Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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July 2007 • Volume XI, Issue 15


The Cares of Marriage (2)

From our discussion of the cares of marriage (I Cor. 7:32-35) in the last News, you can see how some married Christian men let their spiritual lives go. Through being too busy (!), they neglect Scripture reading and private prayer. Or, wife and family begin to take the first place in their lives and not the Triune God, our creator, redeemer and judge. Repent and return to the cross of Christ for mercy!

Thus we see too the naivety of some single men who think that marriage is the solution to all their problems. Yes, it is the God-ordained way of dealing with sexual burning (9). Yes, she will bring companionship and help in the home. But marriage is not the universal cure, for marriage also brings its own cares (33).

The truth of increased cares in marriage also holds for married women: "she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband" (34). Think of the many things wives do to care for and please their husbands: cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, looking after the home (Titus 2:5), etc. Then there is looking after the children—with loss of sleep, nappies and all the rest. Just read Proverbs 31:10-31 for the many labours of a faithful wife!

Thus her attentions are divided: pleasing the Triune God and pleasing her husband. She may (wrongly) come to view herself, solely, as the "help meet" for her husband (Gen. 2:18) and not, centrally, as the handmaiden of the Lord.

In this way, she may begin to slide spiritually. She neglects her private devotions. Faith, hope and love start to decay. She thinks only of her earthly vocation: her husband, the home, their children, etc. Thus she becomes earthly-minded, considering only this present age and not the things that are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-2).

Moreover, if her husband and head is not walking closely with the Lord, she too will suffer spiritually. Maybe, he introduces her to worldly friends or he begins to adopt loose views on biblical doctrines and personal godliness. This, ordinarily, will have serious adverse effects on a Christian wife.

The cares of wives and husbands are necessarily involved in marriage in this world. The husband has to give attention to his wife and family; if he does not he is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). The Christian wife is commanded to be an help meet for her husband (Gen. 2:18). But these necessary cares plus our depravity often result in sinful cares and anxieties. You may let yourself become "worried sick" about your spouse, your job, your house, and your children and their future. This terrible anxiety is a real temptation, especially to married believers.

The answer to such cares is, of course, not divorce (I Cor. 7:10-11, 39). Instead, you must repent and focus on Jesus Christ. Care for your spouse (and any children gives you), not only to please him or her, but chiefly to please the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you. Do not let your private devotions slip. Read the Word daily and pour out your heart to God: "Be careful [or anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6).

So what ought a single Christian do: marry or remain single? This is the question the apostle is addressing: "Now concerning virgins …" (I Cor. 7:25). In verses 25-35, Paul gives three reasons why singleness is preferable: there are distress and trouble in marriage (25-28), marriage passes away (29-31) and there are cares in marriage (32-35). The apostle would rather believers were "without carefulness" (32) and free to "attend upon the Lord without distraction" (35). Thus the single life is "comely" (35)—attractive, fitting and good for a Christian—and for our "profit" (35). But this is not intended to be a "snare" (35) or a noose around our neck, for it is not the case that all Christians have to remain single!

And there are things to be said in favour of marriage. Those who burn (9) and do not have the "gift" of sexual self-control (7) should marry. This is not merely advice; this is a command: "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn" (9). The two main purposes and advantages of marriage are companionship (Gen. 2:18; Mal. 2:14) and children (Ps. 127:3-5; 128:3-6). Two people sharing their lives, as a picture of Christ and His bride (Eph. 5:22-33), and bringing forth a "godly seed" for the next generation of the church (Mal. 2:15)—what a marvellous thing! No wonder Solomon declared, "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord" (Prov. 18:22)!

Two final points for the single Christian. First, if you want to marry, seek a spiritual spouse! This will take the sting out of many of the difficulties of marriage and it will multiply its blessings. Second, be content in your singleness. It is not a bad state; it is a "good" one (I Cor. 7:1, 8). Use it to glorify God … even if you are seeking a godly spouse.

Next time, DV, we will consider "Virgins and Widows" (36-40), the last section in I Corinthians 7 on Christian singleness and marriage. Rev. Stewart

The Everlasting Destruction of Death and Hell (2)

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever ... And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Rev. 20:10, 13-14).

One of our readers wrote, "Revelation 20:10 says the devil and the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire where they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Verse 14 says that death and hades are thrown into the lake of fire, and [the verse] describes this as the second death. Does this mean that hell is temporary? Please explain what seems to be a contradiction and what the second death means."

In the last News, we began a discussion of these verses, and pointed out that the entire passage, Revelation 20:10-15, speaks of the final judgment at the end of the world when Christ comes again. Because that final judgment is for the purpose of the theodicy—the full justification of the sovereign God in all His works throughout all history—all rational and moral creatures who ever lived must be present for their works to be judged. The text describes this in vivid fashion.

We face two questions: What is the final end of all those who are judged? And, what is the meaning of the "second death" (20:14)?

As far as the first question is concerned, the passage itself answers the question graphically. The wicked shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever (10, 14-15). The reference is, without doubt, to hell itself.

Punishment in hell is terrible, for it is continuous torment without any end; without any surcease, any light at the end of the tunnel, any hope of relief. People suffer dreadfully sometimes, even in this world, but the one ray of hope is that suffering comes to an end, either by recovery or by death itself. But hell is the full horror of the wrath of God—without end! It is so terrible to contemplate that much of the church world, including some prominent evangelicals, has denied the existence of hell. But a denial of the existence of hell is really a denial of the holiness of God. God is so supremely holy and good that all sin is against His divine majesty and holiness, and the only punishment for a sin so great is everlasting torment in hell.

The everlasting blessedness of the righteous is described in Revelation 21 and 22, but already in Revelation 20:12 it is mentioned that "another book was opened, which is the book of life." The book of life is God’s eternal and unchangeable decree of election, listing all those predestinated in Christ.

The second question has to do with the phrase "the second death." It is found in verse 14: "And death and hell [i.e., hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

When the first part of the text speaks of death and hades being cast into the lake of fire, Scripture uses a figure of speech, called synecdoche. It is a literary figure in which the whole is used for a part, the part for the whole, or a container for the thing contained. Here it is the last one. Death and hades refers to all those in the state of death between physical death and the resurrection.

It should be mentioned here that all who ever lived, wicked and righteous, shall be raised just prior to the judgment. Only those who are alive at Christ’s coming will not be raised, although the righteous will be changed (I Cor. 15:51-52). All who have died shall be raised, but the wicked shall be raised unto damnation and the righteous unto eternal life. That is, their bodies will be raised for existence in hell or for life in glory (John 5:29).

The second death, spoken of in Revelation 20:14, implies a first death. That first death took place in paradise with the fall of Adam. When Adam (and in him, the whole human race) sinned, he was punished with death, as God had said. He died both physically and spiritually. His spiritual death was total depravity; his physical death was the beginning of being driven out of God’s world. God, justly, said to man, "If you do not serve the purpose in my creation for which I created you, then you will be driven out of the creation by death, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." This is the first death. But to be driven out of God’s creation is to go to the grave and hades. Thus the grave and hades (a place of conscious torment for the impenitent) are the gateway to hell. The second death is eternal hell itself, the final punishment of the wicked who sinned against God.

Scripture speaks in an analogous fashion concerning the righteous. In Revelation 20:5, the state of glory described in verse 4 is said to be the "first resurrection." The first resurrection begins in the wonder work of regeneration when we who are totally depraved and dead in trespasses and sins are now made alive with the life of Christ’s resurrection (I Peter 1:3; Eph. 5:14). It includes the new house made without hands in heaven at the moment of the dissolution of the earthly house of this tabernacle (II Cor. 5:1). The second resurrection is the final resurrection of our bodies, when we shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

I mentioned before, and repeat it now as we close: The final resurrection and judgment is something so blessed that we may look forward to it with eagerness. We have nothing to fear in the cross of our Saviour. Prof. Hanko

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