Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Building the Home on Christ Alone (Part 1)

There is no institution that is more attacked and misunderstood today than the family, and yet there is no institution that is more vital for the survival of our civilization. It is no wonder that every time you see someone baptized in the book of Acts, we are told that they were baptized with their entire households; except in the case of the Ethiopian eunech, who, for obvious reasons couldn't have a family. This is one of many indications we have in the Bible that the families these early Christians came from had a much greater loyalty to one another and a much greater influence on one another than any family seems to have today in the United States. Think about this for a moment. I remember talking to my wife's grandfather, who comes from a strong Dutch Reformed, Christian background. I am always amazed to hear him share experiences he had growing up in the Thirties. What really strikes me was the fact that his family formed his beliefs about practically everything. Whereas today, most youth are more influenced by the surrounding pagan culture than by anything their Christian parents have to say. If mom or dad sit down to have "the talk", or as we usually call it, "the birds and the bees talk", they're surprised when their kid responds with, "tell me something I don't know." Either parents are asleep, or a godless culture is beating them to the punch. In our grandparent's generation this was not the case. The nuclear family taught them virtually everything they knew about life without the interference of a fallen culture, much less a culture that has declared war on the home. If Christian parents do not take up the responsibility to be the number one influence shaping what their children believe, I can almost promise that our civilization will be lost. The declining life expectancy of our children, which the AMA has already predicted will be only one symptom of a world gone mad.

This series looks at God's blueprint for the home revealed in the Bible and will cover five areas. First, Marriage as God's own invention. Second, raising children to glorify God. Third, His responsibilities. Fourth, Her Responsibilities. Fifth, we will look at the Bible's wisdom in the area of finances and home economics (nothing to do with the elective you took in high school).

Today, I'm dealing with marriage as God's own invention. John Piper has said, "The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the human vision is, and has always been gargantuan . . . our own sin and selfishness and cultural bondage makes it almost impossible to feel the wonder of God’s purpose for marriage between a man and a woman." In this first session then, we are examining God's view of marriage. I think you are going to find that when we look at the biblical blueprint, it will prove to be radically different from how even church members have viewed it:

God is the architect:
Here are some questions that I think are important to ask in proving that Marriage is something God ordained, and therefore, must be viewed with the greatest reverence:

1. Was it Adam or God that determined it was not good for him to be alone? (Gen. 2:18) It was the Lord that created Adam (2:7). It was the Lord that placed him in the garden (2:15). And it was the Lord that decided that Adam should not be alone (2:18-22). This is key because it reminds us that God's intention is not for a man to be alone, but to share life with a life-long mate. Although there are times when God calls someone to life-long celibacy, as in the case of the Apostle Paul, that is the exception, not the rule. Anybody can be celibate, but God alone can make a marriage work the way He intended it to work.

2. Who was the first father to ever give away a bride in marriage? (Gen. 2:21-22)God: “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man" (2:22). Notice how delighted God is in his creation of woman. He is the one who presents Eve unto Adam as His very own creation. Any time a husband mistreats his wife or severs himself from her, he is saying, "God, what you made is not good enough."

3. Who first came up with this idea that a man and woman would become “one flesh”? (Genesis 2:24). In Matthew 19:3-7, The Pharisees asked Jesus: "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Notice here that God made them "male and female" for the purpose of this "one flesh" union. In other words, the very fact that you have a gender points to the fact that you were not created to live for your self and your own lusts; you were made for the one God has ordained for you, and therefore your life isn't first about you.

Jesus is telling us plainly that marriage is a covenant that is not to be broken. The number of marriages in the US during 2006 was 2,230,000 (US Dept. of Health & Human Services) The marriage rate was 7.5 per 1,000 total population. However, the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000 population. This represents almost half of all marriages (46 reporting States and D.C.). There can be no doubt that our societies' view of marriage does not live up to God's original design.

4. Who is it that performs this “one flesh” union? (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:6, Eph. 5:31) Notice that twice Jesus says: “they twain (two) shall be one flesh." We know from the passage in Matthew 19 that God performs this "one flesh" union, indicating bodly that he hates divorce. There are cases in which the Bible allows for divorce in the case of adultery and abandonment (see I Corinthians 7:10-16), but Jesus and Paul are explicit in telling us that divorce should always be the last option even in these cases. Christ accepted us when we were unacceptable, we too should exhibit the same love.

Christ & the Church was God's Inspiration:
5. What is marriage patterned after in the Bible? Paul says in Eph. 5:31-32, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."The context of this passage all the back at verse 22 is the marriage relationship. Paul is telling us here that a husband's love for his wife is suppose to be patterned after Christ's love for the church. Can you imagine the burden of responsibility this lays upon the shoulders of any husband? We as husbands must walk in the Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit if we ever hope to live up to this pattern, knowing that Christ's love was an unselfish love. Christ's love led him to lay down his life for us, and we are to lay down our lives for our wives by living for our wives, and putting their interests above our own (Eph. 2:25-27, Phi. 2:1-5).

6. How could Adam & Eve be naked and not ashamed? (Gen. 2:25)

A. There was no shame in nakedness because there was no human flaws. God himself declared that that his creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Imagine life before the Fall; there was no aging, no atrophy, no zits, sunspots, liver marks or disease. The human body was in its original, perfect state, leaving the man and the woman to be naked and not ashamed.

B. There was no shame because love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8, I Cor. 13:5). The second reason that Adam & Eve was naked and not ashamed is more much more important than the first because you can in fact be perfect and yet still be rejected by your spouse. Think about this. God was perfect; there was no flaw in Him, and yet Eve still rejected God and his law to write her own self-law. Would she not also in time, reject Adam if his will ever crossed her will? The reason why they were naked and not ashamed is that love covers a multitude of sins. Because Eve was
perfect, Adam would have no need to be ashamed even if he were impefect. This is because Eve would always put his needs above her own, and always accept him regardless of whether he remained handsome, or whether he waxed old; whether he was himself faithful, or unfaithful.

7. What brought about the need for a covering? (Read Gen. 3:7-10-11)

A. Adam & Eve were no longer trustworthy. As soon as Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, she declared that she would now put herself first, God and everything else, second. Adam knows this and says in his heart, "she's put God down; she’ll be likely to put me down in order to build herself up." This unfaithfulness to God will breed unfaithfulness to everyone else that no longer agrees with her own self-law, regardless of how perfect or imperfect they are. Remember, when you drive a wedge between you and God, you drive a wedge between you and every other human alive. If she has declared that she is not faithful to God, she may not be faithful to me. This is why 2nd. Marriages so often don’t work. The affections are inevitably split.
B. The second reason Adam needs a covering is that no longer is Eve not trustworthy. He has to confess, "I am no longer trustworthy." Even if Eve were the most faithful person in the world, Adam would still be ashamed because he is proven unfathful. This is true for all of us.

We can be easily hurt by those we love the most. But whether or not those around us are trustworthy or not isn't the deciding factor in whether we remain trustworthy. The fact is, we are all untrustworthy based on our own sin. The light of truth exposes the ugliness of our sin even as the holy voice of God exposed the ugliness of Adam's sin. For this reason, we need a covering. The innocence of nakedness does not jive with the guiltiness that comes from sin and a defiled conscience. Their vain attempts to cover themselves was the first example of hypocrisy. John Piper says it was also the world's first snow-job.

8. Why clothes?

Clothes are not meant to make people think of what is under them. I Timothy 2:9 tells us to stay modestly clothed, not to draw attention to the flesh, but to deflect attention onto God. Clothes are meant to make people think of what’s not under them. Diligent hands ready to serve others rather than self. Beautiful feet that carry the Gospel of peace. A shining face that glows with joy unspeakable because we've met with God.

9. How should your marriage look like Christ and the Church?

A. Remember, Christ loved us when we were unlovable sinners. Therefore, we are called to love our spouse even when they seem unlovable (Eph. 5:25). He accepts us based on grace, not works. We too, should accept our spouse with the same grace. This does not mean that we overlook their sins. It means that we call them to repentance, all the while willing to forgive them of their sins and accept them as Christ accepts us (Deuteronomy 7:6-7, Ephesians 2:7-8).

B. Christ is reshaping us into the perfect bride. We too ought to influence our spouse through our own imitation of Christ to become more like Christ(Eph. 5:26-27). This means that we will show them Christ not just with words, but with a life that backs them up.

C. We should be Christ to our spouse by esteeming them as better than ourselves and by putting their needs above our own (read Phi. 2:1-5). We are to love them as we love our own flesh (Eph. 5:30). We are called to exhibit a love that only Christ can enable us to have because we are called to love them as Christ loved the church. Remember that if we are not loving our wives as Christ loved the church, then we are portraying a false image of Christ to the world. It is no wonder that the world does not know Christ when so many husbands have no clue that their responsibility is to be a model Christ. Let us press into God's kingdom with a holy violence that we may receive grace to live up to this solemn calling He has placed upon us.

Next week, we will pick up with part two of Building the Home on Christ Alone, which will deal with the Bible's prescriptions on how to raise up children to glorify God.

1 comment:

mike said...

Glad to see you've updated your blog! I'll be praying for you this weekend.