Oct. 23, 2011
INTRODUCTION – Leith Anderson said in his book “Dying for Change” “Without a vision of God as He is, there is no vision of the church as it could be; without a vision of the church as it could be, the reality of our vision of God comes into question.”
One of the reasons this book is so thick; and one of the reasons why we encourage you every year to read it from cover to cover is because God has revealed Himself – His attributes, His works, the things He loves and hates, His will and ways – in the pages of this book.
One of those attributes of God that theologians have struggled to adequately explain – that the Bible oft speaks of when describing the living God – is that of God’s holiness.
Often in scripture we are commanded to worship God because He is holy, such as in “Exalt the Lord our God and Worship at His footstool; Holy is He.” Psalm 99:5 But what does it mean to be holy? “Wholly other” – – absolutely unlike any other being or person in the universe. Nothing or no one you can compare God to.
I want to say this morning that this is especially true as it relates to His Oneness. One of the mysteries of God and His person or being is that He is one God existing in three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is not three Gods. He is one – the scriptures clearly teach in passages such as Deut. 6:4. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have existed for all eternity in perfect unity and oneness.
You will never find a reference in the scriptures or in human history where the talk of the town was that God the Father and God the Son were arguing about whether Zachary should be born in Knoxville, or Los Osos or Biel Switzerland. And that the Holy Spirit was so disgusted with their contentiousness that He left the Godhead.
When you gaze upon the beauty of the Grand Canyon, or you look out on the Pacific Ocean from Ragged Point, or you walk among the Sequoias or the Alps – – what you are seeing is the fruit of oneness. When you meditate upon the amazing provision of Salvation that God has made through Christ and through the cross what you are seeing is the fruit of oneness.
This last week – at our annual international conference – God’s model of oneness for our koinonia or fellowship or our community life together was often spoken of.
Nowhere in scripture is this more clearly seen than in gospel of John ch. 17. I would like for you to turn there as I help you understand the uniqueness of this chapter.
If you study the gospels – especially the gospel of Luke – you will find that Jesus spent hours in prayer on a daily basis. Luke 5:16, says He would often slip into the wilderness to pray.
Well John 17 is a portion of the prayer he prayed right before He was arrested in the garden of gethsemane, and taken away to be beaten and crucified. John 17: 20-22 – -Our oneness based on or modeled after His Onenness How crucial oneness is to the mission of he church and to the pleasure of God with His People
Question is: In a world that is as fractured and dysfunctional and divided as it has ever been, …. when a growing percentage of our population has rarely experienced oneness with anyone other than their pets, how in the world is the church ever going to experience or attain to this call to oneness or unity?
Well we start where God started – – oneness in marriage. I submit to you this morning that it is out of oneness in marriage that all other oneness and unity and harmony on the earth springs from. Gen. 1 – expound
Now with that looong introduction – I want you to turn to Matthew 19, which is where we left off in our sermon series through the gospel of Matthew.
Matt. 19 the world had greatly crept into the consciousness and mindset of the Jews – – especially the men…., who throughout history have ruled and led God’s people – whether we’re talking about Israel before Christ and during His earthly ministry; or the church after Christ. Men have always led the way; and if they have become corrupt and self consumed – you can bet your life – that women and children will suffer.
If we are ever going to see our theme “Your Kingdom Come” become more than a theme or slogan; and if we are ever going to see our five fold calling fulfilled – – we have to honestly – in the fear of the Lord – wrestle with the issues in this passage.
Let’s read it first, and then perhaps the Holy Spirit will reveal to us how we are to respond to it. Matt. 19:1-14
As has happened so many times before in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ – He is found pouring His life out for the crowds – healing the sick and casting out demons – usually ministering for hours on end – – – and the Pharisees – the religious leaders of that day – come along – totally ignoring the pain and affliction and hopelessness that Jesus had just set so many people free from – – and instead challenging Him on one front or another.
This time – the front was that of how much wiggle room there was in the law for them to be able to divorce their wives if things got tough or unpleasant or inconvenient? (vs. 3)
Jesus – instead of giving them a yes or a no – immediately rebuked them for ignoring the very clear mandate for oneness in marriage that God Himself gave mankind way before the law was given, and that therefore trumped the law; and therefore was the plumb line that everyone –especially the leaders of God’s people – should have been ordering their marriages by. (vs. 4-6)
Please note the references to oneness and God’s joining in vs. 4-6 Well the Pharisees showed their true colors in this latest twisting of the intent of the law by referring to Deut. 24:1-4; and while you are turning to that – please note that this is what men who are in the religion business, but have never truly become bondslaves of Jesus Christ do – – they twist the scriptures to support their unrighteous behavior.
Do you see a command to divorce in this passage? No what is happening here is God already saw the many provisions the Jewish religious leaders had made for men to divorce their wives, so He had Moses put this restriction in the law re: men remarrying their wives after their wives, whom they had divorced, had remarried someone else, and then that person either divorced them or died.
Jesus then in vs. 8 answers their question by saying, “ The disciples’ response was honest, and showed that they for once saw what marriage was really supposed to be, and they were getting in touch with their own inadequacy and insufficiency for accomplishing the purposes of God.
In a similar way, more and more people in the West today in their twenties and thirties are honestly questioning whether taking a dive into marriage is worth the risk. With so much shipwreck in marriage, which is seen both in the divorce rate, and in homes where though husband and wife are still under the same roof, there is nothing anywhere close to oneness, unity and harmony – – who can blame the sense of fear and insecurity for what my chances might be in experiencing anything different?
So how can we turn this ship around? Especially when our gov’t and judicial system just continues to make matters worse by coming up with brilliant things like no fault divorce and defining marriage as between any two humans that say they love each other?
1. We need to proclaim and teach unapolagetically what the true purpose and intention for marriage between a man and a woman is, which means we must unapologetically proclaim how God feels about divorce . But in saying that I do want to say this about divorce. First of all the Bible never says God hates divorcees. Divorce is one of our greatest human tragedies and no one feels that more than those who have gone through it. Second, divorce is not the unpardonable sin, and it is not in some of the lists we have of sinful lifestyles where God makes very clear – those practicing them will not enter the kingdom of God (I Cor. 5:11, or Gal. 5:19-21). I am not in anyway saying that we should soften God’s stance on divorce; I am saying that sometimes in the church we tend to magnify the sin of divorce and overlook statements like I Sam. 15:23 that says, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.” Or Col. 3:5 that says greed amounts to idolatry. Third, while Jesus gives allowance for divorce when there has been sexual immorality clearly committed by one of the spouses, I know a handful of couples that have worked through those heart breaking revelations, and resolved to not divorce.
2. We need to demand that no one ever be allowed to lead in the church unless they see this and are aggressively pursuing it by the power of the H.S. and interdependence in the body of Christ. And of course that won’t happen if they haven’t come to the following conclusions and have the following things in their lifestyle. a. If they are men, I Cor. 11:3 & I Tim. 2:8 and rest of scriptures on role of man in marriage
b. If they are women – I Cor. 11;3 and rest of scripture on role of wives in marriage
c. Both men and women – reality of: in my flesh dwells no good thing; and the flesh profits nothing; and what the flesh can only produce from Gal. 5:19-21
3. Fathers and mothers must teach their sons and daughters how to respect their siblings and parents of opposite sex
4. Fathers and mothers must teach their sons and daughters how to appreciate and accept and be glad in their God given gender.
5. All children or youth must be prepared for marriage unless they have received the gift of singleness.