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The First Great Christian Institution

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 21, 2021 7:00 am

The First Great Christian Institution

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 21, 2021 7:00 am

Christians are facing a current political climate that is hostile to the traditional, Biblical idea of marriage. It is more important than ever that we know what marriage really is and how God intended to use it. Did you know that in God's design, marriage is about much more than our happiness and fulfillment?


Christians are facing a current political climate that is hostile to the traditional biblical idea of marriage. It's more important than ever that we know what marriage really is and how God intended to use it. Did you know that in God's design marriage is about much more than our happiness and fulfillment today will learn more about this important topic on this broadcast of Bible study. Our welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act quickly. The marriage relationship seems to be one of Satan's favorite places to attack believers as we listen together to the teaching of Dr. Boyce will learn why Seton's battle plan is really quite strategic second half of the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, chapters 4 through six deals with the Christian life, which is Paul's pattern in his letters first doctrine when application of the second half of the second half of Ephesians deals with relationships, that's merely a way of saying that the Christian life does not consist solely in the relationship of the individual to God but that it also always involves relationships to other persons as well. I suppose that's why Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones in his multi volume commentary on Ephesians about eight volumes begins a new book at Ephesians 518. This is the point in chapter 5 where Paul begins to speak of being filled with the spirit and by beginning a new book of sermon expositions at that point Martin Lloyd Jones was testifying to the fact that if we are filled with the spirit. This will express itself in relationships tend to think of Christianity as a privatized sort of thing me in God and its lap, but it is also myself and other persons in these sections of the book. The apostle Paul speaks of three basic sets of relationships that between husbands and wives, wives and husbands that between children and parents. And thirdly that between slaves sure we would say employees masters those who are responsible for the work they do at least three sets of relationships, one that Paul deals with first and which he gives the greatest amount of time is marriage, no marriage is the first and most foundational of all human institutions is first because God created it first. Back in the first chapter of Genesis we find God reflecting on everything that he had made and we find that after each day of God's creative activity God pronounces a benediction on his work board so we have in our Bibles or these God's law that it was good. I created the sun and the moon, and he said that's good. He created the earth and cause the earth to be filled with living creatures, and God said that's good. Everything that is described for us in that first chapter of Genesis is followed by God's addiction, but then we come to the creation of the man and for the first time in all God's acts of creation we find God saying that something is not good.

God said it is not good that the man should be alone was therefore in response to that negative evaluation and to make the problem of the man's aloneness that God created woman first woman for the first man and God brought the two together and therefore in the role of a preacher if you will minister performed the first marriage ceremony, the Lord Jesus Christ was reflecting on that when he was asked about marriage in his day and said from the beginning God created them male and female.

Therefore, let not man put asunder what God has joined together, when we talk about marriage were talking historically and in terms of the description of creation of that relationship which was first in all human relationships secondly were also talking about a institution that is foundational. By that I mean that it is the institution from which all other institutions have properly, was within the home that their first education took place as fathers and mothers began to train their children. First of all how to eat and how to care for themselves how to address how to do useful work, how to get all of the world and so forth. And out of that natural responsibility for the education of children in the home came all of the other institutions have to do with education, lycées, schools, academies, universities and other centers of higher learning. Same thing is true healthcare first healing was done in the home is mothers particularly cared for sick children nor other members of the family and out of that natural care for the sick within the home came hospices and later clinics and then hospitals and so on. To our great medical institutions today say ministry of government is on the basis of the father's rightful role in his home is head of his home that there develop. First of all patriarchal forms of regulation of human affairs, government, and then monarchies and then eventually the kind of democracies that we know all of these things have grown out of the home and it follows from that that where home stands in a secure these other institutions will stand with it, but where marriage fails to being under attack as it is obviously under attack today.

These other institutions will also succumb where talking about this portion of Ephesians 5 are therefore talking about that which is basic in God's plan for the human race, and that which is of the utmost importance to our own well-being.

Great Lutheran radio preacher Walter Meyer wrote of marriage and relationship to God and he said this because marriage comes from God above and not from man or beast below. It involves moral and not merely physical problems.

Sin against the commandment of purity is a sin against God. Not merely the outraging of convention the thoughtlessness of youth, or the evidence of bad taste Savior tells us that when God's children are joined in wedlock. They are united by God beneath the evidence strength and courage and love that this divine direction promises. There is a penetrating ominous warning also tamper with God's institution have lighted the fuse to the explosive of retributive justice.

Marriage is so holy of all social since its violation invokes the most appalling consequences throughout history, red blotches of warning marked the final record of devastated nations that forgot the divine origin of marriage and its holiness. And yet, in spite of the fact that marriage is the first and most foundational of all human institutions marriage is under attack in our day as it perhaps has been in recent history. Nowhere else and it no prior time. This is so intense, so pervasive, so insidious, but one has to conclude that is not merely a matter of human failure or selfishness as we might sometimes think to be the case but rather something demonic, something that flows merely from human failure but from that great spiritual warfare that is going on in this world between the forces of God. On the one hand, and those of Satan.

On the other. I suppose that's why marriages discussed where it is in this particular book of the apostle Paul's. That is why it comes between Ephesians 518 through 20 where the apostle is speaking of the Spirit filled life and Ephesians 610 through 20 where he speaks of spiritual warfare. I guess that is a way of saying that relationships are the battleground upon which the spiritual warfare is fought. We tend to think of it in a more personal way. We tend to think of the battleground of spiritual warfare being something that goes on in our own hearts and our own closets when we're praying and of course battles do go on their strong and sometimes very discouraging battles from our point of view. When Paul brackets this discussion of relationships as a dozen Ephesians, is he not saying that this is where the battle takes place, perhaps more than anything else.

The relationship between wives and husbands parents and children. Those who work in those who direct their work is me saying that. And if that's the case he saying that if we are to leave Spirit filled lives. It must be here this is the point where the spiritual battles are going to be either one or lost now as I say marriage is under attack, and not surprisingly, if it's is important institution as the Bible declares it to be what we would expect Satan to be doing if he wants to undermine people at large, and certainly undermine the church. Some of the attacks come from the world as we would naturally expect and it's not difficult to point out where some of those attacks come from externally areas in our time. A modification of the divorce laws which make it increasingly easy to divide marriages so we speak to die of no-fault divorce. Just as we speak of no-fault car insurance as if there would ever be a case of the dissolution of the marriage, with no faults involved on both sides, and certainly on one we have that that the phenomenon of our time. We have a cheapening of sex through the glossy sex magazines which at one time were a novelty, but now are found in virtually every store on every corner of every town and city in the United States. It's not even model anymore to see such things. We also have the effect of television which, in my judgment, is the single most pernicious feature of American life, somebody would say to me what is the thing that is most destroying American life and breaking down values. I say without any question that it's television.

I'm not saying by that the television can also do worthwhile things. Of course it can. The overall effect is not flat breaks down the family if nothing else, it substitutes passive, watching for active communication. No relationships are built without active communication.

People don't even know how to talk to one another anymore.

Television is a large part of that and in addition it is active in remolding people's approach to moral values, and relationships. Instead of holding before people.

The Christian ideal of active life in service which means that we are here for the other person's benefit serving God. It substitutes the precise opposite the cultivates of me first materialistic immediate gratification style of life.

So I say that without any question single most pernicious feature of contemporary secular American life is television and what bothers me most about the problem of our time is not the impact of these cultural features.

Christians always been confronted by hostile cultural features no matter where they lived or at what time of history they live. But what bothers me most. Today is the way the church itself is contributing to this breakdown and proper morality where marriage is concerned. One of the evidences of this is the large number of abortionists that are taking place among leaders in the evangelical church. I make it that especially leaders among the evangelical church. There are divorces elsewhere as well but this is happening widely in the lives of people who are very well-known and prominent Charles Swindoll in his book strike the original match has a section in which he talks about this, he was writing on married shortly before that somebody had visited him from one of his publishers having traveled the whole way across the United States to do it this publishers representative had been stopping at other major cities, and when he arrived on the West Coast in Los Angeles.

He said to Chuck Swindoll, Chuck. I have been in six major American cities.

On my way out here and I am appalled to discover that in each one of them.

One of the things I heard of was the breakdown in the marriage of some prominent leader, either in that city or elsewhere, six of them in one trip, and Swindoll said to him, as we well might well that's a sad thing to hear, but was a maximum effort made to save the marriage and are those involved broken by their experience in the reply was broken on a bit matter-of-fact in every one of these cases, which involves man they had gone off with other women and what was equally appalling. They were continuing on in the ministry as if nothing happened. There was no brokenness, no repentance at all.

Pat Williams, who is a general manager of the 76ers and who has written a marvelous book on the revitalization of his own marriage called rekindled said to me. On one occasion Jim what is happening every week it seems to me I hear of another prominent marriage breaking up. He said that to me in a week in which popular and very influential woman evangelical writer and lecturer had left her husband to go off with the man who had worked for a Christian publisher is a good question. What is happening what is happening is that marriage is in trouble as it has been a no previous time, at least in American history. I am speaking of the attacks on marriage and I'm starting with the world on proceeding of the church and as I talk about these things. The situation gets worse and worse. And yet, I haven't even yet come to that which I consider most insidious and dangerous.

What I find is this, and I speak now not only personally, but I speak on the basis of the ministers of 10th Presbyterian Church of the session which deals with these problems again again in our monthly session meetings.

What I'm finding is that there is an approach to the subject, which is being used today by Christian people to attempt to get the church on their side in providing an excuse for dividing or dissolving their marriage is a will. How is that possible, since the Bible speaks so clearly on the subject, saying the marriages of God and God hates divorce. Well, it works like this first Corinthians the seventh chapter verse 15, Paul is speaking to a situation in which a believer is married to an unbeliever.

I doesn't specify how that happened, it may well be that it would be a case of two unbelievers, one of whom is then converted that would provide the situation. At any rate, that is what is talking about and he says in that situation. Everything should be done to keep the marriage together. The believer certainly should not dissolve it but he says if the unbeliever departs then let him or her part. Christian is not bound now. So far so good, that justice is an obvious statement. It takes two to tango. We say it takes two to make a marriage and I one won't sustain the marriage in the final analysis, I got everything there is probably at least in many situations. Nothing more to be done about it. The unbeliever will departs divorce is inevitable.

So far so good. But then this command in first Corinthians 715 is coupled with Christ's teaching about reconciliation of the failure to achieve reconciliation, which is found in Matthew 18 verses 15 through 17. There, the Lord is speaking about disagreement between brothers and he says where that happens where there is hostility or anger.

Every attempt should be made to provide the reconciliation should be done one on one.

First of all, if one of the parties proves recalcitrant then there should be a representation of the church, we would say in the form of several elders go to visit the recalcitrant party and then if at that point, the person who is refusing to be reconciled still refuses rejecting the Council and admonition of the church that one is to be treated, says the Lord Jesus Christ is the public and the tax collector as to say, to be treated as an un-believer now what we have found happening. Is this people take the first of those texts, which have to do with letting an unbeliever departs and couple it with the second of those texts, which has to do with treating a recalcitrant person as if they are an unbeliever, and the argument goes like this. If I can't get my wife if I can get my husband to be reconciled to me on my terms, after having called upon the church to be active in the reconciliation. I therefore have the right to treat my husband or my wife as an unbeliever, or regard them actively. As such, dissolve the marriage see what happens. That way is that the church elders leaders switch in obedience to God must be on the side of saving marriages and facilitating communication are manipulated into being on the side of one party who actually is desiring to have marriage terminated. That's a sad thing, but that is happening today and it's happening. I must say, with the advice and counsel people who were Christians and who are active in the business of counseling those with marital difficulties. What I want to say is that if this battle is to be one and we are to reverse the trend, which unfortunately is affecting the evangelical churches as well as other parts of Christendom. It is going to have to be done by a change in attitude toward marriage which means basically a change in attitude to life, as we see ourselves as Christians not here primarily to satisfy ourselves or be happy or fulfilled, but rather to be obedient servants of Jesus Christ which means obeying what his word says fortunately in our time. There are number of evangelical writers who are being raised up by God to oppose this trend. I mention them for you. Elizabeth Elliott, who has expressed herself in a little book called what God has joined J. Carl Laney was written an excellent study of the text called the divorce myth and wheat. The doctor who originally wrote intended for pleasure and is followed that up by an excellent book called love life for every married couple Mike Mason who was written, the mystery of marriage and Mary pride original feminist who was converted and turned around and is now written a book called the way home beyond feminism and back to reality.

What these writers are declaring on sound biblical basis is that the only way out of the divorce malaise back to happy permanent marriages is by a couple's open acknowledgment in advance to one another and before others, that marriage is an irrevocable covenant and is, therefore, until death us do part as the older boughs put it, it's only on that basis, and irrevocable commitment in advance that healing really does take place and we has a whole chapter on this longest chapter in his book entitled how to save your marriage alone means by that of the other person doesn't want to save it how to do it alone, and he says that is by living in obedient biblical life. In spite of the disobedience of the other person like Mason was written this marriages which are dependent on romantic love fall apart or investor in for a stormy time of it but marriages which consistently look back to their blouse say he means not just how you feel up to what you declare in the presence of God and these witnesses, marriages, and look back to their house to those wild promises made before God in which trust them to make sense out of them find a continual source of strength and renewal hundreds obvious to you that this is the way Paul approaches marriage in this important passage in Ephesians. There were undoubtedly problems among the marriages of the Ephesians of his day as Aurora minorities were people who were converted out of paganism. They had pagan ideas and utterly came to him with problems, but when Paul makes his commandments to them. He does not make them contingent is contingent upon the response of the other person upon mutual building of the marriage. On the contrary, these commands are unilateral look. He does not say wives submit to your husbands if they're worth submitting to your judgment does not say husbands, love your wives if they are worthy of your love in your opinion on the contrary is commands are absolute submit love, care for respect and the reason given is not the corresponding response of the other person but simple obedience to Jesus Christ upon which our own conduct within the marriage is to be patterned. Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. The only thing that will ultimately make marriages between two sinful persons, which we all our work is this kind of unconditional commitment is the only thing that will preserve this first and most foundational of all human institutions, which are no teaching like this runs against our culture is all biblical teaching does teaching like this practice is more to the point, runs against the tenor of our own hearts and thinking and even when Harris is generally the case of evangelical churches, Christian people acknowledge that this is God's teaching.

There is still the tendency we see in our own hearts to make excuses and say it just can't be done. In my case, a lesser standard must prevail bring up to excuses that are made.

The first is the excuses as well. I believe everything that is says but I just can't do it say this is what we tell ourselves when we are psychologically defeated and when were feeling sorry for ourselves, sometimes we shift the blame. We push it off on God we say I can do it.

God may be this way. God obviously intends a high standard for some people but God just didn't give me the wherewithal to do it on the Bible obedience is never conditioned upon our human ability to perform what's commanded, it simply commanded and when we by the grace of God. Take that step. Knowing ourselves unable to do it. It is then that we find Christ to be the great enabler of unable people think of the story where a man with a withered hand was confronted by Christ and was told to stretch it forth, humanly speaking, you couldn't stretch for this and I was his problem. His hand was weathered when Jesus said stretch of forth. He stretched forth, he obeyed the command and the obedience came the healing that he needs. Don't say I believe it's true, but I can't do it. You never know what you can do until you step out in obedience to God. And then there's this excuse. People say well I can do it but I do it I won't be happy. One is tempted to say in response to that whoever promised you be happy. Jesus promised across but I think that is quite to the point. What I want to say in response to that objection I can do it, but I won't be happy is this. You certainly are not going to be happy by following the world's counsel's which is what the alternative is. I think for example of the first song speaks of a wicked man who want follows the councils of the ungodly and, by contrast, it speaks of a righteous man who meditates in the law of the Lord day and night, and who follows God's teaching. I think this means that we just have to come to a point in our lives when we say happiness is to be found in my case it is certainly going to be found in following God's commands.

Furthermore that is what I determined to do and I'm going to resist every temptation to do the contrary woman who was having marital difficulties once said this to Ed wheat.

She said I had to learn to take a stand on this matter of outside influence. Everyone is been anxious to give me advice about my marriage.

I have learns to refuse to discuss it with people who hold an un-biblical viewpoint that includes Christian counselors or people who try to turn me against my husband or people who make me feel sorry for myself, and encourage weakness in me. I can't afford to be around worldly friends anymore. I want to be with people who will stand with million support me when I'm inclined to falter. That's what we need in the evangelical church today are people who will bend because they're afraid that the teaching of the Bible will wound or be unacceptable to another hurting person. But people who will stand side-by-side with hurting persons and help them stand in obedience to the clear commands of Scripture where we do that God, who honors obedience as he perhaps honors. Nothing else will intervene. It will bring love out of hate life out of death provide the victories that we need in this world desperately needs to see bright our father we confess we do it personally. The failure in our lives. It's great. It's known to you and known to others. Certainly those who are husbands and our wives. We confess that, but we confess as well that you are the God of healing that you're in the business of reconciliation and that where we are concerned our life and our relationships is the battleground where the power of the Holy Spirit must be same God, give us grace and power to win the victory. There for the sake of the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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