The Just Suffering for the Unjust

September 26, 2018 at 9:45 am | Posted in I Peter | 4 Comments
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For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:18

The “Spirit” here is capitalized in the King James Version, and several other, though not all, translations. The capitalization leads the reader to believe that the Spirit being referenced is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, but could Christ have had a “spirit” other than the Holy Spirit? Matthew 26:41, Romans 1:3-4, Luke 23:46, and James 2:26 wold seem to indicate that Jesus, in His full humanity, did have a spirit, although I still believe that I Peter 3:18 is talking about the Holy Spirit.

The term “quickened” means “made alive,” although “resurrection” normally refers to a physical body.

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

I Peter 3:19

There has been much conjecture and dispute over the identity of these “spirits in prison.” I do not believe that they are lost sinners in hell. “Spirits” might mean some type of beings, but “souls” would be the way to refer to human beings.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I Peter 3:20

“Preached” in 3:19 is thought to be “proclamation” rather than “convincing” or “exhorting” as in “preaching the Gospel,” so it is possible that the spirits are fallen angels, perhaps the demons who influenced the “sons of God” into mating with the “daughters of men” in Genesis 6. Christ would not have “preached” salvation to lost sinners or to fallen angels, and the Bible does not say that Christ went to the place of everlasting torment we call hell, although many people mistakenly derive that idea from:

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Acts 2:31

This verse is actually quoting David in Psalm 16:10, speaking of sheol, the realm of the dead.

Some commentators believe that Christ went to preach to the Old Testament saints in the afterlife (“Abraham’s Bosom”) between His death on the Cross and His Resurrection, but this is not likely. Most Scripture supports absence from the body as being present with the Lord for believers.

Unbelievers are separated from God after death, and their damnation is finally determined at that point, although they have not yet been finally judged and cast into the lake of fire.

To understand I Peter 3:20 it is crucial to look at the context.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:17-18

The theme is “suffering.”

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

Psalm 68:18

This verse is quoted in the New Testament also:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:8

Christ made a public display of defeating Satan – a “triumph” is what the people in ancient Rome would have called it – but this public display is what we call the Crucifixion and the Ascension. It is not something that occurred during the the time when Jesus was in the grave – or wherever His Spirit was before His body was resurrected. I Peter 3:19 does say He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, but I think that is talking about His Spirit preaching through the obedience of Noah in the days of Noah. That is why Noah is brought up next.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I Peter 3:20

Elsewhere, the Holy Spirit had Peter call Noah a preacher of righteousness.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

II Peter 2:4-5

The Holy Spirit – Christ’s Spirit – preached through the actions of Noah, preaching condemnation, but also righteousness, through Noah’s obedience.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 3:20-21

The same waters that condemned the world saved Noah, which is pictured in New Testament baptism. The same grave that tried to condemn Christ – and made it look like a victory for Satan – turned around and brought about Christ’s ultimate victory, as He used it to “preach” (“proclaim”) His authority and power over EVERYTHING having to do with sin: death, hell, the grave, principalities, powers, this world’s authorities, flesh, fallen angels, Satan.

Remember, we’re talking about suffering: the just suffering for the unjust. Christ could have beaten all His enemies without suffering, but He wanted to save the unjust: you and me.

How to Fight Evil

September 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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As Christians, we are being prepared for glory. We should be prepared for being prepared. Look for opportunities to show God’s glory, and then you will see coming trials as opportunities instead of obstacles.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

I Peter 3:8

In order to prepare for trials we must begin to sow the seeds of love among each other. Normally, we speak of the principles of the harvest in relation to reaching the lost, but love among the brethren (including the “sistren!”) is also something we must “cultivate.” If we can’t love our friends and family, we will never be able to love our enemies.

There are three levels to fighting that involves evil:
1. Fighting good with evil is the Satanic level.
2. Fighting evil with evil (or returning good for good) is the earthly – or fleshly – level. Sadly, most Christians hover at this level.
3. Fighting evil with good is the Godly level – the Christ-like level.

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

I Peter 3:10-12

This level will require vigilance in four areas:

1. We must control our tongues. Don’t be like many preachers who are quick to condemn Peter as a hot-head, and an example of someone who was always writing checks with his mouth that his actual conduct couldn’t cash, for we are often just as bad, and many times much worse.

2. We must have a hatred of sin. As we cultivate the garden of love, we must aggressively pull out weeds.

3. We must go out of our way to pursue peace – to be a thermostat, not just a thermometer.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

4. We must sanctify Christ as our Lord. The fear of Him keeps us from being afraid of anything else. I should be afraid to rebel against Him. I should not be afraid to commit my life to Him. His will is perfect (Romans 12:2).

We must be prepared to give an answer, but we are witnesses, not prosecutors.

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

I Peter 3:16

We must constantly maintain (perform maintenance on) our conscience. Con means “with” and “science” means “knowledge.” Our conscience is what we “know with.” It is like a mirror. It should show the truth, but it only works when there’s light. If a mirror gets dirty, it gets distorted. It can make us think we’re okay, that we look fine, when we are not okay, or when we’re actually filthy. If it keeps getting dirty, eventually it gets blackened. It shuts out all light, and we are left thinking good is evil, and evil is good.

Lord, I pray that the light of Your Truth would shine brightly into our lives – even if it is painful at first. Help us to love the light and reflect the light. Help us to be glory reflectors, shining Your light on a dark, dark world. Please bless those who gather to obey You, and those who have applied themselves to the study of Your Word to show themselves approved. Help us to be unashamed workers. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Submission and Honor in Marriage

August 27, 2018 at 10:46 am | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

I Peter 3:1

There are the levels of rank in the army of the Lord. A wife who will not come into subjection and submission to the will of her husband, or a child who will not come under subjection and submission to the will of a parent, will have a very difficult time submitting to the will of the Lord.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

Husbands and wives are joint heirs of gracejoined together by God for His glory. The wife who will not submit, and the husband who will not honor, both rob God of His glory. An earthly father who is zealous for his daughter’s well-being will certainly deal harshly with a son-in-law who mistreats that daughter. How much more will the Lord deal harshly with a husband who mistreats a daughter of God? Husbands will answer to God for how they have treated His daughters, probably even before they answer for have they have handled their church-related ministry responsibilities.

The “likewises” in v. 1 and v. 7 refer not just to Abraham and Sara, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our spouses are not just given to us by God for our pleasure, nor merely for companionship and comfort.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 5:25

God has joined spouses together as part of His plan to conform us to the image of Christ. Christ loved – and gave Himself for – people who were originally unresponsive to, or actually opposed to, His love. If we hope to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, we must learn to submit to, to honor, to obey, to love in spite of unresponsiveness or opposition, to love unconditionally and CONSISTENTLY our spouses.

When and How to Speak Up

October 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Knowing when to be quiet is an underappreciated Christian virtue. Teaching, preaching, counseling, audible prayer, even verbal praise – and especially evangelism – are the topics of frequent and numerous exhortations from the pulpit and from the Scriptures. However, the art of being quiet – perhaps even dividing our speech by as much as 50% from our accustomed habit – or at least making sure that our ears are working twice as hard as our tongue – is something that probably needs to be stressed more.

Still, this does does not mean that appropriate speaking is not also vitally important. So, in this lesson, I would like to identify some Bible principles that will help us know when – and how – to speak up.

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:34-35

Philip, not expecting this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, could have been too surprised to speak. He could have held his peace and just assumed that, since the Holy Spirit had worked it out so that the Ethiopian was reading a scroll of Isaiah already, he would figure it out on his own. But he didn’t. He opened his mouth. He opened his mouth and preached. He opened his mouth and preached JESUS.

This leads us to the first principle about identifying the right time and way to speak up:

WHEN: When there is an opportunity
HOW: Christologically (about Jesus)

Isaiah Chapter 53 is about penal substitutionary atonement. You don’t need to know the words “penal substitionary atonement” to speak about the concept, but you definitely need to know the truths for which they stand. Speak up for Jesus. Speak up about Jesus. Speak up on the Person and work of Jesus.

Here is another occasion to speak up:

WHEN: When grace is needed
HOW: Seasoned with salt

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Grace is needed wherever sin, failure, fault, pain, frustration, or hopelessness abound, because where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20). However, for grace to be heard as grace (because it is being heard in a place of sin, frustration, hopelessness, or pain), it must first be seasoned, and it must be seasoned with salt.

Salt stings, but it cleanses. Salt flavors and it preserves. Salt creates thirst. Too little salt and your attempt at grace will be bland. Too much salt and your attempt at grace will taste terrible.

A third opportunity to properly speak up is:

WHEN: When it’s time to grow up
HOW: In love

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:14

We have an obligation as part of a family of faith to help each other to grow spiritually. Only truth will help true growth. When my oldest daughter was about to enter junior high school, she decided that she wanted to be a cheerleader. We had enrolled her in gymnastics as a toddler, but, because she spent most of the classes practicing her speed-talking rather than her cartwheels, we decided the money could be better spent elsewhere. I love her dearly, but as she progressed through childhood, it became clear that physical agility and athleticism were not her strong points. To put it kindly, when she attempted any sort of athletic or rhythmic movement, she had the dexterity of a drunken hobo trying to serve tea in a rocking rowboat. So, as her parents, her mother and I had to speak the truth to her about her prospects of making the cheerleading team (not to mention the probability of embarrassment and injury). Hopefully, though, we did it in love.

As Christians, when it’s time to speak up in disagreement, we need to learn to disagree without being disagreeABLE. Love – true Christian love – must be without dissimulation, anyway (Romans 12:9).

Another time to speak up:

WHEN: When anger is warranted
HOW: Softly, after listening carefully

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

“Be slow to speak” is not the same as not speaking. Unrighteous anger can not always be ignored. At times it must be confronted, but fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire. When we have to confront anger with our speech, we need to try to defuse the bomb, not set it off.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Be quick to listen, and, when responding, use temperance: control your own temper.

Another instance of speaking up correctly:

WHEN: When people ask what you believe about God (and when people don’t ask)
HOW: With joy, enthusiasm, meekness, and fear

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

Psalm 107:2

Before you became a Christian, you were a prisoner. You were in bondage to sin, Satan, and death, and you had no hope of escape in or of yourself. Created by God to be His servant, you had been taken captive. However, there was a way that you could be set free – “redeemed” – bought back. You may have heard of the practice of “prisoner exchange.” One king or government will sometimes release many prisoners (or one very important prisoner) for the exchange of another king’s or government’s captive citizens. How many servants were you worth? Normally, if the king himself is taken captive, he is ransomed for a great price. But in your case the King Himself ransomed the unworthy servant, and He redeemed you with His own blood! He became your ransom! “He gave Himself a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). How can we NOT speak about this?

There is really never a wrong time to declare your redemption, but it is an especially good time when someone makes an inquiry.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

Then you do it with joy and enthusiasm (because you can’t help it), and you do it with meekness and fear (beause it is not really “your” message). Remember, when someone asks you why you believe what you believe about Jesus, you are trying to win that person, not win an argument.

WHEN: When teaching or admonishment is needed
HOW: Wisely, spiritually, and with the Word of God

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

The “Word of Christ” is more than just the red letters in your Bible. It is all of Scripture. We are supposed to allow it to “dwell” in us. Not just visit with us occasionally, but remain constantly. It needs to take up residence in our souls. It is impossible to have a high view of the supremacy of Christ and a low view of Scripture at the same time.

The Word of Christ is supposed to dwell in us richly, the way that rich food – filling food – nourishes us and satisfies us, but also “richly” in the sense of us mining the depths of the riches found in Scripture. We are to seek out the deepest meanings and principles in the Bible, and not be content with a “verse of the day” calendar entry.

Then we are to teach and admonish one another. Teaching is instruction and admonishing is correction when wrongdoing occurs. Because the family of God is diverse, we have different experiences and backgrounds from which we can learn from one another. Because the family of God is unified, we have a shared set of precepts and principles from which we can correct each other in love.

WHEN: When you want to do God’s will
HOW: Thankfully and submissively

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:17-21

We want to know and to do God’s will in the general structure of our lives, and in dealing with specific questions concerning what God would have us to do when faced with problems or decisions. His Spirit does not lead us to act drunk. Drunks are loud, arrogant, and foolish. Spirit-led Christians are controlled, wise, and temperate.

All Christians should want to do God’s will. God’s will is worked in us in a general way as we teach and admonish one another. God’s specific will is worked in us as we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, so we speak to one another when we see needs or opportunities for teaching or admonishing each other, but we speak to ourselves continually to make sure we are remembering to give thanks to the Lord and to submit to the Lord. In other words, we need to be speaking – really, preaching – the Gospel to our own souls. Our fear of the Lord is a natural reminder to submit ourselves to Him, and to keep ourselves submitted. Gratitude is naturally humbling and humility is naturally submissive. Talking to yourself is a sign of mental illness for the person who is not saved, but, for the Christian, speaking to yourself is communicating with the Holy Spirit Who fills us.

One more:

WHEN: As a regular part of everyday life
HOW: Diligently

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

Communicating the truth of the Word of God from generation to generation requires both regularity and intentionality. Don’t compartmentalize your Christianity. There is no sacred/secular distinction in the Kingdom of God

In conclusion, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. We should use our tongue sparingly and judiciously, but there are times when, if we are to be faithful to Him Who called us, then use it we must.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:21

betrayal through silence

God’s Specific Will for You

November 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in I Peter, Where There's a Way There's a Will | 5 Comments
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If you are a Christian, here is the specific will of God for you:

1. Respond to suffering.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

God may allow you to suffer for sin or mistakes, or He may allow You to suffer despite your obedience. Our job as Christians is to accept suffering as coming from God – either in allowing or causing it – and to seek to do what is right.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I Peter 5:10

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:6-10

2. Give thanks.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 5:20

3. Obey the earthly God-ordained authorities when doing so would not violate God’s commandments.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

I Peter 2:13-15

4. Be holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

I Thessalonians 4:3-7

5. Use your time wisely.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

What will help me accomplish God’s will in my life?

1. His Spirit

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

I Corinthians 2:9-10

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Bible and gives us wisdom through prayer.

2. His Word

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

3. His Body

Specifically, it is God’s will that we be involved in the local church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

Catechism Question 19

March 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Hebrews | 3 Comments
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Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
Prove it.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 10:12

It is important for children to believe that, after Jesus died and rose from the grave, He showed Himself alive to many witnesses, and then ascended up to Heaven – still fully God, but also still fully human, in His resurrected and glorified body.

It is also important to explain the significance of Jesus’s position at God’s right hand, equally enthroned with God the Father, having His rightful place as Judge and Ruler.

With the God-Man as our Savior, Lord, elder Brother, and Father, we have full assurance of acceptance with God, access to Him in prayer, and eternal life in His loving and benevolent presence.

Other key verses to know:

Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Romans 8:34

Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

I Peter 3:22

Inhabiting and Investigating Your Marriage

June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Peter | 13 Comments
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In marriage – especially Christian marriage – there are certain duties owed by husbands to wives, and vice versa. Even more so, there are duties owed by both spouses to Christ, Who is supposed to be the Center of our marriages.

I. Duty to Inhabit

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2

Conversation” in the Bible means more than just how you talk. It refers to your daily habits – your “lifestyle.” Wives are supposed to live out their lives before their husbands in such a way that their “ways” can be observed. The Bible does not assume that a typical marriage is one where the husband is right with the Lord. Rather, it seems to envision a typical marriage as one where the wife is walking with Jesus, but the husband needs to be changed. Sadly, this has proven prophetic in our day and age, as many wives, by default, have been the spiritual leaders – or at least the main influencers – in the home. Clearly, I Peter 3:1-2 envisions a scenario where the husband not only is failing to obey the Word, but has not been “won” by the Word. Therefore, the exhortation to wives is to advertise a Godly lifestyle. This would prohibit nagging and the administration of a verbal “beat-down” or a sanctimonious manipulation to try to get the husband to change his ways and start committing to follow the Lord and attend church. The idea is that wives are supposed to be authentic in their expressions of love for Jesus and their husbands, and to depend upon the Holy Spirit to do the convicting and the changing. If you are reading this and you are a wife, does your husband see you praying, reading your Bible, going to church? He might see the results of these disciplines, but he will not see them being acted out unless they are done openly in his presence. And you can’t do those things in front of him if you are not inhabiting the same space as him.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them…

I Peter 3:7

Husbands should not live apart from their wives. We must inhabit the same household, and spend much time together.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3

God “inhabits” the praises of His people. He “dwells” there – He is in the midst of His people when they praise Him. We need to praise our spouses, and not just around others, but face to face, in the presence of each other on a daily basis. Praise and habitation must go hand in hand if a right spirit is to be present, honoring Christ in our homes.

II. Duty to Investigate

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as “behold” in I Peter 3:2 means more than just “to look at” or to “take notice of” which is what “behold” sometimes means. Here it means “to look intently at” or “to observe closely for a long period of time.” It describes the way an “overseer” of a project investigates the progress of the project that his men are working on every day to see how it’s going.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

In other words, one of our duties as husbands is to make a study of our wives. You need to know your wife’s likes and dislikes, her pet peeves and the delights of her heart. You need to know what she thinks about different topics and people. You need to try to learn how she’s going to behave in different circumstances. Find out what’s on her mind. Obviously, this involves the dreaded “talks about her feelings” that often get parodied when observers point out the differences in the approach of men (“How can I fix this?”) and women (“I need you to empathize with me and listen to me.”) in how they communicate about problems, conflict, and interests. But the Scriptural exhortation is way more than that. It involves making observations, noting them, remembering them, and even meditating on them. The worldly cliché is that women just can’t be figured out by men, so there’s no point in trying. Thankfully, God has not commanded us men to figure out women in general, but neither has He given us a pass on understanding our wives. This is a serious duty, and not one to be brushed aside with a chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders. Just as an aerospace engineer had better be familiar and extremely conversant with math and physics, so a Christian husband had better be an expert on one woman in this world: his wife.

The duty for wives in this area is likewise crucial: Your duty here is to make sure you are a chaste study subject. Remember the command to wives? “While they behold your chaste conversation…” When the investigation begins, you want your husband to be glad about what he finds, not worried. You want him to be investigating a life of holiness, not a crime scene. Your life should be more like a treasure hunt than an episode of C.S.I. “Coupled with fear.” I know the common sitcom trope about the wife who asks her husband how her dress looks, and then bursts into tears when he says something a little too honest, but in real life wives need to disregard the potential for comedy that comes from acting like you and your spouse are from different planets, so that the husband is left scratching his head like a buffoon. Wives: revere your husbands enough not to be hard to “figure out” on purpose.

Next time, we will discover the duties to influence and intercede.

Suffering in Marriage

March 2, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 11 Comments
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Adam and Eve’s response to the realization that sin had made them “naked” in a shameful way (and the response we are often guilty of in our Christian marriages) was: “COVER IT UP!” Our response when we break covenant is to hide or cover it up from the one person who is mostly likely to know about it, and the one person we must deal with in order to receive forgiveness. In other words, our response is a sinful attempt at hypocrisy: portraying ourselves as something we no longer are.

However, God’s response (to clothe them in their shame) was a correction of Adam and Eve’s response. God’s response pointed to their ultimate redemption, and it allows the correction of the broken covenant so that we can once again be “naked and unashamed” within the bounds of Christian marriage.

I Corinthians 13 is sometimes called the “love” chapter of the Bible. It is read at weddings and is quite poetic. But in context it is really more of a test for us to see where we stand concerning whether the gifts that God has blessed us with are being properly used, or whether they are being wasted on us. It applies to all Christians and is not limited to the arena of marriage. However, as a Christian, I certainly do not want the gift of my marriage to be wasted. Even more to the point, I do not want my marriage to be destroyed. And I do not want it to be empty of the eternal value that God wants it to have as a portrayal and glorifying sign of Christ and His Church.

Therefore, I want to look at some of the specifics of Christian agape love through the lens of Christian marriage – to see if we are loving our spouses with the same attention to detail with which God loves us.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:3-4 (emphasis added)

My love toward my spouse must be a love that suffers long. How deep is your love toward your spouse? Is it skin deep? Pin-prick deep? Is it scalpel-probing deep? Or is it side-piercing deep? Is it deep enough that when you are impaled by something your spouse says, there is love dripping off the other end of the spear?

Charity suffers long. In this context “suffering” means: taking injury with a resolve to absorb it without getting even for it. It excludes revenge. Taking injury without “getting even” involves forgoing outward and inward resentment.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17

Agape love in marriage requires wisdom that is “first pure” (which has both an inward and outward application). It is “peacable” (inward and outward). It is “gentle” (outward). It is “easy to be intreated” (outward). It is “full of mercy and good fruits” (outward). It is “without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (inward and outward).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:22 (emphasis added)

“Longsuffering” is right between the inward (peace) and the outward (gentleness). I said earlier that “suffering” means taking injury with a resolve to absorb it without getting even for it. It also means: taking injury without it affecting our own inward peace. Feeling peace toward my spouse on the inside is one thing, but feeling inner peace toward myself for how I’m dealing with my spouse is even deeper.

Suffering includes inward self-control.

And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.

Luke 21:16-19 (emphasis added)

You can’t always stop your marriage from becoming a battlefield, but you can stop your own soul from becoming a war zone.

Suffering also includes an outward testimony of peace within the marriage union. I know a number of Christian married couples who like to “play-fight” in front of others. This can be a damaging pattern because it sometimes gives others a bad impression of what Christian marriage is supposed to be.

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

I Corinthians 6:7

There is a principle of putting up with wrongs among Christians in order to keep outsiders from having a bad opinion of the love we are supposed to have for each other. Christian married couples are “one flesh.” We need to look like one flesh.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

Husbands should give honor to their wives openly.

Marriage: The Long and the Short of It

December 21, 2011 at 11:25 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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There are a couple of old cliches’ when you hit a big anniversary milestone in your marriage. “I’ve been married for 20 years,” says the husband, groaning, “but it seems like a hundred.” Or, “We’ve been married for 20 years,” says the wife with a fake smile, checking over her shoulder to see who’s listening, “but it seems like just yesterday!”

I don’t want to be a spoilsport, but I don’t like either one of those cliches’. Twenty years ago today, God joined my wife and I together into one flesh in a marriage relationship. Aside from Jesus rescuing me from the penalty for my sins and saving my soul, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. And the truth is, there are moments when 20 years seems like the blink of an eye, and there are moments when 20 years seems like 20 years.

My wife is the sweetest, most loyal, loving, holy, caring, compassionate, faithful, smartest, God-fearing, Christ-honoring, and beautiful wife in the world – and she’s only getting better every day! She’s a wonderful mother to our children, to boot!

So, while it’s true that the last 20 years do seem like they’ve gone by very fast, I am not going to minimize the blessings of 20 years of experiences and memories and trials and struggles and victories. 20 years is 20 years, to the glory of God. Jesus has blessed us in ways we didn’t expect. When we’ve been in trouble, He has rescued us. When we’ve been trapped, He has delivered us. When we’ve been hurting, He has comforted us. When we’ve rejoiced, He has rejoiced with us. When we’ve wavered and doubted, He’s been faithful and true. When we’ve been scared, He’s been our assurance and strength. When we’ve lost our way, He’s found us and brought us back. When we’ve drawn near to Him, He’s drawn nearer to us. When we have been confused, He’s been our wisdom. When we’ve been unloving and unlovely, He has loved us beyond measure. We give honor and praise and worship and thanks to His Holy Name.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Proverbs 5:18

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:6-9

Discipleship Lesson 5: Prayer

January 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 55 Comments
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I. Why should we pray?

We should pray in order to be conformed to God’s will, more than to attempt to change God’s mind. Prayer is also good for our peace of mind and heart.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

God allows needs to come into our lives so that we will draw close to Him and learn to depend on Him.

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Matthew 6:8

Pray without ceasing.

I Thessalonians 5:17

It is dangerous for us to believe that all our needs are met and that we are not dependent.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Revelation 3:16-17

We must give thanks for our needs and even for our times of difficulty.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 100:4

Prayer should be our first reaction in times of trouble.

And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Psalm 50:15

II. How should we pray?

A. We should pray in the Holy Spirit.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

B. We should pray constantly.

Pray without ceasing.

I Thessalonians 5:17

C. Public prayer is good, but most of our prayer time should be in private.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Matthew 6:5-7

D. We should pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I Timothy 2:5

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 2:18

E. We should pray with our sins confessed.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Psalm 66:18

F. We should pray with a forgiving heart.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:14-15

G. Husbands should pray without bitterness toward our wives.

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Colossians 3:19

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

H. We should ask God to fulfill specific requests when we pray.

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James 4:2-3

I. We should pray consistently with what is revealed in God’s Word.

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Proverbs 28:9

III. What should we pray?

A. Be specific.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:6

B. Give thanks.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

C. Pray for others.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18

D. Praise and worship the Lord.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 100:4

E. Pray for the lost.

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Matthew 9:38

F. Pray for God’s will to be done – pray the way Jesus told us to pray.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 11:2

IV. Questions

A. Should we pray to the saints in Heaven or to angels? (No.)

B. Does praying for the same thing over and over show a lack of faith? (No.)

C. Should certain prayers be memorized and repeated word for word without feeling or as a substitute for personalized prayer? (No.)

V. Memory verses

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I Timothy 2:5

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Psalm 66:18

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

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