Dane K. Jöhannsson
Lead Pastor, Agros Reformed Baptist Church
What follows is the manuscript from a wedding sermon I gave in 2019 upon the marriage of two members of Agros Reformed Baptist Church. I have been asked for the manuscript of that sermon on a number of occasions by some who were in attendance which, I am told, has been pursued by them with some spiritual profit. I now here make it available to the public eye with all of its blemishes and imperfections as it came from my mouth that day in the hope that it will be of some use to God and His people. It is my prayer that God will use it to His glory and the church's profit.
Pax et gratia vobis in Christo
- Dane Jöhannsson
Marriage. What is this great thing to which, those who partake in its blessedness, are called? It is a high calling indeed. Marriage is the joining together of two people in a holy covenant to love, serve and enjoy one another, the doing of which is the solemn oath of those who do partake in this covenant union. The twain become one; the hopes, desires, longings, sufferings and hardships of the two become shared in, as one. It is the mutual laying down of life for one another, and the taking up of one another under the banner of Christ. Let us not be negligent, dear friends, to remember that this is God’s design. All marriage is God’s marriage. We transgress into the holy place and defile the sacred throne room when we think that we may determine who is permitted marriage, and how marriage is to function. It is God’s design, He is its author and its ruler. He rules over it from His throne of glory and infinite wisdom, dictating with an iron scepter and golden rod its laws and regulations. Marriage is not from us, but for us, and unto God’s glory and fame.
Why has God given such a blessed union to the sons and daughters of men, those unworthy receptors of this blessing? I answer: For His glory and our good.
First and foremost, marriage is a mirror in which we behold the glory of God in the person of Christ. From eternity past God has prepared a bride unto Himself, who was given to His Son Jesus Christ from before the creation of the world. Christ enraptured His bride with the cords of eternal love before any man ever walked the Earth.
When humanity freely entered into its rebellion against God and received upon itself that cursed state of sin and death, yea, even then, God answered with his, Yes, to man’s, No; promising that Christ would not leave His bride to die alone in the wilderness, but would seek her and redeem her with His unsought and uncherished love, that He might reclaim her unto Himself to partake in His blessedness.
God gave this promise, while speaking to man’s ancient foe, that Serpent of old, the Devil, in Gen.3:15, when He said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Sin and Satan will by no means have the last word over His bride, upon whom Christ had set His love from eternity. The Serpent will be vanquished, His head crushed, and Christ’s bride delivered.
Marriage is that greatest of all symbols for Christ’s love to His own bride, the Church. His bride has disowned Christ’s love when He came unto her; she has put off her shoes and sullied her feet, wandering the streets, seeking the love which she forsook. Yet in the midst of her many faults, sins, blemishes and warts, Christ looks upon her and says, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”
How can Jesus say this about sinners who have spurned His love and marred His glory? How can He love a bride that has become a whore, a wife that who has defiled herself with strange lovers? How can we, who are spotted and blemished all over with sin and rebellion be called “all fair” and “without spot”? It is in this that we see what true marriage is.
As believers we are His bride and He our husband; we, His rebels, He, our Redeemer; we, His murderers, and He, or Savior. All of humanity has sinned against God Almighty and are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins”, walking “according to the prince of the power of the air” and are “children of disobedience”. We have utterly undone ourselves and lay open to His wrath and judgement. We call good, evil, and evil, good. We have become entirely lost and without hope of recovery.
Yet, Jesus said, that He had come, “to seek and to save that which was lost.” This is why earthly husbands are commanded to be as Christ, who is the only true Husband. (Eph.5:25-27) “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; that it should be holy and without blemish.”
A man’s bride, just like Christ’s bride, is blemished, imperfect, and spotted with sin. Yet Christ gave Himself for her, that He might make this pronouncement over her, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Jesus, when speaking about His ministry, stated, (Mk.10:45) “For … the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” If there was ever anyone who deserved to be left under God’s wrath and to experience the full weight of the curse of sin, it was Christ’s bride.
“But God”, the Apostle Paul writes, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Christ, the true Husband, loved His bride, and honored His covenant He had made with her from eternity, to give Himself for her, and redeem Her, that He might be made one with her, that she would be partaker with Him in His righteousness. Though undeserving and ungrateful, unwilling and unable, Christ redeemed her. He, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, entered into humanity as a babe, grew in stature as a man, lived in perfect obedience to and harmony with His Father, and demonstrated His love by taking upon Himself the guilt of His bride. (Ga.3:13) “Christ hath redeemed us [His bride] from the curse of the law [that those who break it shall surely die the eternal death], being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
The One, who is to be lifted up in praise and glory and honor, was lifted up on a Roman cross for His bride. The spotless became the spotted. The holy became the profane. The just became the unjust. The righteous became the unrighteous. The sinless became the sinful. The Apostle Paul tells us in another place that God made Jesus “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Through Christ’s sacrifice, His becoming sin on His bride’s behalf, she is made holy. Through the cross of Christ, we are accounted righteous as a free gift; God treated Jesus as though He were a sinner, pouring out His wrath upon Him on the cross, that she, His bride, would be treated by God as though she were Christ’s very righteousness. He has washed her of her spots of sin and now she is “all fair”. She is His beloved from all eternity.
This too is the call of the earthly husband.
O’ dear husband, hast thou loved thy bride as Christ hath loved His? Dost thou credit to her account her sins and blemishes, which Christ, thine own husband, hast atoned in His cross? Thou art called to wash her in the water of the word, proclaiming to her and guarding her by the truths of God’s Word! Dost thou harbor indignation against thy bride? Art thou more holy than Christ?
Hast thou more reason to harbor grudge and demand recompense for thy bride’s sin against thee than Christ does His? Art thou judge in Christ’s stead? Art thou not called to love, cherish, and defend thy bride?
But instead thou treasurest up her faults against her and lay thy tally to her charge! Thou forgivest not but holdest her captive to her faults. In all this, thou assumest the place of thy God! God has this to say unto thee, “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me!” Thou must give answer, O’ worm, unto thy God and King, who forgiveth both thee and thy bride all transgressions against Him freely. Thou art called to manliness and not effeminacy; thou art called to wage a masculine warfare against thy corruptions and pride; to forgive, love and lay down thy life for thy bride as Christ has His. As our Lord Jesus said at the close of His prayer: “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Dwell thou close to thy God and thou wilt know what it is to be an husband. Thou wilt be equipped with armament from on high; divine weaponry to defend thy bride. In His shadow thou wilt find joy and peace beyond comprehension, and under His banner thou shalt obtain victory.
Meditate thou upon His word both day and night and thou wilt be led in the path of the righteous. Seek thou renewed repentance and forgiveness in God alone and thy heart wilt be enlivened by His love for and acceptance of thee. All the treasuries of both mercy and grace, both wisdom and knowledge, both power and ability lay before thee in the person and work of Christ Jesus, who is both Lord and God of all.
How then ought the church, the bride of Christ, respond to her Husband, and thus, earthly wives, to their earthly husbands? The apostle Paul tells us in (Eph.5:22-24) “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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” The bride of Christ is to foster and exercise thankful, joyous, submissive and loving obedience to Him. Christ is the head, ruler, king, leader, and redeemer of His bride, and she owes to Him her all. She is to submit to His commands, which are not burdensome, but light, for He bears it up with her.
Christ calls His bride to take up her cross and follow Him, but He always takes the heavy side of the cross. Christ calls His bride to battle, but He always fights in its thickest and most heated parts. So too, earthly husbands are called not to tyrannize their wives, but to lead them; not to burden them, but to guide them; not to oppress them, but to love them; not to goad them as a beast of burden, but to bear them up as a treasure through life’s battles.
Matthew Henry once wrote: “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. … In this Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water; blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself.”
This is why earthly wives are called to submit and honor their husbands as helpmeets unto them.
O’ dear wife, dost thou look to Christ in all of thy ways? Is thy honor unto thy husband given as worship to thy God? Dost thou submit to thy husband as unto Christ?
Dost thou bear with him in all of his failings and struggles that he might be conformed unto Christ in all his ways by thy love, support, and guidance? Are his faults used by thee as an excuse to disobey Christ? In all of thy complaining about him, dost thou pray for him? Is thy encouragement freely given to him, that he may be supported by thee as he leadeth thee in fulfilling God’s call for your lives? Dost thou harbor resentment against him and forgivest him not his many sins?
Give thou thy bitterness to God, that He might heal thy dearly beloved from his limpings! Sin no more against thy Savior, in whose blood thou art washed, by thy cuttings down of thy husband’s confidence and position. Outside of his God, thy husband hath no other strength to lead thee, which is why thou art called to spur him further on in his pursuit the Lord Jesus. Thy husband, O’ dear wife, has been given unto thee as a blessed and precious gift from thy God, honor him and serve him as unto the Lord thy God.
In conclusion dear congregation, let us keep this gospel reality ever before our minds as we witness the marriage of these two people. It is nothing other than God’s publishing unto us all His love for His bride, the church. Amen
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