The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
October 5, 2014


1) Marriage (Doy Moyer)
2) "Everything Happens for a Reason" (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes


by Doy Moyer

Marriage is what brings us together today. Respecting and maintaining the integrity of marriage is not just for the already married. Commitment to marriage must begin before marriage. It must begin with our relationship with God. The reason is that marriage is a direct reflection of God's relationship with His people. To learn about God and His people is to learn about the commitment that God has for His covenant relationship with us. It is to learn about the commitment we are to have for this covenant relationship. Even if you never marry, there is to be a commitment to the ideals of marriage because of its connection to God and covenant. The time to affirm commitment to marriage -- to its morality, to its integrity, to its purity -- is now.  

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband" (Eph 5:22-33).  

While we need to be concerned about the influence our spouses will have on our spiritual lives, we must be committed to serving our spouses and helping them serve the Lord. Marriage shouldn't be all about me, but to the extent that I am to glorify God. My focus must be first on God, then on loving my spouse as Christ loves His people (Eph 5:22ff). Therefore, while I must be concerned about the type of person I marry, for the sake of my own soul, I must be even more concerned about the type of influence I will have on my spouse. Not only do I need a spouse who can aid me in serving God and preparing for eternity, but I need to be a spouse who will aid her in serving God, also. A single Christian praying for a spouse should not just pray, "Lord, send me the right person," but "Lord, make me the right person for someone else." Focus on being the right kind of person and the right of kind of person will be attracted to you.  

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Col 3:23-24).  

This is an overriding principle for all that we do, and this should be no less true in marriage. It is the Lord Christ whom we ultimately serve, and therefore our treatment of our spouses and our commitment to marriage is built upon this principle rather than upon some quid pro quo with our spouses. If we first serve the Lord, then we will, also, through love serve one another.  

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Phil 2:3-5).  

This passage, though dealing with relationships broader than marriage, must be applied within a marriage. Our commitment is to be like Christ, to have His attitude in everything. Once again, this is not based on how others act, but upon our primary commitment to God. Just as Christ did nothing through selfish ambition, so we must act in humility in order to serve them and their interests (primarily spiritual interests). If I make marriage about my own personal happiness, then likely I will act out in selfishness and end up destroying the marriage and the happiness of my spouse, not to mention my own happiness in the process. Base marriage upon the principles demonstrated by Christ in humbling Himself to die for our sins. In this way, the husband can love Christ as He loves His body, and the wife can respect her husband (Eph 5).  

Marriage is a direct reflection of God's relationship with His people. This is Paul's point in Ephesians 5. Paul says, "I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church" (vs. 32). I believe that one of the main reasons God initiated marriage in Genesis was to have male and female as those made in His image mirror God's relationship with His people. He uses the marriage metaphor throughout Scripture to describe His relationship with His people -- with Israel and then with His people under Christ. Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Malachi stress the importance of this principle as the people had committed acts of adultery with foreign gods. Now marriage to Christ as His people is primary for the child of God. We are the bride of Christ, adorned for Him in covenant relationship (cf. Rev 21:2). Paul used marriage as the illustration to show that we were made to be joined to Christ in order to bear fruit to God (Rom 7:1-4).  

These ideas highlight the importance of marriage. Marriage was made by God. He joins two -- male and female only -- together (Matt 19:6). Breaking the covenant is treachery (see Mal 2:15-16), and He hates divorce. We denigrate marriage by breaking covenant, by acting upon sexual desires outside of that covenant -- even before we are married, and yes, by changing the terms of marriage to include same sex partners. Marriage is not ours to define. It is not government's to define. It is not ours to change. It is ours to respect and honor as God has given it to us. Marriage is to be held in honor by all.  

God intends marriage to reflect His own covenant relationship with people made in His image. I believe that this understanding of marriage will help us realize just how important our commitment to our spouses really is. Marriage is about God's own commitments to covenant. Though God made marriage for mankind, He made it for the greater purpose of reflecting His image. May God help us to reflect it properly, for if ever there was a relationship in which we are, through love, to serve one another, marriage is it.  

-- Via a "chapel talk" at Florida College (10/7/14)


"Everything Happens for a Reason"
by Greg Gwin

We often hear people use the expression: "Everything happens for a reason."  This saying is the modern, New Age version of the old religious saying:  "It's God's will."   Is this true?  Is there a reason for everything?  Does God's will regulate all things?

First, some things happen because the Lord has placed certain "natural" laws in place that cannot be violated without predictable results.  For example: a man broke his leg.  Why? What was the reason? He stepped off of a ladder and the 'law of gravity' prevailed.  In this sense, we can understand and acknowledge that this 'happened for a reason,' though we doubt that this is what the New Age crowd means when they use that expression. 

But, we must essentially protest the claim that God has totally predestined our lives, or that His 'will' controls every aspect of our existence.  The Scriptures make it clear that God gives man choice.  Joshua's famous statement makes this abundantly clear: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:15).  We know that the invitation for salvation is open to all, but each one must decide: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come . . . and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17).  So, obviously, God has not predestined everything, else these statements about our freedom to choose would be senseless. 

Further, we know that some things do, in fact, happen as a consequence of the choices God allows us to make.  Good choices typically bring good outcomes, and bad choices produce bad ones.  Many are suffering the ill effects of things they chose to do or not do, while others are enjoying the benefits of wise selections.  Moses advised the Israelites: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).  To put it simply, choices have consequences.  And while this is a definite rule of God, the specifics are determined by us and our free will, not His. 

Finally, we must note that there is not always a clear, one-to-one corollary to be seen in every event in our lives.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and vice versa.  Why?  Frequently we can 'see' it, but often we can not answer, other than to lay it to the reality of living in this present world with its physical suffering and death.  We may not be able to explain them, but we can use even the 'bad things' to provoke us to do what is right and just -- as we seek for a world where such will never happen again (2 Peter 3:13). 

-- Via The Beacon, February 25, 2014


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be praying for each of the following people:

Marie Turner's surgery for cancer went well on October 10.  Following recovery and ICU, she was then moved to a private room on the 11th.  Her husband Mark writes that "all numbers were great during surgery.  Everything we prayed for!"  On the 13th, he wrote, "Surgeon says Marie could go home as early as tomorrow. Recovering beautifully."

We have been glad for the better days that Myrna Jordan has been having, following her recent surgery, while she continues to go through the healing process.

Let us also continue to remember Virginia Fontenot and her family in prayer as she is now receiving hospice care in her home.  

Kevin Varney was released from the hospital October 7, of which he was in for heart surgery and now has rehabilitation to undergo.

After many days (since May 24) of being in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility, Danielle Howard was able to return home October 10. She will continue to receive dialysis three times a week, which she has been doing for about the last five years, and will need to continue to heal and grow stronger.

Carol Drain will be having cataract surgery October 14.

Let us also continue to include on our prayer list the following for their health: Jim Lively, Ronnie Davis, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jewel Wilson, Mary Vandevander, Deborah Medlock, Shirley Davis, Sue Wooten, Dexter Roberts, and Colleen Henson.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)     
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

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