April 2006, Volume X,
Married to an Unbeliever (2)
There is another argument, not mentioned in the last News,
which is used by some professing Christians in favour of remarriage. "But when I
divorced, I was an unbeliever," they protest, or, "But when I remarried, I was
an unbeliever," as if their unbelief at that time enabled them to remarry while
their spouse is living. However, marriage is a creation ordinance; it is not a
sacrament, something only for the church. Marriage was in the world before the
fall and before the gathering of the church. Through this creation ordinance,
God makes two believers or two unbelievers or a believer and an unbeliever one
flesh. This is a vital point for professing Christians who are divorced and
remarried. Marriage is an unbreakable bond for believers and for unbelievers, as
a divine creation ordinance. Thus remarriage while your husband or wife is
living—whether or not you were a believer on the day of your remarriage—is
continuous adultery (Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:2-3). Thus
the Scriptures command all divorced people to "remain unmarried, or be
reconciled to [their spouse]" (I Cor. 7:11). Christ calls this making yourself a
eunuch "for the kingdom of heaven’s sake" (Matt. 19:12). The disciples, like
many today, staggered at this (10). Jesus responded, "All men cannot receive
this saying, save they to whom it is given … He that is able to receive it, let
him receive it" (11-12). God’s elect are "given" this grace and so are able to
"receive" "this saying." However, "All men cannot receive this saying," and so
they foolishly remarry and commit the sin of continuous adultery (Matt. 19:9;
Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:2-3).
I Corinthians 7:14 provides an additional consideration why a
Christian should not divorce his or her unbelieving spouse: "For the unbelieving
husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the
husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." That is, don’t
divorce your unbelieving spouse (12-13) for he or she is sanctified by you, the
believing spouse (14).
But what does "sanctified" mean here? Sanctified here does
not mean true, inward sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.
For the spouse is spoken of as "unbelieving" (14) and not saved (16). Sanctified
here does not mean either that the unbelieving spouse has more respect for the
Christian faith than most unbelievers. This may or may not be his or her
attitude, but it is not the meaning of "sanctified." Sanctified here does not
even mean that the unbelieving spouse is more likely to be saved than other
unbelievers. Humanly speaking, this may be the case, but the text says that the
unbelieving spouse "is sanctified," not "may well become (inwardly and
spiritually) sanctified" (in the future).
So what does it mean? It is obviously not full biblical
salvation, or even some partial salvation, for there is no such thing. The key
to the interpretation comes from the context. An unbeliever and a believer are
married to each other, so the question is: Is the unbeliever going to pollute
the believer? In the Old Testament ceremonial law, if that which is clean comes
into contact with that which is unclean, the clean does not make the unclean
clean. Instead, the unclean makes the clean unclean. Well, the unbeliever is
unclean, totally depraved, but he is joined in the most intimate union of
marriage with a believer, who is clean. Surely then this union makes the
believer unclean? Certainly in any other union or friendship with an unbeliever,
the believer is corrupted by the unbeliever. But in a marriage between a
believer and an unbeliever, the unbeliever is not unclean to the Christian
spouse. The child of God can live, eat, drink, commune, sleep and rear children
with his or her unbelieving spouse with a good conscience and not be defiled.
(Remember, I’m speaking of an already existing mixed marriage; I’m not saying
that believers should marry unbelievers .) The Christian must know that the
Triune God does not view his or her married life with an unbeliever as impure or
shameful. Jehovah approves of the believer’s continuing to live with his or her
unbelieving spouse in marriage. Thus a Christian must not divorce his or her
unbelieving spouse (12-13), "For the unbelieving [spouse] is sanctified by the
[believing spouse]" (14).
I Corinthians 7:16 supplies another consideration why a
Christian should not divorce his or her unbelieving spouse: "For what knowest
thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man,
whether thou shalt save thy wife?" You say, "We’ve been married for many years
and I’ve prayed so often, but my spouse is still not converted." God raised you
from the dead spiritually; He can do the same for your spouse. You don’t know
what it is God’s purpose to do, so don’t give up praying! God ordinarily uses
the godly life of the believing spouse to convert the unbelieving, but elect,
spouse (I Peter 3:1-2). So don’t give up hope! Pray and walk closely with the
Lord, for God may use your prayers and life to convert your husband or wife!
The Purpose of Creation (2)
In the last News, I began answering a reader’s
question, "Why did God bring the universe into being?" by affirming the truth of
the miracle of the creation of all things in heaven and on earth in six days of
twenty-four hours. I explained that the biblical and confessional doctrine of
creation was contrary to and a condemnation of all evolutionism. I also
explained that God’s purpose in creating all things was one purpose. That is,
God did not have one purpose in creating a perfect creation which purpose was
defeated by Adam’s fall, and another purpose which is a sort of rescue operation
to retrieve something of what Adam spoiled.
God’s eternal purpose was to glorify His own great and holy
name in the highest and best possible way. That purpose was begun in the
creation of the first paradise and is attained in the second paradise, when our
Lord Jesus Christ comes to make all things new (Luke 23:43; Rev. 2:7).
I pointed out in my last article that the theory of
evolutionism not only denies creation, but it also denies God’s providence.
God’s providence means that the God who created all things by the Word of His
mouth (Ps. 33:6) also continues to give each creature its existence by the same
Word, which He continues to speak (Ps. 29:3-9). Providence means that God
sovereignly controls all creatures, including angels, devils and men (righteous
and wicked) so that His purpose is realized in all things He has made.
All this means that God’s purpose from the very beginning of
His work of creation was to glorify Himself in Christ Jesus. But just as soon as
one says, "Christ Jesus," one also says, "the church;" for there is no Christ
Jesus without the church and there is no church without Christ Jesus. This is
Paul’s point in the entire books of Ephesians and Colossians. "Blessed be the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual
blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him
before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:3-4). "By [Christ] were all things
created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth ... and he is the head of the
body, the church" (Col. 1:16, 18).
So God already had Christ and His church, redeemed in
Christ’s blood, in mind when He spoke those first words, "Let there be light"
There are many evidences of this in Scripture found in the
nature of the creation. The whole area in which Adam and Eve lived was formed by
God after the same pattern as was commanded in the building of the tabernacle
and the temple, which were pictures of Christ (John 2:18-22). The outer court of
the temple was pictured in the land of Eden; the inner sanctuary was pictured in
the garden of paradise to the east of Eden; and the most holy place was pictured
in the tree of life, at the foot of which God met with Adam in covenant
God created the heavenly lights on the fourth day, and, we
are told, God created them for "signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years"
(Gen. 1:14). Yet, in fact, seasons were not created until during or after the
flood (Gen. 8:22). A sign is an earthly creature or event which signifies a
heavenly reality, something which could not be true until after the fall. For
this reason, Malachi calls Christ "the Sun of righteousness" who arises "with
healing in his wings" (Mal. 4:2).
From another point of view, God created many creatures in
such a way that the fall was anticipated. Carnivorous animals were created with
jaws and digestive systems formed to eat meat, even though before the fall there
was no death. Man himself was created with an immune system, which he did not
need prior to the fall. Hence, when God "saw every thing that he had made, and,
behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31), God did not merely mean that He found the
creation morally perfect and free from sin and the curse. This was obvious. But
He means that He saw all things He had made as perfectly adapted to the purpose
for which He had created all things: to glorify His great name through
redemption in Christ.
God is sovereign in all He does. Nothing happens outside His
will. All things come to pass by His determination and according to His purpose.
We may, therefore, describe the original creation in its relation to all history
and the world to come as the creation of the stage on which would be enacted the
great drama of sin and grace, election and reprobation, salvation in Christ and
damnation—all in order that God’s great glory might be revealed. Why did God
create all things? Creation was the building of the stage on which would be
enacted the great drama of God’s purpose attained in Christ.
There is more to this whole question, however. Colossians
1:20 points us in yet another direction: "having made peace through the blood of
his cross, by him [Christ] to reconcile all things unto himself [God]; by him
[Christ], I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
This text, which speaks of reconciliation through the cross
of Christ, speaks of that reconciliation in terms of "all things." And then, as
if the apostle wanted us to be sure that he had not misspoken himself, he
repeats, "by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
It is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that the text refers to
the great act of reconciliation including both heaven and earth.
We are not accustomed to thinking of God’s work of salvation,
of which reconciliation is a part, in terms of embracing both heaven and earth,
but the Scriptures very emphatically point us in that direction, even speaking
of the end of all things in the coming of Christ resulting in "a new heaven and
a new earth," which takes the place of "the first heaven and the first earth"
which "were passed away" (Rev. 21:1). We must say more about this in a later
article. Prof. H. Hanko
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