Sermon delivered September 18, 1999

by Evangelist Wendell Stover

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.

The Church Triumphant

I don't know how to say what I want to say because my wife is here, and after this service most likely she is going to say to me, "You need to practice what you preach." And so it makes this message a little difficult to present, because I know that my own record is being judged. And so, in the beginning I would make the statement boldly that I think to myself this morning. I would make the statement, also, that I do not expect everyone here to agree with what I'm going to say. I would suspect that there would be some men here this morning that would feel somewhat uncomfortable the direction that I want to go. I would suggest that there would be some ladies here today who would say, "Preach on Wendell, preach on!"

Let's get a good Biblical foundation. Go back with me to the scripture reading for this morning (Ephesians 5:26,27). I want to back up a couple verses and start with verse 22. You see, it's going to be a while when I will be with you here in a meeting. Jesus may come before we get back. Wouldn't that be nice? And someday the church will rise triumphantly to meet the Lord in the air. But if it ever rises to meet the Lord, it will be because there have been men in the church. Now, this passage suggests some good counsel to men and their wives. It brings up some very important ideas about their relationship in marriage as it compares to Christ and the church. I suppose we could say that there are good men and there are sorry men. There are good wives and there are sorry wives. Now, if I cannot speak to the wives here today, guess who I can speak to.

Let's begin here in verse 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. We like that, don't we, fellows.

A knock came on my door one evening and a young man and his wife were standing there. He looked at me and I knew when he raised the questions something was wrong. He asked, "You are a preacher, aren't you?" I said, "Yes." He pointed to his meek wife standing beside him and said, "I want you to show her in the Bible where it says that I am the boss." And this is the passage of Scripture he was thinking about. I took them into the room, then and we began to have a Bible study. As soon as I read verses twenty two and twenty three, he said, "Honey, come on. Let's go." Now notice verse 23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. It sounds like the husband has it made, doesn't it. Let's read on, Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. So if your husband enjoys biscuits and gravy you're supposed to get up and make it for him every morning. Right?

Verse 25. Now, this is the real sermon for today, right here. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That young man turned with his wife to leave and I said, "Wait. Let's finish the passage." It is true that men have a God-given privilege to be the head of the home. But only with the permission that God gives him, with the responsibility that God gives him.

The last half of verse 25 and verse 26 tells us that as Jesus gave Himself for the church, He did that that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

Now here comes the church triumphant, verse 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. Some day, gentlemen, God will call us into accountability for the spiritual health and well-being of ourselves and our wives and our family. We could speak this morning as to every privilege God gives us, there also comes a responsibility with it.

Verse 28. So because of all of this ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Someone gave me a tape a few months ago. As I listened to that tape I could not believe that a pastor would stand in the pulpit and preach such a brazen message. He had chosen to go the opposite direction than I've chosen to go this morning. He felt impressed of God to speak to the ladies in the church. As I listened to the message, I couldn't figure out what kind of audience he was speaking to. His main message focussed on such minute archaic revelations as this. He would say, "Now every one of you ladies need to smell good. You need to wash under your arms at least once a day. You need to take a bath, brush your teeth." What audience would he be speaking to? And then he spoke about ironing clothes. Now we have an iron at our home, but we do so little of that. I've learned if I want to have a happy home I need to take my shirts to the laundry and that's it. I don't gamble and blow money, but I take my clothes to the laundry and bring them back.

I suppose a person's perception about the role of men and women is determined a lot by his environment, what he's learned, but I'm interested in how God feels about all of this. I believe we need a message this morning that would motivate our men to be what God wants them to be in the church. If you are going to be God's men in the church then it should first begin in the home.

Now, I looked over our audience today and some of you are not married, some of you are thinking about it, some of you may be wishing you were out of it, but what about this idea of being a real man for God? If the church is some day to be without blemish, if it's to be holy, if it's to be cleansed, I would suggest to you that God would like to begin a revival among the men of our church.

The man is, first of all, to be the spiritual leader. And some men are so slow to catch on to this thing. It's okay if she has devotion with the children. It's okay if she wants to go to church. And the most common excuse and objection a man has is this: He says, "Honey, don't push me. When I'm ready, I will go."

You are robbing God of the beautiful stewardship of spiritual resources when you dump all of the spiritual responsibility on your wife, especially if you have children. If you are here today, and you feel that when you are ready, you will make a decision for God, you are already making a decision. You are making a decision against God. And what a shame it would be if you were to miss heaven and your wife and children would go there. Joyful for them, but what a shame for you miss it when you had the privilege of being there. The husband should be the first one to grab his wife's hand in the morning and say, "Honey, I love you."

A pastor sat behind his desk. A man and his wife sat before him. Family counseling. He asked the dear wife, "Well now, as you understand this marriage, what is one of the things that's wrong." And she said, "Well, pastor, we've been married twenty two years and he never tells me he loves me." The husband looked at her angrily and said, "I told you when I married you that I loved you."

It has taken me a long time to understand something about women, my wife. You do not have to understand your wife to love her. You will never understand her. When someone is converted, the love of Jesus in their mind, that does not mean that you as a man will understand her. As long as you live, you shall both think differently.

Now, I've thought about the left brain and the right brain and I'm interested in all of that. But I'm also interested in the practicality of this. My wife and I each like to read. She reads differently than I like to read. I like to read about making money. I haven't been too successful, but I like to read about it. I like to figure percentages and yields and returns and interest and I have a good time with the computer. I have books in my library that I have enjoyed reading. But, Debbie's not into that. She will never be into that. She says, "You can make the money, and I'll spend it." A man's mind thinks in a logical way.

A husband, wife and two kids go on vacation. She's got some money, he's got some money, and they each have a credit card. They go through Cherokee, North Carolina. Mother, daddy with their two little kids walking down a sidewalk, maybe Gatlinburg. They see all those tee shirts there. Why, the kids have a hundred tee shirts at home. The daddy knows that, and the wife certainly is aware of it because she washes all of them. and Johnny says, "Oh, I want a new shirt." Now, here's a difference: Daddy says, "You don't need a new shirt." Or he thinks it. Mommy says, or thinks, "It would make him so happy to have a new shirt." And guess who wins. Well, it depends. If he's a gripy, nasty, greedy old man, he will say, "No, you can't buy a shirt for those kids." But if you're loving and sweet and kind and understanding, the kids leave with two tee shirts.

Most men try to reason with what the family needs, and I did this for a long time. I wish that I could go back. We would do some things differently in our home.

This is even shown when men purchase gifts for their wives. "I don't know what she needs." And your wife doesn't want you to buy what she needs. Don't buy her a new iron for her birthday.

Oh, dear fellows, if you would take my advice this morning, if you want to have a happy home, buy your wife something that she does not need. Now with a few exceptions; there are some wives who will get mad at me this morning. That's all right. I'm leaving before long.

You may be in another mind set. But fellows, if it comes to buying gifts for your wife, don't always buy her something that she needs. If you want to buy her something that she needs, then buy her another gift that she doesn't need. And, Russell Stover candy is always a good gift. Candy and flowers are like a light bulb to a woman. They just love it. Every man should know the distance to the place to buy those.

The man is to be the spiritual leader in the home. Who gets up first in your home? I had a temptation to sleep in in the mornings. I've told you this before. But it's the responsibility of the man in the beginning to take his wife's hand and say, "Honey, I love you. Let's pray that God will give us a wonderful day. God will bless the challenges we face. God will bless our children." It is your place to be the spiritual leader. It is also your place to be the provider if you can. There are some situations and conditions when it has to be otherwise. But the ideal situation is for the man to make the most money and the wife to spend it. That's ideal. If your wife is working to pay for your toys, then something's wrong. If you are the one that wants to jet-ski, the jeep that looks like a baby hummer, the motorcycle, or the convertible mustang or the fifty-seven Chevrolet that I'd like to have, something's wrong.

Did you know there are some men that try to run everything in the home? Blame it on their nature, blame it on their mom and dad, blame it on anything you want to, the fact remains that there are some men who really exercise the idea of being boss. They even tell their wives how to cook, how to dress. If the wife says something in public that embarrasses the man, it upsets him. I wish there were a magic pill that God would just suddenly pour down out of heaven and every man could take that. That would change his nature.

Most men are sort of selfish. And did you know a grown man can pout when he can't get his own way? I've heard that most of them just hold to the steel wool and say nothing.

Go back to the Bible with me. Ephesians 5:22. This idea of submitting to your husbands, Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Now, if every man were living up to the God-given responsibility that he should be living up to, it would be a wonderful joy for the wife to be submissive. But when he acts like a slob, it's sort of difficult to be submissive. You know, Jesus was always full of surprises. We're counseled here that the husband is supposed to love the wife the same way that Christ loved the church. Christ was always giving Himself for other people.

Something happened the other day and I caught myself just in the nick of time. I happen to be a good husband and occasionally I wash dishes. That's one of the areas that I'm weak in, I have to tell you. Twenty plus years of marriage, and I've still not mastered the art of loading the dishwasher. My wife can cram more dishes in there than any woman alive. I'm sort of the old- fashioned guy, I get out the detergent and do this number in the sink.

Well, the other day I washed the dishes. I cleaned up the kitchen, picked up some things in the den, and I felt so good. Guess what I wanted to do. I had done all this work! I wanted to brag about it. Debbie was gone somewhere. She came back, and just in the nick of time, I stopped myself. My mind was racing faster than my lips were speaking. And I was thinking of saying, "Honey, I washed the dishes for you! For you!"

Do you catch it? It's as if there is some set rule that she is always supposed to be the housekeeper. How often have you helped your wife clean house? Now I know what you're saying, "She doesn't mow the lawn, she won't take care of the car, she doesn't paint the house, I take care of the outside, she takes care of the inside. That's sort of the general rule.

Why does it always have to be that way? Christ loved the church, gave Himself for it, the same way the husband is supposed to love his wife and give himself for her. When men do something nice they usually like to brag about it for a long time to come.

She doesn't want you to brag about it. She wants you to do it and then let her compliment you because you've been so sweet and nice.

It's a challenge to be a husband today. There's a thousand different attractions for you. Notice this: Verse 25, Husbands, love your wives, Let's pause right there. If we were doing a series, I would like to spend a whole message just on this one temptation right here. A man is supposed to love his own wife. Husbands, love your wives.

The devil is on a rampage against the home. he wants to break down the sanctity of marriage. He wants it to be normal for infidelity, and immorality to be present in the home. One night at a meeting I spoke about how that when I was a kid, we didn't have a TV in our home until I was twelve years old. One of the programs that I enjoyed the most was "Father Knows Best." Usually at the ending of the program, It would show the quiet evening hours, the master bedroom, two twin beds. Father got into one bed and mother got into the other bed. Now, I'm not too sure we should sleep in twin beds. This illustrates something right here. They each went to bed fully clothed in pajamas and with their own spouse. Some of you have cable just like I do, we don't have the premium channels and all that, but we have the basic package. But it was almost a rare thing to see a married couple going to bed together. Now it's just become a common soap opera ideal for people to be shacking up with anyone they are attracted to. Husbands, love your own wives.

By the way, if a man ever comes to you and he says to you, and you're not his wife, and he says, "Honey, you are the only one in world that understands me." Look out! Men are smart, he's playing on your emotions. "You are the only one that can be my savior. No one understands me. If you don't listen to me, no one else will."

Some men view the marriage relationship in such a narrow way that they are not willing to change anything they do. They're not willing to change their behavior because they're not willing to change their heart.

In one sense, it is an impossibility to change your own heart. God has to melt the heart so that it can be submissive to His will. If we are going to meet Him in the kingdom, and if the church is ever going to rise triumphantly, men will have to rise to be men, and love their wives as Christ loved the church.

Let me give you a challenge. I want every married man here to make a covenant with God this morning to touch his wife in a place that she hasn't been touched in a long time. What would happen if we begin to ask God for wisdom so that we might be able to know how to touch the very inner being, the heart of our wives. What would happen? I think we might just fulfill the Scripture because the standard here is for a man to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Do you know what that means? That means you love your wife even if it kills you. To love your wife the way Christ would love the church.

I would pray here today that there should be some men here who would want to join the church. To be ready for the kingdom of God, we need to make some changes. If you are here today and you are a man and you have not given you life to Christ and you've never been baptized, would you let me give you an urgent appeal this morning to do so? Under the magnifying glass of God's word, God wants you to be a reservoir of His blessings. God wants to bless you so you can in turn bless your family. But you have to get on the team. You have to make a decided effort to get on the team.

And I suppose it could be equally reversed. There could be some men here this morning who are trying to be the spiritual leader in their home. But the wife is just sort of weak and reserved and not really growing as Jesus would want you to grow. Why not exercise the privilege this morning of joining together in the modem that God wants marriage to be to become a team together for the glory of God?

There might be two people here, a husband and a wife, who know in your own heart that it's time to be serious about God and faith and your religion, and that if something doesn't change, your relationship is going to pull all to pieces. Don't let the devil take control. Give God a chance.

Opening Hymn: #620, On Jordan's Stormy Banks
Scripture: Ephesians 5:25-27

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