Bob: What does God have to do with your marriage? Here’s John Piper.
John: All things were made through Him. This is the starting place for understanding marriage. If we get this right, marriage will become what it was created to be; namely, a display, in the world, of the truth and greatness of God.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today forThursday, September 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from John Piper today about your marriage, about the glory of God, and about what the two have in common. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. You know, there are some books and some messages that are being preached or written today that, a hundred years from now, Christians will still be reading those books or listening to those messages because they are timeless. I think the message we’re going to hear today may be one of those messages.
Dennis: It really is, Bob. It was given at a conference we held a number of years ago called Building Strong Families in Your Church. There is nothing unclear about what Dr. John Piper says in his message about marriage and its purpose. John Piper is no stranger to our listeners. He is the former pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul—great writer. He has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter®; and by the way, folks haven’t joined my Twitter.
Bob: Yes, how many do have?—hundreds of thousands?
Dennis: No. I have hundreds—several hundred [Laughter]—but in the hundreds. You can join us there and also my Facebook® page. That would be good to join because I am trying to double it by the end of the year—
Dennis: —not get to where John Piper is [Laughter]—that’s stratospheric, there.
He gives a message, here, where he really calls, I think, the Christian community back to more of a Christian worldview of what marriage is all about. It’s about the glory of God.
Bob: And I will just add, here, that if folks are interested in following you on Twitter or Facebook, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There is information there about how you can get on the feed and start getting tweets and Facebook posts from Dennis.
Dennis: We’re going to beef this up, Bob. We’re going to start sending portions of chapters of books. We’re going to give some preview sections of broadcasts before they get aired—to my followers—our Facebook friends. We’re going to add some spice to this and make it a little fun—run some surveys for people to respond to, prior to doing a broadcast. Yes, I want to find out more about what’s going on in people’s lives, and we can blend that into FamilyLife Today. I think make it a whole lot of fun.
Bob: Alright. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com. Let’s go ahead and listen. Here is Dr. John Piper from the Building Strong Families in Your Church conference, talking about God’s design—God’s purpose for our marriages.
[Previously Recorded Message]
John: My topic is "Marriage Lived to the Glory of God". The key word—the operative, definitive word in that phrase—is "for"—“Marriage Lived for the Glory of God” because that means that there's a certain order of priority here between marriage and the glory of God. The order is this: God is ultimate, and marriage is not!
God is the most important reality. Marriage is less important—far less important—infinitely less important than God. Marriage exists to magnify God—the truth of God, the worth of God, the value of God, the beauty of God, the greatness of God. God does not exist to magnify marriage. Until that order is fitted in your mind and valued in your heart—until you see it and savor it—marriage will not magnify the worth, and the beauty, and the truth, and the greatness of God. It won’t do it.
I take my topic to be the answer to the question, “Why marriage?” Marriage lived for the glory of God sounds like somebody was thinking, “Why marriage?” So, let's answer that with, "For the glory of God," and then talk about that—which means that “Why marriage?” or the topic I have is a subset of a larger issue; namely, “Why does anything exist? Why do you exist?”
The answer is the same for all of those—from the Bible—they all exist for the glory of God. That is, they exist to magnify the worth, and the truth, and the value, and the beauty, and the greatness of God. That’s why they all exist. Isaiah 43:6: "Bring my sons from afar, my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory.”
Or you can read it—about Jesus—in Colossians 1:16: "By Him all things were created, both in heaven and on earth. All things have been created through Him and for Him." It couldn't be any clearer! Everything exists for Christ—to magnify the glory of Christ in the lives of people so that they can see Him for who He is—the display of His glory.
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God—with God—and the Word was God. All things were made through Him and now all things were made for Him." This is the starting place for understanding marriage. If we get this wrong, everything goes wrong. If we get this right, marriage will become what it was created to be; namely, a display, in the world, of the truth, and beauty, and value, and greatness of God. But if you get this wrong—if you get the order wrong—if you get the meaning of the word "for" wrong, it won't. If we want marriage to be what God designed it to be in the world and in the Church—if we want it to magnify and glorify the truth, and beauty, and greatness of God—then, we must preach less about marriage and more about God.
Most young people, who come to marriage, don't bring to their courtship a great vision of God, and who He is, and what He's like, and how He acts. In the world, there is almost no vision of God. He's not on the list to be invited to the wedding. We are so utterly acclimatized to godlessness—on television, in the newspaper—the absence of God, in the world, is breathtaking because it means that the fact that we’re breathing and this hotel is standing—instead of being squashed flat under eternal wrath—it is awesome that we’re alive! It’s unbelievable that we are going to wake up, probably, tomorrow morning. “The Lord makes His sun to rise on the just and the unjust.” Stand and wonder!
In the Church, the view of God—for our young people—is so small instead of huge, and so marginal instead of central, and so vague instead of clear, and so impotent instead of all-determining, and so uninspiring instead of ravishing—that when they marry, the thought of living this marriage to the glory of this God is a thought without content. If their marriages are going to be lived to the glory of God, we must say something—not primarily about marriage—but about God!
Our pulpits are not as filled with God and the particularities of His glory—but far too many generalities—so that the heads don't get filled with the glory of His eternality—that makes the mind want to explode with the thought that He never had a beginning—or the glory of His knowledge—that makes the Library of Congress look like a little matchbox and makes quantum physics seem like a first-grade reader.
Or the glory of His wisdom—that has never been nor ever can be counseled by any man or any group of men—or the glory of His authority over heaven, and earth, and hell—without which no man and no demon moves one inch—or the glory of His providence—without which not one bird falls to the ground in any forest in the world or without which any hair on any head turns gray.
Or the glory of His word—which upholds the universe, and all the atoms, and all the galaxies in it—or the glory of His power to walk on water, and cleanse lepers, and heal the lame, and open the eyes of the blind, and cause the deaf to hear, and storms to be stilled, and the dead to rise—or the glory of His purity—never to sin, or never to have one two-second bad attitude, or one evil thought—or the glory of His trustworthiness—never to break His word or to let one single promise fall to the ground.
Or the glory of His justice—to render all moral accounts in the universe settled either on the cross or in hell. There will be no outstanding injustices when all is said and done. People will either be redeemed or they will burn forever in hell. There will be no injustice in the universe that has not been settled because of the glorious justice of God.
Or the glory of His sovereign servant-like—I say slave-like obedience—to embrace the most excruciating pain that has ever been designed by humankind—or the glory of His wrath, which will one day be revealed with such fierceness that men, and women, and children will ask stones to crush them rather than have to look on the face of the Lamb—or the glory of His grace, which justifies the ungodly like me—or the glory of His love—that dies for us while we’re yet sinners.
Until—brothers—I’m talking to pastors, now--until we preach the particularities of His glory and put contours on our God, instead of using broad, sweeping generalizations about His attributes—but make Him look irresistibly, magnificently more attractive than anything in the world—nobody's marriage is going to be lived for the glory of God in our church because they won't know Him. They won't know Him!
They’ll use all the language, and they won’t see Him. They won't be able to talk about Him to their children, they won't be able to talk about Him to their neighbors, they won't be able to talk about Him to spouses because there will be no content to all those big words. Knowing God, and cherishing God, and valuing the glory of God above all things—including the spouse—is the key to a marriage lived for the glory of God.
It says in Psalm 63:3,"The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life." So, we should be satisfied with the steadfast love of the Lord above life, which means death is no threat to our joy—and above our spouse—if above life. Life is what brings everything good into our experience. If the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, then, it's better than everything in life, except God and His love.
Now, I think being satisfied with all that God is for us, in His glory, and all that He is for us, in Jesus, is the key—or the source—of the long-suffering, without which husbands cannot love like Christ and wives cannot follow that love like the bride of Christ—the Church. Ephesians 5:22-25 makes plain that husbands take their cues from Christ, in their leadership and love, and wives take their cues from the bride of Christ, in submission and love.
Both of those are so costly—that they will not be sustained without a superior satisfaction in God when things in the marriage are costly—really costly. The key to glorifying God in marriage—by maintaining this proper role order that we’ve been talking about and I won’t belabor—is a superior satisfaction in God so that when the roles aren’t working, you’re still able to have the resources to live and love like Christ loves or like the Church loves. That’s the source of it.
Let me say it this way: There are two levels at which we glorify God in our marriage. One, you would call the structural level; and another, you might call the motivational level—and this is the deeper. The structural level is that we get the roles right—that husbands take your cues from Christ—and lead and love and sacrifice like Christ did.
Wives, you take your cues from the bride of Christ—the Church—and support that leadership, and honor that leadership, and follow that leadership the way the Church did. Those are costly, costly ways of loving—for a wife and husband. The only way to pay that price, from a heart that is a desire factory, is for those desires to be satisfied with a superior satisfaction in God—which is why His glory must be known by us and why He's so glorified when we're satisfied in Him.
Now, those roles will not be sustained if the second level of glorifying God isn't happening; namely, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. If you try to do the roles for a motive other than satisfaction in God—if you are not being sustained by a superior satisfaction in God above satisfaction in sex, above satisfaction in spouse, above satisfaction in children—you might make it happen, and it won't be to God's glory. It will be to your moral-prowess glory.
But if you lean on God—if you get your strength from His beauty, His value, His greatness—it will be manifest that He's the One that you're satisfied in—and where the strength is coming from to love like Jesus and love like the bride. Well, what that means is that we need to take our cue from Paul in Philippians 3:8, "I count all things as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."
“I count marriage to be refuse, I count children to be refuse, I count my wife to be refuse, my husband to be refuse, sex to be refuse because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” From that standpoint—of a superior satisfaction in Jesus—you will have the wherewithal to return to the daily, weekly, monthly dying required by Christ-like and church-like love.
Bob: We have been listening to a message from Dr. John Piper about marriage lived to the glory of God. Talk about countercultural. That’s not the message that the culture is trumpeting, related to marriage.
Dennis: You didn’t hear much about happiness; did you?
Bob: No, I heard about dying, and I heard about counting all things as loss.
Dennis: Yes. There are two things I want our listeners to take away from today’s broadcast. Number one: If you don’t know God, and His purpose, and what we’re talking about here—about enjoying Him and reflecting Him to a fallen planet—then, that’s where you need to start. You just need to come to know Jesus Christ and His redemption—that He finished the work, on the cross, of what you couldn’t do. He died for your sins so that you’d be forgiven—have a relationship with God—and you could get into heaven.
And a second thing I want you to catch, here on the broadcast today, is that—if your marriage has sunk to the low of the culture, it’s time to jettison the worldview of the culture of marriage—which is happiness—and embrace a transcendent view of marriage—where a marriage is lived to reflect God, to represent God, to exhibit His love between two broken people. That’s marriage to the glory of God.
So, the next time that you argue, you, all of a sudden, become convicted: “You know what? There’s more at stake in our argument here than winning this debate. I need to be mindful that my kids are catching a picture of Who God is as my wife and I / my husband and I work out our relationship with one another.” That’s marriage lived to the glory of God.
Bob: Since Dr. Piper delivered this message, he has gone on to write a book called This Momentary Marriage,where he really spends a lot more time looking at God’s design and purpose for marriage. We have copies of that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. I’d encourage our listeners—if you’d like to explore this subject more and hear what Dr. John Piper has to say about what the Scriptures teach us about marriage—get a copy of his book, This Momentary Marriage.
Or if you’d like to hear the entire message he presented, a decade ago, at the Building Strong Families in Your Church conference in Dallas, we have the complete message available, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—you can download Dr. Piper’s complete message. You can order a copy of the book, This Momentary Marriage. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you’d like to order the message on CD or order the book by phone. 1-800-FL-TODAY is our toll-free number; 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, as always, we want to acknowledge and say, “Thank you,” to those of you who are partners, here with us, in the ministry of FamilyLife Today. You make it possible for this daily radio program to continue on this local station through your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We consider you partners in our mission—which is to see every home become a godly home.
You are making it possible for us to reach more and more people every day with practical, biblical help for their marriage and for their family. We appreciate your partnership with us—especially, those of you who are monthly Legacy Partners. Today, if you can make a donation to help support this ministry, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of a conversation we had, a while back, with a mom who decided to call a time-out on busyness in her family. She referred to it as a “Radical Sabbatical”.
Given the pace of life for many of us today, we need to hear about the decision that she made to slow things down for her family. In addition, we’d like to send you a copy of Dr. Tim Kimmel’s book, Little House on the Freeway. We’re calling these two resources our “Busyness Bundle”. They are our thank-you gift to you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of $25 or more.
You can do that, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone, and ask to receive the “Busyness Bundle” when you get in touch with us. You could also mail your donation to us, along with your request for the bundle. Write to: FamilyLife Today at P. O. Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and the zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to meet a man who decided to do a little research into his family tree and found out he was related to a couple of very heroic young women. We’ll introduce you to Jim Leininger and hear about the story that has now become a major motion picture. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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