family

What Should You Say To Your Teenager?

There are many things that a parent could say to his/her son/daughter from the ages of 13 to 19. These years, called by most the “teen years” because of the obvious appellation of “teen” in the numbers, are for many the most difficult, strange, and scary years for them. That is, the mind of the one who used to play in yard pretending to be an airplane, cowboy, or dinosaur is now interested in earning a living, physical appearance, and his future. The mind and heart has now shifted to greater realities and the days of pretend are changing to the stuff of reality. What do you say to a teenager in these years? What would a conversation look like from a Christian parent to their “teenager”? Here goes:

 

“God has designed that you, my son/daughter, are maturing past the things that used to hold your attention. You are “growing up” and as such you are learning to shoulder responsibility. You are beginning to learn the priceless, and most difficult aspect of adulthood: self-sacrifice. You are beginning to see that you cannot simply do things you want to do without consequence. In short, it is exactly what Jesus Christ said in relation to following Him. In a world that tells you to fulfill your dreams, Christ says to deny yourself. Let me explain.

Jesus taught that entrance into the kingdom of God only comes at the expense of a complete denial of yourself. This isn’t a self-righteous thing that you do in order to get accepted by God. That is not how God operates. It is that you realize that the sin that is in your heart and mind, and you know it well by now, keeps you from God. You have come to see and understand, as Mom and I have instructed you, that sin really does live in you. You are seeing more and more of your impulses, reactions, and desires are, basically, selfish. You most often think of your future, your interests, and your life. You find it difficult to think past your hopes for the future and the present responsibilities seem to be an intrusion into your plans. You understand little of how the inconveniences of doing the dishes and mowing the grass can further your future plans. However, Mom and I are not nearly as interested in your future plans in life as we are concerned about your life in the future. By that I mean we are most concerned that you follow the Lord Jesus Christ right into His kingdom. And that does not require a résumé, or an itinerary, nor does it require a bank account and a three-piece suit. What is required, quite simply and most impossibly, is the rejection of yourself and a complete submission to the will of Jesus Christ.

It has been said that you cannot serve two masters. You have heard this many times. However, have you ever considered this in light of your life? Ask yourself, “Who am I serving?” If you don’t know, examine whose will you are following. Self-interest, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement are, well, all about self. The display of your own glory by means of your looks, skills, interests, right down to the car you drive, is not the will of God. However, the display of the glory of God by means of your looks, skills, interests, right down to the car you drive, is the will of God. You know this, I realize that. You have heard it many times before from Mom and I. However, you are prone to forgetting. And, unfortunately, it only gets worse.

Son, daughter, don’t follow your own will. Submit your will, hopes, plans, dreams, all the stuff the world tells you to achieve, to the will of the God of your Father and Mother. We have been following Jesus Christ now longer than you have lived and we can tell you that He is worthy of all our allegiance. He is worthy of our lives.

You might think, “Then what do I do? Do I not plan for the future? Do I not pursue work, family, and things that my heart wants?” No. That is not the point. I am talking about your will, not your works. Don’t miss it. It is as simple as asking yourself, “What do I want?” You can have all that you plan for, as long as it is the result of  the pursuit of obedience to the will of God and His glory. Or, you can have all that you plan for as the result of  the pursuit of your own desires apart from God’s glory. Subject all that you are thinking about your future to the eternal will of the Father as explained in the Bible. In summary, do all that you do for the display of God’s brilliant glory and everything you do will be established in His pleasure. This is a pursuit that is full of light and is glorious, at the expense of your life. However, to pursue your life at the expense of the will of God is extreme poverty of soul and darkness. James said it like this,

James 4:13–17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Son, daughter, Jesus Christ is God, the Son of the Father. He has come in order to take away sins. He has come in order to live and die in the place of those who would ever believe in Him by His doing. He is coming again in holy array and will take His church to Himself. When that day comes, it will not matter if you were a ditch-digger or a neurosurgeon. The only question that matters is: “Did you deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Him?”

Family 101-The Man

Today’s world hates the fact that there is a difference between a man and a woman. If the discussions of the day point to anything, they point to the desire to make man a woman and a woman a man. They do not want what they would call ‘inequality’ because we as human beings have tolerated that long enough. In the push for homosexual rights in “marriage,” adoption, social status, etc…, the basic disdain for God and His creation has begun to be exposed and accepted by far too many. To attempt to make a man equal in every way to a woman, or vice-versa, is tantamount to saying that the birds should come down and act like the hippo, or the shark should jump out of the sea and start soaring like an eagle. The reality is, God’s creation was a design of God, for His grand purpose, and it is a fixed state. Nothing can change it, except God Himself (and change it He will).

Today, I want to begin where the creation narrative concerning people begins-the creation of the man. It is my desire to explain the creation of the man, which will lead naturally to his responsibilities according to that creation, and thus help as many as possible to re-orient their lives to as to learn to measure up to these responsibilities.

 

THE CREATION OF A MAN

 

God has created the heavens, with all their hosts, and the earth with all of its hosts, minus two: the ones to rule over this creation on behalf of God. It is now time for God to do what He purposed to do in eternity past and that is to create a man to bear His image according to His likeness and a helper to accompany the man in his divine enterprise of bearing other images of God according to God’s image, through the man. I will attempt to explain that more in subsequent posts. This, you will see, is the starting point, and the consummation, of God’s purpose for the creation of the man. You see, a man is not just male. He is a replica of God if God were ever to become man. Let me explain.

God said,

Genesis 1:26–27

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Notice what is being said here. God, after creating all the adornments of creation, now focuses His unified attention upon the creation of “man.” In Hebrew, “man” is a word that is typically, when it does not have the article “the” in front of it, translated “a man.” It can mean “man” in a collective sense, as in Genesis 5:2 where God, after creating the man and the woman together, and after having them presented before Him (Genesis 1:28), clearly gave them both the name “man.” That use of the word is a collective use including both the man and the woman. However, that is not the sense of the word in this passage, nor the creation narrative of Genesis 2-3. “Man” does not include the man and the woman in this narrative (which is evidenced by the fact that the singular masculine pronoun is used throughout). For example, God said, “Let us create man/a man to be our image according to our likeness.” He then proceeded to create that man and gave him specific examples follow and a specific commandment to obey. Then, after doing that, said “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” Notice that the creation of the woman is treated differently, and the man is still called the man. The woman is not called so, but simply a helper.

What does all this indicate? It indicates that when God said “Let Us make man in (or “to be”) our image, according to our likeness…” it was a direct reference to the man, Adam, primarily. That is, the result of this decree was the man, not the woman. That, then, indicates that what follows is primarily directed towards the responsibility of the man. Of course, there are things for the woman too, which will be summarized in Genesis 1:28 & 2:18-25. We will get there. However, for now, the man Adam needs to be addressed. We have already seen that the original responsibilities for Adam is for every man today as well. Nothing has changed. Let’s summarize those responsibilities.

First, as we go in order of the creation, we see that primarily the man is made to bear the image of God according to the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Paul tells us

1 Corinthians 11:7

7  For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

Paul is echoing the very ordinance of God found here in Genesis 1:26. Adam, being made first and for God’s reason, is the image of God and most responsible for bearing that out in life. We will see how in the following. Some might object to this truth and assume that the woman cannot bear the image of God. Paul refers to that as well. He says that the “woman is the glory of man.” First, Paul makes it clear that the woman does not bear the weight of reflection of the image of God directly as does the man. She does it indirectly through the man. That is, the woman, being made directly from the man, is his image and likeness, and should be. Adam was not taken from another person but made directly by God without previous material as is the case of Eve, being made from Adam’s bone and flesh. This is why, barring obvious, adjustments, the woman and the man have such similar physical features created primarily by God for their respective purposes. Yet, the woman is the glory of the man who, in turn, is supposed to be the image and likeness of God. This also indicates a very important reality – leadership from the man will result in the continuity of the image and likeness of God through the family as the man properly reflects that image of God according to God’s likeness. That is leadership. The reflection of God seen in the man will pass to the rest of the family since part of that image is the wisdom to deal with sin and sinners carefully and possibly redemptively.

Second, the man is called to work. That is, God has created the man in His image and now the man is standing next to God beholding God’s handiwork and beginning to receive the Lord’s instructions. YHWH and Adam are standing together on the outskirts of the garden when God makes every tree to sprout that is pleasing to the eyes. He also makes the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil respectively (Genesis 2:9). Upon arriving there, the unspoken expectation, or created purpose for the man is that he is put into the Garden of Eden in order “to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Since being in the garden God indicates to the man that first he is to “cultivate” the garden. What does that mean? This particular word means to “work” or “serve” and is used for religious service to YHWH (Exodus 3:12) as well as physical labor (Exodus 5:18). The idea is that of manual labor and exertion of effort toward some work that will produce either food or religious duty. In the case of Adam, it refers to manual labor as v. 5 indicates since no plant was to perpetually grow until the man “cultivates” (same word as v. 15) the ground. Thus, although God first created food for the man, and woman, the man would have to work in order to cultivate the ground continually in order to produce more food during the eons to come. Further, as is true for all things for which the man and woman would be responsible, they would also be required to train their children for faithfulness to these things as well so that they in turn can bear the image of God in the His likeness as well.

Third, the man would be called to worship. This is the second word in our couplet of v. 15. This word, “protect” (i.e. the Garden of Eden), is a word that means to “guard” from outside detriments. However, since there was no such detriment in the original creation, the best way to understand word is to consider it in the sense that Moses was told to remove his sandals once He was in the presence of the Lord on the mountain. Where God is, that place is instantly holy and pure. Thus, out of honor and dignity toward God, the man would be required to protect, as it were, that holy place where the man and YHWH would meet often. The word is used in Genesis 30:31 as Jacob describes his care for the flocks of Laban. It is also used, interestingly, in Genesis 18:19 to describe the care that Abram is to exercise over his household to ensure that they obey the commands of YHWH, e.g. “to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice…” The garden is a holy place as that is the location of the eternal fellowship of the man, his family, and YHWH, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see something of this in the confrontation of Genesis 3:8ff.

Fourth, the man would be responsible for the Word of God. God tells Adam in Genesis 2:16-17 this statement:

Genesis 2:16–17

16  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;

17  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

This is the only time that the word “command” is used in the creation narrative. Thus, as Paul indicates (Romans 5:15-21 wherein Paul talks about a transgression. That transgression was none other than disobeying this very simple command found in vv. 16-17). The man would be allowed access to every form of edible plant, or tree, including the Tree of Life. However, he was to refrain from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In eating from that tree, he would disobey God, something the Son of God would never do, and thus incur God’s judgment. That judgment would be punishment for sins by means of death. As we know, that occurred by the crafty, subtle, and complex deception of Satan toward the woman, and the woman toward the man. However, the man was ultimately responsible for the entire episode as evidenced by the Lord’s levels of accountability. This commandment, as well as all the rest of the responsibilities of the creation, would be the responsibility of Adam to instruct to his wife, which he did (Genesis 3:2-3), his children, and subsequent grandchildren, to the degree that they would be able to instruct their own children and grandchildren (Psalm 78:1-8; cf. Deuteronomy 4:9). This is the very pattern in the rest of Scripture, especially into the NT (Ephesians 6:1-4). But, Adam, and his sons, would be stewards of this Word bearing the authority, and responsibility, of teaching it and holding others accountable to its instructions. Imagine every time you approach the Tree of Life you also see the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and remember YHWH’s instructions as told through Adam. That would have been the daily occupation of the children of Adam and Eve, barring the Fall.

Finally, Adam would be responsible for his wife, the woman. This particular privilege is of immense substance as she was a new creation, directly from the bone and flesh of Adam. In doing this, God has made a comparable mate, friend, and object of love, for the man. In doing this, the image of the Triune God would become complete as she now is one he can speak with, give command to, care for, and relate to physically as well as every other level. Further, in bearing children, they can replicate themselves, and thus the entire economy of the Garden, in them and maintain what God has commanded for them for His own glory. In being responsible for her, that is not to say that she is inept or unintelligent. That is to say, however, that she is precious, dear, and prized. She was made for the man, who is God’s image according to His likeness. As such, she would have received that care from Adam, the care of life-giving instruction from YHWH, the care of relations with Adam, the care of bearing children and training them in the commands of YHWH, the care of protection from anything that would harm her, etc… She would be in that wonderful position to have received from Adam his love, care, and relationship. His love for her would have been on display in his care for her. Her love for him would also be on display in her submission to that love of his. This is the display of the relationship of the Triune God as well-love.

From this, in conclusion, we have the basics of the man’s life. As he conforms to these creation standards, which reflect the Son of God, Adam would have perpetuated faithfulness. Today, and every age, these things are expected of every man. Men, you and I have responsibilities. To refuse these responsibilities is called laziness, which is pride (“Why do I  have to work so hard…?”) and is your greatest enemy. We must excel in our skills in displaying the image of YHWH according to His likeness. You must know Him, read about Him, submit to Him, love Him. We must work like Him (John 5:17). Our work is to be diligent, skillful (Psalm 104; Proverbs 8). We must worship YHWH in the way He has created appropriate worship. This is the New Covenant in Christ Jesus the Son. We must handle the Word of God with care and comprehensive accuracy. Finally, we must excel in our relationship to our wives. She must know that she is precious to us. She must be instructed in the Law of Christ. She must be given the tools to fulfill her responsibilities as well, and protected from the evil in the world.

Family 101–pt.3 Creation

It is a simple conclusion: God created a man for His glory. That man was given a wife to complete the man, for God’s glory. That man and woman were given the ability to have children and to multiply themselves on the planet. It would seem then that since the children come from a man made for God’s glory, and a woman for God’s glory through the man, then the children too must be expected to bear God’s glory as well.  That is, what is being multiplied on the earth is not simply another person, but a creation made, as it were, in the image of God according to His likeness just like mom and dad. This is the basic structure of the family: individually it is for God’s glory; collectively it is for God’s glory.

That is where the Scriptures begin and that is where we must begin. The design and creation of the heavens and the earth and all that fill them were for the purpose of the infinite glory of God. Further, and we will have to touch on this later, this glory is pointed toward Son of God as He would inherit it all. For now, however, it is important to understand that the man, woman, and subsequent children in God’s original design were individually, and collectively, for the purpose of the display of the glory of God.

But the question is “How?” “How is a man the glory of God?” “How is a woman the glory of God?” “How are children the glory of God?” If this is the case, and it is, then how did God expect that out of Adam and Eve?

Remember, we are talking about unfallen conditions. Satan has not fallen yet, and has not yet tempted Eve. So, if it were possible to pretend Genesis 3 does not exist, then attempt that in this discussion. As is assumed in this series, the original design of God is still the way God wants things. That is to say, God’s original design for creation, man, woman, and families has never been rescinded. Although that will challenge some, many, it cannot be denied from the text of Scripture. One clear example is Jesus’ own teaching concerning marriage in Matthew 19:1-9. There Jesus taught that the original design of God was the marriage of one man and one woman, the union of the two into one, the work of God to make it so, and the instruction to man, by virtue of the creation by God, to never dissolve that married condition in any way. Further, later revelation in the Law of Moses did nothing to abrogate that design, as Jesus taught. Yet, its intent is severely marred by adultery and calls for further action, if necessary. Yet, the creation of God is the basis from which this example exists. In other words, unless you have this design intact, and the original intent of God maintained in creation as your starting point for all the functions of the family, you are, at best, making things up as you go (which far too many do).

Again, the design of God is His on-going intent for the family. Paul also refers to the created design in his letter to the Ephesians (5:31). That section of chapter 5 is an exposition of Genesis 2 and the creation of the man and woman. Paul is not merely quoting a verse that exists separately from the rest of the passage. Verse 31 is a quote from Genesis 2:24 which itself is a summary conclusion for all that leads up to the man leaving his family and being joined (by God-Matthew 19:6) to his wife. Grammatically, that is the case and Paul understood that, quoting it there in that fashion. Again, unless a person understands all that leads up to Genesis 2:24, that very verse will mean nothing.

Lastly, our Lord did say that there will be a time when a man will not be joined to a woman in marriage (and Paul expounded upon that in his discussion in 1 Corinthians 7 as well). That time is yet future, however. In Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus responds to a ridiculous question from the Sadducees. Their question involved the issue of death of a spouse and remarriage in regards to the resurrection, which they did not believe in anyway. Jesus said that in the resurrection, which is yet future to us all, there is no more marriage, or being given in marriage. That is, the entire economy of marriage, as designed and created by God in Genesis 1-2 will be stopped and will no longer take place. But, the resurrection has not come. God’s design is still His design for us. The only indication that God’s created purposes for the family is to stop is from this passage and the only time that will occur will be in the resurrection, which is yet future as it will usher us into the new heavens and earth via the Millennium (Revelation 20).

In conclusion, and as our starting point, realize that things have not changed. God’s design is intact and is His expectation (by which we will be judged either faithful or not). The issue is, however, do we really understand that design? Are we jaded against that design because we don’t want to be a “quiver-full” people? Do we bristle against this idea because that might change the complexion of our ministry? Are we sure we completely understand it to begin with? As we will see, just as the design for work, eating, and the rest is not changed from the creation, neither is the family.

Family 101–pt.1

Foundations are the most important part of any structure. For example, a five-million dollar home, with all of its detail and opulence is only as glorious as its structural integrity. If the foundation crumbles, the whole structure goes down and then where will the opulence get you? The five-million is only as good as the concrete below…and the skill of the man who put it there.

It is no different in the family. Structurally, you could say, the family is crumbling. Well, let me clarify a bit more. In reality, the family has been crumbling since Genesis 4. If you don’t believe me, consider Cain’s actions toward his righteous brother Abel. I would call that crumbling. So, please don’t believe the panic-mongers who alarm everyone by proclaiming the disintegration of the family and then call you to jump on their conference bandwagons (for a fee) in order to fix the problem. Now, I am all for conferences. They have their place in the church (e.g. Acts 15). However, to make a living at it, and to use the leverage of the hypothesis that the family has fallen from its once lofty position of the Early American Colonies is false. The disintegration of the family is nothing new and to believe that somehow we have overcome the heart of Cain toward the Abels in the world (and in the family)  is an illusion and fantasy. 

It is more appropriate to say, I believe, that the doctrine of the family  is disintegrating in the church. Let me say it again. It is not the family that is falling apart. It has always done so. It is the doctrine of the family that needs serious overhaul. In fact, if the inspector would come to the job site and examine the work of the men laying the foundation of that five-million dollar home, I believe He would halt the project immediately and declare the work not up to code and would demand that the foundation be destroyed and rebuilt. It is the doctrine of the family that is suffering from dilapidation and the fruit of it is the condition of families in the church today.

It is always the concern of pastors that God’s people believe the truth. In fact, I am more concerned about what a Christian believes than what they do. When a child of God is told that he/she has cancer, my greatest concern is that they do not believe error as a result of that discovery and blame God for His evil in their life. That is why a faithful pastor should visit his people at home regularly and in the hospital when necessary. In the same way, the result of what you believe about the family makes itself evident in the condition of the family itself. Even in the worst of family situations, the leadership and care of a faithful, godly, husband and father becomes evident. Not by the presence of swashbuckling boys and “damsel-in-distress” girls. But by the gospel being exhibited in that situation. Neither is it acceptable to simply resign your leadership, men, to the doctrine of depravity. “Sinners will do what sinners do” is a reluctance to obedience to God, who designed, created, and is the foundation of, the family. It is a rejection of the wisdom required and demanded of Christians in the home to rescue sinners.

Saying all of that, I have been recently reminded of the need to rebuild family foundations so that the Inspector will not come to the job site and condemn the footers and foundations of our homes. Before we begin this series, I want to say a few personal words. My family and I have learned that the priority in the home is the kingdom of God. Jesus instructed His church to

“seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (temporal needs-vv. 25-31) will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

The Lord’s instructions here are not meant to fill the shelves of theological libraries, although they do very capably. They are meant to be the pursuit of the children of God their whole life long. That includes submission to them in our homes. In fact, I will argue, it demands the priority of submission to them be in our homes before they are ever exhibited in the church or the world. To seek the kingdom at church, but shelf it at home is hypocrisy. To seek the kingdom on the street-corner with a soapbox and a bullhorn, but quiet down at home is hypocrisy. That is not from God. However, to seek the kingdom in your homes, even for singles, will insure that the kingdom will be prioritized in the church and in the world. It is not difficult to motivate Christians to evangelize once they have righted the ship and prioritized the kingdom in the home.

Second, the foundations having been built over the years are faulty. The material used to build the homes of far too many Christians include:

  • Natural revelation – “I feel that I should raise my children this way…”
  • Sacramentalism – “If we attend a church service, youth group, conference, regularly, my home will be fine.”
  • Peer influence – “My children must be around children their own age in order for the Bible to make sense.”
  • Neglect – “I am too busy in the ministry to bother with the concerns of my wife.”
  • Ignorance – “I don’t really understand why the family even exists.”
  • Shepherd-dependence – “My husband won’t…I need to ask my pastor what I should do.”
  • Societal emphasis – “I will avoid the really bad parts of society in order to ensure they don’t influence my family.”
  • Millennial mayhem – “My family is like the family of Israel and so I will make sure that I am a prophet and priest to them.”
  • Leavening – “I can’t shelter my children, so I will involve them with the world and hope things work out.”
  • Parental laziness – “My children are too high-maintenance. I need a break.”
  • Agnosticism – “The Bible does not give us comprehensive instruction about the family.”

The doctrines listed above are not acceptable in the building of the home. There are more. However, these are predominant and very influential ones of our day. The Word of God does not allow for these and neither should they be in our homes.

I want to explain comprehensively what the structure of the family is from Scripture, Old and New Testaments, such that God’s people, if they obey what is verifiably evident from His Word, will grow in the wisdom and understanding that is priority over all things in the home.

If you are reading this, please take the time to examine it carefully. Further, share this series with other Christians. The body of Christ is only as healthy and strong as the children, and families, in the churches. Because of that, we must have this series.

Are Children Made In God’s Image?

 

It is significant to me that God created a man and a woman to be His image and likeness. It is significant also that that man and woman would, by God’s power, procreate. This phenomena is the power of God and has a very significant meaning and profound reality to it.

This will likely become a little series, so I want to state my main thought up front. Children are a creation of God in which the realities of the Triune God and His kingdom are on display unlike anything else in our lives. It is important to explain this fully, thus I will attempt to do so over the next few posts. Because of the importance of such a series as this, I encourage you to think about this very carefully and be a “Berean” and search the Scriptures.

Let’s look at some introductory passages to begin our thinking in the right direction. In Mark 10:13-16 there is a little event that each of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) includes and thus indicates its importance in the life and ministry of Christ.

Jesus is in the Judean region, after having left the region of Galilee (Mt. 19:1f.). He comes to this region and immediately, during one of His teaching times, He is asked a question about divorce and remarriage in order to test Him and get Him in trouble since John the Baptist was also killed after confronting Herod about his unlawful divorce (Mk. 6:14-29). Further, divorce and remarriage were, as they are today, hot topics. So, if they could just get Jesus to slip up here, the crowd would most likely turn on Him in some way, or they might have legal right to accuse Him and punish Him. Either way, it was a ‘set-up.’

In this section, Jesus reiterates the original design and mandate of God from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24. In doing this, Jesus is saying that God knew exactly what He was doing, He is God, and we do not reserve the right to alter what He created. Therefore, Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mk 10:9). Therefore, a man and a woman who divorce and remarry commit adultery against their previous spouse. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus apparently stated that an exception to this hard-and-fast rule is sexual immorality on the part of the husband or wife. Once that occurs, divorce may be an option. However, Paul goes on to teach that it needs to be the final option after all other avenues of peace and forbearance has been pursued (1 Corinthians 7:15). The issue of divorce in the Scripture is informative and fascinating as it helps us to understand how to deal with people in this area. However, this is not the place to delve into that topic. Besides, no matter what you might think of divorce, it is still God’s original mandate and created design (from which we should not waver) that a man and a woman maintain their marriage for life to the glory of God.

What is interesting, however, is that Mark enters into the narrative of Jesus’ perception of children. Both Matthew and Mark have this section after the passage on divorce. Luke does not include the passage about divorce at all. But, he does include the passage about children. So, all three Synoptics have this highly important narrative, and for good reason.

All three passages indicate that “they were bringing children (Luke-‘babies’) to [Jesus] so that He might touch them (in blessing which included prayer for them); but the disciples rebuked them.” The components of this are that “they” were bringing young children, even babies, to Jesus for a blessing. The disciples of Christ attempted to rebuke those bringing the children. I would assume that those bringing the children were either parents or close relatives. It is possible that they might have even been neighbors. It simply does not say who they were. However, they were interested in the children receiving a blessing. My assumption is that they were parents.

Jesus did not refuse them, but the disciples did. Why? Why didn’t Jesus refuse the children? The answer comes out in the rebuke of the disciples, so we will look to the disciples first. The disciples began rebuking them. Who were they rebuking? The parents? The children? If they were rebuking the parents, the children heard it so it essentially had the same effect on both.

As a sidenote, remember, Jesus’ response to the disciples demonstrates God’s perspective on children, as well as those who mistreat them. Jesus responded to the disciples exactly as the Father would and the Spirit would if they were present. Therefore, this interaction gives us a very clear picture into the nature of God as it pertains to His relationship with children.

The texts do not overtly indicate why the disciples refused “them.” It could be that they felt the children and parents were a bother. Or perhaps the children were getting underfoot and they were perturbed by that. However, if you consider vv. 1-12, you get an interesting contrast to vv. 13-16. Notice that v.1 states that crowds were gathering around Jesus and the response was that Jesus began to teach them. That is what He always did. Even some Pharisees came up to Jesus and asked a question in order to pin Him down. No response by the disciples as of yet. When Jesus gets in the house, the disciples then asked for explanation concerning His teaching about divorce. This indicates that, for the most part, the disciples were quiet. However, when the children come, the disciples immediately speak out and rebuke the parents and children. In the next narrative, once again, you see Jesus being approached and asked about spiritual matters from the rich young ruler. The disciples, again, did not have a problem with that. It was only when the children came did they get uptight. Why? We have to be careful to read into the white spaces. However, it is appropriate to pull together the pieces of the puzzle we do have and paint a picture.

Children are not adults. Easy. Children lack all that adults (think they) have attained. Further, children appear to be ignorant oftentimes of even the simplest of facts that we adults understand. We could say that all of this indicates why the disciples rebuked the children. The children have no contribution to the society at large and therefore they are to be ignored. Although I think that most people feel this way, I don’t think that is the issue here, at least as far as Jesus is concerned. For Jesus, and thus in reality, the issue pertained to the relationship of children to the kingdom of God. The disciples’ failure to comprehend this enraged Jesus. This was more than simple displeasure. I believe that this treatment of the children incited fury, albeit under control, in Jesus. Why? Because of the importance of the kingdom of God. How many other things are said to own the kingdom of God?

The children, according to Jesus’ response, are a picture of the kingdom of God in some way. Jesus wanted the children to come to Him because, it appears, they were dear to His heart. But that does not seem to be simply because they were really cute. It appears to be more than that, considering His indignation and rebuke of His disciples.

Next time, we will delve into this further. But for now, just know that children mean more to God than we might think. However, is that the case in your heart? Do you see in children something of the kingdom of God as Jesus did? Or, do you see them as the disciples did, in the way and unimportant? Our view of children may well unveil some interesting things in our hearts.

A Wise Son Is The Reflection of God

 

The book of Proverbs is a book that is written very clearly for the sake of parenting. No doubt parents often think, “If only there was a guidebook to parenting!” Well, whether they know it or not, Proverbs is that book. However, it is a book that is far from rules and formulas. In fact, it is widely understood that Proverbs is not only a book that gives wisdom, but it is also a book that requires wisdom to understand. So, if we put two-and-two together, we realize that raising children and running a home require supernatural wisdom and that wisdom is available and required by Proverbs.

Parenting, therefore, needs to be understood as demanding the most exacting wisdom. It needs to be understood that the bar for parenting is extremely high in Proverbs, since the tools of raising children require the wisdom that only comes from God. To rely on gut instinct or worldly standards with a Christian twist is not good enough since it cannot produce what God desires. Paul summarizes centuries later what God desires, which is the backdrop of all of Proverbs, indeed all of Scripture. God’s desire is to make people who are conformed to the image of the Son of God (Romans 8:28-29). Whether it was the elect of the time prior to the cross or the elect after the cross, God’s intention is to make sinners into sons/daughters. The only example that we have is the Son, Jesus Christ. His discernment, wisdom, righteousness, understanding, and obedience to the Father is the only example we have. In fact, if you consider all that Scripture says about parenting, what you will eventually realize is that what is the only pattern there is, the only relationship after which parenting was designed to follow by creation, is that relationship between the Father and the Son. The more you comprehend that relationship, the better parent you will become. We are made in the image and likeness of God and God is the relationship between the Father, Son, and the Spirit. Therefore, since God’s original design has never been annulled, we see that the original design is the picture of a son and a Father (cf. Genesis 1:26 w/Genesis 5:3). The gospel of Luke picks up on this by calling Adam a “son” of God (Luke 3:38). He is not only a son by direct creation, but a son because he was made in the image and likeness of God. Likewise, Jesus Christ is the image and likeness of God (2 Corinthians 4:4b; Hebrews 1:3).

With that in mind, it is important, then, that we see parenting as the work, and I mean work, of making sinners into sons. That is, we work in the lives of our children through their hearts to train them toward obedience to their earthly fathers as the Son is to His Father. This is Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:1. Children obey your parents. Why? Because parents are to be honored. Why? Because parents are to children as the Father is to the Son. And, obviously, making our children into disciples of Christ is the only goal as that is the only path to making them true sons.

This reality is tremendous. I confess that I have been working through these issues theologically and hope to publish these things in time. But for now, I have found it hard to contain myself. Every time that I hear of some new method of raising good kids, or some new success story of another program, I almost become nauseas. Why? Because, in the end, the product is far lower than what the Scripture demands. The consummate picture of children in the Scripture is that of the Son toward the Father. Proverbs tells us what that relationship looks like in many passages. But one of the more conclusive ones is Proverbs 23:26, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” The Son, Jesus Christ, delighted in the ways of the Father which evidenced itself in the life of obedience that Christ exhibited (John 4:34; 5:30). And the heart of Christ was given to the Father (John 14:31). The life of Jesus Christ demonstrated an absolute love for the Father. He clearly loved His God with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that is the pattern after which a father and son relationship is to be patterned. This is a fundamental concept in the original intra-Trinitarian conversation that occurs as recorded in Genesis 1:26-“Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness…” That image and likeness most certainly included the relationship of the Father to the Son as pictured (‘imaged’) in a man to his children.

Further, at the completion of all redemptive history there is left a glorious reality that is described in Revelation 21:7. John writes, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” That is more than anthropomorphism. That is more than trying to communicate in a way that we will understand. That is an eternal relationship that was God’s original design in the garden and the substance of that shadow is the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son. Thus, Paul writes, “…those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). And earlier, Paul writes that all of creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

Therefore, because of the profundity of the theology involved, the building and establishment of a household demands the wisdom of God. This wisdom is not intuitive. It is divine. Moreover, it is contained in only one volume, the Scripture, so that we might “know wisdom and instruction, discern the sayings of understanding, receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity;  give prudence to the naive, the youth knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:2-4).

The Fear of The Lord

It is written,

“Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Ps 36:1)

 

The Psalm of David was the foundation of Paul’s words in Romans 3:18. David knew all too well that the wicked (or, “guilty”) have transgression “whispering” deep in his soul urging him on to do evil. The eyes of such a one are darkened. They cannot see the fear of the Lord. In his natural state, the hearts of every person are dark, deceived, wicked (desperately so) and perverse. They cannot fear God, nor do they want to. Rather, they resort to the antics of their father, the devil, and attempt to raise themselves above the throne of God. They believe that they are as good as they need to be to enter the kingdom of heaven, and they, of themselves, will not lift a finger to change that. Absolute inability to please God, and an absolute inability to want to. That is the condition of every person who is not clothed with Christ.

Thus, if wisdom has as its necessary starting point the fear of God, as Proverbs asserts, then it is no wonder that the ungodly are foolish. They lack the wisdom that was gifted them at the creation. They lack divine wisdom that was with God, and in God, at the establishment of the foundations of the earth. They lack the sense, as it were, to choose righteousness over evil. Wisdom cries out all day long to them and they ignore it. At this point, we need to understand that this is not a neutral posture. The ungodly does not simply reject wisdom and the fear of the Lord, he hates it. Paul wrote, “…mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8). There is a native hostility between man and God that rages everyday. Their heart, says David, devises evil when it should be sleeping (Psalm 36:4). He is not able to subject himself under the authority of the law of God, nor does he want to. It rebels against the authority of almighty God and revels in that rebellion. It is no wonder that mankind loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19) since, apart from the enlightening work of the Spirit of God under the direction of the Father, he is a slave of darkness. It is his nature!

Thus, with all of this in the heart of every person, religious or not, how is it that we think that any man has any level of wisdom in him? What I mean is, if Paul could not even trust himself (Philippians 3:3) for the wisdom that attains to religious satisfaction but rather died to himself in order to pursue Christ, then why do we believe that we can do better? Wisdom is as rare as gold and jewels. In fact, true wisdom is so rare, that it is only found in 1 part per 7 billion. That is, out of the 7 billion people in this world, only One has true wisdom-Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God” (1 Co 1:30a; cf. 1:24). Further, Paul wrote to the wisdom-loving Colossians, “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). Wisdom is rare because it is truly only embodied in one Person. And in order to know Him, you must fear Him (Matthew 10:28-Jesus, as the appointed Judge for all mankind, is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell by the authority given to Him by the Father). So, says Paul, there is no fear of God in the heart of the wicked, and Jesus Christ is God. He is to be feared. Therefore, for a person to be saved, he must overcome his lack of fear of God, and that cannot happen apart from the working of God in the heart of the person by the extended grace of God.

To fear God, as mentioned in the previous post, is to rightly understand with Whom you are dealing with and, correspondingly, who you are in relation to Him. God is life, we are dead in sins; God is light, we are darkness; God is holy, and we love transgression; God is eternal, and we are temporal; God is a consuming fire, and we are fit to be destroyed; God is love, and we love to hate. Thus, the fear of God is an appropriate heart condition in light of Who He is.

If a person wants wisdom, he must fear God. Unless a person fears God, he will lack God’s wisdom because He only gives wisdom to the upright (Proverbs 2:7).

Wisdom-The Building Block of the Home.

It is important that we understand that our homes are more than simply a place where some people live together. There is more to God’s creation of the home than what we typically understand or even expect. I would venture to say that if we gave the doctrine of inerrancy, or the doctrine of the church, or any other clear doctrine of the Scripture the same, superficial, attention that we usually give the home and the family, we would not even scratch the surface on these profound truths. Such is the case with the theology of the home.

You know the usual treatment of marriage and children, and topics surrounding the two. They are usually practical (Arminian) in nature and profoundly original, albeit shallow. Just like any other responsibility in a Christian’s life, if we do not have the doctrine understood first, our duty simply will not be what it should be. However, there are many from whom we never hear, whose marriages and families are wonderful and wholesome. But they are too wise to boast about it.

I would like to take opportunity to undertake a collection of posts on the issue of the Theology of the Home. As I have observed, although there are snippets of truth in a lot of teachings on the home, a full-orbed teaching is lacking.

 

In The Beginning…

It would seem to me that God knew what He was doing in Genesis 1-2 when He created the heavens and the earth. In this creation there would be animals, stars, water, and a myriad of others inhabitants and objects. But the crown of His creation would be a man and a woman. This man and woman would share in the likeness and image of God Himself. By His design, the man, being created first, uniquely reflects and represents God on this planet. The woman, being taken from the flesh and bone of the man, would derive her glory from representing the man who in turn represents God. Hers is a derived glory of God through the man. Thus, the man would be the image of God on this planet forever. His job? To rule. That rulership would be in wisdom and with the blessing and expectation of God. God would expect Adam to rule over the creation with skill, insight, and godly wisdom. Thus the man and his wife would give glory to God in their respective responsibilities together. This was a glorious and magnificent condition for this unique creation of God.

It is important to realize that the way that God created everything in the beginning was entirely sufficient to produce His glory. Everything that the man and woman needed for marriage, work, child-rearing, etc.. is all contained in the basic, consummate instructions and precepts of Genesis 1-2. It would all work out in the lives of the man, woman, and the children. However, with the fall, that wisdom and knowledge was lost. It was a wisdom that directed their lives and their relationships. This wisdom was sufficient for everything that the man and woman were required to do. But at the fall, the man and woman relinquished all rights to wisdom and rather gave themselves over to foolishness. It is important to understand this since these terms of wisdom and foolishness appear throughout Scripture.

To begin with, consider a few passages from the premier book on wisdom, Proverbs. Proverbs 3:19 states,

“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.”

The tool by which God created the earth and the heavens was wisdom. Wisdom was instrumental in establishing the universe, with all its diverse and wondrous phenomena. Further, it is this wisdom that He must have made available to Adam and Eve as well.

““The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. “When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:22–31)

Wisdom was the possession of God before, during, and after the establishment of the universe. This wisdom was present with the creation of the man and was pleased to see his creation. Inasmuch as this wisdom was present in the creation of the universe, it must also have been present in the man and woman as well. It was by wisdom they were created, and, apparently, the man and woman would have been created with this wisdom, to some extent, in them as well. The kind of thinking and understanding that would be required to create all that was created in six days is the kind of thinking and understanding that was in Adam and Eve as well, yet not as comprehensive. This quality of thinking is a kind of thinking that brings God glory. This wisdom is able to instruct Adam and Eve for eternity and this wisdom is able to instruct us as well (Proverbs 2:10-11; 6:22-23).

The source of all wisdom is God. His Word is wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7), King Solomon was given wisdom from God (1 Kings 3:6-15), and in times of pressure and temptation, the church is urged to cry out to God for wisdom in order to live righteously in the midst of trial (James 1:5). Further, wisdom is to be the quality of our ministry in the church (Colossians 1:28; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6f.). Wisdom is able to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:14-15), and, in fact, Jesus Himself is the embodiment of wisdom (Colossians 2:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24,30). Therefore, to ignore wisdom is to do harm to ourselves (Proverbs 1:20-33).

 

The Home-The Display of Wisdom

This wisdom is most necessary in the home. This is the summation of Proverbs 24:3. To manage a home well takes the wisdom that existed at creation, was in the heart of Adam and Eve before the fall, has as its source God, and is made visible in Jesus Christ. This profound and extensive wisdom is what it takes to build a home. This is obviously not speaking of laying concrete, building 2×4 walls, and a roof. This is speaking of the act of building a home-a place in which the relationships that God ordained between a man and woman and their children exist. Thus, the home is not a place that “just happens.” Building a home demands diligence, effort and complete dedication. There are those who would disagree with that last statement. They say, “I don’t think that is true. My home is doing alright. The kids are okay. My husband and I get along. We have good times, and yes sometimes bad, but who doesn’t.” However, you have to ask yourself what you are aiming at for the goal of your home. What is it that is actually supposed to be achieved in a home? If God says that a home is only built by wisdom and that wisdom is only given by God and that after searching for it as one would a hidden treasure of immense worth, then what does He mean? Is He mistaken?

If a home is only built upon the wisdom that is only available from God for the upright, then that would explain why so many households are simply not what they should be. Even in the church, households are not much above the quality of the world. Husbands don’t know how to lead their wives and children, nor do they think they are supposed to. Wives would much rather pursue a career than remain at home and build a place for her to express her love for her husband and children. Children are rebellious and expect the parents to give them their space. It seems that even the best of Christian homes are missing something. Could it be that we are missing wisdom? After all, it is as rare as a valuable treasure.

In order to address this issue, there needs to be more than one post dedicated to it, and there will be. We will be considering what wisdom is, what it does, what it does not do, and how to gain it.

Introduction

For a few preliminary thoughts, consider this. Wisdom is given, never discovered. That is, we gave up our access to wisdom at the fall (consider Proverbs 3:18 as compared to Genesis 3:22-24. We no more have access to wisdom, inherently, than we have access to the Tree of Life. Thus, it must be given by God, as the Tree of Life will be as well-Revelation 2:7; 22:1-9). Wisdom is from God and He gives it, not to the foolish, but the upright (Proverbs 2:1-7). For the fool, wisdom is too high to attain (Proverbs 24:7). It is like the space station in relation to his plight on earth. He cannot see it nor know that it is there. But it is there.

How do we get this wisdom? If it is given by God, how do we get it from Him? Is there a mechanism in place that will generate wisdom in us from God? The answer is in Proverbs 1:7 and repeated in 9:10. The fear of the LORD is the starting place for this treasure called wisdom (it also has shades of meaning in ‘understanding’, ‘knowledge’, ‘discretion’ and so on). The fear of the LORD is understanding the nature of God in all His power, majesty, and glory, and our relation to Him in all of our depravity, weakness, and foolishness. In other words, Jesus said to be afraid of the One who can kill both body and soul in Hell (Mt. 10:28; cf. Hebrews 10:31; 12:28-29). By His very nature, God should instill in us a real fear. He is absolutely unlike us. We are absolutely unlike Him, although we are made in His image (which is all the more tragic). This fear is the reality that in all His holiness, God has the right and the power to kill us and judge us for eternity for our sins. If a person does not fear after contemplating that, then he has no hope of gaining wisdom. He is proud. He is a fool.

Biblical Masculinity-pt.1

What is expected of a man? This topic of masculinity seems to be an increasingly hot issue these days. Many people are identifying the reality that seems to be before us that men are not acting like men. Many from Christianity Today to Wall Street Journal to City Journal, are identifying the same thing-men are not acting like men. However, what they would expect from men is far different than what God expects of men. Those periodicals may want a man to conform to the expectations of women, but God’s expectation of men is infinitely more important. It has become apparent to me that men are confused. But that is not simply because of social repression, feminist agenda, educational disadvantages, or skin color. The reason men are confused, I am convinced, is because they do not understand the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ restores a man to his responsibilities in God’s kingdom. The gospel of Jesus Christ reconciles a man to the God and Father he is created to emulate and represent. The gospel of Jesus Christ instructs a man to be a son, in the truest sense of the word. And I would guess that these truths have not entered the minds of most of the people reading this.

The Gospel Creates Disciples:

Consider what God does when a person repents and believes in Jesus Christ.

  • The glory of God is restored

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–6, NASB95)

  • A hard heart is made soft –

““Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27, NASB95)

  • Sins are forgiven

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight” (Ephesians 1:7–8, NASB95)

  • The Holy Spirit actually indwells the believer

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9, NASB95)

  • God the Father personally teaches us

““They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:34, NASB95)

With all that happens in a person who follows Jesus Christ, why aren’t more families strong and glorifying to God? Why are more women than ever leaving their children and going to work? Why are more men refusing to lead, in the family and in the church? Why are children in the church seemingly disconnected and more a reflection of their favorite rock group instead of God? Is the problem the work of God? Is God to blame for all this? Certainly not! Further, I would not want to blame it on too little teaching on how to maintain a marriage, or how to parent successfully. There seems to be no end in programs and books asserting the fact that they have the answers that others seem to have missed. If there is anything that Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5-6 concerning the family, it is that the fruit, or lack of it, in the family is directly related to how you understand the gospel, which is intrinsically tied to God Himself.

To begin with, consider the typical gospel presentation. There is usually the comment that you are a sinner and that God punishes sin. That is true. However, at this point, the gospel presentation is skewed into a kind of “admission ticket” approach. “If you would (pray a prayer, sign this card, come to church, get baptized), then God will let you into His heaven.” Many times we equate belief with one, or more, of these events. We often attach faith in the event treating their act as commensurate with true faith. However, what eventually happens, is that person is immersed into a church or organization that continues this approach, calling upon that person to remember that event whenever difficulty or doubt arises. Consequently, the lives of professing believers is not at all what would indicate a kind of faith that is given by God and bears fruit (John 15:8). So, when a young man “trusts Jesus”, then grows up and gets married, he is ill-equipped to handle the responsibilities of leading a home toward godliness. So, the problem then becomes the gospel that we are calling people to believe.

Compare that scenario to what Jesus said:

  • Matthew 10:34-39

““Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

  • Luke 9:23-26

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles taught the same thing, calling men and women to be disciples:

  • Ephesians 4:1

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” 

  • Ephesians 4:20-24

“But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” 

  • Colossians 1:9-10

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” 

  • Philippians 1:27

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”  

Thus, a true believer is better called a disciple. He is a follower, not a one-time-eventer, of Jesus Christ. His days are marked by learning and obeying the teaching from the Lord via His Word.

Discipleship Builds The Home:

In Ephesians 5-6, Paul demonstrates to us this reality. Marriage and home are the areas of life that are created by God to give Him glory specifically by each person taking care of their responsibilities which God has created, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is given when one repents and believes in Jesus Christ. And the power of the Holy Spirit is given through a proper understanding of biblical truth. God sanctifies an individual by truth and truth alone (John 17:17). It is the Holy Spirit who is given as a promise from the New Covenant and, when given, will “cause” us to walk in God’s commandments and instructions (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; cf. Luke 22:20). Thus, a man can face God on judgment day with full confidence that, by God’s work in him, he has done all that his master expected of him (Luke 17:7-10; Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

So, men, from the beginning, you need to get the gospel straight. If you have never considered the demands of Jesus Christ upon yourself, and have never subjected your will to His, and have never hated your own life in light of His glory, you, then, have never followed Jesus Christ. Start there. Once that issue is settled, we can move forward in this issue of masculinity.

Over the next few posts, we will be learning from the Apostle Paul what it means for a man to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Exalted Submission-pt.2

Last time, we were considering Ephesians 5:22 only. The summary of that verse is clear-“Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Borrowing the participle from v. 21, it means that wives should exemplify appropriate subjection in their relationship to their own husbands. This assumes: 1) Husbands are to exercise authority over their wives, and, subsequently, their families. 2) Wives are under obligation to have a heart dedicated to subjection to their husbands. 3) The manner of submission to the Lord should also characterize her submission to her husband.

I also attempted to give a fuller picture of this submission. In God’s kingdom, the slave is supreme. In God’s kingdom, the one in subjection to the authority over them with faithfulness and a whole heart is that one who will, one day, be elevated in His presence (Mark 10:41-45). The woman who looks upon submission with disdain, is that woman who does not understand Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He is a High Priest, and yet became the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-10). He was Lord, and yet became a slave (Philippians 2:5-11). He is the source of life, and yet gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Too man women demand their rights to places of seeming honor in the world. They seem to have forgotten the honor of subjection.

In Ephesians 5:23-24, we will see the profound reason why the wife is instructed by God to subject herself to her husband. It is, quite simply, the way God created the marriage relationship. But the purpose behind that marriage relationship is tremendously profound.

“For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:23–24, NASB95)

What Paul is teaching here is the proper outflow from chapters 1-4. In those chapters, the theme is, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14, NASB95)

The thrust of this entire epistle is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is that message by which we are made sons if we believe the claims of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that we, being dead in sins, can be made alive in God. Not alive like we used to be, but alive to God, indwelt with His Holy Spirit (who was the promise of the New Covenant-Ezekiel 36:26-27). That being said, Paul elaborates on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in that He will “cause” us to walk in the commandments of God (Ezekiel 36:27). That affects your marriage! How could it not?

Thus, the commandments of God that the Spirit of God enables us to obey are: wives be subject to your husbands, and husbands love your wives. But, our motivation in the New Covenant era is profound. The example before us is sufficient. The provision of the Spirit to enable us to do these things is enough. Thus, our task is to be filled with Him, i.e. to fill ourselves with the truth of Scripture (not philosophical knowledge, but comprehending and understanding the truths the Scriptures teach and subjecting ourselves to what it demands-Is.66:1-2). Doing that throughout our lives, fills us with the Holy Spirit since it is His Word and His power.

The Husband is the Head

Categorically, the husband is the head of the wife. There is no qualification. He did not say, “The husband should be the head of the wife”, or “The Christian husband is the head of the wife.” Paul teaches, on the basis of Genesis 1-2, that the husband, as far as God is concerned and as He has created, is the head of the wife. The husband, before God and in His eyes, is the head of the wife and the husband will give an account to God for that responsibility, whether squandered or taken seriously and done well.

What does this mean? What did Paul intend when he writes that the husband is the head of the wife? This is not the first time that he had written this instruction. Years before, he had instructed the Corinthian church on the very same issue. Just as it was then, it is now for the Ephesians, it is a matter of the image and likeness of God.

The Triune God

When God created man He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Thus, the desire of God is that the man would be, in some way, the image and likeness of God. In other words, the man would be all that God is, in some representational, yet actual, way. It is out of man that came the woman. It is out of the man and the woman that would come children. Thus, in a very real way, the man is the head of everything in the realm of humanity. You could also say that he is the head of humanity because he, particularly, is made to represent God. Or as Asaph wrote centuries later, “I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.’” (Psalm 82:6; cf. John 10:34-35). The man is the unique person in whom God would display Himself, and as such, is highly accountable to that purpose of God.

So, when Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that “God is the head of Christ”, this is no small matter. God had made a man to be both a son and a father and thus uniquely would be the image and likeness of a God who is also both Son and Father. Yet, even in that holy, eternal, glorious, and immense reality of God, there is structure, recognition of authority (although neither has less authority than the other), and the willing submission of the Son to the Father out of love. Do we get this? Jesus Christ said in John 5:19, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Further, Jesus said speaking to the apostate Jewish religious leaders, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42). Jesus here indicates that in the eternal plan of God (Ephesians 3:10-11), the Father had planned to send the Son, the Son did not plan to come on His own. However, that does not mean that He came reluctantly. He came willingly, as an obedient Son. In fact, we can understand the mind of Christ from John 12:49-50 when He said:

“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

Jesus trusted the commandment of the Father. So much so, that He was willing to believe the Father’s purpose and will even to the point of death (see Matthew 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 6:38). He was willing to obey, even to the point of death as a scoundrel (Philippians 2:7-8). This was willing, educated, and purposeful submission on the part of the Son to the will of the Father. And what was the motive? What would allow the glorious and powerful Son of God to obey the Father even through the cross? Love. Love is a willful choice to abide by the authority of another regardless of status or ability. Jesus Christ is God, Creator God. He is the King of the earth. He is the Lord of Lords. Yet, He is a Son to the Father and, as such, although of the same essence, loved the Father. The evidence of love is His willingness to submit to the Father from all eternity, and was exampled for us in His earthly life. The cross was the magnanimous display of such loving obedience-the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father.

So, when Paul writes that women should submit themselves to their husbands, why is it a problem? Jesus submitted to the Father. When Paul writes that husbands are the head of the wife, even as the Father is the head of the Son, why is that confusing? The Father was a loving and purposeful head, even during the crushing blows the Son received from the Father on the cross of for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53:10).

The Gospel Is The Motivation In Marriage

With that as backdrop, what Paul writes here makes more sense. The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the Head of the church. Jesus Christ only does what He sees the Father doing (John 5:19). Thus, the headship of Jesus Christ is commensurate with the headship of the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3). Jesus is the head over the church (Ephesians 1:22). So also, husbands are head over their wives. Remember, man was made in God’s image. This headship is of the same kind, although not of the same quality, as that of the Father over the Son. Further, this headship is of the same kind as Christ over the church. A loving head giving the Word of the Father to a lovingly submissive church. What a picture of marriage! How comprehensive!

However, the church was not always lovingly submissive. In fact, Christ died while we (the church) were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). We were unfaithful. We were dirty. We were unclean. Jesus Christ responded to His bride, not with disdain and hatred, but with a kind of love that He had already expressed to the Father-a willful love of sacrifice. You see, Jesus Christ did for the church what He also did for God. He sacrificed His life. Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father, even to the point of death, i.e. sacrifice. Jesus Christ loved the church even to the point of death, i.e. sacrifice. To the one was a satisfaction of the plan of the Father. To the other was a satisfaction of a debt of death owed (Genesis 2:17). To the One, He showed His love by dying on the cross. To the other, He showed His love by dying on the cross. Love truly covers. Husbands, that is the love you are to have for your wives! Further, a man with the love of Christ in himself, by the work of the Spirit, affects his entire household. You see this in 1 Corinthians 7:14. The believing spouse (a believer is characterized by sanctification, i.e. love) affects the condition of the entire household, and in fact can bring unbelieving family members to God. They are convicted by their own lack of love and may be won without a word (1 Peter 3:1). Thus the influence and affect of God’s love in the home is sufficient.

So, wives, chose to love God and submit to your husbands. They are head over you. Not by personal ability or wonderful character. They are head over you because God created it that way. Thus, to respond to what God designed with loving, willful, purposeful, submission is to emulate the One who rescued you from sin and hell.

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