Posts Tagged ‘Parable of Sower’


Hebrews_10_26-39_ lose_your_salvationThe Holy Spirit, in penning Hebrews 10, seems to present the scenario that believer’s in Christ can make a decision to willfully sin, and the result of that decision will be their shrinking away from God to the destruction of their souls. To understand this passage, it would be helpful to lay aside any denominational/doctrinal presuppositions of being “elect” or “once saved, always saved” or “perseverance of the saints” or even that your salvation is dependant upon your behavior. To understand Hebrews 10:26-39, it will be helpful to look at two other passages that carry the same message, and then look at the foundation of Salvation which Jesus laid in the parable of the soils.

Hebrews 10:26-39 is the “reflective pause” that Christians face when they are about to embark on a journey of faith that grows and powers ahead into the unknown. Such reflection is good for the heart and soul. God wanted His people to reflect upon their position and relationship with Him so much so that He declared a special time of doing so during the Feast of Tabernacles. We all need times of reflection so that we may renew our commitment and continue to step out in faith in following this awesome God! Understanding this pause is essential before leaping into the Faith Chapter!

First, let us consider the bullet points of three ‘difficult’ passages…

What_does_a_willful_sinner_doHeb 10:26 – “If we willfully continue to sin…”

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 

If we deliberately continue to sin, the Holy Spirit says:

  • There is no more sacrifice (forgiveness)
  • We will face judgment
  • You are an adversary to be consumed by fire. (cf James 4:4 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”)

Does this apply to professed Christians?…They had “received the knowledge of the truth” Received is the word “lambano.” It means to take hold of, to grab. Here is an example of its use with the water of life:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Conclusion: This passage does indeed describe people who profess to be believer’s and even followers of Jesus Christ. For some reason, they have deliberately decided to turn away from Him and follow their own will, becoming an adversary of God. The implication of this implies they have made such a selfish and willful decision because of their love of the world. The result of their action is the revelation of 1 John-the Love of the Father is not in them, and they have turned toward their true lover-the world. Such love will result in their shrinking away from God and lead to the destruction of their souls.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Were these people Christians that merely backslid, or did they really lose their salvation? Or were they merely pretenders who were never truly born again?

Our next passage is…

2_Peter_2_20-22_entangled_in_the_world2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if… they are again entangled in them and overcome…”

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20-22

These verses indicate the following about these folks:

  • They are now entangled and overcome by defilements of the world
  • Their condition is worse than before
  • They had a deliberate turning away from the holy commandments
  • They are compared to how a dog and a pig reveal their true nature, they return to their vomit or wallow in the mire.

Were they Christians? They had at one time “escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” Knowledge is “epígnōsis”

“It is more intensive than gnósis, knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner. In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement”[1].

This is the same word used in Ephesians 1:17, and refers to a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ that we should all seek. So the passage seems to indicate that they at least made a profession of belief in Christ after receiving knowledge of who He was and what He had done for them. However, like those in Hebrews 10, they could not resist turning back to their true love, the world. They too, were entangled by the world and overcome, to the destruction of their souls.

Hebrews_6_4-8_fall_away_from_GodHebrews 6:4-8 “then (they) have fallen away…”

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:4-8

The people in Hebrews 6 are described as:

  • Even though enlightened and sharing in the Holy Spirit, they have fallen away
  • Their falling away is evidenced by the fruit of their life – filled with thorns and thistles.
  • Their end is destruction by fire.

Were they Christians? They experienced all these: Enlightened, tasted, shared the Holy Spirit, tasted the Word and power…Cetainly sounds like they were professing to be Christians with all the characteristics of being a Christian.

Fallen is parapíptō:

“denoting a falling away, an abandonment. Some have suggested that this word indicates an error of weakness, fault or accident and does not represent deliberate, blameworthy or willful sin…However, the usus loquendi of the word yields no such meaning but in this case signifies deliberate acts of sin[2].”

Once again, here are people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ because of some perceived knowledge of Him and what He had done for them, but in the course of their life made a deliberate and conscious decision to turn away from the Word of Jesus Christ. In this case, the proof of their decision shows up in the fruit of their life.

Before we look at the teaching of Jesus Christ in the Parable of the Soils, we must ask, “Does our Salvation come with responsiblity on our part?” Is our salvation in Christ a one time decision that is good for all of our life without any effort on our part? Or does the “New Birth” result in something which, like the wind, you cannot see, but like the wind, you can tell it is there?

What is the Evidence of our New Heart and being a New Creation?

Evidence_of_new_heart“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

“Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:6

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

The words “hold fast” are the translation of  which means literally “to hold down.” It speaks here of a firm hold which masters that which is held[3]. It implies that you have taken possession of your belief, and you hold it fast because you value it more than anything else. You never let it out of your sight!

Paul reveals the need to “hold fast” to the word which he preached, and says that if you do not, you believed in vain! Your belief was a selfish belief, and once it no longer worked in your favor, you let go and reached for something else! So Paul states we have a responsibility to “hold fast, ” a responsibility that grows from our conviction that this truth about Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything the world could ever offer!

Does this mean we must work to ‘keep’ our Salvation?

Only if you believe commitment is work. Hopefully your work and “holding fast” comes from the conviction that Jesus Christ is worth it, that you owe Him everything, because He sacrificed everything for you. Consider your marriage. Because you value your spouse and your life-long commitment to her, you “hold fast” that commitment and honor it by your fidelity. If you no longer value your spouse or your commitment, you will turn away, let go and be unfaithful. You marriage was “in vain”, which means it was fine as long as it suited your needs. You dishonor the marriage when you want to meet your needs elsewhere.

So, will giving your life to Jesus Christ result in a salvation that is secure, eternal and impossible to take away? Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:25-30

Parable of the Four Soils

What else did Jesus say about His sheep, and what insights can we gain about how we can know we are always in the Father’s hand and will never be snatched away? To better understand who is really “my sheep” we must look at the Parable of the Soils (or Sower):

 “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23

Four_heart_conditions_that_receive_the_word_of_GodI believe the best way to understand the 4 soils is to see them as our heart. Being ‘born again’ involves receiving a new nature, becoming a new creation, and Hebrews indicates that involves a new heart, one in which God puts His Word, and the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” Hebrews 10:15-16. 

Jesus says that some hearts hear the Word, but their hardness and self-will prevent the Word from changing them. It is stolen away and has no effect. Another heart hears the Word and gets all excited. This is something they need at the time. However, their heart was selfishly motivated, and the proof is revealed in adversity or harsh circumstances. The next heart hears the Word, receives it, allows it to work in their life, but that heart is divided, and gradually or suddenly turns to the world, because what they really love has choked out any effect the Word has upon them. The thorns and thistles grow and appear in the midst of any fruit they may produce.

The lesson that Jesus wants us to see is that there will be many who profess belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. However, many will be mere professors. They never really take possession (as in ‘hold fast’) of the Word of Truth for their lives. THey may look and act like Christians, but the proof of their conversion is revealed in their endurance and fruit!

This is not works based salvation, but simple gardening!

What about God’s patience and understanding with our humanity? Does He not have patience with our growth? Indeed He does, however, there is a limit to His patience, and that runs about 4 years, as evidenced in this passage:

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9

fig treeThe new birth will result in a salvation that bears fruit, not thorns or barrenness! If you are truly born again, one of Jesus sheep, but are backslidden or turning away, expect God to put some manure in your life! Things may get a little stinky until you humble yourself and re-commit to following His Word! If the manure doesn’t work, you are proven to be a pretender, and you were never given a new heart that is responsive to His Word!

Jesus showed His contempt for pretenders in this exchange near His crucifixion:

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. Mark 11:12-14 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God”. Mark 11:20-22

I often wondered at this curing of Jesus on a fig tree that by Mark’s account should not have had fruit. After all, it was early spring and it was 6 to 8 weeks away from bearing fruit. Then I read this from F.F. Bruce:

taqsh on fig treeWhen the fig leaves appear about the end of March, they are accompanied by a crop of small knobs, called taqsh by the Arabs, a sort of fore-runner of the real figs. These taqsh are eaten by peasants and others when hungry. They drop off before the real fig is formed. But if the leaves appear unaccompanied by taqsh, there will be no figs that year. So it was evident to our Lord, when He turned aside to see if there were any of these taqsh on the fig-tree to assuage His hunger for the time being, that the absence of the taqsh meant that there would be no figs when the time of figs came. For all its fair foliage, it was a fruitless and a hopeless tree.” [4]

This was confirmed by Keener:

“At Passover season in late March or early April, fig trees are often in leaf on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. At this time of year, such fig trees contained only green early figs (Arabs call them taqsh), which ripen around June but often drop off before that time, leaving only green leaves on the tree. A leafy tree lacking such early figs, however, would bear no figs at all that year,” [5]

Jesus was looking at a pretender, all leafy and full of itself, but there was not going to be any fruit! The fig tree was all about itself, and cared little for those around it, and its’ lack of taqsh revealed it would never bear any fruit for the benefit of others.

The message of our difficult passages and especially Hebrews 10:26-39 is simply this: Your actions reveal your true character. If you have been born again through the Holy Spirit, you have a new nature, a new heart that is responsive to the Word of God. You hold it fast. The Word of God will always bear fruit for God, because the Word of God is Jesus Christ! If there is no fruit, if there is no continued “holding fast to the Word,” then your heart is revealed as a pretender, vain in your true desires, in love with the world (or yourself), and an enemy of God!

Evidence_of_apostasy_and_an_unbelieving_heartHebrews 3:12-14 reveals the truth of the importance of our heart and having a genuine repentance and coming to Christ with no reserves, no expectations, no fleshly considerations.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Heb 3:12-14

Is it possible to be born again and then develop an unbelieving heart? No. For if we are born again, we have a new heart, and God writes His Word upon it through the Holy Spirit. God then is responsible for our growth, and will use plenty of manure at times. If our heart turns out to be unbelieving or worldly or divided, then it is time to repent as Christ warned the Laodiceans.

“ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ” Revelation 3:15-22

Adokimos

This is why Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, so that we would regularly check our heart to see if Christ is Lord. This is why Paul warns us to:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5

If one fails the test it means he is “adokimos” which means he is a pretender, one whose heart has failed the test of purity toward God! Only through our absolute trust in Jesus Christ and the total application of His blood can we be found “dokimos,” which means “approved!”

Hebrews_10_38-39_we_are_of_faith_and_do_not_shrink_awaySo our encouragement from Hebrews 8-10 is that because of what Christ has done, and because of His continued ministry and mediation and intercession on our behalf, there is NO WAY we can shrink away from Him and suffer destruction. Because of His ministry we have faith and therefore our souls rest safely in Him!

So what is the impact of this passage? What must we take into our hearts, our minds and work with our hands?

1. The “What” is for our Heart
The-What---the-way-into-the-love-of-God
        • This is what we take into our Heart
        • This reveals God’s Steadfast Love
        • This shows us the “Way” of Christ
        • What in this passage demonstrates God’s steadfast love, and grabs at your emotions?
  • God is faithful to Judge us according to His Word – Hebrews 10:27-31
  • He will keep His Word with all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
  • He will judge all those who reject His Son!
The-So-What---learn-with-your-head2. The “So What” is for our Head
  • We must take into our thinking – Head
  • We must follow the justice of God’s Word
  • We must believe in the “Truth” of Jesus Christ

What in this passage should we accept, receive and allow to transform our thinking so as to build the design of God into our lives?

    • I must examine my heart and soul to see if I am engaged in willful sin…
  • I must decide to turn away and then commit my whole being to being transformed by the renewing of my mind
  • I must examine myself by asking the following:
    • Am regarding Jesus as my Lord or as something “profane or common or powerless?”
    • Do I value the Blood of Christ as much as God?
    • Am I sensitive to the Leadership of the Holy Spirit?
    • How is my Confidence in the Word of the Lord?
    • How is my Endurance? Am I growing in patience?
    • How is my faith in God’s ability to do as He promised?
3. The “Now What” is for our Hands. What must we do to really learn this?

The-Now-what_learning_by_doing

  • The hands work the Righteousness of God
  • The hands demonstrate that we have the “Life” of Jesus Christ
  • What must I do this week to bring this passage to bear in my Life and grow in righteousness?
    • Daily confess confidence in the Lordship of Jesus!
    • Rejoice in any struggles or sufferings you are going through.
    • Find someone in prison (literal or figurative) this week, and show compassion to them.
    • Give something to someone in need to demonstrate your trust in eternal possessions to come.

 Heb 10:33-34 “you became companions of them that were so used (person suffering wrongly, or in affliction). For you had compassion of me in my bonds (shackles, a person with a disability) and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods…

Heart_head_hand_lessons

Take time this week to so glory in the presence of God that you are able to roll on the floor in laughter (or cry with tears of joy) over some loss that up until today caused you bitterness or great sorrow. Discover His goodness and love once again!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 624.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” parapíptō.”

[3] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 181.

[4] F.F. Bruce, Are The New Testament Documents Reliable? (Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove, Ill, fifth revised edition 1992), pp. 73-74.

[5] Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, July 1999), p. 504


While at Baptist Bible College it was common to have conversations with a friend about some gal that had captured their heart and now they were considering asker her to marry them. My standard reply was to imagine falling into a dark bottomless pit and all the way down you could see the words flashing in neon “Forever and Ever and Ever” It was a not so subtle reference to the bottomless pit that Satan will be cast into one day.

There would be an occasional chuckle, or nervous laugh, but the truth was in our minds that marriage was a serious undertaking that impacted the rest of your life. In 1870 a wife would be lucky if her husband lived past the time the youngest child left home. In 1911 the average marriage lasted 28 years. By 1967 that average had reached 42 years. Paul Harvey got to the point that he wouldn’t even mention your anniversary unless it was 60 and most of the time 70 years of marriage.

Now 70 years of marriage would seem like an eternity to most folks. But with medical care advancing, if a couple stays together, it is no big deal anymore to see at least their 50th anniversary. We have at least three folks in our church that have been married over 60 years.

What this means is that you have an opportunity to build a real history with each other. Now with digital cameras, you might be able to remember it all.

History as A Timeline

With our American brains we see time as a line with various dates and events marked on it. It is a linear view of history. Time is the determiner of when things happen. We got married on a certain day. We had children on such and such a date, we bought this house on a certain date, we sold and bought another house, etc. The kids went to this school at such and such a date, graduated from High School, College etc. Everything fits on the timeline of our life.

Biblical View of Time and History

To understand how marriages have the opportunity to enjoy “Sacred History” it would be helpful to understand a Biblical view of History.

This is where an understanding of ancient Jewish view of History comes into play. The ancient Hebrew perception of time was not abstract like our modern view; instead, it was connected to the idea of specific events, and because of this event specific orientation the people of Israel “found the idea of a time without a particular event quite inconceivable” [Von Rad, v. 2, page 100]. So, for the ancient Jews the concept of “time” was understood only in relation to particular events: There is a time of giving birth (Mic. 5:2), a time for animals to be gathered together (Gen. 29:7), a time when kings go forth to battle (II Sam. 11:1). The tree yields its fruit ‘in its time’ (Ps. 1:3), and God gives his creatures food ‘in due time’ (Ps. 104: 27); that is to say, every event has its definite place in the time-order; the event is inconceivable without its time… [Von Rad, v. 2, page 100].

Psalm 31:15 which reads, “My times are in thy hands” [KJV,RSV]. The Jews of David’s time did not think of time like we do, they viewed life as being made of many times, or a series of times.

Biblical Jews See God as the Lord of History

Specifically, the Jews saw time as a series of specific events initiated by God. Time did not exist as an independent reality, but existed only in relation to divinely initiated events. I will use my wife to illustrate how the Jews viewed history.

My wife views our history not by dates but by whom she was pregnant with at the time. I’ll mention a particular event and say when did that happen and she’ll say – well it had to be so and so year because she was pregnant with Tonya or somebody else. If it happened when she wasn’t pregnant with any one, she can’t remember it or can’t recall the year. Her concept of time is totally event related.

All of their festivals and observances celebrated a Redemptive Act of God. The exact time was not important, but their celebration and identifying with what God did was important.

I believe in heaven that time will cease to exist. We will simply live in events in happenings. We’ll be able to participate in the crossing of the Red Sea. We’ll be able to watch as Jesus feeds the multiture. We’ll watch as Peter walks and then falls into the Sea. We’ll watch as Jesus rescue him. It won’t be a movie, it will be the real thing. Time will cease to exist, and we will be totally event oriented. It will be totally about seeing how God has redeemed us and mde us trophies of His grace.

God’s Relationship with Israel

Karl Barth (a famous theologian) was challenged by an atheist to prove the existence of God. His reply was quite simple – the Jew. For over 4000 years the Jews have kept a separate identity while all the other races of man came and went. Yet the Jewish people with their worship of Yahweh has continued on in spite of losing their land, being persecuted in countless ways down through the centuries. Still, the Jews continue on, worshiping and following the same Yahweh that revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This relationship that God has with the Jewish people is nothing short of miraculous. The Old Testament reads like a Sacred History of His love for these people. That relationship has gone through so many phases it is nothing short of a miracle that God still call them “My People.”

Exodus 6:7 (ESV) I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

God calls them “My People” because He shows His redemptive Power and Love to the entire world through His relationship with them. The good, the bad, the ugly shows to all the world that there is a God who has the power to save you if you come to Him.

Joshua 4:23-24 (NIV) For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer (1:9):

Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your dispersed be under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’

God’s History with His People is SACRED, because His Name Dwells With Them

Time after time He showed his steadfast love. He showed how He would persevere. God’s relationship with Israel has gone through various stages:

  • Times of joy and celebration
    • Deliverance from Egypt, victory at Jericho, Esther, David, Solomon
  • Seasons of frustration and anger
    • The judges, King Saul, the Jews in the wilderness
  • Times of infidelity and apostasy
    • The golden calf, the Split of the Northern and Southern Kingdom, King Ahab Jezebel
  • Times when God seemingly abandoned them
    • The Holocaust
    • Other times of persecution
  • Seasons of silence
    • After Joseph’s death until Moses
    • The period between Malachi and Matthew

God’s relationship with Israel mirrors the relationship between husband and wife

Marriage CAN be a Sacred Journey

Marriage: A long journey that two people take—and a sacred one.

Sacred –  dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of God.

Marriage is the journey of two stumbling sinners falling toward God and each other and all the while experiencing events and experiences that can demonstrate the redemption of God to a lost and dying world. You simply have to see God as Lord of your History. You dedicate your TIMES to show forth God to a dying world!

We all have a history of ‘times’ with our spouse. There were moments of labor and delivery, struggles to conceive, financial pressures, financial success, problems failures, struggles, joy. What makes that History Sacred is whether or not we see God as Lord of our History, and devote our marriages exclusively to show the steadfast and persevering love of our Heavenly Father. The events of your life, good and bad, become a testimony to God’s working in your marriage.

With God the exact dates are not important, but the fact that you acknowledge Him as the Lord of your Marrige History is! Think to the darkest moment of your marriage – God was there. Think of the greatest moment of your marriage – God was there. Every high and every low demonstrates the redemptive Love of God. Our marriage is meant to reflect the Sacred History the Jews have had with God.

God called a young man and told him to marry a prostitute. So Hosea went and found Gomer. It wasn’t long before she left him to return to her lovers.

Hosea 1:2 (NLT) When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”

You have heard the story. She leaves him, has chilren by her lovers, comes back, leaves, finally she comes back because her lovers have lost interest in her. Hosea says she will no more play the harlot. God points out the picture between marriage and His relationship with Israel:

Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT) “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’

Marriage is not always good, not always bad – sometimes it just is.

“Marriage is a long walk two people take together. Sometimes the terrain is very interesting, sometimes very dull. At time the walk is arduous for both or for one. Sometimes the conversation is lively, at other times, not much to say. The travelers do not know where they are going, nor exactly when they will arrive.”

Marriage must become good with living with routines.

To have a good marriage takes time. Working through problems, enjoying special occasions, coming together in times of setbacks. You must decide to see God in the routine of your marriage just as much as you do in the mountain top experiences. The same thing that will keep your marriage together through “sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, is the same thing that will keep you growing as Believer in Jesus Christ. It is a little thing we call perseverance.

The Spiritual Discipline of Perseverance

Perseverance is “steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.” Perseverance is different from endurance. Endurance can indicate “putting up with,” “bearing up under,” or merely “tolerating” a demanding circumstance, implying a definite passive quality. Perseverance or prokarteresis suggest more than mere toleration of a circumstance because they have definite proactive characteristics. It means “to be earnest or strong toward; to be constantly diligent; to adhere closely to; to continue instant in; to be steadfast with a person or thing.” The Greek verb proskartereo (Strong’s #4342) is most frequently translated into English as continue in.” Its closest English synonym is “persistent.” Both contain a strong sense of continuous persistence toward achieving some activity.

This quality must be rediscovered in our marriages if we are to commit to seeing the History of our Marriage as: “Sacred”. Some experts say it takes 9 to 14 years for a couple to “create and form its being” (Oliver, Conjugal Spirituality, p 33) Becoming One in your marriage takes time. The problem in America and with such a high divorce rate is that we have become a nation of quitters:

  • Job
  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Political party
  • Church
  • Faith (1 Tim 4:1)

A young lady named Marti finally got married. Before marriage she brough all this luggage of failed dating relationships and failed family relationships. After the first year of marriage Marti and her husband were experiencing some hard times, complete with the fights and frustrations that often accompany adversity in a marriage. After one bad fight, Marti prepared herself for what she thought was inevitable: her husband would leave her, just like all the others before. Her husband was a Christian fimly committed to the idea of Covenant Marriage. While she was sulking in the other room, he came into her ans said these simple words: “I will never leave you.” I will stay with you and we will work through this problem.

The Necessity of Perseverance

Luke 8:11-15
Jesus told the parable of the different soils and how the seed reacts. The thing which determined whether you had a good crop is persevering:

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (NIV)

James 1:4

James 1:2-4 (HCSB)Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Our maturity with God is directly related to our perseverance, the way we stay active and seeking Him, even though we can’t see Him through the tears. Too many people quit God, quit the Church because of some little hurt, or because the feelings are not their. Faith in God is not about Feelings. Enjoying your Sacred History together will involve time when the feeling just aren’t there.

Romans 2:6-8

God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.(NIV)

Perseverance through trials and difficulties creates beauty and meaning for your life. God will grant you glory and honor. If you are self-seeking in your marriage, and reject the truth of God’s Word, you will gain God’s wrath and anger.

  • “You have to be happy in the moment” can’t sustain a relationship
  • When couples go through normal downturns, Satan starts to whisper “you married the wrong one”

Preachers have played into Satan’s plan by bending the truth to fit the circumstances of the day. We make excuses for the Truth and open back doors of excuses and denial. Like the Christian pastor who wanted me to leave the word sublission out of my sermon to the couple i was marrying because “We ignore that Scripture in our church. We don’t see it as relevant”

Pulpits across America must stop excusing the Truth of God’s Word! We must preach the truth and the truth is that God hates divorce.

I believe the wrath of God may be upon America not necessarily because we have taken God out of the schools. God didn’t call the schools of America to preach the truth. God called His preachers and pastors and church leaders to proclaim His truth. He calls every Christian couple to be witnesses of the Gospel. That witness is the Love and Forgiveness of Jesus Christ as shown in a Marriage that is Life Long, because God’s Love is Life Long!

Preachers have stopped preaching the truth that God Hates Divorce. We excuse it, we tolerate it, we find more and more ways to make it OK. We’ve even have Divorced Pastors leading churches. If there is any wrath upon America it is because the church has become self-seeking and has rejected the truth of God’s Word.

To Reject the Truth is to Risk Gods Anger

Persistence makes no sense unless we have a keen sense of eternity. What is the focus of your heart? Is your focus on living a life that is preparation for Eternity? Perhaps God is using your difficult marriage to prepare you for your Eternity! So you have had a rough couple of years, even decades, what is that when compared with how you will spend ETERNITY?

The Bible doesn’t mention rewards for those Christians who are the happiest of have felt the least pain or experienced the least sorrow!

Priority of Sacred History is Eternal Priority.

2 Thess 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christs perseverance.

Sacred History means being persistent in doing good! Marriage goes through many seasons. Sometimes you simply have to get through it. This is merely a season, and it is foolish to quit perservering during a time when any marriage would have to adapt.

Reject Self-Seeking Behavior

If there is no heaven, divorce makes sense. But if there is heaven and God and Judgment, does the cost of divorce (God’s wrath and anger) justify the jeopardizing your future?

Divorce is a failure of love, forgiveness, patience and at the very least a failure in judgment in choosing a difficult partner in the first place. But we must realize we are all failures at some point.

According to Matthew 5:28, I and virtually every other man must be considered an adulterer. One lustfull look and Boom! we have fallen. One angry outburst “You Fool!” and I’m in danger of hell fire. (Matt 5:22). While Jesus is certainly a picture of God’s Holiness and High standards, He is also a picture of Mercy and Forgiveness.

  • He forgave the woman taken in adultery, even though she deserved to be stoned(John 8:11)
  • He told his disciples that if anyone puts their hand to the plow and then turns back, is not worth of the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
  • Yet he forgave each of His disciples for running away, and especially forgave Peter who even denied knowing Him.)Mark 14:66-72)

If you have gone through the pain and heartache of divorce, you serve no one other than the devil by fixating on something that can not be undone. The Scriptures says humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up. The is no exception clause for God grace against divorced people.

If you are in a difficult marriage, I exhort you as Jesus would to hang in there. Do more than hang, do all you can to follow Jesus commands for relationships. Most of those are contained in his sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, 7. Divorce is not the same as denying Jesus or leaving your faith, but it is a dangerous decision spiritually. However, Even God’s word has allowed that there may be conditions in which it is a right choice.

  • Matthew 19:9 records the exception for infidelity.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15 reveals the situation when an  unbelieving spouse abandons a believer.

Be AWARE of the ‘times’ of marriage that rock a couple’s intimacy

  • New born babies
  • Potty training
  • Toddlers
  • School Activities
  • Strains at Work
  • Debt and Stress
  • Empty Nesters
  • Dealing with Sick Inlaws
  • Dealing with sickness later in life

To evaluate your marriage at that point is foolish and short-sighted. By quitting or looking elsewhere you will block God from the Sacred History of Redemption that He is building in your marriage. When we leave someone, don’t pretend there won’t be spiritual consequences. God is angry when we abuse his children.

SEE THE NEED FOR A SACRED HISTORY

In these “muddied” versions of Psalm 2. I have changed the nations and Kings to read Husbands and Wives. Instead of seeking your own way, God warns us to submit to God’s royal Son (or kiss the Son in KJV) lest He becomes angry. Our persevering in our marriage is SO important to God!

Psalms 2:1-3 (NLT) Why are you husbands and wives so angry? Why do you waste your time with selfish plans? You prepare for battle; you plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” you cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at you. Then in anger he rebukes you, terrifying you with his fierce fury.
Psalms 2:10-12 (NLT) Now then, you husbands, act wisely! Be warned, you wives! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal Son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Consider the Sacred History of Joseph

Consider Joseph and his response to his wicked brothers. As you consider it, imagine he was responding to a difficult spouse:

In Genesis 50:20 Joseph tells his brothers that they intended harm to him when they sold him into slavery. He also told them that God was active in all this “in order that” (i.e. to the intended and accomplished end) good might come to him.

Family solidarity takes hard work, much imagination and constant self-criticism on the part of all the members of the sacred circle. A successful marriage is not one in which two people, beautifully matched, find each other and get along happily ever after because of this initial matching. It is, instead, a system by means of which persons who are sinful and contentious are so caught by a dream bigger than themselves that they work throughout the years, in spite of repeated disappointment, to make the dream come true.—Elton Trueblood

What if the Spouse Wants Out?

We can’t see the consequences of our divorce. We can’t predict the chaos, the confusion, the hurt and the effect upon our children and their marriages. Marriage can produce tensions and hurts so intense that reconciliation would take more energy than either partner could possess in ten lifetimes. In many cases God can provide the energy; in some cases people are just not willing to accept it, or to do what God says is needed to do. Divorce is an easy alternative. Sometimes we have divorced forced upon us. Even so, our maturity before God must be considered and become our driving motivation. Even when we are sinned against, we can grow through the experience by the grace of God.

The message of Eternity and Pleasing God and bringing glory to God is this: We draw closer to God by honoring the history of our marriage, even when our spouse leaves and divorces us. God can use this to draw us closer into His heart.

The Whole Point of Having a Sacred History is “THAT MY NAME MAY DWELL THERE”

If you want God’s Name to dwell in the History of your marriage, then you would be wise to follow these steps:

1.Realize that God has a purpose for your “Times”
2.Thank God for all the “times”, even those when you thought He forgot you or left you.
3.Ask Him to bring healing to your heart for the “times” when you were hurt or disturbed by what God seemed to allow in your life.
4.Dedicate your remaining ‘times’ to show forth God’s Remptive Love to those around you.
5.Tell your spouse you are committed to building a Sacred History with them for the rest of your life.