Understanding The Bible
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
|1.||ADDENDUM: THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST|
|3.||VARYING VIEWS CONCERNING THE LORD’S SUPPER|
ADDENDUM: THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST (1 Corinthians 3:9b-4:5; cp. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10)
Observe the costly foundation of God’s temple 11
Would argue for care (10b) in building with suitable fire-resistant materials (12a), rather than evident combustibles (12b).
How silly a log cabin or a hay mound or lean-to would look on a large foundation laid down at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Yet, that is what most Christians are doing.
It is clear that tins is a judgment of Christians (only) 15-16
There is no question of a test to see if a person has done enough ‘to be saved. Even when, regrettably, the works are burned up (because done unsatisfactorily), the person under discussion is “saved, yet so as through the flames.“
The purpose of the evaluating fire is twofold:
(1) To make apparent those works which are of praise to God, 3:12, 14; 4:5c.
(2) To remove by purging anything and everything which would mar the believer’s enjoyment of the Lord in heaven, 3:12b, 15a. How could one be happy in eternity if there remained the memory of his many failures to do the Lord’s will, and his many shameful sins committed after receiving Christ as Savior? God graciously removes all such awareness of sin’s effects (Revelation 21:4).
It is evident that the Judgment Seat of Christ will be a painful
experience to many
There is an element of truth in the Roman Catholic contention that the incident of death does not remove the harvest of sin’s sowing (Galatians 6:5-6a). How then is it removed? Rome says by an indeterminate period of suffering in a place called Purgatory (to get the thought, pronounce Purge-atory). Rome believes all who will eventually be in heaven will pass through Purgatory.
But Rome is wrong in the major points of this thesis. Christians will indeed be purged at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and some will suffer, but it is an event, not a period of time; it takes place in heaven, not in a place to which people go before they go to heaven. Of course, nothing can be done by others to affect our status (e.g., Masses said). Our status is determined entirely by the degree of faithfulness with which we have served the Lord on earth after He saved us. Calvary purged sin’s guilt; the Bema purges sin’s effects (harvest). This might be called the “Protestant Purge-atory.”
Our deeds will truly and infallibly evaluated by God
The issue is not quantity of works, but quality (“of what sort it is”).
One jewel will be worth more than 10 truck loads of hay in that day. It has been suggested that the symbols Paul used mean:
Good works - abide the fire
Gold - works which have been done to the glory of God.
Silver - speaks of redemption, i.e., the cross. So, these are deeds done in the spirit of Calvary, i.e., sacrificial, self-denying, sin-repudiating works.
Precious stones - reminds us of Malachi 3:16-17 and the stones in the High Priest’s breastplate bearing the names of the 12 tribes.
These would suggest souls won as jewels for Christ’s crown.
Worthless works - burned by fire
Wood - chopped-down trees; trees are often used as a symbol of the pride of man (Daniel 4:20, 22, 23, 27; Isaiah 2:12-13; 37:24). These
are works done for the glory of man, denominations, etc.
Hay - man at his human best - still fit only for the flames, i.e., works done in the energy of the flesh (Isaiah 40:6-8; James 1:10-11).
Stubble - chopped-up grass, i.e., man at his worst, the worthless dregs of that which the old nature can produce. Of course,
utterly unacceptable to God and removed forever from His sight and our remembrance.
If we would judge ourselves down here, we would not have to face shame and loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Secret sin on earth (unconfessed) will be open scandal in heaven. All this urges regular and immediate confession of sin.
Supplement to 1 Corinthians 7 on:
THE CHRISTIAN STANDARD OF MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND SEPARATION
GOD’S ORIGINAL INTENTION FOR MARRIAGE WAS MONOGAMY:
ONE MAN FOR ONE WOMAN AND VICE VERSA Mt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-9
God could have created two women and one man (polygamy) or two men
and one woman (polyandry) if He had desired.
But He didn’t. In His infinite wisdom He planned monogamy (one man
for one woman) as being psychologically, physically, and socially. His
ideal and His plan for mankind’s happiness and perpetuation.
It was His intention that one man and one woman should live together
perpetually till death broke the union.
(i.e., divorce for any -- “every” -- cause) WAS NOT GOD’S ORIGINAL
INTENTION Matthew 19:7-8; Mark 10:2-6
Multiple divorce was not God’s original intention, desire, nor plan,
but a concession (through Moses) to the hardness of men’s hearts during
a period of incomplete revelation. (Even with this concession, Israel’s
standards of matrimony were immeasurably higher than those of
Likewise polygamy was in Old Testament times permitted but never approved. The unhappy results of polygamy in family life are painstakingly told in the stories of such men as Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, etc., where there seams little purpose for the telling other than to demonstrate the problems precipitated by polygamy -- often ending in tragedy -- as contrasted with monogamy.
Since the creation, standards of right and wrong have not always been
the same (stationary). With increase of light (revelation) has
inevitably come heightening of moral standards and responsibilities.
Though concessions were made to man’s weaknesses and ignorance, God of
course never lost sight of His original intentions, which were also His
For illustration, note the rising standard concerning love in an expanding revelation:
David said: “I hate them (the enemy) with a perfect hatred.” “Love
your neighbor.“ (Law)
“Love your enemy.” (Sermon on Mount - heightens the Law)
But, in the Church age, we are told to love all as God loves us and
gave Christ while we were sinners and rebels. (Gospel of Grace, John
MOSES’ MARRIAGE LAWS
It is important to observe that Moses merely rehearsed and enlarged
upon the basic idea of marriage—that one man should be for one
woman -- except for one or two specific provisions (concessions).
The sanctity of monogamy is protected by the following:
If there be illicit union and the woman is betrothed:
If the illicit union takes place in the city, both participants are to be stoned on the presumption that the girl was a willing participant (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), and did not cry out for help.
If the illicit union takes place in the country, only the man
must die, on the presumption that the girl was an unwilling participant
(Deuteronomy 22:25-27), and her cry was unheard.
If the woman is unbetrothed, the man must pay the father a fine of 50
shekels of silver and then must marry the girl, because he has made her
ineligible for any other man. Further, he may never divorce her (Deuteronomy
If a married woman is guilty of sexual impurity with a man, whether
married or unmarried, both parties are guilty and must be stoned (Deuteronomy
The strange concession (Deuteronomy 24:1)
The previous two provisions are in harmony with God’s creatorial policy which is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6). But the special case before us (here in Deuteronomy 24:1) is peculiar to Moses and is denied by our Lord as being God’s original intention, and abrogated by Him as being no longer applicable, now that the gospel supersedes the Mosaic code (Matthew 19:3-9).
Just what is involved in the husband’s objection of Deuteronomy 24:1 is not stated. The word “uncleanness” (translated “unseemly” by ASV) is applied to a land lying exposed to its enemies (Genesis 42:9), to a person shamefully exposed (Genesis 9:2), and to something extremely repellant (Deuteronomy 23:14). Since 24:1 is the only other use of this word in Deuteronomy, the sense of 23:14 would appear to be the correct sense here. The husband found something extremely repellant or objectionable in the personality, habits, looks, or physical condition of the wife. This could not be referring to MORAL uncleanness, for the law would already have decreed death to her for that sin, even if her guilt were discovered after marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-14, 20-21). “Uncleanness” is often used in an outward and ceremonial sense, such as the result of touching a dead body, or a woman having an issue. At any event, a concession was made at the beginning of the marriage (which might have been contracted for them by the parents of both husband and wife) so that the husband would not be saddled with an undesirable wife for life.
As F. C. Jennings points out, however, in his booklet “Does Death
Alone Break the Marriage Relation?”, the fact that this putting away
(something besides death) breaks the marriage bond absolutely is evident
from the provision that, if the second husband died or if he also put
her away, she could under no circumstances return to husband number 1,
even if he were free and willing to marry her, because it would be an
“abomination before the Lord.”
Some have misunderstood Dt. 24:5 “new wife” to mean one never married
before. The term “new” does not refer to the state of the wife, but
simply that she is new to the man who takes her. The Septuagint clearly
translates: “and if anyone should have recently taken a wife.” Thus this
passage changes nothing related to the original provisions already
discussed. For example, PCB’s “new” building (in the 1951 merger) was
not newly built, but “new” to us!
No Jew was supposed to marry a Gentile. If, nevertheless, he did, he
was supposed to “put her away” (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:2-3;
Ezra 10:10-17). This is not permission to be divorced, but a commandment of God that he must divorce said illegal wife.
This must not be confused with the concession of Deuteronomy 24:1-2
(cp, Matthew 19:7-8) rescinded by our Lord. (Also contra 1 Corinthians. 7:10-15, 1 Corinthians 7:10-15, as per V, B, following later.)
THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCTRINE OF MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND SEPARATION, AS
ANNOUNCED BY OUR LORD (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:10-12; Luke 16:18)
In Matthew 19:3-9, our Lord reaffirms monogamous marriage as instituted
God from the beginning (observe this marriage regulation is not
“Jewish,” nor “Christian, “ but “from the beginning”). While insisting
upon the sanctity of monogamy, and rescinding the special Mosaic
concession for this age (which concession never covered the question of
sexual impurity anyway), our Lord in verse 9 lays down one qualification
or exception to the general rule of the permanence of marriage until
In all doctrines,
there are bald statements in some passages where the emphasis of the
principle is being given (Mark 10:10-12; Luke 16:18); and there are also
other passages which qualify the general principle in some way and which
interpret the general principle and provide exceptions
(Matthew 19:9 "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. KJV)
In this passage our Lord states an additional cause (than death) which may break the marriage bond, namely, sexual infidelity on the part of either husband or wife. He says:
|shall put away his wife
shall marry another
|except it be for fornication||committeth adultery.|
|marrieth the one put away||because of adultry||also committeth adultery.|
Obviously the converse is also true: Whosoever puts away his wife
because of her fornication, and marries another, does not commit
adultery, nor does the one who marries the innocent partner.
NOTE: A great deal of specious nonsense has been spoken and written
about this whole matter. The word “divorce” is not a synonym for
“separation.” “To put away” a wife does not mean separation, but
divorce. [f remarriage is not permitted for the one who has been
sinned against (usually called the innocent partner), then it is not
divorce. The whole context of Matthew 19:9 is concerned with the question of
“marrying another, “ hence is related to the question of divorce which
permits “marrying another, “ not with separation which forbids one to
Also, a great deal has been said about the use of the words
and “adultery, “ and usually almost exclusively from the OT King James’
usage. It is admitted that the English meaning often implies a
distinction between impurity on the part of an unmarried person (as
being “fornication”) and on the part of a married person (as being
“adultery”). It is further admitted that this distinction is often, if
not usually found in the English text of the OT. But the Hebrew word
translated “fornication” (zahnah) is definitely used of Israel as the
wife of Jehovah being charged with guilt of what we would normally call
adultery (Isaiah 23:17; Ezekiel 16:26;
2 Chronicles 21:11). Also, the infamous married woman Jezebel is likewise
charged with “zahnah. “ Likewise, in the NT, the Greek equivalent of
“zahnah” -- “porneia” -- is translated to cover all forms of sexual evil.
For instance, in such passages as 1 Timothy 1:10 and Galatians 5:19 (ASV),
“adultery” would not seem to be considered a sin at all -- by its
omission -- if “fornication” were not plainly intended to cover more than
impurity on the part of an unmarried person. (See also the new evidence
from Koine Greek cited under section V, D, 3, d, following later.)
TO SUMMARIZE THUS FAR:
The Scriptures assert that monogamy is God’s only standard at present. Thus anything else (polygamy, bigamy, polyandry, or promiscuity) is now adultery. This is the creatorial plan of God.
The marriage relationship is dissolved by death of either partner (Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39)
A ground for dissolving the marriage tie by divorce is provided by^ the sexual infidelity of either of the partners. The passage docs not command the innocent partner to “put away” (divorce) the guilty partner, but permits him (or her) to do so (Matthew 19:9).
In which event, the person marrying the adulterer or adulteress also becomes thereby an adulterer or adulteress (Matthew 19:9)
While, conversely, if the innocent partner remarries, neither (s)he
nor the new partner are in any wise guilty of immorality (Matthew 19:9).
Hence, remarriage of the innocent partner is permitted (as a second
exception -- along with death -- to the general rule).
PAUL’S TEACHING, BY THE SPIRIT, ON MARRIAGE, ETC. (1 Corinthians 7)
PAUL REAFFIRMS OUR LORD’S TEACHING ON THE PERMANENCE OF MARRIAGE
In harmony with our Lord’s teaching in the gospels, the apostle not
only reasserts the general principle of permanence (Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians
7:39), but further instructs that IF a separation has occurred (affecting
any married person who has since marriage become a Christian) for any
other reason than our Lord’s own exception, then the Christian partner
should seek reconciliation or, failing to effect that, should remain
unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
Certainly it cannot be argued that, because Paul does not in verse 11 repeat the exception (adultery) that our Lord made in Matthew 19:9, he thereby repudiates it. Certainly not. He accepts our Lord’s full statement, of course, but the exception is not under discussion. He is emphasizing the general principle of the permanence of marriage and saying that even if, previous to conversion, a separation had taken place, the partner who has now become a Christian should make every effort “to make a go” of the marriage by reconciliation; or, failing that, should remain unmarried.
Of course, this passage has in mind those who were married before the conversion of either partner, since 1 Corinthians 7:39, specifying Christian marriage may be “only in the Lord, “ makes it clear that a believer is forbidden to marry an unbeliever. However, if through ignorance or willfulness, a believer marries an unbeliever in spite of Scripture’s command, he is still duty bound to seek the permanence of that marriage in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
On the other
hand, no interpretation can rightfully be put upon the words “remain
unmarried or be reconciled” which would deny or qualify our Lord’ s
instruction concerning the right to divorce (and remarriage) by the
innocent partner where the other partner had been guilty of sexual
infidelity (Matthew 19:9).
SO, “EXCEPT IT BE FOR FORNICATION.“ IF ANY LEAVING IS DONE, THE BELIEVER MUST NOT DO IT (1 Corinthians 7:10-14)
If both partners are believers, there must be no separation, much less divorce, “except for fornication” (vv. 10-11).
If one is a believer and one an unbeliever, the believer must not leave the unbeliever, “except for fornication” (vv. 12-14).
Hence, separation of a believer from a partner, even an unbeliever, except on grounds of immorality (in which case divorce and not separation is indicated and permitted) is specifically and plainly forbidden by God (but see C below).
In verse 12, Paul is not disclaiming inspiration (v.25 with 1 Corinthians 14:37 settles this); he is merely saying that our Lord’s words of Matthew 19:9 (alluded to in 1 Corinthians 7:10) did not cover certain cases and circumstances occasioned by the change of dispensation and the subsequent flowing out of the gospel to the Gentiles. Under the Jewish economy no Jew was allowed to contract a marriage with a Gentile unbeliever (heathen) and, if he did, the marriage was unclean; and the children of such a union ceremonially unclean; hence the Jewish participant was required to break the partnership and withdraw from the unholy marriage. (For example, read Ezra 10.)
But, so far-reaching are the effects of our Lord’s death (Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 4:10) that not only were those who became Christians permitted and required to remain with an unbelieving partner after conversion, but in God’s sight the marriage and its progeny are regarded as ceremonially clean through the presence and prayer of the believer in that home (1 Corinthians 7:14). God now (in this age) looks upon such a home as a Christian home and, because of a believer’s presence and prayer. He can do things for the family He could not have done before.
This docs not mean, of course, the salvation of the unbelieving
partner and children (7:16 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 make that plain). They must
be saved by personal repentance and faith also. But the believer is
commanded to remain, that his (or her) witness and life might accomplish
the salvation of the unbelieving partner (and children) (7:16).
BUT IF THE UNBELIEVER SHOULD DESERT THE BELIEVING PARTNER FOR THE SOLE AND ONLY REASON THAT (S)HE HAD BECOME A CHRISTIAN, THEN “A BROTHER OR SISTER IS NOT BOUND (cp. “BOUND” 7:39) IN SUCH CASES” (7:15)
This situation can only mean one of three things:
The brother or sister (i.e., saved partner) does not owe sexual or other marital duties to such a partner.
A brother or sister is no longer required to live with the deserter and may remain separate (but still married).
A brother or sister is
no longer bound by the marriage tie, and
thus is permitted to divorce the unbeliever who has deserted
her(him), and remarry if desired.
I incline to the latter view, for the first would be quite obvious under the circumstances and would require no explanation; and the second view is disqualified by the use of the word “bound” in verse 39 in my judgment.
The third view, comprising another (second) exception to^ the general rule of marriage being binding till death, is so different from anything previously revealed that a clear statement would naturally be required. That is what verse 15 is in my judgment. (I am comforted in this conclusion by knowing that Dr. James M. Gray, for so many years president of Moody Bible Institute and one of America’s most careful expositors, was also convinced this view was the right one.)
Observe that this is no ordinary case of desertion. This is a very
specific anti-Christian action on the part of the unbelieving partner.
It is the repudiation of a Christian partner by an unbeliever because (s)he
has become a Christian. Obviously an unworthy Christian, who had been
guilty of unkindness and inconsistency, nagging and complaining, could
not rightfully use this passage as ground for divorce and remarriage.
The believer involved is envisioned as^ being above reproach in his(her)
conduct toward the unbeliever and the onus is entirely on the
unbeliever, who leaves only because the partner has become a Christian
and has, in his(her) mind, left no basis for the continuance of the
“This fanatic is not the person I married !”
DIVORCE AND “THE LAW OF LOVE” (Read again 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14)
It is not insignificant that a passage on “the law of love”
immediately follows 1 Corinthians 7. The law of love, in a nutshell, is:
“Though I have many rights,
(1) I will not exercise any right which causes my brother to stumble or
(2) by relinquishing which I can help my brother. “ (1 Corinthians 8:9-13; Romans 14:13-21; 1 Corinthians 10:32-33)
WITHOUT CONTROVERSY, THE DIVORCE SITUATION IS TODAY ONE OF AMERICA’S GREATEST ILLS and most baffling problems. A babel of voices pretend to speak with authority on the subject.
Each of our 50 states, and each foreign nation, has its own set of rules as to who is eligible to divorce. There are almost as many standards as there are states and nations. E.g., see LIFE, Sept. 3, 1945, p. 86, for interesting chart. There are many changes since then.
Protestants are hopelessly divided as to what is right and wrong on the subject. Technically, Protestants are against divorce, but practically they permit tens of thousands of divorced people to remain members and officers of churches in good standing, although only a fraction of these divorces could be sustained legitimately as being on Scriptural ground. Many Protestant pastors perform marriages for divorced people, while some are themselves divorced men, or remarried divorced men (or have married divorced wives).
Roman Catholics are both technically and practically opposed to
divorce, but their otherwise admirable stand is marred by the facts
(1) Their objection is not directly based upon Scripture. It is rather a matter of the intricacies of canon law where superstition, prejudice, and perversion have much sway in “the traditions of men.“
(2) There always seems to be some loophole to secure papal permission for divorce (and hence remarriage) when the applicant for divorce has plenty of this world’s goods.
UNFORTUNATELY, MOREOVER, EVEN AMONG BIBLE-BELIEVING FUNDAMENTALISTS, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING APPROACHING UNANIMITY ON THE MATTER OF DIVORCE
On almost any Bible question, most sincere and instructed Christians will search the Scriptures and be open to Scriptural evidence.
On this point, however, there seems to be a conspiracy to close one’s Bible and open one’s mouth, with a paragraph beginning: “Now, I think that... “ Too often what grandmother thought, what some preacher or Bible teacher once said in passing, or just one’s own whim in the matter, is the substance put within quotes.
Terrific confusion has resulted from the erroneous insistence of many that divorce does not permit remarriage, but simply means legal separation. Neither the context of such a passage as Matthew 19:9, nor common English usage, nor legal practice, nor dictionary definition will sustain such a conception. Yet leading Bible teachers confuse divorce (permitting remarriage) and legal separation (not permitting remarriage).
Another bloc of fundamentalists have become rather militant about,
and enamored of, the idea that a careful distinction should be made
between the word “fornication” (which they define as illicit sexual
intercourse on the part of an unmarried person) and “adultery” (which
they define as illicit sexual intercourse on the part of a married
Thus in Matthew 19:9, where Jesus uses the term “fornication, “ they interpret it to mean: “If one should marry a person who had been guilty of immorality while an unmarried person (before the marriage took place) and if one should discover this fact after (s)he were married, the innocent person would have the right to divorce such an one, and that person so divorced would be guilty of adultery if (s)he married another, as would anyone who thus married him (her). “
These expositors are not agreed among themselves as to whether the “innocent” partner may remarry, but are definitely agreed that (s)he may “divorce” one who has been impure before marriage. This theory is based largely on the fact that the Old Testament law, as already explained, does normally make some distinction between “fornication” and “adultery.”
However, one has only to consult a lexicon of first century A.D. usage in the Koine Greek, like Souter, to find that the careful distinction of the O.T. is no longer true when one opens the N.T., and that the word used and translated “fornication” is a word covering general immorality which could apply either to a married or to an unmarried person. Indeed, Souter says the implication of the word is habitual immorality of a married or unmarried person, and is capable also of including homosexuals and sexual perverts generally. This usage of the word, if recognized, would demolish most of the positions being preached on the subject in the present day.
WHAT SHALL BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS DO IN THE LIGHT OF DISAGREEMENT?
Since there is, therefore, no clear teaching even among fundamentalists on this important subject (Would God there were! There should be!), it is certainly an open question as to the wisdom of asserting and using one’s RIGHT to remarriage. If issues were clearly drawn, and any considerable body of Christians uniformly adhered in doctrine and practice to the standards under IV, F, and V, A, B, C, we might reasonably take the position that a Christian could safely proceed accordingly and let those who are willfully ignorant of the Scripture remain ignorant.
But the world at large, while not professing to keep Scriptural standards themselves, are very insistent in their expectation that Christians should. And from a myriad of pulpits and individuals they have heard it said (and Rome’s position has complicated the matter) that Christians do not believe in anything called divorce which permits remarriage. There is a tendency, then, to look upon a divorced Christian as a hypocrite. One cannot wear a sign saying, “I was divorced on Scriptural grounds and therefore have the right to remarriage,“ for the Christian public is not clear on the question of what the Scriptural grounds are, not to mention the world at large.
Further, even though divorce is prevalent, the American public still disapproves of the one who is divorced. This may not be fair to many people, but it is true nonetheless. Sooner or later, even if one changes communities, it will come out that a previous marriage has ended in divorce. One cannot walk away from a past, even if innocent of wrongdoing. People can’t be told the details, and would not be uniformly charitable even if they knew. This is especially true if remarriage takes place in the community where (s)he is known.
We as Christians have a right to many things which we forego lest we hinder our testimony and stumble others. No matter how clearly convinced we might be as to our Scriptural right to remarriage, a certain substantial percentage of our community and church would always believe we were living in adultery! This is an ugly fact and it would do no good to get angry about it. How can we hope to win those whom we have scandalized, or hope to lead weaker Christians to a higher Christian walk, who through ignorance of the Scriptural standard have lost confidence in us ? How especially true all this would be of pastors, missionaries, Christian workers, or even those taking active part in a church’s work!
What do I conclude then? That, since the whole point of 1 Corinthians
9 (and similar passages) is that we should be willing, for the gospel’s
sake, to relinquish our rights, lest we stumble others and sully our
testimony, and since prevalent confusion precludes the idea that such
action would be clearly understood, it would then be the part of
Christian wisdom and duty to forego what one feels (s)he has Scriptural
right to do (remarry), rather than stumble and scandalize others. This
is the Christian “Law of Love. “ (Read 1 Corinthians 9:3-6, 12, 15a, 19-23;
10:29-11:1, reading “power” as “right.”)
Also, as remarked
before, there is nothing in Matthew 19:9 which requires
sinned against to divorce the unfaithful partner. Indeed, gracious
forgiveness may be one means of showing God’s mercy and winning the
failing partner to Christ or, if saved, winning such an one back to a
life of holiness and worthwhile witness for Christ. Particularly if
there be children, the home should be held together if it is at all
possible without exposing them to moral corruption. Normally a matter
like this could be kept just between a husband and a wife, and the
children would not need to know of it and would, therefore, not be
contaminated. All sociologists and children’s workers agree that an
imperfect father is better than no father!
If there were no other way out, the children might wisely be
protected by a legal separation, with custody held by the innocent
partner, or by a divorce with the purpose in mind of fulfilling Paul’s
exhortation to “remain unmarried... or be reconciled.“ The former
(legal separation) would have the advantage of helping to prohibit the
sinning partner not only from legally imprisoning someone else in his(her)
sin by remarriage (Matthew 19:9), but also from forming an alliance
which would make it almost impossible that a reconciliation and
remarriage of the original partners might later take place.
One should, as in the matter of whom a Christian young man or woman may Scripturally marry (1 Corinthians 7:38), be careful to make up his mind as to what the Scripture teaches before he allows himself to fall in love with one whom he has no right to marry or cannot wisely marry (or remarry). It is hard to think clearly after one’s heart is gone! It is harder to do what one knows (s)he should do. The best antidote is to erect a wall which is in harmony with one’s Scriptural rights as interpreted in the light of the Law of Love! After all, which is more important to please Christ or_ indulge ourselves? (1 Corinthians 8:11-13;To:33; Romans 14:22 - 15:3)
There seem to be some widespread basic misconceptions concerning
marriage in its status of a legal contract agreement between two
individuals. From time to time I hear people say concerning cases where
individuals were married and divorced (or separated) before conversion,
“Oh, that happened before they were saved and, of course, the blood of
Christ has changed all of that!”
This is a well-meaning but fallacious reasoning. The Bible makes it perfectly plain that an important part of confession of sin is restitution to any we have wronged. Should someone ask us, “If a man owed $5, 000 and then got saved, would he still owe it, or would the blood of Christ remove that obligation?”, we would unhesitatingly answer, “Most certainly he still owes it and ought to pay it. He owes it all the more because he has been saved.” In other words, becoming saved does not remove but heightens previously contracted obligations.
Now, marriage is a legal and moral contract involving very specific and mutually agreed obligations. These obligations are not cancelled by our becoming saved but heightened in the importance of their fulfillment.
Further the marriage relationship is not an obligation limited to
it is a universal obligation affecting the whole human race because the
plan of one man for one woman was God’s creatorial purpose (Matthew 19:3-4).
Of course, a person would be less likely in his unsaved state to know the standard of God’s Word and less likely to feel any obligation to obey it. Likewise, one is the more responsible for obeying the Scriptures after he is saved. But this does not change the fact that both saved and unsaved are bound by a Divine marriage law based upon God’s creatorial purpose.
Then there is the problem of the sentimentalist. For instance, a
marriage has fallen apart (before a certain person was saved) due to
incompatibility. (S)he then marries again, has children, and is happy.
“Certainly such happiness should not be disturbed, “ some people say.
Our answer is: Matters like this are not settled on the basis of sentiment but Scripture. Since there was no Scriptural right to divorce in the first marriage, then (s)he is living with the second partner in adultery. Scripture demands this wrong be righted by withdrawing from living with the second partner, however painful the result may be. Naturally and normally the children should stay with the mother, and the father should make full financial provision for the mother and children, but they must not live together.
However, if A is married to B, and A should be divorced from B on
non-Scriptural grounds and then marries C, thus having sexual union with
C, then the remaining partner of the original marriage (B) might
properly be considered eligible to remarry Scripturally since the other
partner (A) has by his marriage to C violated the original marriage
contract with B, even though an unscriptural divorce took place earlier,
tending to cloud the real situation caused by A’s remarriage.
SPECIAL NOTE ON VARYING VIEWS CONCERNING THE LORD’S SUPPER
ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW - Transubstantiation - The Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass. Transubstantiation = changing (transition of) substance (body).
The Romanist view is that the bread and wine arc changed by priestly
consecration into the very body and blood of Christ; and that, by a
physical partaking of the elements, the communicant receives saving
grace from God, (Though under the appearance and taste of bread and
wine, they insist a miracle transforms it into Christ’s body and blood.)
Reply: At the institution of the Supper, it is not conceivable that Christ should hold His body in His own hands, and then break it to the disciples. There were not two bodies there. After Christ’s ascension, the Lord’s Supper made evident, not a real presence, but a real absence of Christ as the Son of God made man, that is, a real absence of His body. Therefore, the Supper reminds us of His absent body, and is to be observed in the church “till he come,“ 11:26.
LUTHERAN and HIGH CHURCH VIEW - Consubstantiation (lit., con = “with”
substance (body). This view is that the communicant, in partaking of the
consecrated elements, eats the veritable body and drinks the veritable
blood of Christ as spiritually present “in, with, and under” the bread
and wine, although the elements themselves do not cease to be material
bread and wine.
Occam held that everything which is omnipresent must occupy the same space as other things, else it could not be ubiquitous (everywhere). Hence consubstantiation involved no miracle. Christ’s body was in the bread and wine naturally, and was not brought into the elements by the priest. It brought a blessing, not because of Christ’s presence, but because of God’s promise that this particular presence of the body of Christ should bring blessing to the faithful partaker.
“Faith does not belong to the substance of the Eucharist; hence it is not the faith of him who partakes that makes the bread a communication of the body of Christ; nor on account of unbelief in him who partakes does the bread cease to be a communication of the body of Christ, although the partaking would be to his own condemnation.“ (Lutheran theologians generally deplore the term “consubstantiation,“ but it is the usual term in Church History.)
CALVIN’S VIEW - spiritual reception by believers
Calvin differed from Luther in that although he agreed Christ was spiritually present in the Lord’s Supper, he nevertheless held that Christ is received only by the believer. He differed from Zwingli in holding that Christ is truly, though spiritually, received. He stands in the mediate position between Luther and Zwingli.
ZWINGLI’S VIEW - Symbolic Memorial Feast
Zwingli held that the purpose of the Lord’s Supper was to remember His death -- in spiritual submission. God intended the bread and wine simply as powerful symbolic reminders of our Lord’s death. There is no sacramental or sacerdotal significance to them. One is not benefited by partaking unless and until his faith lays hold upon the great truths which the symbols picture. Thus the benefit is in spiritual communion with Christ; there is danger and discipline in coming to the table with unprepared hearts for that fellowship.
Most fundamentalists, except those of high church ecclesiastical connections, now accept this viewpoint of Zwingli. The views might be compared:
|Bread - Body||Bread - Body||Bread - Body|
|Wine - Blood||Wine - Blood||Wine - Blood|
200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
|"Mason's Notes" Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Cairn University, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them. No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of Cairn University.|