Grace and Historical Fact | Responsibilities | Vows | Credentials | Subsequent Grace | Binding And Loosing
Thank God for His abundant grace! Within His grace is the forgiveness of sins. Amen!In the last quarter of the twentieth century there had been a growing undercurrent within "Christendom" as to what all the grace of God will do. The availability of the dissolution of sin and the death of the sin nature was always without question.
During that same quarter, sin increased dramatically in the body of Christ. The early to mid 1980's saw a direct attack on the Christian family. As time progressed, well known Christians sought divorce. Things became worse as many of these same well known Christians or "Christians" were remarried to another spouse. Many elements fueled this firestorm of sin. One element was how the Word of God was translated and interpreted, which led to a redefinition of what the grace of God does.
During the mid 1970s a new translation was released: The New International Bible. At that time I was a student at Northeast Bible Institute in Green Lane, PA (now Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA.). We were issued complimentary copies of the NT NIV. Most of our instructors were ecstatic about the clarity and "accuracy" of the NIV. Yes, indeed, the major proof texts for the deity of Christ were there among other things. Unfortunately I went along with the general positive evaluation of this translation encouraging all Christians under my ministries to employ this translation. In the late 1990's, after repeatedly comparing the NIV to the Greek text (I use the Nestle text), I was disheartened to see that the NIV took too many translation liberties. Some of these effected the passages that would had more clearly expressed the subordination of the Son to the Father had the NIV translators were faithful to the ancient texts. Some other passages dealt with divorce and marriage, changing the wording ever so slightly from the actual Greek.
In that last quarter of the 1900s the NIV became THE BIBLE to many and I maintain that, in part, it was this general acceptance of the NIV and other translations other than the KJV that redefined what all grace does in people's lives in the realm of marriage, divorce, divorce and remarriage.
Grace indeed is the unmerited favor of God, but, Thayer points out that it can also mean, according to the context that it is used in, the ability to do the right thing. So, aside from the gracious forgiveness of sins, when we accept Christ, we become...
|Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.- 2 Cor. 5:17|
Without question, sin is forgiven. Divorce is sin. It can be forgiven. Remarriage to another person is sin (Luke 16:18).
|Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.-|
This logic fails, for the Scriptures show that though grace absolves us from sin, it does not erase historical fact (even in the mind of God) nor does it nullify godly responsibilities. The fact that we become new creatures enables us to DO the correct thing by accepting historical fact and our godly responsibilities. Here are some examples both in Scripture and in everyday life of both points.
All of these are forgivable, but they remain historical fact. These historical events affected the individuals involved, the body of Christ, and the society in which these people were located. Grace erased only the sin, not the events nor their effects.
It is with good reason that God declares through Paul that the bishop/ deacon/ pastor/ elder/ etc. is to be the husband of ONE wife (1 Tim. 3:2, 12, Titus 1:6). Yes, that could refer to polygamy, but it refers to remarriage too. You shall see why just a few lines down.
Let's say a lady named Mary purposely bounces checks in some local stores. However, a few days later, Mary comes to know Christ as her Savior. Immediately she does the right thing and begins to make things right, but the grace that she received does not prevent litigation nor does it prevent some storeowners from refusing to accept personal checks from anyone, including ME! (Hey buddy, I didn't do it!). No amount of the grace of God in this time-age will erase historical fact nor the repercussions of sin.
|For Scriptural support of these statements on marriage itself, please see|
Back in the 1990's a phrase was being kicked around by youth workers - "spiritual virginity." It was to help young people who had premarital sex realize that when they came to Christ, He removes their sin from them. However, physically and historically the fact remains they are no longer a virgin, even though they came to Christ. Their salvation did not erase historical, social, emotional, physical, and psychological fact.
If you get married, no amount of grace can remove that fact and no amount of paperwork to create a divorce dissolves a marriage. If the grace of God does not dissolve a former marriage, how much less then does the laws of feeble man!
Denominations / fellowships that permit their ministers to perform weddings for those that are divorced are INSUBORDINATE to the clear Word of God.
Hence, God commands that the pastor/ deacon/ elder/ bishop, etc. be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2, 12, Titus 1:6). Even if a remarriage occurs prior to salvation, both the historical fact of a prior marriage leading to a divorce and the repercussions thereof are not dissolved by grace. The marriage itself is not dissolved by grace. The fact remains that when one remarries with another spouse still living, they have more than one spouse. Even after all the hideous paperwork for a divorce many face alimony, child support, visitation rights, financial disbursements, perhaps cantankerous relatives that could very well instigate litigation, debt entanglement, and many other issues. Yet God declares that they who serve him as ministers to the flock be free from any worldly entanglements (2 Tim. 2:4, 4:13 - 16, Acts 6:12).
This point was made even more real to me when we bought a house in Cambridge. There were numerous fees of course, but a certain optional one time fee came up - insurance in case there would be any litigation between former owners who had divorced each other when such litigation would affect the present owners! Human law may try to claim that a "marriage had ended," but the effects are long lasting to many generations.
I am of the opinion that divorce is worse today than what it was in the time of the apostles. Litigation and any other trouble may raise its' head. Hence, the Holy Spirit speaks through the apostle to indicate that the man of God is to be the husband of one wife. Nowhere in the NT or early church history prior to 250AD do we find divorced people who are remarried admitted to the ministry.
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On the first two pages of this series on marriage we clearly showed by Scripture that marriage was for life and soluble only by physical death. If you have not already done so, please see Marriage 101 and Basic Help For The Marriage Under Attack. As you examine the Scriptures you will see that a valid vow made by an adult had to be fulfilled. You will find God hates divorce. Jesus never gave permission to remarry. Also, only physical death dissolves a marriage. Grace does not dissolve vows or intent that have their basis in God. Only death dissolves the marriage / marriage vow and that is not to say that we should kill ourselves or anyone else.
Being crucified in Christ does not terminate a marriage. Instead, it cancels our fleshly desires (2 Cor. 5:16) and enables us to do the right thing.
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One "reason" why some just cannot accept the simple wording that the bishop/ deacon/ etc. is to be the husband of one wife is because in the last quarter of the 1900s an increasing number of converts that were divorced and remarried claimed to have a call to the ministry. What some people in authority did then was, instead of defining experience by the Word of God, they had the Word of God defined by the experience of man.
The same thing was done with tongues. Some came to the unscriptural conclusion that anyone speaking in tongues just had to be saved. Hence, we have unsaved people thinking they are saved because they think they speak in tongues.
The Word of God says "thou shalt not steal." We do not have a problem with that.The Word of God says that the bishop /deacon, etc. is to be the "husband of one wife." For some reason we have to analyze that statement! I've been told by one person who favored credentialing the remarried that "we worked hard to get this accomplished." Of course you had to work hard. It takes some work to circumvent simple Scripture!
I used to pastor in the mountains of Western MD, Flintstone, MD. There I met a few folk who were not as fortunate as you and I to use and understand many words greater than eight letters long. However, whenever they were saved, the were able to understand the Word of God. They would read "husband of one wife" and believe exactly that! They would understand that remarriage was included in that verse.
Or, think of a child who hears about Pastor's Smith's first wife and pastor Smith is now remarried. Later the child reads in God's Word that Pastor Smith should be the husband of one wife. Pastor Smith will have to "explain it" to the child. The child subconsciously learns that the Word of God can be circumvented to meet the situation. After all, would not pastor Smith refer to his first wife as his "first wife." and since he is remarried, he has a second wife?
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Therefore, since I have been spurred on in part by the errors of the 49th General Council of the Assemblies of God, with respect I write this to them: Either you are going to have extend the effects of grace to include those that backslide, or, you will have to embrace eternal security for there is no difference between initial grace and subsequent grace. If grace nullifies sin for the new comer to Christ it nullifies it for the backslider that returns. If grace nullifies a marriage prior to conversion it can nullify a marriage that occurred when someone backslid.
|A few years after this page was written, the Assemblies of God "extended the grace of God" by permitting ministers divorced after salvation to remarry. Truly, they are on a downward trend. So, the last sentence of this section, "Unless it is reversed, it can only get worse for the AOG," sadly has come true.|
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Red=KJV, Green=Young's Literal Translation
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
and I will give to thee the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Clearly neither Peter nor the rest understood Jesus to say here that Peter was to have supreme authority. What is added shows that Peter held the keys precisely as every preacher and teacher does. To "bind" (dhshv) in rabbinical language is to forbid, to "loose" (lushv) is to permit. Peter would be like a rabbi who passes on many points. Rabbis of the school of Hillel "loosed" many things that the school of Schammai "bound." The teaching of Jesus is the standard for Peter and for all preachers of Christ. Note the future perfect indicative (estai dedemenon, estai lelumenon), a state of completion. All this assumes, of course, that Peter's use of the keys will be in accord with the teaching and mind of Christ. The binding and loosing is repeated by Jesus to all the disciples (#18:18). Later after the Resurrection Christ will use this same language to all the disciples (#Joh 20:23), showing that it was not a special prerogative of Peter. He is simply first among equals, _primus inter pares_, because on this occasion he was spokesman for the faith of all. It is a violent leap in logic to claim power to forgive sins, to pronounce absolution, by reason of the technical rabbinical language that Jesus employed about binding and loosing. Every preacher uses the keys of the kingdom when he proclaims the terms of salvation in Christ. The proclamation of these terms when accepted by faith in Christ has the sanction and approval of God the Father. The more personal we make these great words the nearer we come to the mind of Christ. The more ecclesiastical we make them the further we drift away from him.
In the summer of 2001 we were invited to the Wesleyan Camp in Denton, MD., to hear a sermon from a series that week on "What Ever Happened To Holiness?". I will not go into details here but before I get to the main thing I want to say the man stabbed marriage twice in the back. It was a stab in the back, not a direct attack, leaving in his hearer's minds that divorce is an option. During his message, he asked us to think why Jesus was "easy" on the woman at the well (John 4:9-29) while not letting the man born blind (John 9:1-38) get away so "easy." Doing this with other comparative passages this "preacher" attempted to place in our minds the thought that holiness was relative to a situation and not absolute. Also, in the course of his sermon, he brought the Word of God down to the same level as the by-laws of man. So, the man ably answered his own question. "Preachers" like him have twisted the Word to the likings of human minds: that is exactly what has happened to holiness.
I invite you to get a King James or New King James Bible and read John 4:9-29. I have read that passage numerous times and never once did I think He let that lady off "easy." V. 18 nailed her! By the way, as you read that passage, know that the Greek word translated as "husband" can also be translated as "man." She had no husband. The husbands she did "have" as lovers were not her husbands and she was never married to them - and they were married to someone else. Our Lord's reply convicted this needy woman and she changed the subject. As the disciples returned, she found a reason to leave BUT, in so doing, called her neighbors to see the Messiah. I am of the opinion, her heart changed at verse 18 and she asked God to forgive her sins.
Note that Young's Literal declares "shall be having been bound in the heavens" and "shall be having been loosed in the heavens." It is quite clear that any "binding and loosing" that we do is directed by what has already been declared correct in heaven. Therefore it CANNOT contradict the Word of God.
Neither does our Lord's statement make holiness and salvation a moving target. I have heard at least one preacher say that Jesus was easier on the Samaritan woman He met at the well than He was the blind man He healed in John whom He told not to sin again lest something else happen to Him. Indeed, our Lord was NOT easier. Review the information to the right bottom half in the pale red section.
Marriage has come under attack by liberal theology that waters down the Word of God and encourages people to sin. Those who teach these things bear the great responsibility of causing others to sin. Some liberals encourage us to read books about how marriage and divorce was back in the Lord's time but they ignore this main point: JESUS WAS OPPOSED TO WHAT THE JEWS AND THE REST OF SOCIETY WERE DOING TO MARRIAGE. JESUS REFERED BACK TO GENESIS 2! Should we not ignore these books written by men and listen to Jesus?
Unlike the situation where the school of Hillel "loosed" many things that the school of Schammai "bound", the Church does not need to "flip-flop" today for we have the whole plain Word of God. Man's Word is NEVER above God's Word, and, on this page and others we list the Scriptures, and the Scriptures are unified in that only physical death releases one from the bonds of marriage and the responsibilities thereof. Grace, though it forgives sin, dissolves no historical fact, including marriage, but empowers us to do the correct thing and follow through with our responsibilities in accordance with the Word of God.
I am sure that deep down inside you want to do the right thing. Ask God and obey in faith and you will be blessed!
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Help! I Am Divorced!
Help! I Am Divorced And Remarried!
Divorce Or Not To Divorce?
Remarry After Divorce?
BASIC Help For The Marriage Under Attack
Tools For The Marriage Under Attack
For the Assemblies of God
Return To The Marriage Pages Index
Invite Jesus Into Your Life / Lives
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Text ©2002, 2012, Peter Macinta. You may copy, store, redistribute, UNCHANGED in content and not for retail.