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← A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters - John Piper

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Showing Revision 4 created 10/05/2017 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. Let's pray together.
  2. Father, I pray that the worldview
  3. that tries to fit biblical pieces in,
  4. but is a worldview shaped by
  5. unbiblical assumptions, would be changed.
  6. So that, marriage and singleness
  7. are seen to be what they are
  8. in the radical alteration of things
  9. that Jesus has brought.
  10. This is something that
    I can't make happen.
  11. But You, by Your Spirit,
    through Your Word can.
  12. And so I ask that You would perform it.
  13. Not that a few little nuggets would be
  14. fit in to a defective paradigm,
  15. but rather that the whole system
  16. would be blown away
  17. and replaced by
  18. a biblical understanding of all things.
  19. So that the smaller things
  20. like marriage and singleness
  21. would fit in the way
    that you have designed
  22. in Christ Jesus in this brief
  23. and temporary age in which we live
  24. in preparation for eternity.
  25. So, come and help me be
    faithful to Your Word now,
  26. and give ears to hear,
    I pray, through Christ.
  27. Amen.
  28. I'm going to start and end
  29. with my main point,
  30. and in the middle,
  31. I'll saturate you with many texts.
  32. So that we have foundation under
  33. the beginning by the time
    we get to the end
  34. and say it again.
  35. My main point is that God promises
  36. those of you who will remain single
  37. blessings that are better than
  38. the blessings of marriage and children.
  39. And secondly, that He calls you
  40. to display by your Christ-exalting devotion
  41. in singleness,
  42. to display truths about Christ
  43. and His Kingdom
  44. that shine more clearly through
  45. singleness than through marriage.
  46. Four of them.
  47. Four truths that will shine
  48. more clearly through a life
  49. of devoted singleness in Christ
  50. than through marriage.
  51. Number one.
  52. That the family of God grows
  53. not by propogation through
    sexual intercourse
  54. but by regeneration through
    faith in Christ.
  55. Number two.
  56. That relationships in Christ are more
  57. permanent and more precious
  58. than relationships in families.
  59. And of course, it is a wonderful thing
  60. if relationships in families can be both
  61. relationships in families
    and relationships in Christ,
  62. but we know good and well
  63. that is, for many of us,
    not the case.
  64. Number three.
  65. That marriage is temporary,
  66. and finally gives way to the
  67. relationship to which it was
    pointing all along,
  68. namely, Christ and the church.
  69. Just like a picture is not needed
  70. when you are seeing face to face.
  71. And fourth.
  72. That faithfulness to Christ
    defines the value of life,
  73. and all other relationships
    get their significance from that.
  74. Faithfulness to Christ.
  75. No family relationship is ultimate.
  76. Relationship to Christ is ultimate.
  77. That's my message.
  78. That's my main point.
  79. It has many layers.
  80. And we now need to see Bible
  81. underneath it,
  82. and where all of that comes from.
  83. And we'll start in the
    middle of the Bible,
  84. then we'll go back to
    the front of the Bible,
  85. then to the end of the Bible.
  86. And we'll be all over the Bible
    in this message,
  87. because this message is a
  88. Biblical theology of singleness.
  89. Isaiah 56:4-5
  90. "For thus says the Lord:
  91. To the eunuchs...
  92. (that is, those that cannot procreate
  93. and thus devote themselves to some
  94. unique service...
  95. a king or somebody.)
  96. Thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs
    who keep My Sabbaths,
  97. who choose the things that please Me
    and hold fast My covenant.
  98. I will give in My house
    and within My walls
  99. a monument and a name,
  100. better than sons and daughters.
  101. I will give them an everlasting name
  102. that shall not be cut off."
  103. So God promises to obedient eunuchs...
  104. blessings that are better than that
    of sons and daughters.
  105. In other words,
  106. God promises those of you
    who remain single in Christ,
  107. blessings that are better than
    being married and having children.
  108. Now, to see that more clearly,
  109. we need to go back to the beginning
  110. of the Bible and make our way forward.
  111. In the created order,
  112. before there was any sin in the world,
  113. and in the covenental order
  114. between Abraham and the coming of Christ,
  115. God is primarily building
    His covenant people
  116. through the mechanism
    of procreation.
  117. In other words, being married
  118. and having offspring was of
    paramount importance.
  119. Because God was focusing His
    Kingdom building efforts
  120. on an ethnic people - Israel - primarily.
  121. So, to be married and to have children
  122. was the preservation of a name
    and inheritance
  123. and of a covenant.
  124. So you get in Genesis 1:28,
  125. "Be fruitful and multiply,
    and fill the earth."
  126. Genesis 2:18
  127. This is all before the fall.
  128. Genesis 2:18
  129. Before woman was made,
    God says to Adam,
  130. "It is not good that man
    should be alone.
  131. I will make a helper
    fit for him."
  132. And then when God chose Abraham
  133. as the beginning of that
    covenant people of Israel.
  134. He says to him,
  135. go out and look at those stars.
  136. So shall your offspring be.
  137. And when Abraham found
    that he couldn't have children
  138. because Sarah was barren,
  139. he went and got himself
    a child by Hagar,
  140. and said to the Lord,
  141. "Oh, that Ishmael might
    live before You."
  142. And God said, "No."
  143. "But Sarah your wife will
    have a son."
  144. In other words,
  145. physical offspring really mattered.
  146. And it would come
    God's way and God's time.
  147. And then He reaffirmed that
  148. to Isaac in Genesis 26:3,
  149. "I will be with you,
    and I will bless you,
  150. for to you and your offspring,
    I will give all these lands,
  151. and I will establish the oath
    that I swore to Abraham,
  152. your father."
  153. And again, physical offspring
    is seen to be crucial.
  154. The reason these offspring
    are so crucial,
  155. is because they're the way the covenant
  156. is preserved and extended
  157. on into the future.
  158. And because a name would be lost.
  159. A name would be lost.
  160. Do you remember how Saul
    plead with David
  161. not to wipe out his offspring,
  162. so that his name would
    not be erased is what he said
  163. 1 Samuel 24:21
  164. "Swear to me therefore
    by the Lord
  165. that you will not cut off
    my offspring after me,
  166. and that you will not destroy my name
  167. out of my father's house."
  168. And some of you remember,
  169. the whole institution,
  170. the very complex,
  171. institution of Levirate marriage.
  172. Remember that?
  173. Where a man is obliged to
    marry his deceased brother's widow
  174. so that the name of the brother
    would not be lost in the tribes.
  175. And the ordination was that the
    first son born would get the name
  176. of the dead brother.
  177. Listen to Deuteronomy 25:6.
  178. "And the first son whom she bears
  179. shall succeed to the name
  180. of his dead brother, that his
  181. name might not be blotted out
  182. of Israel."
  183. Now that's an amazing provision,
    is it not?
  184. For the perpetuation of the name
  185. through the physical seed of
  186. this man's wife and his brother.
  187. The most famous illustration of that is?
  188. Boaz and Ruth.
  189. Remember?
  190. He marries Ruth in order that
  191. Elimelech and Mahlon, her husband
  192. would not lose their name
    and their inheritance.
  193. Listen to these words,
  194. "Ruth, the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon
  195. I have bought to be my wife
  196. to perpetuate the name of the dead
    in his inheritance,
  197. that the name of the dead
    may not be cut off
  198. from among the brothers,
    and from the gate of his native place.
  199. You are witnesses to this day."
  200. Ruth 4:10
  201. So you can see how crucial marriage
  202. and offspring were to the preservation
  203. of name and inheritance
    and covenant.
  204. No wonder Jephthah's daughter
  205. asked for two months
  206. not to bewail her impending death,
  207. but to bewail her virginity.
  208. An amazing story.
  209. "So she said to her father,
  210. 'let this thing be done for me,
  211. let me alone for two months,
  212. that I may go up and down
    on the mountains,
  213. weep for my virginity,
  214. I and my companions.'
  215. And so he said, 'Go.'"
  216. That's the background for
    Isaiah 56:5.
  217. That's the background.
  218. To cause your jaw to drop.
  219. And for you to stand amazed at this.
  220. Thus says the Lord:
  221. The eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
  222. who choose the things that please Me,
  223. hold fast to My covenant.
  224. These unmarried, these childless ones.
  225. I will give in My house
    and within My walls
  226. a monument and a name
    better than sons and daughters.
  227. I will give them an
    everlasting name
  228. that shall not be cut off.
  229. Now where in the world
    did that come from?
  230. And where is that pointing?
  231. It came from chapter 53.
  232. Want to go there with me?
  233. We read chapter 53, this
    glorious prophecy of the Messiah
  234. coming to be wounded
    for our transgressions,
  235. be crushed for our iniquities.
  236. But do we ponder verse 10?
  237. "It was the will of the Lord to crush Him."
  238. This is what God did to
    Christ on the cross.
  239. Prophesied 700 years earlier.
  240. "It was the will of the Lord to crush Him.
  241. He has put Him to grief.
  242. When His soul makes
    an offering for guilt..."
  243. There's our salvation.
  244. "When His soul makes
    an offering for guilt,
  245. He shall see His offspring.
  246. He shall prolong His days."
  247. Indeed forever,
    after the resurrection.
  248. "The will of the Lord
    shall prosper in His hand."
  249. What does that mean?
  250. He shall see His offspring?
  251. Jesus was never married.
  252. Don't you believe any
    crazy movie that says He was.
  253. The whole point is that
    He wasn't married.
  254. And that He was a dry tree
  255. and a eunuch,
  256. and a single man,
  257. faithfully to the day
    of His death.
  258. That's the point.
  259. This is another kind of offspring.
  260. When Christ dies for sinners
    like you and me,
  261. who by grace put our faith in Him
  262. and are united to Him,
  263. we become His children.
  264. And the children of God.
  265. And a whole new way
    of bringing offspring into being
  266. takes precedence over the old way.
  267. Which is why the next chapter,
  268. 54, begins like this:
  269. "Sing, O barren one,
  270. who did not bear,
  271. break forth into singing
  272. and cry aloud,
  273. you who have not been in labor,
  274. for the children of the desolate one
  275. will be more than the children
  276. of her who is married."
  277. A whole new way of thinking.
  278. A whole new way of growing
    a family is coming into being
  279. prophetically at this point,
  280. and literally at the coming of Jesus.
  281. So what does Jesus say
    when He comes
  282. to Nicodemus who cannot
    change his worldview.
  283. He just doesn't get it.
  284. "Truly, truly, I say to you,
  285. unless one is born again,
  286. he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
  287. I'm here to make children.
  288. I'm here to build a family.
  289. I'm here to give birth,
  290. like you never knew.
  291. And the Apostle Paul picks up
  292. the strain in Galatians 3.
  293. "Know then, that it is those who
  294. are of faith who are the sons of Abraham."
  295. Not the physical descendants.
  296. "In Christ Jesus, you are
  297. all sons of God through faith."
  298. In other words, it's not
    physical descent that
  299. makes God's family.
  300. The covenant people are the
    people who are born of God,
  301. and have faith in Jesus.
  302. Peter picks up the theme.
  303. Chapter 1:3
  304. "According to His great mercy,
  305. He has caused us to be
    born again to a living hope
  306. through the resurrection of
    Jesus from the dead,
  307. and to an inheritance..."
  308. You want an inheritance?
  309. You've got to have the
    right Father.
  310. God.
  311. How do you get God as
    your Father?
  312. Be born again.
  313. "...and to an inheritance, imperishable,
  314. undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven
  315. for you."
  316. Jesus, Paul, Peter,
    all of them saying,
  317. children are born into God's family
  318. and receive the inheritance
  319. not by marriage.
  320. Not by procreation.
  321. But by faith and regeneration,
  322. which means,
  323. single people in Christ
    have zero disadvantage
  324. in bearing children for God.
  325. And in many ways,
  326. significant advantages.
  327. Paul was single all his life.
  328. Or at least, lest we overstate it,
  329. single all of the life we knew him.
  330. Because he says he has no wife
  331. in 1 Corinthians 9,
  332. but whether he is a widower,
    we don't know.
  333. So he has no wife in all
    of the New Testament documents,
  334. and he is a father
    if there ever was one.
  335. He says, 1 Corinthians 4:15,
  336. He's talking to his church,
  337. "Though you have countless
    guides in Christ,
  338. you have not many fathers.
  339. I became your father in
    Christ Jesus through the Gospel."
  340. That's a single man talking.
  341. Men. Single men.
  342. "I became your father.
    I'm your father.
  343. Single and unmarried as I am."
  344. Or let him speak for the women.
  345. 1 Thessalonians 2:7
  346. "But we were gentle among you,
    like a nursing mother
  347. taking care of her own children."
  348. And so it will be said of
    many single women in Christ.
  349. She was a great mother in the
    church and never married.
  350. Now, take heed and be careful
  351. lest you trivialize what I'm saying.
  352. As though you think that
  353. Pastor John is
    sentimentalizing singleness
  354. to make the single folks
  355. feel good in this series on marriage.
  356. I could care less about
    making anybody feel good.
  357. I am declaring
  358. the temporary and secondary nature
  359. of marriage and family,
  360. over against the eternal
    and primary nature
  361. of the church.
  362. That's what I'm declaring.
  363. I'm declaring the temporary
    and secondary nature
  364. of marriage and family
  365. over against the primary
    and eternal nature
  366. of the family of God.
  367. Hear that.
  368. This is not trivial.
  369. This is huge.
  370. And I fear that we have
    settled into our land
  371. and our culture.
  372. And idolized the family.
  373. Idolized marriage.
  374. We're here for a vapor's breath
  375. and then we're gone.
  376. What happens here is
    relatively minor compared to
  377. what will be after the resurrection.
  378. This is no small thing I'm saying.
  379. In the resurrection,
    Matthew 22:30,
  380. Jesus says,
  381. "In the resurrection, they neither
    marry nor are given in marriage,
  382. but are like angels in heaven."
  383. I am declaring the radical,
    biblical truth
  384. that being in a human family
  385. is no sign of an eternal blessing.
  386. Being in God's family
    means being eternally blessed.
  387. Relationships based on family
    are temporary.
  388. Relationships based on
    union with Christ are eternal.
  389. Marriage is a temporary institution,
  390. and stands for something
    that lasts forever,
  391. namely our relationship to
    Jesus Christ:
  392. Church and Bridegroom.
  393. And when His mother and His brothers
  394. came to Him, Jesus,
    and asked to see Him,
  395. He said,
  396. "Who is My mother?
  397. Who are My brothers?"
  398. And stretching out His hand
    towards His disciples,
  399. He said, "Here are My
    mother and My brothers."
  400. There's not a much more
    radical statement in the Bible than that.
  401. You want to be the mother of Jesus?
  402. Follow Him.
  403. The mother of God
    is an obedient Christian.
  404. "Blessed is the womb that bore You,
    and the breasts at which You nursed."
  405. A woman cried.
  406. He turned and said to her,
  407. "Blessed, rather, are those who
    hear the Word of God and keep it."
  408. Does this mean anything to you?
  409. Does talking like that
    change your worldview?
  410. Oh, how blessed were the
    breasts that gave You suck.
  411. Oh, how blessed was the womb
    that bore You.
  412. He looks at that woman and says,
  413. "You keep the Word of God,
    and you'll be My mother."
  414. Do not elevate natural processes
  415. like procreation and childbearing
  416. and marriage to anything
    bigger than what they are.
  417. Temporal, physical means
    of keeping the world going,
  418. and illustrations of Christ
    and the church,
  419. which when He comes,
    fade away.
  420. "Truly, truly, I say to you
  421. there is no one who has left house,
  422. or brothers, or sisters, or mother,
  423. or father, or children, or lands
  424. for My sake and the gospel,
  425. who will not receive a hundred fold
    now in this time,
  426. houses, and brothers, and sisters,
  427. and mothers, and children,
  428. and lands with persecutions,
  429. and in the age to come,
  430. eternal life."
  431. Single person,
  432. married person,
  433. do you want many mothers?
  434. Do you want many children?
  435. Brothers, sisters, lands?
  436. A place to stay at night?
  437. Be a part of the church.
  438. Join the family of God.
  439. It's a huge calling upon the church.
  440. I'm not saying we do it very well.
  441. But hear, church, what we're called to be.
  442. Hear this.
  443. You leave them, and you
    get a hundred to replace
  444. in the church - if
    we're doing our job.
  445. So what shall we say in view
    of this amazing biblical vision
  446. of the secondary and
    temporary nature of marriage
  447. and procreation?
  448. What shall we say?
  449. We should say what Jesus said,
  450. and what Paul said,
    following Jesus.
  451. And here's what Jesus said.
  452. Matthew 19:12
  453. "There are eunuchs, who have
    been so from birth.
  454. There are eunuchs who have
    been made eunuchs by men.
  455. And there are eunuchs who have
    made themselves eunuchs
  456. for the sake of the
    Kingdom of Heaven.
  457. Let the one who is able to
    receive this, receive it."
  458. There is no reason that we should
  459. take the phrase,
  460. "made themselves eunuchs,"
  461. to refer to any form of
    physical sterilization.
  462. There's no reason to take it that way.
  463. Anymore than we take the words,
  464. "if your eye causes you
    to sin, gouge it out."
  465. But we take both of them
    very seriously.
  466. If you can receive it,
    receive it.
  467. Some people choose,
    by God's calling,
  468. a life of devoted singleness
    in Christ.
  469. And to them He's promised,
  470. a name and a memorial
  471. better than the name
  472. of marriage and children.
  473. Paul picked it up
  474. and put it most starkly in chapter 7.
  475. Most of you single folks have read this
  476. and pondered what this means for you.
  477. I'll read verses 32, 33, 35
    of 1 Corinthians 7.
  478. "To the unmarried and the widows,
    I say that it is good for them
  479. to remain single as I am.
  480. I want you to be free from anxieties.
  481. The unmarried man is anxious
    about the things of the Lord,
  482. how to please the Lord.
  483. The married man is anxious about
    worldly things, how to please his wife.
  484. I say this to secure your
  485. undivided devotion to the Lord."
  486. Paul speaks about each
    having his own gift.
  487. Verse 7.
  488. One of one kind,
    one of another kind.
  489. In other words,
  490. let him who is able to
    receive it, receive it.
  491. So, here we are at the end
    where we began.
  492. With all this Scripture underneath us now.
  493. And I will give my main point again.
  494. My main point of this message is,
  495. God promises, those who remain
    single in Christ
  496. blessings that are better than
  497. the blessings of marriage and children.
  498. Now, if someone should ask
  499. as I did,
  500. how about both?
  501. Wouldn't it be better
    to have both?
  502. The blessings of marriage and children,
  503. and the eternal blessings?
  504. There are two answers
    to that question.
  505. Number one.
  506. You will learn sooner or later,
  507. and you may as well learn now,
  508. that the blessings of being with
    Christ in heaven,
  509. are so far superior
  510. to the blessings of being married
    and raising children,
  511. that to ask this question,
  512. wouldn't it be better to have both?
  513. Is like asking,
  514. "If you're going to give me the ocean,
  515. can't I have a thimble as well?"
  516. It does lose some of its force.
  517. You just need to see heaven.
  518. You need to see Christ.
  519. better than we see Him,
  520. to keep things in proper perspective.
  521. That's the first answer.
  522. Can I have a thimble with
    the Pacific Ocean?
  523. The second answer
    to the question
  524. is that both marriage and singleness
  525. present us with unique trials
    and unique opportunities
  526. for sanctification.
  527. Unique. Not the same. Different.
  528. Both important.
  529. And there will be unique
    rewards for each.
  530. And which is better will
    depend not on
  531. whether you were married or single,
  532. but on how you responded to each.
  533. So, I say it again,
  534. to all singles in Christ,
  535. who will be that way long term,
  536. God promises you blessings
    in the age to come
  537. that are better, far better,
  538. than the blessings of
  539. marriage and children.
  540. And that brings some responsibility
    and calling with it.
  541. I can imagine, somebody who
  542. would rather me not make this emphasis,
  543. saying, "what this bunch of singles
    really needs to hear,
  544. is that they should stop abdicating
  545. their responsibility and postponing
  546. the end of adolescence for about
    thirty years."
  547. Well, I've said that,
    if you have ears to hear.
  548. If you think what I'm saying here
  549. is a license to extend adolesence
  550. to 25, and 30, and 35,
  551. while you play computer games
  552. and don't take up
    your cause for Christ?
  553. And lay your life down for Him?
  554. With all this time you have?
  555. Then you don't understand
    anything I've said.
  556. I am summoning singles
    to a radical devotion to Jesus Christ
  557. which means grow up
    and become a dad at 25
  558. and single the rest of your life,
    if God wills.
  559. And a mother at 25,
    of a spiritual family that you disciple
  560. who are born, not of going to bed
    with a girl or a guy.
  561. The strongest, most Christlike
    single is the one
  562. who is virgin till death.
  563. And may it be so for many.
  564. What a glory!
  565. What a reward!
  566. And the world will tell you,
    "That's a waste."
  567. That's a waste.
  568. They don't know anything.
  569. How's your worldview?
  570. Are you buying into it?
  571. Then you're gone.
  572. Then life.
  573. There are four truths
  574. that singles can display
    in this world
  575. better than married people.
  576. I've spent nine weeks
  577. telling married people
  578. how to display Christ
    and the church.
  579. And I'm taking one week
  580. to say to single people
  581. what's the counterpart drama
    in your life.
  582. What are you supposed to display?
  583. If me and Noel, if we, are
    supposed to display
  584. Christ and the church
    in our relationship,
  585. what's singleness about?
  586. It's about these four truths.
  587. Number one.
  588. Displaying that the family of God
    grows not by propogation through
  589. sexual intercourse,
  590. which you avoid and abstain from
  591. because you believe in Christ.
  592. But rather it grows by
    regeneration and faith in Christ,
  593. and you give your life
    to begetting such children.
  594. Second.
  595. The relationships in Christ are more
    permanent and more precious
  596. than the relationships in families,
  597. and therefore we'll give our lives
    to cultivating relationships
  598. that last forever.
  599. Noel and I won't be
    married in the Kingdom.
  600. That's huge in the way
    singles and marrieds think
  601. about relationships and friendships
  602. and covenant bonding with people.
  603. Number three.
  604. That marriage is temporary.
  605. It finally gives way to the relationship
  606. to which it's been pointing all along:
  607. Christ and the church.
  608. And fourth.
  609. Faithfulness to Christ
  610. defines the value of life.
  611. And all other relationships
  612. get their significance from this.
  613. Faithfulness to Christ.
  614. No family relationship is ultimate.
  615. Relationship to Christ is ultimate.
  616. So, to Him be glory,
  617. in the Christ-exalting drama of marriage,
  618. and to Him be glory,
  619. in the Christ-exalting drama
    of the single life.
  620. Amen.
  621. Let's pray.
  622. Father, I am very aware
  623. that that's an orientation message
  624. on the way to look at things biblically.
  625. And many questions for individuals
  626. now remain to be answered.
  627. Which I cannot answer for them.
  628. One has one gift,
    one has another.
  629. Let him who can receive it,
    receive it.
  630. But You can answer, Lord.
    You can answer.
  631. Is it marriage?
    Or is it singleness?
  632. And Your answer doesn't arrive
    always when we want to hear it,
  633. and so I pray that all the singles
  634. will be patient with You and with life.
  635. And they will be devoted
    utterly to You.
  636. Now and if they marry.
  637. Devoted utterly to You in marriage.
  638. So make Yourself supreme
    in the life of singleness.
  639. And supreme in the life of marriage,
  640. I pray.
  641. In Jesus' name,
  642. Amen.