Monday, August 22, 2011



Marriage was ordained by God in the beginning. As such, He placed a high value on it. In Genesis 2:21-15 we read the account of the first marriage. God took a part of Adam and created Eve. Adam later said that she was, “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” The Hebrew word for bone is `etsem[1] which can be defined as “substance or self.” Likewise, the Hebrew word for flesh is Basar[2] and carries the meaning “mankind.” What Adam is telling us is that God made them in such a way that they complimented and completed one another. It is almost as if, by becoming married, that they produce with-in themselves a new, shared DNA—that they became “one flesh.”

Obviously, there is no chemical or physiological chain reaction that took place. This should be viewed, rather, as a spiritual transformation. God creates two people that He means for each other, and He intends it to be for a lifetime.  This produces a perfect coupling and a stable environment for procreation and for modeling love, compassion and the family dynamic to future generations.  Unfortunately; however, we do not live in a perfect world. Many things crept into mankind’s lives because of Adam and Eve’s choices: disease, murder, death, and idolatry. Perhaps; however, the most hurtful and harmful of all is the ability of men and women to rip apart their souls through the plague of divorce.

John Piper correctly sees the marriage between husband and wife as symbolic of the “love-covenant” that Jesus shares with the church. Piper says, “There is a deep and profound significance to the union of husband and wife in ‘one flesh’ as a parable of the relationship between Christ and his church.”[3]  Thus divorce, the breaking of that covenant, is as repulsive in God’s eyes as a saved person losing their salvation. Now, while the possibility of someone losing their salvation is zero, (because God is perfect) the chances for a divorce are around thirty-three percent.[4] With nearly one-third of marriages ending in divorce, it is easy to see that this represents a crisis, not only for the nation, but also for the church. The question being asked is about this problem of divorce and the natural consequence, remarriage. What does the Bible say and what should the church do?

The Bible is not silent on divorce. Both Jesus and Paul taught on the subject. Coming from those two teachers, we have a myriad of views on the subject, however. Some Bible scholars believe that divorce is permitted for most any reason. Still others take the hard-line view of no divorce whatsoever. Most fall somewhere in the middle. A typical belief, coming from the New Testament, is that there are a few legitimate reasons why divorce is permissible. These would mostly be infidelity, abandonment, and abuse, with a few other reasons sprinkled in, depending on the person’s doctrine.

In Mathew Nineteen, Jesus taught that divorce was sinful with only one exception, adultery. He reprimanded the Pharisees, a very strict religious group; because they believed the Deuteronomical clause allowing for a bill of divorce was a loophole that God had given to men. Instead Jesus chided them for being sinful, saying, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mathew 19:8 ESV) God made a provision in Deuteronomy because men were sinful in their treatment of women. The law was for the protection of women, not for the absolution of men.

Paul also entered into the discussion in First Corinthians. Paul speaks plainly, saying that wives should stay with their husbands, and men should not divorce their wives. He does allow an exception in the case of immorality and adds abandonment to the list. Tony Evans also adds abusive relationships at this point, referring to what he calls a spouse that is “covenantally dead.[5]” In essence, Evans looks at the unspiritual spouse as one who is “dead” to the relationship and therefore would fall into the Romans 7 category. By being spiritually dead (lost), that spouse is not living up to their covenant requirements. If they are rebellious and refuse to rectify their spiritual mortality, then they are as good as dead in the eyes of the church. Basically, according to Evans’ view, physical death and spiritual death are both grounds for divorce, as it were. While this is refreshingly Reformed in its theological context, it might be stretching Romans 7 to new elastic lengths.

Virtually all reputable scholars and teachers understand that divorce is bad, but that because we are less than perfect creatures living in a less than perfect world, there are certain exceptions that allow for divorce. The true problems arise with the aftermath of divorce. And the main snare which traps so many in a very heated debate is the issue of remarriage.

The biggest issue facing the church today is this issue of divorce. Divorce rates are staggeringly high, and the church is not immune from the societal impact. George Barna, as previously noted, places the American divorce rate at around thirty-three percent. Unlike many recent cataclysmic reporting of a near fifty percent divorce rate, Barna looks at the number of married Americans that have experienced divorce at least once.[6] Some statisticians erroneously looked at the number of new marriages (2.4 million) contrasted with the number of new divorces (1.2 million) and said half of all marriages fail. They failed to take into account that there were fifty-four million marriages intact leading up to the divorce rate of nearly one million.

Nevertheless, fifty percent or thirty-three percent is obscenely high, either way. The impact to the church has been that many in our church membership have now been negatively impacted. In fact, many in the church’s leadership have been affected. At one time, a divorced deacon would be considered an oxymoron. Yet today, we have many churches with divorced pastors! This has led many members to ask, “What does the Bible say about divorce and especially remarriage?”

Obviously, the answers are as varied as the respondents. John Piper, for instance, gives very little leeway, whilst John MacArthur gives none. Tony Evans has a completely different view than Rick Warren. The answers of Jesus and Paul leave us with theology and doctrine, but good theology and doctrine do not always answer the questions from couples who are hurting or recovering from failed relationships.

According to Dr. Thomas Whiteman there can be a silver lining in the inherit nature of the problem. The more prevalent the problem is, says Whiteman, the more emphasis, research, teaching, etc. is given to finding solutions.[7]  Les Parrott III says that the blithe of divorce on our landscape has affected our, “family relationships, economic situation, self-esteem, security, optimism, and worldview.”[8]  Therefore, the church has brought more attention and resources to the issue in recent decades. The church has also started to change in their understanding and dealings with divorced individuals.

This then becomes the crux of the issue then, in the author’s understanding. In exactly what role can the divorced person, or divorced and remarried person play in the church? Is leadership strictly reserved for those who have never been divorced? Has the divorced or divorced and remarried person had “Ichabod” stamped across their church membership so that they are ineligible to serve?

As stated earlier, many churches have revisited the issue of First Timothy 3. The interpretation of this passage of Scripture now resembles the make-up of the congregants more than in the past.  Previously, churches taught that being the husband of one wife meant no one who had been divorced could serve in leadership; now many now treat the passage as meaning something closer to “a one-woman man.” The newer interpretation indicating that the passage is referring to “one woman at a time.” In addition, some writers, such as KÖstenberger, interpret mias gynaikas andra to mean a “faithful husband.”[9] Therefore, being faithful in the present marriage is the standard to which the Apostle was aiming.

KÖstenberger also makes an excellent point that reading it as “husband of one wife” would also eliminate the man who never married from service. It would also be incongruent to see this one sin as elevated above others. For instance, the prohibition on drinking does not exclude the man who has been drunk one time in his life. The use of the Greco-Roman customs and language in KÖstenberger’s argument also lend credence to his conclusions that divorce and remarriage, in and of itself, is not a limiting factor to service. Rather, it is the consistent character of life that the individual is leading, the faithfulness, and current standing in relation to the Lord.

The most overlooked aspect of this problem for the church is grace.   It seems as though Christians are the only creatures that would come across the scene of a car wreck and shoot the survivors. It is when people are at their most vulnerable that grace and compassion should be administered the most lavishly. Believers often lament that members stay away from church when going through a divorce, but the rationale is easily seen. Church is often the only place they will feel judged.

Yet, it is the grace of God that saw those who will do the judging through their own hardships. It is puzzling at best, sinful at its worst. If the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was to pay for the sins of all, and we truly believe that God has placed our sins, “as far as the east is from the west” away from us, then why do we not allow those who have suffered from the painful sin of a failed marriage to place their sins from east to west also?

The church should work with couples before they marry to prepare them for the incredible strains that this world and its enticements place on a marriage. We should be constantly vigilant in keeping them in God’s Word while they work through life’s difficulties. And, when it is too much and they succumb to the temptation and divorce without biblical allowances, we should be the healing balm that God intended for us to be with one another.


_____________. The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Crosswalk, 2011. [online] Accessed August 4, 2011. Available at

Barna, George. New Marriage and Divorce Statistics. [online] Accessed August 6, 2011. Available at

Evans, Tony. Speaks Out On Divorce and Remarriage. Moody Press, Chicago. 1995.

KÖstenberger, Andreas J. God, Marriage, And Family: Rebuilding The Biblical Foundation. 2nd Ed. Crossway, Wheaton. 2010.

Parrott, Les, III. Once Upon A Family: Building A Healthy Home When Your Family Isn’t A Fairy Tale. Beacon Hill, Kansas City. 1996.

Piper, John. Divorce & Remarriage : A Position Paper. [online] Accessed August 4, 2011. Available at

Whiteman, Thomas. Your Kids and Divorce. Helping Them Grow Beyond The Hurt. Baker Books, Grand Rapids. 2001

[1] _______. Crosswalk Lexicon. [online]
[2] Ibid
[3] Piper. Divorce & Remarriage
[4] Barna. New Marriage and Divorce Statistics. [online]
[5] Evans. Speaks Out. 30-38
[6] Barna. New Marriage and Divorce Statistics. [online]
[7] Whiteman. Your Kids and Divorce. 18-19
[8] Parrott. Once Upon A Family. 58
[9] KÖstenberger, God, Marriage, and Family. 241

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Modern Look At Existentialism

So...we live in a post-modern, relativistic world dominated by the philosophy called existentialism. This philosophy basically states that there are no absolutes in the world, especially when it comes to truth. What is true for you, is not necessarily true for me. This view of existentialism is especially held with post-modernity's view of religion. It was Friedrich Nietzsche who said, "There are no facts, only interpretations." Which he took to mean that his own statement was factual, by the way. It is like the man who says "There are no absolute truths." I say, "Are you absolutely sure?" The existentialist says, "There are no facts, only interpretations." But then tells modernists, quite factually I might add, that they are wrong and bigoted because the modernists' interpretation differs from their own.

Now friends, let me assure you that there are absolute truths in this world. For instance, let's say I hit an existentialist...when he gets up...he will know that some things hurt. That is a truth. :)

Or better yet, let's say that there are three men on the roof. One believes that the law of gravity exists. One believes that the law of gravity is relative. The third has never even heard of Newton. All three jump. I promise you this, all three will go splat. Not just the one who believed or had knowledge.

There are some inescapable truths:

2+2 will always equal 4.

What goes up, must come down.

The French will always surrender.

The Word of God is the Absolute Truth.

Look, we don't have to teach our children to lie. Do we? We also don't have to teach them to know it's bad either. An Aboriginal living away from society and western culture still knows that there is something greater than we are. He may not know which god is God, but he knows there is something that is innate in his being that desires to worship something or someone. That is an absolute, also. Even the atheist's have their gods. They may not acknowledge them as such, but they are gods in their lives. Science, technology, and even philosophy itself can be worshipped.

The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 1:

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

See, they try to suppress the truth, but they can't. Now tell me that this passage doesn't sound like modern America? In this new land of the free, the only thing that is not tolerated, is intolerance itself! We are told by the existentialist crowd that we MUST be tolerant of other's religious views. Yet they themselves are intolerant of our intolerance! This intolerance is Christianity's most valued doctrine. There is but one God, and His name is Jehovah. He is represented in three personalities, The Father, Son, and Spirit. And THE ONLY WAY to have a right relationship with Him, is through His Son, Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me." That is as absolute as truth gets. And quite frankly folks, as intolerant, also.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Marriage For Dummies: Making It Work God’s Way

One of my D-Min classes for this summer is an advanced class on Biblical Counseling. So we had to “pretend” to write a sermon outline for Ephesians 5:21-33 and then define male headship and wifely submission. So here’s my stab at it:

 Marriage For Dummies: Making It Work God’s Way

I. The Role Of Submission
Submission; Not Subservience (Just as Jesus was submissive to the Father, but ever equal with the Father, so the wife should submit to the husband, but remains equal)
21 Submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 

II. The Rule Of Sanctification
Servant-Leadership; Following The Savior’s Example 
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 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.

III. The Responsibility Of Sacrifice
Sacrificial Love; Leading By Loving (Christ’t s love for the church was so great He was willing to die for her. So husbands should put the welfare of wife and family first.)
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”< /span>

IV. The Reciprocity Of Selflessness
Shared Respect; Seeing Christ IN Each Other
32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

"male headship": The husband is ordained by God to be the spiritual leader of the house and family. While it is possible for him to delegate authority to his wife, i.e. paying bills, disciplining the children, etc., he cannot delegate the responsibility. Ultimately, God holds the man responsible for the happiness and spiritual well being of the family.

"female submission’ Submission should not be confused with subservience. The wife is to submit to her husband’s decisions, especially on matters that are spiritual in nature. She has a voice and should support her husband by freely advising him as a partner in the marriage and parenting. Ultimately; however, she should support her husband’s decisions.

Friday, April 1, 2011

As Awsome As An Army With Banners

So I have been invited to preach at a Bible Conference in May. I like it when I'm asked to preach other places. It is nice to know that what I have to say is considered worth-while outside my own church.

So I thought about what I might say at the Bible Conference. (I have been strictly informed not to call this the "R" word.) After praying about it for a few weeks, I am fairly sure that I will use Song of Songs 6:10. Yes, preaching from the Song of Songs can be tricky.

There are three ways one can look at the SoS.
The Historical View, which says that these are real, historical characters. The Shulamite woman, her Beloved, and the women were real people.   I believe that is true.

The Romantic View, which says that this book is a guide to how we are to show romantic love within the God ordained bounds of marriage. This view is also true. Then there is,

The Classical View, which spiritualizes the content of this marvelous book, and shows the relationship between God and His people. Obviously, this is true as well.

As odd as it seems on the surface, I go with all three views. This is not contradictory. Solomon loved him some Queen Sheba, and she loved her some Beloved; which shows us how to love our spouses. And this is a wonderful type of the agape love the Father has for us.

Oh, yeah...Song of Songs 6:10: check this out
Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, as awesome as an army with banners?

Who is she? The Shulamite woman; a man's betrothed; and the Bride of Christ. The church.

Solomon needed to rescue, renew, and restore his bride to her proper place. Likewise men, we must never forget to place our wife's importance above our own. But...I am focusing on that spiritualized context. Doesn't that sound a little bit like Revi...uhmmm... a Bible Conference message to you?

So here it is, The Recipe For Renewal (That R word should be allowed) Hopefully somebody that actually knows how to run the recording device will be in charge on May 3, and I can post the message here for your listening enjoyment

.Nevertheless, please pray that God will use this time to bless in a mighty way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Post Coming

I am working on a new post on The Dragon. Had to double up on school this week because of the Disney trip, so I'm a little behing posting.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heaven's Mega-Vision

Sunday nights a Beaverdam find us studying the Revelation. This week, nah, probably this month, we will be in Revelation 12. There are four characters in Rev 12 that make up the "play" about the grand story of God. The Woman, the Dragon, the Male Child, and Michael, the Archangel.
For this post, let's just focus on the first character, the Woman. 

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. Revelation 12:1-2 (NKJV)

The first thing we notice is that John see a  GREAT SIGN in heaven. The word Great will be used extensively from here on out. It is the Greek word Mega, and yes, it is just like our word Mega. As in Super-Mega-Lo-Mart, a Mega pizza, or Godzilla vs. Mega-Godzilla. So the sign is BIG. 

But it is also a Sign. Semeion in Greek; which my lexicon says can mean several things. It can mean  a great wonder, or a vision. (I guess  you could say that John saw this in Mega-Vision! Bwahahaha)

Or as John uses Sign in his Gospel, it can mean miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him. There were seven "signs" in John's Gospel that Jesus performed, seven miracles if you will, which was used by John to prove to the Gnostics of his day that Jesus was in fact supernatural, that He was God.

But Sign can also mean that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known. Now we have what we are looking for. The big sign John sees is something that marks or represents something else. This is not an actual woman, (nor an actual Dragon, as we'll see later) but a sign of something or someone represented by a woman.

This is not new or difficult logic for us to understand. From where I live in Cassatt, SC, I could get on I-20 and head toward the Promised Land. (West) After 98 miles I would come to the River Savannah. As I cross the bridge, two things happen.
1) I hear harps playing and a heavenly choir singing as I enter into the Skekinah Glory that is known as Georgia (pronounced Gee-or-Gee'-ah) which is a Greek word for The Land Where God's Glory Dwells!
2) I see a blue...wait for it...wait for it...SIGN(!) A blue sign that says, "Gov. Sonny Perdue Welcomes You To The State Of Georgia."
OK. Is the sign Georgia? No. It is a something that represents the state. It is a sign that represents the reality that I am now in the Promised Land, flowing with peaches and bulldogs.

If I were to spiritualize this thought, we could think about baptism. Baptism does not save you! Despite what some denominations teach, baptism is simply a sign, a semeion. It is an external representation of an internal reality. It is a sign that we have indeed been washed, but by His blood, that we have indeed been buried, in His name, and that we will indeed be raised from the dead on "that day."

So what John sees in heaven is a representation of something, symbolized by a woman. There are four women in Revelation that falls into this category. But who is she? Let's eliminate two possibilities right away. The Roman Catholic Church says this is Mary. I can sort of understand why. She is about to give birth to Jesus, so, A+ for effort. But, she cannot be Mary for the afore mentioned reason. This is not a literal woman. Secondly, it cannot be a prophetess. Mary Baker Eddy and others have claimed this role. I say again, this is not a literal woman. And it's not the church. The church is seen as a Bride...always! This is a woman, a matron, and she is pregnant. A bride can't be pregnant because she is not married. (Yes, yes, I know. But let's not go there.) The church is to remain pure. So the church can't be the Woman.

So the other three are

1) Jezebel 2:20
I am certain that this is not her real name. Here the woman is not a sign but a literal woman. She represents paganism in the church. More aptly put for our generation would be worldliness in the church. Allowing things of the world to come into the church. An example of this, for me, would be Mark Driscoll. I have heard his apologists enough. Using profanity in a "sermon" while teaching the Bible, just for the effect and drawing in of seekers, is worldly.

2) Harlot  17:1-7
My whole life I grew up hearing that the Scarlet Woman was the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not so sure, but it is plausible. This is; however, a representation of the Apostate Church. It is the church that commits spiritual adultery against God, and abandons the clear Word of God. Want to see this in action? Tune into the History Channel and watch any show talking about religion. You'll see lots of apostates put up as "religious scholars."  

3) Bride of Lamb 19:7-8
'Nough said. We are the Bride. Well, we IF you are a Believer in Jesus Christ.

OK. The forth woman is here in chapter 12. This is Israel. Israel was the chosen vessel that God predestined to deliver the Messiah. The Old Testament refers to Israel in terms of motherhood. And, the description is a dead give-away.

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.

This is a reference to Israel from Genesis 37:
9Then Joseph had another dream and told his brothers about it. "Listen to this dream," he said. "The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!" 10This time he told his father as well as his brothers, and his father rebuked him. "What do you mean?" his father asked. "Will your mother, your brothers, and I actually come and bow before you?" 11But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father gave it some thought and wondered what it all meant. Gen 37:9-11 (NLT)

And, of course, the Dragon is standing ready to destroy her. Satan has tries to destroy the woman since the first woman in the Garden. He has, and will continue to fail. Nevertheless, his attempts cause the woman (Israel) great pain. The Jews are the most persecuted people in history. And it will continue, and defiantly it will get worse. Satan's only hope is to destroy, completely wipe out the Jews. Even though the Messiah has been born, if he can destroy the Jew people, he can cause God to break a promise, and therefore deny His character. But Israel is still under the divine auspices of God. Try as he might, and boy does he, Satan cannot destroy the woman.

In an application phase, I would say that you should allow this knowledge of the woman to pay close attention to the current events that surround Israel. As I write this, Egypt is calming down from weeks of unrest. Egypt is one of the few allies Israel has in the Middle East. If she fall into extremist Muslim hands, Israel looses a serious defense partner. Our current administration does not favor Israel, despite our long standing recognition as a country of her right to exist, and defend herself. And then, follow the advice of Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you prosper."

Charis and Shalom,


Monday, February 7, 2011

Let's Try This Thing Again.

Ok. So writing two blogs, pursuing a D-Min, and writing three sermons a week, plus visitation, being the Band Booster's President, father, and husband was a bit much. Not that I'm making excuses or anything.

But I did (do) want to write a more detailed blog about deep Biblical topics. So I got to thinking, why ADD more writing and research when I'm already doing a detailed, in-depth exegetical, expository, verse-by-verse study three times a week?  In-other-words, just spill over my sermon fodder on to BT?

So, my eleven follows (bwhahahaha) I will attempt to keep this page updated at least once a week with some overflow from my preaching and/or D-Min studies.