If You Haven’t Read David Instone-Brewer’s book, You Really Should

Here are some powerful and refreshing words from David Instone-Brewer’s book on marriage and divorce in the church. This will make you want to get your hands on the book for sure. And by the way – ANY pastor or counselor or Christian who fancies that they are competent to counsel on this subject but who is still ignorant of what Instone-Brewer presents and proves here – is not competent to counsel at all. [The boldface highlighting is mine]-

We will see in later chapters that what defines a broken marriage is broken vows: the vows that marriage partners make to each other in God’s presence. We will find in chapter three that the Old Testament describes God’s relationship with Israel like a marriage that ended in divorce because cause of Israel’s adulteries. So God is a divorcee-and he hates it as much as any victim of divorce. A victim?

Yes, God is a victim of divorce, even though he actually carried it out; in the same way, many victims today are actually the ones who initiate proceedings to bring the marriage to an official end. They call in the lawyers to stop the mockery and pain of constant adultery or the anguish of abuse. But as we will see, the Bible does not regard the victim as the sinner. It is the person who is guilty of causing the marriage to break up whom Jesus addresses when he says, “Those whom God has joined, no one should separate.”

In other words, his warning is not to the person who finally tidies up the legal mess after the marriage has broken down but to those who would violate their marriage vows and, in so doing, cause the marriage to break up. Jesus says that divorce should never happen because when two people marry they are joined by God, who is a witness to the marriage vows and is there to bless the marriage. These vows should never be broken-especially especially since they are made before God. But of course people do break them, just as they break God’s other commands. Jesus never says that these vows are impossible to break-as if God ignores the reality of sin-but but he teaches that if a partner breaks the vows and is then repentant, we should forgive that person.

If the vows are continuously broken, without repentance, then the marriage will be left in shreds. Therefore although the breakup of a marriage is always due to sin, it is not the divorce vorce itself that is the sin; the sin is the breaking of the vows, which causes the divorce. In later chapters we will look at the biblical marriage vows closely We will learn that the Bible allows only the victim to initiate a divorce-that is, it allows them to decide when enough is enough and, if their partner remains unrepentant, to decide that the marriage is over.

Jesus’ main complaint was that the Jews had abandoned this principle. They allowed a man to divorce his wife even when she hadn’t broken her vows-that is, when he had no grounds for divorce. Paul similarly condemned a Greco-Roman groundless divorce. Later on in the book we will look at the Old Testament’s teaching on divorce and remarriage-which allowed divorce on the grounds of neglect or abuse-and discover that Jesus and Paul both affirmed this teaching.

David Instone-Brewer. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities (p. 18-19). Kindle Edition.

(We have added Instone-Brewer’s book to the Resources tab on the top menu bar.  There  – and here – is an Amazon affiliate link if you are interested in purchasing the book.)

Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right: A Sermon by Jeff Crippen

We want to make you aware that Pastor Crippen’s sermon today at Christ Reformation Church is on marriage and divorce.  Using the sermon text of Matthew 19:1-12 and scripture reading from Deuteronomy 24, Pastor reminds us of the importance of rightly handling the word of truth.  And there are very few places in the Bible that have been more abused than the words of Jesus when He speaks to the issue of marriage and divorce.

We are providing a link to the PDF, video, and audio of Pastor’s sermon, Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right, found at sermonaudio.com.

We have also added this sermon, Marriage and Divorce – Getting it Right, to our Twisted Scriptures page located on the top menu bar under Scriptures.

For those of you who would like to follow the Sunday Service at Christ Reformation Church (CRC) weekly you may go to lightfordarktimes.com where CRC’s weekly Sunday Order of Service is published and links to the video/audio of Pastor Crippen’s sermon are provided.  All are welcome to join with the congregation of CRC online!

Psalm 73 – Are the Wicked Prospering?

It looks like evil, wicked people are getting away with it. 

Probably most of us have thought this at one time or another, especially when we as victims consider our abusers.  It can be easy to get discouraged when we see the wicked continuing to prosper, but Psalm 73 provides us with a reminder of what their reality truly is, and also a caution not to envy them.

Pastor Crippen recently preached a sermon on Psalm 73, and we are providing a link here to that sermon for your encouragement.

Are the Wicked Prospering? (link to the audio, video, and PDF of the sermon)

Additionally you can find more thoughts by Pastor Crippen on Psalm 73 at our Scriptures tab found on the top menu bar.  In additional to Psalm 73 there are 12 other Psalms to reflect on.

Encouragement from the Psalms

 

Patriarchal Abusive Marriage is a Counterfeit of Marriage — and thus is very Deceiving

My husband does not permit me to sin. When I sin, he sends me to my room and tells me to stay there until my attitude is godly again.

Those words were spoken by a pastor’s wife to a group of Christian women/wives. Their response?  “Oh, what a model of a godly marriage.”

It was anything but that. And yet, these ladies believed it. They craved it for themselves. They believed that this woman’s husband was high and holy, far above their own husbands. Why? How could they possibly believe that such a thing as this pastor’s wife described is biblical, Christian, genuine marriage? In part, I suggest that the answer is that the enemy is a master counterfeiter. He is a liar and a deceiver. He sends false Jesus figures, false Christs, false pastors, false pastor wives, false Christians into our midst and these counterfeits are quite often, outwardly, genuine in appearance.

Patriarchal abusive marriage is a counterfeit of biblical marriage. It boasts of “submission” but runs with that idea and turns it into slavery. It lauds “headship” and presents the abuser to us as a model of that headship. He tells her what clothes to wear and she wears them, and only them. He tells her she must obey him, and she obeys him. He tells her what the true interpretation of Scripture is, and she believes him. The children appear to be a model of obedience to their parents, and the rest of the families in the church wish their children and homes looked like that.

But the whole thing is false. It is a sham. The marriage. The home. The family. The whole thing is bogus, an imitation, but only an imitation, and a very deceptive one. It is an idol created by man to bring us into bondage.

Do you envy some marriage or family in your church? Are the objects of your envy regarded by the church as a model of godliness? Take care. You may very well have been duped by a deception. The genuine is often in the background, unseen, following Christ humbly rather than blowing trumpets on street corners.

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:1-4)

 

The Holy Spirit Calls us to Expose Evil — People Tell us to be Quiet About it

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

All through my life I have seen evil and injustice. Like most of you, I have seen it personally in the workplace and in the church. And every time I have seen it, I have been told to be quiet about it. Not by the Lord, but by people. When you are told often enough that you are exaggerating, that you are too judgmental, that you need to just overlook things, you start to believe it. You think that you must be “a problem.”

Here is the thesis of this article that I want to state and support:

The Holy Spirit inhabits and leads every Christian. Because He is the holy Spirit, He reacts against un-holiness. When the Christian is in the presence of evil, the Spirit in him tells him “something is wrong here. This is not right. This is sin. Here is what God’s Word says about this.” 

And then what happens? When the Christian, led by the Spirit, speaks out against this wrong and exposes it, pressure from the enemy comes against him to be quiet about it. To minimize it. To feel a sense of guilt for even thinking badly about someone else. And this opposition to the Spirit, this quenching of the Lord in us, is particularly effective when it comes from the mouth of someone who claims to be a fellow believer —

“Now, Jeff, that is just how Mrs. Smith is. She is really a very good woman and fine Christian. So just be patient with her tantrums and steer a wide path around her and try to get along. We try not to talk much around here about her foibles. After all, she is such a fine pianist and choir director.”

Mrs. Smith has been the pianist and choir director in that church for 40 years! And for 40 years Mrs. Smith has thrown those wicked tantrums whenever she doesn’t get her way. This is sin. It is evil. Mrs. Smith is an agent of the enemy, but the “godly folk” there in the church make it clear that you must not speak of her sin or talk about the Bible saying we are to deal with sin in the church.

In the very first church that I was a pastor in, I knew by the third day that something was very, very wrong. I wasn’t wise enough to know exactly what it was, but I knew. I felt it. I met with the church board consisting of some six or seven people and I simply did not see Christ in them. Oh, perhaps one or two were believers, but not the rest (time would prove that assessment to be accurate). And there were other issues evident that plainly contradicted God’s Word regarding life in His church.

We were sent to this church by a home missions board that we were with. I phoned our regional director and gave him my assessment of the situation. In just a few hours I received a phone call from the head of the missions agency and he was irate! He told me that “of course the people in that church are unsaved. Don’t try to change anything. Just be patient with them, get to know them, and they will get saved.” In others words, “Jeff, just shut up about these things you see that you say are contrary to the Lord’s truth. You are just going to cause trouble.”

Well, I was in that church for eight years. I assumed the missions director knew what he was talking about. I didn’t want to be a trouble maker. So I preached Scripture and taught the people and. . . what happened? Trouble. Attacks. Constant division and fighting. Rank immorality. A terrible testimony to the community. And why was that? Because the Holy Spirit had been trying to tell me from the very start that this “church” was no church at all because there were but maybe one or two genuinely converted people in it.  That is to say, my first conviction that I needed to announce something like this to a congregation of the wicked was right, and that missions director was dead wrong —

When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:12-17)

You see, these were not mere unbelieving pagans. No, these were church members who claimed to be Christians! That “church” needed to be reduced to a small handful and genuine believers, and then begin a real ministry.

The Holy Spirit leads us to expose evil. People, especially false Christians, pressure us to hide it, excuse it, and cover it up.

And that brings us right back round to why abusers are able to operate and hide in most churches. Evil is not called evil. Those who call evil out are labeled as trouble makers. Just like most of you have been called trouble makers, unloving, unforgiving, and judgmental because you dared say that your abuser is a wicked person parading as a Christian. It has taken me decades, but the Lord has finally gotten it through my head. I will not be quiet when the Spirit of Christ shows me evil in His church. I will make trouble for that evil. I will not minimize the circumstances and excuse it with some blow off statement like, “well, you know we are all brothers in Christ here and we just must love and forgive and be patient.” No! Where in God’s Word does the Lord instruct us to keep quiet about Satan in our midst? Nowhere. That’s where.

These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13)

The Mercy of God and the Right Handling of His Word

Jon 1:1-2  Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  (2)  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

Jon 3:4-5  Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  (5)  And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

Many of the churches that we have dealt with in regard to their cruel treatment of domestic abuse victims proudly include in their doctrinal statements an unbending confession of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I fully concur with that doctrine. The Bible is the very Word of God and is the rule for our faith and practice.

However, it is not enough for us to confess the Bible to be the Word of God. We must also interpret and apply it as the Lord intends for His Word to be understood and applied. The Pharisees, as you know, were very conservative in doctrine and held to the letter of Scripture. And yet they were so, so very wrong in how they used it. Grievously and mercilessly wrong.

Continue reading “The Mercy of God and the Right Handling of His Word”

The Lord is Merciful and Gracious: but He Does Not Forgive His Enemies

In this article, I would like to demonstrate the following principle to you from Scripture and then help you apply it to this matter of “forgiving the abuser.” Every victim of abuse, especially Christians, know what it is like to be pushed and prodded with “as a Christian, you are required by God to forgive your abuser.”  Too often this pressure includes the demand that the victim reconcile with the abuser, and it leads to being deceived by the typical false repentance abusers love to claim for themselves.  Here is the principle:

God does not forgive His enemies. He never has, and He never will. As His children in Christ, we are to reflect His character and attributes. Therefore, this has profound implications for how we deal with our enemies, who are also the enemies of the Lord.

Continue reading “The Lord is Merciful and Gracious: but He Does Not Forgive His Enemies”