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 something to guard against such tragedies and failings, and so that is why we have vows. There is a small measure of truth in this. One function of vows is to help us deal with a world in which there are disputes. “For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation” (Heb. 6:16, ESV). But if this is the only thing we are doing here, why are weddings so happy? This is because wedding oaths are far more than simple safety harnesses. Much more is going on than that. These vows are weighty, but they are not chains. These vows are momentous, and those who make them should be awestruck by the privilege—by the…

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 honored. I mentioned a moment ago that worship refers to the service of honor. Our modern English word comes from the Anglo-Saxon weorðscipe, which refers to the condition of being worthy, having glory and distinction, honor and renown. The first use of this (in English) as applied to God was around 1300 A.D.. Prior to that time, it simply referred to the kind of respect that is rendered to persons of rank and dignity. This is still seen today in the title worshipful that is applied to certain ranks of people in Britain. It does not refer to people who think they are God.

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 that it causes us to fall short of the glory of God. Once the great work of creation is done, once the wonderful task is accomplished, it is the easiest thing in the world for ungrateful creatures to take for granted the staggering glories that surround each of us daily, and to assume that “all this” is just the way things are. The universe “just is,” and we just happened to evolve out of the primordial goo. Scientism has been most eager to help us with our rationalizations. There is no need to thank anyone, we say to ourselves, and so we may just proceed with our lives—which usually consists of chasing, of course, the next shiny object. This problem, of course,…

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 we build houses today, that foundation is provided by the footings, and by the concrete walls that we pour to rest on those footings. That is what covenant commitment is like. This is just the way it is. Covenant understanding won’t shift or budge on you. Straight lines, unyielding, cold, gray, covenant concrete. Every house needs that, and needs it underneath absolutely everything. This not unloving—it is the foundation of love. You can always take it as a fixed given that these are my people. The lines of the house are straight because the foundation lines are straight.

Tyson and Laura

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. When He does this, we are not moving from no glory to glory, or from dull glory to radiant glory, but rather from constant glory to manifest glory. God does this through the Incarnation of Jesus, through the giving of Scripture, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, through the kindness of miracles, and through the revelation brought to us by various poetic and prophetic insights. What a miracle does is draw our attention to what God does all the time. When Jesus turned water to wine at Cana He was simply doing in fast forward what God has done in every vineyard since the beginning of the world. He enables us to see the whole by…

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 wanted to put it on, it would seem intolerably heavy to you. But actually put it on, and you will laugh at the relief. This is what Christian marriage seems like in the hands: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Whoa. This is not what we usually mean by “focus on the family.” This is a call to discipleship that necessarily relativizes marriage and family. It contextualizes marriage and family, but it does so without annihilating it.…

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 beasts that he had named, it was not good for him to be alone, and so God caused a deep sleep to come upon him, removed a rib from his side, and fashioned a woman out of it. God then presented the woman to the man, and his first words—the first human words uttered in the Bible—were words of poetry in praise of the gift he had been given. As I said, this was a unique event in high antiquity. Nobody I met ever got together in this way. And yet . . . what does the next verse say? It says that every marriage after that point should in some fashion be an imitation of this…

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 submission is not inconsistent with true equality. The two go together most harmoniously, the same way a man and a woman are designed to go together. But let’s look at Genesis. This truth is not imposed on the first pages of the Bible by later theologians. Part of the reason for doing it this way is that I know that both of you have a heart for mission, and mission, like marriage, is established and defined in Genesis. Wherever God takes you, whether here or elsewhere, I know you will share a heart for mission. God established what is called the cultural mandate in the first chapters of the Bible, telling us to increase and multiply, replenishing the earth (Gen. 1:28). After the Flood, He does the…

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 just a few moments ago, a number of remarkable things were said—and they are profoundly relevant to any married couple who want to make the declarations that God intends for us to make through marriage. This is what I mean.

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.

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.

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 that can be heard in the bridegroom’s voice. In the same way, the joy of this entire occasion radiates outward from this central joy, the joy of the bride and groom.

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.

Brian and Rachel

Whenever we consider the subject of marriage, we naturally turn to the first marriage, the first union of man and woman. The Lord Jesus tells that the union of Adam and Eve was archetypical, which means that there should be many things we can glean by considering what happened in that first marriage. There are two factors to consider and weigh—one is the creation design, and the other is how much that creation design was altered or affected by how the story unfolded. In other words, we need to consider what sin did to us all. And we really need to look first at what sin did. If we carelessly skip over that part, in order to imagine what an unfallen marriage was like, we might easily slip into some kind of Victorian sentimentalism, or marriage as exemplified by the average Disney princess. In other words, our notions of paradise turn out to be a modified and cleaned up version of what we have now, with lots of sugar added. After Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit, one of the very first manifestations of their new sinful condition was conflict between husband and wife. The Lord came down and asked what had happened, and the man blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the serpent. Nobody took responsibility for their own actions. The juice of the fruit was still wet on their fingers when those fingers starting pointing somewhere else, anywhere else. Not me. Because of their disobedience vertically, the first thing that happened horizontally was that crackle and tension was introduced into their relationship. Tempted by the devil, who is fundamentally an accuser, the husband became a devil, an accuser, himself. When his wife was assaulted, although he was appointed to be her defender, he became instead a…

Michael and Jennifer

We live in a day when the institution of marriage is under assault. Not only are many powerful voices clamoring for a fundamental redefinition of marriage, we are also faced with the confusion of many Christians in how to respond to it. We know that something is drastically wrong, as though the whole world has gone off the rails, but so many things are wrong we often don’t know where to begin. In that broader context of confusion, when we gather to celebrate this marriage, do we really know what we are doing? There are many lies currently being told about marriage, but long before these lies were commonly accepted, the truth about marriage was being mumbled by those who claimed to be its friends. When the truth is not boldly and confidently declared, this leaves room for lies to be boldly and confidently declared. When glorious truths are muttered, the lies become more and more brazen and open. So our task, in these times, is to speak the basic truths about marriage clearly and plainly, and weddings are a wonderful occasion for doing this. We need to speak the truth plainly, and we need to do this in two ways. The first, ordained of God, is to speak by speaking. We speak the Word by speaking words. We are to teach, instruct, correct, encourage, and we are to do so verbally. But there is another way of speaking these truths as well, also ordained of God, and that is what I want to focus on today. I want to speak aloud about the non-verbal ways of speaking the truth; I want to utilize the first way of speaking truth in order to honor the second way of doing it. If we live and love in this way, we will…