The love of a husband for his wife

As my soon to be wife and I have been approaching our wedding day, we have been reading a few different books to help us be more prepared. In the book Love That Lasts by Gary and Betsy Ricucci, there are two chapters on the biblical roles and complementary natures of the husband and the wife.

If there is anything that I have learned so far in these few chapters, it is that the calling of the husband is high. We must love our wives as Christ loves the church, and lay our life down for her.

From this command of scripture, there are many implications that should be of great comfort for any wife, or soon to be wife. The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is a picture and reflection of the relationship between Jesus and the church.

One thing for certain is that that the relationship from the perspective of the church to Christ, it can be a struggle. Those who are in Christ know what it is like to question and doubt our standing before God. Circumstance of life and feeling can influence how we think God sees us. If you have not ever come to this point, then you will soon. Thought such as…

  • If I pray more, He will love me more.
  • If I read the bible more, He will love me more.
  • If I serve the church more, He will love me more.
  • If I love God more, He will love me more.

And because we struggle with our performance, we forget what God has already said and done. In the high priestly prayer of Jesus, He said, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” (John 17:24) This prayer is for every single Christian in the world. The desire of Jesus here is for His bride to be with Him.

Did you notice any of the conditions Jesus made? None.

His desire is not based on the love of the church for Him, but because of His love for the church. And just as Christ’s love for the church does not depend on the church’s performance, so should the love of the husband be for their bride.

The love of the husband is not based on the wives ability to keep the home by cooking or cleaning. The love of the husband is not dependent on the ability of his wife to raise their children. The love of the husband is not based on the level of intimacy that they share. The love of the husband is not even dependent on the wife’s ability to love him.

The love of the husband is first based on the love of Christ. We are able to love because God first loved us. But soon to follow, the love of the husband is based on his desire for his wife, because she is his wife.

As God brought eve to Adam in the garden, so has God given husbands the gift of their wife. Adams response when he saw his wife was “at last!” And this response has before anything she did. It was a response for who she was.

Husbands, love her as that treasure and gift. And rejoice in the wife of your youth, because she is of infinite worth.

Advertisements

How can I be sure that I am saved?

Somehow you have stumbled across the internet to this post. I would not say that it is by chance either. You are looking for the answer of a very important question, and the most important question anyone can ask. How can you be certain of your salvation?

This question assumes three things. First, that you can know something for certain. Second, that you need to be saved. Third, that there is a way to know for certain that you are saved.

We all know things. There is truth in the world to be known. This is not something that can be argued, either. In fact, to say that we cannot be certain about anything is to to make truth claim in itself.

We all know that there is a God. From the tribe on a remote island all the way to the middle class suburbia family, God is plainly known. This is made evident to us by creation itself. The Bible says in Romans 1:19 that “what can be known about God is plain”, and that “God has shown it”. We can look to the mountains and know there is something greater than ourselves. We can look to the vastness of the stars and know that they were somehow created. All of creation points to the glory of God.

Not only has God revealed Himself in nature, but He has also revealed Himself through His word. It would make sense that if God would want us to know something, He would communicate it to us in some way. Marvel at the fact that He has chosen something that is written. Every single culture revolves around language, and God has provided a means of communicating this news to everyone through the written word.

The Bible makes it clear that you need to be saved, and that you can know for certain that you are saved. I have heard it said that it is presumptuous to say for certain that you are going to heaven. And I would agree… unless if the Bible says otherwise. And it does say otherwise.

The theme across the scriptures is that we are sinners in rebellion against a holy God, and because of that we are deserving of eternal punishment in hell. But God who is rich in mercy has provided a substitute in our place. That substitute is Jesus Christ — by His perfect life, death, and resurrection. And that only though repentance and belief in Him are we saved.

This is what John wanted to communicate.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

This is what Paul wanted to communicate.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)

This is what Luke wanted to communicate.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)

So then the question remains, how can you know for certain that you are saved? I do not personally know you, or can read your heart. But what I do know is what the scriptures say. And with that I ask:

  • Is your hope not based on your own performance, but rather on the finished work of Jesus Christ?
  • Have you turned away from your sin, and turned to Christ for forgiveness?
  • Do you love God, His commandments, and His word?

The gospel does not call for perfection, but for submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You will never love God perfectly on this side of eternity. You will never even love God as much as you ought to. But, you can love Jesus Himself in some measure. And love for Jesus can only come from a heart that has been made new, and from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

If you struggle with assurance of salvation, pray that God would reveal this truth to you, and spend time in His word which contains this truth. I would encourage you to begin reading 1 John for yourself now.

Who Can Be Saved?

What would you say is worse: knowing that you are lost, and not knowing the way out. Or not even knowing that you are lost? I recall a time when I was hiking with my girlfriend. We were having a great time walking, talking, and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. But then we realized the sun was on it’s way down, and we did not know where we were. We were lost. And the worst part was we did not know our way out.

In this world there are many walking around not realizing that they need to be saved. At the same time, there are also some that know that there is something wrong, and have no idea how to fix it.

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. (1 Corinthains 6:9–10 CSB)

Whether you believe it or not, you have committed one or many of these sins. Have you desired the life of another? Have you overindulged in food or drink? Have you said unkind words to someone? Have you lied? Then this is you.

When Jesus clarified the law, He said that those who look lustfully at another have committed adultery. And those who have hated another have committed murder in their heart. Certainly murder is a much more heinous sin that hating someone in your mind. But it is still a sin, and a sin against a holy God. If these kinds of people do not inherit God’s kingdom, then who will?

Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?” (Mark 10:24–26 CSB)

This does not seem to be going well. How can you fit a camel through the eye of a needle? Clearly that is a physically impossible task. It is difficult enough to thread a needle, so how can you even begin to imagine trying to push a camel through that tiny space. At this point of our reading, it seems like no one can enter God’s kingdom. So we join the crowd and cry, “Then who can be saved?”

And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corintians 6:11 CSB)

When reading the Bible, you must always consider the context. Do you remember the list of people who will not enter the kingdom of God? This is the verse that comes right after, and the key words are “used to be”. Yes, we have all sinned in many different ways. And yes, all of those sins are against a holy God who must punish sin. It would be unjust for a crime not to be punished.

How then can you be saved? The same way a camel can fit through a needle.

Looking at them, Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 CSB)

Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, males who have sex with males, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, and swindlers can all be saved. When you repent of your sin, and place your full trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone, you are washed clean of all of your sins. You are made holy. You are counted justified before God. When you turn from your old sinful ways and turn to Christ, you are no longer an enemy of God, but become a child of God. We are unable to save ourselves. But by the power of God and His sovereign grace, you too can be saved.

The Only Reason To Be Thankful

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is today. This year has passed by so quick, and I’m fairly certain that I say that every year. Week passes after week, and month after month, and then the turkey is on the table. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, as it is hard to be a good meal with family. But more than before, this day reminds me of why I should be thankful. Thanksgiving is a very Christian holiday, because the Bible talks a lot about being thankful. 

One of the traditions that we typically do at the table is to answer the question, “What are you most thankful for?” Some of the most common responses are jobs, health, family, and friends. But what does it mean to be thankful for these things? Is it just a good feeling? If it is a good feeling, those come and go. 

Someone must be receiving that thanks. So if I am thankful for my health, who am I thanking? If I am thankful for my job, who am I thanking? If I am thankful for my family, who am I thanking? Thanksgiving in the end has an external focus. 

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57)

A truly thankful heart overflows from a sinner who has been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. We can be thankful in everything, because everything that we have (or don’t have) is a blessing that comes from God. 

Having been born again into the family of God, we have everything we need in Christ. The Bible says that we are co-heirs with Him. We will one day inherit everything that God possesses. And what does Christ have? Everything. 

Which ultimately means that to be apart from Christ, you have nothing. Surely the grace of God falls on everyone in some way. But everything that someone outside the family of God has today will one day be gone, and they will be forever separated from the One who created them.

This is why I am thankful. Because God saved me from the end that I deserved. Instead of counting my sin against me, He counted the righteousness of Jesus Christ on my behalf. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I was saved and received the assurance of eternal life. And because of His finished work, I will get to spend eternity in His presence. There will be a day when I will gather with the multitude, the angels, the elders, and the four living creatures around His throne to say:

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen! (Revelation 7:12)

A Day to Celebrate

While many people are thinking about carved pumpkin, costumes, and consuming candy, my mind on the other hand is consumed with the theological and historical significance of today. Five hundred years ago today was the greatest movement of God in church history next to the birth of the church at Pentecost. This movement revolved around a question that still is asked today: How does an unrighteous sinner stand before the throne of a righteous God? 

According to the word of God, you are justified by faith alone in Christ alone:
“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
But, according to the Roman Catholic Church, to believe this is to be condemned:
“If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.” (1546 Council of Trent, Canon 9)

A plain reading of scripture and this declaration clearly shows that there is a contradiction. Either the scriptures are right, or the Roman Catholic Church is right. Are the scriptures the final rule and authority, or the church?

The Protestant reformation was necessary because the true gospel of salvation is necessary. And the reformation is still necessary today. The unchanging gospel, which was obscured over many years of the tradition of men, shined into a world of darkness like the dawn of the day. The heart of the gospel, which was once for all delivered to the saints, was rediscovered.

The only way that you can be made right before God is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone according to scripture alone and for the glory of God alone. Your works and merit add nothing to your justification. When God saves a sinner, it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone that is counted on the sinners behalf. And all of their sin is counted paid in full by the cross.

To believe that anything other than the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and His righteousness is necessary for salvation is to believe a different gospel that does not save, but rather condemns.

And almost four years ago, that was me.

It wasn’t until I began to read the bible when my eyes were opened to this good news. As Martin Luther once said, “the very gates of paradise opened up before me”. When I was saved, I did not know or understand much of what I have written to this point. And I didn’t need to.

But, I did understand one thing. I knew is that I was a sinner in need of forgiveness, and that Jesus Christ was the only way. There isn’t anything I could to do make up for my sin against God. I did not have to obtain my own standing before Him, and I could not. Jesus already accomplished that salvation on the cross when He said, “It is finished.”

The protestant reformation is worth celebrating because the gospel is worth celebrating. But, how would the reformers want us to celebrate this good news today? The same way that Jesus did: preach the gospel.  

It is my prayer that God would do this great work again. May God fan into flame the pulpits across this world, and bring about an even greater reformation as the church is continually reformed according to the word of God alone.

Soli deo gloria.

A Life Worth Imitating

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

If you approached someone in your church and said to them, “You should imitate me”, what do you think their response would be? My guess is that they would probably smile and chuckle, thinking that you were joking. That does seem like an odd conversation starter. And I’m fairly certain that would be the reaction I would get as well.

Saying to someone “you should imitate me” at a first glance appears to be quite prideful and arrogant. This is essentially telling someone that you are the standard of living, and they need to be like you. But, looking back at this statement made by Paul, he did not stop at that point. He continued on and said, “as I am of Christ”.

To say “imitate me” is much different than “imitate me, as I am of Christ”. The first statement set yourself as the standard. The second statement sets Christ as the standard.

Not only does saying this set the standard to be that of Jesus Christ, it does something further. It actually sets a standard for yourself. There is accountability in saying to someone else, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” This is putting your life on display for others to inspect and see if you are truly walking in the ways of the one you are following.

As children of God, we are to display His glory in our lives to this world. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to follow Him in everything, and also called to make disciples. Discipleship in essence is to help others follow Jesus. And how incredibly important is it that our lives are to reflect Jesus to those who we are discipling.

So we should be thinking, if someone were to imitate your life, would it bring them closer or further away from Christ?

Even more, imitating Jesus Christ ascribes to Him that He is truly both Lord and Savior. And it tells the world that He is worth following, no matter the cost. Imitating Christ says that I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

Let us imitate Paul and say, “You should imitate me because I am imitating Christ.”

What is Needful

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:8-9)

This proverb outlines two extremes when dealing with material possessions: the rich and the poor.

There is the rich person who has everything, and who does not have a single need that is not met in their lives. Because of the contentment and comfort of their riches, they cannot see a reason to need anything more than what they have, or need anyone to give them something they are missing.

Then there is the poor person who has absolutely nothing, and has many needs in their life, including a need for food. They are so desperate for a meal that they resort to stealing from someone else to satisfy that need.

What is common between these two people? Both declare they have no need for God. The rich person is in a condition where they deny God because they do not see their need for Him. The poor person is in a condition where they deny God because they do not see Him meeting their needs.

So the writer of the proverb is praying that they never be in either of these conditions because they do not want to lose sight of what is needful, knowing God.

I can say that apart from my own decision to forgo eating, I have not lived a day without a meal. I can even say that the majority of my life I have had a breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. I don't know what it is like to be poor and pray the words, "give us this day our daily bread" in the hope for a slice of bread.

But is food the most important thing that we humans need? To stay physically alive, yes we need food. Without it, our bodies would begin to break down, and we would eventually starve to death. But what about when we die?

After Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights, He was tempted in the wilderness. What was His first response to the temptations of Satan?

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

It is not physical food that Man truly needs, but spiritual food.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
John 6:35

To eat of this bread is to come to Jesus by faith alone, believing that He alone can provide what is needful for your soul: the complete and perfect atonement of your sins, to be counted righteousness on His behalf, and to be reconciled to God.

The desperate need that everyone has is to be in Christ.