Dear radio friends,
It is the custom of those who marry in the Lord that, at their wedding ceremony, their pastor spends time expounding a portion of the holy Scriptures as it applies to their marriage. This is a good custom. More and more, everything a child of God does in this world is distinctive. It stands out, it shines out. That is especially true when we marry, and the basis on which a child of God marries. How different a believing marriage ceremony is from the world. One of the great differences is simply this: It is a time when the pastor opens the holy Scriptures and expounds a portion of the Word of God that the couple themselves have asked him to speak on.
I say this is a custom. But it is really more than a custom. This is a confession. That is why, the Lord willing, if you are not married, one day when you become married you should have this in your marriage ceremony. You must have your pastor, a believing man of God in the holy Scriptures, expound to you a portion of God’s Word. That should be in your marriage ceremony. It should be there because it is a confession. It is the most basic confession that a couple can make. The married couple makes this confession: We will live out of the Word of God; we will begin our marriage, not with fireworks and all of the hoopla of the world, but we will begin our marriage joyfully but also solemnly — based upon the Word of God; we will live out of the Word that the Lord God has spoken.
Recently a couple asked me to speak at their marriage on the Word of God found in Romans 15:5-7. I found it very applicable (as all the Scriptures), especially applicable to marriage. We read in Romans 15:5-7, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”
I find those words very applicable to marriage for, first of all, the Scriptures there are explaining the purpose for marriage — indeed, the purpose for all things, but now specifically the purpose for marriage. The Scriptures here have their eye set on the one purpose for all things. That one purpose is the glory of God. We read in verse 6, “That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The glory of God is the supreme purpose, the only purpose finally, for all things.
What is the glory of God? The glory of God is simply God Himself. When we glorify God, we are not adding to God, not enhancing God, not, as we would say, “gilding the lily,” trying to add some beauty to God. To glorify God is simply to reckon with who God is in Himself. God is glorious. He is the God of all glory. He is the God of salvation. He is the One who has redeemed His people from sin and death through Jesus Christ the Lord. When we glorify God, we do not add to God. But we live in such a way simply to show who He is. That is how we glorify God — by living in such a way that it becomes apparent who God is — so that God is glorified in and by us.
The glory of God is the supreme purpose,
the only purpose finally, for all things.
God is glorified in our marriage. To glorify God in one’s marriage means that from our marriage people get an impression of who God is. That is the purpose for a Christian marriage. The purpose for a Christian marriage is that God be seen and that God be seen to be beautiful, good, glorious, supremely fair. The world enters into their marriages (that is, the unbelieving) desiring that their purpose be fulfillment, their own personal fulfillment, or the realization of their dreams. Children of God, though they too love each other very much in the Lord Jesus Christ, have a greater purpose. They have the only purpose. They have the true purpose, that God, in their union, be seen as the God of beauty and grace.
I hope that staggers you. I realize that in marriage, as Christians, we fail miserably. Nevertheless, we need to hear this. We need to hear this because it encourages us, but it also sobers us and directs us as to the purpose of our marriages. It means that the purpose for your marriage is not first of all about you at all. It is not, first of all, about you and your happiness. You do not get married with the supreme purpose that “I think I’m going to be happy.” That does not mean that happiness is a bad thing. Happiness, in fact, will come. It will be a by-product of marriage. Happiness (or blessedness) in the words of the Scripture is always the fruit of pursuing the glory of God. But the point is that our own personal happiness is not the purpose of marriage. The purpose of marriage, with all things, is that God, through our conduct, be seen as the God who is beautiful. Is that in your heart? Does that burn in your heart as a husband, as a wife?
Our own personal happiness
is not the purpose of marriage.
It also means that marriage is not competition over who is going to win and who is going to have his way and who is going to prevail. Every marriage confronts the sin of competition. The sin of competition severely cripples marriages. Rather, the purpose of marriage is that with one heart and one mind and one mouth you glorify God. You so live, you so act, you so decide your different questions in order that God’s name might be known as beautiful and glorious.
You can do that only if you have one mind and one mouth of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That means that the doctrinal or spiritual basis of your marriage is the concern of utmost importance. When you get married, when you are dating, when you think that the Lord has led to you the person with whom He would have you spend your life, then the most important thing is that you maintain and look into the matters of your Christian faith. The most important thing for you as you date as a young couple is that you take yourselves regularly to the holy Scriptures; that you worship the living God together in His church; that you bow, already before you are married, before the Word of God, because it is only the Word of God that can be the basis of your union, and it is only the truth of that Word that can be the basis of your union. Center your marriage in the church, the true church. Commit yourself to the church. In the church God is pleased to nurture you. In the church God is pleased to bring you into one mind and one mouth. In the church God is pleased to unite you. If you are to have and maintain a healthy Christian marriage, you must be of one mind, you must be of one place in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We say that all of this sounds pretty good, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty, it is often lost and not so easy. We say that many marriages do not glorify God. In fact, many Christian marriages do not glorify God. With tears and weeping we confess that so often our marriages are not only deficient of glorifying God but also bring shame upon Him. The way that we conduct ourselves and the thoughts that we harbor in our hearts and then sometimes in the great damage and the great hurt that is done by husbands and wives to each other — many a marriage turns into agony and pain of the heart. As Christians we acknowledge that we are poor sinners and, of ourselves, our marriages cannot be preserved.
So, how do we glorify God with one mind and one heart in our marriage? We read in Romans 15:5, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.” The answer is, first of all, that God, by His grace, must direct us to be likeminded toward each other. We must think the same thing about each other according to Jesus Christ. Likemindedness in marriage is not that she thinks like you or that he becomes what you want. Likemindedness in marriage is not simply that you are agreed in your tastes and mannerisms. (There is a word here to all of us as husbands that we should not go around trying to cauterize all the differences that we find in our wife and try to make her like us. There is a word here to wives that we must not try to form our husbands into what we think he should be.) But the Word of God says that we must be likeminded toward each other according to Jesus Christ. Be of one mind in how you think about each other according to Jesus Christ. What that means is that both husband and wife must view each other in the Lord Jesus Christ and think about the other that way.
Husband, do you confess that the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood for you? So think about your wife. When you look at her, think in the same terms: as Christ gave His blood for your sins, so He did for her.
Wife, do you believe that God sees you as His own precious child, that God faithfully loves you from all eternity? Is that the way you think of yourself, by grace? Good. But now, so think of your Christian husband. When you look at him, think about him in the same terms: that God has loved him from all eternity.
See each other in Christ. Think about each other this way. Say, God has redeemed me and God has redeemed him in the blood of the Son. God has loved me and God has loved her in that same eternal love. God bears with me, His difficult and rebellious child. God has compassion toward me and so also He does to her. God embraces me in all of my distress and all of my fears and worries, so also God embraces him.
You see, husbands and wives, we find in each other all kinds of things that we do not want. But the Word of God says that we must look upon each other according to Jesus Christ. Have you ever seen your husband? Have you ever seen your wife? The Word of God says that you have never seen them unless you are able, by grace, to see them through the cross. When you see them through the cross, then deal with them that way.
So we read, “the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.” You must be baptized daily by the Spirit with the patience and comfort of God. We require in marriage, then, the patience of God. God’s patience is His perfection of endurance. God is patient. God sees the great glory that He has for us in Christ and He persists and endures and brings us to that glory. Just how patient God is with us is going to be revealed to us when we get to glory. So also we must be bestowed with the patience of God.
And we must have the consolation of God, the comfort of God. That is so very important because only when we have the comfort of God do we have the inward strength and the assurance to live together in marriage. If I do not have comfort in God, I am not in a position to deal with stress. Only when we confess, “I belong to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ,” only when we look unto Him, do we have the strength to live with each other.
If I do not have comfort in God,
I am not in a position to deal with stress.
This is a prayer. “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another.” Therefore, if we ask the question, “How do we become likeminded in our marriage?” here is the answer of God: Prayer. Through prayer we are made to be of one mind. Pray, not only for each other, pray together. Pray together daily. The old saying is true and heaven itself is going to show you that it is true: The marriage that prays together stays together.
I remember being told that the church father Augustine was once asked, “What are the three great Christian graces, or the three most important Christian virtues?” He responded: “The three most important Christian virtues are: humility, humility, humility.” Now, I am certainly not the church father Augustine, but if you were to ask me, “What are the three most important things to keep a Christian marriage together?” then I would respond to you on the basis of God’s Word throughout and this Word of God today, “The three most important elements in holding a Christian marriage together are: prayer, prayer, prayer.” Pray together! That is our calling.
Then we conclude with verse 7: “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” That is our calling: receive one another. That means, do not put each other away. The Scriptures throughout teach us that we are married for life, that what God hath joined together let not man put asunder. The Scriptures teach that marriage is a permanent bond of one man and one woman for life, and that remarriage, while one’s spouse lives, is adultery. We are not to put each other away. But, you see, we can put each other away not simply by divorce and remarriage. A husband and wife can do that by living together, too. That is when you are bitter and distant and you are resentful of each other. That is not receiving each other. That is separating, too, in your heart. We must not do that. We sin when we do that. Receive one another.
Receive one another the same way Christ has received us. How has He received us? By the grace of God, He received us in His unconditional love. He has loved us not because of what we were or are, but for His own name’s sake. And He has sworn upon His own heart that He will love us to the end. He has loved us sacrificially. He gave Himself upon the cross. He sought not His own things, but our things. And He loves us everlastingly. He will not forsake us. Now, receive one another that way. Receive one another in Christian marriage unconditionally, sacrificially, everlastingly, in the love of God. Looking to the Lord Jesus Christ, say to each other, “I won’t leave you. I will love you. And I desire that God be glorified — that in our marriage the beauty of God is seen to His glory and to our comfort.”
Live, then, with each in holy marriage. Live with each other, as believing children of God, the same way that God lives with you. Live in the unconditional, blessed, and gracious love of God.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We ask that it may be a blessing to our hearts in this day. Preserve and prosper our marriages. Keep them, O Lord, refreshed and humbled through much prayer. Look upon us in all of Thy tender mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.