Jesus on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Luke 16:18 (KJB)

Most Christians know the words of Jesus on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, so I am not going to spend a lot of time explaining or demolishing what He said. We Christians of the United States of America have done that quite well.

I would like to remind you though, that John the Baptist went to prison for confronting the wicked Herod for marrying his brother Philip’s wife (Matthew 14:3-6; Luke 3:19). He eventually was beheaded because the adulterous wife called for it. Who am I, or who are we to question the word of Jesus concerning marriage?

Let me end this thought, and the truth of Jesus with the verse previous to this one –

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17

Fear Not; For You Shall Not Be Ashamed…

“Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.  For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of Hosts His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.” Isaiah 54:4-5 (KJB)

I love the “Fear not” of these verses, and all of Scripture.  This one seems to be extra powerful.  It is probably due to the prophecy before it of our Suffering Servant Savior prophecies in chapters 51-53. Their Messiah would come, suffer, and die even by their own religious establishments hands, yet He is “Smiten of God and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

Through the sacrifice; the suffering, the bleeding, the dying of Jesus Christ, all of sins debt was paid.

I leave you with more thoughts from F. B. Meyer…

“We have heard the exiles summoned to leave Babylon, and have beheld the Savior becoming the sin-bearer. Here our attention is recalled to the still desolate condition of Jerusalem. See Neh_1:3; Neh_2:3; Neh_2:13-17. Jehovah says, Sing, but Israel replies that she cannot sing so long as she lies desolate. In reply God declares His inalienable love: He is their husband still and has sworn that the waters of death and destruction shall never be able to separate them from Himself. The kindness of His mercy is everlasting, and His covenant of peace shall outlast the mountains and hills.

In the closing paragraph, Isa_54:11-17, we behold the chosen city emerging from her heap of ruins. Watched by the eye of the great Architect, wrought by unseen hands, tested by the line and plummet of righteousness, she arises to fulfill her mission to the world. To inspired hearts it seems as though her common stones are jewels. Her children are taught of the Lord. Every accusing voice is hushed. All weapons of destruction are impotent. The New Jerusalem seems to have come down from heaven.” THROUGH THE BIBLE DAY BY DAY – F. B. Meyer “The Wondrous Love of God” on Isaiah 54:1-17

Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained.

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Morality and Marriage

Morality in the minds of some people is dependent upon the culture you are in, or that you grew up in.  I can see how the morals you were or were not taught as a child growing up will be with an individual throughout their lives; yet with teaching, hearing, understanding and wisdom good morals can become a part of one’s life.

Marriage is an institution made by God Himself.  Its beginning is traced back to near the beginning of the creation of mankind to Adam and Eve.  It was meant by God for a man and a woman to be husband and wife (Genesis 2:21-25).

The book of Proverbs has wisdom for every area of life and living.  When we  apply Scripture to our lives through the lens of Calvary – the cross of Jesus Christ, then marriage, morality, and all of life makes a lot more sense.

Hear the words of wisdom…

“For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.” Proverbs 5:3-14 (KJV)

The father teaching his son of the wiles of a “Strange woman” a wayward woman, a prostitute.  A woman who may use her earthly beauty for gain in any way she chooses.  These are words of warning.

There is warning here for that woman too, if she will  hear it.  Her end is bitter; her feet go down in death, her steps are on the road to hell; and quite speedily.

The young man, or any man who chooses to follow this woman will have an end similar to hers.

Marriage is good.  The relationship between the man and his wife; or the woman and her husband is a precious union that bears fruit for the glory of God (Read verses 15-21).

Some who read this will shun the words.  Some will agree with them, yet consider them not applying to their lives, even though they are living that erring way themselves.  It amazes me how we can be so blind to our own evil ways.

O Lord GOD open the eyes of those who are blind to their own evil immorality. There is only one thing setting the difference between immorality, and immortality; and that is the “T”, or the cross of Jesus Christ.  Come to Christ Jesus and be delivered from your sin; and you will have everlasting life.

You will then have the desires of the Lord Jesus Christ, set your sites on Him, love His word, and keep His commandments.

GOD Does Not Turn Away My Prayer

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily God hath heard me; He hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.” Psalm 66:18-20 (KJV)

Have you ever noticed a time when it seems as though you are not getting through to God, as you pray? It just seems to feel as though your prayers are not even getting past the ceiling? That is; should I say; a painful, sorrowful feeling.

When God hears our prayer it is due solely to His mercy and grace. He hears your prayer, my prayer every time we pray. Yet, it seems as though He does not.

Part of the problem is addressed by the Psalmist when he writes, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me…” To “regard iniquity” is to hold on to it; refusing to let it go; even to the point of rejecting God, His word and His direction for our lives.

There are things which is within the realm of “regarding iniquity” which hinders our prayers. One is for the husband not to treat his wife well (1 Peter 3:7), and I am almost certain that that would include the wife not treating her husband well. Another thing is praying with lustful desire which would include greed for things (James 4:3).

The prayers God hears are those we pray in His name. Jesus said, “What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24). Also, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7. When we have received the change which comes with receiving Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour our heart’s desire changes too. We desire what God desire, and so pray accordingly “In His name”.

Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

God hears the prayer of His people whose hearts are directed toward His heart by the cross of Jesus Christ.

Fidelity in the Kingdom

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery:’ but I say unto you, ‘That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.’ It hath been said, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:’ but I say unto you, ‘That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.'” ~Jesus  (Matthew 5:27-32)

Words for Christian Living – Better than Burning

“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”  1 Corinthians 7:1-9   (KJV)

In a day when marriage has been weakened and mocked Christians must learn to love as Christ loved, cherish one another; and enjoy one another in Biblical marriage.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 3:2-3)

No Love Like God’s Love 2

“So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: and I said unto her, ‘Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.” Hosea 3:2-3 (KJV)

Obedience must be the heart of the prophet.  Hosea obeyed.  He bought his wife and freed her from the licentious, debaucherous  bondage she was in.

The price was steep.  What price is too high to pay to redeem what you love?  The price God would pay to redeem all mankind was high as well.  It cost Him the life of His only begotten Son.

Hosea was not told to wait and love Gomer after she straightened up her life.  He was commanded to love her unconditionally.  It is hard to love the unlovable, the unloving, the unkind.  It is hard to love when that love is not returned.  That is what real love is.  Hosea did.  God does.  His children do, else they are not His children (1 John 4:8).  We are able to love, because we are God’s purchased possession (1 Corinthians 6:20).  We are forgiven, and indwelt by the Spirit of Christ.

Just as Hosea paid a price for Gomer’s redemption, and God pays a price for Israel’s and our redemption, so too, it requires a price for us to love unconditionally.  The price we pay is openness; our lives opened up to hurt, rejection; when we love we open our lives to those we love.  The price we pay is giving; giving ourselves, our time in order to see that one we love set free from their problem, trials and bondages.  The price we pay is tough love; chastening is not pleasant; it will be hated at times by the one we love.  The price we pay is forgiveness; someone must pay, and it will be the one who forgives.

Redemption is always at a high price.  Forgiveness and cleansing are not free.  Someone must pay.  In Gomer’s place Hosea paid the price.  In Israel’s stead God pays the price.  “The Redeeming Love of God” for all people is through the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s Son Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:19; 2:24;  John 3:16).

Accepted redemption, such as Gomer’s must have made, requires and gives a change of life, and life style.

There was to be a period of cleansing discipline for Gomer.  She would not go back to her “Lovers”.  She would not “Play the harlot”, or would Hosea have another woman.

When God redeems us there is a time for cleansing – it is called life.  There will come a day when we will be with Him; and when we stand in His presence we will be clean, by the blood of Jesus.

-Tim A Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 3:1)

No Love Like God’s Love 1

“Then said the LORD unto me, ‘Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.'” Hosea 3:1 (KJV)

The LORD again speaks to Hosea concerning his wife.

Hosea received command from God.  “Hosea, love your wife again.”  She is still in an unlovable state, yet God says, “Love her again”.  He was obedient in putting her away.  He was obedient in the naming of his children, and seeing God at work in his family situation.  Would he obey in this as well?  He would.  He would follow wherever the LORD led.

Notice who God tells Hosea to love.  Another woman?  N0!  The same Gomer who was entangled, and involved in temple prostitution, adultery against God and her husband.  When is he to love her?

  1. While she still has other lovers;
  2. While she is still practicing her lewd ways.

Why is he to love her?  He is to love Gomer to illustrate God’s love for unfaithful Israel.

God may withdraw His hand of grace, His protecting hedge about His people; for awhile, but it is always redemptive in purpose.  He never forsakes His people.  He loves His people and always knows what is beneficial for us.

“Woman loved by a lover” is equivalent to “Who look to other gods”, since Gomer represents Israel and Hosea – God.  “Is committing adultery” is equivalent with “Love the raisin cakes [flagons of wine KJV] of pagans”.  “The expression ‘And love raisin cakes’ describes the reason for their apostasy.  ‘Loving raisin cakes’ is equivalent to loving sexual sin.  ‘Raisin cakes’ were dried raisins pressed together for sweetmeat.  Participants in the licentious Baal rites ate ‘Raisin cakes’.  These delicacies symbolized to them the sweetness of their participation in the Baal fertility rites to satisfy their lusts, and to increase productivity throughout the land in every area of life.  Such sin may indeed be sweet for a season like ‘Raisin cakes’ in the mouth, but it turns within the stomach ‘to the venom of cobras (See Job 20:14).”  From the Study Book by John Traylor.

The “Raisin cakes” imply enjoyment of their lewd practices; and their neglect, and rejection for hearing the words of the LORD.  Sin can indeed be enjoyed, but only for a short period, and it pays “Loan shark” interest rates.

Like has been said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; Sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.”  But you will pay.  By the love and grace of God our sin debt was paid by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, He was buried and He rose again.  He is alive.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (2) continued…

GOD Pursues the Redemption of His Wife (Continued…)

The conclusion of this study will include verses 14 – 23 of Hosea 2.

 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call Me Ishi; and shalt call Me no more Baali.  For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.  And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.  And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.”  Hosea 14-20 (KJV)

There are many times that we think of God’s judgment as only being punitive – to punish.  It is so much more.  It is also redemptive.  It is God’s desire to have His people in the place of blessing, and He gets His people to blessings by both punitive and redemptive judgment.

In verse 14 God says He will “allure her”.  This is  to attract her to Himself (Romans 2:4).  Why would God, who is “Beautiful in holiness”, rich in glory, and worthy of praise, want to attract this people who were in effect, in a state of whoredoms against Him?  That is what His grace is all about.  Loving the unlovable.  Cleansing the unclean.

How would God “allure”, attract her?

  1. By taking here as His “Wife” again;
  2. By speaking “comfort to her”  [these would be words of love, romance, telling her of her beauty. This loving comfort would even cause her to forget her former lovers];
  3. By restoring her fruitfulness.

“The Valley of Achor” is the place of Achan’s sin (See Joshua 7).  God had commanded Israel not to take any accursed thing for themselves; as they conquered Jericho.  The silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron were for the LORD’S treasure house.  Achan disobeyed and kept a “Babylonish garment” and a “Wedge of gold” which he buried in his tent.  Because of this rebellion by one man, and his family the nation lost a battle that should have been won.

We learn from this story that harboring sin is futile to God’s people.  Taking to ourselves what God forbids is harlotry against God.  Yet God says through Hosea, that “The Valley of Achor [is] as a door of hope”.  “When Israel embraced the Baals, she took what God had cursed just as Achan did in taking the spoils of Jericho.  Their sin had brought terrible destruction upon them, their children, and their land.  Its transformation would be a token of the eternal blessings they would enjoy from now on.”  (From Hosea: God’s Reeeming Love by John Traylor pp. 23&24).

A place where a man and his family judged for sin becomes “A door of hope”.  There was a man who was judged that is our place of hope.  The cross of Jesus, and ugly, despicable judgment, is the only hope mankind has.  Because Achan died Israel became victorious.  Achan died for his own sins.  Jesus “Became sin” for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and died, making victory possible for all who will believe.

What love God has for His people.  In verse 2 God said, “She is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!”  In verse 16 He says, “You will call Me ‘My Husband’ and no longer “My Master’.  Before Israel in their harlotries were recognizing God equally with the Baals.  Baali equals “master”, making her a slave [a slave to sin] (See Romans 6:16).  God says, “You will no longer be a slave, you will be My Wife, and I  your Husband.”

God was going to make their love for Him so great that they would forget about the Baals, and their names.  God’s covenant with Israel would be an eternal covenant.  Their land would be blessed.  The beasts of the field would even be a blessing to them (v. 18).

She would no longer be unfaithful, but holy and righteous unto God.  It is God’s work, and they would know that God is the LORD (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.  And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, ‘Thou art My people; and they shall say, ‘Thou art my God.'” Hosea 21-23 (KJV)

God declares that He is God over the earth.  He controls the rain, the wind, the plague, and the harvest – good and bad.  For some reason many Christians have stopped believing this, and it is partly due to our technology; whereby  we are sadly mistaken.  Technology is good as far as it goes; but God is still God.  Not one meteorologist or scientist can make our weather or take it away, they can only make predictions and maybe explain how it happened; nothing more.

Because of Israel’s departure and adultery God had withdrawn His blessings, mercy and grace so they might see His grace, and their evil ways more clearly.  Now, God is preparing to return His blessings upon them; the blessings of mercy and grace.  They had no mercy, but they will;  they experienced no grace, but now they would receive it and see it.  They would be His people; who were not a people.  They would proclaim “You are my God.”

“The love of God is greater far, than pen or tongue can ever tell.”

The ultimate and final blessing for Israel is yet to come.  Even so Come Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (2)

GOD Pursues the Redemption of His Wife

GOD is on a persistent quest to redeem the lost spouse (Israel), and reclaim her to Himself.  Through the gift of His Son Jesus He paid the ultimate sacrifice to redeem all who will hear His voice believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved.

“Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.  Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not My wife, neither am I her Husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.  And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.  For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.'” Hosea 2:1-5 (KJV)

God calls on Judah and Israel to refer to one another as brethren “Brother” and “Sister”.  There is a contending on God’s part, with Israel.  God has put away Israel: “She is not My wife”  “I am not her Husband!”  There is punitive judgment here – for the purpose of punishing and restoration.

If Israel would not quit hers sins then God would “Put them away” in order to show them, that it was He who was providing bountifully for them; not her “lovers” who are the Baals of pagan, godless worship.

“Wife” in the text, as is Gomer is representative of the corporate people [Nation] or land of the North.  “Children” are representative of individuals within the nation or land.

There is a strong indication that there was a small group [remnant] within the nation who were not participating as individuals, but said or did nothing about it.  Their toleration in essence; was approval for the actions of others while they were selling the nation to godless whoredoms and all kinds of immoralities.

In these verses God pleads with Israel (v. 2);  He warns them of judgment (vv. 3-4); and the people obstinately reject God’s plea (v. 5).

“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.  And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’  For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”  Hosea 2:6-8 (KJV)

We are told by some Scriptures that God puts a “Hedge” about His people keeping them from harm, and from evil.  Here the hedge has a different purpose.  God says now how He will bring them back to Himself.  He will build a hedge of thorns and “wall her in”.

By doing this God accomplishes three things;

  1. She would no longer be able to find the “Paths” that lead to the shrines and idols of Baal (v. 6);
  2. In seeking the idols they would not be able to find them (v. 7);
  3. They would begin to realize that they had it much better when they were worshiping God and Him only.

In God and in God alone they would realize the blessings they had received were from GOD alone (vv. 7-8).

“Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness.  And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand.  I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.  And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, ‘These are my rewards that my lovers have given me:’ and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.  And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat Me, saith the LORD.”  Hosea 2:9-13 (KJV)

We can see by these things that God is on a relentless pursuit of His wayward “Wife”.  He lovers her.  Real and true love is harsh with a wayward loved one.

How would God pursue?

  1. Take away the grain at harvest;
  2. Take back the wool and the flax (linen);
  3. He would remove His hand of protection, and put on her a hand of judgment, which no one could deliver her from;
  4. All celebrations, feast days, would cease; along with laughter and joy;
  5. He would destroy her vines and fig trees, because she had given praise to the Baals for the fruitfulness of the land.

This judgment was God’s.  She had gone after other gods following the paths of pagan cultures clothed in expensive jewels and dress.  God says, “She forgot Me”.

This is a sad commentary about God’s people.  The very fact that Israel was worshiping Baals shows they had forgotten, and departed from God.  Any time any of God’s people begin to look to their wealth, blessings, or pleasures as coming because of their own goodness, or from anything , but God; she has forgotten God.

Has the United States of America depended upon idols?  Is the pagan deity Baal still worshiped in the USA? Pleasure, wealth and convenience seems to be the cry of today’s society and culture.  The saddest part of that is that many professing Christians have lined up with the world in these things too.

Yet our answer for freedom from sin and this world is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Hear Him, believe Him, repent and be saved.

When evil is in the world, and the world is in the Church; evil is progressing toward its maximum potential, and its end.
More on this chapter next time…

-Tim A. Blankenship

B F & M – The Church

I heard of a man who walked into the pastor’s office and began telling the pastor that he was a missionary for the “Invisible church”.  He was asking for support in his “Mission work”, to which the pastor of the local church responded, by giving him an invisible check.

Most Baptist believe in the authority of the local church.  The local church is visible congregation.  It has a visible congregation, with officers pastors and deacons, and members who serve the other duties of that congregation.

When you look at the epistles [letters] which Paul the apostle wrote, they were written to local churches.  The letters of Jesus Christ in the Revelation chapters two and three, is addressed to local congregations.  There is much more emphasis put on the local church than on the idea of an “Universal or invisible church”.  The Body of Christ functions in local churches.

The following is our Statement of Faith concerning the church:

“VI. The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.”

As Baptists we do believe that the office of pastor is reserved for men.  There is plenty of Scriptural evidence for this belief.  In First Timothy 3:1-7 the qualifications of the elder/bishop/pastor is related directly to the male gender.  For instance; “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”.  I have a friend who pointed out, “When a woman can be the husband of one wife, then I can accept her as a pastor”.   I believe he would have meant as long as she met the other qualifications.

The local church was established by the Lord Jesus.  Each local church is made up of born again, baptized believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Every member is regenerated by the Spirit of God, reborn in Christ Jesus, and baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and into the local church.

This will be addressed later: Baptism is by immersion, ie., putting under the water.

-T.A.

Just A Thought 12/30/08

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained. 

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing for Backsliding

Healing for Backsliding

 In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backslidden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backslidden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backslidden condition. First of all backslidden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backslidden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. After all, I do need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backslidden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held against anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backslidden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogether; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Husbands in Marriage

What is the role of the husband within the marriage?  We have had an article a couple of weeks ago which dealt with the wife’s submission to her husband, and his to her.  I fear that there are many men who think that the responsibility for keeping the marriage fresh, vital, and romantic is all the wife’s responsibility.

That  could never be more incorrect.  The love in the marriage is the man’s responsibility.  Where do I get that?

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…”  Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV).

The Bible makes it clearly the husbands place to love the wife.  Some of you over tuned with testosterone males need to realize that this “Love” is not about sex.  It is about genuine love.  The love which Jesus Christ showed by the greatest display of love ever given.  That was His death on the cross for the sins of the world.  There can be nothing more manly, heroic, chivalrous, than sacrificing yourself for your wife.

Now, I am getting where it hits home with myself.  I cannot say that I am this way, but I want to tell you that I am learning and growing.  I want to ask the real men who are reading this to begin doing this today.

My wife has been the picture of submission to me.  When our children were at home we would take our family vacations at times going camping, cooking over an open fire, without the modern day camp provisions, etc., and my wife hated camping this way.  She would go along without complaint, she would cook over that fire, and never complain.  She did it for me and the kids.  I have learned from that

How much should a husband love His wife?  Just as much as Jesus did the church in giving His life for her salvation.

You want to show your wife the love that she needs.  Let her choose where you go to eat next time.  Let her choose the movie you watch.  Let her choose where you go on your next vacation.  When you have that very important football game on, you only have one TV, and there is something on she wants to watch; let her watch, and watch it with her.  She likes that time you take to spend with only her.  The next time you have a hunting trip planned, and something comes up she wants to do with the family; you have the idea, go with her and enjoy her and her joy.

“Husbands, love your wife”  There is no command for the wife to love her husband, but she will when you show that form of sacrificial love which was shown us in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.

Submission

With our third installment of TWO FOR TUESDAY concerning marriage I want to invite your opinion and ask for your help as well.  This would be much more interesting if we could get some “Good Marriage” articles written by some of our readers.  Just write an article about someone you know who has been married 25 years or more whose marriage has been an inspiration to you.  I will give you credit for the article and a link to your site when I choose to use it.  You may email your article to isaiah4031(at)mo-net(dot)com. and if I choose to use it; it will be posted on the next available Tuesday.  Look forward to hearing from you.

Submission

Many times we hear this phrase using the word “Submission”, and in our society of this day it does sound like a word of bondage.  Is it bondage?  Is there something we have been missing?  In answer to the first question it is bondage when it is perceived the wrong way.  It is freedom for a marriage when it is seen in light of its true meaning.  So, yes, there is something that has also been missing.

From the Bible we see Paul the apostle writing this:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”  Ephesians 5:21-24 (KJV).

Submission is a two fold deal.  The husband must submit to his wife in the sense of being his only one.  His only wife.  His only lover.  His only woman.  He submits to her on those grounds.  He submits to her as being equally created in the image of God human being.  He submits to her dreams for their marriage, their home, their children.  To the husband his wife is his chief joy for life, other than Jesus Christ.

Men, that means that cars, boats, guns, football games, baseball games, boxing matches, hunting, fishing, camping – you get the idea – takes a back seat to your wife.  She is more precious than those things.  She wants and needs your love (this does not necessarily include sex), attention, and time.  We represent Jesus Christ and His love for the church.  How does He love His bride [the church]?  He gave His life for her.

Wives submission for you is to cherish your husband, commending him before his peers, encouraging him in his work and ministry, and like Sarah of old even seeing Abraham as lord (Genesis 18:12), even when she believed they would have no children.  It was an endearing term for Sarah, but also a term of respect.  That only means that in submission the wife is to respect her husband, his strengths, abilities, and his person.  In submission to him the wife should also see her husband as an equal of the creation of God’s image.  The wife should see her husband as the chief object of her affection, love, and life; after her love for Jesus Christ.

Both the husband and wife gave vows to one another; something like this;  I promise to love, honor and cherish you; in sickness and in health, in wealth or in poverty…, as long as we both shall live.  Marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ and the church.  Let us who know the Savior be mirror images of Him in our individual lives and in our marriages.