Sermon: For Time and Eternity
Scripture: Matthew 5:31-32
In this week’s lessons, we learn what faithfulness in marriage means through a dramatic illustration from the life of the prophet Hosea.
Theme: True Marriage
“In the light of this story we see the inner meaning of marriage as set forth in the Word of God. Marriage is the union of Christ and the Church.
“In our salvation we were married to Him. He it was who took the vows first of all: ‘I Jesus, take thee, sinner, to be my wedded Bride. And I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses, to be thy loving and faithful Savior and Bridegroom; in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in faithfulness and in waywardness, for time and for eternity.’ And then we looked up to Him and said, ‘I sinner, take thee, Jesus, to be my Savior and my Lord. And I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be thy loving and faithful Bride; in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, for time and for eternity.’
“Thus we took his name. We were Miss Worldling; we were married to Him and now bear His name, for Christian means Christ-ian. When we realize the true meaning of this, we understand how important it is to keep His name spotless before the world.
“Christ is the faithful one. We are the ones who slip into flirtation and then into adultery with the world. We are loved by Christ Jesus, but we are drawn aside by our own desires and seduced from our love of Christ. Such a seduction is the worst of all transgressions since it is the sin against the love of Christ. He is faithful to the end, loving us when we were unlovely, and taking us through all steps of our wandering to the place of redemption and final attachment to Himself forever.
“Perhaps some believer who reads this may say, ‘Lord Jesus, I took you as my Savior, but I have been living a worldly life. Just because I gave you sixty minutes and a few dollars on Sunday morning, I thought I was serving You. But I now confess that I have been faithless to You. From now on, Lord Jesus, I will be faithful to You.’ To such God replies, ‘I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. . . They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden, they shall blossom as the vine’ (Hosea 14:4, 7).
“Perhaps your life partner has been unfaithful and you are asking yourself, ‘Have I the love that Hosea had for Gomer? Has my partner seen that I love him that much? Can I really afford such love?’ Your old nature will immediately protest, ‘No, you cannot!’ But the Holy Spirit will force you to say, ‘Yes, I can!’
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
“Though you do not possess the ‘whole realm of nature,’ or the world, to give to Christ, you can give yourself to Him in total surrender. Because you love the Lord you can love your erring partner and be faithful.”1
What do you think is the significance that in our relationship with Christ, He takes the vows first?
What other passages from Scripture deal with God’s faithfulness toward us as sinners? What else do we learn from them?
Reflection: Are there worldly things that try to pull you away from the Lord? What will you do, starting today, to eliminate any temptations?
Application: Are you or someone you know dealing with a difficult marriage? What specific things will you do to show love for your spouse, as Hosea did for Gomer?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “The Importance of Marriage.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
1Donald Grey Barnhouse, from God’s Freedom (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961), 187-192; This Man and This Woman, 21-61; and from parts 37 and 38 of the published radio studies in the Epistle to the Romans.