Filed under: Bible Study
It’s easy to forget that women weren’t always around. If you’re a provisional bachelor, that may be more or less easy to forget, and the following exhortation is worth your time. Imagine, for a moment, a world without women, nor the mere idea of them. Next, imagine being Adam – the only person on the face of the planet! (Still think you’re lonely?) We all know the rest of the story, but read it with fresh eyes:
“And the Lord God said,
‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’
“…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. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”
Thus, Adam became the first (and most successful) organ donor. Ever since, man has been trying to reclaim woman according to what Evan Wilson (with a rare nod to the French) labels rapprochement. The equivalent Bible phrase is “becoming one flesh,” and the ultimate fruit of this union is the procreation of new saints, as depicted in Malachi 2:9:
“Did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”
Ephesians 5 is featured at so many weddings because it concisely captures God’s overarching commission to husbands:
“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.”
Elsewhere in Scripture, this command to husbands is predominantly embodied as:
- Be patient with your wife.
- Make passionate love to her on a regular basis.
My extensive experience of 15 months has shown me that the second of those instructions is impossible to do without the first. I, too, am being sanctified, which is why I’d like to highlight some relevant passages (leaving Song of Solomon to the reader). I’m thankful for both my wife and for God’s instruction and example of how to love her perfectly. What follows is equally good preparation for future husbands. Incidentally, Malachi’s warning against treachery is inseparable from the Bible’s teaching on this subject.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 20:7 & 24:5
Regarding soldiers in ancient Israel.
“And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.”
“When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.”
1 Corinthians 7
Selected instructions to husbands; wives receive the same. Paul gives good reasons for getting married and for staying single.
“Because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife.”
“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her.”
“The husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
“He who is married cares about the things of the world – how he may please his wife.”
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
1 Peter 3:7
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
These verses follow those quoted from Ephesians above.
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church…Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself.”
“Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?”
“Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.”
Of course, the preceding verses are more than just commands – they are poetry in the vein of Adam’s first words as a newlywed.
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Are we stuck with sin until we get to heaven? That was the impression of a Christian brother and friend of mine with whom I spoke last week. I looked into it, and this is what I found.
1 John 3: Sin Defined
4 “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
There is also a penalty for sin. Romans says that “the wages of sin is death,” and Ephesians says that we “were dead in trespasses and sins.” Not only does sin deserve death, but anyone in sin is apparently dead already. The Good News is found in the other halves of these verses. Romans says that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” and Ephesians says that God makes us “alive.”
John, Jesus & Peter Present: The Gospel
Here are a few instances of the Gospel being preached in the Bible:
John the Baptist
Luke 3:3 “[John the Baptist] went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
Paul explains this to some Ephesian disciples in Acts 19:4:
“Then Paul said,
‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them…”
Speaking with His eleven disciples before ascending into heaven, Jesus said in Luke:
“Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
When that “power from on high,” the promised Holy Spirit, came in Acts 2, “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.” When Peter and the eleven disciples told them about Jesus, “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’
Then Peter said to them,
‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
What do each of these examples have in common?
- The name of Jesus Christ
- The remission of sins
- The Holy Spirit
These are key elements of becoming a Christian. However, as with my friend, they may be too familiar (or not familiar enough?) for us to realize the miracle that takes place when we put our faith in Jesus.
Colossians 2: Death to Life
Below are some verses, followed by questions answered in the text.
12 “[You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
Q: What happened to us in baptism?
A: We were buried with Christ, and we were raised with Christ.
Q: Through what were we raised?
Q: Faith in what?
A: Faith in the working of God.
Q: What work did God do?
A: God raised Jesus from the dead!
13 “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,”
Let’s review: God raised Jesus from the dead.
Q: What else did he do?
A: He made us alive with Christ! He also forgave all our trespasses.
14 “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
Q: What did God do with the handwriting against us? He did two things:
A: He wiped it out.
A: He nailed it to the cross.
Romans 6: Alive in Christ
Here is another Q&A exercise:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Q: What did we do?
A: We died to sin.
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Q: Into what were we baptized?
A: Christ’s death
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Q: Why were we baptized into death with Jesus?
A: So that we should walk in newness of life like Jesus
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Q: What happened to our old man?
A: Our old man was crucified. (i.e. killed! put to death! past tense!)
Q: Why was the old man crucified? There were two reasons:
A: To do away with the body of sin
A: So that we should no longer be slaves of sin
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
(This is an easy memory verse.)
Q: Did we die?
A: In Christ, YES
Q: What is the result?
A: We are free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Q: To what are we dead?
Q: What are we instead?
A: We are alive to God in Christ!
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Q: How are we to present ourselves to God?
A: As alive from the dead!
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Q: Are we under the law?
Q: Under what are we?
If you have read this far, then I challenge you to go back to 1 John 3 and read the entire chapter in light of these other verses. Then, read Ephesians 1:15-23, in which Paul prays for the saints, asking:
“That you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
Have Christians been set free from sin in this age? Based on 1 John 3, what does that mean for us, and what does it look like?
From the beginning, man was designed to work. Before sin entered the world, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” After the fall, God cursed the ground (not man!), saying, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” Thus was established the earthly economy which we read about in Proverbs and 2 Thessalonians:
“He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread.”
“If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
In fact, hard work meets more than basic necessities. Proverbs is peppered with passages such as:
“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
Four times, the Preacher concluded:
“I know that nothing is better for [men] than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God.”
Hard work is commanded, praised, and rewarded in the Bible. However, it forbids covetousness, self-seeking, envy, and greed; these lead to defilement, confusion, dissatisfaction, rottenness, trouble, sorrow, and death. Therefore, diligence in obedience and in faith is to be our target. Wealth and enjoyment are God’s fitting reward, but they are not fitting as the objects of our desire. Elsewhere, Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived, wrote:
“Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”
Job was a man who “was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” He was also tremendously wealthy, but after he lost everything, this is what he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Paul wrote the same thing in his first epistle to Timothy:
“We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
A couple of verses later, Paul warned:
“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
This single verse gives six descriptions regarding the desire to be rich. Can you spot them? They are: temptation, snare, foolish, harmful, destruction, and perdition! Jesus told us that there is something better:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Again, Proverbs exhorts:
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day.”
Back in 1 Timothy, Paul urged:
“But you, O man of God, flee [the love of money] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.”
If these are the things we are to pursue, then what about our needs? Above, we were given promises regarding diligence. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus also assured us that God will provide:
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Paul experienced both plenty and poverty. He wrote to the Philippians that Christ’s strength enabled him to be content in every circumstance:
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
In the last chapter of Hebrews, the writer relied on the Old Testament to remind him of God’s constant presence in times of need:
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said,
‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
So we may boldly say:
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?’”
Since God will provide for every need, John the Baptist told those who came to him:
“Be content with your wages.”
Paul again, speaking of masters and bondservants, taught Timothy a good lesson for our modern-day workplace (substitutions mine):
“Let [employees] count their [bosses] worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing [bosses], let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.”
Paul said that those who teach otherwise are proud, stupid, obsessed with division, envious, suspicious, of a corrupt mind, and destitute of the truth. They “suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” According to the world’s wisdom, this is an easy supposition to make, but it is the wrong conclusion! Instead, Paul then wrote:
“Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
Yet, God blesses many of us beyond food and clothing. For those of us who have money to spare, what did Paul tell Timothy?
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Proverbs contrasts the righteous with the sluggard in this way:
“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”
Chapter 5 of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians begins this way:
“Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us,…But…covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;…but rather giving of thanks.”
Jesus, following his parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16, gave us an interesting command:
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
This is a powerful statement. If we love God and are loyal to Him, how will we feel about money? Jesus said we will hate and despise it.
A couple of chapters earlier, Jesus told the story of the rich fool, who said to his soul:
“‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’
But God said to him,
‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’”
What was Jesus’s conclusion?
“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Let us work hard, thank God, give generously, and be rich toward Him! This is our heavenly currency.
Filed under: Anders
This month, Lord willing, my wife will have our baby. Yesterday, we took the opportunity to commemorate her belly while we still could. John O’Bryan was our photographer extraordinaire. A few of the results are up on Flickr.