Christ’s victory: all enemy defeated

Better things are coming (Series Title)

Scripture Readings

  • Genesis 6:1-8
  • 1 Peter 3:17-22

Introduction

There are days in the life of a minister that he needs to hide his pride in his pocket and admit that the Bible sometimes is not altogether easy to preach.  Today is one of those.

The readings for today come from two passages many theologians interpret in many different ways.  I pray that God will give me the grace to be a help rather than a hindrance.  We need to pray that the victory of Christ will be seen, and that all the glory will be his – even through our meditation on these two paragraphs.

The victory of Christ

I titled this sermon “Christ’s victory: all enemy defeated”,  because the context of 1 Peter 3, especially verses 17-22, is about the victory of Christ through his cross and resurrection.  Let’s just recapture:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18, NIV)

There is victory in this verse.  He died but was brought back to life. It takes us back to chapter 1:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18–19, NIV)

Of another verse in chapter 2:  1 Peter 2:4 refers to the truth that we have come to Him, and then Peter says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6, NIV)

We have come to Christ, and Christ, according to our verse in 1 Peter 3:18, through his death and resurrection He takes us to the Father.  His vicarious, or substitutional work not only takes us to God, but is the anchor for us in difficult times.

The cross and the open grave

Peter is addressing people who knew better things were coming in eternity, but the here and now of their struggle against those who reject them because they rejected Christ, cause them a lot of suffering.  And Peter now wanted them to not only follow the example of Christ by being submissive, but to see the victorious Christ who, according to the last verse in this chapter, has all powers and authorities in submission to Him.

Peter mentions something in this section which is not easy to understand.  Let’s read verses 19-20 again:

After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (1 Peter 3:19–20, NIV)

This fact of the ministry of Christ in not mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures.  It seems at first sight if this may be mentioned in chapter 4:6:

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (1 Peter 4:6, NIV)

The end of this verse however refers to people who were dead but now live in regard to the spirit.  I have however no final resolution on this verse, because there are more than one way to interpret this verse.  We will get there next time we continue with 1 Peter.

So the question is, when did Christ go and preach to whose spirits are kept in prison, who were they, and what did He proclaim to them?

Sin, rebellion and destruction

Our verse refers to those who lived in the days of Noah, those who were disobedient, despite the patience of God to see them repent and be saved.

Let’s go to Genesis 6.  The first problem we walk into is the reference to “the sons of God who married the daughters of men.”  Who were the “sons of God” and who were the “daughters of men”?

Let’s just go back a chapter or two in Genesis. After the death of Abel and the  tragic life of Cain who became a refugee, Adam and Eve had more children.  Seth was born to them.  There is an interesting statement in chapter 4:26:

At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord. (Genesis 4:26, NIV)

Then in chapter 5:3 we read:

When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3, NIV)

If we read these two verses together within the context, it seems not impossible to deduce that and Enosh worshipped the Lord, and that they could be known as “sons of God”, or children of God.  As time went by and people increased on the face of the earth, some departed from the Lord in sinfulness.  It is not impossible to think that some actually started to intermarry with the offspring of Cain.  The expression “they married whom they chose” in 6:3 may indicating that man’s own choice, rather than the choice of God of who he could marry was his own standard.

It does not take long before a godly family can go astray and become worse than the worst.  Old Eli was a god-fearing man to begin with, but his two sons were evil to the bone.  David walk with the Lord, Solomon deviated somewhat, and his son rejected the fear of the Lord.

Point is, who was known as “the sons of God” got entrapped in marriages with daughters of this world.  The difference lies in their origins:  “of God” and “of men”.  It never works, and always leads to disaster.  The result of these unions was outright rebellion against God.  Like the people of Babel who rebelled against God and looked at themselves as important and great, so the people in the time of Noah drifted away from the worship of God to the worship of themselves and their own achievements; in their own eyes they were giants! And this pattern is repeated even into our day.  The wise, the great and the important thumb their noses at the King of the universe and his Son, and they refuse to bow the knee before Him who already have them at his feet.  Listen to Psalm 2:

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” (Psalm 2:2–3, NIV)

How does this Psalm warn them?  Listen:

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10–12, NIV)

Over and over again we read: in Genesis 6:

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. (Genesis 6:6, NIV)

Righteousness calls for punishment

In his righteousness He sent the flood to punish sin.  He gave them 120 years to repent, but nothing happened.  And all along Noah drove one nail after the other in to ark, which would become the salvation for him and his family.  God promised that this will never happen again – no flood.  But it meant that God had to set in motion his plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Those who walked in darkness, those who were first not a people, are by grace -through the cross and resurrection of Christ brought to God.  Instead of rightfully punishing the world for their sin, He sent his Son to be punished in our place.  THat’s why we read about the victory of Christ through the cross and his resurrection.

Those who cause pain in the heart of God, who caused God’s judgment upon what He had made so that about everything was destroyed and God had to start from again, their spirits are kept in prison till the final judgement of the white throne before God.

Victory!

We don’t know exactly when, or at what point in time it happened, but the victorious Christ went to preach – or proclaim – something to the these spirits who are bound in the pool of fire till the last day of judgement.  From the context we need to understand that Christ proclaimed to them his victory.  They caused the world to be destroyed through their disobedience and hardened hearts, but Christ was the One who restored it and reversed the wrath of God upon this sinful world.  He did not preach to them grace; their fate is sealed.  They are with their leader, Satan, the father of lies, and the deceiver from the beginning, sealed up in the abyss till they will stand before the throne of Him who overcame:  Jesus Christ; and He will avenge the blood of those who fell by the hands of sinners by sealing them up in this lake of fire:

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14–15, NIV)

Don’t be found with them.  No!  come to Christ who will take you to God through his death and resurrection.  United to Him (of which baptism and communion is a sign) you will stand and survive.  As a matter of fact, the tribulations of this world and it’s sufferings is for a moment compared to what is waiting.  Peter rights a bit further into this letter:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12–13, NIV)

See, we are united to Christ by faith; baptism is the sign and seal of our union with him.  Peter writes:

and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 3:21, NIV)

Noah believed.  The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. (Hebrews 11:7, NIV)

In closing

My dear friend, physical persecution has not come our way yet.  But it is true that if we live as true aliens, or passers-through, in this world, we are on its wrong side.  The life of a Christian is not always easy; on the contrary, it can be very hard and disheartening at times.  But it serves to test us.

Let us never forget this truth when we face difficulty for loving Christ and his Word:  Christ is victorious; in essence the enemy is defeated.  By union with Him your place is secured in heaven where your inheritance cannot be spoiled of fade.  Look up, better things are coming.  Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 18 October 2015

 

The right answer about our hope

Better things are coming (Series Title)

Scripture Readings

  • Psalm 34
  • 1 Peter 3:8-18

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

One thing about a Christian is that the direction of his/her life completely changed when Jesus Christ appears on the scene.   One day the apostles were professional fishermen, the next they became followers of Jesus Christ. leaving everything behind.  On one day Paul was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, the next he was worshipping the same Jesus he tried to stop.  The Ethiopian was on his way back to Ethiopia, probably expecting to continue his life the same way he had done before, but when he met Christ his life changed.  Paul, Peter and the other disciples in the end chose to die for the One who saved them from eternal hell to bring them to God. It still happens today.  I want to read parts of a report :I received this week.  It’s about Christians in Syria.  The Syrian ministry workers in those villages chose to stay in order to provide aid in the name of Christ to survivors.

“I asked them to leave, but I gave them the freedom to choose.  Every time we talked to them, they were always saying, ‘We want to stay here—this is what God has told us to do. This is what we want to do.’ They just wanted to stay and share the gospel.”  The 41-year-old team leader, his young son and two ministry members in their 20s were questioned at one village site where ISIS militants had summoned a crowd. The team leader presided over nine house churches he had helped to establish. His son was two months away from his 13th birthday.

“All were badly brutalised and then crucified.They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them.”  The women, ages 29 and 33, tried to tell the ISIS militants they were only sharing the peace and love of Christ and asked what they had done wrong to deserve the abuse. The Islamic extremists then publicly raped the women, who continued to pray during the ordeal, leading the ISIS militants to beat them all the more furiously.  

As the two women and the six men knelt before they were beheaded, they were all praying.  “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'”

She knew her hope.  These people knew Christ, and they knew their hope.  They died in with honour, and the doors of heaven were opened for them.

The Christian understands and fully believe his position in Christ: pardon and acceptance with a reconciled God; fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and constant grace and peace out of his fulness; the preserving and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit; victory over death and hell; and an everlasting possession of heaven as a inheritance gift.  By hope he understands it all, anticipates it all, enjoys it all.

The world has no idea

Why does the Christian turn his/her back on this world?  Why allow good prospects of career advancement pass you by just because you are a Christian?  Why does the Christian choose to be the odd one out to not laugh when bad jokes do the round, or when the outcast is ridiculed?  Why not grab take the bribe and go on the promised holiday?  Why give some of your income to support the poor or missionaries far away, while you can enjoy it yourself?  Why not allow the white lie to go through if the truth is going to hurt your chances in life?

These questions and the answers and Christians give stuns the world.  Are you out of your mind?  Grab the day!  No one is going to pick you up when you have fallen.  No one is going to stand in for you when you tell the truth and get fired.  Wake up to yourself!  Get real!

The Christian answers, not with any smugness or self-pity, but with gentleness and respect,  “I have never been more real in my life!  See, the difference in Christ!”

For this the Christian is more often than not excluded from friendship circles,; they are not invited to parties anymore; they are not included in deals anymore; they sometimes become lonely; they become the outcast, the weird, the dumb, the stupid.  When they resist temptations to immoral activities, when they stand up for the sanctity of marriage as God intended it to be, when they speak up against abortion and one night stands or any change in the definition of marriage, they are condemned as unloving, bigots and downright evil.  That’s when we know that evil has become good and good ahas become evil.  Woe to you when men speak well of you, our Lord said.

Christians are not welcome in the world

When we did our series from John we heard our Lord said:

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19, ESV)  

When Jesus called his disciples He warned them:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12, ESV)

The prophet Isaiah prophesies about these things:

Hear the word of the Lord, you who respect what He has to say! Your countrymen, who hate you and exclude you, supposedly for the sake of my name, say, “May the Lord be glorified, then we will witness your joy.” But they will be put to shame. (Isaiah 66:5, NET)

Our chapter takes us to Psalm 34 to teach us how we should react to the hostilities of this world and even those who proclaim to be Christian, who are not.

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:12–14, NIV)

Who said these words?  David.  When?  Although Samuel anointed David as king, he was nevertheless forced to become a refugee before Saul. David, the elect of God, was forced to suffer on the earth as an exile.  Twice during those refugee years David had the opportunity to take Saul’s life. On the first occasion David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe when Saul had come unknowingly into the cave where David was hiding.  After Saul arose and left, David called to him from the opening of the cave, and Saul replied:

“Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.  When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. (1 Samuel 24:16-17, 19, NIV)

On the second occasion David spared Saul’s life while he slept in his own camp. He did not take Saul’s life, only his spear and helmet.  Saul then said:

The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.” (1 Samuel 26:23, 25, NIV)

Our chapter says of those who are wronged by this world while they submit to the Lord:

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:9, 12, NIV)

God knows our struggle and our loneliness when we are rejected and would, if things were in our hands, love to see retribution:  His eyes are upon the righteous, and his ears listen to our prayers.

When the time comes and people want to know why we act differently, and why it sometimes look as if we don’t have any backbone to stand up against those who would love to tread us underfoot, we regroup, we fix our eyes upon Christ, we reaffirm our submission to Him – we set Him apart in our hearts as our Lord – and we take his Name as the sweetest of all names on out lips as we stand firm for his glory; we pray that He will give us his gentleness, and we look at those who want to ridicule us as God’s own creatures – with respect -; we pray that Christ will keep us from falling and so defile our own conscience before Him and those who falsely accuse us – because we only want to see glory of our Lord on display – and we tell them of Him who called us our of darkness into his marvellous light.  He gave us a hope which cannot fade, an inheritance which cannot be spoiled, now already put away for those who hope in Christ in heaven.  And we leave it to God to use our testimony to the salvation of the lost, or to the hardness of heart of those who revile our Lord.

This is how Jesus set the example

Peter continues in his letter:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18, NIV)

He was reviled and denounce, mock and spat upon.  They hated Him to the point that they stripped Him naked, put a crown of thorns on his head and nailed Him to a cross, all they way mocking and jeering the Son of God!  He was willing to take this treatment to bring up to God.  So, we should not be surprised if those of the same spirit do the same thing to us.

But, and this is the great BUT, He was made alive.  Peter records something which is hard to understand because it is only here we read about Christ preaching to the spirits of the disobedient.  We don’t know when it happened, and we don’t really know who the disobedient spirits were.  What we know is that their disobedience is connected to Noah and the flood.  These people probably thought old Noah was some stupid and off his mind when he, the righteous preacher warned them of the pending judgement of the Lord upon their sin – they thought they had the last word – but they were wrong!  the victorious Christ who was raised by the Spirit of God did not go to preach to them any message of hope as Noah would have done; no, his message as the Victor over death, hell, sin and Satan was to seal their condemnation – forever!

And, united by faith to Him through baptism – and we can say today, through the sacrament of wine and bread, we share in his victory.

Conclusion

Truely, the Bible teaches us today that better things are coming.  So, my dear friend, when the hard times come, or when you face the ridicule of this world because of your testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, follow the example of David’s Son – Jesus Christ.  Take it on the chin, but never, ever forget this:  victory is ours through Jesus Christ.  We have a hop which cannot spoil of fade, kept in heaven for us, shielded by the power of God.  In the meantime, follow in the footsteps of our Saviour:  submit to all authority, but never disobey or disown your Lord.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 11 October 2015

Marriage as an effective tool for evangelism (2)

Series Title:  Better things are coming

Scripture Readings

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
  • 1 Peter 3:1-7

Introduction

A wool growing farmer on an outback station once made this remark about Christians and effective evangelism (and he probably just applied some principles of breeding and selecting stock to build up his sheep):  “Pastor, there’s one sure way for Christians to get the upper hand over non-Christians – we need to start breeding Christians!”  He went on to say, “If every Christian marriage can be successful in raising Christian children, and they do the same thing, before long we would populate this planate.”

His premise is probably somewhat naive and simplistic, but there is something about the truth in it.  Can you for just one moment let your mind go and work out how much different this planet would have been if every child growing up in a Christian home, would continue to do the same – generation after the other.

Biblical framework:  Marriage

I find it very significant that the Bible, right at the beginning, states that God created animals and made it possible for them to multiply – and this was possible because there were generally two opposites, male and female.  When He eventually made man to rule over what He had made, He gave him a helper – and both of them were created in the image of God.  So, creation was blessed by the first marriage mentioned in the Bible – a work of God’s hand.

When Jesus began his ministry on earth, He chose to perform his first miracle at a wedding celebration.  it is as if Christ knew the importance of marriage as a way of building the kingdom of God.

The last few pages of the Bible take us again to a wedding:  this is the wedding of the Lamb, Christ Himself.  Right now He is preparing the rooms and the mansion of his Father, and when the fulness of time arrives, He will come back and take his church to be with Him.  The marriage will be consummated when He purifies his bride with fine linen, and being washed clean from all sin in the blood of the Groom Himself, they will be united with Him forever.

Three images of marriage;  right in the beginning with creation, right at the beginning redemption in Jesus Christ, and then the image of and eternal union with the Groom at the end of time.

The day God “took a wife”

The Bible is full of images of a marriage relationship between God and his people.  Some might find it offensive to think about our relationship with God is this way, but we cannot escape the expressions pointing to this in the Scriptures.  Let’s listen to a few Scripture passages:

For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5, NIV)

As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:5, NIV)

“Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. (Jeremiah 3:14, NIV)  

It all began when God rescued his people out of Egypt.  The very same word the Bible uses for a man who “takes” a woman in marriage is used in Exodus when God rescued his people from sin.  For instance:  when Abraham pretended that Sarah is his sister and give her to Abimelech the Lord appeared to Him with these words:  But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him,

“You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” (Genesis 20:3, NIV)  

Deuteronomy 24:1 uses the expression.  When Boaz married Ruth, he used the same expression.  Now, let’s go to Exodus.  God sends Moses to his fellow Israelites with these words:

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:6–7, ESV)

Ezekiel chapter 16 in very explicit way describes the relationship between God and his people:  God picked up this young girl who was rejected by every one else and took her to be his wife.  The book of Hosea is all about the marriage relationship between God and his people.  Their unfaithfulness is expressed as adultery.

Now, what was God’s purpose of taking Israel as his wife.  We can only look at one passage:

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her (or Hephzibah) , and your land Married (Beulah); for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. (Isaiah 62:3–4, ESV)

Without confusing you, “husband” in Hebrew is ba’al.  It can also mean “owner”, or “lord”.  In this sense God is the husband, or the Lord and owner of his people:  He bought them in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.  The world Beulah in the verse in a way refers to the other partner of the marriage:  the woman, or the bride.  The whole picture is so beautiful:  the diadem, the beauty, the lonesomeness change into the delight of the groom.

The point to make further is this:

The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. (Isaiah 62:2, ESV)

The relationship between God and his bride-church is to show the nations who both God and the church is.  The whole idea is that this attractive and beautiful marriage will draw people to be part of it, seeking the God who so loves and cares for his bride that they too will want to be part of it.

The husband under God

With all of this in mind, we now go to 1 Peter 3:7

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7, ESV)

This is not the easiest verse in the letter of Peter.  But a good way of interpreting Scripture is to have other passages help you.  Now, quite often in the Old Testament where the wife is referred to as “vessel” it has in mind the marriage relationship.  The husband, the “lord” “took” his “vessel” and cared for her and loved her.  In a sense, both of them are “vessels” in the hands of God as part of his bride-church, but the husband caring for his “vessel”, his wife, cares for here using the relationship of God between Him and his people as example:  he cares for her as he cares for his own body.  As a matter of fact, this is what Paul had in mind in Ephesians 5:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, (Ephesians 5:28-29, ESV)

She was made from the man, in a sense he is not complete without her.  So is the wife always part of her husband.  The husband acts like the Lord God, who will do everything to see that his “weaker vessel” is cared for, that she is loved.

Commentators see the resemblance between this verse and 1Thessalonians 4:4

that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, (1 Thessalonians 4:4, ESV)

The Greek in this verse uses the word “vessel” (translated as “body”), and adds the word “own” (translated as “control”).  The context here is very clear:  live holy, avoid sexual immorality, not in passionate lust like the heathen, no one should wrong his brother (which in the context means to not defile the marriage of another).  Another translation of this verse can then go like this:

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you keep yourselves from fornication, that every one of you know how to hold his own vessel in sanctification and honour (i.e., live with his wife in sanctification and honour), not in passionate just like the Gentiles who know not God.

This corresponds with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:2

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2, ESV)

The unfaithfulness and spiritual adultery of God’s people stood in the way of the nations to seek God.  In the same way, unfaithfulness in the marriage will stand in the way of outsiders seeking the Lord.  On the contrary, the faithful and godly marriage reflects something of the relationship between Christ and his church, and it’s at this point that marriage is such a mighty tool for evangelism:  it is not only an example to your children to love the Lord, but it is attractive to outsiders.  It becomes one of the best and successful tools for evangelism.

Understanding and knowledge

A translation of 1 Pet 3:7 reads:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way  (1 Peter 3:7, ESV)

Most of us will never know how to understand our wives!  So, what does this verse tell us?  I know one can stretch the point a bit, but “know” and “knowledge” in the Scriptures very often refers to the intimate relationship between husband and wife.  In the same way do we find the word in Hosea – the book about God’s marriage relationship with his people – and brings out this charge against the people:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you …(Hosea 4:6, ESV)

Of course this knowledge implies knowledge, but the lack thereof stems from their poor relationship with the Lord.

In the same way, it is possible to understand the words in 1 Peter 3:7 that the husband’s relationship to God is somehow conditioned by or dependent on his relationship with his wife, and vice versa.  If husbands do not apply everything they know about God and his Word in their marriage relationships, marriage will suffer.  The verse says:  both will receive the gift of life.  It is God who gives it, and He is most pleased when husband and wife live in a relationship which reflects his relationship with his church.

A good marriage and answered prayers

A crippled marriage relationship has a result a crippled prayer life.  A healthy marriage has a result a healthy prayer life.  A husband who does not know Christ and his redeeming love for his church, which is his bride-church, will not know how to pray for his family, or even the word around him.  We cannot try to get around this.  We may say how many prayers, and we might even be serious about it, but according to this text, we will have unanswered prayers if there is something wrong in our relationship as marriage partners.

I think the same applies for the wives:  if they do not understand their relationship with Christ correctly, and live in perfect submission to Him as the Bible says, they prayers will remain unanswered.

A house that prays together is a house that stays together.  I wonder if our stale prayer life as a church can not be taken back to unfulfilled marriage relationships.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 4th October 2015