A GODLY MARRIAGE ACTS 18:1-3 Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 11, 2009
This morning we’re going to be
looking at marriage.
Do you remember the Dick Van Dyke show?That dates
a few of us?Here’s
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
is 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 sohe’s had to
co-writers - Buddy came in early - Sally left early.He’s lost
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 and
see if any of it sounds familiar.
(DVD: The Dick Van Dyke Show )
Have you been there?
There are some here who - as we speak of Godly
marriage - will be reminded of pain and brokenness and
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
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 a 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 - the challenge and commitment
want to seek God’s healing and we want seek the best
that He has for us.
There’s another reason why this topic is so close to
the last 20 plus years of ministry - most couples that
have asked me to officiate at their weddings have fit
talking to other pastors - most couples that come to
them to be married also fit this pattern.Now, please
generalizing with this.Not all couples - but most.And you’d
be wrong to start trying to match this scenario with
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
get phone calls from couples who want to do the
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
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 - just as individuals
single and before God thinking about their own
relationship with God and His direction in their lives
- 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?”
A while back 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.
Would you agree with that?Biblically speaking - that
answer is pretty consistent with what the Bible
teaches as God’s purpose for marriage - to demonstrate
who God is.
Marriage demonstrates the covenant - commitment -
relationship of God and His people - even new life in
whole reality of a man assuming sacrificial headship
in the marriage follows the example of Jesus on the
wife’s honoring of her husband demonstrates the
response of the church to Jesus.
Marriage demonstrates God’s love poured out through a
husband and wife.Marriage demonstrates what God can do through
two people who are individually and corporately
surrendered to Him.
Thinking through the reality of that answer in a way
that we can grab on to for ourselves - what God may
want to do in and through our marriages - whether we
are married - might be married - or maybe know someone
who is - to think through God’s purpose for marriage -
I’d like to state that answer this way:The purpose of marriage is to glorify
Try that with me, “The purpose of
marriage is to glorify God.”
To glorify God is to testify with our lives of Who He
is the first of the two great purposes for why we
exist - to glorify God - and to enjoy Him forever.Marriage
should testify of God - demonstrate Who He is to the
That takes marriage to a whole different level.Doesn’t it?Ever think
about marriage that way?
In order to explore this from a “what
does that look like” practical “how do we do
perspective I’d like to have you turn together with me
to Acts 18 - starting at verse 1.
We’re going to look at Aquila and Priscilla - who are
married - imagine that - to consider Aquila and
Priscilla as an example to us of what a God glorifying
- Godly marriage - looks like.We’re going
to read this passage together to get it fresh in our
be on the overheard so we’ll all have the same
Acts 18 - starting at verse 1.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
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 - this Godly married couple.
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
and Priscilla - there’s none of that one-upmanship
deception and competition - lack of real
In Scripture Aquila and Priscilla are always mentioned together - 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 - to glorify God - to demonstrate Him to
There’s three examples - here in these three
verses - of how their marriage glorified God.Three
examples for us consider for ourselves.
The first example comes from Their Business.Say that
with me, “Their
Aquila and Priscilla were Jews who were originally from Asia Minor -
from Pontus - a region just west of Armenia.Pontus was
one of the locations mentioned at Pentecost.Later
they’d moved to Rome.Then through and an
edict of Claudius against the Jews they’d been driven
from their home in Rome.Now they’re living in Corinth - a city about
45 miles west of Athens.
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.
Imagine - Paul and Aquila, and Priscilla sitting
together - and as they plied their needles, fashioning
or repairing tents - they shared their lives and
you like to have that kind of time with Paul?Imagine the
kinds of discussions about theology and how a person
lives out their faith in Jesus - what it was like to
encounter Jesus on the road to Damascus.Mind
Anyone who came into that shop would have been
drawn into that discussion - would’ve heard 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.Say
that with me, “Their home.”
The Church of Corinth met and worshipped in the home
of Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:3-5).Think about
that sink in.The
commitment and openness that involves.
Imagine if we did church at your house.
Next Sunday - 8:00 a.m. in the 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.Your TV is commandeered for the
9:30 there’s worship.Every stick of furniture you’ve got has got
someone planted on it.The nursery is going on in the family room.Children’s
worship is in a bedroom.
At 10:45 coffee’s happening in the kitchen.People are
wandering around dropping food on your carpet.Perfect
strangers are using your good towels in the bathroom.
At 11:15 the bedrooms are Sunday School classes.Then at
4:30 “We’re ba-aack” for Middle
School youth group - or Sunday Night Live.At 6:30
Senior High Youth Group happens.Wednesday
night there’s a million kids running all over the
house for AWANA.
And us showing up at your house isn’t just about us
bringing our guests and friends.Anyone who
wants just shows up.Those who needed to spend the night would stay
providing the room and board.Your house
is the center of the Christian community in Corinth.That kind
of excitement goes on 24/7/365.
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
example:Their Ministry.Try that
with me, “Their
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 wasn’t in error.It was just incomplete.
It was 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
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 tad shorter if he’d been
martyred in Ephesus.It was this Godly couple that God used to keep
Laterthey followed Paul to Rome and
joined him in ministry there. (Romans
God knows how many people have been saved spiritually
because of Aquila and Priscilla.
Church tradition tells us that 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.
Is marriage a contract?A domestic partnership?A civil
consentual relationship?Is marriage between a man and a
woman - a couple of women or a couple of men - or
marriage just between humans?
30 states have constitutional amendments banning same
states have had their State Supreme Courts legalize
In 2000 - over 61% of California voters passed Prop.
22 - banning same sex marriage.In May of
last year - the California Supreme Court - by a 4 to 3
vote - ruled that same-sex couples have the same right
to marry as other Californians.In November
the majority of Californians voted for Prop. 8 - which
our Attorney General Jerry Brown has said is invalid.The
California Supreme Court is preparing to hear
arguments about its validity.
Lisa Miller - in the December 15th edition of Newsweek
- writing in support of homosexual marriage - Lisa
Miller writes, “A mature view of scriptural authority
requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond
Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's
impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to
In other words, defining marriage is easy if you toss
out the Bible.
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
society where there’s major confusion as to what
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.
What I’m about to say isn’t my philosophy or
definition of marriage.That really wouldn’t be all that helpful.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 we need to see is the instruction of God’s word.What God says is
a marriage that glorifies Him.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Priscilla and Aquila are not a couple of people who’re
living out a civil union shaped by the philosophy of
the day - do what feels good - its all about me -
define it as you go - don’t bother me with what God
says - rationalization of marriage.Priscilla and
Aquila are a married couple who have subjected
their lives and marriage to what God commands - what
God directs - for God’s purposes - regardless of what
the culture around them is saying.
Let me put this very practically.
fail after a very short period of time - 1 or 2 years.Often that means divorce.Or some marriages just endure.But in reality the bond - the glue - of the marriage has long since
Too often when a couple is married 35 or so yearsthey finally call it quits -
separate - divorce.Have
you seen this happen?It seems strange.We’d 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.
At 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
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
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
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
- 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,
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
That’s out-of-the-box thinking.But, when a Christian couple makes
decisions with the primary consideration of how their decisions will affect their ability to
serve God - to glorify God - they’re going to have
an enduring partnership which will demonstrate God to
Sometime today - if you’re married or thinking about
it - before you get wrapped up in all the stuff that
crowds our lives and shapes our expectations of
marriage - ask yourselves the question - ask God:“How can our marriage glorify God?”It
may take a lifetime of marriage - and prayerfully
asking - to fully understand the answer to the
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.