Gospel Marriage.

This seems to be the endless summer of marriages in my own life and those who are close to me.  I had the great honor of marrying my beautiful bride, Susan, on June 27th; and then officiated my first wedding 3 weeks later on July 17th.  It was truly a privilege to be used by God in the joining together of my good friends Joel Senders and Jennifer Miniuk.  BTW, this is only to mention 2 of the 7 weddings that my wife and I have been/will be involved in this summer.  Needless to say, it’s a very busy, but exciting time!

Above is a picture of my wedding by our great photographer, Jen Turner, from Jennifer Eileen Photography.  Below is a transcript of the homily I presented at Joel and Jennifer’s wedding…

Joel and Jennifer, I am exceedingly blessed today, to have the opportunity to be used by God in his joining of you both in marriage.  Your friendship is something that I am intensely thankful for.  In that friendship, your commitment to the gospel, as a couple, has not only been an encouragement to me, but also to all those who have shared the opportunity of your friendship over the last 5 years.

Both of your lives have been dramatically impacted and are continuing to change by the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You have both given your lives to the truth that, as human beings, we are terribly imperfect people.  We are weak, flawed, prideful, selfish, and plainly sinful.  By God’s grace, you have understood that because we are sinners, we have broken the good law God has established, and deserve only his wrath and eternal separation from him.  However, though we are great sinners, God’s grace (his underserved favor toward us) in Christ Jesus, goes further than our sin.

Knowing you both, I know that your lives find no absolute hope in anything or anyone other than Jesus himself.  The reason for that unique hope in Jesus is that you understand because of our sin, there is nothing we could ever do to earn God’s favor or forgiveness.

But rather, you have understood, as the Bible teaches, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  That is, our good and gracious God in heaven sent his only Son, Jesus into this world to live the perfect life we can’t live.  Die the death that we deserve.  He did not stay dead, but rose from the grave, and is alive and reigning in all power and glory in heaven today…demonstrating that his sacrifice in our place was acceptable to God the Father.  And based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has freely forgiven the sin of all those who turn from their sin and trust in him.  Not only has he forgiven the sin of those who trust in Jesus, but he’s also put into their life’s account the very goodness and righteousness of Jesus Christ himself.

How incredible and freeing it is to know that we are saved, we are rescued from God’s wrath, not based on anything we do, but on everything Jesus has done in our place!  That’s the good news of the gospel.

I am so thankful, that in God’s grace he has revealed that good news to you and that he’s saved you by it.  And I believe that living in light of the gospel will have a profound and deep impact on the life and health of your marriage!  I believe that based on Paul’s words in Colossians 2:13-14…Paul writes…

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Christ, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

How amazing are those words!?  Especially the fact that God himself took the record of wrongs that stood against us, and set them aside, nailing them to the cross.  And that act is a historical, time and space act.  It is something that happened 2000 years ago.  And your hope – my hope – is based on that!  It’s not based on anything inside of you, or achieved with any help from you.  God did it for us and outside of us before we were ever born.

As one pastor has said, “God took the record of all your sins that made you deserving of his wrath, and instead of holding them up in front of your face and using them as a warrant to send you to hell, God put them in the palm of his Son’s hand and drove a spike through them into the cross.”

This, as I said, will have a profound impact on the life and health of your marriage!  Why?  Because today one flawed person is being joined together with another flawed person.  But, before the face of, and with utter dependence upon, a faithful God!  As you embark into this life together there will be wonderfully glorious times!  But there will also be times, and many of them, when things will not always go as planned.  Your spouse will not always act or respond in the way you desired.  There will be differences.  There will be miscommunication.  There will be disagreements.  There will be hurts, and some very deep.  And the temptation will exist to take the record of wrongs that has been done in the relationship and hold them up in your spouse’s face, in anger, letting them know of their many faults against you and staying bitter because of it.

But Paul, in Ephesians 5, tells us something astonishing about the reality of the marriage relationship…he says that marriage is a symbolic picture of Christ and the church.  It is to be a daily picture, as you both live together, of the faithfulness and grace through which Jesus sustains those who follow him.  Let your marriage be a picture of that reality to a watching world everyday, for God’s glory.

Let the measure of God’s grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse!  And look at the failures, flaws, disagreements, mistakes, and hurts as opportunities to be used by God as an agent of change and growth in each other, rather than a source of bitterness and separation.  This grace is yours in Christ Jesus.  Broadcast it, in your marriage, for your joy in growing together, and for God’s glory in your home and in this world!

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