Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Give What You've Got

Another quote from Gary Thomas in Sacred Marriage:

Marriage teaches us to give what we have. God has given us one body. He has commanded our spouse to delight in that one body -- and that body alone. If we withhold from our spouse our body, it becomes an absolute denial. We may not think it is a perfect body, but it is the only body we have to give.

So many people fail to give God or others anything simply because they can't give everything. Learn to take small steps of obedience toward God -- offering what you have, with all its blemishes and limitations -- by offering what you have to your spouse.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Romans and James: Faith That Works

Many people argue that the book of Romans and the book of James disagree on the subject of faith. Paul writes that justification is by faith alone, yet James teaches that faith without works is dead. How do we reconcile these two teachings?

First of all, we must understand that Paul is discussing the beginning of one's spiritual life when he says, "And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness" in Romans 4:5. Paul is obviously stating that we cannot earn God's favor; through Christ, God must justify the ungodly if he will justify anyone.

But Paul does not stop writing with this statement. He goes on to discuss Abraham's circumcision. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." When was Abraham circumcised? He was circumcised years after God justified him. His circumcision was evidence of his faith in God, not the basis. Romans 4:11 tells us that his circumcision was the sign and the seal of his faith, not the grounds.

Rather than contradicting James, I believe this passage is in harmony with James 2:17 which says, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." Abraham was challenged to put his money where his mouth was in Genesis 17; "Every male among you shall be circumcised." While Abraham's faith alone was the grounds for his justification back in Genesis 15, Abraham's faith in God must have been working when he performed the first circumcision upon himself!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

True forgiveness is a process, not an event. It is rarely the case that we are able to forgive "one time" and the matter is settled. Far more often, we must relinquish our bitterness a dozen times or more, continually choosing to release the offender from our judgment.
-- Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

Explaining "Sacred Marriage"

A mature husband and wife can grow leaps and bounds spiritually as they learn to compromise and move toward the other. But it is often the case that one spouse doesn't care about spiritual growth; they may be fully consumed with their own desires and sense of need. While such a situation may result in a less satisfying and less happy marriage, it can still provide the context for Christian growth. A Christian is never dependent on the response of others to grow spiritually. It's our own heart's decisions that matter.
-- Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

Great Quotes...

I am reading a book called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas; Thomas argues that marriage is less about happiness and more about holiness. I just wanted to post some significant quotes:
A good marriage is not something you find, it is something you work for.
-- Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage
If marriage ... is a disillusioning experience for many people, the reason is to be found in the passivity of their faith. People dislike the fact that the blessings of God may only be found and enjoyed when they are persistently sought (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9). Marriage is, therefore, both a gift and a task to be accomplished.
-- Otto Piper as quoted by Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage