Daily Archives: September 19, 2014

Questions about Marriage: Is It Allowable for a Christian to Have a Life Partner without a Civil Marriage?

 

There are several things to consider in this question. First of all, let’s define “Christian.” Many people assume they are Christians simply because they are not affiliated with any other religion. They go to church and agree with most of what the Bible says. However, the Bible defines a Christian as a disciple, or follower, of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). A Christian is someone who has accepted the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as the payment for his or her own sin (John 1:12; Acts 16:31). A disciple of Christ has chosen to “deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow” Jesus (Luke 9:23). Therefore, whatever Jesus says to do through His Word, a Christian seeks to do. We do not become Christians by doing good things; but, because we are Christians, we want to obey Jesus in all things (Ephesians 2:8–9; James 2:26). In John 15:14, Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

So a Christian makes life choices based on what glorifies Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:31). Better than asking whether a situation is “allowable” is asking “How will this honor my Lord?” God created marriage, and it is His definition we should use as our foundation. God defines marriage as a lifelong relationship in which a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife. The two become “one flesh,” and the union must not be dissolved by human will (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7–9; Ephesians 5:31). Malachi 2:14 tells us that one reason God hates divorce is that He is present when a couple takes the vows. Biblically, marriage is the joining of a man and a woman in a spiritual and physical covenant for life. That joining is cause for celebration and deserves our respect. A state-issued license does not make a couple married. The covenantal oath before God and witnesses is what binds them.

There is an issue today of senior couples who cohabit without the benefit of a state-issued marriage license because to file a license with the state would mean a decrease in retirement income and Social Security benefits. Some of these couples undergo a religious ceremony in a church and consider themselves married before God. However, a couple seeking a “spiritual marriage” while avoiding a legal marriage is seeking to escape the requirements of the law, and that causes a new set of problems for the Christian (Romans 13:1–7). If a senior couple believes it is God’s will for them to be together, they should marry in accordance with the laws of the land, and trust God for the finances.

There is no scriptural basis for a live-in situation, even when the two involved intend to be monogamous for life. Intentions fail, and the lack of a real marriage commitment makes it easier to part ways. Without marriage, the relationship is sexually immoral and is condemned in Scripture (Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:2). The term “life partner” has a tentative sound and a questionable history. It implies that the relationship is not legally or morally sanctioned and that it may not last. It bypasses the covenant that God created marriage to be. For a Christian couple, such a term would cast immediate suspicion on their reputation and, ultimately on Christ’s reputation. Any Christian couple considering a “life partnership” should ask, “How will our bypassing of traditional marriage glorify the Lord Jesus?”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: Is born again virginity possible?

 

Born-again virginity is the claim that after having sex, a person can be restored to virginity by a spiritual renewal, vowing sexual purity until marriage and asking God for forgiveness. Some women have taken the idea of born-again virginity so far that they actually have had surgery to physically restore themselves to a “virgin” physical-sexual state.

The pressure upon some Christians to become “born-again virgins” is likely due in large part to the fear of condemnation from Christian brothers and sisters, or perhaps fear that God will not accept them unless they take steps to become “born-again virgins.” Neither of these reasons should be a concern because God offers forgiveness and grace to all who ask with a sincere heart (1 John 1:9). We need not try to restore for ourselves what God has already restored in us spiritually.

The Bible says that when we are born again, we are new creations, our old selves are dead and gone, and we have new life given to us by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means that God chooses to no longer remember our past transgressions (Jeremiah 31:34), including losing virginity before marriage. Our sins are as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). There is absolutely no doubt that God will forgive sex before marriage. God’s love for a person is not diminished because of the mistakes that person has made.

However, though our sins are no longer counted against us, they are still very real and still carry with them earthly consequences. Once an act is done, it’s done. It is, therefore, not possible to claim physical born-again virginity, just as it is not possible to reverse the consequences of any other sins we commit. What we can be done with, though, are the guilt feelings associated with having had premarital sex. This kind of guilt can cause us to doubt the power of God’s forgiveness because we can’t forgive ourselves. We can be tyrannized by our emotions and feel we are too bad to be forgiven. There are several reasons for this. First, the conscience speaks against forgiveness. The only thing our conscience knows about is guilt and conviction. It knows nothing of grace and mercy. Second, Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10), and he will do all he can to obscure the love and graciousness of God. But Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Once we recognize that it’s to his advantage to keep us incapacitated and immobilized by our guilt feelings, we can reject his lies, cling to the promises of Scripture, truly believe that we have died to sin, and begin to live for God in Christ (Romans 6:11).

Consider the apostle Paul—consumed with rage against Christ and “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1), full of blasphemy and ungodliness, yet God forgave him and made Paul His chosen vessel to preach the Gospel to the whole world. Notice that God never required Paul to become a born-again anything other than a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to tell us that although some of us were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9–12), yet through the infinite goodness and free grace of God, we are washed from the filth and guilt of our sins, justified by the righteousness of Christ, sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, and decked and adorned with the precious grace of Christ, holy and perfect in the sight of God. Knowing this, how can we possibly hold onto our guilty feelings?

Rather than seeking born-again virginity, a Christian who has made the mistake of sex before marriage should commit himself/herself to God and to abstaining from sexual intercourse until marriage. Claiming born-again virginity is not biblical. Believing wholeheartedly in God’s total forgiveness and making the choice to live righteously and in ways that are pleasing to Him—that is biblical.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Bible: What Is the Torah?

 

Torah is a Hebrew word meaning “to instruct.” The Torah refers to the five books of Moses in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The Torah was written approximately 1400 BC. Traditionally, the Torah is handwritten on a scroll by a “sofer” (scribe). This type of document is called a “Sefer Torah.” A modern printing of the Torah in book form is called a “Chumash” (related to the Hebrew word for the number 5).

Here is a brief description of the five books of the Torah:

Genesis: This first book of the Torah includes 50 chapters and covers the time period from the creation of all things to the time of Joseph’s death and burial. It includes the account of creation (chapters 1–2), the beginning of human sin (chapter 3), Noah and the ark (chapters 6–9), the tower of Babel (chapters 10–11), the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and an extended narrative of the life of Joseph.

Exodus: This second book of the Torah includes 40 chapters and covers the period from Jewish slavery in Egypt until the glory of the Lord descended upon the completed tabernacle in the wilderness. It includes the birth of Moses, the plagues of Egypt, the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Law to Moses upon Mount Sinai.

Leviticus: This third book of the Torah includes 27 chapters and consists largely of the laws regarding sacrifices, offerings, and festivals among the people of Israel.

Numbers: This fourth book of the Torah includes 36 chapters and covers a span of about 40 years as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Numbers provides a census of the people of Israel and some details about their journey toward the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy: This fifth book of the Torah includes 34 chapters and is called “Deuteronomy” based on a Greek word meaning “second law.” In the book, Moses repeats the Law for the new generation who would enter the Promised Land. Deuteronomy describes the transition of leadership sacerdotally (from Aaron to his sons) and nationally (from Moses to Joshua).

The Torah’s five books have formed the basis of Judaism’s teachings from the time of Moses. Later biblical writers, including Samuel, David, Isaiah, and Daniel, would frequently refer back to the Law’s teachings. The teachings of the Torah are frequently summarized by citing Deuteronomy 6:4–5, called the Shema (or “saying”): “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Jesus called this the “first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:38).

The Torah is considered the inspired Word of God by both Jews and Christians alike. Christians, however, see Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies and believe the Law was fulfilled in Christ. Jesus taught, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

The mystery and victory of the resurrection

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17 NASB)

All of us have witnessed a certain very well known Christian leader who appears very genuine in his faith and even takes stands against those who would dilute the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ no matter how costly. He debates homosexuals who are demanding to be called “gay-Christians” for instance and come out of those debates very well with those he debates licking their wounds, etc. Then just a few weeks later we see this very same Christian leader worshipping and praying at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, even taking part in a “revival” there. This is confusing. It is also well known that this same Christian leader is virulently anti-Reformed Theology. For…

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