Marriage represents a serious commitment that should not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly. It involves a solemn promise or pledge, not merely to one's marriage partner, but before God. Divorce is not permitted except in a very limited number of biblically prescribed circumstances see Divorce below. Hence, a "same-sex marriage" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Since Scripture universally condemns homosexual relationships see further under Homosexuality below God will never sanction a marital bond between two members of the same sex.
Marriage involves "leaving" one's family of origin and "being united" to one's spouse, which signifies the establishment of a new family unit distinct from the two originating families. While "one flesh" suggests sexual intercourse and normally procreation, at its very heart the concept entails the establishment of a new kinship relationship between two previously unrelated individuals and families by the most intimate of human bonds. The marriage partners are to be first and foremost concerned about the wellbeing of the other person and to be committed to each other in steadfast love and devotion.
This involves the need for forgiveness and restoration of the relationship in the case of sin. Mutuality, however, does not mean sameness in role. Scripture is clear that wives are to submit to their husbands and to serve as their "suitable helpers," while husbands are to bear the ultimate responsibility for the marriage before God Ephesians ; Colossians ; see also Genesis , This means that no other human relationship must interfere with the marriage commitment between husband and wife.
For this reason, Jesus treated sexual immorality of a married person, including even a husband's lustful thoughts, with utmost seriousness Matthew ; For the same reason, premarital sex is also illegitimate, since it violates the exclusive claims of one's future spouse. As the Song of Solomon makes clear, only in the secure context of an exclusive marital bond can free and complete giving of oneself in marriage take place.
Knowing the divine ideal for marriage, and aware that marriage and the family are divine institutions, we are now able to move from God's creation of man and woman and his institution of marriage to the Fall of humanity and its negative consequences on the marriage relationship. As a study of biblical history shows, humanity's rebellion against the Creator's purposes led to at least the following six negative consequences: 1 polygamy; 2 divorce; 3 adultery; 4 homosexuality; 5 sterility; and 6 gender role confusion.
The first shortcoming, polygamy --more specifically, polygyny, marrying multiple wives--violates God's instituted pattern of marital monogamy. While it was certainly within God's prerogative and power to make more than one wife for the man, God only made Eve. Yet within six generations after the fall of humanity, barely after Adam had died, Lamech took two wives Genesis However, not only did polygamous marriage fall short of God's original design, it regularly resulted in disruptive favoritism, jealousy between competing wives, and decline into idolatry.
The second compromise of God's ideal for marriage was divorce , which disrupted the permanence of marriage. While divorce became so common that it had to be regulated in the Mosaic code Deuteronomy , the Bible makes clear that God hates divorce Malachi Divorce is also used repeatedly as an analogy for spiritual apostasy Isaiah ; Jeremiah A third shortcoming was adultery , the breaking of one's marriage vows. The Decalogue stipulates explicitly, "You shall not commit adultery" Exodus ; Deuteronomy An egregious case of adultery was David's sin with Bathsheba 2 Samuel In cases such as these, the principle of marital fidelity to one's marriage partner was compromised.
The Book of Proverbs calls adultery both foolish and dangerous e. Proverbs ; ; ; ; In the Old Testament, adultery is frequently used as an analogy to depict the spiritual unfaithfulness of God's people Israel Jeremiah ; Ezekiel , 38; Hosea Homosexuality , fourth, marks another falling away from God's creation purposes in that it violates the divine will for marriage to be between one man and one woman.
As Genesis stipulates, "A man [masculine] shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife [feminine], and the two shall become one flesh. Since homosexuality involves same-sex intercourse that cannot lead to procreation, it is unnatural and cannot logically entail the possibility of marriage.
A fifth shortcoming of God's ideal for marriage is sterility , which falls short of the fertility desired by the Creator. Fertility is implicit in the biblical reference to the "one flesh" union. At times, lack of fertility is said in the Old Testament to be the result of personal sin Genesis ; 2 Samuel , while on other occasions sterility is presented as a simple fact of fallen nature Genesis ; ; ; 1 Samuel However, God is often shown to answer prayers for fertility offered by his people in faith e.
Gender role confusion is a sixth and final result of humanity's rebellion against the Creator. Where God's design for man and woman to be distinct yet complementary partners in procreation and stewardship of God's earth is diluted, people will inexorably be confused about what it means to be masculine or feminine, and the lines between the two sexes made by God will increasingly be blurred.
Despite the above-mentioned ways in which God's original design for marriage and the family was compromised, however, the Bible in the Old Testament continues to extol the virtues of the excellent wife Proverbs and to celebrate the beauty of sex in marriage Song of Solomon. The New Testament teaches that the restoration of God's original design for marriage in Christ is part of God's realignment of all things under Christ's authority and lordship. In the book of Ephesians, we read that it is God's purpose "to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" Ephesians , NIV.
Thus marriage is not an end in itself but part of God's end-time restoration of all things in the person of Jesus Christ. Part of this restoration is that all evil powers are brought under control and are submitted to the supreme authority of Christ Ephesians Later on in the same letter, Paul addresses the subject of marriage in general, and marital roles in particular, within the larger context of believers needing to be filled with the Holy Spirit Ephesians What is the biblical pattern for marriage?
This is best seen in a close study of the pre-eminent passage on marital roles in the New Testament, Ephesians In this passage, instructions are given to both husbands and wives in form of a "house table," which features commands given first to the person under authority followed by instructions for the person in a position of authority. In keeping with this pattern, the passage addresses first wives, then husbands Ephesians ; first children, then parents Ephesians ; and first slaves, and then masters Ephesians ; similar "house tables" are also found in Colossians and 1 Peter Play via Sermon App.
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Delete Move to Wishlist. Wishlist is empty. Delete Move to Cart. Email someone my wishlist. Recipients Name. Recipient's email address. Your name. Your email address. Enter a message. Send me a copy of this email. Continue Not? True Theological Method is Important. Both the content and method of theology are important. True theology must be based on the Bible alone. And that is the basic principle of theological method. True theology presupposes the total truth of the Bible. Theology is received by revelation of God, not conceived by the mind of Man Col.
God is the subject, not the object, of theology. That is, He Himself teaches us about Himself. Thus there are both similarities and differences between theological and natural science. Another important principle is seeing how the NT uses the OT. The Bible itself uses logic, but logic itself must be subject to the Word of God, else it becomes mere philosophy. These may be stated in only 2 or 3 words, or longer sentences. Some are given only once; others, many times. They are universal and absolute, undeniable and irrefutable I Tim. They are plainly stated, yet infinitely profound.
They are like axioms, maxims and formulas. By comparing spiritual things with other spiritual things I Cor. The Trinity is not stated in any one verse of the Bible, but is the implicit teaching of Scripture, seen when we combine verses such as Deut. The NT sometimes draws on underlying principles of certain OT verses and develops a new doctrine of practice e. Thus, principles of theology are important. But we must be careful to observe the limits of this theological method, and stay close to Scripture and avoid speculation.
We use it in English to refer to the right mainstream as opposed to the unusual fringe such as orthodox medicine vs. The Greek Orthodox Church once held to Biblical orthodoxy, but no more. The test of Christian orthodoxy is not antiquity, but Scripture. That doctrine alone is orthodox which is Biblical. They are the basics, the ABC doctrines. Dogmatic theology is concerned with the essential truths of Christianity.
Christian dogma is not defined by a church as Romanism claims for itself , but by the Bible alone. One must believe these essential truths to be a real Christian. It is impossible for someone who rejects, substitutes or adds to these essential truths to be a true Christian. The Gospel is the Main Message of the Bible. Among the essential doctrines is the Gospel. It is a divine record of facts to be believed, not a command that is Law.
Specifically, I Cor. There is only one true Gospel, but many false Gospels Gal. The OT preached the same Gospel in advance by prophecy Gal. The true Gospel calls for only one response for salvation: faith and repentance Mark , Acts To add good works or baptism to this is to preach a false Gospel. To preach the Gospel is simply to present the basic truths about Jesus Christ.
Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism are Two Kinds of Orthodoxy. Evangelicalism accepts the truth of the evangel Gospel. But it does not always defend it strongly. It emphasizes peace and unity over truth. Fundamentalism is the term given to militant Evangelicalism. This is that kind of orthodoxy which fights to defend the essentials by exposing false kinds of Christianity. A key verse is Psa. It refers to those basic doctrines which are to be believed. Saving faith has a content, known as The Faith.
Jude 3 calls upon us not only to believe it but to earnestly defend it.
Any interpretation that contradicts the basic Gospel is automatically a wrong interpretation. Orthodoxy is true doctrine. Heterodoxy is false doctrine. In practice, it produces wrong schisms. In general, all error is wrong and heretical. But in a more precise sense, heresy means the rejection of a fundamental truth. One can still be saved if he is in error on a secondary truth but still believes the essential truths.
But rejection of any or all of the basics is heresy and theological poison. Scripture repeatedly warns against promoters of heresy as false prophets Matt. God pronounces a curse on those who preach a false Gospel Gal. Heresy is no small thing. It attacks the very essentials of the faith. Those who believe heresy, do not believe in the fundamentals, and are not true Christians. It primarily refers to pseudo-Christianity, not non-Christianity. This is not the same as backsliding. True Christians backslide; but they do not lose their salvation.
Apostasy occurs when someone who once professed the truth of the Faith now rejects it. This is what Heb. Judas is a good example.
Apostasy is spiritual and theological treason. There are degrees of apostasy. One may reject only one essential doctrine but still profess the others, such as when someone goes from Evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism or Mormonism or other brands of pseudo-Christianity. Full-blown apostasy is when someone who once professed all the basic truths now rejects all of them, such as when one becomes an atheist. A creed, then, is a short summary of the Faith, or orthodox fundamentals. Some passages in the NT hint at the idea I Tim. The Nicene Creed early 4th century amplified it a bit in order to emphasize the deity of Christ.
A third and longer early creed is the Athanasian Creed, based on the teachings of Athanasius in the 4th century. It mainly deals with the Trinity. A Christian ought to be able to summarize his own creed. Some concentrate on specific truths which were debated at that time. Some are more theological, others more practical or ecclesiastical. If a creed is concerned with the primary doctrines of the Faith, a confession of faith expands it to include the secondary and other doctrines.
Most churches have a confession of faith. Many contain Scripture proofs. Catechisms were written mainly to instruct children and new converts. They are very useful for memorizing. Creeds, confessions and catechisms are useful tools to study the Faith. But they must be tested by the Bible, for Scripture alone gives us true orthodoxy.
Truth is an important doctrine found throughout the Bible and is basic to the study of other doctrines. But truth is not an impersonal concept or idea. God is the final and ultimate truth. He is truth itself.
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The Greek philosophers asked three main questions: What is justice, what is beauty, and what is truth? Truth is in Jesus Eph. God is the source of all truth, facts, existence, reality and law. God is truth, speaks truth, defines truth. Someone said that God is the truth, the Bible is the truth about the truth, and fundamentalism is the truth about the truth about the truth.
Cornelius Van Til popularized the theological statement that there is no such thing as a brute fact. He was right. All facts are true because God made them so. Whatever is true finds its source in God. God is higher than all facts. Even the laws of mathematics exist because of God.
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God does not say something because it is true; it is true because God says so. Facts are but little glimmerings of what God makes true. Since God alone is truth, truth is not determined by Man, for Man is not God. It is our job to discover truth, not invent it. Man has personal tastes and opinions, but these are merely subjective feelings. Humanism would make Man the measure of all truth. This is but to deify Man and de-throne God. How then does Man discover truth?
By receiving it from God. The first step is faith. We must believe whatever God says, otherwise we are calling God a liar I John To believe God is to submit our minds to Him 2 Cor. It is to recognize that God is truth and He alone has the right perspective on His Creation. This is a truly awesome thing to do. Because we are finite and sinful, we do not see things as they really are. We need God to teach us. The opposite of this wisdom is what the Bible calls folly — foolishness, insanity, nonsense. Sin is the very epitome of folly.
One key aspect of wisdom is discernment. It is the ability to tell truth from error, good from evil Heb. Adam and Eve lacked it when they believed Satan and themselves rather than God. Truth and error are opposites. They are irreconcilable enemies. They are as different as light and darkness. God is truth and light; in Him is no darkness or error I John Among other things, this means that a statement can be true or false, but not both. A statement cannot be true and false at the same time in the same way. God has made things the way they are and does not play tricks with us.
The Bible has no contradictions. It is Satan, not God, that is the father of error and lies John Modern Man greatly errs when he fails to see this difference. A true statement is one that corresponds with reality. Truth makes sense. Error is non-sense. Truth is real. No, God has created things as real. It is sin that makes them illusions. We need to see things as they really are. Modern Humanism teaches that truth is relative. Each person invents his own truth.
This is wrong, dangerous and sinful. We cannot create reality. To say that we can is to say that we are gods, which is what the Father of Lies wants us to believe Gen. Truth is absolute, not of itself, but because it is rooted in God. God is the final absolute and He does not change. Mine is different. Truth is not contradictory to itself, but to error. Nevertheless, we are finite and do not generally see all the relationships between the things God has said and made. God has revealed some things as paradoxes. For example, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are both revealed truths, but we do not grasp how they are both true.
There are also mysteries, or things partly revealed and partly hidden cf. The Trinity is the mystery of mysteries. We know there is only one God and that He has three persons or aspects. But we cannot fathom the depths of this great mystery. One final thing about truth is important. The deepest theological truths are not the complicated ones, but the basic ones. This is to be truly wise. All believers must be able to give a good answer for their faith and hope I Pet. We call this apologetics, not in the sense of a wimpy apology for something wrong but a virile defence of something right.
Every Christian, not just preachers and theologians, ought to be able to give basic answers to the objections and questions of unbelievers. It is especially useful in evangelism. We need to refute those who oppose us Tit. Apologetics specifically refers to answering the objections thrown at us by those persons and systems which do not claim to be Christian. Polemics aims to refute and expose the various kinds of false Christianity. Our fight is not only with those outside the Faith, but with those who promote false gospels and heresy of the first order while still claiming to be Christian.
One is outright war; the other is sabotage and treason. Both are dangerous. But pseudo-Christianity is more dangerous and sly than outright non-Christianity. We are to be watchmen on the wall Ezek. It is mere human wisdom, which is really foolishness. Philosophy sprang from Greece. In Acts 17, Paul opposed the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. The major Greek philosophers were Plato and Aristotle, and many others. In the modern era, others include Hegel, Marx, Kant, Hume, and many others. Philosophy emphasizes the use of human reason, the mind, rationality.
If unchecked, it tends to become atheistic. All Non-Christian Religions are False. Philosophy is not the only ancient enemy. There are dozens of non-Christian religions, mostly coming from the East. They emphasize the heart, not the mind. They tend to mysticism and pantheism. Some are closer to the truth than others, but they all lead to Hell. Even post-Biblical Judaism is a false religion, for it does not accept Jesus as the Messiah, denies the Trinity, asserts salvation by works, etc.
The three main groups of false Christianity correspond to the three main groups of unbelieving Judaism at the time of Christ.
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Roman Catholicism is like the Pharisees — huge, works-salvation, tradition-bound, etc. Eastern Orthodoxy is the same. The second is Liberal Protestantism, similar to the Saducees in their rejection of revelation, weak ethics, etc. Then there are the many cults, like the Jewish cults of the Essenes, Herodians, Zealots, etc, exclusivist and esoteric. The earliest form of pseudo-Christianity was Gnosticism, opposed in Colossians, I John, and elsewhere. There are many pseudo-Christian cults around today.
We may not use force, violence, brainwashing, fleshly temptations, entertainment, or other such means. Honest questions deserve honest answers, as Francis Schaeffer said. Some Weapons Are Useful but Insufficient. Other weapons are acceptable but insufficient. For example, some Christians argue from miracles, fulfilled prophecy, the endurance of the Bible and Christianity through centuries of persecution, the enormous popularity of Christianity, the many favorable words said about Jesus by important non-Christians, personal testimonies, logical proofs, empirical evidences and other such arguments.
These all have their place, but are not our primary resources, for each can be challenged in one way or another by non-Christians. At best, such arguments can only get a stalemate, not a victory. Such is the approach of Christian Rationalism e. The Word of God is our main weapon Eph. Jesus turned to it, not as a last resort, but as His primary weapon in opposing Satan Matt. Our opinions mean nothing. We do not use it as a magical or superstitious talisman, but rather by knowing and believing it and quoting and explaining it properly and appropriately in fielding the objections of unbelievers.
Any team or army will tell you that defence is good, but you also need offence to win. We must know what our opponent is saying, and then we compare it with what the Bible says on that point. Indeed, also challenge the underlying presuppositions of the argument. A presupposition is the underlying and often unconscious assumption of a system of thought. We must know the enemy 2 Cor. It can help to show where such views logically lead. But mainly we are to show where they contradict what God says.
Quote Scripture whether the opponent believes in the Bible or not. It is also important to be as clear in your words as possible. We need not know all the details of a pagan religion or worldly philosophy in order to refute it. Some Christians seem to know more about non-Christian theories than true Christian theology. Leave the detailed study to the experts and theologians.
Our job is primarily to know the Bible, for it is sufficient to enable us to believe and defend the truth 2 Tim. He fills the whole universe, but does not show Himself in His full manifestation except in Heaven. To us, He is invisible, inaudible and intangible. He conceals Himself. But He also reveals Himself. God is so great and far above us, that we would know nothing at all about Him unless He chose to show us Himself — and He has chosen to do just that I Cor. God has revealed some things about Himself, and left far more concealed.
His revelation includes truths about the universe, man, sin, and especially about God Himself. This revelation makes moral and ethical demands on us. Because only part is revealed, His revelation is often a paradox, a mystery, implying there is more to the facts. But it is never a lie or a contradiction. We may study His revelation, but may not pry into what is not revealed, such as the details of the future Matt. We know only in part, but will know far more when the revelation is full I Cor. God has been revealing Himself by stages and levels. Each one builds on the previous one.
This is working up to a climax. God does this in actual history, not in mythological saga or make-believe, as many Neo-orthodox liberals suggest. God also reveals Himself in various ways in different times and to different people. Similarly, when God sets out to save a person, He gradually gives him more light until he is saved, and then gives him progressive illumination and growth in knowledge. God reveals much about Himself in Nature.
All men everywhere have this revelation, and therefore are without excuse. Yet God does not reveal His special grace and salvation through Nature. All men know that God exists, but they do not know Him personally through Nature. God spoke or showed things to select people by dreams when they were asleep and visions when they were awake.
These were not natural dreams like we have, but supernatural dreams. Angels also delivered personal messages to these select people, who as prophets were to pass on the messages to other people.
God Revealed Himself through Theophanies. Examples: the Burning Bush Ex. Sinai, etc. These were more direct than the other means of revelation, but still were not final. There was also some sort of Theophany in Eden. God Revealed Himself Verbally in the Bible. The next highest form of revelation occurred when God not only spoke through these other means, but commissioned certain prophets and apostles to write certain words down. This is the Bible, the verbal revelation of God.
He gave us actual words. These are the very words of God Himself. Hence, the Bible frequently describes itself as the Word of God, the words of God, and similar terms. Some terms point out that this verbal revelation was written, not just spoken: the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Scriptures of Truth, etc. The fact that God reveals Himself verbally teaches us, among other things, that God is personal and not an abstract principle.
He speaks, therefore is wise. He speaks to us, therefore He cares. Human language is adequate for this level of revelation. God condescended to speak human language. It is through the Bible, not Nature, that we learn about salvation. This is how we know God personally. Special Revelation is superior to Natural Revelation, and is the means by which we correctly interpret Natural Revelation.
God no longer reveals Himself through dreams, visions, angels, prophets, Theophanies, or the direct voice from Heaven. Our job is to diligently study this lasting revelation. To know God better, we read, study, understand, believe and obey the Bible. Special Revelation has ceased, but the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible continues.
We call this Illumination, not Revelation. The light is on, but we need to have our eyes opened. This is how God now reveals Himself best. Jesus Christ is the Greatest Revelation of God. Jesus Himself often said that to see Him was to see God. To know Jesus is to know God. He is the greatest of all revelations, because Jesus is God Himself.
He is God in the flesh John He is the personal, living Word of God. This does not demean the value of the Bible, but fulfills it. Jesus is now in Heaven. We can pray to Him and love Him, even though we do not see or hear Him directly. We hear Him when we read His Bible. It still is. It is not a collection of merely human books I Thess. It is the Word of God already, whether we believe it or not. It is already perfect. In Biblical days, God spoke through prophets, dreams, visions and angels. But that has ceased. See Heb. The Bible continues as the only Word of God.
Similarly, preaching is not the Word of God. Preaching should be based on the Bible, but is not the same as the Bible. Also, the Bible is qualitatively different from every other book ever written. It alone is the Word of God. Even the books of the Apocrypha contain only human wisdom. The Bible is the Written Word of God. God was pleased to commit His Word to writing. It was inscripturated, or written down in human script.
The finger of God directly wrote the 10 Commandments Ex. God used the human authors of Scripture as His fingers to write the Bible. God did this so that we would have His Word in black and white, in a permanent form to read and study and consult.
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We need not depend on a series of priests who passed it on down the ages by word of mouth to be contaminated by fallible human memory. We have it in writing. It stands written. God did not breath something into the Bible; God breathed the Bible out of His own mouth. Jesus referred to this in Matt. God sent forth the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God John 3. He moved certain prophets and apostles so that they then put down in writing the exact words God wanted them to write. Technically, it is the Bible, not the writers, which is inspired.
Also, it is inspired because of its source, not its effect. It is divinely inspired regardless of whatever effect it has on us. All of the Bible is Inspired by God. Rather, the text says that all of the Scripture is inspired. This means that all parts are equally inspired. Ruth is as inspired as Romans, Joel as much as John. Therefore, it all carries divine authority and we should read all of it. All parts of it are profitable to our spiritual well-being. The Very Words of the Bible are Inspired. God breathed out specific words, not just vague ideas or feelings which the human authors were left to interpret and write down.
The Bible is verbally inspired. In Gal. God inspired the words of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. This does not refer to any translation into English or any other language. Still, the authority of the original language carries over to accurate translations. God Controlled the Writers of the B i ble. They did not simply sit down and decide to write the Bible. God chose who would do the writing, then He worked miraculously in them so that He controlled what they wrote. It was not left to the fallibility of humans. Some parts of the Bible were directly dictated by an audible voice e. In most cases, God moved in a deep and mysterious way on their hearts and minds in other ways, such as by dreams and visions.
They certainly knew that the words they wrote were not merely their own I Cor. God gave them the very words, not an-inner illumination of wisdom. Also, this special inspiration has ceased. What we need now is illumination to understand what has been inspired. The light is on; we need to have our eyes opened. Because of sin, the natural Man is incapable of understanding the true meaning of the Bible 1 Cor.