Both Christian marriage and what Christians call salvation have something important in common. They are both holy covenants. Let’s begin by looking at Ephesians 5, which point blank compares the relation of husband to wife as the same as the relationship of Christ to the church.
Ephesians 5:21-33 KJV
“21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 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. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 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. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 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. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
THE COVENANT OF SALVATION IS LIKE THE COVENANT OF MARRIAGE.
The covenant of salvation is the same sort of covenant as holy wedlock. This helps us understand better what it means to be saved, as well as what marriage really means. St. Paul points out the similarity: “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Ephesians 5:23).
- So, if “the husband is… as Christ is….” then the relationship between the husband and wife is the same sort of relationship as the one between Christ and believers.
- In John 3:29, John the Baptist called Jesus the Bridegroom. That makes the church His bride. When you get saved, you enter into a holy covenant very similar to the holy covenant of matrimony, then.
- Let us compare the way we enter marriage and the way we accept believers into the church:
1. The first step in both is a decision of the will:
- In marriage, at least in the Methodist ceremony, the minister first asks the husband, “N., wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her….?” The man answers “I will.” Then the woman is asked, and she answers “I will.”
- In salvation, the first step is also deciding “I will,” or “I want to get saved.” “Whosoever will, let him come,” Jesus says in Revelation 22:17. In the old Methodist hymnal, the minister asks, “Do you desire to be baptized in this faith?” And the candidate answers, “I do.”
- In both marriage and salvation, there is a prior establishment of a trusting relationship. We say the couple has “fallen in love,” by which we mean they have developed affection for each other and trust in one another. In salvation, it is the same: “Whosoever believeth in Me” (trusts in Me) “shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The mutual trust leads to a decision of the will ── the fellow asks on bended knee, “Will you marry me?” to which the girl responds, “Yes!” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock,” and the believer has to decide to open the door of his heart and let Jesus in.
- Thus both marriage and salvation first involve establishing a prior trust relationship; then, the first step of entering into covenant involves a decision of the will.
2. The second step in both is a confession of the mouth:
- In marriage, next come the vows. The man first says: “I, N., take thee, N., to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold…to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”
- The woman then responds in kind with identical vows. They promise to be faithful. They give themselves to each other.
- In salvation, the confession of the mouth is vital. Jesus says, Matt. 10:32-3, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
- St. Paul says in Romans 10:9-10,“…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
- In baptism, the minister asks for the following confession: “Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life?” The answer is “I do.” The minister asks for the following promise: “Will you then obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments and walk in the same all the days of your life?” The candidate replies, “I will, by God’s help.”
- Thus both marriage and salvation secondly involve a confession of the mouth; that is, making a vow, promise, or a statement of commitment. When Jesus said, “This is my body which is broken for you… this is my blood which is shed for you,” he was pledging his life to you, just as husband and wife do when they say “I take thee… I pledge thee my faith.” Communion recalls our mutual vows.
3. The final step in both is giving and receiving a token of remembrance:
- In marriage, the minister says, “The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace….” In baptism, the minister says, “Baptism is an outward and visible sign of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ….”
- In other words, baptism is just like the marriage ring ── it is a sign or token of remembrance, “fulfilling all righteousness,” as Jesus put it in Matthew 3; i.e., completing the covenant. All covenants are acts of righteousness, because covenants establish relationships. That is what an act of righteousness is: building or restoring covenant. In marriage there are two rings; and in salvation there are two baptisms: by water and by the Holy Spirit. In both salvation and marriage, the covenant is restored by repentance and forgiveness.
- The token you give Jesus is your water baptism. The token Jesus gives you is the baptism of the Holy Spirit in your heart, crying “Abba, Father,” which is the sign, seal, or guaranteeing mark of your redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14).
- This comparison should make you see:
Marriage is sacred and holy!
Salvation is a living love relationship with the Lord!