& The Kingdom
Church, we worship we serve a risen savior. His name is Jesus. And as we worship Saviour one of the key things for us is that we not confine that to just singing a song on Sunday that we not confined that just to gathering in this space. If Jesus is the one who is preeminent over all of creation and he is and if Jesus really is the name of Bob of all names and it is If we claim to follow him, then that takes precedence over anything else that impacts more than just a couple hours on Sunday morning that impacts our entire week. Our entire lives. Are we ordered by our recognition of the supremacy of Christ and we've been as a church if you're a guest of ours this morning, welcome, we're glad you're here. You're kind of starting this new book in the last chapter. Those were finishing up a sermon series this morning. We've been looking at the family we've been talking about this thing called family that so many of us experience is broken and messed up so far from God's plan and God's design for it, but we've been talking about that we've been looking at how is it that the family is is redefined in light of the Gospel. How is it that the family takes on a different character when Christ is King there? We come today. This is the last sermon in the series and were talking about how do we make this work? How do we how do we connect family with Christ Kingdom? How do we balance if you will I don't think that's the right word, but we'll go with it for now. How do we balance the responsibilities of being a husband or being a wife or being a father or being a mother being a child? How do we balance these family relationships with the supremacy of Christ? How do we balance family with the kingdom? How do these things fit? How do they work and some of you sat through this series and you've been like when is he going to get to the good stuff namely the stuff about me? Because some of you are single some of you are widowed and I've been talking about husbands and wives and and parents and children. You're like, I don't have any of that. We're going to talk about it today because in the New Testament we see that God addresses this he addresses. How does the family sit within the kingdom? Any addresses that through one of his servants through Paul who was himself not married. We'll talk a little bit about that. But in in Corinthians 1st Corinthians chapter 7, I'd ask you to turn there with me and 1st Corinthians chapter 7 Paul gives us as he's inspired by the Holy Spirit God's directions for how the family works. Alongside the kingdom how it works within the kingdom how these two things far from being competing allegiances actually work together. What will see is that no matter what your family situation you have a place in the Kingdom of Christ no matter what your situation you have a place in the Kingdom of Christ. I think that's the primary message of 1st Corinthians 7:4 the first thing that we see or they were going to look at rather again. This is one of the time things if time were No Object we see a lot more than what we're actually going to see this morning, but because of limited time we're going to jump in 2 Verse 6. We're going to jump into verse 6, and we're going to see that the widowed don't have to remarry in order to have standing in Christ Kingdom. That's what Paul says first year. Never six of 1st Corinthians chapter 7 now as a concession not a command. I say this I wish that all were as I myself am but each one has its own gift from God one of one kind and one of another to the unmarried and to the Widow's I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry for it is better to marry than to burn with passion right now admittedly. We're jumping into the middle of this text. Right? And so that one kind of hits you right out of the gate it's better to marry than burn with passion. Right? Well, there's some context that we need to sit here Paul is talking about the implications of who Christ is for the church there in Corinth than in by extension for us and he's talking about the family and he saying look Christ is pre-eminence over all of this Christ Christ is the one who matters. We live under that reality. How does that impact life? And the first thing he says is I wish I should be so much easier for me to tell you what God's design is for the family within the kingdom. If you are all just like I am but that brings up the question. What's Paul like, right. I wish that you were all as I myself am what do you mean Paul? Well from other places from church history to understand it. The Paul himself did not have a spouse that the time that he's riding. This Paul was riding as somebody who had given his life to Christ and had no home fire to take care of he has he's riding his somebody who is forsaking everything to go out on the road and preach the gospel because I wish everybody was like me then it's easy. How do you fit the family into the kingdom? You just go and preach the gospel and don't worry about it. That's what he saying saying. I wish that everybody had that same freedom. But at the same time even as I say that I recognize that's not God's plan for his giving one gift to one and another gift to another and some people have this gift of being unencumbered. Buy a marriage now that some people that gift is is by choice. Sometimes it's not by choice, but he's saying okay. So here's what I'm going to say. I wish everybody's like me. I know that's not God's plan. So let's go through this piece by piece to the Widow's he says to the unmarried and the Widow's now a lot of times you read that unmarried and we read that as singles right to the singles. That's always talking about. I don't think he's talking about men who've lost their wives what we would today call a widower. All right, and then he addresses the women who've lost a husband the widows. Okay. I wish everybody was like me unencumbered able to take the gospel anywhere anytime but here's the reality not everybody's like that some of you had a spouse and you've lost them. How does that family Dynamic fit into the kingdom? He says here's the thing. If you are a widower, if you are a widow, here's what I would say remain single. Nnbs, I'm making as an assumption here. I'm assuming that Paul had a spouse at one point and he is now a widower. I'm assuming that he was married. He understood what marriage look like. But at this point in his life, his wife has passed away and he is now an unmarried man. And that is what he says as I am remain single idea. How many of you don't raise your hand. I want to put anybody on Spotify. How many of you thinking your mind? Are married and think you know, it'd be so much easier. If I didn't have my spouse like it that don't raise your hands. To get you in trouble.
How many of you were married lost a spouse and say I would give anything to have my spouse back?
Sisters I am crying with you. Because that is a tough spot to be and Carol. We just walked with you through this yesterday as we celebrated Larry's life. That's a hard place to be. What Paul would say to you today into anybody else in their shoes? Jesus is enough.
Jesus is enough that grief that it hurts. The Jesus is enough. You can remain single. Because Christ is Enough.
Don't run out and just say I've got to find a person to fulfill me. Jesus can fulfill you.
In God's Providence. I didn't know we were going to have a memorial for Larry yesterday before I preach the sermon in and frankly as I was looking at this passage. I was thinking what in the world am I going to say to Carol Carol? I love you your church loves you and Jesus is enough for you in this time. Amen. Sao Paulo saying you don't need another person to fulfill you if your family reality is just you after years of companionship years of serving together. Jesus is enough.
Don't run out because you need somebody to replace a spouse and forget about Jesus he says, but if you do decide to get married go for it, there's nothing wrong with that. So if you're a widow or widower
Don't think that somebody's going to fulfill what price should be fulfilling in you. But at the same time if the Lord bring somebody else in your life who can compliments you who you can serve Christ alongside of who is a faithful believer. Don't feel bad if you get married.
That's that's what Paul is saying in this is this is one of those rubber meets the road kind of tough things where where it's like, okay. Our culture says one of two things. You've got to have your soul partner and if you don't have your soul partner life's not worth living Paul would say Jesus is enough and in the cultural might also say to us your your own individual and now's your chance go. Have fun. And Paul would say hold on. Jesus is enough for you there, too. You don't need an experience. You don't need a person to fulfill you if you are a widow or widower. You're in Christ Kingdom. You don't need a relationship to fulfill you you don't need to stay single to maintain your place in the king of as you read through the New Testament widows and widowers. They were they were held up in honor actually the first church fight, you know what it came about widows. Some group 1 group was mad because their widows were getting overlooked, right the other windows were getting all the attention in this group. Was it getting it first church fight is over widows. They honored their widows failing this a lot. I think we fail in this. Let me call us. Let me call me and you to honor the widows in our midst. Because they have a place in God's kingdom here regardless of their current marital status where they get remarried. Don't sit there and judge them and say well, I can't believe that they not love the stuff. Of course they did. But Christ has freed them up to find somebody else and to serve with that spouse now if they choose to remain unmarried.
I'm going to embarrass my wife to no end. She's already said she's not getting married if I die.
It was hard enough training me.
She doesn't want to have to go through that again.
Guys, this is what Paul saying. He's like church don't judge the Widow for getting married don't judge them for not getting married Widow. Don't feel like you need a person or an experience to fulfill you Jesus is enough in Christ Kingdom. That's all you need for sending Paul. What I think is speaking from a place of experience can understand he'd experienced this and now he's experience serving Christ and He's speaking here from experience and widows. Do you look at burst in to the married? I give this charge not I but the Lord the wife should not separate from her husband. But if she does she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband and the husband should not divorce his wife. Right just goes back to that question. I asked earlier where I told you not to raise your hands. If you're married, Paul says don't think for an instant the God's desire for you and his kingdom is for you to put that marriage aside. If you are married your task is to love your spouse husband as Christ loved the church and wives submit to your husbands is the church submits to Christ. He says don't don't destroy that don't destroy that two Believers in a marriage stay married. That's Paul's encouragement in the Kingdom of Christ. The best thing you can do married couples to further the kingdom is stay married. And not just a grit your teeth kind of get through it marriage. Actively work to have the kind of marriage that people look at and they say that kind of looks like Jesus and the church actively work at having a marriage that people look at and save that is appealing. I want to know what it is that holds that couple together. That's what he say man in that becomes almost your primary Ministry. As a Christian couple if you're both christ-followers if you're both submitted to the lordship of Jesus. Do whatever it takes to work that marriage out now. It's very possible for to Christ followers. To get divorced Paul is not excluding the possibility. He's just saying that should not be the reality. He's not saying that this is something we're if this happens, it's the end of the world for your face. He is saying though the best thing you can do in the Kingdom. You stay married. That is completely contrary to what our culture says. Our culture says if you're not happy if you're not fulfilled just get out. Move on and I am under no Illusions to the fact that some of you sitting in here. Have been divorced. I'm not under any illusion to that and I'm not condemning you. I'm not saying to you you screwed up and Jesus can never forgive you absolutely and God can use this situation for his glory. But if you are currently married and you are entertaining thoughts that say, you know, what if I just divorced my wife I can go do what I want to do. Even if you're trying to dress it up in spiritual terms, you know, if I just divorced my husband then I could really go serve Jesus. Knock it off. If you've experienced that already. God is gracious. God will comfort you and I pray that this church is a church that loves you well. If you have not experienced it, but you're going to choose that course instead of putting in the hard work on your marriage. Just don't do it. Stay married. That is what pulse think the plan for the family where there's two believing spouses that family stays together. That's how you serve the kingdom. What about though? Because this is a reality. What about families in which only one spouse is a Believer a Christ follower. At the mission field is what Paul says and this is what I'm afraid. I'm afraid. We're here a lot more than we're not and some of you have been divorced. This is your experience. This is it. This is where you you may have gone into a marriage thinking this is another believer that I'm getting connected with and into the marriage and find out this is not somebody who submitted the lordship of Christ and they said I want nothing to do with you and I want nothing to do with your Jesus. I don't care what the word says. I want a divorce and some of your sitting here feeling guilty. For the fact that you have an unbelieving spouse Paul would say don't feel guilty about that while you're married that submission field if they leave that's okay. Look what he says here in verse 12 to the rest. I say so he says to the married Believers I say this but to the rest I say I not the Lord know. What's he saying there? Is he saying okay versus 10 and 11. Those are scripture, but not let me just give you my opinion for a second. No, that's not what he's doing. He's saying the Lord very clearly says one man one woman Jesus taught on the subject of marriage. She said what God has joined together. Let no man separate that was Jesus teaching on divorce, but now he considers into a situation that Jesus never talked about and that situation is what if one person is a Believer and the other person is unbeliever. Then that's why he says I'm saying this I'm not going back to the Lord. I'm not going back to Jesus and then looking at his teachings. I'm just saying in light of what I understand from Jesus teaching even though he never personally addressed this here's what the Holy Spirit would say to us today. That's all he's saying. Do the rest I say I not the Lord that if any brother has a wife who is unbeliever, and she consents to live with him. He should not divorce her if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to live with her. She should not divorce him for the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife has made holy because of her husband, otherwise your children to be unclean but as it is they are holy now this this Verdes versus have caused some consternation over the years. It is somewhat difficult to to interpret them. But here's my best understanding of it. If you're in a marriage and your spouse is not a Christian you daily have an opportunity to demonstrate what the gospel does in a life you daily have an opportunity to prove the truth of what Jesus has done inside of you buy a life that is transformed by the gospel when you show Grace to an unbelieving spouse. They're seeing the gospel when your kids see a unbelieving spouse. Treat you bad and you respond with kindness? Your kids are seeing the gospel. I think that's what Paul saying here. He saying that you have a unique opportunity to share the gospel. Is it difficult? Yes. I have sat as it is a pastor. Sometimes it will come to me for counseling. I usually try to send them to one of our other pastors who have a little bit more.
It's truth, right if you guys know where other pastors if you don't trust me on this you need to talk to Dan Richard and Brian so they are very wise in the Lord. But when I sat with people for counseling, I've sat with a spouse who was a Believer and they're looking at their unbelieving spouse me, like look what I could do for Jesus if I wasn't tied down with this unbeliever, I would follow Christ under the mission field. If I didn't have this unbelieving spouse. Do you think it's okay if I pursue a divorce and I have to look at 1st Corinthians 7 and say no The mission field that God has given you is that spouse the mission field that God has given you are those unbelieving children. If you are in that situation that is a difficult place to be don't lose heart. The mission God has for you is to showcase the gospel to that unbeliever. The mission God has for you is to be the presence of Christ in that relationship bringing Redemption through your proclamation of the Gospel. Sometimes it's easier. to hop on a plane And fly to Russia and be a missionary, sometimes it's much harder to live out the gospel in a situation where Jesus is not appreciated. And yet Paul says here's your place in the Kingdom you so many people want to know God's will for their life. Look at your family situation. There's God's will for your life be Jesus right there. And if you're if you're believing spouse, don't try to be separated from them try to share the gospel with them.
But Paul goes on to say if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so in such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. If you're a Believer and your unbelieving spouse leaves, if you're a Believer and a professing believing spouse reject Christ and leaves your freak off this your place in the kingdom is now open. And the church ought not to condemn you for that the church ought to love you as a brother in Christ the church ought to be willing to send you.
But only so far as you've done what Christ has called you to do in that house. Now there's situations in both of those issue. It examples in into professing Believers in one believer One unbeliever. There are situations church that I want you to hear me very clearly do not Accord with the will of God. Did do immediately give you permission to get out if there is a buse in a home. staying It's not healthy if there is a buse in a home and there's danger and threats in a home that is the place at which Christ would say you have served here remove psafe find find that place of safety pray for your spouse, but you don't have to put yourself in danger with your spouse. Now. This is a whole big issue and I will not do justice to it this morning. But if anybody in here is in a situation like that, I would encourage you to call me call them by their pastors, but get the help that you need do not think that Christ would call you to live in fun in danger like that. Ok, right? So in a Christ following family stay married in a family in which one spouse is a Christian stay married and left the unbelieving spouse wants to go that's how the family fits into the Kingdom right one other note. For those of you who are not married. Just because Paul gives instructions about a home with one believing spouse is in one unbelieving spouse being the mission field does not give you permission nor is it a good idea to seek and unbelieving spouse? If you've still got an option don't pick that one, okay?
There are people who can give testimony to this in this church. Don't get don't shoes and unequally yoked household if you still got a choice once you're in love, that's your mission field before you go in the smart. All right, that's actually generally good advice just be smart. There we go. All right, so that then we do come we come to that issue of singleness, right? Okay, so Paul's talk about those who were married. but who have lost a spouse then he talks to those who are married to a Believer then he talks to those who are married but to an unbeliever and now he comes to do we have skip a little bit we come in verse 25 we come to The singles is the term. We will use 18 use that term in Falls day. He would call them The Virgins the betrothed those who has not yet been married, whatever translation you want to pick ESV. I think I'm helpfully says betrothed and Ivy says virgins the NLT. Where is Patrick and Gina my NLT Representatives? Your guys's says those who has not been married, right?
Rough paraphrase. Anyways, I was getting at is this is this is our singles. This is who we is at church today would cost singles and this is part of what Paul is addressing saying if you're single you don't have kids you don't have a spouse. What's your role? As a family of one in Christ Kingdom because that's how he views are your part of this and you have a role to play gay. So what he says in verse 25 now concerning the betroth are the virgins are those have not yet been married. I have no command from the Lord just like for a Believer married to an unbeliever you saying the same thing again? I don't know anything about this. But with the spirit, I'm telling you my judgment is it is one who's been shown the Lord's Mercy. I think that in view of the present distress, it's good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife don't seem to be free. Are you free from a wife do not seek a wife wife's don't take offense to that language. We joke about balls and chains, but that's not what we're talking about here. If you're free from a spouse don't seek a spouse you need to understand that if you do marry, you haven't stand Teresa's look there's a great gift and being unmarried. There is a great gift and being single for the believer who is single that is actually a gift and so often the church was kind of switch this around we viewed singleness as this abnormality like what's wrong with you that you can't find a spouse. You know what let's get a singles group together and we'll try to get all the Christians married.
Raise your hand. I want to know who it is if you're a Matchmaker.
Right, if you're looking at the singles in the church, and you're waiting for you can't wait for the fall when the college students come back you like. Oh, I'm going to hook up this with this a perfect. We view the singleness is like this aberration. Like of course God wants already married if you're single here this morning. I need you to understand something. God may very well intend for you to get married. God made very well intend for you to serve him as a single person. Both of these are okay. If you don't have a wife you're free of a wife. If you do have a wife don't seek to be free from a wife. If you're not married be content with what the Lord brings as a matter of fact singleness becomes an opportunity. If you do marry you haven't send if a if a betrothed woman marries she is not sent yet those who marry will have worldly troubles and I would spare you that.
I say this sometimes in marriage counseling not too late. If you marry you're going to have troubles, I would spare you that.
Far from assuming that everybody should get married Paul is elevating C Melissa saying praise God for our singles. And shame on us as a church. For assuming that everybody's got to get married her to somehow it not normal. A single this is a gift from God and it's not a curse. It's an opportunity because when you're single you're able to focus on the Lord, look at what he says in verse 29. This is what I mean Brothers. The appointed time is going very short from now on that those who have wives live as though they had to deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it for the present form of this world is passing away. The reason Park and stay single. This is a gift is because he buys into the vision of the Kingdom. Jesus Kingdom radically transform what matters in this world what matters in this world is not that I would find companionship not that I would amass wealth and be able to pass on a Heritage to a next-generation. Not that I would have sons to Bear my name what matters in this world is the Jesus is proclaimed as Lord. It's racist view singleness in light of the fact that this world is passing away view marriage in light of the fact that this world is passing away. I recommend a book to you by Francis and Lisa Chan. And I just went blank on the title.
Marriage in light of Eternity something like that. Did I get it? Thank you. All right. What's at? You and me forever. Thank you. You and me forever by Francis and Lisa Chan you guys to check that out talks about marriage. It talks about singleness in light of Eternity. This is what matters in Light of Christ Kingdom singleness is not the end of the world as matter fact. Paul says, it could be an opportunity for you to take the gospel. One of the most impactful things in my life was sitting in Chapel at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and having somebody get up and say I need 10 volunteers. I need 10 volunteers will take the gospel to this place where you cannot take the gospel. I need 10 volunteers unmarried men. No women no wives no offense because most likely guys if you volunteer you're going to die.
And I was already engaged. I had made my choice and I praise the Lord for my wife as my companion in Ministry. But that made me wake up. To the fact that we are who we have something much bigger at stake as a church. Why would we encourage somebody who Christ is calling to take the gospel to a place that's never been. Why would we encourage them to settle down and live a comfortable life here? If Jesus says this is a gift and an opportunity for you to single to go take the gospel where married couple can't go Why would we look at it be like those don't do that? You want to be alone forever? What if what if they don't have?
60 years what if they don't have 40 years? What if Christ is calling them to come and die for the gospel?
Let's assume that singleness is an opportunity to blame it all on the line for Christ rather than a curse while we wait. For this marriage that we hope might come let's read write everything and that's really the bottom line. That's really the bottom line for Paul wherever you are live for Christ, whatever your family life looks like. Are you a widow or widower live for Christ? Are you married to another believer you both live for Christ together. Are you an unbeliever believer married to an unbeliever live for Christ. Are you single live for Christ? That's what it all comes down to for Polly says in verse 17 only let each person live the life. The Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Paul says you don't have to get married. To be in Christ Kingdom. You don't have to be single to be in Christ Kingdom. You don't have to be in any particular family to be in Christ King and just whatever your it in live for Christ. That's Paul's bottom line and I would not add to scripture cuz that's really dangerous. But I would second that motion and I would put it this way. Also don't be jealous of somebody else. If you're single and you see a person getting married don't be jealous of them and be like while I was only getting married.
How come Jesus doesn't love me?
By the way, if you are getting married. We're happy for you. We are very happy for you.
But be respectful of the singles in your life be respectful of those and don't assume that this is God's will for them because it's God's will for you. I'm one of those people if I try something and I really like it. I want everybody else to try it to like like if I eat at a restaurant and I liked it you're going to hear about it. And I actually probably got myself in trouble before recommending restaurants from the pulpit just because I really like them and I can give you a lift after the service when I'm not being recorded. By the way. That's the way I really want everybody else to enjoy the things that I'm enjoying. Marriage is a thing that I enjoy I would not trade being married having kids for anything, but I'm not going to rub that in your face in it. If your you don't have those things going to say live what Christ has called you to live where you are at don't be jealous of God's plan for another individual and their family situation. If your believer married to an unbeliever, don't look at the believing couple and be like, what am I can have that? God must not love me. God has a plan for you. He set you he's called you for Seventeen, right? He's he's set you exactly where he wants you. And that's good for you to live is Christ right there in a life that he's put you in and not be jealous of a life out here. Paul says just don't don't worry. Don't stress about it. I want to finish with this in verse 32 Iggy kind of gives us the Y. So here's the bottom line live for Christ wherever why don't want you to live for Christ wherever because I want you to be free from anxieties because I know you people because I'm a people I know you and that you're going to stress out if you're single you're going to be married and if you're married you're going to want to be single. If you're this you're going to want to be this is knock it off. If you're living for Christ in whatever situation you're put in your going to be free from anxiety. And he says I want to be free from anxiety the unmarried man who thinks about things to learn how to please the Lord and we often quote this is so this isn't this a good thing the unmarried man, he gets to be anxious the Lord that's out with Paul saying, Because I don't want you to be anxious. So if you're single and you're serving the lord, but you're anxious about it. Don't do that. That's not the desire. But I Living For Christ to be constantly stressing yourself out over yours marital situation because they focus on your singleness. If you're married, you're anxious about worldly things how to please his wife. His interests are divided. The unmarried arbitros one is anxious about the things Lord how to be holy in body and spirit with a married woman's anxious about worldly things. No, all saying. I don't want you to be anxious whether you're married or unmarried. Here's what I want. I want this I say this for your own benefit not to lay any restraint upon you but to promote good order into secure your undivided Devotion to the Lord. Who sang Don't be anxious about being single? Undivided Devotion to the Lord don't be anxious. If you're married undivided Devotion to the Lord. That's what it comes down to 4 Paul. Why what comes back to what we talked about at the beginning? No matter your family situation. You have a place in Christ Kingdom, no matter your relational status whether it's Facebook official or not.
You have a place in Christ Kingdom no matter what. Jesus loves you. Jesus wants to see you useful to the kingdom. He wants to see you have purpose and meaning for your life that expands beyond your own desire for comfort. On desire for fulfillment and it finds your greatest fulfillment in keeping your eyes on him. We sang that song didn't we?
Keep my eyes above the waves. Let's look at Jesus church, whether we're married or not married single widowed. Whatever our family status is keep our eyes on Christ that serve him Faithfully where he's called us and God will be glorified in us. Let's pray.