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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Making Inside Your Four Walls Christian

Chuck Swindall told the story of Suzy, who was only four years old. She had just heard the story of “Snow White” for the first time, and she was eager to tell her mother. Excitedly, she told of Prince Charming arriving on his beautiful white steed, and of him leaning over to plant a kiss on Snow White to awaken her.

“And do you know what happened next?” Suzy asked her Mommy.

“Yes,” said her mommy. “They lived happily ever after.”

“No,” responded Suzy with a frown. “They got married.”

Depending upon your perspective, there might be a lot of truth in that. Getting married and living happily ever after are hardly synonymous. The ongoing 50% divorce rate proves that. Yes, marriage as an institution is in tough shape. As one commentator put it, “Our generation is watching the death of marriage and the family as we know it.” Both Christians and non-Christians recognize that fact.

U.S. News and World Report, in a 1984 special edition, ran a lead article entitled, “Why Family Will Have a New Definition.” In it they wrote:

“Over the next five decades, experts say, society will redefine its concept of the family. . . Serial marriages, a growing trend even now, will be a normal and planned for part of adulthood. Tomorrow’s children will grow up with several sets of parents and an assortment of half and step siblings. . . .Already it is predicted that by 1990 up to 50% of all children will have experienced divorce and remarriage in their families.”
Who could deny it? This article is so accurate, it almost sounds like Biblical prophecy. James Dobson, formerly of Focus on the Family, has done a great job of documenting this appalling trend in the family. Sadly, this is true of Christian families as well.

But is there no hope? Quite assuredly there is. If marriage is in trouble, it is because we have abandoned God’s requirements as outlined in Scripture, and we have followed the world’s lead instead. The answer, then, is simply to return to God’s Word and follow God’s instructions. The God who created marriage also gave us an instruction manual – the Bible.

When a marriage is in trouble, every time one is in trouble, one or both parties in the marriage isn’t following God’s directions. But to follow God’s directions, we must know them. We must understand them. And we must obey them. That is the purpose of this blog. It is to teach what God has to say about the family. But you must make the commitment to obey what God says.

We can talk all day about how bad the world is, or how bad other people’s marriages and homes are, but we can’t do a thing about them. Our country is in a mess. It is morally bankrupt. The political parties are deadlocked. And we each have only one vote, which doesn’t mean much amongst so many.

But there is one place we do have complete control over, and that is the most important place of all. We control our own homes. If we are upset about the culture and want to make it “Christian;” if we want to see it have good laws, and good art, and good education, and good entertainment; we can start at home where we set the rules and enforce them.

You can choose to allow only God-honoring art and literature into your home. You control which magazines and newspapers come in. If you don’t like the content of one, don’t subscribe to it. You control the entertainment that comes into your homes. TVs and radios have this marvelous thing called a power button. You can turn the thing off. You are in control.

In other words, we can make our homes holy. We can set them apart for God. Inside our four walls there should never be any pornography, drugs, alcohol, foul language, punk rock, STDs, unfaithful spouses, and no unwanted children. NEVER! And there should be no troubled marriages.

Is your home what you want it to be? Will you commit to making it that? Your commitment is the key ingredient. If you won’t commit, there isn’t any reason to continue reading these blogs, because the directions found in the Word of God outlined here will do you no good. If, on the other hand, you will commit, perhaps you will find something of value as you continue reading. But if you won’t commit, you are in for a rocky road – guaranteed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Marriage - For God's Glory, Not Our Gratification

Last time I presented one of the primary reasons God created marriage. Today, I will present another. God intends our marriages to portray symbolically the relationship of Christ to His bride, the church. You see this most clearly in the long passage of Ephesians 5:22-33, which happens to be the most extensive teaching on marriage in Scripture.

Ephesians 5:22-24 talks to the wife:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
Why should the wife submit to her husband? Because the church is to submit Christ, her bridegroom. The wife represents the church, so that is her role. Christ is the head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife.

Ephesians 5:25-27 talks to the husband:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

Why should the husband love his wife sacrificially, even to the point of being willing to die for her? Because Christ died for the church, His bride. The husband represents Christ, so sacrificial love is his role. Leading her spiritually is his role as he attempts to sanctify and cleanse her by leading her into the Word. He must loving lead his wife as her head, because Christ is the head of the church.

Do you see this? If not, Paul spells it out quite clearly in Ephesians5:32, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Paul is not really talking about the husband and the wife and how they interact. He is explaining the relationship between Christ and the church. The husband and wife are earthly representations, types of that heavenly relationship.

If we understand that, it will raise our marital relationships to new and higher levels. We aren’t just two people fumbling around trying to get some satisfaction out of life. We are supposed to show the world what it is like to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. How important can our marriages get? It is critical that we do it right.

Our marriages are meant to glorify God. Marriage was not created for our gratification (even though that is a wonderful part of marriage given to us by the act of a loving and gracious God), but for His. All of creation is for His glory.

You can see this in the King James translation of Revelation 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Did you see? Not for our pleasure, but for His.

The best definition of marriage I have ever found is this: “Marriage is a covenant designed by God to show forth God’s image and carry out God’s plan.” How true!

Do you view your marriage that way?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Reason God Created Marriage

We’ve looked at the process by which God created Adam a suitable helpmeet in our study of Genesis 2, but why did He do it? Or for that matter, why would God join them together in marriage? This is the very point where so many people are mistaken.

Most people would answer the question by quoting from Genesis 2:18, where God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” and they would surmise that Adam was lonely. This must be the reason for the creation of the woman, they would postulate. “Aha!” they say. “Adam was lonely. Therefore, God must have created marriage for companionship.” They might extend the answer to include sexual intimacy.

Jay Adams, for one, takes that position. He writes:

“The reason for marriage is to solve the problem of loneliness. Marriage was established because Adam was alone, and that was not good. Companionship, therefore, is the essence of marriage.”
That sounds reasonable, but is it true? No! I disagree with that answer. Yes, God did say, “It is not good that man should be alone,” but why did He say it? Was it really because Adam was lonely?

No! The reason God gave was that Adam needed a helper, not a playmate or a buddy. If all Adam needed was a companion, dogs were around. Rover could make a good companion. A woman’s best friend is a diamond, they claim, while a man’s best friend is a dog. That doesn’t sound fair since we have to feed ours, and we have to pay for theirs. But Adam could have spent time with his dog.

Or, if it was only to solve loneliness, God could have made another man for Adam to go bowling with, or fishing. It could have been Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve, or it could have been his good buddy Frank. That could have cured his loneliness.

But Adam wasn’t drooping around all overcome by loneliness. How could he be? He met with God face to face regularly. They would walk together in the cool of the day. Adam was alone, not lonely. He needed a suitable helper, a woman comparable to him.

Remember? God gave Adam a task, a task he couldn’t do alone. Genesis 1:28 says:

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
Adam had a task that, without Eve, he couldn’t fulfill. Adam couldn’t “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth” alone.

The book of Malachi reinforces this reason for the creation of the woman. Malachi 2:15 says,

“But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.”
This obviously refers back to creation where Genesis 2:24 says,
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Why did God join the man and the woman, Adam and Eve as well as every man and woman, in marriage? God “seeks godly offspring.” Adam couldn’t produce them alone. It required his suitable helpmeet, his Eve. Marriage has and will always be, in God’s plan, one man and one woman united as one for life for the purpose of bearing and raising children.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Crafting Adam a Helpmeet

God had made a promise that he would fix Adam’s problem. In Genesis 2:18, He said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” He did that by administering divine anesthetic so He could take a part of Adam’s side. This portion of Adam’s flesh He fashioned into a woman.

But this is surprising. Wouldn’t it seem like God would make her in the same way He had formed Adam – out of the dust of the ground? But He didn’t. Rather, He built her out of the body of Adam. The woman was not only made for the man, but from the man. So Adam could truly say, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).

But this makes the creation of Eve a great picture (a type, if you will) of the way Christ created His bride, the church. Think about it. Wasn’t Christ’s side also pierced on Calvary as Jesus paid the price to redeem His bride? Adam’s sleep is a picture of death, just as Christ slept in the grave after He died on the Cross for us. And both times, it was to create the bride. Adam’s side was rent to create Eve, as was Christ’s side pierced to purchase His bride. As it says in Ephesians 5:30, “For we [His bride – the church] are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” Ah, just like Adam said of Eve. How precious is our bride.

But, what was Eve like? Obviously, she was created in the likeness of God, so she must have been perfect. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” They both, Adam and Eve, were created in God’s image. They were equal beings. Oh, not created identical, or even with the same job description, but they had equal worth.

Each sex is mystically different, yet each incomplete as far as the image of God is concerned, but they are fitted together to make the perfect whole - the male as the protector and provider, the female as the nurturer, the man to represent God’s justice, and the woman to represent God’s love. Together, they show a complete picture of who God is. A task we are incapable of alone.

When a marriage is torn apart by divorce, the couple reflects more of the image of Satan. They reflect his jealousy, his bitterness, his destructiveness and irresponsibility. But joined together, the two halves make that perfect whole, that complete image of God.

None of the animals had been formed in the image of God. That is why none of them were found to be a suitable helpmeet for Adam. Adam couldn’t even find a missing link out there to mate with since they didn’t exist.

But how old was Eve? We assume that God created her a full-grown woman of say twenty to thirty years old. God wouldn’t have brought a baby for Adam to marry, now would He? Oh, but she had just been created. She is brand new, but she appears old. Isn’t the evolutionist’s problem? They can’t fathom a God who could make in six days a fully mature, fully functioning universe with the appearance of age.

Imagine if you gathered all the modern experts and sent them back in a time machine to day seven of creation. The geologist would declare, “That rock is billions of years old because it takes that long for nature to form a rock.” No! That rock was made last Sunday on the first day of creation.

The forester would look at a huge tree, cut it down to count the rings, and declare, “That tree is 160 years old.” No! It was made last Tuesday on day three of creation.

The Physician would look at Adam, scratch his head wondering why there was no belly-button, and declare, “This man is 25 years old.” No! He is one day old, having been created on Friday, the sixth day of creation. Do you see how ridiculous evolutionary dating is?

But God had fulfilled His promise. God had made Adam a suitable helpmeet, one perfectly suited to complete and complement him. Praise God for his great blessing to men, the creation of the woman.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Divine Surgery - The Creation of the Woman

God needed to make good on His promise. He had said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and He had promised to make him a suitable helper. Adam has spent the day studying and naming the animals, and has come up empty. Not a one of them is like him. God must act. God must fulfill His promise. And He does.

Genesis 2:21 says,

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.”

“Come here, Adam,” God says, “We’re going to apply a little divine anesthetic and do some surgery.” And God took “one of his ribs.” That’s actually a bad translation. Of all the times the Hebrew word is used in Scripture, this is the only time this is translated as rib. Every time it is translated as side. A side includes the bone of the rib, but also flesh and blood. God took all the elements he would need to fashion a new human. Thus, Adam could truly say in Genesis 2:23, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

What did God do with the flesh He took from the side of Adam? He formed a woman. Genesis2:22-23 says,

22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

What a tender, touching scene. God the Creator brings his two crowning achievements together and performs the first marriage – marriage as He intended: one man to one woman. And what was Adam’s response? Using a loose translation, it was something like, “Oh, boy! This is it!” Adam might have said, “Eve, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.” And she was. God had come through for Adam in the most perfect way.