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Founders leader advocates complementarian Gospel-driven marriage

July 20, 2004

What do the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the institution of marriage have to do with each other? Everything . . .

What do the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the institution of marriage have to do with each other?

Everything according to Tom Ascol, executive director of Founders Ministries, Inc. and pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla. In his 18 years as pastor at Grace, he has sought to teach biblical gender roles in the home, not through a legalistic list of ‘how-tos,’ but through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"(Gospel-driven marriage) is not just ‘do this, do this, do this,’ but [it is] looking at the fact that Jesus Christ loves the church because the church is His bride," Ascol said. "As the husband, I am the bride of Christ and I need to see myself in that light and then take my cue in relating to my wife.

"The purpose of marriage is to be a lived-out parable of the relationship between Christ and the church. That puts it in a different light. It gives you a different motivation. It gives you power, it gives you hope, [through] the fact that Jesus has died for you to fulfill your calling as His ambassador, His representative in all your relationships."

Grace Baptist recently held a conference featuring Founders leader and veteran pastor Fed Malone on the topic of the Gospel and marriage. Ascol says that relationships in general and the marriage union in particular provide the main theatre in which the vast majority of spiritual warfare is waged.

Ascol preaches verse-by-verse exposition and when he arrived at Eph. 5-6 a few years ago, the opportunity arose naturally to address issues such as submission and headship within the home.

When Paul seems to make a transition to writing on spiritual warfare in 6:10 after writing on relationships within the home, Ascol says the apostle is not changing subjects but is fleshing out the battlefield upon which spiritual warfare is most likely to take place: the home.

"Paul is addressing spiritual warfare in light of what he has just taught about these spheres of relationships that we all live in, and the main theater for spiritual warfare is our relationships," he said.

"And so the reason I believe Paul says what he does in verses 10-12 (of chapter six) and addresses spiritual armor in verses 13 and following is because he knows that he has just told husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and he knows they can’t do that. That’s a fight. It’s a battle and a lot of husbands give up.

"They (husbands) may say ‘you don’t know my wife, you don’t know my background, you don’t know the baggage I carry.’ Of course it’s hard because it is a battle. You need to see yourself as a soldier and you are in a fight and realize that your enemy is not flesh and blood. Your enemy is the devil. He doesn’t want you to have this kind of marriage."

Grace Baptist holds firmly to the complementarian view of roles within the church, Ascol said. While Ascol says the church is clear on the position of God-ordained gender roles, Grace Baptist takes an approach that is affirming of the numerous vital roles women may play within the church.

"We have tried to take the approach of, rather than looking at what a women can’t do in church, looking at the multitude of ministries that a woman can have in church," he said. "And we have some wonderful, godly women who serve in a variety of capacities. And so I don’t think any of our women feel slighted."

So critical are the contemporary issues facing families, Founders Ministries will address the issue next summer in its 23rd annual national conference to be held July 12-15, 2005, in Ormond Beach, Fla. The conference theme will be "The Gospel and the Family." Speakers will include authors Ted and Paul Tripp.

"Founders very much holds to the complementarian view because of our confessional identity, our stance on Scripture as authoritative, and our lack of embarrassment over any of the teaching of Scripture," Ascol said.

"We are addressing it next year because of the incredible need. If a man’s family is not right, it doesn’t matter how much doctrine he’s got right, he’s going to disqualify himself from ministry and we need as much good, solid instruction on this subject as we can get. The Tripps have done us a great favor in their writings."

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