December 2005, Volume X,
The Duty of Sex in Marriage (4)
There is an exception to the duty of sex in marriage (besides
that of physical impossibility) if three conditions are met. First, it must be
"with consent" (I Cor. 7:5)—not a unilateral decision of the husband or of the
wife but of both together. Second, it must "for a time" (5)—not for the rest of
their lives or for years but for a specified period. Afterwards they must "come
together again" sexually (5). Third, the sexual abstention must be "that ye may
give yourselves to fasting and prayer" (5)—not because they simply don’t feel
like it. God has laid some burden upon their hearts and so the pleasures of
eating and sex are laid aside for a time in order to focus better on seeking
God. All three conditions must be met—mutual consent, short duration and
religious purpose (for prayer and fasting)—for a period of sexual abstinence.
Where all three conditions are not met, the "due benevolence" of sexual
I Corinthians 7:3-5 contains several vital lessons. First,
sexual intercourse is the rule in marriage (and the exception is rare and
short). Second, Mary was not a perpetual virgin. Rome’s Council of Trent
anathematises all who deny that Mary never had intercourse with her husband,
Joseph, after Christ’s birth, but God requires wives to render "due benevolence"
to their husbands (3-5). Third, it assumes that a Christian couple may choose to
fast and pray together. Have we ever desisted from food and sex in order to seek
God’s face more fervently? Fourth, there is nothing shameful or unclean about
sexual intercourse. Apparently, some at Corinth lauded virginity to the sky
and/or urged celibacy in marriage, since intercourse was somehow of questionable
holiness or cleanness. "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled"
(Heb. 13:4). This question mark over marriage and sex is not only found in
Romanism. John Wesley taught the superiority of virginity over marriage and
generally advised against marriage. He was unduly influenced by his reading of
the early church fathers and Roman Catholic authors (who cast doubts on the
goodness of marriage and sex). Even when Wesley did marry, he set a bad example,
for, in general, he neglected his wife and their relationship was "distant and
unhappy" (Stephen Tomkins, John Wesley, p. 167). Fifth, I Corinthians 7 implies
that husbands and wives talk about sexual matters together, for they "consent"
to abstain for a time for religious reasons (5). In general, Christian husbands
and wives must seek to please one another and live under the lordship of Christ
in marriage and sex. Rev. Stewart
Love Your Neighbour
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this;
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Gal. 5:14).
A reader asks, "Who is my neighbour? Is [it] our fellow
believer? God does not love all people; only His elect. Is this what is meant by
‘love your neighbour as yourself?’ Or does it mean to show affection for
These questions are frequently perplexing questions to those
who believe firmly that God’s love is particular, that is, for the elect only;
for we are to be children of our Father in heaven and imitate Him also in this
matter of love (Matt. 5:43-48). However, the question is not really such a
difficult one; it has been made difficult by those who promote the heresy of a
universal love of God.
It is clear from Scripture, especially the parable of the
good Samaritan (to which parable the reader also refers), that our neighbour is
any one who "rubs shoulders" with us in our walk in this world. Our neighbour is
the one with whom we come into contact. Our neighbour is the one who lives, even
for a short time, near us. Our neighbour is our acquaintance. As my now dead
pastor used to say from the pulpit, "Our neighbour is frequently one who gets in
our way, requires something from us, is an obstacle to our pursuit of
self-seeking." Whoever that may be, believer or unbeliever, acquaintance or
stranger, young or old, pious or blasphemous, upright or crooked—it makes no
difference. That person whose life touches mine is my neighbour.
Let us be clear on this. My neighbour is, first of all, my
own wife, my children, my grandchildren, my fellow believers. But my neighbour
is also the man alongside of whom I work, the man who comes to my door for a can
of petrol because he ran out, the person in the ditch on the side of the road,
the one who lies alongside me in the hospital ...
Usually, my neighbour is one who needs me for some reason or
other. There are many people we pass on the footpath who are not our neighbours.
There are many cars on the road filled with people who whiz by. These people are
hardly our neighbours. And, I might add, if I am commanded to love them, this is
the easiest things in the world to do. I can really love them, just as I can
love unknown folk in the jungles of the South Pacific of whom I know nothing.
One of the easiest callings to fulfil is to love someone half a world away.
But there is the man down the street who is out of work and
whose family is not being fed. There is my wife who is in the same house with me
and who may have some annoying habits that get under my skin. There is that
stubborn member of the church who always thinks he knows best about everything.
These are the ones whom it is so very difficult to love. Yet God commands us to
do this; and, indeed, if we do not do this, we do not keep the law at all.
There are those who are always prating about our need to show
love to people 10,000 miles away, but who divorce their wives. Some send "care"
packages to distant lands, but do not teach their children the way of the Lord.
Understanding who our neighbour is, we may go on to the next
question: What does it mean to love our neighbour? Well, it means the same thing
as it means that God loves us. God loves us so much that He pays any price to
secure our salvation—even, mind you, the price of His own Son!
To love our neighbour is to do all we can to secure his or
her salvation—our wives, our children, our fellow believers, the blasphemously
wicked man with whom I have to work. This is how God loves us. This is how we
must love our neighbour. This is easy to understand, but desperately difficult
We love our neighbour, therefore, by speaking to him or her
about God and His Christ, rebuking his sin, pointing him or her to the great
wonder of the cross in which alone is found salvation, urging such a one to
repent and believe in Jesus. Seeking a neighbour’s salvation is seeking his good
in the highest way, for a bag of groceries without the gospel means nothing.
But James reminds us that we do not and may not mouth words
about salvation, but we must also give the hungry food and the coatless person a
coat (James 2:15-17). It is true that James is speaking of our fellow believers,
but that is where it all starts. If I will not clothe a fellow saint, how am I
going to fulfil the law by clothing a man to whom I send a box with a coat in
You say, "But God loves only His people and seeks only their
salvation." True, this is a bedrock truth on which all our calling rests. But it
is impossible for us to love only God’s elect, for we do not know who they are.
We do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith, for we start
with believers. And if we do not love these neighbours, we will never get any
further with our love.
Because we do not know who God’s elect are, we love whomever
God, in His all-wise providence, puts on our pathway. We love that one by
seeking the salvation of that person—with disregard for our own personal
comfort, but for God’s sake. If that person is an elect, God will use our love
for that person to bring such a one into the radiant beams of God’s own love.
That blasphemer may be an elect, for Paul blasphemed. That adulterer may be
elect, for God loved Rahab.
If they are not elect, our love for them will arouse in them
a hatred which will become increasingly furious. Then too God will accomplish
His purpose, for the very gospel itself is a savour of life unto life and a
savour of death unto death (II Cor. 2:14-17). Their very hatred will make it
impossible to help them any more, for they will reject every word of the gospel
which we bring to them.
Love God! Love your neighbour for God’s sake! Therein lies
the key. Love your neighbour because you love God. Show your love for God by
loving your neighbour. Then you fulfil the whole law of God. Prof. Hanko
The Lord's Day and the Day of the Lord (4)
The various manifestations of the day of the Lord in the OT
and especially their universal aspects (see the last News) are
preparatory for the fuller NT teaching about the day of the Lord at the end of
the age. The heaven and earth will shake and "The sun shall be turned into
darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the
Lord come" (Acts 2:20; Joel 2:31). In II Peter 3, "the day of the Lord" (10)
is also called "the day of judgment" (7) and "the day of God" (12). Paul calls
it "the day of the Lord Jesus" (I Cor. 5:5; II Cor. 1:14; cf. I Thess. 5:2)
when He comes bodily in great glory to raise the dead, judge all men, cast the
wicked into hell and bring in the new heavens and the new earth.
Both OT and NT teach that the day of the Lord is "near"
(Eze. 30:3; Joel 2:1; 3:14; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14; James 5:8). On that day,
God "shall destroy [all] sinners" (Isa. 13:9) for "they shall not escape" (I
Thess. 5:3; Lam. 2:2) and "Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able
to deliver them" (Zeph. 1:18). At this terrible "woe" (Eze. 30:2), the wicked
will "tremble" (Joel 2:1), "wail" (Amos 5:17), "howl" (Isa. 13:6; Eze. 30:2),
"cry … bitterly" (Zeph. 1:14) and "mourn" (Matt. 24:30). God’s punishment of
the ungodly rests upon His just judgment of them (II Peter 3:7), presented in
picture form in Joel 3 when God gathers "all nations" (2). "Multitudes,
multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near" (14).
The "decision" here is a verdict, God’s verdict upon the transgressors on the
judgment day. In the light of the soon coming day of the Lord, our calling is
clear: "Seek ye the Lord … seek righteousness, seek meekness" (Zeph. 2:3),
repent (Joel 2:12-13) and walk in good works (Amos 5:14-15), or, as Peter
exhorts us, "be diligent that ye may be found of [God] in peace, without spot,
and blameless" (II Peter 3:14). The NT emphasises that the day of the Lord
comes suddenly and unexpectedly—"as a thief in the night" (I Thess. 5:2)—and
that the day of the Lord is also one of salvation (I Cor. 5:5) and "rejoicing"
(II Cor. 1:14).
Even this brief examination of the day of the Lord and the
Lord’s day in the last few issues of the News is enough to show the
radical difference between the two. They differ in nature and in frequency,
and so our calling as regards each also differs. Thus on the first day of the
week on a particular "Lord’s day" (Rev. 1:10) some 1900 years ago, John saw
visions of the day of the Lord—the day of Christ’s return, the general
resurrection and the final judgment—and the NT days preceding it and the
eternal state which it brings in. Rev. Stewart
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