1 Timothy 6:3-10 Life in the Local Church: Sound Doctrine Produces Contentment

1 Timothy 6:3-10
Life in the Local Church
Sound Doctrine Produces Contentment

Good Morning. Please turn in your Bibles with me to 1 Timothy chapter 6. I know most of you do, but I want to stress how important it is for you to have your Bible, to read the passages we look at for yourself and to follow along in the translation that you read, hopefully, each and every day. As a reminder, if you do not own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table, as our gift.
We are continuing through our series through 1 & 2 Timothy titled, “Life in the Local Church.” If all goes according o plan, this series should take us right up to Easter. We will, of course, be taking a break next week for Christmas, but then we should get right back into things.
But, back to this week. I made a brief reference to it last week, but we are going to start out with the last few words of verse 2. In the Bibles I’ve looked at, both physical and online, the last line of verse 2 is always set away from the rest of the verse. Just another reminder that the words of the Bible are inspired, inerrant, without error and the very Words of God, but the verse and chapter number are not. They were added many, many years later.
So, we will go ahead and read this week’s passage, 1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 3 through 10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and as I said, please follow along in your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 6:3-10, Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, communicating the very Word of God, writes:
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound[b] words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

May God Bless the reading of his Word.
So, Paul here urges Timothy, Teach and Urge these things. What things? As he is about to reveal, the things that we need to be reminded of and taught and urged on in are sound doctrine, the pure Gospel, right living.
In essence, it is all a culmination of all the things that Paul has been teaching Timothy. “All those things I’ve taught you, teach and urge to the church in Ephesus as well.” They are good and right.
And these things contrast with what the false teachers have been teaching, poisoning the minds and the souls of those who are listening to them. This is will be the last point in this letter that Paul deals with false teachers and their false teachings. But deal with them he must.
And Paul makes the point that False teachers disagree with the Bible and what it says. They disagree with Jesus and what he says. They disagree with the sound teachings of all that go with what Jesus and the Bible say. False teachers are exactly that, they are false teachers because they teach against the truth. They teach against sound doctrine.
They claim to have new, secret, personal revelations and teachings. That should be the first warning sign. A big red flare shot up into the sky. If someone claims to have a new teaching, something that no one has ever noticed before, or no one has taught before, or discovered some new hidden mystery, then I can practically guarantee it will not be sound teaching and it will not be from God.
Let me put it like this. My job is not to be creative. I should have nothing new to say, ever. I should be saying the same thing that Paul said, the same thing that timothy taught, the same thing that the Apostles preached. I should only be regurgitating the Words of Jesus, which are the Words of God, which is the Bible.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:22-23) That’s it. I am here to preach what is already given to us, the Word of God. I am here to preach Christ crucified. There is nothing new under the Sun. There is no new Truth, but there is also no new heresy. The same things that false teachers were teaching back in the first century, that Paul is addressing here, are the same things that we need to be aware of, that we need to be on the lookout for, and that we need to combat against.
Paul says here that one who falls into this category of false teacher, and those who follow them, by inference, are conceited and know nothing. They sound smart with all this new, secret revelation and the way they speak makes it sound like they really know what they are talking about. They are almost always smooth, polished, charismatic speakers.
We do not need to be gifted speakers in order to be faithful preachers of the truth. I am certainly not a gifted speaker. Paul admits in 2 Corinthians 11 that he also is not as good of a speaker as some of those smooth, polished talkers spouting lies. But what Paul had, what I try to keep, is the truth directly from Gods Word.
Paul shows that these teachers have a craving for controversy and love to quarrel over words. We have talked often about what we call “Closed handed,” and “Open handed” issues. Open handed issues are the things that we don’t have to agree on. They are the things that we can hold close and hold on to tightly, but when we disagree, we don’t have to let that get in the way of us worshipping the one true God. Close handed issues are the things that make us Christians. Closed handed issues are the Gospel, they are the salvation issues. These are the things that we will fight over and we will break fellowship over. These are things like the deity and humanity of Christ. Like the physical, literal death and resurrection of Jesus. Like the fact that he is coming again and will judge the living and the dead.
False teachers crave controversy and quarrel over words, and they will elevate secondary issues to primary issues and divide over these secondary things. They will also devalue primary, closed handed issues and will \openly and often partner with and worship with those who deny Christ, or believe differently regarding Christ death and resurrection or the fact that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
They will almost always claim to be more in tune with God, where they are the ones who are loving, a truer sense of who God is and how he judges, or doesn’t judge, as the case may be. They will continually get things 100% backwards. God doesn’t judge what the Bible calls sin. He loves and accepts our sins, and in fact, they are not even sins. That’s language that unloving, intolerant people use who have co-opted God for their own personal gain. Gods judgment is instead reserved for those who follow and live by what the Bible says, as opposed to what these teachers claim the Bible actually means.
Paul lists actions, qualities and mindsets that come from these teachings. envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
This is the fruit that accompanies false teaching. Personal ungodliness. Thinking that they are becoming godly. And that godliness is supposed to lead them to personal gain. We will get to that in a few moments. Paul, of course point out that godliness with contentment is great gain.
What plays out time and time again, sound doctrine, true biblical teaching, teaching that accords with godliness, this leads to a transformed life. The Spirit of God flow through us and produces fruit that aligns with the teachings of Jesus. Sanctification, that starts at the moment of salvation, or justification, and continues through our natural physical life. Thats what happens when we follow Christ and when we listen to actual, true, biblical teaching.
Funnily enough, well, sad, more than funny, this is what false teachers promise their followers. Promises that will always go undelivered. Instead we see those things Paul listed here. We see apathy and we see unchanged lives, at least unchanged for the better. No repentance needed! Keep living in your same lifestyle, with your same values, and the same motivations and the same priorities.
Of course, God calls us to die to ourselves, calling us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) He tells us to leave our old selves behind. He says that we both literally and figuratively have an entirely new heart, turned from stone to flesh. Encountering God, the Father, believing in God the Son, being changed by God the Holy Spirit will transform your life. You can’t believe in Christ, the true biblical Christ, truly God and truly man, died for our sins, resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven, you can’t believe in him and not be changed by it. It is literally, physically impossible.
Paul emphasizes that godliness with contentment is great gain indeed. We know that we have every reason to be content. Our natural human nature is to worry, to be anxious, to want to be comfortable enough that we don’t have to worry or stress about money, food, shelter, all those things we need in life, let alone all the things we want.
Jesus addresses this directly in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, telling his audience,
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
We can spend a lot of time worrying and being anxious or we can trust that God is going to take care of us and that He has and will provide exactly what we need. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan and work, or that things will always be comfortable, but he will provide what He knows we need, as opposed to what we think we need.
Again, the point is not for us to kick back, neglect working and take everything for granted. The point is that, as Paul points out in the next few verses, is that we are not in control. God is. We brought nothing into this world, and we cannot bring anything out of it.
WE are told to work hard and to provide for our families, we look a little at that a few weeks ago. Work was a part of life in the Garden of Eden before the fall. We were created to work. We are created to follow what God tells us to do. But God is the one in control.
I don’t know how many of you here have been fired or laid off from a job. I have, and ultimately it happens for one of two reasons. It could happen because of something you did, something in your control. Or it could happen because of something out of your control, something that has nothing to do with you. But we also see that people do fire able things all the time and keep their jobs. And people get laid off when it doesn’t always make any sense or seem to be fair. Ultimately God is the one who determines if we have that job or a different one and therefore if we can provide for our needs.
Remember that the Bible does not say that God helps those who helps themselves. It is so very easy for us to start by genuinely trying to take care of ourselves, our family, our friends. And that, without contentment, can so easily grow into greed, discontentment, envy and so much more.
I didn’t realize before writing this sermon that I would be quoting from Matthew 6 so much, but it fits with the text this morning. Here Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus tells us:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When we get too focused on the here and now, about not trusting God, about hoarding and acquiring more than we could ever need, it is either because we have taken our eyes off God or it will cause us quickly to take our eyes off God.
And yet, all our needs being met, it is not because of us, but it is because of the grace of God. It is because he is Good, he is Holy and He loves and cares for his creation, of which we are at the top. Godliness with contentment produces great gain.
But false teachers teach that godliness is a means to gain. Godliness is a way, a method, a tool in order to gain material wealth, or physical health or stature and influence and power.
Verses 9 & 10 take these teachers to task. Here’s the bottom line though. If your goal and your desire, if your top priority is to be rich or whatever, you will do whatever it takes to get there. You wont always get there, but you will make that your focus and nothing else will matter. Any goal, if we want it bad enough, we will do whatever it takes to get there. That goal is the master that you will be serving.
Again, Jesus in Matthew 6, this time in verse 24, No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[f]
The idea is that we will submit to and serve whatever is most important to us. Some if those things are hard to see, both from those around us and for ourselves personally. Others are easier to see. Addiction is a word that is usually reserved for drugs, alcohol and the like. And it is an accurate and proper word to use there. When drugs, alcohol and the like become our most important thing, that is exactly what we submit to and exactly what we serve. Those are easier to see. Money, health, material possessions are usually more difficult to see. But when those are the most important things, they are exactly what we will be serving and submitting to.
Paul gives us one of his most famous lines here in verse 10 and one of his most misquoted lines when he says that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
This is usually repeated as “Money is the root of all evil.” And its usually taken to point out that money itself is evil and any wealth at all is wrong. Anybody with any money has obviously gotten it through ill gotten means. But we know that’s not always true.
The Scriptures show us that there are righteous and unrighteous poor and there are righteous and unrighteous rich people. Having money does not make you unrighteous in and of itself. It is the love of money, and as we just addressed, whether its your priority and whether you submit to and serve money above anything else, especially and specifically God.
Paul says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Now, the same word can mean different things, especially based on the context and the emphasis. All kinds of evil. The common assumption I’ve seen is that this means that all means every evil. The Love of money is the root of every evil. And I suppose that’s a valid option.
But it appears to me, that the emphasis there is wrong. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. Less ALL kinds of evil, and more all KINDS of evil.
And its true, the love of money is the root of much evil, I’m sure we can agree with that. The love of money is the reason that many solid believers, otherwise sound Bible teachers, and biblical preachers drift away from what Paul mentioned earlier; sound doctrine, solid theology, the right, pure Gospel.

Money, power, influence, all leading to greed. This is what takes away our love of God. Those are what take our eyes off God. And it puts our love onto those other things. It puts our eyes onto money, power, influence. What ever is most important to us, that’s what we will serve.
Greed is a mighty powerful, often subtle master that will destroy you. When we serve anything other than God the Father, we ignore the truth the words of Christ, the words of the Bible, the very Word of God. That’s rarely a conscious choice that we make, to choose something over and instead of God. But it always is and needs to be a conscious decision to stay focused, to return our focus to and to keep our eyes and our affections on God.
The Israelites wandering in the desert had a hard time keeping their focus, attention and affection on the God that just rescued them from slavery under the tyrant Pharaoh in Egypt. So, Joshua had to call them out, and give them a pep talk. Joshua 24:14 & 15:
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Let’s Pray.

Malachi 2:10-16 Gods Covenant and the Marriage Covenan

Malachi 2:10-16

Gods Covenant and the Marriage Covenant

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Malachi, chapter 2. As always, if you do not have or own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.

This week we are looking at a much smaller chunk of the Malachi than we have over the last two weeks. Malachi was written during, but towards the end of the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. We see some of the same issues pop up here in Malachi has Ezra and Nehemiah addressed in their books.

And this section today was written because Israel was failing to follow what God had made clear to them regarding marriage. They have been breaking Gods commands in to explicit ways. First, we will look at in verses 10-12, they have been taking women for wives that had been off limits to them. Second, in verses 13-16, that had been divorcing their wives, against what God had been telling them.

But we are also going to look at the relationship between Gods covenant with his people, those who belong to him, those whom have been saved by grace, through faith, and the covenant of marriage that God has given to mankind as a gift and as a way to see His goodness and His love. Now, this is not your typical sermon on marriage. This is not 7 ways to have a great Marriage or anything like that. This is about God, his love, his covenant with his bride, his people, the church, you and I.

So, now we are going to go ahead and read our passage for this week, Malachi 2:10-16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Malachi, chapter 2, verses 10- 16. God, speaking through his prophet, says:

 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant[e] of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord‘s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?[f] And what was the one God[g] seeking?[h] Godly offspring. So guard yourselves[i] in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,[j] says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers[k] his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

All right, so we start off, brieflyy, with something so simple, yet so foundational that it needs to be repeated and retaught and reminded of time and time again. God is our Father. He is the Father of All Believers, He is the creator of all, If you are not a believer, a Christian, you are not considered a child of God because you are not an heir to the Kingdom, a co heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)

And as our Father, he is faithful in his Word to all. He has establish a covenant with his Children, summarized and represented by Israel in the Old Testament and summarized and represented by the Church in the New Testament. He has established a covenant of grace, by which he saves his children, offers forgiveness of their sins. He works in us to change us from death to life and to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

And as we see throughout the scriptures and throughout history, God gives us ways to see greater truths. He has given us examples, types and shadows to help us better understand Gods truths. In this case, we see that God gave us the gift of marriage, in part, to help us understand and to see Gods covenant with us. He has given us this gift to help us relate to it and as an example to follow.

I want to touch on real quick, some of the difficulties we have when we read through the Old Testament. I think we can all be honest here right? The Old Testament is not as easy to read through and apply accurately as the New Testament. We tend to make one of two mistakes, or sometimes both actually.

The first tendency we can fall into is that we can over spiritualize what we are reading. We remove the historical reality of the stories in the Old Testament. We forget that these were real live people, in real live circumstances. Nothing has context and the only meaning of the text is allegorical for today, for modern day believers. It ends up being less, “What does Gods Word say?” and more, “What is God revealing to me individually, for my individual life?”

The second mistake we make, the second tendency we fall into is the over moralizing of the text. It puts the context back, but removes God as its author in this sense. It has no types, shadows or looking forward to Jesus Christ or the Church, but is essentially a guide book, a bunch of examples of good and bad, of right and wrong. It ignores the fact that the Bible is one unified book, with one unified story, the story of Gods redemption plan of us. It ignores that God has been pointing toward the coming Messiah and Savior since the beginning of the Bible, with the first prophecy of Jesus being in Genesis 3.

Both of those, on their own are wrong. The Old Testament is both of those and it is so much more than that. These are real, literal people, in real, literal events. The Old Testament is God telling a story, His Story, through real life history, The people and the stories are just as real as you and I sitting here.

And so our challenge is, as we read through the sections of the Old testament is to balance those two things, not  over spiritualize it and to not over moralize it, but to read the Truth of Gods Word and to pull out what God has intended to share with us.

One of the biggest themes in Malachi, one of the biggest things He has intended to communicate with us is showing how Israel has broken the covenant that was established between God and Israel. And as God is pointing this out to them, he is reminding them of who He is. In Malachi 1:2, He makes it clear,  I have loved you,” says the Lord. He has loved them and has been faithful and He has kept His end of the covenant. He is a God of His Word.

But in Malachi 2, verses 10-12, we see that Israel has broken their end of the covenant. You dont have to read much of the Old Testament to Israel breaking their covenant one way or another. In this instance, Israel breaks their Covenant with the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God if Israel, the God of the Bible, they break their covenant by marrying foreign women.

Now, to clarify what the issue is here, we can point to most obviously the book of Ruth to see that it is not simply the fact that these foreign women were born somewhere outside of Israel that is the issue. This is not about nationality, ethnicity or anything else like that. What the issue here is that the women that the Israelites were marrying were worshipping foreign gods. They were not within, but were outside of the covenant with God. They were not following or worshipping the True God of Israel.

We are reminded that Malachi was a later contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. Coing at the end of their ministries, Malachi has seen what Ezra and Nehemiah have had to deal with. We saw specifically, but not limited to Ezra 9 & 10, and in Nehemiah 13 that they too had to deal with the Jewish exiles returning to Jerusalem with foreign wives and marrying foreign wives once they have returned as well.

Some of them had multiple wives as well. We see that this unbiblical practice went all the way back to Genesis 4. Genesis 4:19, it records that Lamech took two wives, the first instance of polygamy in the Bible. Unfortunately, it would not be the last, as we see even otherwise Godly men such as Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon having multiple, and in some cases, many wives.

As we bring these things together, I want to read the first few verses of the 10 commandments as recorded in Exodus chapter 20. Verses 1-3 read:

 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

There is One, True God, and there is only One True God. God created marriage to mirror this point, that we are to marry one person, and only one person. One man, one woman. And that we are intended to marry only someone who worships the One True God, as we do.

This principal continues on and is shown that it applies to us today by showing up in the New Testament as well. We see this in 2 Corinthians 6:14, where Paul writes: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. And while thats not the limit for what it means, this is, in part, referring to having the same spiritual views as the one that we will marry.

RC Sproul gives us some insight as to why, saying, “Intimacy at its deepest dimension is impossible when the partners are not united in faith.”

Our faith should be the foundation of your entire identity. It should the foundation of who you are. And if you dont and/or cant share that with your spouse then you wont be able to have the deepest connection that God has desired for you.

And in this, we see the parallels between Gods covenant and relationship with us and with the covenant and intention of marriage. God doesnt want us to have a casual relationship with him. He doesnt want us to like him. He doesnt want us to come to him only when its convenient or when we are in trouble. He wants all of us all the time. And thats how we are supposed to be with our spouses as well.

Now, does this mean that two non believers cant be married and have a happy, a faithful, and a long lasting marriage? Does that mean that a believer and a non believer cant be married and have a happy, faithful, and long lasting marriage? Of Course not! As many of you can attest, either personally or by those who are close to you, family, friends and the like.

We see all around us, through Gods common grace, that people can have a happy, successful marriage without both being completely and solely focused on Christ. But its not how God intended it. Just like if Someone says they are a Christian, but never reads their Bible. The intimacy in the relationship will never be able to be as deep and as complete as its supposed to be.

And so we worship One God, the True God and we are intended to become one with someone we can share that worship with. Now, scripture also addresses how to respond if we find ourselves in a situation which was not the intended ideal. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, starting in the middle of verse 12:

if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

If you are married, you are married. Dont throw away what you have to try and go back in time. God uses all things for good, more specifically, for his glory. Romans 8:28 Paul says here that we are never to give up hope that an unbelieving spouse may come to know the LORD, whether partly or mostly from our lives we are living, loving and living with them, modeling the love of Christ and the dedication to Christ that we are to have.

God hates divorce. We are to worship only the One True God and we are to marry one our one spouse. One God enters into a covenant with us and we are to enter into a covenant with only one partner. Gods covenant is never ending. The Jesus storybook Bible calls it an Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

Once we are in covenant with Him, we are sealed into that covenant with the Holy Spirit. That covenant is salvation. Salvation from the consequences of our sin, from the failure to keep our end of the covenant, from failing to live up to the perfect and Holy Standard that One true and perfect God has set. That salvation is by grace alone. The vehicle that grace is poured out is by faith alone. The object of that faith is in Jesus Christ alone.

Once the Holy Spirit has sealed us in the covenant with God, it is forever. It is unbreakable and it is permanent. In the same way, as a shadow of that covenant, our marriage covenants are intended to be unending, unbroken and full of grace being given to sinners.

Romans 5:8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And we see teachings and directions about how to model that love to our spouses. One such example is Ephesians 5:22-33:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Again, we see that Marriage was an incredible gift that God has given to us. In Genesis 2:24, God says:  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh Men, you and your wife are one flesh. Women, you and your husband are one flesh. We are to love and serve each other in the manner that Christ has loved and served us.

You may have often heard that marriage is designed not to make us happy, but to make us Holy. And that is true, and its true because marriage is designed to help us to see God more clearly. It is designed for us lean on God more intensely, more dependently, because those things Paul just listed in Ephesians 5, we cant do those with out the help of God. Marriage is designed to remind us of Gods love, his service and his sacrifice.

Marriage is designed to be the human equivalent of the covenant that God has established with his people, his church, his bride. Exodus 34:6 & 7 is one of my favorite parts where God speaks his covenant, saying to Moses:

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,

Marriage is not always easy. Fights will take place. Arguments, disagreements, misunderstandings… Both parties of a marriage are still sinners and they are now thrown in super close proximity to each other. Those faults and sins will manifest themselves and often.

With God, only one side is sinful. Thats our side. Our sin will manifest itself and often. We will misunderstand God. We will argue with God. We will walk away or puch him away. But he will never leave. He will never forsake us. He will never abandon or break his covenant with us and that deserves our full and everlasting praise and thanks.

I also love the way that John Piper sums up this passage, writing:

He is the God of Israel. The fellowship may be broken. There may be exile and separation. There may be anger and tears. But when whole story is told, the sum of the matter is Isaiah 54:4–8:

Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.

God will never nullify his marriage to the elect. Christ will never forsake his bride, the church. He is a covenant maker and a covenant keeper. And that is the meaning of marriage.

Lets Pray

Mark 4:1-20 The Soils and Seeds (VBS follow up)

Mark 4:1-20

The Parable of the Sower

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the table in the back as our gift to you. Our joy and our prayer is for each and every person to have one.

Now, I said open up to Mark chapter 4, that’s not Romans chapter 8! No, we are taking a 1 week break from Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome and we are going to look at a passage in Marks Gospel.

This past week, as you can see by the decorations that are up, and the pictures that showed before the service, we held Operation Arctic!, our Vacation bible School. The theme and the lessons were exploring the Bible, the coolest Book on the planet. The purpose for doing this is to share the Gospel, the truth and the Good News with children in our community. We were doing our job, the job that God gave us, both as individual believers and as a church body. Right now, I want you to raise your hand if you were at all involved in VBS. That means attended, volunteered, donated, helped set up, or prayed for VBS. Look at how many hands are up.

As I was getting ready for this week, I was reflecting through the work that was going to be done and praying about the results to come. And It took me back to Marks Gospel.

Marks Gospel is a gospel of action, of movement. So now, when he slows down to look at chunks of Jesus teachings, it should be noteworthy.

Now, Marks Gospel is not necessarily in chronological order. However, some scholars estimate that the first three chapters of Marks Gospel take up a year and a half of his ministry. But here Mark slows down and shares some of Jesus teachings, of which Mark admits that these are still just a sampling. We will be looking at the first parable Mark has Jesus sharing, the Parable of the Sower. Over all we will be looking at Mark 4:1-20, but we are going to be breaking it up into sections.

First, I will read Mark 4:1 & the beginning of Verse 2:

 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables

When I talk to people that have gone over and done tours of Israel, that always tell some of the same stories. One of them is about demonstrations of the unique acoustics that are at play over there. Different hills and rocks and such cause such natural amphitheaters, allowing Jesus to sit on a hill and speak to thousands and have all of them hear him.

Water also makes sound carry. Jesus is being surrounded and pushed back everywhere he stops and here, he finally gets in a boat, gets a little off shore and speaks to those on the shore. The natural amphitheaters and the water allowing the sound to carry allowed this to take place.

Think about that for a moment, there’s more there than meets the eye. God could have chosen any where on Earth for civilization to pop up. Could have chosen anywhere For Israel to be given their piece of Land, anywhere for the Roman Empire to spread to and anywhere for Jesus to be born in and minister to. He also could have caused Jesus’ voice to supernaturally carry and boom so that thousands could here Jesus’ words. Instead he choose this piece of land, where the acoustics provide natural amplification and allowed Jesus words to be heard with out supernatural help, at least volume wise.

And so Jesus did address the crowd. He went in the boat to give himself some room, but he stood and he started teaching. Picking back up with v 2, Jesus relays the following parable:

and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty fold and sixty fold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

So this is maybe one of the more famous parables that Jesus tells. It appears in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels and really kicks off a series of parables here in Marks Gospel. I want to make sure we really look at this and the explanation that Jesus will be giving because there is a lot going on here.

So he starts off with the sower going out to sow some seed. When he does this, there are 4 results that Jesus shares. First, some of the seed was sown on a path, where the ground is hard. The seed is unable to get into the ground and just ends up sitting on top of the soil and being eaten by the birds.

Next, the seed falls on rocky ground. There is some soil there, the seed sprouts quickly, shoots up fast, but has very shallow roots, no foundation. So when the sun comes out it gets scorched and withers and dries out very quickly.

Third, The seed falls among weeds and thorns. It starts to grow there, but the weeds do what weeds due and chokes out the good seed, so that it doesn’t produce any harvest or grain.

So these were the first three of the four that Jesus told us about. Notice that, despite initial outward appearances, none of these three end up yielding positive results. That’s going to end up in a pretty low success percentage. But Jesus is not done and he gives one more example.

Fourthly, the seed is sown onto good soil. It produces grain and yields a harvest that increases its yield. It increases as much as 30 times, 60 times and 100 times.

Jesus lays out these 4 scenarios and then he says something odd. He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you?

When you are teaching someone, when you are talking to someone, do you usually say things like that? Don’t all ears hear? Shouldn’t all ears hear? Jesus is going to explain that and the meaning of the parable next.

First the reason for parables and meaning of his words. Mark continue on in v 10,

 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

When Jesus taught to the public, he taught in parables. He did this on purpose because once he was with his disciples, often when he was with the Twelve, he would then explain the parables and some of the disciples might even understand them.

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah here. The context of that passage in Isaiah is interesting. Its in Isaiah 6, and God asks, whom should I send , who will go for us? Now the use of the word, “us” is a different point for a different time, but Isaiah responds and says, “Send me, Ill go!”

Here is what God tells him his message to the people will be. Isaiah 6, verses 9&10:

Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,[c] but do not understand;
keep on seeing,[d] but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[e]

and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

I then read the study notes for this section and it helps connect what Jesus is saying and what God is saying to Isaiah.

My Bibles study notes say this: The proclamation of the Word is paradoxical in its effect. The prophetic word closes the way of God to those who are rebellious, proud and hypocritical, but opens it to the deaf, the blind, the humble and the poor.

That’s what we see the teachings of Jesus showing us. The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. We often see the disciples not understanding even after Jesus explains it to them.

But Jesus says here that they will make sense to those who are in the know. To those who are not in the know, no matter how clear you make it, they will not understand. To those who have hardened hearts, closed ears, the Gospel, the Word of God is foolishness. Paul tells us such in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 &19:

 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

We will understand nothing that Jesus says, without Jesus or the Holy Spirit giving us understanding. Proverbs tells us this, James tells us this, We just saw Isaiah and Paul tell us this and Jesus tells us this.

With that in mind, we turn to Jesus explanation of the parable, picking up in Mark 4:13-20:

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[a] 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty fold and sixty fold and a hundredfold.”

So Jesus addresses all four of the situations that he spoke of moments ago. For the most part, this addresses 4 different kinds of people and their responses. However, we could also look at it as four different stages of life or situations where we hear the Word and our responses to it.

So first, Jesus tells us what the seed is that is being sown. It is the Word, it is the Gospel.

The first place the seed is sown is along a well walk, well-worn path. Satan has done such a good job make this path wide and easy, that when the seed is sown, when the word is spoken, there is no hearing at all, no acknowledgment whatsoever. The seeds are sown and immediately it is taken away. Jesus uses a path here in this parable, and he uses a path again in one of the other Gospels. Matthew 7: 13&14, Jesus tells us about 2 different paths in the world.

For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Obviously the path that these seeds were sown on was wide and easy.

The next situation is the seed sown on rocky ground, sprouting fast and withering quickly. I see this as someone who hears the word and starts to believe in their head, but has no heart change, no life change and as soon as troubles pop up, they bail. Practically, today, this could be someone who is walking along the path to, who is seeking, who is visiting church and interested in learning and seeking and something happens and turns them away.

The third is seeds sown among the thorns. I look at this and I see two specific instances that we see today. First is those who hear the word and may even intellectually believe, but at least acknowledge some validity to the Word. Yet, instead of changing their lives and handing it over to Christ, they refuse. They say, if I go ahead with this Bible stuff, with this Jesus stuff, Ill have to give up all the things I like in my life. Ill have to quit doing drugs and sleeping around, quit cheating, stealing, quit living for the world and I really don’t want to do that.  The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The second way I see this today is when someone is interested in hearing more, in seeing just what the Gospel is all about, but they are not willing or able to remove themselves from the people around them, friends, family, whatever, and they are so afraid of what those people around them will think that you can never get them into a one on one situation long enough to give them a chance to make a true, decision based on the Gospel.

I had one of these in my life a few years ago. He was mad at God and he would attack Christianity at any and all opportunity. I was able to live my life a way that allowed me to speak into his life IF and that s a big if, IF no one else was around. As soon as someone else was around, he felt, that to keep the image up and not open himself up to ridicule or whatever, he had to go on the offense.

Again, I want to point out that 3 of the 4 situations come away with a negative outcome. Again, see what Jesus said in Matthew, For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

One of the four, the last of the four is what Jesus desires. The seed sown on Good soil, hearing the word and accepting the Word and producing fruit. Now this section, this situation, this outcome includes all of us who are called children of God. If we are believers, we are in this 4th section here.

And there are a few things I want to point out now that Jesus is done explaining the parable.

First, when you are out there, sharing the seed, sharing the Word of God, most people will reject it in one of those three ways. Only one of the four ways is a positive outcome. I cant stress this enough when it comes to us sharing the Word. Most people will not respond in genuine conversion, at least not right away. Our job as one sowing the seed is not to ensure the good fruit-growing from it. That is the Holy spirits job. Our job is to get the word out there, to get the seed sown.

Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3: verses 6-9:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

And here is the thing. We sowed seed this past week. You all here are well experienced with seed planting, helping out after the fire last year, the commodities food boxes each month, things like that. That seed has been and will be sown throughout Bangor and the surrounding communities. At that same time, the odds are against us seeing immediate, long term, genuine results. And whether it is there or not, is out of our control. God is the one to determine whether the seed sprouts and whether fruit grows or whether it doesnt.

The seed that we have all and will all sow throughout the community, many of those seeds wont sprout. God says “Dont worry about that, Ive got that.” Of the seeds that do sprout, not all are going to automatically come here. There are many reasons people will go to certain churches and not to others. Some of those are valid reasons, some of those are petty at best, but plain wrong in many instances.

My point is that God tells us to do what he has entrusted us to do, regardless of what the results are. He tells us to leave the anxiety, the worry, the stress behind and trust in gods goodness and his perfect knowledge, his perfect plan and his perfect will. If those who have heard the Gospel, if they respond, believe and repent, then getting them connected with a Gospel Preaching, Bible Teaching, Believer Discipling church is the number one thing. When we believe, we become part of Gods church, Gods family and so as long as we are committed to a local, discerning and orthodox church, orthodox, meaning right, historical, biblical beliefs. As long as new believers get hooked up with a church like that, they are good. My point in that is that we should not be discouraged if we are doing our job, doing what gods has called us to do and we don’t necessarily, especially early on and right away, see the numerical growth or the outward fruit of those works God calls us to do. The benefit’s of VBS, of commodities, of Fire outreach and relief, are not often or immediately seen. That doesn’t mean we stop doing it. We remember that God is in control of all of it.

Getting believers into Gods word is crucial. If there are no roots for the seed to grow and take hold, what is that root system? If there is an unrealistic expectation that there will be no troubles, that you become a Christian and you get rich and don’t get sick anymore, what is the foundation that shows us what god has and has not promised?

The Bible is where roots can take place. The Bible softens ground. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. One of the stories we shared and taught the kids this week, Matthew 7:24-27:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Bible, the Word of God, Gods revelation of himself and Jesus Christ is that foundation. With Gods word as our foundation, when those rains come, when the thorns try to choke us and when the lack of root system causes issues, we will persevere. God will bring us through. We will not avoid hard situations and we will have the rains come, but God brings us through that with our foundation, our faith, everything still standing.

The last thing I want to point out is the mystery that RC Sproul points out in this parable. I’m going to paraphrase him here. He says, the mystery here is not moral teaching about humans hardness of heart. But instead, the mystery of this parable is the paradox that Gods kingdom, Gods reign, Gods power, is identified here with a fragile seed.

His point is that true power shows up humbly. True leaders will walk with humility. Jesus Christ is God. He is all knowing, all powerful, all everything. He is the King!

And yet, he comes down to us here on Earth as a human baby. He comes down in the must humble way possible. He comes down and he makes himself one of us. He puts off til later his right to reign on earthly as a warrior king and instead he gives up his life to die the most humbling death. The death on the cross. He does this for the forgiveness of our sins.

That is the seed that gets sown, that gets thrown on the soil. That is the seed that was planted in each and everyone of us. So, lastly, take a look and ask, question, look into yourself and see which one of these four results are you? Are you one sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Are you one sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Or, as I pray everyone here is , are you one sown on good soil, the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I ask that you take that question seriously, dont just assume the answer, because those thorns, that rocky ground can trick us and be deceptive. They can look good and inviting and encouraging at first, but in them there is no true transformation, no true regeneration. If there is, if we have that transformation, if the seeds that are sown are sown on what God makes into Good soil, the fruit that comes out of it will be incredible and God will give the increase and fruit will be born thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”