Marriage is God’s Institution

 

Mark 10:2-16

  2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 ‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 “And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” 13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

Genesis 2:18-25 18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Ephesians 5:18-33 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Rite of Holy Matrimony (LSB 275):  In marriage we see a picture of the communion between Christ and His bride, the Church.  Our Lord blessed and honored marriage with His presence and first miracle at Cana in Galilee.  This estate is also commended to us by the apostle Paul as good and honorable.  Therefore, marriage is  not to be entered into inadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.

The union of husband and wife is heart, body, and mind is intended by God for the mutual companionship, help, and support that each person ought to receive from the other, both in prosperity and adversity.  Marriage was also ordained so that man and woman may find delight in one another.  Therefore, all persons who marry shall take a spouse in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust, for God has not us to impurity but in holiness.  God also established marriage for the procreation of children who are to be brought up in the fear and instruction of the Lord so that they may offer Him their praise…

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I Believe; Help My Unbelief

Mark 9:14-29

14When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to [Jesus] and greeted him. 16And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.

Luther’s Small Catechism

The Third Article: Of Sanctification.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?–Answer.

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

God’s Love for the Little Ones

 

 

38John said to [Jesus], “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

      42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:38–50)

 

1 Peter 3:8-12 8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”

The First and the Last

Mark 9:30-37

30[The disciples] went on from there and passed through Galilee. And [Jesus] did not want anyone to know, 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

 

 

Luther’s Small Catechism

The Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean? The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

The Heart that is Close to God

Signs and Promises of God

Concerning the sign of the Rainbow, Luther says:

“This sign should remind us to give thanks to God. For as often as the rainbow appears, it preaches to the entire world with a loud voice about the wrath which once moved God to destroy the whole world. It also gives comfort, that we may have the conviction that God is kindly inclined toward us again and will never again make use of so horrible a punishment. Thus it teaches the fear of God and faith at the same time, the greatest virtues… Let us, therefore, be reminded by this sign to fear God and to trust Him, in order that, just as we have escaped the punishment of the Flood, we may also be able to escape the punishment by fire.” [Luther’s Works, Vol. 2: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 6-14, (Genesis 9:20)]

Built on the Foundation of God’s Word

19 So then, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJ)

Dear brothers and sisters in the one true faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The practice of playing down sin & God’s Word, and playing up acceptance of even the most grievous types of sins and man’s notions is becoming the norm.  But God speaks differently.  And lest some say that churches still holding firmly to the teachings of our blessed Savior Jesus Christ are immune to such atrocities, one only has to consider that what’s going on in Christendom today did not happen overnight.  Just as illness often remains unnoticed until the symptoms bear themselves out, so the disease of false doctrine often creeps into the church unnoticed, and damage is done even before any acknowledgment of a problem exists.

Therefore, it is necessary for God’s people to be ever vigilant in the Word of their Lord.  This is so in order that “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14).   “Nor should we be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds in the doctrine of Christ Jesus (Romans 12:2).

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”  And, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

The proclamation of God’s church throughout the ages that distinguishes Christians from nonChristians is the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s death on the cross.  But this cornerstone of the Christian faith is being molded and formed into an entirely different message, even a different Gospel, one which falls under God’s anathema (Galatians 1:6-9).

The church today is seen more as a place for man’s activity over and above God’s and more emphasis is placed on man’s endeavors and actions rather than on what God is doing in Christ through the blessed Word and Sacraments of our Lord.  God’s Word has become less important than man’s determination and will power to do.  It’s no longer Christ that unites God’s people into one body through faith, but man’s efforts which unify under the same cause.

Christ is preached as example, not as Savior.  Lip service is given to the Word of Christ, but hearts are far from Him (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8).  Ambiguity of speech is the common practice.  What is said is not what is meant and what is meant is not what is said.  Words are given different meanings and cause greater confusion rather than drawing together to Him who is the Head of His body.  Hearers are motivated and even encouraged only to hear what they want to hear rather than fight sinful temptations and listen to God’s law which condemns sin and God’s grace which forgives it.

The gospel in today’s church has not to do with God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness for Christ’s sake.  That doesn’t work.  That kind of message doesn’t have a place in today’s world where results and what is seen run the show.  Thus, a new kind of gospel has been established.  In the place of the historic gospel of the Christian faith of God’s love in Christ, tolerance and acceptance of anything and everything, as well as whatever works, is the proclamation that liberates and frees from the tyranny of oppression.

Houses of God have become houses of man, going the way of the world, having left their first love (Revelation 2:4).  The state of visible Christendom is in disarray, to say the least.  It appears broken, disunited, and worldly.  Regardless of the attempts to bind together, unify, and sanctify, of ourselves we have no ability to accomplish these worthy, but unattainable, goals.

The church of Christ, contrary to popular belief, is not bound together because of common activities and agendas.  Instead, according to Holy Scripture, it’s not what we do that unifies in the true and godly sense, but what God has done and continues to do in Christ Jesus.  This is the glue that binds God’s people as one.  Christ and Christ alone is our peace that breaks down the wall of hostility between us.

It is the unity of a common faith in the Lord Jesus as Savior, Him and no other.  This is what brings God’s people together and joins them together into the living body of the living Christ.  There, no one who believes is a stranger or foreigner, whether Jew or Gentile, for all are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

For this reason, visible Christendom remains divided – because not all hold to the clear teachings of Scripture.  Though Christ is not divided, there are dissensions and schisms among the visible churches and congregations of Christendom because not all believe and confess what God has given to believe and confess.  Some simply flat out deny the very Words of God, even rejoicing with pride in their sinfulness.

But what a different and true picture St. Paul paints of the true church in His letter to the saints in Ephesus!  Just as Christ is not divided, so His beloved Bride, the Church, is not divided, “for there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

In Christ Jesus, those who were strangers and foreigners to one another are no longer these, but members of God’s household, “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).  They who were far off are brought near by the blood of Christ.  Those having no hope and without God in the world now are hopeful and with God in the world, they with Him and He with them, having faith in Him whom God sent and believing that Christ is where He promises to be in His Means of Grace.

The reality of what is visible in churches and church bodies across the nation cannot be ignored, but neither can God’s inspired Word given through St. Paul.  What we see is not always what we get and what we get is not always what we see.

There is another church that is completely unified, not at all broken, disjointed, or worldly.  It is a glorious church, not having blemish or wrinkle.  It is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone.  This church we confess in the creed as we say, “I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints.”

This church we do not see with the eyes.  But God’s true church is as much as a reality as the churches that we do see.  The hidden church which is confessed among us is Holy because of Him who sanctifies.  It is Christian because of Him who is its head.  It is Church because it is the assembly of all who believe in Him who died and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.  They who belong to this Church are strangers to the world, but not to Christ.  Nor is He a stranger to them.  They are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God by adoption into God’s kingdom through water and the Word, even the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

This Communion of Saints, the fellowship of God’s people who believe Christ to be their Savior, who hope in the Lord and wait upon Him, these are all united in Christ Jesus by faith.  Here there is no denominational demarcation or Christian classification in the One Holy Christian and Apostolic Church.

Only one thing distinguishes members from nonmembers in this Church – belief in the Lord Jesus.  Those who call upon the Lord for mercy and trust in God’s beloved Son are already members.  Those who do not, though they be members of local congregations and be affiliated with this or that denomination, are not.

As we believe in the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, so we will also rejoice on account of God’s kindness and favor.  His Holy church will not waver nor will if fail, nor can it be destroyed.  It is eternal, not temporary as earthly and worldly churches are.  It is built on the foundation that has already been laid and that cannot be unlaid.

It continues to grow, even though it appear not to grow according to human perception and recognition.  It’s growth is not observable by statistical figures and demonstration of numerical strength because it does not grow in ways that we see, but according to God’s Word that “shall not return to Him void, But shall accomplish what He pleases, And prosper in thething for which He sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

This article of faith concerning the Holy Christian Church will not be a visible physical reality seen in our day, as if it is a goal for which we are to strive.  But it is a present reality.  Though unseen, God has revealed this teaching of Christ’s Holy Church in Scripture.  And what a blessed comfort and assurance it gives to all who grow weary with the reality of church struggles and its spots and blemishes before its members and in the sight of the world!

There is one church, true and faithful, which will endure for all eternity.  This church is not affected by the world or its ways.  It is founded only on God’s Word and united in the faith of her Lord Jesus.  Though hidden, wherever God’s Word is preached and the Sacraments are administered according to their institution, there you will find members of this Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints.  This we believe and this we confess.  Amen.

The Book of Concord

(Tappert Edition)

The Augsburg Confession,  VII. The Church

1 It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever. This is the assembly of all believers among who the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel. 2 For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. 3 It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly in all places. 4 It is as Paul says in Eph. 4:4, 5, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

The Smalcald Articles, XII. The Church

2… a seven-year-old child knows what the church is, namely, holy believers and sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd. 3 So children pray, “I believe in one holy Christian church.” Its holiness does not consist of surplices, tonsures, albs, or other ceremonies… invented over and above the Holy Scriptures, but it consists of the Word of God and true faith.

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