This Sunday @ RVPC

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Sunday Morning Worship (9:30 AM)

Sermon Text (Mark 10:1-12): 

“And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (ESV)

In the previous passage (Mark 9:42-50) Jesus spoke of some rather difficult things – the seriousness and dangers of sin, the radical need for repentance, and even the terrible realities of hell. The fact that Jesus Himself preached so bluntly on the subject of hell should make us all sit up and pay attention.

Well here in our text this Lord’s day we will see our Lord Jesus once again tackling another rather difficult and unpopular subject – the Bible’s teaching on marriage and divorce. Jesus, despite the fact that He was making a bee line of sorts toward Jerusalem and His cross (a fact noted for us by Mark’s repeated inclusion of geographical markers in the text – that Jesus had now come to “the region of Judea” – v.1), our Lord still took the time to teach the crowds when they gathered to Him – that was still His “custom” (v.1).

But, as usual, the Pharisees showed up; and, as usual, they sought to oppose Jesus. Here we see the Pharisees asking Jesus a question about divorce. Mark notes for us that they were asking this in order to “test” Jesus (v.2). They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (v.2).

It was something of a trap or a trick question, but it is never wise to try to test the Lord, is it? What they thought Jesus might say in response is not readily apparent in the text, but we can be sure that the Pharisees did not expect the answer that He gave to them. His answer (as it often was) was to answer their question with a question of His own. He asked them, “What did Moses command you?” (v.3).

And isn’t that how we as believers should seek to answer every question regarding what we are to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of us (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.3). We must see to it that the Word of God is our rule for faith and practice (i.e. conduct).

We must not expect that the biblical teaching on any subject will necessarily be found to be acceptable and pleasing in the world’s sight, but that is surely even more true in our day when it comes to what the Bible has to say about marriage and divorce. We must understand that God Himself has established and ordained marriage, and so He is the only one who has the true right to tell us how we are to view and treat marriage.

Notice that the Lord Jesus points us back to Genesis, and so to the very origin of marriage. In v.6-9 Jesus says,

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

“From the beginning of creation” (v.6). From the very beginning God Himself instituted marriage, and He did so as being between a man and a woman (“male and female” – v.6); as taking precedence even over one’s father and mother (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife” – v.7); and was to unite husband and wife in an inseparable bond of unity (“and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – v.8-9).

What a mess we have made in our day by thinking ourselves to be so much wiser than God! How badly have so many distorted and marred God’s good gift of marriage. And how commonly do marriages end in divorce? How much heartbreak and damage is done to families, communities, and even to societies and cultures on the whole as a result.

May the Lord renew our minds according to His Word on this topic, and may He grant repentance in our land once again, and turn the hearts of fathers back to their children (Malachi 4:6; Luke 1:17).

We hope that you will join us for worship this Sunday, as we hear the Word of Christ preached to us from this great passage of Scripture!

Sunday Night Bible Study (6 PM)

We are continuing our study through the great historic creeds and confessions of the church. This Sunday night we will mark the start of a brief study through one of the more important but somewhat lesser known creedal statements – the Creed of Chalcedon (also known as the Chalcedonian Definition).

Whereas the Nicene Creed (325 AD) was largely combating against the heresy of Arianism (which denies the full divinity of Christ), and so sets forth a clear and thorough statement of the deity of Christ; the Chalcedonian Creed was dealing with the heresies of Nestorianism (which erred in dividing the divine and human natures of Christ) and Eutychianism (which erred in mixing or confusing the divine and human natures of Christ), and so sets forth a clear and thorough statement regarding the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

In other words, the Chalcedonian Creed teaches us how we are to rightly understand the biblical teaching regarding the two natures of Christ. As noted scholar and church historian Philip Schaff (1819-1893) puts it, “[I]t indicates the essential elements of Christological truth, and the boundary-lines of Christological error” (The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 1, p.34).

We hope that you will join us for this helpful and informative study. Bring your Bible, bring your questions, and feel free to bring a friend!