Committed to Another for Salvation
June 13, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part one of a multi-part series.
For my latest doctoral class I have been reading and writing a lot about the New Testament’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and remarriage (like 80 pages of writing). One of the passages that I have had to consider is 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. In this passage, Paul reaffirms Jesus’ teaching on divorce (cf. Mark 10:10-11, Luke 16:18, and Matthew 19:9). But the Corinthian situation presented a problem that Jesus did not explicitly address. What does a new believer in Christ do if his/her spouse remains unconverted? Paul says the believer “should not divorce” the unbelieving spouse (7:12 & 13).
One of the reasons Paul gives for preserving such a mixed marriage is given in verse 16: “For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” On first reading, we may think Paul believes that a one can “save” his or her spouse. Paul will still affirm, however, that only Jesus saves. He uses the word “save” here to speak about becoming the agent or means God uses to bring someone to salvation (cf. his same use in 1 Cor. 9:22). This is more than merely evangelizing the other person, proclaiming the gospel, but includes becoming like a father or mother in the faith to this person.
Among many good and biblical reasons to preserve a marriage, even a difficult one, Paul adds this reason: the opportunity to be used by God to bring salvation to your spouse. Paul’s passion to see all people come to faith in Christ (a longing to make known God’s astonishing grace) extends to marriages. Divorce would all but eliminate that opportunity.
So, how does this picture of longing challenge and inspire us to long to make known God’s astonishing grace?
- If you are married and your spouse is an unbeliever, pray that God would use you as an agent to bring salvation to your spouse. Marriage is a wonderful gift from the Lord that provides companionship, intimacy, and joy. I pray that you would know that goodness of marriage. But don’t stop there. Long for the salvation of your spouse. Pray that God would help you “win” them “without a word…when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (1 Pet. 3:1-2).
Many of us, however, are not married to an unbelieving spouse. How can this picture of longing encourage us?
- If you are in a committed relationship with an unbeliever (an employer, an employee, a neighbor, another family member), pray that God would use you as an agent to bring salvation to that person. These relationships do not have the same level of commitment as a marriage, but they are not easily avoided. Perhaps God has put you into that relationship so that you may become the agent of bringing salvation to him or her. “How do you know…whether you will save your” neighbor, employer, family member? Long for their salvation. Pray that God would help you “win” them “without a word…when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Do you long to make known God’s astonishing grace in these relationships?