|A GODLY MARRIAGE
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
September 29, 1996
Acts 18:1-3: “After this he (Paul) left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them; and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked, for by trade they were tentmakers.”
This morning we are looking at marriage - and specifically marriage as a partnership which is to glorify God.
In Genesis, at the very beginning of creation, God institutes marriage, He brings Adam and Eve together - two individuals brought together, joined by God, in an exclusive relationship, and given the task of serving God together.
Through-out the Bible, God is continually reminding us that marriage is a good thing - something to be honored - respected. God blesses the marriage of Adam and Eve and holds up their marriage for to us to see as an example for our lives. And, in the Bible there are many marriages which God blesses and shows to us as examples for our lives - Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Boaz and Ruth, - Jesus gave His blessing at the wedding in Cana. Marriage is instituted and blessed by God.
When God brings Adam and Eve together, He gives to us an example of what He intends marriage to be. In the Bible, God describes marriage as an exclusive relationship between a man and a women - two unique parts of the image of God (male and female) brought together into one union - one male and one female at one time - ideally, for life.
In the Bible, God condemns unchaste behavior prior to marriage, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and divorce - behavior which our society is increasingly telling us is a part of marriage - these God condemns because they are a threat and danger to the quality and permanence of marriage - and they greatly hinder the freedom of the couple to glorify God through their marriage.
In the Bible, God says that a marriage which brings glory to Him - testifies of who He is - is a partnership - between those who know God - those who have a personal saving relationship through Jesus Christ. When we know Jesus Christ - the priority of our individual lives and of our marriage is to serve God - glorifying - testifying of Him - and not ourselves. When we know “first hand” God’s love given through Jesus Christ, we can begin to express the reality (the qualities) and characteristics of His love to our spouses - this glorifies God - testifying of His great love.
This cannot be stressed enough - marriage is a partnership, the purpose of which is to glorify God. One major reason we want to stress this point, is because, lack of purpose is one of the greatest areas of marital failure, disunion, and divorce. And the purpose of glorifying God is one of the greatest glues which can bond, strengthen, protect, and preserve our marriages.
So many marriages fail after a very short period of time - 1 or 2 years - or after a long period of time - 30 or 40 years - for the exact same reason. Often this means divorce - or some marriages just endure - but in reality the bond - the glue - the marriage partnership has long since evaporated. Why? Many times the marriage dissolves simply because the couple no longer has a purpose to stay married.
Too often when a couple is married 35 or so years, they finally call it quits. This seems strange. We would think that a couple married over 30 years would at least be able to know how to survive anything which threatens their union. But there are some silent marriage killers which eat away at a couples relationship, like a corrosive slowly eating away at the structural integrity of the marriage. If these are ignored and not taken care of - serious damage will be done.
Often at around 35 years of marriage some dramatic changes take place in a home - children grow up, go away to school, they leave, and the house suddenly becomes really big and really empty. Often, when a couple gets to this stage of life, if the only purpose for the marriage has become raising children there will be a major problem. NO KIDS = NO PURPOSE = NO MARRIAGE.
Put any other temporal purpose for marriage into the equation - sex, companionship, co-dependency - whatever.... When the purpose is taken away the marriage is in trouble.
The one purpose for marriage which cannot be diminished by the changing circumstances of our lives is that of a Christian couple which is focused on the priority of glorifying God.
In the Acts 18 passage we read together, Aquila and Priscilla are an example of a marriage partnership which glorifies God.
Aquila and Priscilla are always mentioned together - three times in scripture as Aquila and Priscilla - three times as Priscilla and Aquila - neither is placed on a higher pedestal and always together - a shared partnership. They were one in their relationship with Jesus Christ - knowing Him personally as their Savior - and all they accomplished together in the name of the Lord was the result of that unity of spirit and purpose.
Both were Jews from Asia Minor - they share a common ancestry, culture, language, and background. They were originally from Pontus - and had been driven from their home by an edict of Claudius against the Jews. And so at the time of the Acts 18 account they are living in Corinth.
Together they own a small tentmaking business sharing equally in the duties of their business. And, as with all aspects of their marriage, they were in the tent business first of all, for the glory of God. The tents are made of goat’s hair, sewn together with thread, seamed together - quality workmanship - and those who come to their shop - their customers - know them as honest and fair in their dealings.
The Apostle Paul first met Aquila and Priscilla when he came to Corinth from Athens. For 18 months Paul lived in their home. Often we hear that “Paul was a tentmaker, while he preached in Corinth.” It was in Aquila and Priscilla’s tent shop that he worked.
Imagine - when they were not preaching and teaching - Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla sitting together - and as they plied their needles, fashioning or repairing tents - they shared their lives and faith. And anyone who came into that shop would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ - and would see the reality of the Gospel demonstrated in their relationship together - their love for each other - and in the way they dealt with their customers.
Aquila and Priscilla are partners together in ministry. They have opened up their home to be used for God’s glory - the church of Corinth meets and worships in there.
Together they had a powerful impact on the life of Apollos. Remember Apollos? Apollos is the one who Paul refers to when he says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Apollos came to Corinth from Alexandria. He was well educated, cultured, and a powerful orator. But, with all his brilliance and eloquence, when Apollos first came to Corinth, he only knew part of the Gospel - the first part - the teaching of John the Baptist. What he was preaching was not in error - it was just incomplete.
It was Aquila and Priscilla who took Apollos aside and shared with him the larger truth of redemption - the reality of salvation through Jesus Christ - crucified and alive. The result was Apollos’ powerful ministry - so dynamic that some in Corinth gave him higher regard than Paul and Peter. But, all that Apollos became he owed, under God, to the quiet instruction - the discipleship - of Aquila and Priscilla.
Aquila and Priscilla had a tremendous part in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus - they went with him. There they joined him in his ministry. During the great riots in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla risked their own lives to save Paul’s life. Later, they followed Paul to Rome and joined him in ministry there.
Where would the ministry of Apollos have been, what would the ministry of Paul have been like - what if he had been martyred in Ephesus - only God knows how many were saved spiritually - how significant was the ministry of Aquila and Priscilla. The history of Christianity is filled with humble men and women like Aquila and Priscilla - inconspicuously working behind the scenes - focused on serving God - bringing glory to Him and not themselves.
On July 8, 66, Aquila and Priscilla, still in love with each other and still in love with Jesus Christ, - their marriage strong and still bringing glory to God - they were led beyond the walls of Ephesus and beheaded.
They are an example to us of what Christian marriage is all about: A permanent partnership - the purpose of which is to glorify God.
Bringing our kids to Sunday School, being here on Sunday morning, serving on boards and committees, giving financially to the church - all these things are important. But, these are not the example which is given to us in the Bible. The Biblical example of a marriage which endures - which is a partnership - which is powerful in its impact in the lives of others - is first a marriage which is 100% shaped, focused, and consumed by the purpose of glorifying God.
Often we think that marriage and work are separate - not really a part of our service for God. At best we might give money to the church as a response for God’s blessing our work. Or, we might open our home up for a Bible study. But, when we see the examples in the Bible - Christian marriage is so much more. How many of us really experience a marriage which is 100% given over to serving God?
How many of us would be willing to move to another city to serve God? To own a different type of car so that the church could use it to transport youth our shut-ins? To be willing to open our home to an evangelist to live in - for 18 months? To spend our time together serving God - witnessing, teaching, discipling? To change jobs or make the primary focus of our present job - to win people to Christ? To open our homes and our lives to our neighbors - with goal of being a part of their lives - of creating opportunities to share the Gospel with them?
When a Christian couple makes decisions regarding where they live, how they live, how they make and spend money, what they drive, what they do with their time - the major focal consideration is how their decision will affect their ability to serve God.
This may sound really strange - maybe even a little excessive. But, in the Bible, this is what God says Christian marriage is - a partnership - the purpose of which is to glorify God.
1. Give God the first part of each day (Mark 1:35)The bottom line is that you set some mutual guidelines so that Jesus is the head by purpose not by chance.