Marriage is a Signpost

“’Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” –Ephesians 5:31-32

On Sunday we emphasized the reality that marriage is a signpost pointing to the greater reality of the Gospel (Christ and the church). Here is a helpful and short video from Andrew Wilson illustrating this point:

In his book, Marriage and the Mystery of the GospelRay Ortlund said:

Why do people feel the stirrings of romance and start spending time together and take long walks hand in hand and long for one another when apart and write poetry and sing along to “our song” and fall so head over heels in love that they finally jump into the mega-commitment of marriage? There is a reason for this very human experience. And the reason is not only what God did back in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve but also, and even more, what God has done in uniting Christ and his church. The eternal romance…the eternal love story is why God created the universe and why God gave us marriage in Eden and why couples fall in love and get married in the world today. Every time a bride and groom stand there and take their vows, they are reenacting the biblical love story, whether they realize it or not. (pg. 100)

He continued:

The Son of God stepping down out of eternity, entering time, taking on flesh, pursuing and winning his bride as his very heart and body with his inmost, sincerest love so that he can fit her to be with him forever above—that dramatic super-reality is the breathtaking reason why human marriage exists. It is truly profound. And Christian married couples have the privilege of making the mystery of the gospel visible in the world today by living out the dynamic interplay of an Ephesians 5-quality marriage. (pg. 100, emphasis original)

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An Evangelistic Tool

Below is a brief video that Justin Taylor posted on his blog today. It is an evangelism tool that offers a quick and helpful summary of the Gospel. Perhaps this would be a helpful tool for some of you to use. It might provide a way to start a gospel conversation or be a good follow-up to a gospel conversation. For example, you may be able to send the video to a non-believing friend or family member. Ask them to take 5 minutes to watch it and then ask them for feedback. What did they think? Did it make sense or was it confusing? The hope is a conversation will follow. Or if you are able to have a gospel conversation with someone you could leave them with this video for further consideration.

I refer to this video as a tool because I believe that is all that it is. In evangelism, there are no silver bullets. Therefore, I want to stress that things such as this video or gospel tracts can be helpful, but they should never be used to replace personal conversation due to laziness or cowardice. The Lord’s plan for evangelism is His people proclaiming the good news (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). So if you use such tools, I would encourage you to always follow-up and call folks to respond to the good news…it’s news that demands a response!

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Treasure God’s Word

“The Law of the Lord is perfect…the precepts of the Lord are right…More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” -Psalm 19:7a, 8a, 10

Christian, we should treasure God’s Word. Think about that for a moment…we should TREASURE God’s Word.

Listen to how David describes God’s Word in Psalm 19. It is perfect and right. It is to be desired more than gold, even more than MUCH of the best riches. It is better than fine foods. David’s words were clear to his original audience and they translate straight into our culture. His culture just like ours, valued riches and fine things. However, he tells us God’s Word is to be treasured above these things. Why? Because God’s Word is better! Dale Davis says:

“David moves from describing the character of God’s word (vv. 7-9) to expressing the desirability of God’s word (v. 10). He doesn’t just want you to see what Yahweh’s word is like; he wants you to say, ‘I must have it.’” (Psalms 13-24, pg. 114)

Thomas Watson said:

The Word shows what is truth and what is error. It is the field where the pearl of price is hidden. How we should dig for this pearl! A godly man’s heart is the library to hold the Word of God; it dwells richly in him (Col. 3:16)…Oh, let us make ourselves familiar with the Scripture! (A Godly Man’s Picture, pg. 61)

Let us pray that God would give us the grace to treasure His Word; that we would say, “I must have it.” When we treasure God’s Word we will:

  • Read It
  • Study It
  • Meditate on It
  • Memorize It
  • Love to hear It preached
  • Proclaim It to others
  • Apply It
  • Obey It
  • Live It

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” -Psalm 1:1-3

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The Deceitfulness of Sin

In our current study of Jonah, it was emphasized that while Jonah identified himself as one who “feared the Lord” to the mariners during the storm (1:9), Jonah was probably self-deceived in his sin of rebellion. Jonah certainly wasn’t walking as one who feared the Lord while he was in the process of fleeing “from the Lord’s presence” (1:3). To fear the Lord is to obey His Word (Psalm 112:1; John 14:15). Jonah turned from God’s Word (1:1-3).

The Writer of Hebrews warns us about the deceitfulness of sin and the hardness of heart that results (Heb. 3:12-14). We must take the warnings of Scripture seriously. We should earnestly ask the Lord to reveal our blind spots to us. Are we like Jonah claiming with our mouths something contrary to what we are displaying with our actions?

The Biblical term for such is hypocrisy. I was recently encouraged to read, The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson. Listen to what he says about hypocrisy:

But alas what is one the better for having others commend him, and his conscience condemn him? What good will it do a man when he is in hell that others think he has gone to heaven? (pg. 16)

The man who is a pretender…carries Christ in his Bible but not in his heart. (pg. 16)

The hypocrite deceives others while he lives, but deceives himself when he dies. (pg. 16)

The wicked hate the hypocrite because he is almost a Christian, and God hates him because he is only almost one. (pg. 16)

Could you find no way to hell, but by seeming godly? (pg. 18)

Let us therefore take heed of this kind of pageantry or devout stage play. (pg. 18)

How should we respond? As I said above, we should earnestly pray that the Lord would reveal any hypocrisy within our hearts. We should also take heart because the Lord pursued Jonah. The Lord pursues His people out of His compassion, mercy, and steadfast love. The very fact that we would even hear His warnings is evidence of His kindness leading us to repentance (Rom 2:4). Pay careful attention to the conclusion of Watson’s warning:

Christian, if you mourn for hypocrisy, yet find this sin so potent that you cannot get the mastery of it, go to Christ. Beg of him that he would exercise his kingly office in your soul, that he would subdue this sin, and put it under the yoke. Beg of Christ to exercise spiritual surgery upon you. Desire him to lance your heart and cut out the rotten flesh, and that he would apply the medicine of his blood to heal you of your hypocrisy. (pg. 19)

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Daily Gospel Living

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” –Col. 2:6-7

 Let me offer a few notes on these verses:

“as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him”

  • How did you receive Christ? We take hold of Christ by faith. Faith also involves repentance. Therefore, we should daily walk in repentance and faith.
  • This means we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves daily!
    • When Paul says, “just as you were taught,” he is telling them to apply the Gospel they first heard to their current circumstances.
  • As the Gospel daily confronts our indwelling sin, we should repent and rest (faith) in the security of Christ’s work on our behalf.

“rooted and built up in him and established in the faith”

  • We do not graduate from the Gospel.
  • No, instead we press deeper and deeper into the riches of Christ.
  • What are some evidences that this is happening?
    • You are seeing more and more how the Gospel informs and applies to all of your life (marriage, singleness, parenting, work, neighboring, finances, etc.)
    • You are bringing more and more of your life under the Lordship of Jesus because as the verse above says, He is Lord.
  • The language of “rooted,” “built up,” and “established” are strong word pictures, reflect on them.

“abounding in thanksgiving”

  • The more you press into the Gospel, the more you are amazed by grace.

 This is discipleship 101. Seek to apply this Scripture not only to your own life but also to your fellow church members lives. Let’s help one another follow Jesus.

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Offer the Father’s Riches

Recently I was traveling out-of-state with my dad. On our return home, we had stopped for gas (as well as hushpuppies and milkshakes if I’m recalling correctly). While I was pumping the gas a man approached me and told me his car had stranded his family and he asked for money to assist them in getting home. I wanted to help him, but I did not have any cash on me. I looked at my dad in the car and asked him if he had any cash. (He’s over 60 so I knew he did.) I requested that Dad give the gentleman a certain amount of money. The man thanked us and we parted ways.

As we continued down the road I told my dad I would repay him the money I had requested. Of course, he said not to worry about it. I told him it wasn’t very fair for me to be generous with his money! He insisted I not repay him. Since then I have joked with him several times about giving his money away for him. Yet the more I think about it, isn’t that exactly what God has called His children to do? Aren’t we to offer our Father’s riches to others?

God has saved us and adopted us in Christ Jesus at great expense to Himself:

In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us… -Ephesians 1:7-8a

The Lord has also commissioned those He has saved (His children) to proclaim (offer) the Gospel to all the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). The Apostle Paul spoke of his commission to preach the gospel using the language of riches. He said; “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

This is wonderful to think about; the Lord has called us to offer His inexhaustible riches to others so that any who would repent and believe upon Christ could receive the free gift of salvation (Rom. 6:23). Christian, everyone we encounter is in desperate need of help (salvation), but like me at the gas station, we don’t have what they need in and of ourselves. We don’t, but our Father does and we get to be generous with our Father’s riches!

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Parenting to God’s Glory

During the sermon yesterday I referenced Luke 1:38 and attempted to make some application. That verse records Mary’s response to the Angel when she was delivered the news that she would carry the Messiah as a young betrothed virgin. She said:

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

As Christians, this response should challenge us. Mary’s response displays humble faith. She first identifies herself as the Lord’s servant displaying humility. She then submits to the Lord’s Word in faith. She will soon find herself in costly difficult circumstances. Christians should respond to the Lord the same way Mary did. When we read His Word we should respond in humble faith no matter the cost.

The main point of application I attempted to make was to our parenting since yesterday was Mother’s Day. However, I don’t think I was very clear. First, if you are a parent then you are called to be a parent. To dodge that calling would be sinful. Second, as parents, we receive our children as gifts from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). We don’t get to be selective with our children. We don’t choose their:

Gender

Natural Abilities: athletic, intellectual, artistic

Good Health or Health Struggles

Temperament (upbeat, humorous, mellow, intense, compliant, strong-willed, etc.)

A few years back, a friend of mine from High School had a series of social media posts after he had his first kid. The posts would read something like: “To all the parents I ever judged because their kids were loud and disruptive in a restaurant, I’m sorry.” It was a humorous way of displaying humility. He was apologizing for all the times he, in his pre-kid state, thought or said; “my kids will never do that.” There are many “that’s” we all have thought or said, not just being disruptive in a restaurant. My kids will never:

Be disrespectful

Eat unhealthy food

Embarrass me

Be lazy

Be behind

Be average

Look at a screen

On and on the list could go. What I’m getting at is that often we think we have more control than we actually do (and inexperience leads to idealism, but that’s another post). We can be sure of one thing: our kids will have a sin problem (Ps. 51:5). Therefore, they will not be perfect little angels. We can be sure of a second thing: our kids need a Savior and WE ARE NOT the Savior. Nope, it is not salvation by parenting. Salvation is always and only in Christ alone. Those are the only two things we can be certain of in parenting.

We don’t even get to choose if our kids will be Christians. In light of this, we are to do one thing. Parent to the glory of God! God has entrusted our children to us knowing full well all of the above. Our parenting is just as much for us and our sanctification as it is for our kids. Therefore, we are to parent in a way that honors the Lord, that being according to His Word, and leave the results to Him.

Of course we have aims, desires, and dreams for our children and we should shepherd them toward good and holy ends. However, in the end, we can only point them, not make them go a certain way. We must respond with Mary:

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

The Lord shaped and molded Mary in her parenting of Jesus (Mk. 3:31-35; John 19:26-27; Acts 1:14). We need to acknowledge He is doing the same in us, humbly surrendering to His providences and responding in faith.

We should regularly pray: Father, these are your children that you have graciously entrusted into my stewardship. Father, are you pleased? Am I parenting for your glory or for mine? (I’m convicted as I write those words.)

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Summer Reading 2017

With Summer fast approaching, I hope you are planning to do some extra reading. If so, let me make a few recommendations. Grab one of these books and read it with a fellow church member.

Devoted to God by Sinclair Ferguson

Side by Side by Ed Welch

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

All Things for Good by Thomas Watson

Ladies, here are some great books by female authors:

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

Alive in Him by Gloria Furman

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

Some of these titles will be on our book table in the weeks to come…so keep an eye out.

 

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“A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

On Sunday we will complete our study of Romans 8. We have seen why the glorious truths of this chapter have been a tremendous comfort to the saints through the ages. This past Sunday, I quoted from a hymn written by Augustus Toplady. I quoted the line: “Payment God cannot twice demand, Frist at my bleeding Surety’s hand, And then again at mine.” (You can read the entire hymn here.)

There is another hymn from Augustus I want to share with you, A Debtor to Mercy Alone. This hymn will serve you well in preparing your heart for the final verses of Romans 8 which we will study together this Sunday.

A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with thy righteousness on,
My person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below or above,
Can make him his purpose forgo,
Or sever my soul from his love.

My name from the palms of his hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on his heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heav’n.

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All Things for Good

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28, a verse that is treasured by many Christians, was part of our sermon text this past Sunday. During the sermon, I shared several quotes from Puritan Thomas Watson’s work entitled, All Things for Good which is based on this verse. I had a couple of folks ask for the quotes afterwards. So I decided I would post some of the quotes I shared along with others here for everyone.

“If it is good for us, we shall have it; if it is not good for us, then the withholding of it is good.” (pg. 16)

“There is more in the promises to comfort than in the world to perplex.” (pg. 17)

“Better is that temptation which humbles me, than that duty which makes me proud.” (pg. 35)

“In this life, when one temptation is over, another comes.” (pg. 37)

“What a blessed condition is a true believer in! When he dies, he goes to God; and while he lives, everything shall do him good.” (pg. 56)

“Affliction is a bitter root, but it bears sweet fruit.” (pg. 57)

“If God does not give you that which you like, He will give you that which you need.” (pg. 52)

“There are no sins God’s people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience…Let this text produce patience…” (pg. 61)

“Consider, that if God makes all things to turn to our good, how right it is that we should make all things tend to His glory!” (pg. 63)

“Oh wretch! Did Christ bleed for sin, and do you laugh at it?” (pg. 76)

“How good is God, that will not let me alone in my sins, but smites my body to save my soul!” (pg. 83)

“God would have us part with nothing for Him, but that which will damn us if we keep it. He has no design upon us, but to make us happy.” (pg. 110)

“Good works, though they are not causes of salvation, yet they are evidences.” (pg. 123)

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