Friday, September 28, 2007
As the nation’s culture changes in diverse ways, one of the most significant shifts is the declining reputation of Christianity, especially among young Americans. A new study by The Barna Group conducted among 16- to 29-year-olds shows that a new generation is more skeptical of and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same age just a decade ago.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
That’s right. I have such a love for preaching the word of God that when I don’t, I feel like Jeremiah, when he says that if he were to not speak what Yahweh tells him to speak, “Jeremiah 20:9 Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.” That’s exactly how I feel. I always want to preach.
Tonight I preached at a rehabilitation center that I regularly go to. I preached from Mark 10:13-31 on being an inheritor of eternal life. I have been so encouraged over the last few weeks as I have been preparing for this message on the rich young Jewish ruler from this text. It is so rich! Furthermore, I am even more blown away by the way that Jesus evangelizes to this young man. I think a fascinating study would be to take a look at all the various ways (or methods) that Jesus shares the gospel with various people. It is so interesting how Jesus tailors the gospel (not the message, but the method) to certain situations and individuals. He is a genius – of course, he is God! In any case, I have thoroughly enjoyed delving into this text recently. I have found myself returning time and time again to the riches in these verses. I just cannot wait to get the message out. I cannot wait to have the gospel proclaimed.
That is one proof which confirms to me that I know that I must be a preacher. I simply cannot do anything else. I don’t know how to manage a business. I don’t know how to be an engineer. I don’t know how to use a scalpel and perform a surgery (you would never want me to get close to you with a scalpel!). I don’t know how to work with cells in the field of biology. Nor do I have any desire to be in these professions. The sole, singular, supreme and sovereignly planted desire in me is to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2).
Therefore, I conclude by saying that I must preach. It is in my blood to preach. It is my burning passion to preach. I am always ready to preach. I live to preach God’s truth to people. I pray that God would use me some day for His ultimate glory in a ministry where I can preach the truth. And if I don’t preach, then may I echo with the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthian church, “1 Corinthians 9:16 woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”
I heard a message yesterday from a good friend of mine who is the president of a very well known organization. He shared his heart about the drastic decrease in numbers in missionaries who are being sent from the USA to foreign countries to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. He noted that we are in a serious recession in our overall giving towards missions here in the states. Furthermore, not only are we not sending missionaries to foreign countries as much as before, but now other countries are sending out more missionaries than we are. Foreign countries are even sending missionaries to US – here in the states! How sad is that.
We are the wealthiest country in the world – overall. That is not something to pride about, yet it ought to humble us when we, as the church, look at the amount of money we give towards world missions. Do we, as members of a local church, even know who our missionaries are? Do we love them? Do we contact them? Do we encourage them? Do we pray for them?
Witnessing, evangelizing, soul-winning are NOT optional for the believer in Jesus Christ. One cannot be a Christian and not be an evangelist. One cannot be a blood-bought sinner redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and be apathetic toward witnessing and soul-winning.
This does not mean, however, that every single individual has to pack his bags and go overseas – though that would be nice – but it does mean that every single person must be a witness for Christ wherever Christ has placed you in life. For some, that may mean packing the bags and going to a country to spread the good news of Christ. For others, it may mean being a witness at work. Whatever the case, let us hear the words from the Apostle Paul:
Romans 10:13-17 13 for "Whoever will call upon the name of the LORD will be saved." 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!" 16 However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "LORD, who has believed our report?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Oh would it be that God would send laborers into his vineyard – both near and far. Let us remember, evangelizing the lost is not optional it is mandatory. For how can those who are dead in their trespasses and sins believe without hearing the Gospel of Christ? God has graciously left us believers with the responsibility to be evangelists to His glory whether it be here locally or overseas.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
“In our human values of civil laws, we draw a huge distinction between an
otherwise ‘law-abiding citizen’ who gets an occasional traffic ticket and a
person who lives a ‘lawless’ life in contempt and utter disregard for all laws.
But the Bible does not seem to make that distinction. Rather, it simply says sin
– that is, all sin without distinction – is lawlessness” (p. 20).
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thabiti Anyabwile gives a great article here on Question Authority. I recommend the read. It's very helpful. And boy, one that we all need to be reminded of.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
“On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. The Old Testament figures appear in order to indicate that Jesus is the culmination of their message and all that they represent. As Jesus tells his disciples elsewhere, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms…Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). Thus, the expositor’s goal is to dianoigo and diermeneuo (“open” and “unfold”) the meaning of the Scriptures. Since their culminating and comprehensive purpose is to reveal the glory of Christ’s person and work, exposition cannot avoid him without abandoning Scripture’s aim" (p.75).
"If Christ is NOT more beautiful to us than anything - more precious than gold, more fulfilling than success, more lovely than life itself - then his absence in others' lives does not seriously disturb us. Only when we discover how profound is the goodness of life in him do we truly grieve for those who do not have his blessing in their life" (p.79).
"The goal of expository preaching that has a future is to preach him - regularly, pervasively, truly - from all the Scriptures" (p.80).
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Psalm twenty-three is perhaps one of the most familiar psalms ever to be penned. David, a shepherd himself, wrote this psalm with many shepherding metaphors interwoven through this psalm. For my preaching lab in seminary yesterday, one man preached a message from this psalm giving us a picture of Jesus Christ as the Master Shepherd and how we must, as undershepherds, endeavor to imitate the shepherding as exemplified by God Himself.
In this sermon, he listed fourteen marks of how we must imitate the Master Shepherd. For lack of time, I will list them and give a brief description under each.
1. We must make certain that we know that the Lord is our Shepherd.
The Lord is my shepherd – Do we as pastors, teachers, elders and deacons even know the true Shepherd ourselves? Do we really know the gospel which we are declaring? Do we really love the Savior whom we are inviting others to savor? May we, as shepherds, make certain that we know and love the true and great Shepherd.
2. We must know how to satisfy the sheep.
I shall not want (or literally, “I shall not lack”) – Do we know how to satisfy our sheep so that they are lacking in nothing. Do we know the full counsel of God so that we can nourish our sheep from the rich truths of God’s word?
He causes me to lie down in green pastures – The picture of green pastures is that of a shepherd leading his sheep to a place where they can, after they have eaten and are full, to lie down in lush, green, peaceful and safe pastures free from all harm. Do we lead them to safety so they can lie down and rest in safety?
He leads me beside still waters – The shepherd of these sheep knows where the quiet and calm waters are as opposed to the rough and rushing waters of a river that can overpower a sheep by drowning it in the engulfing waters. Can we lead our people to the sweet, pure and still waters of God’s Word so they can be satisfied free from harm?
He restores my soul – Do we know how to restore our sheep when they veer off the proper path? Do we know how to chastise them with love and gentleness so that they can be restored to a right relationship with the True Shepherd?
He guides me in paths of righteousness – Do we lead our sheep into paths of righteousness that will be edifying for them? Are we careful with our exegesis, our application, our habits and preparations as we prepare to lead our sheep?
On account of His name – Do we lead our sheep for God’s ultimate glory? Or do we zealously desire the applause and accolades from the sheep? We must be such shepherds that are leading and shepherding so that the True Shepherd receives all honor, glory and adoration!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil – Do we, first of all, recognize where the deep and dark valleys are? Second of all, do we as their shepherds, know how to lead our sheep through these dark valleys? Sometimes, people must go through dark and tough times in life (suffering, death, loss of job, etc.). Are we prepared as their shepherds to lead them and show them God’s goodness in the midst of these trying times?
For You are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me – Just as the shepherd uses the rod to protect his sheep by batting away wolves, so we must be equipped and ready to protect our sheep by using the Word of God to veer away false teachers and enemies of the gospel who teach things which are “not in accordance with godliness.” Do we use the staff to lovingly and gently redirect our sheep onto the right path after they have sinned?
You have prepared a table before me, in the presence of my enemies – Though I think this metaphor is referring to God as Host, I’ll continue with the shepherding imagery for the sake of my topic at hand. Are we able to go before our sheep and prepare the way for them, to prepare the table for the Word of God to be brought to bear in their lives. Do we know how to teach them so the family, their work environments, or mutual relationships can be used to be a light and a witness before a lost and dying world?
You anoint my head with oil – This is the shepherding image when a shepherd would anoint the nose of the sheep so that bugs and insects would not crawl in there and irritate the sheep and literally drive the sheep crazy. Do we know how to “anoint our sheep” so that false teaching does not creep into their lives and destroy the pure and undefiled Word of God?
My cup overflows – Can we give our sheep an adequate dose of the riches contained in God’s Word so that they leave full and eager to study the Word more on their own throughout the week? How wonderful it is for us as preachers to so excite our people, to so inflame their hearts, to so ignite a passion in our people that they would leave with a greater vision of God’s greatness and a passionate desire to live every moment for God’s glory.
Surely goodness and covenant lovingkindness will pursue me all the days of my life – Can we give them the “big picture” so that our sheep know that God’s goodness and God’s sovereignty are the overarching themes of all that He does. Do we lead them in such a way that they know that as hard as things may be in this life, the loyal, covenant-keeping and steadfast love of our God will be a real and perfect realization when we enter glory?
And I will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever – The end goal of all that we do is to worship and bring glory to our God not only in this life, but also for all of eternity as we will bow before our great King and worship our awesome Shepherd crying out “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
It is in this essay that I want to express my love for and commitment to God’s word. Perhaps there is no greater place to begin than in the one hundred and nineteenth psalm where the psalmist cries out in nearly every verse his love for, commitment to, reliance upon and the authority of God’s precious statutes.
Psalm 119:16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. This verse brings the whole psalm, all one hundred and seventy-six verses, to a single thought, namely, the utter delight of the Word of God by the man of God.
The cry of my heart is the exact representation of the psalmists here Psalm 119. Because God’s word is holy, sufficient, inspired, infallible and comforting, we have as our command and demand to meditate on it. We shall find our hope, joy, delight and refuge in God in His word. For it is only in the Word of God that we have an anchor for the soul.
It is in this brief essay that I want to express a few ways in which our love for God’s law ought to be manifest in our daily lives. Let us never forget that our theology (in this case, bibliology) must express itself in doxology. Our love for God’s word must result in a righteous living in obedience to God’s word.
First, our love for God’s law ought to express itself in constant reading of it. This is an overlooked necessity of the Christian who claims to have a dependence upon and a love for God’s law. For one to constantly find refuge in God and His character, he must be constantly bathing in the pure and refreshing Word from the Living God. There is no other option.
This must not simply be a one time occurrence during the week. It must not be a five minute quick “read-through-a-chapter” in the evening before bed when our minds have been “shut-off”. Rather, this must be the first priority of the Christian every day. It must be the food and sustenance that we need to go through our day so to know how we can do “all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).
How often is it, when we find ourselves consuming our time watching the television for hours I without end, sitting in traffic for a time every day, for surfing the internet at length, for exercising our bodies daily. These activities may be profitable and can be used to God’s glory, but how often is it when these activities, as eternally insignificant as they may be, crowd out our daily consumption of God’s written word.
Let us, therefore, find ourselves in constant reading of God’s word. Daily, hourly, constantly nourishing on and feeding upon the strength and meat revealed in the pages of Scripture.
Second, our love for God’s law ought to express itself in constant reflection of it. The sheer act of reading the Bible and closing it and placing it back on the shelf until the next day is not the goal. The goal is to read God’s word and then to reflect on it through the course of the day. It was spoken of John Bunyan that if you were to cut him, “he would bleed Bibline.” May that be characteristic of each and every one of us. Psalm 119:48 And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes. May we be those who are so saturated with God and His word that every thought that we think, every word that we speak, every place that we go, every motion that we make would be – in some way – a reflection of God and His word working in our lives.
May it never be that we live a day without meditation upon God and His word. May it never be that we make decisions, lead families, head-up an organization or partake in any of the most mundane activities of life without meditation upon and absolute love for God’s word.
Third, our love for God’s law ought to express itself in constant delight of it. This was the heart of the psalmist when he noted in Psalm 119:35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. So may it be said of our heart. May we pray to our God and ask that He would cause us to walk in the paths directed in God’s word for we delight in His law. Hear it again when he notes, Psalm 119:47 I shall delight in Your commandments, Which I love.
Is our heart constantly delighting in God’s law. Are we finding our inner joy, our inner strength, our inner excitement, our inner exuberance from the Living Word of God? May we find utter delight and satisfaction in reveling in the perfect and clear word of God. The psalmist is clear and single-minded when he prays to the Lord, Psalm 119:77 May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.
So I as you, Do you love God’s Law. Do you read it repeatedly and habitually? Is it a priority in your daily life? Do you read God’s word more often than you read secular novels and fiction books? Do you meditate on and reflect upon the understandable yet the incomprehensible word of God? Do you find that you delight in it? Do you love reading the Scriptures? Do you long to be in your quiet room to be alone with the Savior in reading His Word? May we find our heart-cry with the psalmist in pleading with the Lord, Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD, And Your law is my delight.
Your pastor and friend,
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
September 17, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
According to research published recently by the Washington-based Institute
for Policy Studies, the 20 highest-paid corporate executives earned on average
$36 million in total compensation last year. The typical CEO of a Fortune 500
company didn't do quite as well, but at $10.8 million didn't do so badly --
that's more than 364 times the pay of an average employee. Forty years ago, top
CEOs earned 20 to 30 times what average workers earned.
The trend has ignited
a flurry of attention in Washington. Last year the Securities and Exchange
Commission ordered companies to reveal more detail about executive pay,
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
3) Who has wrapped the waters in his garment? Oftentimes we note that the sovereignty of God is often emphasized by means of his control over water (cf. Gen 1:9-10; Ps 104:6-7).
In the New Testament Jesus Christ fulfills typical Israel, for a Gentile tyrant
threatened his life at birth; he, too, returned from exile in Egypt, suffered in
the wilderness, and taught on a mountain. Unlike Israel, he perfectly obeyed his
Father. But he is more than a son. He identifies himself as the Son of Man who
comes on the clouds, the biblical symbol of divine transcendence. In Luke he is
the incarnate Son of God by the virgin birth, and in John he is the eternal Son
of God. As such he speaks with an immediate authority, and through the Holy
Spirit he guided his apostles into all truth.
Monday, September 10, 2007
In this interview at preachingtodaysermons.com, Chapell defined expository preaching, talks about the 3am rule, and really, sums up his book Christ Centered Preaching in just a few short paragraphs.
This is a good reminder for those of us who are committed to sound and accurate exposional preaching. Here is a clip to wet your appetite:
An expositor is solemnly bound to say what God says. In an expository
message we relate precisely what a text of Scripture says. A more technical
explanation—an old one that I hold to—is that an expository message gets its
main points and its sub-points directly from the text.
A textual message gets
its main points from the text but its developmental components elsewhere. A
topical message gets only its topic from the text and could be developed
according to the nature of the topics rather than the text. An expository
message, however, says what the text says and gets all its developmental
features from the text as well.
In this article I am by no means saying that these are the only two essential attitudes that can make a marriage function. But what I am saying is that with the many commands and attitudes that must be enveloped in a Christian marriage, these two must be evidenced. The two key attitudes that I am referring to are self denial and self-giving. Allow me to deal with each one individually so we may be those who have these essential attitudes in marriage for the honor and glory of God.
The first essential attitude which I wish to bring to light is that of self-denial. This is, perhaps, one of the least found attributes that we find in contemporary marriages – even “Christian” ones. Self-denial instantly brings a shriek of discomfort because, at its heart, it means that we lower self and our own self-interests below those of another, namely, our wife.
While discussing what love really is and how it is described in the Scriptures with some friends before a recent wedding I attended, we were drawn to 1 Corinthians 13. In that chapter Paul writes a simple phrase, yet we discussed it for quite some time: does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. The phrase I want to highlight here is “it does not seek its own.” The ESV has: “it does not insist on its own way.” I like that rendering. The Greek is translated (literally): “it is not seeking the things of itself.” This idea of love inherently demands that one understands that love considers the interests and desires of another as more important and having more weight than my own. That does not mean, however, that as the husband, I sit back and let my wife make all the decisions and be the authority in the home. Yet what it does mean, I believe, is that we, as husbands, can be those who have the authoritative voice in the home (demanded upon us by God Himself) yet we can still consider the interests of our wives and what she desires and wants as more important than my own.
Taking this to an extreme – though not missing the point, here – is the idea of 1 Cor 7:33: but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife. The last phrase has captured my attention since the morning of my wedding day. I remember going on a walk to a nearby lake and dwelling upon this phrase of how I must be consumed, or “concerned” (or literally “worried”; “consumed with”) the notion of pleasing my wife. The idea here of pleasing is how he can make her happy. Yes, happy. Life is not about being “happy,” per se, yet I do argue that we as husbands must be concerned with the happiness of our wives. And I have this verse to support that view. Sure it is in the context of the husband being unable to devote as much time, effort and energy to the ministry as, say, a single-person who could devote his entire life to vocational ministry without distractions. Yet this is not the case with a married man.
Along these lines of self-denial, I also wish to bring a Scripture to the forefront which must not be overlooked: Ephesians 5:28-29 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,. Husbands here are to deny selves in that we love our wives as we love ourselves. This is a simple comparative clause. The point is simple and understandable. We all love ourselves, inherently. It is easy to do so. When we’re hungry, we eat. When we are thirsty, we get a cup of water. When we are tired, we sleep. When we are uncomfortable, we fix it. It is simple. We ought to be as concerned with our wives and their desires and interests as we are with our own. If we truly were those who were characterized by self-denial in all that we did, we would see a radical change, I believe, in our marriages.
The second essential attitude that I want to make known is that of self-giving. Really, self-giving goes hand in hand with self-denial which we just talked about. One cannot give of himself if he is not consumed with denying himself.
Of course, here, the greatest example we have is God the Father. The idea of love in the scriptures inherently carries with it the notion of giving and self-sacrifice. Think of John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Because God loved the world and his plan of redemption had been planned from eternity past, he gave his son. God the Father is the greatest example of self-giving.
The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ also exemplified this self-giving attitude (and action!). In Titus 3, Paul notes: Titus 2:13-14 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. So Jesus Christ is the blessed hope who loved His own so much that he gave of himself. What an example we have from our Savior!
Finally, the Holy Spirit is also an example of One who gives of himself. John 6:63 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. The idea here is that the Spirit is the one who activates the sacrifice of Christ and brings it home to the believer. It is the Holy Spirit who gives this life. He is life and gives this life to the believer who comes to Christ in faith.
In sum, I argue here that these attitudes of self-denial and self-giving are essential for every marriage to exemplify to the fullest the awesome and intimate relationship of Christ and His church. As husbands, may we be men who are not only possessing but those who are characterized by self-denial and self-giving for our wives whom the Lord has so graciously and mercifully given to us. To God be the glory.
Your pastor and friend,
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Friday, September 7, 2007
Ephesians 5:26-27 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I took the EE course while in high school and came across a handy way of remembering the five points of the gospel presentation – heaven, man, God, Christ and faith – on my hand using all five fingers. To this day, when I share the gospel, the EE gospel outline is more often than not the presentation that I’ll use – more or less. When I share my faith, I am immediately drawn to this EE method of sharing the gospel. Now I recognize that it is not all about the method and it is all about the message. At the same time, I am of the mind that the method can be combined with the message to make it more persuasive to the listener.
Along these lines, I was talking with Elizabeth recently about Jesus and his evangelism techniques. I wonder if there was more than one time when Jesus shared the gospel identically. It seems to me that he tailored his gospel presentation to the hearer, to the setting, to the geographical locale and the like. I find that Jesus shares the gospel differently with the disciples than he does with the rich young ruler. He shares the gospel differently with the Samaritan woman at the well than he does with the Pharisees in Jerusalem. What a fascinating study that would be to study the various methods that Jesus employed when bringing the gospel to the lost. I think we would be surprised at how much difference there is in his gospel presentations. Don’t get me wrong, it is still the same gospel with the same God and the same fallen condition innate in mankind and the same grace alone that saves but the method which with Jesus uses may vary from time to time.
Not only was he a great evangelist, but Dr. Kennedy was quite the pastor, the preacher and the scholar. Expressing this more colorfully, he was a man who on the front page of his church website has an open Bible with this phrase, “glorifying God by reaching the world for Christ.” Would it be that we all – as shepherds of God’s flock – have this phrase imprinted on the forefront of our minds as we labor for the Master.
I pray that some day I would be a pastor and shepherd with a desire for the glory of God to be manifest as Dr. Kennedy exemplified. May I have a heart for the lost as this man displayed. May I have a heart for the Scriptures as this man so clearly evidenced. I pray that I would be a man that longs for the reality of 1 John 3:2 just as Dr. Kennedy did, 1 John 3:2 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
These were some of his last words before he died from his pulpit at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,
“Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is theMay we all have this vision for the land of the living as Dr. Kennedy did. May we hunger for it and long for it with an increasing zeal day by day. To God be the glory.
end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here
in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people
will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry.
I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah
chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I
will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down
upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined
me in the land of the living. And I will be alive forevermore, in greater health
and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The Lord has so graciously given us the opportunity to write. May we use the skill of writing to the glory of God as we write articles, essays, letters and books to His ultimate glory. Writing is a means by which we can bring the message of redemption to a world that is lost and in such a desparate state of death. May we be men who are writers -- all to God's glory.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
When I think of marriage, my heart is drawn to the biblical text of Ephesians 5:25 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. On the other hand, when I think of marriage as our culture views marriage, I think of a chapter title from Terrence Real’s book, The New Rules of Marriage, entitled “Are you getting what you want from marriage?” or “How to give in order to get what you want.”
Now, these are two stark contrasts in looking at the issue of marriage. I want to propose an idea that has been perusing through my brain as of late. That is that marriage ought to be a missional marriage. Let me clarify by defining my terms. I am of the conviction that the husband and wife’s greatest responsibility is to be an emblem, an example, a type, a representation of the love that the Lord Jesus had for His church. It’s that simple. Simple? Really?
Jesus Christ had a mission. When he came to earth - as in our youth group, we have been studying the Gospel of Mark and I have been pounding it into their heads – Mark 10:45 45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." This verse hits me for I note that Jesus Himself said that he came not to be served, and note, that if anyone had ever deserved to be served it would have been our Lord. But rather, he came to serve and to give his life – that means “to die” – as a ransom for many. Thus, Jesus’ mission while on this earth was to die. In a word, he was born to die. Jesus left his Father’s side in heaven (where he had been from all eternity past) and emptied himself by taking on human flesh (Phil 2:5ff) for the sole purpose of dying as a ransom for sins to purchase people that He has chosen for Himself from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.
Yes, Jesus had a mission. I argue that in marriage the same is true. Every marriage relationship has a mission. It is to be missional. Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church. How exactly did Christ love the church? By serving. By giving. By loving. By caring. By leading. By protecting. If husbands did this today, it would invariably be missional for this would be completely opposite of what people see in the average marriage today.
This, of course, presupposes that the husband and wife are still together in their marriage relationship. The marriage bond is to be for life. Period. Jesus Himself notes this (quoting Gen. 2:24) Matthew 19:5-6 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh '? 6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." So we find that what God has joined together, that is, the divinely ordained institution of marriage, then no man is to separate that. So if husbands and wives are not together – living together and even the mundane acts of doing “things” together, which is far-fetched in this culture – then how can we be this kind of example?
So we see that we as believers are to be missional. Jesus Christ said just before he ascended to the Father, Matthew 28:19-20 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." We are to make disciples by going, baptizing and teaching. We can make disciples by going, in that the way we live our lives and, husbands, relate to our wives, is a way we can make disciples. I am a firm believer in that when people see and hear the truth – yes, absolute, genuine, biblical truth – they will flock to it – not flee from it.
It is startling to me that so many Christian marriages are on the brink of separation, divorce, anger, violence, hatred, abuse – you name it, it happens. How does this happen when husbands and wives are to love each other and serve one another and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Eph 5:21). This ought not to be. Perhaps this is from ill-teaching from contemporary pulpits; perhaps it is from lack of application upon hearing biblical preaching; perhaps it is from a subtle denial that anything is wrong; or perhaps it is from outright and flagrant refusal to love each other biblically.
Marriage is more serious than we could ever imagine. Let me say something radical. I believe that we – as born-again and redeemed believers – can never make too big a deal of marriage. We can never express the glory of it to our young people. Yet, with this strong attraction to marriage that we have, we must always set the biblical view in marriage up front and let people know that this is a “relationship of reverence,” a “solemn and serving sanction,” a “self-abasing and self-sacrificial bond.”
May we as husbands, endeavor to love our wives and serve them to the glory of God. May we be mssional in that we seek to love our wives as Christ loved the church in a sacrificial and supreme way before a watching and hurting post-modern culture that longs for, I believe, marriage the way God intended it to be.
Your pastor and friend,
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Friday, August 31, 2007