For those who were not at our church service yesterday in place of a sermon we had a wedding ceremony of a couple that had previously been married, divorced, and yesterday were re-married after 5 years of being apart. It was better than a sermon! We were watching a sermon!
This is the GOSPEL lived out (i.e., reconciliation and redemption for following God’s principles).
After the service yesterday there were several questions about divorce and re-marriage. I would like to address those so that if there is anyone out there with the same questions we can cover those scenarios:
(1) First, if you have made a mistake in the following areas you need to know that it is not the end of the world. You do not lose your salvation or anything like that and at the same time you need to know that the Pastors and Elders are here to help you understand the Scriptures and navigate you through your circumstances with love, grace, and accountability (Gal. 6:1-2).
(2) Second, all the following is to be prayerfully considered, especially before getting married so that you don’t set yourself up for problems down the road.
(3) God’s best is divorce would not happen (Malachi 2:16 & Matthew 19:3-6), but GOD allows it in certain circumstances (Matthew 19:7-8 & 1 Cor. 7:15).
(4) Divorce is allowable by Jesus when one has committed adultery; at that time the one who has remained pure is released, but God’s best is they would work through things (Matthew 5:31-32 & 19:3-8).
(5) Divorce is allowable if an unbeliever is married to a believer and the unbeliever decides to leave, the believer is released (1 Cor. 7:10-16). But in this passage, especially if there are children, it is God’s best for the couple to remain married.
(6) If a couple divorces, they are to be reconciled or remain un-married unless adultery has happened in which case the one who has not committed adultery is released (Matthew 5:31-32 & 19:3-8).
(7) When divorce happens between Christians and no one commits adultery before divorce, the couple is still obliged to their vows and if, while divorced, one of the two has sex or gets married to someone else, then at that moment adultery has happened and the one who has remained pure is released (Matthew 5:31-32 & 19:3-8).
(8) If someone has divorced and then married someone else, remain faithful to the current marriage, don’t get re-divorced (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
The couple had problems, there was no adultery, but they divorced, they remained unmarried and worked through their problems and were re-married following 1 Cor. 7:10-11. This is truly a praise. Please pray they remain married.
When GOD wrote the 10 Commandments in the OT in Ex. 20, the reason there were 603 more laws on top of the 10 was partially for the purpose of giving people instructions about how to apply the 10 Commandments. This can get really complicated and confusing, so when Jesus had a conversation with an Expert in the Law about the most important commandment, the conclusion was: (1) Love GOD with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and (2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus was able to expand on this a little more when He gave basic instructions about what is behind the Law in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In those chapters Jesus was not just saying murder or adultery or stealing is wrong, but the attitude and heart condition behind those sins is where it all begins.
So how does this relate to the shooting at the Batman movie? Think about the worldview that is taught in those movies. If Jesus is saying that the heart attitude is really what is behind murder or hatred, then shouldn’t we check our hearts? Shouldn’t we guard our hearts and eyes and our soul? Wouldn’t this be the way to truly love GOD with our heart, soul, mind, and strength by not only not murdering or committing adultery but by also not thinking about it or seeing it? Didn’t we learn about this a few weeks ago when missionary in training Noe Martinez preached from Luke 11 that the eyes are a gateway to the soul.
I read a report that the shooter who killed 12 and wounded 58 allegedly said, “I am the Joker” referring to the Joker in the Batman movies who is Psycho. In Batman 1 & 2, wasn’t he sadistic enough to do something like what happened in Aurora Colorado yesterday at about 12:30am?
My point – sometimes reality imitates art.
We need to guard our hearts, eyes, minds, and souls.
I have this book called “Jesus Driven Ministry” by Ajith Fernando (a contemporary of Ravi Zacharias), in it the author says churches ought to develop a “Theology of Groaning.” We evangelicals often focus on growth, worship, and the power of God, but we rarely focus on another side of the Christian life à groaning and lamentation.
Look at what it says about groaning in Romans 8:23 – “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
About this verse and the reality of life Ajith Fernando says, “Our thirst coming from the foretaste of heaven will clash with the reality of living in a fallen world, and the result is that we will groan sometimes.”(Jesus Driven Ministry, P. 141). We face sickness, death, pain, rejection, and all the problems of living in this fallen world, and yet we have the hope of Jesus pointing us to what is to come. But often times we focus so much on the positives of the Christian life we don’t allow for the pain of reality to be spoken between Christians in church or church settings. Ajith points us to being biblically balanced by developing a theology of lamentation and groaning.
A description of a biblical lament goes something like this, “God, I am hurting; and, God, everyone else is laughing. And, God, You are not helping very much either; and how long is it going to go on?” (OT scholar Christ Wright)
As Fernando puts it, “Those who have a theology of lament will have a place for emphasizing honest expressions of struggle. And that place can exist alongside an emphasis on growth, power, and praise. I think that sometimes we are so eager for growth that we have become like advertisers who give only the positive side of the product and avoid talking about its drawbacks. I find that nowadays advertisers are required to read out the negative aspects of products. And they usually do it softly and fast. I think many churches have not caught on to that practice yet! They know that people will be attracted to the church if the message presented shows all the wonderful things that God can do. For marketing reasons the problems Christians face are neglected. And that has happened for so long that many people do not have a place for groaning in their understanding of the Christian life.”
“When some talk about their problems in this environment, the other Christians don’t know what to do. Sometimes those who share honestly face rejection and blame for not being good Christians. Therefore, they learn to live without talking about their problem, unless it is the type that could become a prayer concern and be exposed through prayer to God’s wonder-working power. So they will ask for prayer for healing and guidance and provision of a job or funds, but not for overcoming a hot temper, a bad habit, or discouragement.”
“In a sense this situation gives evidence of a defective understanding of grace. The biblical understanding is that grace is so great that Christians do not need to fear facing up to their sin. Indeed sin is never justified in the Bible and therefore must always be condemned. But grace is greater than sin, and grace cannot be applied unless we admit that we have sinned. Therefore, if we desire the fullness of God’s grace in our lives, we will be eager to confess our sins so as to open the door to a rich experience of grace.” (Jesus Driven Ministry, p. 142)
Need I say more?
So I was reading a commentary on Luke 12:1-12 (in which Jesus warned His disciples – and therefore was warning you and me – about hypocrisy, that God knows all, and that we will be held accountable to Him for living for Him and acknowledging Him vs. denying Jesus and the Holy Spirit for the sake of our reputation to please men) and I ran across two quotes that sank deep into my soul that I wanted to share with you:
“When Christianity was made the official religion in Rome in the fourth century, the church became socially and politically acceptable. People with halfhearted faith flocked to churches that could no longer disciple them. Soon the word ‘Christian’ became meaningless. And when the empire that sanctioned it collapsed, the church nearly went down too.
“In the Middle Ages, the unholy alliance of church and state resulted in bloody crusades and scandalous inquisitions. And in our own day, one of the most inglorious examples can be found in the church’s failure to stand solidly against Hitler in Germany during the 1930s.
“The church must stand apart from the state. Independence from culture is what gives the church its reforming capacity and enables it to point society toward the truth. The church must be free to address issues biblically across the spectrum and to speak prophetically, regardless of who is in power.
“Ironically, political flirtations and alliances have threatened the church’s independence in the West even more than the direct oppression of the Communists in the East.” – Chuck Colson, The Body. P. 239
This is a great quote that gives us insight into history and politics in our modern era, especially during an election year. Regardless of your political views I want to remind you that we, as Christians, are called to stand for Christ and His GOSPEL, first and foremost. We are also called to stand for Jesus’ values, which should inform how we engage culture. This leads to the second quote…
“It’s time for lambs to roar.
“What I am calling for is a radically different way of thinking about our world. Instead of running from it, we need to rush into it. And instead of just hanging around the fringes of our culture, we need to be right smack dab in the middle of it.
“Why not believe that one day the most critically acclaimed director in Hollywood could be an active Christian layman in his church? Why not hope that a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting could go to a Christian journalist on staff at a major daily newspaper? Is it really too much of a stretch to think that a major exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art could feature the works of an artist on staff at one of our fine Christian colleges? Am I out of my mind to suggest that our son or daughter could be the principle [sic] dancer for the Joffrey Ballet Company, leading weekly Bible study for other dancers in what was once considered a profession that was morally bankrupt?
“The best way to testimony is through credible engagement from within our vocational call.” – Bob Briner, Roaring Lambs. P. 31
Consider this question – are we more afraid of people or of God?
If one’s answer to the question is people, then all we will do in life will conform to what we think people want to see and hear so that they will praise or approve of us.
If one’s answer to the question is God, then we will consider every action through the lens of the Scriptures and we will even dare to dream big for His glory.
May we as Christians not sit back and fearfully watch, rather may we jump in with both feet with a Holy Spirit splash going wherever the wind blows (John 3:8).
Greetings in the LORD,
I recently read an article concerning a “non-essential” topic for Christians that we sometimes debate or even divide about – I won’t mention the topic because it really is something that should not be made to be as divisive as some people make it, but the main point from the article is this quote:
“Holiness, in other words, can’t [take on an external expression]—it can only be cultivated through the practices of the Christian life.”
Fill in the blank with whatever topic you think the article might have been talking about, but the point is we should not become “Christian Pharisees” by adding to the Scriptures. Let me be clear, what is black-and-white in Scripture remains black-and-white. Jesus called all who would follow Him to obey His moral imperatives (Matt. 28:20). In fact, when He preached against the Pharisees what Jesus was doing was rebuking them for looking morally good without following the LORD’s moral imperatives. So in essence, when Jesus is preaching against the Pharisees, we Christians need to pay special attention to Jesus’ words so that we will not be guilty of being a Christian version of those whom Jesus preached against.
So how do I make sure I don’t become a Christian Pharisee?
First, read one of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
Second, pay attention to Jesus’ teaching – to His do’s and don’ts.
Third, when He interacts with the Pharisees – make sure you understand why the Pharisees were upset with Jesus, and why Jesus responded the way He did.
You can do this by making sure you:
(1) Have a good “Study Bible” – if you don’t, then go out and buy one – the best study bibles are: NASB, Ryrie Study Bible; or ESV, The Reformation Study Bible; or NASB, The Zondervan Study Bible;
(2) Read the footnote on each verse – look up any verses the footnote refers to;
(3) Notice the little letters next to certain key words or ideas – for example: in the NASB Ryrie Study Bible in Luke 11:42 it says – “42 aBut woe to you Pharisees! For you bpay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” Those little letters a& brefer to notes on the sides of the page or in the middle column between the Scriptures that tell us where to find similar concepts in other parts of Scripture, specifically à “bpay tithe of mint and rue” – refers to Leviticus 27:30 and Luke 18:12.
(4) Understand the immediate context – for example: the immediate context of Luke 11:42 is 11:37-53 à in these verses, Jesus was judged by a Pharisee for a non-essential (i.e., not washing before eating – Luke 11:38). Since the idea of washing before a meal is not in Scripture (anywhere), but rather is a made up human law, Jesus took the opportunity to rebuke the Pharisees for being legalistic, and yet having a wrong heart, which leads people away from the LORD and His intent in the Scriptures.
Put all the above together and you will have a better understanding of how Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees applies to modern “Christian Pharisees” è in essence Jesus is saying the same thing that was said in the above mentioned article:
“Holiness, in other words, can’t [take on an external expression]—it can only be cultivated through the practices of the Christian life.”