Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Singleness is a gift that God gives to some for his purposes, and it comes with divine enablement. By the way, marriage is a gift that you need divine enablement for. The point is, whatever stage God has you in, you can be happy and fulfilled because happiness and fulfillment do not come from your marital status. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.
I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch, and we are so glad that you're back with us today. You know, in so many churches, single people are sometimes left to feel like outsiders. Everyone appears to be paired off, and a lot of the energy goes into cultivating healthy families with the teaching and programming of the church. As a result, and sometimes tragically, many singles admit to feeling like second-class Christians. But today, pastor J.D.
explains that God's view is far different. In fact, the Bible often reinforces the benefits of singleness. So whether you're married or not, there's something to learn today from God's word. And as we begin, I'd like to say a special thank you to our gospel partners who have made this teaching possible today.
If you'd like to join that special part of our team here at Year's End, visit jdgreer.com. But right now, let's get started with today's teaching titled, Preparing for the Ultimate Marriage. I want to deal today with a couple of myths that our society accepts about singleness and romance. We accept these things as a society without qualification or question, and we even believe and promote these two myths in the church.
They are both false, and both of them cause real damage. The first myth is what I call the marriage equals completion myth. This myth assumes that marriage and a nuclear family is some kind of ultimate state for mankind. And thus, if you do not get married, or at least you do not find that special someone to spend your life with, then you have missed out on the essential part of a full and abundant life. Sadly, as I noted, the church promotes this myth as much, if not more, than regular society does. You can hear it in how we try to encourage or maybe I should say console single people in the church.
Don't worry, don't worry. You'll get married someday. Or we tell them, God just has to do a little bit of work on you before He brings you that special someone. Before God can bring you someone special, He has to make you someone special. And the single person thinks, am I not special?
Am I not lovable the way that I am? I know of one church in particular that called its adult social group pairs and spares. So the single people are the spares.
Is that really what we're saying? The assumption behind all of this is that marriage is the ideal state, and singleness is an inferior or an incomplete state. Tied closely to this myth is myth number two, what I have heard called the right person myth.
This myth states that life's primary quest is to find the right person and when and if you do find the right person, then your life will be perfect. And until you find that right person, you're going to be unhappy. Yes, many of you just thought of the heart-touching, nausea-inducing scene in Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise looks at Renee Zellweger and says, you complete me. That's how we see it. I'm incomplete until you love me and I'm everything I am because you love me.
Or maybe that's Celine Dion or whatever. But you picture yourself on the top of the Titanic and the wind's blowing in your face and you found that person. And so in the dating stage, your top priority is to find that person. That's really what it's all about because that's the key to an abundant life, finding him or her. Both of those myths are false and both of them lead to confusion and to pain. Jesus, who was single himself, rejected them both. So let's deal with these myths one at a time.
Myth number one, the marriage equals completion myth. If you've got a Bible, Mark chapter three is where we're going to be. We're actually going to be in several places.
If you're super fast, like you won the sword drill award when you were a kid, then you could probably keep up with me. But otherwise, just find Mark, the gospel Mark. The gospel Mark will be there a lot. So Mark chapter three, verse 31, and Jesus' mother and his brothers came to him and they were standing outside of where he was teaching. And they called to him and a crowd was sitting around him. And they said to him, hey, Jesus, your mother and your brothers are outside.
They're seeking you. And he answered them, who are my mother and my brothers? And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and my mother.
Now what is going on here? Did Jesus not love and respect his mother and brothers? Well, of course he did. But he was using this opportunity to teach something very important and that is that he had a greater family than even his biological one. The family that he was creating in the church would trump even the bonds of biology. Listen, this is a radical statement for some of you, but you need to get your mind around it, whether you're married or single. Listen, the nuclear family is not the center of God's kingdom.
It is not the center of God's kingdom. Luke chapter 11, verse 27, in a different place, at a different time. As Jesus was saying these things, a woman who's teaching something else, a woman in the crowd called out, blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast at which you nursed. Now, listen, I'm into people talking back to me while I preach. I love to, you know, preach it, preacher, or whatever you want to say, but that's got to be the weirdest thing anybody ever said to somebody else while preaching.
Blessed are the breast at which you nursed. If you yell that back at me, I'm not going to acknowledge it. So Jesus looks back at this woman and he says, creepy, no, no, he says, blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.
Take a minute to let that really sink in. Those who obey the word of God are more blessed and more precious to Jesus than even his own biological mother. Now, how awesome would it be, just think about it, for you to be blood-related to Jesus, to have him in your ancestry. That'd be something to brag about, right? Anybody that knows me well at all knows that you give me half a chance and I will tell you that my great, great, great, great uncle was Davy Crockett.
You bring up Texas, you bring up Tennessee, you bring up the 19th century or America in general, and I will find a way to slip that into conversation. But how awesome would it be to have been blood-related to Jesus? But Jesus says, being my brother, being my mom, not a big deal.
Be united to me by baptism and have my spirit dwelling in you, that's a huge deal. Back in Mark, a few chapters later, Mark 12, verse 18, and the Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection, which is why they are sad, you see, it never gets old, asked him a question. Teacher Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. It was a Levitical law that said that if your brother married and, you know, he died before he had a baby, then it was your responsibility to take his wife and, I mean, you're supposed to have a kid with her to give him offspring. Verse 20, there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and when he died, he left no offspring, so the second took her and died, leaving no offspring, and the third likewise, and then all seven did it. And last of all, the woman also died in the resurrection. When they rise again, whose wife will she be?
For all seven had her as wife. This is why people get so annoyed with seminary students, because they ask dumb questions like this, but they are trying to set Jesus up for something. Jesus answers them, listen, very important is answer, you are wrong. I'm not answering this question because you're just wrong in the very basis of it, knowing neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven who evidently are not married and are not ever going to get married.
Jesus answered very simply, in heaven, marriage and the nuclear family do not exist. Now, I will admit to you, part of me finds that a little bit sad. In heaven, when I see Veronica, there's not going to be anything.
Well, I kind of wink at her and give her a suggestive nod or something. I don't know. You say, well, that makes me sad too. There's no sadness here, because in heaven, you see, our joys are not diminished at all. They are heightened. And sometimes it's hard for us to really get our minds around that, but it's just something we don't know yet.
C.S. Lewis in his book, Miracles, he says, when we think about what God has for us in eternity, we know the pleasures of earthly things, he says, like sex and married life and nuclear family. We do not know, he says, except in glimpses, that other thing which in heaven will leave no more room for it.
Whatever God has for us up there will be even better than what we have here. That means that whatever it's like up there, I'll be even closer to my wife and my kids than I am here. The bigger point for you to see is that marriage, listen, is not eternal and it's not ultimate because we don't take it with us in the resurrection. You do not take your marriage with you into the resurrection.
These relationships, mothers and brothers and wife and father and husband, they're only temporary. John Piper says it this way, Jesus was here calling out a new family where single people in Christ, or at least people not in traditional families, are full-fledged family members on a par with all the others, bearing fruit for God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kind. Marriage is temporary and marriage will finally give way to that relationship to which it was always pointing all along, Christ and the church. And when we are there with Christ and the church, we no longer need marriage as the symbol that it was, the way we no longer need a picture when you finally see that person face to face. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly tell you about a few ways you can strategically partner with us in 2023. First, you can join in multiplying the gospel in your neighborhood and across the world by sharing our daily devotionals with your friends and family who want to go deeper with God. Or maybe it's by starting a Bible study in your home using some of the monthly resources created by Summit Life. Or maybe it's giving a one-time donation so we can continue to give at least 10% to church plants each year. However you choose to multiply your faith, visit jdgreer.com to be equipped to give or to let us know what you're up to. And this month receive the 2023 Summit Life Day Planner with your gift to the ministry.
Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to the conclusion of today's teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. Let's move on to what the Apostle Paul, another single man, says in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 29 is where I'll start reading here. 1 Corinthians 7.
The appointed time has grown very short. From now on let those who have wives live as though they had none. Now I love that verse.
What does that mean? Let those with wives live like they had none. That sounds like the mantra of people going to Vegas. But that's not of course what Paul means. That would contradict everything he said everywhere else. Verse 30 he explains, for the present form of this world is passing away. This world is passing away, Paul says, and along with it marriage and biological family. So for a married man to live as though he had no wife means he should reflect on the fact that his marriage is neither ultimate nor permanent. And you single people, he is saying, should reflect on the fact that your situation is not permanent or ultimate either. Both situations, marriage and singleness, are light and momentary and soon they will give way to what is permanent and ultimate which is Christ and the church. And at that point you put it away, marriage away, like a picture you put it away when you finally see the person face to face. Marriage and singleness, Paul says, are temporary gifts that God bestows on different people for the fulfillment of His purposes on earth.
Marriage and singleness are both temporary gifts that God gives to individual people for the fulfillment of His purposes on earth. Go back to verse 7 in 1 Corinthians 7 and Paul goes deeper into this. Regarding marriage he said, I wish that all were as I myself am. Now what was Paul? Well Paul was single.
He said, I wish you all were like me. But each has his own charisma. Charisma is the Greek word for spiritual gift. His own charisma from God.
His own spiritual empowerment. One of one kind, singleness, and one of another, marriage. Both marriage and singleness are charisma.
They're both spiritual empowerments. You're going to need spiritual empowerment to do either singleness or marriage well. You say, well I get how marriage can be a gift. I mean in marriage you get a companion, you get a sexual partner, a girl sometimes feels like she gets a provider, a protector, somebody to dote on her, a guy gets somebody to tell him not to wear black socks with shorts and um tennis shoes, somebody that'll change his sheets more than once every six months and makes him brush his teeth twice a day. I get how marriage can be a gift but how can singleness be a gift?
Well Paul explains that in verse 33. The married man you see is anxious about worldly things. He's always got to be thinking about how to please his wife.
His interests are divided. Me, Paul says, as a single man I only think how to please God. I've got a special assignment that I can accomplish much better as a single man than I could as a married one. I will tell you guys my wife is a wonderful gift to me but when I got married my interest got divided. My money got divided. I mean I had to start spending a lot of money blessing my wife and my kids. I think I've told you this before, before I got married if I wanted to move I could do it with one buddy, a Ford Mustang, a few bungee cords in 15 minutes.
That was all it would take. Now it takes one car just to take the pillows off the top of my bed. It takes one carload. It takes another carload just to take the different kinds of soaps and cleanser that Veronica has in our shower. I look around sometimes and I'm like I don't even know what half this stuff is. There's little rock looking thingies and when I was single I had one bar of soap. One.
I washed everything with it. My time on a much more serious note, my time is divided even for ministry. I'm just not able to go on all the mission trips I want to go on anymore. There's a lot of places in the world that I would like to be, places I think that I could be used very strategically but I just don't do that anymore right now because God has given me another assignment. I can't work every night until eight o'clock and then go home and watch a movie to unwind and then golf every Saturday. I'm not going to be home by 6 p.m. to eat dinner and help give baths and greet the Berenstain Bears.
There are times I will drink five-hour energy drinks on the way home from work because I know that's when the real sprint begins and all the hard stuff that I go through at work is nothing compared to what I enjoy when I get home. Singleness is a gift that allows you to be more devoted to God's kingdom or maybe it's a gift that God gives you temporarily so that you can complete some assignment like your education or a military assignment or a ministry assignment. Singleness can be a gifting that is temporary.
It can be a gifting that lasts your entire life but it's divine empowerment. You say, but I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be alone. You're not supposed to be alone. It's just that marriage is not the only way to not be alone.
Listen, a lot of times I hear people say, well you know all you need is God and that sounds so spiritual. The problem is God never said that and it's not true. In fact, what God said is it's not good that man should be alone. It's just that marriage is not the only way he takes care of that. Here's how Jesus, who again was single, not married, here's how he said it. Truly I say to you there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake or for the gospel sake who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time. What he means is in this time the ultimate community in God's kingdom is the church.
You say, well I really want to have kids. Jesus said spiritual offspring are much more important and more eternal and more significant than biological offspring. If you are single you need to get involved in the discipleship ministries of the church.
We've got many single people here in the church who act as surrogate big brothers or big sisters or surrogate parents to those children in the church who have been deprived of fathers and mothers and families and we need many many more because that's what the church is. The only part of your life that is unfulfilled if you are single is sexual and God says he will give you a special charisma, a spiritual empowerment for that, and in eternity he is going to give you something that makes sexual pleasure seem insignificant because of how much better what he gives you up there is than anything you experience down here. But all the other things that we feel like we need marriage for, companionship and offspring, God gives you now in ultimate form in the church. Singleness is a gift that God gives to some for his purposes and it comes with divine enablement which you need to deal with the struggles of being single. By the way, marriage is a gift that you need divine enablement for. I know a lot more unhappy married people than I do unhappy single people and either one is nearly impossible to go through successfully so if you're going to be happy as single or you can be happy married it's going to take divine empowerment. The point is whatever stage God has you in you can be happy and fulfilled because happiness and fulfillment do not come from your marital status.
Happiness and fulfillment come from the God who gifts and empowers you and walks with you every step of the way. Now listen, I know for some of you this just sounds absolutely crazy. You're like what? Be happy without being married? I don't know what you're talking about. Listen, this requires a level of commitment that some of you are nowhere near. Christianity is not for the half committed. It just doesn't work. It doesn't work as a religious garnish to your life.
When Jesus called disciples the only way that it works is for you to go completely sold out to him. It doesn't work any other possible way and my prayer and all this is that for some of you your singleness works something like sometimes tragedy works in people's lives where it takes that out of this superficial faith and drives them deep into godliness because that's what God is doing is he's saying you need my power you need my help for this. We need to get rid of the myth that real life and the only complete life is the married one and we need to quit giving off this vibe in the church. I had a friend who was single until he was a a good bit older and he said he said I got so sick of the sweet little old ladies he said I knew they meant well but the sweet little old ladies that every time I was at a wedding they'd always come up to me like don't worry Bruce you're next you're gonna be next he said I got so sick of it I finally said to them when we were at funerals don't worry you're next you're next. Listen, we need to be a church where if you're single you're involved because that's the only way all this works.
It's not you coming to be a spectator it's you deeply involved and if you're married we need to have a community that is that is an open community that has different people at different stages of life all in one family together because that's what we are. Tied closely to that is myth number two what I've heard called the right person myth. There are two parts to this myth. First part of the myth is that there's a right person out there for you and that good marriage or happy marriage is determined by you finding that person and if you don't find that person you're never going to be happy and if you're unhappy now then it's because you're just not with that right person and if you're married and you're unhappy it's because they're not the right person. This is one of the most widespread and most destructive myths in our culture that absolutely is destroying some of your marriages. Andy Stanley says it works like this when you believe this myth the right person myth and the dating stage you're always on the prowl you got to find that right person you obsess about it you're always worried about it you start to wonder things like what if I don't find them what if the right person for me gets married to somebody else because they're out of the will of God what if I'm being too picky what if they don't like me oh if I don't get this right I'm going to be unhappily married or even worse I'm going to be single. Finally for many of you you find that someone who just sweeps you off your feet you fall in love your heart is all aflutter and you think there I've now found them he or she is it they're perfect our relationship is special and we never fight we're just perfect together it always makes me laugh when somebody that is dating says we never fight I'm like just wait just wait you think you're going to ride off into the sunset it's just going to be awesome but then you get married and you figure out they're not nearly as special as you thought and he seems totally oblivious to your needs or you figure out that she's selfish and she expects you to be able to read her mind and sometimes she acts like she's she's lost her mind and then those little habits they have start to drive you crazy in the dating stage you thought they were quirky and you thought they were cute almost entertaining now you think I think something is seriously wrong with you so what if you here's the question what if you gave up the idea that there is a perfect person and what if you understood that that's not what marriage was about anyway and what if you understood that God's main purpose in life was preparing you for himself and his kingdom and that marriage was a way that he can do that and it was a way that he can supply some of your needs but it is not the only way that he can prepare you and not the only way that he can supply your needs think about it this is radical but would that not change how you approach singleness an encouraging word for singles and a reminder for those in relationships that marriage isn't meant to completely fulfill us only God can do that you're listening to summit life the bible teaching ministry of pastor author and theologian jd greer so jd it's back again it's time for our annual day planner this is a staple resource so many of our listeners have come to rely on and we've just launched it this week yeah you know there's nothing magical about the new year but what it does do is it presents a natural opportunity for a reflection that's all i am i just start thinking about where's my life going what what needs to happen in the next year so it's a good time for you to take stock of your life set some goals you know here at summit life we want to see you grow in in all ways but spiritually we would love to partner with you and making this the year that you walk more closely with jesus and experience his presence and his fellowship in you and through you yes maybe you want to start reading your bible every day maybe you want to get better at making time for ministry maybe you want to become more generous with your time and your your talents and whatever it is we hope that this planner would be a good tool that will help assist you in meeting those goals we'd love to get you a copy today so just go to jdgreer.com thanks jd as god has blessed you this past year through the teaching on this program will you extend that gift to someone else by donating today your generous support right now is critical to help us not only finish the year strong but continue this ministry in the coming months and years and we'd love to have you partner with us as our way of saying thanks for your support we'll get you a copy of that exclusive resource the 2023 summit life day planner ask for it today when you donate at the suggested amount of 35 or more call 866-335-5220 that's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgreer.com i'm molly vidovich thanks for joining us and be sure to come back again tomorrow to hear more relevant life-changing truth from pastor jd greer right here on summit life today's program was produced and sponsored by jd greer ministries
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