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Entries in Marriage (4)


The Martyrdom of John the Baptist

Mark 6:14-29.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on August 25, 2019.

Our Passage today is about how people in power do not like to have anyone rail against their sins in public.  Imprisonment and execution can be done in a moral manner and will occur under good governance, but they are the main methods and means of tyrants to keep a firm hold upon society.  The Bible warns that in the last days mankind will be more likely to kill believers than less.

We should praise God for the protections that have been provided for us in t he United States of America.  However, we are guaranteed that it will not last forever.  It is important that we recognize that our purpose on this earth is to take our stand beside Jesus before all others and without shame.  To do this without redefining Jesus in our own image, we must remember that our reward is not what we experience in this life, but what we shall experience in the life to come.

John’s imprisonment and death

This story tends to work backwards in time, which doesn’t give us a good idea of when John had been imprisoned and executed, and how long before this it was.  Those who have researched the history tend to see an overlap of less than a year in the ministry of John and Jesus before he is arrested.  It is also thought that John may have been in prison up to a year.  We will deal with the story by looking at the imprisonment and death of John first, and then we will come back to verses 14-16.

Before we get into John’s arrest, we must also take a moment to talk about the convoluted Herodian families, and just which Herod is being referenced here.  The Gospels don’t always give good clues to us because they had lived through these things and it was obvious.

Herod the Great is the Herod that is mentioned in the stories about the birth of Jesus.  He had been made king over all of Israel by the Romans.  He is also the one who ordered all children under 2 years of age in Bethlehem to be killed.  He was a dangerous man who was considered by many to be somewhat insane.  He executed three of his sons under suspicions of plotting to assassinate him.  Herod the Great died within 3-4 years of the birth of Jesus, which allowed Joseph and Mary to come back from Egypt and settle in Nazareth. 

Upon the death of Herod the Great, his kingdom was broken up into 5 parts and divvied up between three sons and 1 daughter.  Now, Herod had married many different wives and so, most of the brothers mentioned here are actually half-brothers.  The Herod of our passage in Mark 6 is one of these sons and is usually called Herod Antipas.  Herod Antipas was given rule over the Galilee (the western side of the Sea of Galilee including Nazareth) and another area called Perea, which was on the eastern side of the Jordan River between the Sea of Galilee and about half way down the Dead Sea.  Notice that John the Baptist would have been baptizing people on the edge of his territory.

John the Baptist had a clear message.  Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  He often challenged the people on specific sins, even calling out the Pharisees, but what got him in trouble was when he called out Herod Antipas for his sin.  You see, Herod Antipas had gone to Rome at the same time as one of his half-brothers named Herod Philip (not Philip the Tetrarch who is mentioned in the Scriptures).  There he had fallen in love with his half-brother’s wife, Herodias.  Yes, as her name implies, she is related and is actually the half-niece of Herod Antipas.  Apparently, the feelings were mutual because they divorced their spouses and married each other when they returned to Israel.  Now, the Law of Moses specifically prohibits marrying your brother’s wife, while he is still alive, not to mention the flimsy “case” for divorce.  Secondly, a case could also be made that she is too close in kinship to be lawful to marry.  Thus, John the Baptist calls out Herod Antipas for an illegitimate marriage.

People in power do not like religious prophets calling them out for their sin.  It is a personal affront, but also a political threat that can undermine their authority.  John had multitudes of people listening to his words and responding in repentance, which leads Herod Antipas to have him arrested and thrown in prison.

Herod Antipas had enough of his father in him to imprison John, but not so much as to have him executed.  He not only feared John as a holy prophet, but he also feared what the people would do if they heard he had killed John (Matthew’s Gospel specifically mentions this).  Yet, we are told that Herodias, his unlawful wife, wanted John the Baptist dead.  She could not do so because her husband stood in the way. 

This sets up the scene, that Matthew and Luke both describe, wherein John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?”  Of all the people in Israel, John the Baptist seemed the most confident in who Jesus was.  Yet, after he had spent weeks and months in prison, it is clear that he began to wonder if he had missed something.  How could the Messiah be in Israel, and I am in prison under threat of death?  Surely, he will take power and set me free any day now.  In those passages, Jesus tells the disciples of John, “Go tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.  And Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:5-6 NKJV).  The word “offended” here is the Greek word Skandalizo, and literally means “to cause to stumble.”  It comes from the concept of a stumbling block or stone in the Old Testament.  Basically, Jesus is telling John to hang on to his faith.  He is right and Jesus was doing all he was supposed to do.  Sometimes we think God should be doing things that the word never says that He must do.  In those times, we must trust Him, even it means we will die.

Our text tells us that an “opportune day” came.  This is in reference to the evil desire that Herodias had for John.  Whatever we allow to grow in our hearts, will one day find an opportune time to be expressed.  This is why we are warned to guard our hearts, not from being wounded in love, but from sinful desires that rise up and consume our inner dialogue from day to day.  Herodias nurtured murder in her heart and finally an opportunity came and she fell headlong into the full expression of that sin.

The opportunity comes in the form of a party that Herod Antipas throws for his birthday.  All his nobles, chief men, and high officers of his lands are gathered.  Herodias has her daughter (Herod’s step-daughter) dance before the king and his assembly.  No doubt, this is a typical, sensual dance that stirs up the passions of the king and was no doubt set up by Herodias, knowing her husband very well.  Herod is so pleased by the dance that he offers the young girl anything up to half his kingdom as a reward.  She goes and asks her mother what she should say, and her mother tells her to ask for the head of John the Baptist.  I would not think the young girl had such a gift in mind.  However, she does not seem to put up much of a protest.  When she asks Herod for John’s head on a platter, Herod is in a bind.  He had given his word by oath and would look weak, impulsive, and untrustworthy to his administers.

We are told that Herod is “exceedingly sorrowful” at this reply.  This is the same word that is used of the rich young ruler who Jesus told to sell everything and come follow him.  That young man was exceedingly sorrowful because he wanted to follow Jesus, but he also had a large amount of wealth that he did not want to give up.  It is also the word used for Jesus in the garden on the night he was betrayed.  As he prayed that night, he was exceedingly sorrowful unto death.  This is part of the tragedy of sin.  Most people are not as completely evil as they can be.  However, we can become so tightly entangled in a great web of sin that it traps us into descending further.  Many wicked things are done by unwilling people who feel that they are trapped and have no other choice.  Yet, remember the message of John the Baptist.  Repent.  Herod was only trapped because he continued to refuse a place in his heart for repentance.  We too are only as trapped as we are insistent on resisting the call to repentance.

Herod’s fears about Jesus

This leads us back to the beginning of our passage.  Herod had executed John and it bothered him enough to be superstitious, but not enough to repent.  You see, when word of the exploits of Jesus reach him, he concludes that John the Baptist has come back to life and is going to cause him even more trouble.  It is interesting that there is no statement of a fear of God, only of John.  This scene is a reversal of the scene where Jesus asks his disciples who people are saying he is.  There too we are told that a common theory of who Jesus was said that he was Elijah.  This is not as strange as it may seem to us.  Elijah had been taken up into the heavens by a heavenly chariot.  Also, Malachi 4:5 prophesied that Elijah would appear before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord, and he would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.  This is a beautiful picture of what wholesale repentance can do in a society.  We know that this theory was not true.

The second theory was that Jesus was The Prophet or at least just one of the prophets.  This is a reference to an interesting prophecy that Moses himself had given in Deuteronomy 18:15. He said that a particular prophet would come in the future that would be like him.  This seems to mean that he would be on the same order and magnitude of Moses.  Thus, many prophets had arisen since Moses, but none of them with such deliverance from bondage, and establishing a completely, new order within Israel.  “The Prophet” was seen as either the same as the Messiah, or another who would work with the Messiah to reform Israel.

I take time to go through this because, in our flesh, we come up with religious speculation and superstitious conspiracy theories.  Even today, many Christians exist in a kind of Herodian sphere where they have enough religion to speculate and respond in fear to the things ahead of us.  However, the Holy Spirit of God is working to reveal to us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  Herod put to death the very one who testified the truth about Jesus.  If Herod had only listened then he would know exactly who Jesus is.  He is the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

Our passage ends at this point.  In Luke 13:31-33, we are told that Herod Antipas sought to kill Jesus.  When the Pharisees bring this up to Jesus, he basically tells them to go tell “that fox,” I will do what I am going to do and he can’t stop it.  Herod Antipas, or Caesar for that matter, had no power over Jesus.  He had to go to Jerusalem and die there because that was the prophesied plan.

Herod Antipas received one more chance and gracious witness of the truth from God when Pilate was determining what to do with Jesus.  He sends Jesus to Herod Antipas because Jesus was from Nazareth, which was in his territory.  We are told that Herod was excited because he wanted to hear what things Jesus would have to say.  However, Jesus refused to play his game and so Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate and deferred to his judgment.  There was no place for repentance in his heart.  Religion was only a fun game to play or a fine sounding instrument to play, and that was all.

Within ten years of the death of Jesus, Herod Antipas and Herodias are caught up in a political maneuver that causes them to be exiled to Gaul, where they later died.  If only he had responded to the tremendous people who witnessed to him of the truth of God’s Word.

John the Baptist is not recorded as the first Christian martyr because Jesus stated that John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and rightly belonged to the era of Israel under the Law of Moses.  With Jesus, a new era was beginning.  The remnant of Israel was called out in order to become the Church of Jesus, wherein both Jews and Gentiles would become one people of faith upon the foundation of Jesus and his apostles. 

We too can find ourselves in a position much like John the Baptist.  The difficulties and sufferings that we face in this life at the hands of selfish and even wicked people can cause us to question Jesus.  Precious, few believers in America need to really fear martyrdom, dying for our faith and testimony in Jesus.  However, this is part of the condemnation that comes upon this world.  God has sent us prophets and righteous people speaking the truth, and we have persecuted them and put them to death.  More people have died in this last century than all the previous centuries combined.  Part of that is because of the increase in population, but part of it is because the world hates the message of Jesus, and thus hates those who truly follow him.  Yet, such hatred, persecution, and even martyring, will not destroy us.  The work of John was not destroyed by his death and the work of Jesus was not destroyed by his death.  May we always remember that the things we do that are of God cannot be destroyed, but will only produce a harvest at thirty, sixty, even a hundred-fold!

Martyrdom audio


Society under Siege: The Overflow of Perversion

1 Corinthians 7:1-7.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 25, 2016.

There is a growing boldness in our society to call sexual perversion a good thing.  In fact this has spread to many who claim to be Christians and justify much that the Bible labels as immoral.  Now when we read the Bible we find that the open overflow of sexual perversity is always followed by the judgment of the nation or society in which it occurs.  We see it with the pre-flood world.  We see it at Sodom and Gomorrah.  We see it within the tribe of Benjamin during the time of the Judges.  Now it is our own country that is going down the well-worn path of destruction.  I pray that God will wake us up as a nation before it is too late.  Regardless of what happens with America, I challenge each of us as individuals, “Save yourself from this wicked and perverse generation!”  Acts 2:40.

Singleness is good

In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, the Apostle Paul is dealing with some very specific issues within the Corinthian Church.  In some ways these issues are related to our issues today and in some ways they are different.  It is important to note that Paul is responding to some statements that the Corinthians were saying, which he either received by word or letter.  In verse 1 Paul is able to agree with one of their statements, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”  To touch a woman is a euphemism here for sexual intimacy.  Paul basically agrees that it is a good thing for an adult to remain single and not engage in sexuality.  However, he is going to have some issues with the lengths to which they take this idea.  But let’s deal with singleness first.

In our society most people who remain single do so in order to have more sex, or rather, sex with more people.  Biblically this is called fornication and is a type of sexual immorality that God has warned will receive His wrath in the end.  However, the Corinthians Christians had a different mindset.  Some of them were seeing sex as unspiritual and therefore celibacy as spiritual.  So when they said it was good for a person to remain single, it had to do with trying to be more spiritual.  This is not true.  Both a single person and a married couple can be just as spiritual or unspiritual.  Imagine a celibate who is inflamed with sexual desire.  They would be a moral time-bomb that is anything but spiritual.  Also, a married couple who is regularly involved sexually can be very spiritual.

Notice that in verse 7 Paul states that his personal desire is that everyone could be like him, which is unmarried and not having sex with anyone.  However he recognizes that not all people have been given this ability from God.  In fact, we know that the larger percentage of people do not have this gift.  Now the word translated gift is “charisma.”  It is the same as the gifts of the spirit elsewhere in this book.  There are some who are gifted by God to thrive as singles.  They may wonder from time to time what it would be like to be married, but they do not have the same drive towards sexuality as others.  They have the ability to live a single life without being inflamed with lust, fantasies, and fornication.  We should confess that Christians have not always been so healthy minded towards singles on this issue.  We can often assume that singleness means there is something wrong with someone or that they are a homosexual.  A parent who wants grand children can overly pressure their adult child to find a mate.  This is not healthy.  In principle there is nothing wrong with being single and abstinent for one’s life.

In fact Paul argues later in verses 26-28 that the “present difficulties” of persecution are a good reason to not get married.  Instead of having to worry about a spouse and their desires, you can focus completely on pleasing the Lord.  Paul also mentions “trouble in the flesh.”  To choose to marry is to choose to deal with certain things that have to do with the body.  It is not necessarily bad; it is just another area of difficulty in your life.  Paul ends that section by pointing out that this world is passing away.  Verse 31 says , “The form of this world is passing away.”  Thus Christians should hold all things that they have in this life loosely.  If my spouse is jailed or even killed because of persecution, I have to learn to trust God and let them go.  Such troubles in the flesh are not insurmountable, but they are extremely difficult.  Our culture has taken singleness and turned it into a hedonistic life-style that plunges into sexual immorality so much that they have become bored with it and seek ever more perverse sexual desires.

Within Marriage Sexuality is Good.

Now that we have talked about singleness let’s talk about marriage.  In verses 2-3 Paul uses two phrases that both point to sex between a husband and wife: “let each man have his own wife,” and “let the husband render to the wife the affection due her.”  Paul underlines that sexuality in the context of marriage is good and that to abstain from sex is bad.  Why?  It is bad because of sexual immorality.  Married people who quit having sexual relations set themselves up for being susceptible to sexual temptation.  Thus marital relations have a certain defensive quality to them.  They can help to strengthen the marriage bond.  Of course, just having sex is no guarantee of fidelity.  Now this is not the only reason for marriage.  Paul is dealing with a question of sexuality and is answering on that level.  In Ephesians 5 we are given a far nobler purpose for marriage and even sexuality.

Within the marital bond are certain commitments that each make to the other.  Paul points out a mutual duty, or obligation, that a married person has towards their spouse.   The phrase “affection that he owes her,” is definitely a euphemism for conjugal duties.  However, it is put in a much softer phrase that implies a greater atmosphere of affection or kindness within the relationship.  When we stand before God and family and vow to love each other until death do us part, we are obligating our self to care for that person in every way.  If you marry only to get something that you want and fail to see your obligation to the other person, then you are headed for a divorce or a very rocky marriage.  Yes, marriage is more than sexuality.  However, sexuality is a part of it that we need to understand.  Paul reminds them in verse 4 that the husband’s body belongs to the wife and the wife’s body to the husband.  In other words, we should not go into the marriage looking at what we want our body to get out of it.  Rather we should go into it in order to give something that the other needs.  The needs of a married couple go beyond sex, but it does include it.

Paul brings up something that the Corinthians were doing.  Some of them had developed the idea of making their marriages “spiritual.”  They would abstain from sex so that they could be more spiritual.  Paul recognizes that abstinence for a time in order to fast in pray is entirely appropriate if it is mutually agreed upon, but doing so for a long period of time is foolish, and a tactical mistake.  Paul says, “Do not deprive one another.”  This is not just applicable to the stated scenario.  Sometimes we can get angry with our spouse and use sex, or lack thereof as a selfish punishment.  A married couple needs to be wise about each other’s needs, both spiritual and sexual.

Satan uses the temptation of sexual desires

We need to understand that what is going on in our society is not just about what people want.  There is a spiritual side to this issue in which we have an enemy who is trying to destroy and plunder us.  Satan did not create sex or sexual desire, God did.  However, he is skillful at wielding it like a weapon against us.  Verse 2 and verse 5 both mention the temptation towards sexual immorality.  Here in this country we live in a sea of sexual immorality.  In this we are the same as the Corinthian Church.  Our media is saturated with sexual images, sexual innuendo, and even explicit in your face sexuality.  Because we have lacked restraint in the areas of pre-marital sex and adultery, the lust for sex has inflamed to all manner of perversions: incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and a sea of sexual fetishes that warp the God-given reason for sexuality into a tool of destruction.  All of this is being promoted and instigated by spiritual forces that are breaking down the strong defenses that God has given us because we surrender them.

This spiritual enemy is looking for an opening for temptation in your life.  Within a society that is “super-saturated” with sexual input, a person is primed to fall in this area.  He is looking for that chink in your armor and that foothold that gives him the leverage to topple you spiritually.  Thus sexual sin becomes a bondage that first starts within our hearts.  It is in the heart that sexual sin is thought to be desirable.  Just like Eve looking at the fruit, we look at what we see around us, or on pages of magazines, and begin to desire to taste it.  Over time a person who desires forbidden fruit will convince themselves that they must have it or can have it.  Our powers of self-justification are also aided by demonic lies that have infiltrated our society.  Lastly we act upon that desire, and when sin is fully grown it brings forth spiritual death in people’s lives.

In verse 5 Paul underlines the key issue in sexual matters, and that is self-control.  Each individual is born with a God-given autonomy over their own mind and actions.  However, through lack of self-control, we can surrender that autonomy to sin and the plan of the devil.  We can end up as slaves to sin.  Thus the one who has become a slave to sexual sin needs to cry out to God for help in true repentance and sorrow for what you have done.  They will have to go back to the arena of their mind and stop surrendering to fantasies of lust.  They will have to reject the demonic lies by meditating on the truths of God’s word.  We are told to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Thus, the body is not for sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:13).  Don’t use your mind to think about it and what it would be like.  Satan uses the sexual immorality of others to try and plant into your mind the potential for you to taste the fruit of it.  This sets up the next issue.

What begins in the mind is inflamed with GIGO (Garbage-In-Garbage-Out).  When you live in a society that is overflowing with perversion, there is a certain amount of garbage that you cannot shield yourself from.  Thus, I am not pointing to some kind of perfect control of our life where nothing impure is ever seen or heard by us.  But when we willfully cooperate with the garbage around us, and when we willfully go out of our way to bring it into our heart and mind, then it becomes like gasoline to the fires of the impure desires in our heart.  Thus, we have to stay away from certain places and activities because we know they will lead to spiritual destruction.  We must refuse to feed upon pornographic images and videos.  Within the last 2 decades the internet has put pornography at the fingertips of people who would have never been near it before.

Lastly the lack of self-control destroys marriages, families and souls.  When we give into justifying our desires, it will destroy us within and then destroy us without.  Satan baits us to fail in these areas because he hates the God-designed power of a godly husband and a godly wife loving each other and raising up another generation of godly people.  Failures in this area are sin and sin always fills us with guilt.  Sin says to us, “Keep me hidden at all costs.”  But eventually when the seed has matured it will demand to come out in the open.  Many are using Scripture today to justify their failure in this area.  They have given in to sexual immorality and now want to be justified in doing it.  But God is not pleased.  Sexual immorality destroys relationships, marriages and even your own soul.  One day you will stand before God and give account for your life.  Do not go into eternity justifying sexual immorality.  Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”  He goes on to point out that gross sexual perversion is a sign that God has given us over to the judgment of His wrath. 

Don’t let the enemy destroy your life!  In fact even in the midst of a society that God has given over to judgment, we can still turn from our sin and be saved today.

Overflow of Perversion audio


A Trial of Tricks and Traps II

Luke 20:27-40.  This sermon was preached on September 6, 2015 by Pastor Marty Bonner.

Last week we looked at a political trap that was laid for Jesus.  Essentially they wanted to make him look like a threat to Rome.  Today we will look at a different type of trap that is laid for Jesus, a religious or theological one.

It is common in every age to use whatever means possible to manipulate authorities against certain people and to manipulate the people against other people or even certain authorities.  These schemes that wicked people use may be effective in this world, and in such ways, they get what they want.  However, as a follower of Christ, we should be insulated from such manipulations because we do not look to the arguments of man to be foundational in our decision making process.  Rather, we look to the words and example of Jesus for our direction.  Though we do not do this perfectly, we should ever be vigilant to the schemes of manipulation that are being worked on us by wicked people.  We should also be vigilant over the fears and desires in our heart that provide the leverage for such manipulators.

The Theological Trap

The religious leaders were getting desperate in that last week leading up to the crucifixion.  They were not having any success manipulating Jesus.  Some of their attempts might appear quite weak to us, but part of that is because we are removed from the event in time and in culture.  Plus, a person can block 1,000 attacks, but it only takes one fatal blow to overcome such a defense.  So if they couldn’t get Jesus to offend the Romans, perhaps they could stir up trouble between Jesus and his followers.

The passage tells us that this particular attack comes from the group called the Sadducees.  Their name is a reference to a 3rd century BC rabbi named Sadoc.  This rabbi had begun to teach that humans did not have a spirit and there was no such thing as a spirit world (angels etc…).  They rejected any concept of a resurrection and an afterlife.  They only accepted the Books of the Law (The first 5 books of the Old Testament) and rejected the rest.  They tended to treat the Scriptures like life lessons rather than commands to be obeyed.  This is similar to what the Greeks did with their mythologies.  They see the stories as inspiring rather than inspired, something to incorporate into your life rather than something to be obeyed.  In that sense they were the religious liberals of their day (in contrast to the Pharisees who were very much religious conservatives).  In all respects they were moralizing naturalists.

These Sadducees present a hypothetical situation to Jesus and ask a question concerning it.  In this hypothetical situation they are referring to a teaching in the Law of Moses regarding a man who dies without having a son to inherit his property.  Israel was had twelve tribes who had very clear tribal boundaries.  Within these tribes were clans and families who had ancestral properties.  It was important for them to keep their property within the family and thus it was common for someone within the family to marry the widow in order to raise up a son to inherit for the dead man.  In this way, his name and his family property would not be lost to others.  Yes, God could have given them a different way to deal with this situation, but it was a very common practice in the middle east and was not adverse to the purposes of God.  We need to recognize that when God gave His law to Moses for Israel, He could have made it so perfect that no one would have even tried.  Instead, there are areas where God says, “You will not do this thing that your culture does.”  And in other areas He says, “You can still do this, but restrain yourself in these ways.”  Lastly, He sometimes does not make an issue out of things that He could have.  It is easy to judge the law that God gave Israel.  However, I would put before you that we should more humble in such judgments.  What will people 100 years from now think about your moral judgments and life?  Wouldn’t they be shocked at some of the things you did and called good?  How about 2,000 years from now?  I am not saying that God changes the definition of what is good.  But rather, the purpose of the Law was not to make a timeless statement of what a perfect society looks like.  Rather, it was to restrain the sin of Israel long enough so that God could do His work of redemption through them.  Also, it was to show them their guilt before God.  None are righteous, no not one.

So in this hypothetical situation we have a woman whose husband dies childless.  Thus the husband’s brother marries her to raise up an heir.  Yet, this guy also dies before having a child.  This happens 7 times until at last the woman dies without ever having a child and being married to 7 different men.  Now it seems quite obvious that no such situation existed, or ever had.  It is important to recognize in arguments that many hypothetical situations are so rare that they have little bearing on the issue.  Take time to analyze them and recognize the motives behind shaping the story in that way.  Now this story would be the same problem even if there was only two husbands.   Whose wife will she be after the resurrection?  We will get to the answer in a moment.

Why 7 times?  It is because the Sadducees in no way believe in a resurrection.  It is a ridiculous notion to them.  It is asked in this way to reduce the idea of a resurrection to an absurdity in the minds of those listening to Jesus.  They believe that any answer Jesus could give would make him look ridiculous.  Surely, he wouldn’t say that she will be a wife to all seven.  She could only be the wife of one man.  So who would it be, the first or the last?  And, under what justification would that be made?  In their minds they have given Jesus an impossible situation that will make him look ridiculous in the minds of those watching on.  Now let me remind you that we are being manipulated today.  Whether in politics or in everyday life on the job, things are not always as they seem.  Be careful how you judge things.  Sometimes you are being manipulated to walk away from a good leader.  Leaders can also be manipulated to use their authority against the wrong people.  Be slow to judge and quick to listen.  Be quick to pray for God’s wisdom to see through such manipulations.  We could spend more time on this.  However, simply receive this as a basic caution to quick judgments.

The Truth About The Resurrection

They get more than they bargained for on that day because Jesus doesn’t just answer the question.  He also gives new revelation regarding this resurrection spoken of by the prophets before him, which should be a reminder to us.  We know nothing about the resurrection except what God has revealed to us.  In fact this is also the reason we know anything about God and His purposes.  Thus throughout history God spoke to godly men and confirmed His word with fulfilled prophecy.  Yes, He would reveal the future in advance to substantiate what was being revealed about heavenly purposes.

Yet, there is a tendency within man to try and fill in the gaps between such truth with our own logic.  We create suppositions and hypotheses, prop them up with “biblical logic,” and call them doctrines.  Thus whole systems of theology are created that leave precious little to the humility of ignorance.  We are too proud to remain ignorant.  The truth is that God does not reveal to us most of what is to come.  He gives us enough to understand His intentions and to trust Him.  Why are we not okay with that?  The Sadducees had elevated their opinions to the level of Truth.  “There is no resurrection, period, and anyone who believes in it is a deceived idiot!”  Instead of humility before God’s Word, they were filled with their own wisdom and knowledge.

Jesus simply tells them that there is no marriage in the age following the Resurrection.  Thus the question is moot.  She will be the wife of no one and they will be the husbands of no one.  Why?  There are a couple of reasons given.

First, our bodies after the Resurrection will be immortal (never die).  Part of God’s purpose in marriage is procreation.  We are dying beings and thus we must replicate ourselves on the earth.  If we do not then mankind will cease to be.  After the Resurrection we will not need to replicate ourselves because none of us will die.  This revelation probably caught the questioners by surprise.

Second, marriage is intended to be a symbol of man’s union with God.  Thus Jesus says we will be equal to the angels (in that we don’t die) and will be Sons of God.  Although he doesn’t tie in the marriage analogy, he does insinuate that we will be in direct relationship with God like the angels are.  The work that is done to make a marriage work involves a man “laying his life down” for his wife.  Thus marriage is a picture of the work of salvation and redemption.  We were designed in such a way and given such an institution of marriage in order to remind us of God’s plan and purpose.  Thus we marry now as a prophetic picture of what is to be.  After the resurrection we will be eternally wed to God as a people.  Today we say, “’Till death do us part.”  But the union with God following the Resurrection is to never be separated by death.  We will not “wed” each other because we will be wed to God.  It is clear that Jesus is pointing out that life will be quite different in the age to come.  We are not just living this life over again, like some kind of reincarnation.  Our flesh will be very different from the flesh of today and so the way that we live will be quite different too.

This leads to some things we should think about.  The reason God hates adultery and divorce is because it causes hurt and pain, but also because it symbolizes a break up and failure of this eternal plan of God.  Part of the reason why God rejects same-sex sexuality and marriage is because of what it says about His eternal purposes.  It symbolizes humanity rejecting God and moving forward only with themselves.  It also symbolizes God rejecting mankind and moving on without us.  This will never happen.  God will not turn back from His plan.  Why does God reject pre-marital sex?  He does so because of what it does to the symbol of His great commitment to us.  When you see the other person only as a means of sex and fun until the next person comes along, then you diminish the powerful commitment that God has made to us and wants us to reciprocate.  Pre-marital sex trivializes the marriage and strengthens the very things that will get in the way of the greater relationship that can be.

In Matthew 22:29 and following, we see that Jesus made another statement before giving this answer.  He said, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”  Now in verses 37-38 of Luke 20, Jesus is not pointing out the most powerful passages regarding resurrection in the Old Testament.  The most powerful passages are in Isaiah 26:19-21, Ezekiel 37:12-14, Daniel 12:1-3, and even Job 19:25-27.  But these were books that the Sadducees rejected.  Thus Jesus takes an example from the books that they did accept and mercifully shows them the logic of why there must be a resurrection.  Sometimes we are ignorant of God’s word because we don’t read it.  But other times we are ignorant because we have told ourselves it can’t be trusted.  Don’t make this mistake.  God knows what He is talking about.  We are the ones who have no clue.  Quit being so proud of your own intellect and logic, and rejecting the testimony of The One who created all things.

Jesus reminds them of God’s words in the burning bush passage.  God reveals Himself to Moses by saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  Jesus points out that God is not the God of the dead but of the living.  Two things must be said here.  First, God didn’t say I was the God of Abraham.  “I am!”  God was presently still the God of Abraham.  Now in the mindset of that culture it was unthinkable to say that God was the God of the dead.  This was a phrase that the pagan cultures used to speak of their false Gods.  The God of death was synonymous with the devil at this point.  Yet, in other places in the speaking of Jesus we see that he speaks about the living and the dead in a qualitative sense.  What I mean by this can be demonstrated by several simple statements of Jesus.  He spoke of those who though dead would still live and of those who though alive were still dead.  Living and dead are not statements of whether someone is breathing or not.  No matter how much you breath and animate yourself in this life, if you go on into eternity separated from God then you have always been dead, even while you “lived.”  But, if you are in relationship with God then you never really die.  O yes, you give up this flesh, but then the God of life brings you to Himself.  If He created us to be Flesh and Blood, will He not then plan to reunite us with new flesh?  Thus the prophets spoke of the resurrection that God had revealed to them.

Let me close by recognizing that we are most able to be manipulated when we reject that which God has given to us.  In fact we can become a tool of the enemy against the purposes of God when we refuse to hear the words of life.  Listen to His Word today! 

Tricks and Traps II audio


Same-Sex Marriage: Is It Really About Fairness & Equality?

We continue this week talking about the issue of “same-sex marriage.”  Today we are going to deal with the issue that is often raised concerning fairness and equality.  “You get to marry who you want.  So keeping us from marrying is unfair.”  Or another way this may be approached is to say, “Marriage is a good thing that you are keeping homosexuals from experiencing.  It isn’t fair to keep such a good thing from us.”

Being how marriage is an institution of God and not mankind or government, it is important for believers to not be drawn into emotional arguments that sound good.  Thus we all would agree that it would be wrong to keep people from a good thing.  However, in this case, it is not the good that they seek that is being objected.  Rather, it is the changing of that good thing, marriage, into something different then it was made to be.

Today I am going to take some time to walk through Romans 1 and 2 in order to deal with this charge that Christians (and therefore also God) are not being fair or treating homosexuals as equal.  Clearly, God rejects homosexuality as a good and proper expression of sexuality.  Thus the argument is not about fairness.  It truly is about propriety and the definition of what is “good” sexually.  For Christians this is defined by God, not the passions and desires of an individual or a majority of society.  Let’s go to Romans 1:18.

God Has Judged Homosexual Relations To Be Immoral

Now Romans 1 is going to make some clear statements about the perversion of homosexuality.  However, it doesn’t begin there.  In verse 18 Paul points out that God’s wrath is made clear against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.  So homosexuality is not the only thing that God judges to be sin.  Notice that those who pursue ungodliness (both homosexual and heterosexual) unrighteously suppress the truth.  Obviously if you want to pursue your own passions against God’s Word then you will not like the Truth of God.  Thus there is a clear attempt to restrain and hold truth down.  This happens to both the special revelation we are given in the Bible and in the general revelation that we are given through nature.  This is what Paul points to next.

In verses 19-20 Paul points to the general knowledge we can obtain from nature.  It is obvious, unless you have an ulterior motive, that there is a great intelligence behind the design and system of the universe.  It is also obvious that this intellect is extremely powerful.  Lastly this intellect is divine, that is, beyond creation.  He is God.  God has left his signature all over His creation so that men who do not recognize His existence, power, and divinity, are without excuse.
Now verses 22-23 show that the rejection and suppression of Truth has a negative effect upon the heart and mind of any person.  First of all their thoughts become empty or futile.  This isn’t intended to mean that they can’t accomplish anything and are stupid.  The idea of futile is being used of where their thinking will lead in the end.  So their thinking may build towers greater than Nimrod, but their rebellion and rejection of God will come to nothing in the end.  Thus their thinking is futile.  Also, their hearts will be darkened.  This is a picture of no internal light.  Without truth we are left to operate on lies, phantoms, myths, unrealities, in short, insanity.

This leads to verses 24-25.  When a person or society reaches this point of a darkened heart led by futile thinking as a result of suppressing Truth, God hands them over to the vile passions that are pent up in their flesh and heart.   Notice that they exchange truth for a lie.  Instead of embracing the God who created them, they embrace a lie.  “God’s judgments are wrong and not fair.  Thus he is either evil, or he doesn’t really exist.”  Whichever direction you go you are embracing a lie.  Many religious people have embraced a lie instead of embracing the Truth of God.  Also, many atheists and secular humanists have embraced a lie as well.  It all boils down to rejection of God and embrace of “not god.”

Next they worship the created things instead of the Creator.  Man has been designed with the need and desire to worship.  Thus those who rebel religiously create God in their own image or after things of the material world.  Those who rebel secularly generally worship themselves or at best an image of what they can become without God/Truth. Ultimately, all of this is the same path that Satan took millennia ago.  Whether they are a Satanist or not, those who exalt their own will above that of God’s, walk in his footsteps.  “I will do what I will!!!!”

The word that is used twice “God gave them over” is the picture of a transfer of a person.  They are handed over to vile passions in the way that a prisoner would be handed over in extradition.  A boundary has been crossed.  By stepping away, God hands them over to a tyrant that cannot be satisfied, their own vile passions.  Thus starting in verse 26 we find that the rise of homosexuality in a society is increased to the degree that God has handed it over.  It is a red-flag sin.  It speaks to a level of depravity that ought to shock us into turning back to God.  It is the ultimate rejection of God because it rejects the obvious design and intent of nature.  It screams, “I will not be defined by anything, not even the reality of the material world.  I will be what I want to be!!!”

Let me point out that in verse 32, Paul points to not just the existence of these evil, self-driven things in society, but also the approval of them as a problem.  Here in Washington State we have moved past the point of the existence of homosexuality.  We have even moved past the point of an overall social acceptance of it.  Now we have reached a point where society at large is being challenged to approve of it.  This will not end until the Church embraces homosexuality, our society repents and turns back, or God judges us.  This is where we are.

Just Who Is Being Unfair?

This leads us to Romans 2.  Here Paul talks about people who judge others breaking those same laws.  This is what is happening in those who actually dare to judge God himself.  Those who accuse God and his people of being unfair are unfair themselves.  They use political ploys to have laws struck down and others passed.  And then they use strong-arm techniques both politically and socially to silence the opposition and enforce acceptance.  Three years ago, in our own state, we had the passing of civil union legislation that was billed as “everything except marriage.”  How many people voted for that law because they wanted to be fair and yet now find themselves trying to defend making a line at calling it “marriage.”  Who is forcing whom?  The current same-sex marriage law was encouraged by a Governor who knew they wouldn’t be up for re-election.  The law itself pretends to protect clergy and churches, however, adds several legal avenues of later prosecution.  You cannot continue to offer marriage as a service to the public without putting yourself in jeopardy.  Also, the definition of discrimination is added to same-sex couples.  Thus they leave the door open for pursuing legal action down the road upon the basis that it is wrong for clergy and churches to discriminate.

At issue here is a warped sense of fairness.  Typically what is meant in this argument is fairness of outcome rather than fairness of judgment.  Thus the social enforcers try to make all have the same outcome.  Everyone can marry any way they want to whomever they want and everyone should accept it as Fair (at least as an outcome).  However, you will notice that many of the judgments that lead up to enforcing such fairness of outcome will be anything but fair or just.  A case in point, is socialism.  In order to achieve a desired goal of fair income/wealth for all they support redistribution schemes that trash fairness at all possible points.  So you will find those who work hard and are rewarded with income and wealth will be penalized and some who refuse to work will benefit from the penalty of the previous.  I know this an oversimplification.  But to say it doesn’t happen is an injustice itself.  In the name of fairness we will FORCE society to accept a perverse sexuality as normal and acceptable.

Final Thoughts

Paul says in 11-12 of chapter 2 that God does not play favorites.  In other words in the true sense of the term he is fair and just.  He is righteous and good in his judgments.  He holds us accountable for what we have known.  Thus some trapped in homosexuality may have a better chance of being saved then some hypocritical Christians opposing it.

Christian brothers and sisters, we can stand for Truth without losing sight of people’s need for the Gospel.  Homosexuals need to understand that it is not just that sin that is under judgment.  It is all sin.  And God’s judgment is coming.  We ALL need to admit our sins and flee to Jesus Christ for salvation.

Lastly, we need to operate out of love for the lost and not fear of what we might lose.  If this law passes, I do not have to fear.  The faith that has been passed down to us by godly people and the relationship we have with the Father has passed the test of many wicked and depraved generations.  Maranatha!

Same Sex Marriage: Fairness audio