converted, other people got angry and tried to kill him. If you read Paul's CV, you begin to wonder how the man physically survived. Let's turn to Colossians 1:26:

"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:" (Colossians 1:26)

Only to the saints, we understand about the Kingdom of God. We understand that we are going to be a part of it. Then we come to the great mystery. But first of all I think we will have a little look at one of the other verses there about little children. Ephesians 6:1:

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;" (Ephesians 6:1-2)

The honouring of the father and the mother back in Exodus 20:12:

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12)

What is He doing? If you are honouring your father and mother and you are leaving your father and your mother and cleaving to your wife, you are forming another family unit; and your days will be long on the earth. And in Proverbs 17:6 it talks about, there is no greater blessing for a man to see his children's children, and many of us have had that privilege.

But you know little children, they are trusting. How many of us have taken a little baby, five or six months old, throw it up in the air and caught it; and they are laughing - it's great. When we had our youngest - we were kind of a bit out of practise by that time; our eldest son was already twenty. We were sitting in the lounge, my wife and her mother; and we were sitting there talking and we heard this giggling coming from the bedroom. So we snook down the corridor, and what these three rascals were doing was they had this little guy on the bed, he was probably four or five months old, they were holding onto his feet and bouncing him on the mattress, higher and higher and then flicking him over onto his tummy. And this little guy was killing himself laughing. It was great fun. We have all done this with babies, they are totally trusting.

I remember the first house we had after the war, we had a few bits and pieces that had to be done and a carpenter was sent round. I think I must have been about four or five years old, and my Dad told me about this years later. This carpenter came round and it was just after the war, and he had just managed to get hold of a set of Stanley tools. Beautiful Stanley, planes and hammers and all that all in a lovely big box, and he opened this up and he pulled this plane out. "My Dad's got a better one than that." "Oh aye." And he pulled this hammer out. "Oh my Dad's got a much bigger one than that." Then my Dad came in from work at 2 o'clock and he said; "What kind of tools have you got mate?" Very embarrassingly, he got an old club hammer he'd got from the steel works, and a knife that he had made by himself, so forth and so on. But it was my Dad!!! He could do nothing wrong. And that is our attitude towards God isn't it.

We are eager to learn, especially when it comes to pinching sweets out the cookie jar or whatever. But little children are taught to obey their parents, or they should be. And later on they grow up to be parents themselves. In Luke 18:15 it says infants there but it should be young children:

"And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:15-16)

And that attitude, with Christ as a stranger virtually to these young children, and they would want to come to Him. They felt they could trust Him. Young children do. You hear of children being stolen from parents, children are trusting. He's an adult, I trust the guy. No problem. Luke 18:17:

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." (Luke 18:17)

You have got to have that totally trusting, loving, obedient attitude that a young child actually has. And finally, the great mystery; Ephesians 5:32:

"This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:32)

God is creating a family. The husband, Jesus Christ, is ready and waiting. He is waiting for His Father to say, "Now." The wife is making herself ready. Her wedding garments are fine linen, which of course, is the righteousness of the saints. This husband and wife team are then going to run the Kingdom of God, as kings and priests, rulers and teachers; they/we will produce billions of children, billions of children. Both in the millennium and in the White Throne Judgement period. It is a family relationship still.

So let's just in closing, turn to Matthew 13:11. We look at the future in front of us and it makes science fiction look very tame, it really does:

"He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [I wonder how people would explain that one, verse 13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [Verse 16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." (Matthew 13:11,13,16)

Matthew 13:17, I am going to take out all the little bits that the translators added in italics, because it makes it much more powerful:

"For truely I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous...have desired to see...which ye see, and have not seen...; and to hear...which ye hear, and have not heard..." (Matthew 13:16-17)