In the course of this sermon we traveled through Ephesians 5:22-24, where Paul gives wives this command:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
What does this mean? What doesn’t this mean? If we want to honor our Lord with obedience then we should want to know. Because this is a commonly misused and misunderstood passage, it will be helpful to linger on it a bit.
About two years ago now, in his sermon, “A Word to the Wives,” Ryan addressed the subject of submission from 1 Peter 3:1-6. In doing so, Ryan referenced six points from a sermon delivered by John Piper indicating “What submission is not,” according to 1 Peter 3:1-6. Here they are:
- Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says. You can see that in verse one: she is a Christian and he is not. He has one set of ideas about ultimate reality. She has another. Peter calls her to be submissive while assuming she will not submit to his view of the most important thing in the world—God. So submission can’t mean submitting to agree with all her husband thinks.
- Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar. It is not the inability or the unwillingness to think for yourself. Here is a woman who heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. She thought about it. She assessed the truth claims of Jesus. She apprehended in her heart the beauty and worth Christ and his work, and she chose him. Her husband heard it also. Other wise Peter probably wouldn’t say he “disobeyed the word.” He has heard the word and he has thought about it. And he has not chosen Christ. She thought for herself and she acted. And Peter does not tell her to retreat from that commitment.
- Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband. The whole point of this text is to tell a wife how to “win” her husband. Verse one says, “Be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won.” If you didn’t care about the Biblical context you might say, “Submission has to mean, taking a husband the way he is and not trying to change him.” But if you care about the context, you conclude that submission, paradoxically, is a strategy for changing him. The goal of this text is to help wives bring about the most profound change in their husbands that can be imagined—the transformation from being a spiritually dead unbeliever to a spiritually alive believer. Submission does not say, “I renounce all efforts to change my husband.” What it does say we’ll see in a moment.
- Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. The text clearly teaches that the wife is a follower of Jesus before and above being a follower of her husband. He is going on the path of unbelief. She does not follow him in that, because she has been called to be a disciple of Jesus. Submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands—and governments and employers and parents. When Sara calls Abraham “lord” in verse 6, it is lord with a little “l”. It’s like “sir.” And the obedience she renders is secondary obedience, under, and because of, and filtered through obedience to the LORD with a capital “L”.
- Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength from her husband. A good husband should indeed strengthen and build up and sustain his wife. He should be a source of strength. There are ways in which a wife is the “weaker vessel” as verse 7 says. But what this text shows is that when a husbands spiritual nurturing and leadership is lacking, a Christian wife is not bereft of strength. Submission does not mean she is dependent on him to supply her strength of faith and virtue and character. The text assumes just the opposite. She is summoned to develop depth and strength and character not from her husband but for her husband. Verse five says that her hope is in God, not the husband.
- Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear. Verse 6b says, “You have become [Sarah's] children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” In other words submission is free, not coerced by fear. The Christian woman is a free woman. When she submits to her husband—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—she does it in freedom, not out of fear.
So, what, then is submission? Piper continues:
It is the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership. It is an attitude that says, “I delight for you to take the initiative in our family. I am glad when you take responsibility for things and lead with love. I don’t flourish when you are passive and I have to make sure the family works.” But the attitude of Christian submission also says, “It grieves me when you venture into sinful acts and want to take me with you. You know I can’t do that. I have no desire to resist you. On the contrary, I flourish most when I can respond creatively and joyfully to your lead; but I can’t follow you into sin, as much as I love to honor your leadership in our marriage. Christ is my King.”
If you’d like to further explore the subject of Christian marriage or biblical manhood and womanhood, the following books should be a great help. Follow the link to the first three for a free PDF version.
- 50 Crucial Questions about Manhood and Woomanhood, John Piper and Wayne Grudem
- What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible, John Piper
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
- God’s Good Design, Claire Smith
- What did You Expect? Redeeming The Realities of Marriage, Paul Tripp
- When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage, Dave Harvey
- Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother, Carolyn Mahaney
- The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men, Richard D. Phillips
All of these titles are available on Amazon or at the Book Nook. Also, check out the messages portion of our site, which includes a number of sermons on the subject of marriage and biblical manhood and womanhood.
Over at the DSC Music Blog, Drew Hodge broke some good news this past week: He and DSC’s musicians are working on a new studio project to record a number of original songs and arrangements that have found a place in the life of our church.
Here’s from his post:
Help us choose the songs for our next recorded studio album. Below is the list of songs to choose from. All of these songs are original DSC compositions and/or arrangements. Pick one to ten of your favorites. Songs that have blessed, challenged or encouraged you.
To pick, email email@example.com with your picks. Subject line: This Is Our Song
I would also love to hear any stories about these songs working in your life.
Be a part of the process!
By the way, if you haven’t subscribed yet to the DSC Music blog, you should consider doing so. Every Monday, Drew Hodge posts a service recap with links to lyrics and audio for the songs we sang that Sunday. Check out the blog and subscribe here.
Also not to miss, Drew is hosting a Saturday Seminar on February 21 called, “Come, Let Us Sing!” Click here to learn more and to register.
There’s a prayer familiar to believers and unbelievers alike that begins this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). This is the first line to a prayer given to us by Christ, commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer.”
In his article, “The Most Important Neglected Prayer,” here’s how Drew Hunter begins his reflection on this important line:
This first line of the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most familiar in the Bible. It is one of the most commonly prayed prayers in history. Yet among believers it is often underappreciated and misunderstood.After years of familiarity with this prayer I realized that I wasn’t quite sure what I was saying. I began to wonder if I was doing what Jesus had just warned about: heaping up “empty phrases” in prayer (v. 7). What are we actually praying here? What does Jesus hold so highly as to instruct us to make it our first prayer?
Drew then pursues these three questions:
- Is this a statement of praise, or is it a request?
- But what exactly are we asking God to do?
- What are we requesting be honored?
We can’t go wrong for better understanding anything Jesus said to us, and perhaps that’s especially true for the prayer that he gave to us with which we’re to address our Father. Read the whole article here.
Reading the Bible regularly is a really good idea. It’s even more important than eating regularly. As Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
If you’re looking for a Bible Reading plan, Justin Taylor posted today his annual survey of options, “How to Read the Whole Bible in 2015.” If you’re looking for more of a pattern for ongoing reading rather than a plan to read the Bible in a year, here’s a simple plan by Drew Hunter (my baby brother) summarized in his recent Tweet: “No check-box, no guilt, 2015 Bible-reading plan: two Old Testament, two New Testament chapters per day. Finish a book, pick another.” It just might be for you.
While a read through Justin’s post should surface a good plan for you, here are a few plans to consider:
- Chronological Reading Plan: Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, by George Guthrie is a unique resource. This Bible is published with a one year daily reading plan in mind, ordering the Biblical material chronologically along the Bible’s own narrative framework and includes a reading plan. George Guthrie has also published a one year chronological Bible reading plan, Read the Bible for Life.
- The M’Cheyne Plan with Daily Devotional Commentary: For the Love of God is a two volume series of books written by D.A. Carson providing daily reading to supplement the M’Cheyne reading plan. This plan, named after its designer and Scottish minister in the 1800′s, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, takes you through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year.
- Several Places A Day: Crossway’s Daily Bible Reading Plan is available as a PDF form to print out as a series of bookmarks. This plan gets you through the Bible in a year, reading from several different places in the Bible each day. Crossway has published 10 reading plans to supplement the ESV, including RSS, email, audio, and print versions daily. Also, the Discipleship Journal “Bible Reading Plan,” by NavPress, takes you through the entire Bible by reading from four different places each day.
- Just a List of Chapters: The Bible Reading Record, by Don Whitney, is a simple list of every chapter in the Bible. With this, you can read at whatever pace you like and keep track of what you’ve read until you’re through the Bible. This, of course, wouldn’t necessarily be a one year plan, but it could be. To get through the Bible’s 1089 chapters in a year, you need to read an average of 3.25 chapters a day, which comes out to about four chapters per day if you commit to reading five days each week.
- A Plan for Following God’s Redemption Plan: The Bible Eater is a simple one-page print out with a list of every chapter in the Bible of you to read on a certain rhythm and check off as you go. This plan highlights the Bible’s chapters that are especially significant for grasping the Bible’s storyline centered in Christ.
If the Bible is new to you, or if you haven’t personally invested in knowing the Scriptures through regular reading, listen to Ryan’s sermon on Psalm 1, “If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life….” And if you need some help reflecting on some of the spiritual dynamics involved in our struggle to read the Bible, check our Ryan Kelly’s article, “How’s Your Bible Reading Going?.” Finally, for a list of helps in understanding the Bible as you read it, check out the previous DSC post, “Help for Understanding the Bible.”
Tonight we reach the halfway point through the gospel of Mark. Ryan’s sermon will take us from Mark 8:22-33 and will revolve around the question that Jesus asked his disciples in Mark 8:29:
“But who do you say that I am?”
Never did Jesus ask anyone a more important question, and it’s a question for all of us.
Over the next four weeks, we’ll take a break from the gospel of Mark for a short series through the book of Ephesians. But as we take this breather from Mark’s gospel account, pull up and print out this crazy helpful chart. Notice the center of the chart, Mark 8:29. From here, the story takes a turn for the cross. The cost of our salvation for our Savior becomes increasingly clear. So does the cost of discipleship.
Christian doctrine is not easy thinking stuff. In his article, “Christmas Is the Greatest Mystery,” posted at Desiring God, David Mathis reflects on the meaning of the incarnation. Here’s how he begins his article:
It is the hour that split history in half.
Until that first Christmas, he had been, from eternity past, the divine Son and second person of the Godhead. He was God’s glad agent in creation (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2), and from the beginning of time, he had upheld the universe at every moment (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3).
But then came the great change — the blessed addition — at the very heart of reality. The Word became flesh (John 1:14). God became man. The Creator himself came as a creature, the Author entered into his Story as a character. Without abandoning any of what it means to be God, he took on all that it means to be human.
This spectacular truth, at the center of what we celebrate at Christmas, we call “the incarnation,” which means the “in-fleshing” of the divine Son — God himself taking human flesh and blood and all our humanness. Christmas is when he adds humanity to his divinity, and does so that he might rescue us from our soul-destroying rebellion, and lavish us with the everlasting enjoyment for which we were made.
It is a glorious revelation, and it’s also a great mystery.
Click here to continue reading.
Then, pick up a book or two at Amazon (links below) or at the Book Nook to reflect more on the coming of God’s Son, in order to magnify him more in your heart. Here are some suggestions for adults and for kids:
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, John Piper
- God with Us: Knowing the Mystery of Who Jesus Is, Daniel Hyde
- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance, Bruce Ware
- Why Christmas?, Barbara Reaoch
- Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper
- Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, Nancy Guthrie
- Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional, Marty Machowski
If you’re a sermon junkie, click here for past DSC Christmas sermons going back to 2003.
At the end of November we wrapped up our Equip Class on the Old Testament book of Joshua. Joshua is that book with the story of Jericho, a story famous in children’s books and flannelgraph. But not the whole story. Here’s how it ends: “Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:21). Joshua’s sword has a lot of blood on it.
This presents a difficulty to sensitive and attentive readers. In a book filled with the gracious promises of God for his people and even careful instructions for justice for their life together (Joshua 20), what should we make of this apparent military overkill? Was God right to command this and was Israel right to carry it out? What shall we say to those who call the Bible a barbaric book, who use this as an example of how religion spoils everything?
If the Bible is true and we’re reading it right, then, yes he was. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for us to understand.
As with any text of the Bible, we need to situation this one in its immediate context, the context of the story that is unfolding in Scripture, and in the context of the whole Bible. This specific question gives us a great exercise in biblical interpretation. Four resources will be helpful to you in thinking this through:
- “God’s Justice in the Land of Canaan,” Kyle Dillon
- “How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament,” Justin Taylor
- “Introduction to the Book of Joshua” in the ESV Study Bible
- The Morality of God in the Old Testament, G.K. Beale
We should not be surprised to bump up against hard questions in the Bible. We’re fallen and finite creatures. We don’t have the whole picture and if we did we’d have a sinners take on it. Gratefully, God’s Word is true at every point and we can trust it. And gratefully its story leads to a cross where the Lord dealt fully and finally with the injustice our own sin, and a resurrection where he conquered death for those who entrust themselves to him.