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ACTS 18:1-3

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
May 29, 2005

This morning I’d like to revisit a sermon that I shared about two years ago - focusing on Godly marriage.  The reason is that the topic is so important.  All of us - from time to time - need to be reminded of what  Godly marriage is all about.

Do you remember the Dick Van Dyke show?  Here’s the scene.  Laura has been home all day.  None of the repairmen have shown up.  The washing machine is clogged up.  The garbage disposal is clogged up.  Her son Ritchie is clogged up.  He’s been home all day - sick and into everything.  She’s tired and a mess.  She’s been waiting patiently for Rob to come home - waiting patiently with dinner on the table for over an hour.

Finally, Rob comes home.  His boss - Allen - wanted a complete rewrite of the script.  His co-writers - Buddy came in early - Sally left early.  He’s lost his wallet.  He got a ticket for J-walking.  He’s getting a cold sore.  Someplace along the way he grabbed a cheese sandwich for dinner.  Now - a hour late - Rob collapses through the door into this home where all Laura wants is a little understanding.

Watch this - as we pick up the discussion underway. 

(Video clip “The Night The Roof Fell In.”)

Have you been there? 

There are some here who - as we speak of Godly marriage - will be reminded of pain and brokenness and loss.  There are some who are now in the midst of marriages that are very difficult.  Some who - as we discuss the nature of Godly marriage - know that that ideal is not theirs - yet.  There are some here - as there are in any group like this - there are some who long to be married and are not - and that’s a struggle for them.

We need to acknowledge together that marriage is a difficult topic which we need to approach with great sensitivity.  Our goal is not to cast stones or to add guilt or shame - to add burdens and to discourage.  We need to be a community that lives within God’s grace and mercy - that encourages and understands those who struggle.  Because there’s a little Rob and Laura in each of us.    

That’s why its important for us to look at what God says about marriage - to seek understanding of what marriage can be.  Because we don’t want to just acknowledge suffering and struggle.  We want to seek God’s healing and the best that He has for us.

There’s another reason why this topic is so close to my heart.  Over the last 19 plus years of ministry - most couples that have asked me to officiate at their weddings have fit a pattern.  Now, please hear me.  I’m generalizing with this.  Not all couples - but most.  And you’d be wrong to start trying to match this scenario with couples here.  So don’t go there.

Here’s the pattern.  Somehow a couple meets - they go out a few times - fall in lust - get into bed together - maybe even live together - decide to get married - announce their engagement to their families - arrange for a reception hall - set a date for the wedding - get on a bridal registry (Target - Big Lots) - arrange for the place to get married - and at some point they realize that they need a pastor do the wedding.  I get a number of phone calls from people who want to do the “rent-a-pastor” thing. 

Which makes pre-marital counseling very interesting - very “after the fact” - like damage control.

Of the different things we talk about in pre-marital counseling there’s one question I ask each couple - and with the exception of only a handful - with very few exceptions - not one couple has had an answer to this question.  Most haven’t even thought about the question.

Through counseling of couples about to get married and couples that are married and couples that are no longer couples - I’ve had the opportunity - for better or for worse - to see some of the good - the bad - and the ugly of marriage.  I am convinced that if couples - especially before they even think about getting married - maybe even before they start to date - if couples could prayerfully seek together God’s answer to this question most of the major problems in marriage would not exist.

Here’s the question - see if you agree: 
“What is God’s purpose for your marriage?”

Recently, I asked someone here that question, “
What do you think God’s purpose is for your marriage?”  This person went and did research on the internet.  Came back with answers and a chart.  Impressive.

Want to take guess at the answers this person came up?

  • Tied for #3 on the list - God’s purpose for marriage:  Lifetime Commitment and Companionship.
  • Tied for #2:  A Place Where Sex Is Okay and Having Children.  Which are kind of related.  One thing leading to another.
  • #1 Godly purpose for marriage:  To Demonstrate Who God Is.

  • Which - Biblically speaking - is right on.  Its consistent with what the Bible teaches as God’s purpose for marriage - to demonstrate who God is.

    To try to help us think that answer through in a way that we can incorporate into our own lives - to think through what God may want to do in our marriages - I’d like to state that answer this way: 
    Marriage is a partnership.  The purpose of which is to glorify God.

    Try that with me,
    “Marriage is a partnership.  The purpose of which is to glorify God.”

    Please turn with me to Acts 18:1-3.  We’re going to look at Aquila and Priscilla - who are married - to consider them as an example to us of what Godly marriage looks like.

    Acts 18:1 - if you have your Bibles open or have your Sermon Notes in front of you - let’s read this out loud together: 
    After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.  And he found a Jew name Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.  He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.

    In 18:1 - “he” is who?  the Apostle Paul.  Paul comes to Corinth and finds Aquila and Priscilla. 

    Do you remember “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? 
    “Man is the head of the home.  But the woman is the - what? neck.  And she can turn the head - where? any way she wants.”  With Aquila and Priscilla - there’s none of that one-upmanship deception and competition.

    In Scripture Aquila and Priscilla are
    always mentioned together - never separately.  Never is one placed on a higher pedestal.  Together they serve the same Lord - the same Savior - Jesus Christ.  All they accomplished together was the result of that partnership - the unity of purpose in their marriage - glorify God - demonstrate Him to others.

    There’s three examples of how their marriage glorified God that I’d like for us to focus on.

    The first example comes from their business

    Aquila and Priscilla
    were Jews from Asia Minor - Pontus.  Through and an edict of Claudius against the Jews they’d been driven from their home in Rome - where they’d been living.  Now they’re living in Corinth.

    In Corinth they
    owned a small tentmaking business - making tents of goat’s hair sewn together with thread.  We read that Paul was of the same trade - a tentmaker - working together with Aquila and Priscilla - while he ministered in Corinth.

    magine - Paul and Aquila, and Priscilla sitting together - and as they plied their needles, fashioning or repairing tents - they shared their lives and faith.  Anyone who came into that shop would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ - 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 - with honesty and integrity.  They were in the tent business for the glory of God. 

    First example?  “business” 
    Second:  their home.

    When we Roamed through Romans - in the Adult Sunday School - we saw that the Church of Corinth met and worshiped in the home of Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:3-5).  Think about that.  The commitment and openness that involves.

    Imagine at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning - while you’re still in your fuzzy pink bunny slippers - the worship team starts setting all this stuff up in your living room and then rehearses.  At 9:30 there’s worship.  Coffee’s happening in the kitchen.  The nursery is going on in the family room.  Junior Church is in a bedroom.  At 10:50 the bedrooms are Sunday School classes.  Then at 5:00
    “We’re ba-aack” for Girls Night Out - and youth group.

    And not just us.  We’re bringing our guests and friends.  Anyone who wants just shows up.  Those who needed to spend the night would stay over.  You’re providing the room and board.  That kind of excitement went on 365/24/7.

    For the 18 months that Paul stayed in Corinth he lived with Aquila and Priscilla.  Its not hard to imagine that visiting believers found their door always open.  Their home - every part of their lives was open - to be used for God’s glory. 

    First example?  Business.  Second?  Home. 
    Third example:  Their ministry together. 

    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
    Ephesus from Alexandria.  He was well educated -  cultured - a powerful orator.  But, with all his brilliance and eloquence, when Apollos first came to Ephesus 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
    Priscilla and Aquila and Priscilla - who were living in Ephesus at the time - it was Priscilla and Aquila 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 - later when Apollos moved to Corinth - some gave him higher regard than Paul and Peter.  All that Apollos became he owed - under God - to the quiet instruction - the discipleship - of Priscilla and Aquila. (Acts 18:24-28)

    Aquila and Priscilla had a tremendous part in the ministry of the Apostle Paul.  When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus - they went with him
    (Acts 18:18,19; 20:34; 2 Timothy 4:19).  Joined him in his ministry there.  During the great riots in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla risked their own lives to save Paul’s life.  Paul’s ministry would have been a lot shorter if he’d been martyred in Ephesus.  It was this Godly couple that God used to keep Paul alive.

    Later they followed Paul to Rome and joined him in ministry there.
    (Romans 16:3-5)  Only God knows how many people have been saved spiritually because of Aquila and Priscilla.  

    Church tradition tells us that o
    n 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.

    Marriage is a partnership
    .  The purpose of which is to glorify God.

    Today there’s confusion as to what marriage is.  18 states have passed marriage protection amendments.  There’s debate over the Federal Marriage Amendment - House Joint Resolution 56 - an amendment that defines marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. (1)

    In 1996 the United Church of Christ made this statement:  “Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ...affirms equal marriage rights for same sex couples…” (2)

    Since 1998, the second week of February has been set aside by some as the National Freedom to Marry Week - a week calling for the ending of discrimination in marriage against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. (3)

    On March 14th of this year - Judge Richard Kramer of the San Francisco County Superior Court ruled that California’s state ban on homosexual marriage is unconstitutional.  Said Judge Kramer,
    “It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners.”  (4)

    In April of this year - CNN/USA Today/Gallup released a poll in which 68% of those surveyed opposed same-sex marriage. (5)  Lambda - a legal organization dedicated to end discrimination based on sexual orientation - Lambda posted their own poll showing that 60% of Americans favor legal recognition of gay relationships. (6)

    Let’s be clear - we’re not trying to bash anyone here.  Or poke our fingers in righteous indignation at people.  The point is this:  We live in a world where there’s major confusion as to what marriage is.  Are we talking about same-sex marriages - open marriages - domestic partnerships - interspecies marriages?

    If we’re going to follow the example of Priscilla and Aquila - if we’re going to have marriages which glorify God - which demonstrate Him to the world - then we must be clear on what marriage is.

    On the back side of your Sermon Notes you’ll see a number of Scripture passages that are the basis for what I’m about to share.  I want to encourage you to take the time - not now - later - to read through those passages.

    What I’m about to say isn’t my philosophy or definition of marriage.  That really wouldn’t be all that helpful.  What we need to see is the instruction of God’s word.

    What is this partnership called marriage?

    In Genesis - when God brings Adam and Eve together - God gives 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 complete parts of the image of God - one male and one female - brought together into one union - ideally -
    for life.

    In the Bible, God condemns
    any behavior that will distort - damage - or destroy what He intends for marriage:  sex outside of marriage - pseudo-sex like pornography - homosexuality - divorce.  Behavior which our society is increasingly telling us is a part of marriage.  God condemns them because they’re a threat - a danger to what marriage is - the quality and permanence of marriage - the freedom of the couple to know God’s blessings - their ability 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.  All of which glorifies God - demonstrating to the world the greatness of His love.

    When we look at the example of Priscilla and Aquila that’s the kind of marriage we see.

    Let me put this very practically.

    any marriages fail after a very short period of time - 1 or 2 years.  Often this means divorce.  Or some marriages just endure.  But in reality the bond - the glue - of the marriage has long since evaporated.  Sound familiar?

    Too often when a couple is married 35 or so years
    they finally call it quits - separate - divorce.  Have you seen this happen?  It seems strange.  Wed think that a couple married over 30 years would at least be able to know how to survive anything which threatens their union.

    Often the coming apart - for the newly weds - and the senior weds - the marriage is coming apart for exactly the same reason.

    t around 35 years of marriage some dramatic changes take place in a home - children grow up - go away to school - they leave - 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’s a major problem.  Put simply -  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.

    Bringing our kids to Sunday School
    - being here on Sunday morning, serving on committees or the Board - giving financially to the church - all these things are important.  But, they’re not the example 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 the marriage which is 100% shaped, focused, and consumed by the purpose of glorifying God.

    Test yourself.

    How many of us would be willing to move to another city to serve God?
      Not just move because we want a better or different house - or because it makes some kind of economic sense to us.  But - like Aquila and Priscilla - to move because God calls us to serve Him.

    Or what about owning
    a different type of car so that the church could use it to transport youth or shut-ins?  To spend our time together serving God - witnessing, teaching, discipling?  To change jobs or make the primary focus of our job - to win people to Christ?  How many of us would be willing to open our home to an evangelist to live in - for 18 months?  Or to open our homes - and lives - to our neighbors - with the goal of being a part of their lives - of creating opportunities to share the Gospel with them?

    That’s out-of-the-box thinking.  But, when a Christian couple makes decisions with the primary consideration of how their decision will affect their ability to serve God
    they’re going to have an enduring partnership which will demonstrate God to the world.

    Sometime today - if you’re married or thinking about it - before you get wrapped up in all the stuff that crowds our lives - ask yourselves the question - ask God:  “What is God’s purpose for our marriage?”  It may take a lifetime of marriage - and prayerfully asking - to fully understand the answer to the question.  But, how awesome - to look back after 40 or 50 plus years of that adventure and to see how God used your lives together to glorify Him.



    1. http://www.traditionalvalues.org
    2. http://www.lambdalegal.org
    3. http://www.freedomtomarry.org
    4. http://www.traditionalvalues.org
    5. http://www.traditionalvalues.org
    6. http://www.lambdalegal.org

    Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.