Marriage Vows or What God Joined Together

or What God Joined Together

Marriage and the marriage vows are something that should never be taken lightly. What happens when two people come together under the idea of marriage? They stand before a man to recite wedding vows to each other. But, what does this mean? Consider if you will, the words both the male and female make: “Will you take this woman/man to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband, to live together in holy matrimony? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor her/him, and keep her/him in sickness and in health…, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live? Will you take to yourself to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, and to love and cherish each other till death do you part?”

Your Marriage Vows are before God, do you mean it?

When two people repeat their wedding vows, those involved in that marriage make this promise to each other and to God. They promise they will be together forever. However, far too many times, this is far from the truth. Separations occur and eventually divorce comes (annulments included).  But what is divorce? Obtaining a divorce is a legal (by man’s standards) dissolution of a marriage. It is a ceasing, a breaking of promises, to let go, or to release from bonds that terminates a marriage. But what is ceasing? However, what are things that break in divorce? Could we say that we are breaking two hearts in a marriage or breaking a family into jagged pieces? But what are we letting go? Could it be the bond that was first made on the wedding day between each other and between God? But, why the release?

Did not Jesus say to the Pharisees who came tempting Him with questions on divorce that, “…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5)? Two lives join into one. Therefore, the bond of husband and wife is stronger than that between children and parents. And, to be as one means that they are to be the only ones together. Yet, if this is true, then what comes in between them? It should be said that when something comes in between the one flesh, it must be a painful experience seeing as how pain always comes when something is inserted between flesh. With a marriage, this insertion is planned and cannot happen by accident and once it is between flesh, it separates it and divorce is seen shortly down the road.

Marriage Vows Combine Two as One

Jesus said, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Now, what could be so forceful that it could separate flesh? Perhaps a friend? Maybe they just drive each other crazy. Perhaps they are just not compatible. Jesus again speaking said to the Pharisees, “whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality (fornication), and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).

What is fornication? It is illicit sexual intercourse. It is sexual intercourse whether it is with a man, woman, homosexual, lesbian, animal, etc. Jesus said that for this reason only can one divorce. Why? It is because sexual intercourse breaks the one flesh into two. Also, because there is a foreign flesh attempting to rip part of the flesh from the rest. It is because it breaks the covenant relationship between man and woman. In addition, it breaks the covenant relationship with God because once you are in a marriage, you are commanded by God to keep it (Rom. 7:2).

Men can attempt to justify this by saying that the laws of the land permit other actions. Well, so did the laws of the land in Jesus’ day (Matt. 19:1-9). But just because it is a law of the land, does not give us a right to violate God’s law. The apostles, which were led directly by the Holy Spirit said, “. . . We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Therefore, if God defines what a marriage is and what it is not and defines the reason to end a marriage, we must obey God rather than man for only God can dissolve a marriage.

Divorce Means Ignoring Your Promise to God

Divorce that comes outside of fornication, happens when men forget God (Rom. 1:18-32), when they forget His word (Psa. 119:11), and when they want to do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). May we each do the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21-23).

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

By Joe R. Price

Scripture says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

To “rightly divide” means to cut a straight course or “cut along a straight path” (BDAG, 722), “to make straight and smooth” (Thayer, 453). Like taking a road that goes straight to its destination without a detour, we must avoid striving “about words to no profit” that ruins the hearers (2 Tim. 2:14, 16). Instead, we are to be diligent workers of God who properly use His word so that it carries us, without shame, straight to our destination of God’s approval.

The way we choose to handle the Bible is exactly the way we choose to treat God. After all, in these last days God speaks to us “in His Son” through His apostles and prophets who were inspired by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:1-4; Jno. 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We go to the inspired Scripture to hear, believe, and obey God (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

Here are some practical ways to “cut a straight course” when we use God’s word.

1. Do not read into the Scriptures what you have already decided to believe and do. That is, do not come to the Bible with your mind already made up. Handling the Bible this way is called eisegesis, “the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas” (Merriam-Webster). It is twisting God’s word to say what we want it to say. Doing this results in our destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). We can do this in any number of ways. We can force definitions upon words that are incorrect (like forcing the instrument of music into the word “psallo”). We can discount and exclude additional passages of Scripture because they fail to sustain our predisposed view (like minimizing James 2:24 and the role of “works” in justification). If we intend to let the Bible guide us to God’s approval, then we must follow its truth wherever it takes us, not the other way around. And, that may mean giving up a false view and practice.

2. Take everything Scripture says on a topic to have a full understanding of God’s will. Picking and choosing some passages while refusing others that address the same subject is not rightly dividing the word of truth. All truth must be considered in order to know and abide in the truth that frees us from sin (Jno. 8:31-32). Careful, deliberate Bible study avoids rash conclusions while considering all God’s word has to say (Psa. 119:160). We can properly claim to declare the “whole counsel of God” only when we allow all of it to inform and shape our faith, and therefore, what we declare (Acts 20:27).

3. Be ready to accept correction from the Scriptures. When a map shows we are off course we will never get to where we want to go unless we change course. So it is with our study and use of the Bible. We must accept its corrections so we will arrive at our intended destination – God’s approval. We must study the Bible for our own spiritual growth and improvement. When we do that, change will be in order. We must be ready to radically change ourselves and our lives when the Scriptures show we are off course (2 Tim. 3:16). If we will not do so, then we have abandoned any real expectation of God’s approval for the sake of personal vindication. “Let God be true and every man a liar” persuades us that God’s word is always right, and nothing else will satisfy us (Rom. 3:4). Why? Because our goal is heaven. To get there, we must handle God’s word correctly (2 Tim. 2:15).

The Old Testament Is For New Testament Christians

Occasionally, someone will pose the question, “The Church of Christ doesn’t believe in the Old Testament, do they?” Often, this misunderstanding is the result of someone who has tried, with little success, to explain the difference between the Law of Christ and the Law of Moses. This could, unfortunately, also could be the result of the Christian’s misunderstanding based on those who have influenced them in the past.

The denominations are not the only ones who sometimes misunderstand the value and purpose of the Old Testament. Christians tend to fight the extreme positions that denominations often take with positions of equal, but opposite, extremes that also miss the truth of God’s Word. One example is the idea that we live under a New Covenant and therefore we don’t need to study the Old Testament. This idea is just as wrong as wrong can be. By studying the Old Testament, we can; (1) learn from the examples recorded (1 Cor. 10:11); (2) have true hope (Rom. 15:4), and (3) be wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:14-15).

As we read of the experiences of Israel, both during times of obedience and rebellion, we must remember we are serving the same God as they. A God who never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). It is through reading both the Old and New Testament that we may come to a full understanding of the God we serve. The Old Testament illustrates for us how “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8, 16) as we read of His willingness to forgive Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:10-13) and how He delivered Israel time after time after their repentance. We also can understand how “God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29) as we read of the judgments that came on Israel and other nations.

There are principles that were true before the Law, during the Law, and still true today. An example is the principle of the foundation of marriage, which rests, not on the New Testament, but the Old Testament. When questioned on this subject by the Jews, Jesus, instead of introducing a new law, asked them “have you not read?” (Matt. 19:4). He referred them back to the original creation account as the basis of marriage. Even the different roles of men and women today are founded on the account in Genesis (1 Tim. 2:11-14). It does not make any difference which covenant we may live under; the order of creation and the general roles of men and women will never change.

In His discourse on dealing with a sinning brother in Matt. 18:15-17, Jesus repeated a principle found in Deut. 17:2-6 when He said: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Because of the evil influences exerted on man’s nature, there will always be the danger of someone wanting to accuse others falsely in this corrupt world. Therefore, this principle from God will always apply. In Rom. 2:5-6, Paul did not mind referring to Deut. 32:34, nor quoting Psalms 62:12 and Prov. 24:12 when he said: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” Paul quoted the Old Testament with confidence and applied it to our time even though he clearly understood the covenants had changed. He knew there are principles in the Old Testament that will never change while this earth remains.

The Grace Of God

The usual definition for grace, “unmerited favor,” is not broad enough in its scope to fully defirne all that is meant by the term (see Luke 2:40; Col. 4:6). W. E. Vine defines it as, “That which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard;…on the part of the bestower, the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, lovingkindness, goodwill generally…especially with reference to the Divine favour or grace, e.g., Acts 14:26…” (Expository Dict. Of New Testament Words, pp. 509–510).

As seen in the Bible, grace, in respect to salvation, is a summary of all God has done to effect the salvation of man. It includes all of His acts which show favor to undeserving mankind. But God’s grace is more than mere passive pity. It expresses itself in real, concrete acts of love (Rom. 5:8).
Considering several New Testament passages makes it easy to see how His grace runs through all God has done for man’s salvation. By grace He sacrificed His Son (Heb. 5:8–9). By grace He revealed His plan of salvation (1 Cor. 2:9–12; Gal. 1:11–12; Eph. 3:1–5). It is by grace that God raises sinners to a new life in Christ (Eph. 2:4–7; cf. Rom. 6:4–5). By His grace, God commissioned His Son to build the church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28).

While grace includes all God has done to bring about the salvation of man, it excludes salvation by meritorious works (Rom. 4:4; 11:6). Salvation by works of this nature would demand a life of perfect obedience to divine law — it would be of debt. Salvation by grace, on the other hand, bridges the gap between our imperfection and God’s perfect law by means of pardon and forgiveness (1 John 2:1).

The presence and reality of sin is what makes the grace of God necessary. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:10, 23), all, therefore, are under the sentence of death, the penalty for or the wages of sin (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8).

God, in His matchless love, provided His Son to die in man’s place (1 Pet. 1:18–19). While the grace of God is demonstrated in many ways, none is greater than its manifestation in His Son (Rom. 3:23–24). Since man has sinned, he deserves the punishment of the second death in hell and no works he could do would earn or merit his salvation from it. Therefore, salvation is that which is given by the grace of God, a favor man has not merited. Hence, salvation is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9).

Some have erroneously concluded from Romans 6:14–15 that we are “not under law but under grace” and that law and grace are mutually exclusive. However, the fact we are under grace does not mean we are not subject to law and that it is not essential for us to keep divine law.

We are subject to law from God. The teaching of Christ is called “law” (1 Cor. 9:21; 1 John 3:4; Isa. 2:1–3). We are required to obey that law (1 John 3:4; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; John 4:24; 1 Pet. 4:11). Whenever God has spoken to man or given a law, He has expected strict obedience and the utmost respect for His word (Deut. 4:2; Lev. 10:1–2; Rev. 22:18–19).

Grace does not mean we are not subject to law, rather, it means that we have a means of forgiveness when we violate that law, if we meet the divine conditions. The teaching of the apostle Paul in Romans 6:14–15 is that we are not under a system of mere law without grace as a means of justification. Depending on mere law would require perfect law-keeping for justification. Such would make one a legalist. Our justification is by grace through faith.

Though salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8), it is not by grace alone. Some teach otherwise: “We believe the scriptures teach that the salvation of sinners is wholly by grace” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, ch. 8, art. 4). Actually, one is saved by nothing alone. The many factors of salvation include: faith (Rom. 5:1); repentance (Acts 11:18); blood (Rom. 5:9–10); works (Jas. 2:24); baptism (1 Pet. 3:21); the gospel (Rom. 1:16); confession (1 John 4:2); and grace (Eph. 2:8–9).

Salvation by grace is through the teaching of the gospel, God’s “power unto salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is called “the word of His grace” (Acts 14:3) and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). It is by the gospel that the kindness of God redeems man and provides him all spiritual blessings. The word is the medium of His grace (Titus 2:11–12). The word of His grace is able to build up and strengthen the Christian so that he might grow in Christ, grow unto salvation (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet. 2:1–2).

But God’s grace is conditional. It is conditioned upon obedient faith made perfect by works (Eph. 2:8–9; Rom. 5:1–2; Jas. 2:17–26; Matt. 7:21). The obedient works upon which salvation is conditioned do not nullify grace for they do not earn salvation. The examples of Naaman (2 Kings 5) and the blind man (John 9:6–7) show that these gifts were given by grace but conditions had to be met to receive them.