Joshua and Julia

Everyone who has ever wanted to grapple with the reality of the human condition has needed to deal with two profound realities. The first is the nature of the Divine personality, what the triune God revealed in Scripture is actually like. The second is the reality and depth of the human apostasy and fall, with all the implications that follow from that. God is infinitely holy, and eternally merciful. The divine attributes are what they are, and are in no way negotiable. God is what He is, and this is what lies behind His great revelation of Himself to Moses when He gave out His name as I Am That I Am. The character of God is constant, without variation or shadow due to change. Man’s nature is mutable, changeable, but one thing about it does not change. It is always fallen. We are always dealing with the disappointing reality of our own selfish choices. We do bad things because we are bad people. Something is wrong, and we would like to be located in our circumstances, but it … [Read more...]

James and Elizabeth

We live in a world governed by glorious rotations and cycles. The earth spins, the moon revolves around the earth, and the earth revolves around the sun. Not only is this so, but the complexity is only beginning. Because the sun is also moving, the motion of the planets travels with it, and the whole thing travels in a magnificent helical way. Down here on earth, as the writer of Ecclesiastes noted, the sun comes up and goes down. The wind blows through and then circles back around again. Water evaporates from the oceans, gathers in clouds, falls on the earth, runs down to the oceans, and cries out to the Father to do it all again. This repeating phenomenon is seen by two kinds of people, but they take completely different lessons from it. One kind of person echoes the thoughts of the preacher of Ecclesiastes early on in his book, and bows beneath the weight of a vain and fruitless world. The whole thing is beyond stupid. All is vanity and shepherding wind. Finding satisfaction … [Read more...]

Kellen and Noai

We have gathered here in order to witness a solemn exchange of vows. This is because a wedding ceremony is a ceremony that is structured around a mutually binding oath. This is fully scriptural—the Bible describes marriage as a covenant, and covenants are formed and ratified by vows. In Prov. 2:17, the faithless wife who forsakes the companion of her youth is described as forgetting the covenant of her God. And in Malachi, where it is the husbands who were faithless, the prophet describes how God refused to answer their prayers because of their false treatment of their wives “by covenant” (Mal. 2:14). A covenant is a solemn bond, sovereignly administered, with attendant blessings and curses. That is in fact what a covenant is, but we need to take care not to get off on the wrong foot with this. We too often assume that covenants, vows, oaths, etc. are simply a function of the fact that we live in a sinful word. Infidelity and divorce occur, and so we think that we have to do … [Read more...]

Joseph and Rebecca

Because this wedding ceremony is using the form found in the Book of Common Prayer, in just a few moments—at the exchange of the rings—a phrase will be used that requires some explanation. That phrase is “with my body I thee worship.” Historically, the phrase is what distinguished a free wife from a concubine. A concubine was a wife with limited rights and privileges, while a free wife was granted the person, honor, and worship of the groom. He gave himself to her entirely. Worship here refers to the service of honor. When the groom declared his intention to do this, it meant that the children born from this union were to be considered free and legitimate, and true heirs of their father. The bride was being given the honor of being the lawful mother of the household. And last, she was blessed with all he possessed, which is seen in the next phrase—“with all my worldly goods I thee endow.” An endowed wife was an established wife, a free wife, a respected wife. She is a wife who is … [Read more...]

Doug and Maggie

The greatest philosophical question that mankind has come up with on his own is this one: “Why is there something, rather than nothing at all?” And the Christian answer to this question is that the living and true God, out of His grace and good pleasure, determined to create everything that is, which includes all that we see around us, and all that we could ever possibly see. But our seeing, our experience, is not outside this reality. It is no exception to this. The wonders of creation, along with all the wondering creatures in it, were spoken into existence by the kindest words imaginable, which were “let there be . . .” The observed is created, and all the observers are created as well. And so it is that the earth is full of His glory. Please remember that word glory—we shall come back to it. There is a problem, however. The glory was interrupted, and our perceptions of that glory have gotten dislocated, and completely out of joint. Scripture teaches that the effect of sin is … [Read more...]

Caleb and Mallory

The word I want to emphasize at this wedding is the word heritage. We have the privilege today of witnessing, not only the wedding of two individuals in Christ, but also the wedding of two distinct, but very complementary, heritages. I want to talk about the unique blessings that we are praying that God will bring out of this blessed union. The two streams that are coming together here are the streams of covenant commitment, centuries of it, and evangelical warmth and application, three and four generations now. They are coming together in a distinct way—not to say the former has no warmth, or that the latter has had no notion of covenant. I am rather speaking here of varying cultural manifestations, which is a matter of emphasis. And in this wedding, I see only the strengthening of both heritages. The Lord Jesus taught us that foundations are important in the building of houses. If you have no foundation, you cannot withstand the inevitable storms that come (Matt. 7:24). The way … [Read more...]

Tyson and Laura

Don't mind me. I am just trying to learn some new WordPress tricks.

The whole earth is full of God's glory. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness of it. Everything that exists was created by Him, and so it is that everything declares the weight of His glory. No matter how small—whether a tiny rock flower, or a sub-atomic particle, or a grain of sand—every discrete and particular thing speaks about God. The supernovas and galaxies do the same. Every finite thing has the privilege of speaking about an infinite noun, maker of Heaven and earth. Each created thing in some sense carries the eternal weight of glory, and of course it can only do this because the source of that glory, God Himself, has willed it. So every last thing manifests His glory, and this is why we, dulled by sin, can start to take everything for granted. We begin to think that the world is “just the way things are.” When everything is glorious, we think that nothing must be. This is why God in His mercy will often take special pains to manifest His glory. He goes out of His way. … [Read more...]

Sam and Grace

In the course of His ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus taught us that we were to learn how to accept kingdom disruptions. We are supposed to learn how to rejoice at the arrival of kingdom inversions. Jesus taught that the way to become great in the kingdom was by becoming least in the kingdom. He taught that the way to the head of the line was to go to the back of the line. Up is down, and down is up. He taught that the way into adult wisdom was to embrace the faith of a child. Out is in, and in is out. In this stipulated theological sense, the hokey-pokey is what it’s all about—but only in this stipulated sense. To take it any further than that would disrupt the solemnity of the occasion. So in that spirit, I want to begin with something heavy, so that we may, at the invitation of Christ, move to the direct consequence of it, which is the ease of His yoke and the lightness of His burden (Matt. 11:30). If you were to pick up His yoke, heft it in your hands to evaluate whether you … [Read more...]

Christopher and Elizabeth

We are here to witness the formation of a new marriage, a new household. But what is the nature of this institution? It is a question worth asking, because whenever we take anything for granted, it is easy to become unable to defend it when questioned, no matter how valuable it might be. Because we live in a time when this institution is very much being questioned, we want to make sure that we do not just go through the motions in our wedding ceremonies. We should know what we are doing, and why we are doing it. Marriage is instituted by God. It is not of human creation. We have the authority from God to decorate it according to our varying cultures and customs, but we do not have any authority to raze it to the foundations in order to recreate it over again. So how does the Bible define marriage? Right after the Lord created Eve—in a particularly singular fashion, I might add—the text says something that is quite surprising. Adam had found no helper suitable to him among all the … [Read more...]

Daniel and Amanda

We live in a time of great confusion when it comes to the subject of marriage, the nature of marriage, the definition of marriage. As the people of God, since we seem to be attending weddings a lot, and because a biblical understanding of marriage is under assault in our generation, we should take these times as a wonderful opportunity for reminding ourselves of the basics. One of the most difficult things for the modern carnal mind to understand is how the biblical teaching of headship and submission in marriage is consistent with the biblical teaching of man and woman as equals before God, together bearing the image of God (Gen.1:27). This makes no sense to the unbelieving mind, because they always think of such things in terms of power and coercion. But Jesus, our supreme example, is fully equal to God the Father, and yet He did not consider His equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). In Christian theology, true … [Read more...]

Gresham and Emily

Christian weddings and marriages are a canvas upon which the Holy Spirit of God paints the gospel. Now we know that He loves to paint the gospel in many ways, and in many places—preeminently in the proclamation of the Word on the Lord’s Day, as well as in the two sacraments that He has bequeathed to the church. But the way God brings a Christian man and Christian woman together paints the gospel in colors that are particularly vivid. We unfortunately have a tendency to make the gospel smaller than what God has given to us. The orthodox say true things about it, but they write it all out in miniscule. But there is something off in a small but true gospel. The gospel is cosmic in scope, and we are constantly summoned by the Spirit of God to get our hearts and minds around that which has no circumference. The apostle Paul, for example, prayed that the Ephesians would be able to grasp the ungraspable, know the unknowable, comprehend the incomprehensible. In the text that was read … [Read more...]

Jon and Jamie

You are all here in response to a wedding invitation . . . well, I trust that you are all here in response to a wedding invitation. Now one of the striking things about wedding invitations, whether in the Bible or in our own experience, is that they are invariably received as good news. Times of peace in Scripture are described as times when people marry and are given in marriage, and invitations to such events are thought of as glad interruptions of general times of plenty and peace. But how this can be possible is quite interesting. We are familiar with the word gospel, but this is our English rendering of a Greek word that literally means good news. This what the etymology of our English word is also—the word gospel comes from godspel. The god means good, and the spel refers to news or a story. So godspel refers to a good story. … [Read more...]

Derek and Laura

As we prepare ourselves to hear the marriage vows exchanged just a few moments from now, everyone here in the congregation should make a point to reflect on several important aspects of this solemn and joyful occasion. The first aspect is that many of us here in this sanctuary are married, and so this is a natural opportunity for us to reflect on the vows that we once took, when we were standing in the spot that Derek and Laura are standing in today. One of the uncanny things about vows is that they never age. They don’t wither. They are as young each morning as the day we first made them. Every Christian couple represents Christ and His bride, the Church, and this means that all our vows partake of His one true vow, the vow that binds everyone together in Heaven and earth. This is all one. … [Read more...]

Jacob and Rebekah

One of the things that we see throughout all Scripture is how weddings are associated with joy. Before the Fall of our first parents, Scripture opens its pages with a wedding, beautiful in its promise and innocence. At the conclusion of Scripture, in the book of Revelation, we see another wedding, even more beautiful. All of God’s Word to us is bracketed by these two weddings, in Genesis and in Revelation, and these weddings are expressions of joy. John the Baptist points to this same reality when He answers a question about who Jesus was. Jesus had been drawing many to follow Him, and John was asked about it: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (John 3:29). John is saying here that the joy of the best man or groomsman is great, but still derivative. His joy depends on something and someone else. It depends upon the joy … [Read more...]

Jerry and Chantelle

In the third chapter of 1 Peter, the apostle Peter says this: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12). This verse is found right after the section where the apostle Peter taught us about marriage. In the first part of this chapter, he had said that wives ought to honor and respect their husbands fully, and that husbands ought to live with their wives with knowledge, and to do so in a way that honors their wives. While in the verses that follow he has widened the scope of his discussion, what he says here is still immediately relevant to the question of how a Christian man and a Christian woman should live together. … [Read more...]