I've found that marriages break up not long after people leave their church. It is almost like a gateway drug. You break one solemn covenant (the one with God), it opens the door for you to break the covenant you have with your spouse.
In our day skipping out on a church is a commonplace occurrence. Most people do not realize how henious a sin that is in the eyes of God. To break those vows wherein you knit yourself to a local congregation, is like amputating part of the body of Christ.
Most don't see it this way though. They simply up and go without much thought about it. We leave churches if we are not happy. We have no interest in confronting the sins of the members or leadership. We have no desire to be iron sharpening iron. We just want a place that will suit our needs and make us happy.
Worse yet, people bail out on church altogether. They make lame excuses like, there are no Calvinistic or Reformed churches around here. The churches are just too Arminian. We'll tell ourselves that it is better to have no church than any church that doesn't live up to our expectations.
You see the connection between such attitudes and what happens in a marriage. We've already seared our conscience. We've already opened the vein and let the blood start flowing. Oaths and covenants have already been diluted.
We broke covenant once, and it was good. We tasted of the fruits of sin and now we are ready for more. We are ready now to leave our spouse.
After all, he/she doesn't live up to my expectations. There has got to be a better fit out there for my tastes. Why fight to save this relationship? Neither of us is happy. We can be happier if we just go our separate ways.
So just remember, breaking faith with your church brethren puts you in a dangerous place. It opens the door to divorce.
I just listened to a lecture by Cal Thomas at a past Ligonier conference and he touched on the notion of divorce. He stated that much of the cause of divorce in our day is due to the fact that we have been fed the lie that we deserve to be happy.
He went on to explain that our entitlement attitudes, which are so prevalent in our culture, have seeped into our marriages. We think, "I'm not happy. God wants me to be happy. So I must get a divorce."
Thomas also expressed that love is not a feeling, it is a choice. You choose to love. You choose to repent of your sins. You choose to resist your desire to hate. You love by choosing to obey God through submission or loving leadership.
I couldn't agree more with his synopsis. In marriage we vow to have and to hold "for better and for worse." There is no guarantee that we will be happy. We pledge to love and seek the good of our spouse despite not being happy. The feelings will come and go. The vows will remain binding till death do you part.
The editing process can be quite painful sometimes. I had written this as the conclusion to this week's sermon on divorce and remarriage. But it is getting revamped. I wanted to preserve it though. The exhortation is still valid & useful...
Fourthly, and finally, let me give a word to all of you. If you gain anything from this passage, it should be this: God hates divorce. And we ought not to let our marriages deteriorate. Instead, we should do everything within our power to love our spouse, cling to her, help her, cherish her, and build her up in the Lord.
When Elizabeth and I were doing our pre-maritial counseling, our pastor gave us very good advice. He said, “Divorce is not an option. Do not even think of it. Do not let it even enter your mind.”
This was well said, and it is advice that I give also to you. Do not let it even enter your mind. If you are having trouble with your marriage, seek help. The elders here are more than willing to offer you counsel. And if we cannot, we will find someone who can.
What’s more, do not wait until things have virtually bottomed out and you are calling us as a last resort. Too many marriages end because couples wait too long and do not avail themselves to the options that are available to them.
So do not wait. Even now, seek to give honor to the Lord and cultivate a thriving marriage. Confess your sins, and let not another day go by where you make void your vows.
You have pledged to have and to hold this person. Before God you said you would take this person to be yours until death do you part. And so, what God has brought together, let no man separate.
A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful. In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. Pro 14:25-26
Exegeting Scripture involves looking at all the different parts of God’s word. You whittle each line down and examine each and every word. Each phrase is scrutinized. But as you look at the individual trees (and even individual leaves!), you should never forget to step back and see the forest.
Each of these proverbs contains good lessons. You can learn a lot from each line. But it is important to notice their juxtaposition too.
We could talk about the excellency of a truthful witness. We could enshrine the bold advocate of Biblical truth as one who is a savior. And we could talk about how wonderful it is to know the fear of God and possess a good self esteem (confidence). But you have to understand that these ideas are not separate and independent of each other. They are intertwined and the first is absolutely dependent upon the second.
A truthful witness saves lives. He is one who stands up against the tide of unbelief and is willing to be known as a kook. He’s not afraid to speak out against the issues of his day, despite being the minority—perhaps even the lone voice. But how is it that he has that boldness? His confidence comes from his fear of God. When you are not anchored in the fear of God, you will end up pandering and capitulating to the masses.
Think of Athanasius. He was exiled three times for his standing against the rank heresy of Arianism. There is no doubt that there was the temptation to succumb to the falsehood that was becoming more and more mainstream. Life in exile was certainly not a pleasant thing. Yet, despite his persecution, he remained faithful to the word of God.
Martin Luther is a good example too. We romanticize Luther’s life. We tend to forget that people didn’t much care for his speaking out against purgatory, the Roman establishment, and such. We forget that he cowered at times in his home, to the point of being almost mad.
What was it that made these stalwarts so persevering? It was their fear of God.
Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, think of the Apostle Peter. He betrayed Christ three times. What was the grand pressure that he faced? It wasn't anything much. He got rolled over by a little girl. Why did he cave? Why did he lack the confidence to speak up? Because he didn’t know the fear of God.
What about our day? What would it be like if you spoke up against the sacred cows of our day? If you dared to pipe up about feminism, and talk about things like Titus 2 or 2 Tim. 2:14. Or if you had a crazy thought like: You know, children are leaving the faith in droves and becoming atheists and agnostics almost en mass. Perhaps it is because they are going to schools that are atheistic and agnostic? Maybe we should do something completely off the wall and reconsider the way we raise and educate them.
What would it be like if you attempted to broach these kinds of issues? Imagine the kind of blowback you’d get. I would suppose some of your jobs would be on the line. You’d likely be thought of as a kook. You might not be physically exiled like Athanasius, but you might experience an exile of sorts as people leave your church or say things like, “there goes Crazy Uncle Matt again!”
That’s why the fear of the Lord must be your confidence. The best summary of what that is goes like this: The fear of God is when your biggest fear is breaking God’s command and offending him. God is so loved, so enjoyed, so reverenced, so enjoyed that His will, and it alone, is what matters.
Only when He comes first will you be able to be a savior...and an oddball.
Every culture has its temples. The are places of worship and learning. They are places where the gods of the age are enshrined and promoted.
Above all, they are places where the priests and prophets promise a future and a glorious golden age of prosperity.
Today's temples are the government schools. They worship the god of self and espouse the doctrines of Darwin, Rousseau, Marx, and Sartre. They posit that their tolerance, materialism, and existentialism will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.
Unfortunately, many Christians have believed the lie and been duped into thinking that these sacred places really are the key to the future. Instead of recognizing the importance of fearing God and building a world and life view on the basis of Scripture, they rally to the synagogues of agnosticism and atheism.
But without the fear of God, they are temples of doom. Those who hate Him (as they demonstrate in their epistemology & metaphysics) love death. How can the hopelessness of existentialism produce a future? It posits that there is no future for which we live! Darwin himself saw the end of his worldview and slid into a despairing mental state! Without Christ at the center, there is no future.
This afternoon I have opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects: My kiddos! My friend Mark Hamilton is allowing me to speak to his medical ethics class at Ashland University. The topic will be that of adoption and my experiences as an adoptive father.
This class comes as a fitting end to their section on abortion. Mark is to be commended for his work with the students on this issue. He has done an excellent job setting forth a Biblical understanding of conception and the nature of human life. He has also shown the 180 Movie and another documentary detailing the nature of horror of abortion.
An outline of my lecture is provided here: Issues & Experiences in Adoption
In a day where sex has become almost synonymous with sleaze and fornication, it is important to reiterate The Sacred Glory of Sexual Intimacy. This month's newsletter is dedicated to just that very thing!
In this issue we'll talk about the God ordained joy of sexual intimacy and how the Scripture encourages couples to have an exuberant sex life. You will even discover how a couple's sanctification can increase the fulfillment they experience in the bedroom.
In sum, this issues magnifies the good gift of the union that God bestows upon a man and woman in the context of marriage. If anything, it serves as a reminder that we are to always be intoxicated with the love of our spouse and rejoice always in them!
I believe in believer's baptism. Whenever someone enters the covenant for the first time, through repentance and profession of faith, they must be baptized. Once they enter, the promises of God extend to their children. As such, these children ought to be marked out as belonging to the Lord's through baptism.
Similarly, in the OT, when a Gentile became a follower of YHWH, he had to be circumcised. Once that was done, all of his household (children and slaves), became covenantally united to the Lord. All were members of God's church (Israel), and liable to either blessings or curses.
In the book of Acts, we see a transition stage. The covenant sign had changed from circumcision to baptism, as Col. 2 and Matt. 28 indicate. Thus, all those who profess faith in the book of Acts must be baptized. Yet Peter expresses the continuity of God's dealing with families when he says that "the promise is to you and to your children." He echoes the words of God in Genesis 12 and 17 purposefully.
Peter's testimony is not alone. Paul backs him when he indicates that the children of believer's are "holy." That is, they have been distinguished from the children of unbelievers. They are "set apart to God," and, being so, ought to have the sign that marks them as such.
But prior to the Apostle's, we have the words and deeds of Jesus himself. Jesus recognized the little children (infants) as members of his kingdom when he told his disciples to "Let the babies come to me, and do not forbid them, for such is the kingdom of heaven." He went on to express that this kingdom membership cannot remain solely one of physical birth or parental heritage. True membership must also be accompanied by faith, for "one must become like a little child." In sum, Christ spoke of both the external and internal covenants in virtually the same breath.
This phenomena has a crude parallel in our American citizenship. Upon birth we are acknowledged as members of this nation/state by means of an official birth certificate. We are to be raised to be faithful patriots, and at the proper time we must express our adherence to this kingdom publicly (through voting, for example).
Prior to his ascension to the Father's right hand, Jesus also gave the apostles the charge go and make disciples. How does one "make a disciple?" It is through the dual works of teaching them all that Christ has commanded and assigning to them the name of the Triune God in baptism. Since we still have the command to "impress these things upon our children, talk about them as we lie down and get up and walk along the way," we must recognize these children as disciples through baptism.
Covenant baptism, like it's Old Testament counterpart of circumcision, is a sign and seal to the child. It is the visible manifestation of God's promise "I will be your God, you will be my people." This baptism does not save a child, but it does contain a lively and true promise. So the child always carries with him this reminder and he should recognize that he must respond with faith and obedience all his days.
His greater privilege also implies greater responsibility. If he rebels, he is judged with stricter judgment--for he enjoyed more light and more proximity to God & His blessing.
"If they cannot partake worthily without being able duly to discern the sanctity of the Lord's body, why should we stretch out poison to our young children instead of vivifying food?"1
From time to time I'm asked about books that are "must read's". Just today I was asked what I would recommend for a high school home education reading list. There may even be an interest in doing a homeschool class on one/some of them. So, if you are a homeschooler, give it a think.
And now, without any further adieu...the list that I fully endorse:
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