Sermons by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church 23 February 2014
Scripture quotes are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise indicated.
· I’d like to continue the sermon I started last week on Encouraging Godly families – and marriage in particular.
· I realize that not all of you are married, and that is fine, but I believe it will apply to everyone here anyway.
o The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 that God has given some believers a gift to serve the Lord wholeheartedly as a single person. So if you have this gift, please don’t take this sermon as some kind of criticism or ostracism. If you have no intentions for marriage, I’d encourage you to internalize some of this stuff so that you can pass it along as advice to others who are interested in marriage.
o If you do intend to marry but you aren’t old enough yet, don’t tune out when I start talking about married life and having children. Take it into your mind so you can remember it when you need it later.
o Again, remember that God shows great variety in the amount of time He takes to prepare people for marriage, so there’s no need to rush if He is not putting it together yet.
o And finally, remember, this material is not intended to shame anybody. We are all struggling through how to do this marriage thing, and the last thing we need is some folks putting on airs and heaping condemnation on others. I want to call all of us to humbly come together before God’s Word and ask, “What can I do to follow Jesus’ example? What’s my next step?” – and don’t worry about everybody else.
· Last Lord’s Day, I looked at the first couple of steps in the path of marriage relations, noting that God’s ways are like a high mountain path. Like any hike in the mountains, it is challenging to live according to the patterns Jesus laid down for us, but this path is far better than falling off the cliffs on either side of this path where the world rushes away from God’s will into the ruin of sin.
· The first step we looked at last week was the preparatory work of developing maturity physically, spiritually, vocationally, and socially.
o Physically there are challenges like being able to defend a wife and children in your nation’s army if need be (Numbers 1:3) or, for women, there are the physical challenges of the Proverbs 31 woman who had to “strengthen her arms” in order to serve her household well.
o We also discussed the vocational maturity of being about your Father’s business (Luke 2:49) and the principle from Proverbs 24:27 of preparing your fields before building your house.
o Then there’s the spiritual maturity aspect of “favor with God” which involves knowing His word and obeying Him so that you conquer laziness, rebellion and pride and gain an ability to be spiritual leader for a household.
o And finally, we discussed social maturity (which is actually the opposite of Social Security), where you build many healthy friendships with wise men and women.
· We also got into the second step last week, the covenant of marriage, where a choice is made, and a man and a woman mutually agree to take their relationship to an exclusive level through making the promises of marriage to each other.
o Many people call this phase “courtship,” and I think that’s a fine word to describe that phase.
o I have not found a well-developed set of scriptural guidelines for courtship, so I will not attempt to make up one apart from the scriptural principles I shared last week of
§ not being unequally yoked,
§ forming mutual agreement, and
§ consulting with parents (Note that this is not a license for parents to be selfish, manipulative, or abusive in the process, however.)
o Finally, last week, we looked at the love and respect paradigm of Ephesians 5:24-25 which forms the basis for traditional wedding vows and which really forms the backbone of a marriage relationship “let the wives be [submissive] to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”
· Now we come to an important step within the context of marriage, and that is the relational closeness of…
· I promised that I would keep this sermon G-rated, though, so I just want to point out four things in general:
· First, closeness in a marriage relationship starts with attitudes and communication. Intimacy has a lot more to do with your attitude and your communication than with hugs and kisses.
· Let me paint a scenario and see if any of you married folks have ever been in this frustrating situation:
· My second point about intimacy is that only in the exclusive context of marriage should adults should reveal their bodies to each other.
o Now, this goes against our fleshly nature. Teenage girls catch on pretty quickly that if they reveal skin or wear clothes that reveal their body curves, they can snag the attention of guys. And guys learn pretty quickly that they experience an exciting head rush of hormones when a woman reveals herself.
o The problem is that when people do this as step one instead of step three on the path, they are putting the cart before the horse. Revealing your body is the kind of action which should be reserved for the intimacy of marriage, not displayed on the streets or sent over your cell Phone.
o God’s law in Leviticus 20:17 says that even “seeing… nakedness is a wicked thing.”
o Note what Rebecca did in the Bible when Isaac came within eyesight: She didn’t strike a glamorous pose for her husband-to-be, Genesis 24:65 says, “she took a veil and covered herself” when she realized he might see her passing by.
o Throughout scripture, from Adam and Eve’s skin clothing in Genesis 3 to the “white garments” in Revelation 3, we see God covering His people. God sets the pattern, and we cover ourselves. 1 Cor. 12:23 tells us that in clothing, God’s people have “modesty.”
o The kind of attention that a girl’s immodesty grabs from guys is not the exclusive, covenantal love you want, girls. A guy who will follow you with his eyes will follow every other girl on the street with his eyes too, and, trust me, you don’t want that kind of guy.
o Guys, you don’t want to be that kind of guy either, because that is the sin of lust, breaking the Seventh Commandment. I like the way the NIV renders Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.” Not even a hint.
· Next, let me underscore when we choose false intimacy – that is, intimacy apart from being with your husband or wife, whether with some other person or whether privately and impersonally, it re-wires your brain in a bad way, due to the pleasure-reinforcement cycle, causing you to experience confusion and grief even amidst the good feelings, making it even harder to enjoy God’s blessings.
· Now, this brings me to the only other point I want to make about this step on the path of God’s blessing: The Bible has a lot to say about intimacy: laws, stories, prophecies, case studies, etc., so don’t fall for the lie that Christianity has little to say about this subject simply because you don’t often hear it from the pulpit. Read your Bible! It will tell you the truth that the intimacy of marriage is really, really good and really, really worth cultivating!
· Now, God has designed our bodies so that there is a natural progression from intimacy to having…
o Most of what you hear in Christian seminars on marriage is about the marriage relationship of the husband and wife.
o Of the dozens of books on marriage I have read, if they mention children at all, it is only for one or two chapters. And I don’t think I have yet encountered a single book on marriage that mentioned grandchildren.
o Of course most marriage books are intended for orienting those who are just married and who naturally haven’t had kids yet, so I’m not trying to bash marriage books; I’m just pointing out that the amount of time that most couples are married without any children or grandchildren is a very small percentage of the time that they are married, and I want you to consider the majority of that time which usually is with children and grandchildren.
o We live in a country where most parents are not committed to raising their children; over half of America’s teenagers grew up without their Dad or Mom in their home.
· But what does the Bible say?
o The first command God gave to Adam and Eve was not “love one another” but rather Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it...” “Multiply;” it’s actually called a “blessing”!
o That blessing was what everybody wished upon Ruth when she got married to Boaz –descendents as numerous as Jacob’s! (Ruth 4:11-12)
o When you get to the prophets, they’re singing the same tune. Malachi (2:15) said, “And why [did God make them] one? Because He seeks godly offspring!” God joins couples together in order to get godly offspring!
o But surely it changed in the New Testament? Not hardly. Whatever Paul meant by saying that “women will be saved in childbearing,” (1 Tim. 2:15), we can say at the very least that he is underscoring the importance of childbearing in some way, then he goes on to tell Timothy what to do as a pastor in 1 Timothy 5:14, “Therefore I desire that the younger [widows] marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
o However, we can’t judge each other’s Christianity based on how many children we have, because we are not in complete control of how many children we have. God ultimately is sovereign over the womb. I’ve met couples who wanted children and never could have one; I’ve met others who tried to get as many children as they could and never got more than three. And then there’s the families that get a dozen or more! This is an area where we can’t play God; we just need to trust God.
o My point is that having kids is a blessing; God encourages this! I wish I had more time to develop this, but I have tried to keep a tradition of doing sermons on raising children when we baptize or dedicate children, so give me some more children to baptize or dedicate, and I’ll give you some more sermons about children!
· And God’s plan for marriage doesn’t stop with children. God makes a big deal of grandchildren too!
o Proverbs 17:6 “Children's children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.” Are you inspiring your children to have children so you can get that crown?
o Proverbs 13:22 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children” Are you purposefully preparing for leaving certain legacies for each grandchild? It doesn’t have to be money.
o Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “…diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen… And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” What are you going to teach your grandchildren?
o And teaching isn’t the only thing you can pass on to grandchildren; the Bible says you can anticipate God’s righteousness to bless your grandchildren too! Psalm 103:17 “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children.”
· But as glorious as a multigenerational legacy is, there is something even more glorious waiting for us at the end of our life!
· Priests who marry couples in the Mormon Temple reportedly say, “Brother ______, do you take Sister ______ by the right hand and receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife for time and all eternity?”
· But Jesus, when He was questioned by the Sadducees and Pharisees, revealed a very important bit of information that puts human marriage in proper perspective, Matthew 22:30, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
· Our secular humanistic culture focuses so much on the earthly relationships of spouses and families that we easily forget that these family relationships are temporal and they are but a dim reflection of our relationship with God in eternity.
· Now frankly, it’s really hard for me to imagine how I could possibly enter into my life in glory without remaining married to my wife, I just don’t want to think about it, but the truth is that when we enter the glory of heaven, our relationship with God will be so much better and more fulfilling than a marriage relationship with another human that we will not need that sort of human relationship any more (although I believe we will still have human relationships that are better than we have now because there will be no sin). Listen to what the Bible says about this:
· Isaiah 62:5b “…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”
· I think that those of you who have been married have some insight into what this is describing. There is some kind of parallel between earthly marriage and our future relationship with God, although I do not understand all of what it will be like.
· Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” It’s going to be great. It’s going to be better than what we experience in marriage on earth.
· Revelation 19:1 & 7-9 “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God... Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” … “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”
· Passages of scripture like this help us to put marriage into perspective.
o For both those who are married and those who are not, when the hormones get going, it’s easy to allow this whole marriage thing to become an idolatrous preoccupation. But marriage is not the end goal.
o It’s easy for us to look to another human being – a wife or husband – to provide for us the comfort and joy we crave, but ultimately this is only one person who can give us that comfort and joy, and that person is Jesus. Jesus alone.
o And this perspective levels the playing field between the married and the unmarried – ultimately all who love Jesus will enter into the same eternal intimacy with God; you don’t ultimately miss out on anything if you are not married in this earthly life; you will be married in the eternal life.
· Wow, that was a fast run-though of the steps on this path of God’s blessing regarding marriage.
· Are there other ways this material could be presented? Certainly. This sequence is just my interpretation of the Bible; there’s no one Bible verse which lays out all these specific steps in this specific sequence, so feel free to find ways to improve on it.
· But I want to encourage you to follow the patterns God has laid down for us in His word, including these five steps:
 I really appreciate Eggrich’s book, Love and Respect, which does a good job of developing this paradigm.
 See http://www.covenanteyes.com/science-of-porn-addiction-ebook/ for a good article on this topic.
 for instance, Gen. 2:24, 1 Cor. 7:3-5, and, of course, Song of Solomon
 www.ctrchurch-mhk.org/sermons/GenerationalVision.html | www.ctrchurch-mhk.org/sermons/A%20Godly%20Heritage%20Edited.htm | www.ctrchurch-mhk.org/sermons/Age_Integrated_Worship.htm | www.ctrchurch-mhk.org/sermons/Eph6_4.htm | www.ctrchurch-mhk.org/sermons/1Cor07_14.htm | www.ctrchurch-mhk.org/sermons/Matthew19_13-15Children.htm