Question

I was unclear as to what you meant in your sermon when you said that only the COG is in a position to teach on successful marriages because of our knowledge of the true gospel.  Can you explain this.  I know of many non-COG families who live very blessed lives based on biblical principles which are not exclusive to the COG.

Answer

Thank you for your great question!

First, my statement was that the ability to build solid, strong marriages depends on the doctrine of the gospel of the kingdom of God and the gospel of the kingdom of God is the exclusive property of the church of God. Therefore, only the church of God can build the type of marriages that will solve this world’s problems.

Many people preach from the Bible, but because they don’t understand the gospel of the kingdom of God, they cannot accurately teach the truth of marriage and family. Marriage and family are kingdom of God concepts. Using the Bible to teach on marriage and family without the context of the kingdom of God invariably leads to false teaching.

Biblical Principles Not Enough

Applying biblical principles to marriage will most certainly lead to blessings. That is not enough, however. Marriage is the fundamental building block of society. And, as I said earlier, it is a kingdom of God concept. The church of God (all those who have been called by God and given His Holy Spirit), through its understanding of the gospel, can unlock the meaning of marriage. In doing so, it can understand the extraordinary expectations of a godly marriage. Everyone who practices biblical principles can be blessed in their marriage. But only the church of God can grasp the true purpose and exalted standards of a marriage based on the gospel of the kingdom of God.

This understanding should motivate us to engage God’s Holy Spirit to fulfill the mysterious roles of husband and wife. The wife’s submission should lead to the development of Christ’s character. Christ submitted to the Father’s will and suffered wrongfully. In her relationship with her husband, the wife has the opportunity to develop this aspect of Christ’s character. God says a meek and quiet spirit is in His sight of great price. The great price He paid for the development of this type of character is the death of His Son.

1Pet. 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
1Pet. 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

In the same way that Christ paid the price of His life for the development of this Christ-like character in His wife, husbands, in their relationship with their wives, have the opportunity to develop the extraordinary leadership qualities of Christ. That is, they must be willing to pay the high price of sacrificing themselves for the development of the wife’s meek and quiet spirit. If our wives are properly honoured, they never have to “fight for their rights”.

Marriage is a Mystery

The marriage relationship is a deep mystery and a great challenge. Marriages can appear happy to outsiders but be riddled with deeply entrenched problems. Those of us who are married and who understand the gospel of the kingdom of God, have an enormous burden placed upon us. We must get the marriage relationship right. It so important that God warns us that our prayers will be hindered if we violate His expectations of this relationship.

1Pet. 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Accomplishment of any scale requires organization. The kingdom of God will achieve incredible accomplishments. It will be highly organized. Unlike human organizations, however, it will be organized based on the family construct. What we learn in our marriages and our families today, has eternal value.

The fundamental problem in every marriage is human nature. Human nature wants to dominate and does not want to be dominated. Applying Biblical principles in our marriage is good but it is not enough if we don’t grasp marriage in the context of the gospel of the kingdom of God. For marriage to work the way God planned, we must have God’s vision and embrace the full meaning of marriage and the associated spiritual relationship between husband and wife. This is a GREAT mystery. We are privileged to understand it but the understanding we have must compel us to meet God’s standard. Our efforts will be rewarded by rich marriages and readiness for our place in God’s family.

Later in the same letter quoted earlier and in the same context of building Christ’s character, Peter says:

1Pet. 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

Getting marriage right according to God’s standards is no small feat. When we get the vision of the Kingdom of God clearly in our mind, we realize how short we fall and how much is required of us to get marriage right. If we, filled with the inspiration of the gospel, scarcely overcome our human nature to achieve God’s vision of marriage, how much harder is it for those who don’t understand?

We’re not here just to have blessed marriages. We’re here to build the types of marriages that ultimately serve the whole world.

  • George

    Thanks for your response. However, I still don’t see how your statement regarding strong marriages depends on a knowledge of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  Can you please expand on your statement, “that the ability to build solid, strong marriages depends on the doctrine of the gospel of the kingdom of God and the gospel of the kingdom of God is the exclusive property of the church of God.” 

    Mainstream Christianity also believes that physical marriage is a picture of Christ marrying the church and that this relationship will be manifest in the Kingdom of God.

    Thank you,

  • Hi Bro. George,

    You’ve asked a very good question! Although marriage is an institution that’s in decline, I agree that there are many strong marriages outside of the Church of God among people who do not believe the gospel of the kingdom. In fact, strong marriages are not restricted to Christians. There are strong marriages among Muslims, Hindus and a plethora of other religions.

    Perhaps what I should have said is those of us who are married and believe the gospel of the kingdom, should be so motivated by it, that we build marriages that are strikingly different than any other marriages. Marriage is the foundation of and is inextricably linked to the gospel.

    With respect to mainstream Christianity, there is no doubt that many are motivated by the picture of Christ marrying the church. What’s different is the symbolism doesn’t go any further. In heaven, this symbolism doesn’t drive anything. Understanding the gospel (that Christ is coming to earth, to reign on the earth with His bride) is completely different. The kingdom is active. Christ is going to become a father (Isa 9:6). His wife is going to actively work by His side raising children. (Isa 30:21) The kingdom of God will be structured, but it will not be a harsh, static, military or corporate structure. It will be an organic, dynamic family structure.

    The lessons we are learning in marriage as one human mind joins another human mind and the two become one are vital to our functioning in the kingdom. We will be spirit beings, but we will still have independent minds. We will need to become one with Christ. Lucifer was one with Christ, but then, with his independent thinking, he separated himself from Christ and betrayed Him. Marriage is a learning and developmental institution. It is also a test and examination. Christ and the Father are scrutinizing us. In our roles as husbands and wives, we are clearly demonstrating our willingness and ability to “put on Christ”. The instructions for putting on Christ are clearly laid out for us in 1 Peter 3:1-7. Notice that after these instructions, Peter instructs us to be of one mind:

    “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” 1Pet 3:8

    Marriage is one institution where we learn to be of one mind with another. The church is the other institution where we learn this. It’s interesting to note that in Ephesians, before Paul gives instructions to husbands and wives, he tells the church to submit themselves to one another.

    “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Eph 5:21

    And, as noted earlier, in 1 Peter, after giving instructions to husbands and wives, Peter tells the church to be of one mind. Clearly, there’s a link between learning to put on Christ in our marriages and learning to put on Christ in our church relationships. The congregation is an extension of the family. It is the household of God and in it we must learn how to conduct ourselves as family members.

    “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1John 4:20

    It is hard for one to picture what one will do in heaven. Consequently, it is hard to be motivated by the vision of being in heaven. In the kingdom of God, beginning with the millennial rule of Christ, we will be active.

    Initially, our focus will be on the fall harvest and bringing the rest of humanity to be “born again” into God’s family. Then comes the Last Great Day when the rest of the dead will be brought to life and collectively with Christ and the Father, we will all work diligently to bring them into God’s family. Then the Father will come down to earth and establish His throne here! (Rev 21:3) Then we will learn what’s next! How different this is from believing we go to heaven. And how motivating!

    It is a grand vision and it is a reality. Working with independent, thinking minds and building meaningful and trusting relationships with them will be our primary activity as members of God’s family. It will be challenging to say the least! However, the detailed lessons we are learning in our marriages and our church relationships will carry over to the kingdom because they will have shaped our thinking and behaviour. These lessons are the price of admission. They are the foundation of all future learning.

    We’ve got to get our marriages right! Let’s not think for a minute that we can frustrate, disappoint and/or betray our spouses and still be in God’s kingdom. God will not even listen to our prayers if we fail to embrace our spouses in the manner of Christ!

    “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1Pet 3:8

    Marriage is not just a symbol. It is a spiritual reality. It is a God-level construct that has to do with the joining of independent minds. It is given to man whom God made in His image to learn how to think and engage like God. Pride and selfishness are the biggest obstacles to marriage. They were Lucifer’s downfall (Isa 14:13-14). The lessons of marriage and family equip us to be born into His family. When we are born in His family, we will then continue to learn how to be one with God and how to engage spiritual children.

    What magnificent truth we have been exposed to! Let’s help each other build the types of marriages God expects of us. In so doing, we bless not only ourselves and our spouses, but the whole world and future generations!

    • Drew D

      While there are varying beliefs amung mainstream Christianity, I know of very few of them who do not believe Jesus is coming back to rule on Earth. Orthodox Christianty teaches Jesus will return to set up His kingdom. The difference is in what happens to us between death and His return.

      I fail to see how this difference causes mainstream Christianity to misunderstand what the marriage signifies.