Divorce

“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18

Marriage is supposed to be until death but back in the first century as today this is often not the case. People get divorced. That is just a fact of life. There are many reasons people get divorced and unfortunately in today’s culture sometimes there are no reasons other than people just get tired of each other. In today’s verse Luke recounts what Jesus said about divorce. It is short and seems a bit out of place between Jesus calling the Pharisees lovers of money and the following verses telling the parable about the Rich Man and Lazarus.

If you take this verse from Luke by itself it is harsh and a bit off putting to those of us who have gone through a divorce. Essentially it says that I am living in adultery. But this is where taking any verse out of context come in to play. Even harsh verses or those that seem out of place are revealed if we take God’s Word in its entirety. Matthew also records what Jesus says about divorce and Matthew elaborates a bit. So let’s look at what Matthew wrote.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:3-9 ESV)

It seems there is one reason a person can divorce and not cause themselves or their spouse to be adulterers if they remarry. If your spouse is guilty of sexual immorality. Now that does not mean you have to divorce them but it is permissible. God realizes we make mistakes and sometime we marry people who are not as committed to the marriage as they should be. In my case my first wife did indeed have other lovers than me. But I did try to save my marriage but as too many of us know it takes both parties to work on a marriage and in my case only I was willing to put in the necessary work. As it turned out I remarried and will celebrate out 28th anniversary this October 10th. My ex-wife remarried two additional times and at least during her second marriage kept someone on the side. Some people are just not able to commit to monogyny. One of our biggest problems was not having God at the center of our marriage.

This is not to say that my current and final marriage has been all roses. I do not know of any marriage that is. But if God is at the center than you can get past the rough patches. If both of you commit that this marriage is to last and divorce is not an option than give up your problem to God, that is a marriage that will last.

Let’s get ball to Matthew. What Jesus does not say about divorce is you can get a divorce because your spouse no longer makes you happy or you have grown apart. Of the fire is out or I met someone who really understands me. None of these are acceptable reason to leave your spouse.

In looking at the marriages of my two daughters what I see as the secret to a lasting marriage is that both of the men they married were and are godly men. If a godly man and a godly woman marry and keep their marriage God centered it will last.

There are reasons for divorce but they are limited. Do not expect the person you marry to change. People only change when they want to and nothing you can do will change them. If they do not have a close relationship to God and a Christ committed life before the marriage it is doubtful they will change. Not impossible but doubtful. Forgiveness is a key to a lasting marriage. Forgiveness to your spouse and forgiveness to yourself. Then you need to honor your commitment to God that your marriage will last until death. It won’t be easy, nothing worthwhile in life is but it is worth it.

Have a blessed day,

David

Readers, this may be the last post for a bit. We are leaving tomorrow on vacation and my not have access to the internet. We will be taking an Alaska cruise and I am not sure if the ship will have Wi-Fi and if they do will it be affordable. I will have time to do some writing and am eager to see some of God’s creation I have only seen on TV.

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Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True, A Handbook on Defending the Faith by Norman L. Geisler – Book review

Over the past month I have been catching up on my reading as well as reading some new books. Today I will start reviews of three E-books I found for my Kindle app on my tablet. As far as I can tell these short works are not available in paper editions. While I have been a convert to e-reading I still love books I can hold in my hands. But being Able to take multiple books with me using one devise the size of a large paperback has its appeal.

Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True, A Handbook on Defending the Faith is a nice summary of Norman Geisler’s twelve step apologetics method that can be found in such titles by Geisler as I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheists which I have reviewed on this blog. Twelve Points covers everything Geisler covers in his other books on apologetic but in a more concise form. For me it is nice to have this in a form I can access from my tablet or phone either as a refresher or to help someone else when they have a question about how to go about defending the faith.

Twelve Points starts with the fact that truth is knowable moves on the reason and then that a theistic God does exists. He then demonstrates that miracles are possible and then uses this to show that miracles can be used to confirm a message from God. He moves on the show that the New testament documents are reliable before moving us to how these documents as well As the miracles He did confirm Jesus as God.

My friends at Veracity did a great job moving through these points in some of their recent post on apologetics. Some of you may ask why we need to go through twelve steps in order to get someone to accept God. The reason is that in today’s culture we are told that there are no absolute truths, that all truth is relative. Too many today do not believe that God exists and therefor how could the Bible be God’s Word. Many time we need to get people to accept some things that to past generations were self-evident in order to get them to open their minds to God and Jesus. There is a lot of cultural baggage we need to overcome in order to get many people to even open God’s Word.

When I have taught classes on Christian Apologetics we would not even open the Bible until we had gotten past showing how truth is absolute, that God exists and that the New Testament documents are reliable. Once you get people to this point then you can use the Bible to open their eyes to the truth. Until that point you may only get blank looks or outright hostility.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Under the Law

“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. Luke 16:16-17

Are Christians still under the Law as handed down by God to Moses and recorded in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus? What if I said yes and no. Kind of a weasely answer isn’t it. But let’s dive a bit further into God’s Word and see what I mean by my yes and no answer.

We are no longer under the dietary laws of the Old Testament. How do we know this? We can look to Peter’s vision in Acts to find our answer.

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. (Acts 10:9-16 ESV)

Now we can debate until the cows come home why God told Peter this but I think it is because the apostles were now taking the Good News to the Gentiles. God gave these dietary laws to the Jews in order to set them apart from the rest of the people. Just as He did many other Laws. So I believe that many of the Laws of the Old Testament were given to set apart God’s Chosen People. Now that the Gospel was being taken to the world per Jesus’ command in Matthew, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

Let’s take a moment to look at who Jesus was talking to. He was not addressing Gentiles or Christians, Jesus was talking to Jews. Now when Christians think of the Law we often think only of the Ten Commandments and the various rules in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. But to find out what the Jewish people would have understood to Law to mean we need to look at how they looked at God’s Word. To the Jew to Law was the first five books of their Bible. So to them the Law was not just a bunch of rules but the Word of God as written down by Moses. God’s Word will never go away.

We can clarify this if we look at the parallel verses in Matthew where Matthew relates that Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV) From Matthew we see that Jesus is talking about more than a set of rules He is speaking of God’s Word in its entirety.

So, that is the answer to the “no” above but what about the “yes”? For that we need to distill the Law down to its core message and we can find that in Luke 10 when Jesus was talking to the young lawyer who asked Jesus “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Jesus came to deliver us from the burden of the Law but not from its core meanings nor did He come to replace the Scriptures as they had been given to the Old Testament writers. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word. Today we are set apart by our commitment to Jesus. It is our salvation that sets us apart from the rest of the world. But Jesus did not come to release us from the command to Love God or the command to love others. These two commands are the basis for the entire Word of God. Without them the Bible would just be another holy book. I have often heard the Bible described as a love letter from God to us. I firmly believe this to be true. The Bible is a book of love sent from a loving God to His children whom he loves in order to bring each and every one of us back to Him. But more than Just a love letter it is also a GPS directing us back to our home. All we need do is believe and accept.

Have a blessed day,

David

PS I am finishing this after an eye appointment and my eyes are still dilated so I apologize in advance if there are more typos than normal.

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Lovers of money

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:14-15

In today’s verses the Pharisees once again take offense at what Jesus was teaching. They were lovers of money and put the pursuit of money before the pursuit of God. But money is not the only thing we can place before God. Too often we put the pursuit of things before all else. A popular saying in the 80’s was “he who dies with the most toys wins” but wins what? In the end we all end up with six feet of dirt covering our dead body. Nothing we accumulate on earth will do us any good in the grave.

We constantly seek newer cars, bigger houses, vacation homes and the newest gadgets. There is nothing wrong with having nice things or a lot of money but when we put these things and money before our relationship with God then we have a grave problem. At most none of us will have more than about 110 years of life. Now that might seem like a long time but as I approach 65 years next January I can tell you that the years fly by. As I write this we are almost halfway through 2015 and it seems like we were celebrating the New Year yesterday.

Eternity however will last forever and we need to make sure we will spend eternity in the right place. If life just ended and all we have after death is the grave than maybe we have no worries. But life goes on after our earthly life is over. Do we spend eternity with God or apart from Him? The choice is ours. The key is that choice has to be made here on earth. Once we are before God for the judgement it will be too late to ask for a do over.

Don’t be like the Pharisees and spend what little time you have running after material things. Spend your time running to God and then you will have something that will never rust or rot or become devalued. Salvation is a forever gift from God to each of us. All anyone need do is accept God’s gift.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Do you totally understand Gods Word?

A few days ago I started reading Hugh Ross’ book A Matter of Days which takes a look at the Young Earth/ Old Earth views of creation. I will review this book once I have finished. In reading I cam across something he wrote that caused me to pause and give what was written a lot of thought. Ross stated that part of the problem with discussing these different views of creation was that some feel that have a complete understanding of the Bible and what God is saying and there is no further need of any discussion. That strikes me as the height of hubris.

I have fallen from that height myself so I know of what I speak. I grew up in the Lutheran church and though we were not there every time the doors opened I felt I had a great religions background. I knew what I believed and why and I felt I had a complete understanding of the Bible. I knew what was and was not in there. Or so I thought. Now I had not read the entire Bible but I was sure that our pastors had covered everything. I was not opposed to making fun of those who believed thing I just knew were not in the Bible.

Then on a challenge from one of the adult Sunday school teachers in the church we were attending I sat down to read the Bible from cover to cover. Guess what? I was wrong about many things. Things that I was sure were in the Bible were not, the rapture for one example, and things I was sure were in there were not, God helps those who help themselves as another example. Since that time I have read the Bible multiple times and listened to the Bible even more times.

What I have found is that my ignorance knows no bounds. Every time I read God’s Word I learn something new. Every time I gain new insights and knowledge. Now I truly believe I will continue to learn more and more as long as I live. I have also gained a new respect of how others interpret God’s Word. No longer am I quick to dismiss their ideas. God may have shown them something I have yet to discover. And even when I find they are mistaken just the process to see if they are correct helps me understand the Bible better.

We all need to take what others tell us about God and His Word and test what they say against what God says. When someone disagrees with the Word we need to go to them in humbleness and love and gently correct them showing them what God says. We also need to avail ourselves of the resources available to us always of course taking these resources and testing them against God’s Word. Also we need to be aware of the biases of the writers we read.

Paul tells us “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV) and Jon tells us “Test the Spirits Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 ESV)

If you feel you are correct and everyone else is wrong I would ask you to go back to the Word and interpret what you believe against the entirety of God’s Word. Also, when someone disagrees with you acknowledge that good people can disagree on certain points of biblical interpretation but that does not mean we need break fellowship with them. For example, predestination verses free will, end times prophesy or young verses old earth creation. These things have nothing to do with salvation. If I believe in a young earth and you believe in an old earth neither of us are more saved than the other. As long as we both believe in God, Jesus and His atoning death and resurrection we can break bread and fellowship and maybe have some lively debates but still recognize that we are one in Christ.

For those who still think they have the inside track on knowing God’s word I close with this from Paul, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12-13 ESV)

Have a blessed day,

David

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The Power of Context

dwwork:

I have often written about how important context is in understanding God’s Word. Too many evils have been justified by taking verses in the Bible out of context. Here is a post from my friends at Veracity that shows how taking verses out of context can be used to prove something God never intended. Have a blessed day, David

Originally posted on Veracity:

Why is understanding the context so important when it comes to interpreting the Bible? Because it is very easy to think the Bible is saying something that is completely alien to what the original author had in mind. Here is a short but sweet video (less than 4 minutes) by Alan Shlemon at Stand to Reason ministries that helps to explain context.

Here are the Bible verses that Alan is talking about from John 14:  John 14:16 and John 14:26. For more detail regarding why Muslims see Muhammad as being predicted by the Bible, look here. Interpreting the Bible is all about understanding the basic concepts of hermeneutics, which is a fancy word that simply refers to the study of the interpretation of texts.

If you are not sure what the big deal is regarding context, see this earlier Veracity post on Taking the Bible “Literally.

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You cannot serve God and money

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:1-13

Today’s verses recount one of those stories that if you rush through it you can get the impression that Jesus was condoning what the manager had done regarding his master’s accounts. After all the master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. So, are we to wheel and deal or not? Upon a closer look at what Jesus said we see that no we are not to take short cuts or short change others.

The manager was acting similar to what a financial adviser does today. He was in charge of not only watching over the master’s wealth but growing that wealth. In this instance the manager was not doing a very good job and that is why he was fired. Knowing he would soon be out of a job he used his current job to curry favor with those the master did business. He was looking to get another job. It was this look to the future that the master commended not the deals themselves.

Jesus is addressing His disciples in today’s verses not to tell them to be dishonest but to plan ahead, using material things to insure a secure future so that they could put them to kingdom work. Like the disciples we too need to be careful about the things God has given us so that we can put these earthly things to work bringing more people to Jesus. Always keeping in mind that we are to serve God and not become so enraptures with wealth accumulation that we put that job before our duty to God.

Have a blessed day,

David

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