The Role of Christian Husbands – Part 1

The following is my sermon “The Role of Christian Husbands – Part 1” from Ephesians 5:25-33.

THE ROLE OF CHRISTIAN HUSBANDS – PART 1

Ephesians 5:25-33

Lord’s Day, January 12, 2014

Lighthouse Bible Church

As you can see there are three verses for wives, while there are nine verses for husbands! In other words, there are three times more for the husbands to take heed than the wives, though this does not mean that wives should turn off their hearing now that we’re on husbands. No, all the ladies need to pay close attention too. I mean how else are you going to hold your husband or future-husband accountable if you don’t know what he is called to do biblically?

What I want to do today is not to jump immediately into verse 25. Rather, I want to give you an overview of the context – sort of like a bird’s eye view. That’s because I don’t want us to miss the whole forest because we’re simply looking only at a particular tree. Hence, before looking at the text in detail with all the nuances, I want us to get the big picture.

With that in mind, let me make a few preliminary observations from the context. I will make four observations to be exact.

I. The primary point of this passage or section is not about marriage, or about the roles of wives or husbands. Rather, it is a depiction of the redemptive relationship between Christ and his church.

That is, the redemptive relationship between Christ and the church is depicted or likened to marriage between husband and wife, and the church being the bride to Christ.

This section of Ephesians is typically known as a “marriage text” in the Bible. I have heard numerous sermons from this text, especially, at weddings, yet some have ignored a major theological theme here, namely the redemptive relationship between Christ and the church. In fact, Paul even states in verse 32 that “this mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” – as if in case you and I miss the whole point of the passage.

Hence, if we would to simply look at this section as a mere “marriage text” or if I would to simply give a pep talk on marriage from this text, then we missed the whole point of the passage. Then that would be no different than what a secular marriage therapist would say, a Mormon would say, or what Joel Osteen would say. Thus, the fundamental question is: What is so Christian about the sermon on the role of Christian husbands? What is so Christian about telling the husbands to love their wives? If not, then this is no different than finding a book on marriage at the “self-help” section of your local Barnes and Noble or from a “marriage guru.”

So, the million dollar question is what makes a sermon about marriage uniquely and distinctively Christian? I want you to know that preaching that is empty of any exegesis of the text and empty of any Christological emphasis, yet full of moral advices is what we call “moralistic preaching,” and it is dangerous. Such preaching is dangerous because in this undiscerning culture when average church-goers do not think biblically and theologically, such preaching is often pass as “Christian preaching” when it is not. Just because someone stands in the front and quotes a few Bible verses or mentions Christ here and there do not constitute or qualify as Christian or biblical preaching.

A biblical preaching is when the bulk of the message is driven by an exposition of Scripture, out of which there is a significant doctrinal emphasis from the text, and from which there are implications and/or applications. So, when a message is largely a moral pep talk about how to improve your life, your marriage, so on, is not a biblical or Christian preaching. Please listen to what Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in regards to what I just said over fifty years ago:

I am increasingly convinced that so much in the state of the Christian church today is to be explained chiefly by the fact that for nearly a hundred years the church has been preaching morality and ethics, and not the Christian faith. It is this preaching of the ‘good life’, or being ‘a good little gentleman’, and of viewing religion as ‘morality touched by emotion’, as Matthew Arnold put it, that has been the curse. Such men have shed the doctrines; they dislike any idea of atonement, they dismiss the whole notion of the miraculous and the supernatural, and ridicule talk about re-birth. Christianity to them is that which teaches a man to live a good life.[1]

II. Although the primary point in this section is about the redemptive relationship between Christ and his church, there are clear implications for the role of Christian husbands. In other words, although the husbands’ role is not the main point here, it is an important implication that flows directly out of a rich Christological truth. This section contains both doctrinal implication and practical applications.

III. Like the role of Christian wives, the role of Christian husbands depends on the redeemed relationship with Christ. That is, if the man is not spiritually regenerated, he cannot fulfill the duty of a Christian husband, namely to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

I say “namely, to love his wife as Christ loved the church,” because there is a clear distinction of the role of Christian husbands from non-Christian husbands. It is one thing to be the primary provider and protector for family, but to love the wife as Christ loved the church is something else. If the duty of a Christian husbands is simply to be the provider for the family and protector for the family, then that’s no different than what a Buddhist could do, what a good Muslim could do, or what an atheist husband could do. Again, what makes the role of Christian husbands unique? Again, what sets Christian husbands fundamentally different from non-Christian husbands is the commitment to love our wives as Christ loved the church. In fact, this particular command to love our wives is not given to just anyone but only to Christians, for whom this letter is written (1:1).

Since Christian husbands are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, don’t you think it is important that we need to know how Christ loved his church? Furthermore, we need to know what kind of love this is.

IV. Redeemed love is the particular kind of love and particular motive to love our wives.

When a person becomes a Christian, all faculties and aspects of his/her life will go through transformation, including his/her understanding of love. As a Christian, such love is now redeemed. He/she is no longer driven with selfish love, a pure physical or sensual love, or lustful love, but now it is love that is radically different than what he/she knew or ever experienced. It is redeemed love that God gives to his elect. Hence, before you can be motivated to love, you need to first know and learn what this type of love is.

Again, we’re back to Point 1, aren’t we? That is, we cannot understand the duties of Christian husbands and wives unless we understand the truth about Christ and his church.

When I’m doing premarital counseling, I always ask the couple to define love and describe love. You can guess why right? That’s because the problem is often about descriptions and demonstrations of love. In fact, this is where even those that have been married for sometime would have conflicts. For instance, because I love my wife, I may get her a DVD on how to lose weight as a woman. That’s how I would demonstrate my love for her. But my wife may interpret my demonstration of love to something else or disagree with how I show my love. You follow what I’m saying?

Sometimes our demonstrations of love may be unwise and unsound because we may have unsound definition of love. So, with that, let me at least begin with the definition of love in this section. But before we do that, let me inform you what the text does not say about love.

First, it is not the romantic love though that is not unimportant. Second, it is not erotic or lustful type. Men, you don’t have to become like the dude Fabio on the front cover of romance novels to love your wife. Third, it is not phileo type – i.e., fond of something or having affections, as in I love my dog, I love sushi, I love surfing, etc.

Rather, the love that is mentioned in this section is agape love! Six times the verb “love” is mentioned in this context: twice in verse 25, three times in verse 28, and once in verse 33. And they are all agape love.

Let us at least get our feet wet this morning with verse 25. We examined four overall preliminary observations. Now, let me begin with a few specifics. First, to whom is this section specifically addressed? It is to husbands. In fact, in Greek this address is vocative, which means in this letter the author is making a special attention or call to a particular group, namely to husbands. It is like saying, “Husbands, listen up!” Or, soon to be husbands, listen up! Or, those who want to be husbands, listen up! Or, husbands that no longer want to be husbands, listen up!

Furthermore, based on the surrounding context, this reference is not to just any husbands, but Christian husbands. That is the operative word.

So, we’re forced with a very important question, that is: What is a Christian? I don’t believe that everyone who walks into the church understands what a Christian is. So, we need to learn to articulate this answer biblically. Don’t worry, you don’t need a systematic theology book to help you. I’ll simply show you from Ephesians. With that in mind, please go with me to Ephesians 1.

According to Ephesians, a Christian is:

  • a saint and faithful in Christ Jesus (1:1b),
  • one who has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3),
  • one that God chose before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless (i.e. justified) before him (1:4),
  • one that God predestined to adopt him as a son (1:5),
  • one that experienced God’s redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sin, according to God’s sovereign grace (1:7),
  • one that God reveals the mystery of his will (1:9),
  • one that has obtained an inheritance (1:11),
  • one that believed the gospel of salvation after listening to the message of truth (1:13a),
  • one that has been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13b),
  • one that has clear evidences of God’s grace from his/her former life (2:1-5),
  • one that belongs to a church and actively serves the members within the church (2:19-22) – just to name a few.

Those are just a few descriptions of what a Christian is. Although these are various descriptions, there is one common denominator, namely it is God who turns a person into a Christian. The Bible teaches that no matter how high the standard of morality a person lives by, cannot live up to God’s perfect and holy standard. Also, no matter how religious a person is, he/she cannot earn God’s salvation. The Christian doctrine of salvation is that God alone saves the person.

So, at the onset of Ephesians 5:25, we’re faced with a very important question: Am I a Christian? This is so important since the assumed notion is that husbands here are Christian husbands.


[1]D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home & Work: An Exposition of Ephesians 5:18 to 6:9 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995), 19.

Why Did God Give His Ministers To His Church?

I recently preached a four-part series from Ephesians 4:11-16 titled “Why Did God Give His Ministers to His Church?” When all the recordings are available, I’ll post them here. Meanwhile, here’s the link to my notes:

The Doctrine of Election – Part 2

A Brief History on Arminianism

To deny the doctrine of election is a doctrine itself. In theology we call this Arminianism. The name Arminianism comes from the teachings of James Harmensen, or in Latin, Jacobus Arminius. In the early 17th century, the church and state have always been united in Holland until a theological dispute arose. Professor Arminius presented a paper in which he named five points of doctrine concerning which he and others disagreed. These five points covered issues regarding the original sin, unconditional predestination, invincible grace in conversion, particular redemption, and perseverance of saints.

As a result, the government of Holland ordered the church to discuss and settle the issues regarding these five points of doctrines. In 1618, this meeting was the famous Synod of Dort, where not only the ministers from Holland were present, but also delegates from France, Germany, Swiss, and Britain came to discuss and settle those doctrinal matters. The Synod adopted the rule that every doctrine should be decided by the sole authority of the Word of God, leaving out all human philosophies, opinions, and speculations on side. After 29 years from this historical meeting came the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter and the Larger Catechism in 1647. The people who refuted against the five points of the doctrines of Arminius were later labeled as the Five Points of Calvinism. It’s important to keep in mind that John Calvin himself did not come up with the Five Points of Calvinism, but rather, it was the Arminius’s camp who called the followers of Calvin, Calvinists, and their rebuttals against Arminianism, the Five Points of Calvinism.

Election & Depravity of Man

Views 1 and 2 are problematic because they both have erroneous views on the depravity of man. When people have trouble with the doctrine of election (and many do), their real problem is not with the doctrine of election itself, but it is with the doctrine of depravity of man, or in theology, the doctrine of total depravity or total inability.

The proponents of Views 1 and 2 along with the Arminianists do admit that they hold to the doctrine of the depravity of man (i.e., teaching that man is basically a sinner). But the problem with them is that they don’t go far enough on the depravity of man. In other words, how far did the human race fall when it fell? That’s the question. How sinful is sinner? Is he sinful 80% 90%? 99% Or, totally 100% depraved? Your answer to that question determines how you view yourself, God, and others.

If you truly believe that you are totally and completely 100% depraved, then you would believe that every faculty of your being has been completely and totally infected by sin. Thus in you, you do not have “power,” “ability,” “free-will” or “choice” to save yourself from your sin. And that’s the position, which the Bible teaches. Sin is a state of condition before it is an action.

But Arminians affirm that we are affected by sin (but not completely or totally), that’s why people possess the ability to turn from it and believe in Christ when the gospel is offered – by our own power or “free will.”

What does it really mean by “original sin,” “total depravity,” and “inability of the will”?

The Westminster Confession of Faith (which I believe to be a great historical faith that affirms the biblical faith), Chapter IX, Section iii, states that, “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”

Isn’t that what the Bible teaches? In Gen. 6:5, the Scripture says, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That one verse alone destroys any notions (including evolutionism) that man is getting better or improving morally and spiritually. But rather, the truth of the matter is that man is getting worst and degenerating into more wicked morally and inventing more wicked and sinful things.

Also in Eph. 2:1, Apostle Paul tells us that we Christians were once “dead in trespasses and sins.” That means that every faculty of our beings were dead, including the will. Did you ever see a dead man who exercise will or choice? You see, a dead man doesn’t have the “ability” to exercise a will, choice, and etc.

As an unregenerate sinner, all he or she can do is sin. That is the nature of sin. Sin is a state of condition before it is an action. Unless the nature changes, a sinner is always a slave to sin. All he/she can do is sin. He always “wills” to sin or chooses to sin because that’s what the sin nature does. In other words, the state of the condition dictates the actions. So if you think about it, that doesn’t sound like a sinner has a “freedom” or “free-will” or ability to choose. No! Rather, he is a slave. He doesn’t have any freedom or the ability to choose. And isn’t that what our Lord Jesus said? In John 8:34, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” That doesn’t sound like a servant of sin has power to be free.

That’s why as an unregenerate sinner, all he or she can do is sin. That is the nature of sin, and unless the nature changes, a sinner is always a slave to sin. Let me illustrate it this way. There was a mighty lion that was ruling the jungle. Everyone in the animal kingdom was afraid of this lion. He was known for his strength and great appetite. Everyone was afraid to be his next meal. One day, the lion decided that he didn’t want to eat other animals anymore. He learned that he had high cholesterol so he wanted to stop eating meats. So he decided to eat vegetables and fruits instead. Much of the animals in the jungle were happy that the lion decided to go vegetarian. This went on for few days. Although the lion tried so hard to stay with his new diet program he just couldn’t. His will and desires were for the meats. One day as he was picking grapes in the vineyard he saw a pack of sheep. With his natural instinct, without any hesitation, he charged for the pack of sheep and killed three sheep and ate them all!

Now, I told you that story to illustrate this point: the lion will always be a lion. He can’t be like the cows, sheep, or other vegetarian animals that eat nothing but grass and other greens. Why? Because the nature of a lion is to kill and eat meat. Lions are carnivorous animals. Their will is to eat meat. They don’t have the “free-will,” because they are slaves to their lion nature. That is the nature of the condition they are in. Their state of condition dictates their carnivorous actions, and unless the nature changes, the lion will always be a meat-eating animal.

So what does it mean by “original sin”? Let me quote, R. L. Dabney (1820-1898), a nineteenth century American Presbyterian theologian: “By original sin, we mean the evil quality which characterizes man’s natural disposition and will.We call this sin of nature original, because each fallen man is born with it, and because it is the source or origin in each man of his actual transgressions” (The Five Points of Calvinism, 3.See http://www.crta.org/calvinism/5Points_Dabney.html).

Man is described by three components: body, mind, and soul. With that, he is made up of three elements: knowledge, emotion, and will. When the Bible declares that we are born as sinners (i.e. Rom. 5:12, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”), what that means is that everything that we are (knowledge, emotion, and will) have been completely and totally contaminated by sin. That is why to an unregenerate sinner, there is no such a thing called “free will,” because his/her “will” is completely and totally chained to his sin nature. All his will is to sin. Unless the unregenerate sinner’s sinful nature changes, he/she doesn’t have the freedom to choose. To a sinner, sin is unlimited. There is no limit as to what sort of sin he cannot commit.


The Doctrine of Election – Part 1

I want to express few words on the doctrine of election from Ephesians 1:4.

When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we understand that to mean he does whatever he pleases and that he is under no obligation to anyone except to himself. This also means he does not answer to anyone, surely, not to his own creations and creatures. God is God, and he rules all things under his rulership, and nothing happens without his direction or permission. He works all things after the counsel of his own perfect will for his own glory. For instance, God is sovereign over his creations including what happens in this universe, nature, nations, and our history.

However, what is more intriguing and mind-boggling is God’s sovereignty in our salvation, namely, as Paul says in our text “He (God) chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” In Christian theology, this is called the doctrine of election.

And what I love about the doctrine of election is because of what it does, its results. For instance, the doctrine of election shatters all the erroneous views of the gospel and salvation, namely, that somehow salvation is a result of what I do – e.g., whether I prayed the prayer, raised my hand and gone forward at the altar call, and etc. It’s not that those things are inherently evil or sinful, but that’s not how this glorious letter of Ephesians is mentioned. As a matter of fact, such notion and practice as raising hands and going forward at the “altar call” or praying the prayer is found nowhere in Scripture.

The opening chapter of Paul’s letter to Ephesians shatters any false idea that I am a Christian because of what I have done or what I do. The truth of the biblical gospel is not about me. The focus is not about me. And that is exactly the Paul’s point here in chapter 1. In other words, the gospel does not begin with me and you. It begins with God. And such example is all over the place here in chapter 1 – e.g., “He chose us” (v. 4), “He predestined us” (v. 5), “He freely bestowed on us” (v. 6), “He lavished on us” (v. 8), “He made known to us” (v. 9), and so on.

The biblical gospel is about God. It begins with God, sustains by God, and finishes with God. From the beginning to the end, it is all about God. But when I examine the today’s gospel it’s amazing how far the churches have drifted. The today’s gospel is not so much about God and his glory, but all about what I could get, how I can maximize my life for me, and etc. The gospel is no longer God-centered, but largely, man-centered. But as you can see from the Bible, it is far from being man-centered.

So what I love about the doctrine of election is because of what it does, such as, shattering all my self-centered and sinful ways of looking at the gospel. It truly strips me bare. As I begin to have a proper low view of myself, it is only then that I begin to see and possess a high view of God. A test whether a person is a friend of this doctrine or a foe is to watch how a person reacts when an individual hears about it. And I pray that you become a dear friend to the doctrine of election.

When discussing the doctrine of election, there are about three views.

1. Denial of the doctrine of election altogether.

This view says that people can obtain salvation by their own free will or by their choice. Thus election simply does not enter into the factor of salvation.

2. Election is based on foreknowledge.

The proponents of this view say that God elects someone to salvation, but God does that on the basis of God foreseeing some goods in them or goods that they would do in the future.

3. Election is biblical and it’s not by man’s any merits.

The proponents of this view believe that election is a divine revelation, not a human speculation. Moreover, the proponents of this view believe that salvation is completely the work of God and not anything that man does or will do. And this is the very reason why Christians praise and worship God.

Stay tune for Part 2.