When I begin premarital counseling with a couple in our church, one of the first things we talk about is the purpose of the marriage covenant. I usually astonish the couple when I explain that their marriage is not primarily about them. After the initial shock, the young couple usually just looks at me with blank stares. I then explain that marriage is first and foremost about God and His kingdom (Eph. 5:30–32). We spend some time talking about the creation ordinance to be fruitful and multiply, and I explain that their marriage is intended to bring glory to God as each fulfills his and her covenant role in the relationship. I explain that they are getting married not just to live under the same roof with the same last name, but that their marriage is to reflect the relationship of Christ and His Bride (Eph. 5:25–29). When they understand that truth, they have a good foundation on which to build a loving and full marriage.
When we begin to realize that salvation is not primarily about us, but about God’s kingdom and His glory, only then are we able to have a right understanding of our salvation. We are not Christians so that we can merely live under the same roof as other Christians, or for the mere reason to be called a “Christian.” We became Christians because God accepted us by adopting us into His family. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but God the Father made us alive in Christ (Acts 10:35). Though this is quite simple, it is confusing to many who have been duped into thinking they have somehow accepted God as their Father. However, the Word of God is clear; it is not that we have accepted God; rather, He has accepted us into His family. The apostle Paul writes: “…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:3–6 NKJV).
God accepts us into His family (Ps. 19:14; Rom. 14:3; 1 Tim. 2:3; 1 Peter 2:5), and if it is God who accepts us as His adopted children, it is God who keeps us so that we might be holy and blameless coram Deo. Jesus Christ is our Great Shepherd, and we are His sheep who hear His voice, who follow Him, and for whom He laid down His life so that we would be adopted by the Father only as a result of the Son’s perfect, and completely acceptable, life and death (John 10:1–11).