You know the Christian home is a special thing and I would like to speak with you this morning about tightening the knot. The Christian home should be a little heaven on earth. How is it in your home? Is it a little heaven or is it a little bit of purgatory?
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry.” Are you angry? Are you following the Bible? It says “Be angry”. Without sinning. But don't go to bed angry. You’ll have to study that one.
You know, our home should be a world shut out and Jesus shut in. A place where we have three square meals a day and a thousand times that our heart is fed. The family tie is the closest on the earth. It's designed to be a blessing, not only for your house and your family, but your neighborhood, your community, and your world. As pastors, Pastor Cook and Carlson and myself are very concerned that our homes would reach their maximum potential of happiness.
I would like to talk quite seriously this morning about our homes and what's happening in our homes. You know, we’re living about 2 thousand years since the time of Jesus and there's a lot more temptations today than there were even in Adam and Eve’s time. There are many, many more mechanisms in this modern age to bring bad things into our home. Evil. Of those who have their names on church books, who are Protestants, who are similar to Seventh-day Adventists, approximately 25 percent experience a failed marriage. And this is a great increase. An unprecedented increase in my lifetime.
Doctor Tom Ellis is the chairman of the Southern Baptist convention's Council on Family and Home. And he said that for a truly born-again Christian, if the husband and the wife are born-again, and they marry in the church where they are both active, both members, and if they have received premarital counseling, and if they attend church regularly, and they pray regularly, and they study the Bible together and have family worship, they experience only one divorce out of every nearly 39 thousand marriages. That is a percent of point 00256.
I would doubt the polls which are taken by Barna, that Christians have a 25 percent marriage failure. I don't think those polls are true either. I think often times the pollster will call and ask these questions and the individual, “Oh yeah, I'm a Christian.” But they're not, or their name is on the books. They're not really a Christian. I think you need to make a full commitment to God. And if both of you have done that, you’re both committed to each other, I know an awful lot of happily married people. I think marriage will work.
In January, my phone rang and a man was on the other end of the fiber-optic cable and he had a question, and I think his wife was listening on the other line, and he said, “Is it true that the Bible says that my wife must submit to me?” Now I suppose he wanted some type of a slave as a spouse, who would kowtowing to his every bidding and that type of thing. So I said to him, “Yes sir, absolutely. What you say is true. She must submit to you and I will read you where it says that in the Bible.” So I read to him in Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 22. It says, “Wives submit to your husbands.” And I could hear him breathing a sigh of relief on the other end. Some sort of self-justification that he was feeling, you know. And I continued. I said, “But, you know that the Bible says that you as her husband must submit to her.” And I heard a gasp. He said, “Where does it say that?” I said, “Well just read the verse right before, verse 21. It says, ‘Submit one to the other out of reverence for Christ.’” Ephesians 5:21.
And you can, well you say, “That's a bad translation.” Well, let’s go to God's Word translation. It says, “Place yourselves under each others' authority out of respect for Christ.” So according to the Bible, you sir and you sir are under the authority of your wife and your wife is under your authority and the two of you are under the authority of Jesus Christ. That's the way the Bible has this thing set up. The husband is not supposed to be like this Veggie Tale, this big cucumber, what's his name, anyway. We’re not supposed to be like that. That's not what the Bible says.
Come over here to Ephesians 5 in your Bible and read beginning with verse 25, what it says to a husband. It says, “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies and he who loves his wife loves himself.” Verse 33, “However, each one of you must also show love to his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.” And of course the husband needs to be respectable. That makes sense. So what this is talking about is that we’re equal, except for one thing. The husband is supposed to be the spiritual pastor of the house. The priest. The shepherd. Now I know a lot of homes, the wife has to say, “Would you have prayer.” The husband doesn’t even enter into that. He doesn't lead out in family devotions. He doesn't lead out in prayer. He is missing the boat. Husbands are to be the spiritual priest of that home. So from reading these passages, you can see that a truly happy marriage is almost totally dependent on the Christ-likeness of both partners. That's what it means. The presence of Christ alone can make men and women happy. You need a Christian marriage.
Matthew, chapter 19 and verse 4, “Jesus replied, ‘At the beginning, the Creator made them male and female.’ He said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother.’” Who leaves? The man leaves his parents and is united to the wife so that they two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. “Therefore what God has joined together let man not separate.”
Do you know that police reports show that the suicide rate of prostitutes is 45 times greater than that of non-prostitutes? So you tell me, does sexual joy and sexual freedom really exist outside of marriage? I don't think so. Matthew 19, verse 9. “Anybody who divorces his wife except for marital unfaithfulness and marries another woman commits adultery.” Faithfulness is the rule of the day.
And it seems to me like that Jesus is saying that Christian marriage is a commitment, not a contract. When you say, “I do,” you’re expressing a zealous lifelong loyalty to each other. It's not a 50-50 contract. It's not a 75-75 contract. It's a contract where you both give all. And Jesus gives all and between that union of three you will have success. Jesus never said that marriage is a contract. You can break contracts. He said you need to cleave to your wife.
God is saying that marriage is more like a vocation. Now I didn’t say a vacation. Marriage is more like a vocation. It's a calling. It's similar to the calling that a pastor or a teacher receives. And a vocation can be extremely enjoyable as long as you put your all into it and you enjoy it.
I enjoy preaching. I enjoy being a pastor. To me, I look forward to each day. And marriage should be like that. Thousands of hours on the job, you should get good at what you do. Daily you're improving your skills, increasing steadily, your success rate.
A good marriage is sort of like what's happening over at Southern Adventist University. It's like a work of art in process. Have you been over there on Industrial boulevard or drive or whatever it is. I remember going by there time after time, and they had the delivery of a gigantic block of stone or marble or granite or something, and they built a cage around it where you can't really, couldn't see inside for a long time. And I used to be over there at the post office or at the V M and I could hear all these noises and the dust was rising from this thing. A lot of strange grinding and chiseling happening inside of there. After zillions of hours, it must be, I think there's something wonderful happening inside of there. I would like to see it.
A good marriage just doesn't happen by accident. It's the result of many hours of hard labor, and one of the qualifications of that stone is that it must submit to the chisel. Sometimes the stony places in our heart must be chiseled away. Occasionaly we’re tempted to think that the hard stubborn rock that I'm married to is not able to be chiseled. Well. Do you know that the stone must be submissive to the chisel and then those unfulfilled needs and incompatibilities that we discover in each other's characteristics can be modified and can be changed as long as we’re willing and yielded and submissive.
The more concerned you are about your spouse, you really ought to be concerned about yourself, and I think everybody that's married should ask themselves a question. What would it be like to be married to me? If my spouse was exactly like I am, would it be good? Would it be easy? Think about that.
Does a good marriage ever experience a good argument? Of course. All marriages have criticism. I think we need to learn to be like the thick skinned pachyderm, to handle stress. You know, the same wind that snuffs out a candle also blows a great fire into a hotter flame.
Adam and Eve were married by God and God blessed their home and I think they had a happy marriage until one of them allowed sin to enter and the other one confirmed it. Anything that separates you from God is going to devastate your happiness in your home and your marriage.
Now let me be specific. You need to have family worship in your home. You men need to lead out in that. If you don't, what's going to happen? Your marriage likely will fail. If you don't sit down and study your Bible together and pray together and have family worship together, your home is headed for the rocks.
Number two. Your marriage will fail if you don't have good communication. Often the day begins with toast or eggs or a cup of hot drink digested with the morning news about the swine flu. You know, I've always known that pork is bad for you. Finally, everybody heads off to work or heads off to school and the house is empty, and then in the evening this herd of zombies or family, if you could call them that, all come back and descend on that house and they all go to their favorite nook or book or television or e-mail or whatever and they're all doing their separate thing. There's no cohesion there. Zero meaningful interactive communication.
And you know, a live marriage without good communication is a dead mirage. You need to talk with each other. Look at the last page of the Old Testament. Right after Zechariah. Malachi, chapter 3, verse 16. This is a key factor. It says, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another.” You need to talk. Never marry somebody that you can't communicate with. You silent men talk to your wife. Communicate feelings on the feeling level. I personally think that most of the marriages that fail do so because of lack of communication and a lack of money. They don't communicate with God or each other and there's no money, and so the whole thing disintegrates. If you're contemplating marriage and you have a good communication together, then you've got a good solid foundation to start on. You know the Bible says in Genesis chapter 2 and verse 18, “It is not good for a man to be alone,” and a lot of people could be married and still be lonely, because there's no communication. Rediscover the art of talking.
You need to develop a commonality in your life. You need to develop cohesion. Many, many points of contact. I have in my hand a piece of metal. Now you might think that this is a magnet. This is not a magnet. It's just two pieces of steel. Doctor Caviness gave me the idea for this and Ken Oliver supplied me with the parts.
These are two highly polished pieces of steel, and they won't stick to anything, but they will stick to each other. You just put them together kind of twist them and squeeze the air out of it and it holds together. Now what is holding that together? Not magnetism. Not glue. Not adhesion. Cohesion. Cohesion. It's because this is ground to within 5 millionths of an inch of being perfectly flat. If it could be absolutely, perfectly flat you probably couldn't pull them apart.
In fact, Doctor Joseph Henry said that during the second world war two physics graduate students heard their professor say that someday a method would be devised for polishing glass that would replace steel as the flattest surface known to man, and when this was done there would be a revolution in technology that would take place.
Well these two young physicists went out, established their own company, developed a laboratory, and after several years developed a breakthrough where they could take two pieces of glass and make them absolutely flat within two millionths of an inch. That is very, very fine, and when Doctor Henry visited their plant, one of them said, “Do you see these two square plates. They have been put through our new process, and I want to show you something,” and he simply placed them together and handed them to the man and said, “Take them apart,” and he couldn't get them apart. They stick together. Why is that? Because there's so many points of contact, and if you take two dissimilar metals and you stick them together like this some of the molecules will actually interchange. That's amazing.
When you take two people, a husband and a wife that are both high quality people, they’re committed people, they're not junk. I mean, you can’t do this with two rusty pieces of iron. People that are committed to integrity. People that are committed to a process of refinement and development, and you put those two people together, they’re going to stay together because they're committed to it and they have many, many points of contact. This is touching in, probably, thousands and thousands of places and therefore it's sticking together. It’s holding together. It doesn't slip off, slide off, or pull off or pull apart. It stays together because of the cohesion which is very, very strong.
And this is true with people, husbands and wives. It's also true with you and Jesus. The more you have in common with Jesus, the more you have in common with your wife or your husband, the more you're going to stick together. So please develop your life together. I believe it's high time for each of us to show to the world what a truly happy marriage can be. Your wife is your joy. And I want you to have a great home, a great marriage and great happiness. So please remember what we have learned here this morning and put these principles to work in your life, in your home. Don't give up. Keep polishing. Keep smoothing and refining what you have, and eventually you will have something of great value and great blessing.
Let's sing our closing hymn, number 6 hundred 52, Love At Home.
Dear father in heaven. Help us to work on our characters through Your power and Your grace. Please apply the chisel to our stony hearts and help us to be submissive to Your molding. Blend our homes and our lives into Thy peace, and may we walk out of here determined to be polished gems sticking together for eternity, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Hymn of Praise: #11, The God of Abraham Praise Scripture: Responsive Reading # 827 Hymn of Response: #652, Love at Home
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 5/23/09