A Little Time With The 1689: Day 317

Day 317

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 2.

All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the Gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ, according unto it; not destroying their own profession by any Errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible Saints;…”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 1:2

Acts 11:26

Reflection

When you hear the word “saint”, what image first comes to your mind? For me, it is of a woman with a halo, hands clasped as if in prayer while her eyes look up to heaven. Growing up Roman Catholic, saints were spiritual superheroes. The stories of their lives were more fantastic than a comic book, and they were of another world, above mere mortals. The Bible, however, defines saints differently.

Saints are simply Christians. Every one of the elect who have been redeemed by Christ and quickened by His Spirit is a saint. We are not perfect, and we still have the remaining corruption of sin within us. However, we have a faith that will not give way to heresy. When the Holy Spirit works faith in us, we hate sin and repent when we are conscious of sinning. While we cannot see the inner workings of the heart, and cannot watch the Holy Spirit indwell a person, we may accept as saints those who profess faith and demonstrate godliness.

These visible saints, the Christians we see before us in the here and now, are not the stuff of fairy tales, but of something much grander: God’s glorious work in their lives. Laying claim to the Gospel, they shall overcome their struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, through God’s grace alone. If you are in Christ, you are a saint.

 

Questions to Consider

  • Would you call yourself a saint?

 

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A Little Time With The 1689: Day 316

Day 316

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 1.

The Catholick or universal Church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit, and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the Elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 12:23

Colossians 1:18

Ephesians 1:10,22,23, 5:23,27,32

Reflection

They are out there. You may pass them on the street, never knowing they belong. There is no outward mark that signifies who they are. Yet members of the invisible church walk among us. If you are a Christian, you are among that number.

The work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating a person is not a solitary, one-time event that only occurs to one person in the whole of history. God has chosen a people, from all walks of life, from all epochs, to be His elect and receive eternal life. This group of elect people make up the catholic, or universal, church.  A Christian is not alone in her salvation, but is one among many.

Being part of the universal, invisible church is more than being part of a club. As one of the elect, you are a vital part of the body of Christ, and you also make up His bride. You have been called, as numerous others have been and will be, to glorify Him on earth by doing the good works He has prepared beforehand for you. (Ephesians 2:10). Through sanctification, your remaining corruption is killed off, and you are strengthened to practice holiness. As the bride of Christ, the universal church will one day be fully spotless, and we will rejoice with all the saints at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).

There may be times, Christian, when it appears you are alone in your love for Christ. Remember that is not so! Those that are His may be scattered across time and space, but they are joined together in Him.

Questions to Consider

  • What comfort can you take from knowing the church is universal?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 315

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Day 315

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 4.

“…nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.

Scripture Lookup

Mark 6:18

1 Corinthians 5:1

Reflection

Any scan of the news should put to rest any doubts one might have concerning the need for a chapter on marriage in the Confession. Accusations concerning executives in Hollywood and Washington toward women abound. Same-sex “marriage” is no big deal, and protected by the government. A politician’s son dates his widowed sister-in-law and the family publicly approves of the relationship. Sexual restraint has been tossed to the wind, and the winds in turn pelt our society with the hurt and damage such indulgence has created.

Lust isn’t new. And marriage alone will not quench all temptations. Yet it is the only institution ordained by God for the fulfillment of sexual desire. No matter how you attempt to sanitize other arrangements, they will always be sinful. One man and one woman, from different families, freely joined together for mutual aid, the creation of children, and the enjoyment of physical intimacy, is the only lawful union under God.

Marriage should not be feared, nor should it be glamorized. It is a beautiful relationship, reflecting Christ and His church, and it is a blessing to be a husband and wife. It is, however, work. We cannot exemplify godly marriages on our own; we must depend on wholly on the Lord to sustain us. Let us strive to keep our own purity, and that of our neighbor’s, by knowing what marriage is, calling out sexual immorality, and sharing the gospel to those who fail to keep the marriage bed undefiled.

Questions to Consider

  • How can you honor the institution of marriage?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 314

Day 314

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 4.

Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity, or Affinity forbidden in the Word;…”

Scripture Lookup

Leviticus 18

Reflection

Confusion surrounds the issue of marriage today. There has been a rebellion against the idea of only one man and one woman constituting a married couple, and the rebellious view is widely touted as just and fair. As long as two adults love each other and consent to the union, it should be legal, they say.

If marriage is simply two people who are of age and consent to be wed, then couldn’t any combination of people become a marriage? There are those who already would like to see marriages that include consanguinity and affinity becoming accepted by society. But just what is consanguinity, and what is affinity? Consanguinity is being closely related by ancestry to another person. Affinity is being closely related by marriage to another person. Scripture prohibits joining a man and woman in marriage that have a close degree of either consanguinity or affinity.

Rather than being oppressive, barring marriage based on consanguinity and affinity protects children and upholds the dignity of the individual. The genetic disorders that are prevalent among incestuous relationships are well known, thus the well-being of children are cared for with this restriction. Forbidding such unions also lessens the abuse of power that may occur within some family structures, where consent might not be as free when there is a closely shared history.

The Bible says that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (Genesis 2:24). Family trees are meant to branch out, to be united with others. Marriage extends the family; to marry within the family is sin.

Questions to Consider

  • How do the purposes of marriage forbid close relations from marrying?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 313

Day 313

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 3.

“…and therefore such as profess the true Religion, should not Marry with Infidels, or Idolaters; neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked, in their life, or maintain damnable Heresy.

Scripture Lookup

Nehemiah 13:25-27

Reflection

Marriage is a blessing, but it is not to be entered into lightly. As a Christian, your duty is to marry in the Lord. Searching for someone who loves the Lord more than he loves you should be a priority.

There comes a time where you must evaluate your prospective spouse.  Do they profess faith? See if their profession lines up with their actions. Are they striving to live a life of holiness? Do they have a desire to please God? Do they understand the Gospel, or is their definition of a Christian based on tradition? While extending grace to someone who doesn’t have it all together is understandable, the standards must be higher when it comes to marriage. After all, you will become “one flesh” with this person. You, Christian, have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, and do not join it with an unbeliever.

You may think that you are strong enough in your faith to withstand any tug your unbelieving husband may exert to draw you away from Christ. But what does it say about your faith now that you would disobey a command of your Lord to marry an unbeliever? Reflect on your faith, examine the faith of the one you are interested in, and submit to the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  • How do some Christians justify marrying an unbeliever or a false professor?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 312

Day 312

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 3.

“… yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord;

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 7:39

Reflection

Marriage is an institution ordained by God that is widely available to men and women.  There are few restrictions placed on who may be married: one man may only marry one woman, and vice versa. They must also be able to reasonably give their consent, and they must not be closely related. With such few regulations, there is vast freedom for humanity to choose who will be their spouse.

Christians are also subject to the same regulations concerning marriage as the rest of mankind, but they have an added command: they are to marry in the Lord. This means that a believer who wishes to marry ought to seek a spouse from among other believers. This shrinks the selection a bit, but it is a sweeter group from which to choose. To marry a fellow believer means that you will experience sanctification together. You will watch your spouse grow more Christ-like over the years. You will not be hindered in having the Lord be the center of the home. Such blessings are to be desired.

All of life is to be submitted to God’s law. Our feelings may get in the way of that, and there may be those who profess faith that desire to marry someone who is not a Christian. Sometimes the idea of marriage can be so consuming that takes a higher priority than God. Another name for that is idolatry, and that is a sin. “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). God has every right to declare what we can and cannot do. Our feelings carry no weight against the infinite, holy, and loving Creator. If you are a believer, your allegiance is to God, not your feelings. Marry in the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there any circumstances in which a believer may knowingly marry an unbeliever?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 311

Day 311

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 3.

It is lawful for all sorts of people to Marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent;…

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 13:4

1 Timothy 4:3

Reflection

Who should be allowed to marry? That question has been particularly prominent in recent years, as nations have accepted same-sex unions as valid. The Bible is clear that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Beyond that, there is a great amount of liberty in who you may choose as a spouse. Marriage is for all humanity, and the regulations concerning it are few. Geographic location, ethnicity, and culture have no bearing on whether or not marriage is biblical. Socio-economic status does not affect whether a marriage is pleasing to God. While there are matches that may be unwise when such categories are considered, they are not sinful.

Marriage is to be held in honor, as it is an institution that was ordained by God at creation. It is to be entered into after some careful thought. As such, those who cannot reasonably give their consent to a marriage should not wed. Those who do have sound judgement, though, ought to be careful not to spend so much time considering all the variables of a potential husband that they fall into sin: “…it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Corinthians 7:9) The restrictions upon whom one may marry, while crucial, are not endless.

Questions to Consider

  • What kinds of marriages are not biblical?