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TEXT: Mark 10:23-31

SUBJECT: The Gospel Changes Everything #4: Singleness

A few days ago, an article appeared in Leadership Journal called The Everyday Gospel. The author is Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchvidjian, and it's one of the clearest and most helpful things I've read in a long time. Here's an excerpt-

I once assumed the Gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I've come to realize that the Gospel isn't the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth. As Tim Keller explains it, 'The Gospel isn't simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A-through-Z. In other words, once God rescues sinners, His plan isn't to steer them beyond the Gospel, but to move them more deeply into it.

.After meditating more deeply on Paul's words, a friend told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the Gospel. This means I can't really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the Gospel's content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not come independently of the Gospel. God intends His good news in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live.

What the man says so well is what I've been saying so badly the last few weeks: The Gospel changes everything! It not only saves us from hell; it also fixes what's wrong with us now.

By 'the Gospel' I don't mean a set of rules-not even the rules we have in the Bible. I mean what the word itself means: The Good Newsof what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

This is what turns a mean boy into a kind boy, what turns a deceitful girl into an honest girl, what makes a envious woman content with what she has, and changes a dirty old man into what he ought to be: a clean old man!

It is the Gospel! Paul says it is The power of God unto salvation, and by 'salvation' he means more than 'conversion'. He means the believer's whole life.

Will the Gospel get you a job? No, but it will enable you to honor Christ and love your neighbor without one. Will it cure cancer? No, but it will give you the patience, courage and hope you need whether it goes into remission or not.

We need to meditate on the Gospel every day, and ask God to give us the wisdom to see how it applies to the various problems of life. To help us do that, let's memorize a verse, Proverbs 3:5-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And do not lean to your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him

And He shall direct your paths.

To Trust in the Lord is to trust the Gospel, and turning to anyone or anything else for real and lasting solutions is to Lean to your own understanding. Which does not speak well of you, Proverbs 28:26--

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.

THE TOPIC

Two weeks ago, we saw how the Gospel changes marriage; last week, how it changes divorce, and today, we explore how it changes.

Singleness, and in particular, believers who want to be married, but for whatever reason are not, and fear they never will be.

THE PROBLEMS

Do single Christians have special problems? Most of their problems are the same ones married people have: sickness, unemployment, debt, falling out with friends, losing loved ones, and, of course, sin, guilt, and fear.

Nothing special about these problems-they're common to man, the Bible says. But, if singles have the same problems the rest of us do, they also have problems married people don't have-at least not to the same degree, especially if they're happily married.

What are their special problems? I thought of three:

    1. Loneliness
    2. Feelings of inadequacy
    3. No lawful outlet for romantic and sexual desires

Genesis 2:3 says, It is not good for man to be alone. To relieve man's loneliness, the Lord did not give him parents or friends or children; He gave him a wife. Under the glory of God, togetherness is the main purpose of marriage, and without it, many Christians feel keenly alone--no matter how many friends they have, how close they are to their families, or how warm and welcoming their churches are. At the end of the day, when others retire to bed with husband or wife, they sleep alone.

If loneliness is a bad problem, a feeling of inadequacy is worse. Some unmarried believers wonder what's wrong with them. If others can find a spouse, why can't they? Is it my looks? My weight? My intelligence? My personality? My job? Or, maybe I'm not married because God has something against me! Whatever the problem is, it must be my fault!

Perhaps the worst part of wanting to marry, but not being able to is the sexual part. God gave them a strong sexual desire, but they cannot use it with a good conscience. Are they right to feel this way? Yes, they are. When it comes to sex, the Bible is crystal clear. Hebrews 13:4 is a fair summary of its whole teaching-

Marriage is honorable to all and the bed is undefiled, but all whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

There is no lawful sex outside of marriage. None for the body and none for the mind. Colossians 3:5-

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Chastity has never been easy, but I wonder if it has ever been harder to live by than it is now? Between casual sex and pornography and immodesty and vulgarity spread all over TV, newspapers, magazines, and even billboards! It seems the whole world is pushing sexual desire, and God gives us no husband or wife to put it to good use!

HELPS

Can we help our unmarried brothers and sisters? Yes we can-and we should help them. First, by not asking stupid and hurtful questions. By not putting them into awkward positions. If they want our help, it's good to introduce them to people they might like (as long as we don't pressure them).

If they live alone, we can have them in our homes often, and especially on holidays, when they're most likely to feel left out.

We can also remember them in our prayers.

THE GOSPEL

These are all good things to do, but they're not good enough. Hospitality and prayers may lessen their problems, but only the Gospel will solve them!

This is what we need to do for ourselves and each other: Apply the Gospel to the problems of singleness. How do we do this?

IN GENERAL

In general, the Gospel says three things that help people be content without a husband or wife. Here they are, in brief:

In the first place, Jesus Christ was a single Man, and this means He-and God-know the temptations of singleness from personal experience. Believers wince when you say something about the Lord's manhood, but being a man, and being tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin means He was tempted in the same way other single men are. You're not alone. Jesus knows your struggles.

In the second place, you have many things better than a husband or wife-even the best husband or wife. The Gospel says your sins are forgiven; it says you have been reconciled to God; it says you have His fellowship; it says you have a share in the Resurrection. Nobody should bad mouth marriage-it is a good thing, a blessing from God-but, good as it is, there are better things than marriage. And you have them.

In the third place, the Gospel says no problem is permanent because they all end with the Resurrection. The loneliness and the inadequacy you may feel now will be gone forever when you're raised immortal and incorruptible.

THE PARTICULARS

If these are the more general aids the Gospel gives struggling singles, there are more particular one too.

Number One: The Gospel relieves loneliness by telling you: you're not alone. In Jesus Christ, God has joined the human race, and by His Spirit, Jesus is closer to you than the most loving husband or wife. No, you don't feel His warm body next to yours in bed, but He is there, and unlike so many spouses, He is all there and always.

Number Two: The Gospel dispels feelings of inadequacy by saying, 'Of course, you're inadequate-everyone is-but When we were without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly'. Christ loves you in your ugliness and His love will change it into beauty. Brethren, it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Number Three: The Gospel relieves sexual and romantic frustrations in two main ways:

  1. By taking us out of ourselves, and lifting our hearts to Christ and our eyes to our brethren.
  2. By promising us something better than the intimacy and ecstasy of marriage on earth. What's that? Go to the end of the Bible and you'll see the New Jerusalem, descending to the earth festooned for a Royal Wedding. The Bridegroom is Jesus and His bride is the Church.

This doesn't mean you'll never again feel the longings of romance and sex. You will. We live with the tension of already/not yet. On one level, we are in union with Christ now, but on another, we're still waiting for the consummation.

We have to live by faith, faith in the Gospel. When we do, we will not wish we hadn't. This applies to all God's people, including the dear brothers and sisters who want a spouse and don't have one.

The love of God be with you all. Amen.

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