Archive for February, 2012

I have been challenged recently on the subject of submission and how it relates to the role of women in a marriage relationship. In particular, I have been challenged to understand and then prove that the submission prescribed by Scripture is inherent in God’s created order. In other words, the fact that women are to submit to their husbands is not merely the product of the Fall of the human race into sin, but is a product of God’s creation. Even if sin had never entered the world, a wife would still be expected to submit to her husband. Having studied this issue I believe that is a fair statement and today I will attempt to prove it.


It used to be easy for Christians to formulate an opinion about tattoos. Sailors had them. And some prisoners. Other than corpsmen and convicts the only ink you saw in church was on the page.

This is not a pointed tirade against tattoos, nor a defense of them; it’s a jab at bad hermeneutics. I have found that some like to decorate their arguments with Bible verses that have no place in the debate.

These are the three usual suspects…

1. Thou shalt not tattoo thyself.

Leviticus 19:28 ”You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”

This one is the biggie. It is literally the only verse in the Bible to actually employ the word ‘tattoo.’ So if you can’t get this one to play for your team, you don’t have a team.

The immediate North & South context of the verse should provide a clear indication that an understanding of Leviticus’ place in the canon of Scripture is going to be a key. The verse below says don’t make your daughter a prostitute. I sure hope that still applies. But the verse above says you can’t trim your beard or the hair next to your ears. Ever been to an orthodox synagogue? The gents who congregate there (and keep the whole Mosaic Law—kudos for consistency) look a little different from those who attend the men’s breakfast at your church, right? If Christians don’t need to apply verse 27, then why do we have to obey vs 28 of the same chapter?

I experienced the arm wrestling tourney between Law & Grace when I preached through Deuteronomy. (See Bodily Fluids & Skin Diseases: Is Deuteronomy Relevant to Me?). It was in that laboratory which I examined how the OT and the NT dance in unison. To be sure it’s a greasy topic to grasp, but I’m confident we can all agree that the verses in Leviticus are not directly binding on the NT church in the same way that it was for Israel (Rom 10:4).

So, Lev 19:28 gets a red card and is sent off the field as too old for this team.

2. Your Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie that also wants to come out and play every time someone lights a stogie or perforates their nose. Unfortunately for our tat debate, this verse is already busy opposing real sin, namely sexual immorality. It can’t be pried loose from that important function to join our debate team.

1 Cor 6:19 verse is talking about sexual immorality being a spiritual affront on God’s holiness and a contamination of the Church Body. If this verse did apply to the physical damage we allow to deface the façade of our skin (“temple vandalism”), then we need to be consistent. Ever mowed the lawn in sandals, or without sunblock? You jeopardized the temple. Do you maintain your ideal BMI? Ever downed a can of Coke without immediately brushing your teeth? You see the thin edge of the wedge. Why draw the line at ink? So let us let this verse get back to work, while we audition another.

3. Do not be conformed to this world.

Rom 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world …”

This verse is a strong candidate. I like this one a lot. I don’t get why some Christians try their darndest to blend in with what the world is doing. Being holy and worldly at the same time is a messy business.

A common defense is that of contextualization for the sake of the gospel, which is little more than an sophisticated version of, “everybody’s doing it.” And everybody is doing it. In fact, no tattoo is the new tattoo.

There are so many social non-conformists out there, to distinguish oneself one really needs to get creative about not being a non-conformist. A non-non-conf… anyway, I digress. We should be distinct from our cultural norms, if said norms jar with Scripture.Using skin as a canvas for art used to be a sign of non-conformity and anti-establishment sentiment. Nowadays it’s more likely an indicator of boredom, herd mentality, or jejune impulsiveness.
Butsince tattoos are no longer associated exclusively with pagan worship (as in the days of the Celts and their inked druids perhaps), this verse doesn’t apply to this scenario. Nor is the phenomenon still linked with prison inmate pastimes and salty-mouthed seamen.The debate may have been trickier in the transition period, when tats began to go mainstream (say, the early 90s or so?). But that ship has now sailed. The only ones clinging to the tattoo taboo are those out of touch with what the decision to get marked represents these days. It is no longer necessarily rebellious. Tattoo parlors are no longer limited to dingy alleys operated by seedy social misfits. It is no longer alternative culture.So, we are forced to relegate this verse to the bench until “worldly” refers to tattoos again. I’m optimistic that the trend will fade as soon as this generation gets wrinkly. Bible verses contorted by sagging skin will convince our kids’ generation that long-term decisions have grotesque consequences when made on impulse, at age 17.
So, are there any verses left? I propose we stick to what God is concerned about: the heart.This body will be renewed sans scars later, but the soul needs to stay in shape now.

When I counsel young people who want a tattoo, I ask about their heart in the decision.

* motives (1 Cor 10:31)
* parents‘ views (Eph 6:1)
* level of contentment (1 Tim6:6)
* view of modesty in dress (1 Tim 2:9)
* understanding of dishonorable nakedness (1 Cor 12:23)

I like this insightful blogpost by Gareth Palmer, a young non-conformist who has some good thoughts on the issue (and no tattoo).

If examining the heart doesn’t work just have your arty teen turn to Leviticus. By the time they have matured enough to know they’ve been hoodwinked by skin deep hermeneutics, they’ll have outgrown the impulse for a tattoo.

What verses would you use to counsel one through making the decision?
All Rights: Clint Archer>>>

Tattos & Skin Deep Hermaneutics

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

(Via Tim Challies) > I appreciate Clint Archer’s take on tattoos and hermeneutics. “This is not a pointed tirade against tattoos, nor a defense of them; it’s a jab at bad hermeneutics. I have found that some like to decorate their arguments with Bible verses that have no place in the debate.” read the rest of this article that will stretch your mind

Whose Job is it? Taking Responsibility to Act in Behalf of Abuse Victims – by Jeff Crippen.

It was one hundred and twenty years ago today that Charles Haddon Spurgeon finished his earthly race. He was 57 years old. The life and legacy of Spurgeon is well known. He was London’s most popular preacher during the second half of the 19th century. He was passionately and thoroughly biblical and unusually gifted in his mental and oratory abilities. He was also incredibly prolific. The manuscripts of his sermons fill 63 volumes, which, according to Eric Hayden, “stands alone as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.”

Keep reading because down below I’ll be giving away a little piece of history—a sermon manuscript page that has been heavily amended by Spurgeon himself.
Books in Print

Some of Spurgeon’s most well-know writings include

Morning and Evening – “With a reading to begin and end each day throughout the year, you will come to appreciate Spurgeon’s emphasis on the importance of abiding in Christ and meditating on God’s Word.”
A Defence of Calvinism – “With his winsome style and customary mix of wit, wisdom, and warm devotion to his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) explains and defends the Bible’s teachings about the grace of God in the gospel.”
Lectures to My Students – “Tthis unabridged edition of 28 of Spurgeon’s classroom discourses on homiletics overflows with practical wisdom, discerning wit, and sage advice. Covering the call, open-air preaching, ordinary conversations, using illustrations, and conduct outside the church, Spurgeon’s words are as rich and nourishing for pastors and students today as they were more than a century ago.”
The Treasury of David – “C. H. Spurgeon’s enduring classic, The Treasury of David, has long been regarded as the most comprehensive pastoral and inspirational study of the Psalms ever written. Originally released in seven volumes, Spurgeon’s work has been carefully abridged by David Otis Fuller in this accessible one-volume edition.”

Much of Spurgeon’s content is also available in compilations, such as these:

Spurgeon’s Sermons (5 Volume Set) – “This five-volume set is a compilation of Spurgeon’s best sermons, covering topics from Israel in Egypt and confession of sin to justification by grace and Paul’s first prayer. Originally published in ten volumes in 1883, this collection was printed in five volumes by Baker in 1996.”
The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon – “Featuring scores of Spurgeon’s sermons, plus complete books like All of Grace and John Ploughman’s Talks, The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon has been lightly updated for ease of reading.”


In recent times, biographies have been written by Lewis Drummond, Arnold Dallimore, and Iain Murray. John Piper also presented a biographical message of his life titled “Preaching Through Adversity,” which you can read or listen to.

To learn about Spurgeon’s life from the man himself, you can read his autobiography, which he published in two parts:

Volume 1: The Early Years (1834-1859)
Volume 2: The Full Harvest (1860-1892)

Free Content Online

Lots of sermon manuscripts and other writings—as well as links to a ton of other Spurgeon-themed websites—can be found at The Spurgeon Archive.

And if you’re looking for a huge collection of Spurgeon quotes, catalogued by theme, look no further than

ALL Rights Belong To: Tim Challies.

over the past two days I have been writing about Ephesians 5 and the great mystery of marriage—that in some way marriage is a portrait, a reflection, of the relationship of Christ to his church. In the first article I introduced this metaphor and in the second I spoke about how the wife completes her part of the picture.

Paul now speaks to husbands and here is what he says (in Ephesians 5:25:32): Husbands, you make your marriage an accurate portrait of the real marriage when you give up your life to your wife. You have the unique task of displaying the gospel in your willing, joyful, loving leadership of your wife. In this relationship that is meant to be a portrait of the relationship of Christ to the church, the husband is called to be an accurate portrait of Christ. Husbands, you are to be toward your wife as Christ is toward his church. That is a little bit abstract so let’s see how it takes shape by asking three questions: What, how and why?

What is a husband to do to? Husband, love your wife and give yourself up for her. Notice that Paul does not exactly parallel what he has said to wives. He does not immediately command you to be the head of your wife. He has told your wife to submit to your leadership, but he doesn’t begin by saying, “Husbands, lead!” Instead, he tells you to be filled with love for your wife. You are to lead in love, to give yourself up. This is not love as we may think of it in our culture—love as an emotion or love as something that is purely physical. True love is an act of will. It requires action. You are not commanded to be romantically warm and fuzzy with your wife, though hopefully you have that too, but you are told to act in love toward her.

The model for your love is Christ’s love for his people. How did Christ love his people? How much did he love his bride? He loved in action, not just in words or feelings. He gave himself up for her. He gave up his life. Christ gave himself up, he did not get given up. He was active and deliberate. Christ may still have shown love for us if he went to the cross kicking and screaming and protesting his innocence and begging to be let go. But how much more is his love displayed in his willing sacrifice, in going to the cross of his own volition. You display your love for your wife when you willingly, joyfully give yourself up for her.

You are to lead in love, in forgiveness, in repentance, in sacrifice, in giving of your time, your attention, your very self. You are to lead by loving first and loving most and loving best, by loving to the very end.

A little while ago Pat Robertson said that it would be okay for a man to leave his wife is she had Alzheimer’s and could no longer recognize him or love him. That was one of the most horrible things I’ve ever heard a Christian leader say! Do you see a portrait of Christ and the church in a man who stays with his wife despite Alzheimer’s and who cares for her and genuinely loves her and gives himself up for her day-by-day even though it has been years since she even recognized him. Is that an accurate but miniature portrait of the real marriage of Christ and the church? Or is the better portrait the man who leaves his wife in a nursing home, walks away from her, and marries again? It is obvious, isn’t it?

Now what about the how? How do you as a husband do all of this? You make your marriage an accurate portrait of the real marriage by washing your wife with the word. As part of your God-given role, you are to lead in washing your wife with the Word of God. You are to lead in your spiritual and devotional life together.

Husbands, let’s stop here for a minute. Most of us are good at being providers. Some of us are good at serving our wives and learning to speak her “love language.” We are good at setting direction for the family and displaying godly character. Those are all good things and things we should do well. But the heart of your husbanding, of being a display of Christ in marriage, is washing her by the Word of God.

How do you do in that area? How is your devotional life together? Do you know what your wife is reading in her devotions now? When was the last time you prayed with her? When was the last time you spoke gospel words to her? Jesus’ relationship to us was all about the Word, about bringing us into submission to his Word. His Word saved us, his word now calls us to be holy and challenges us to put off that old self in place of the new self. Our unique task as husbands is to take this same word to our wives, to speak it to them, to challenge them with it, to help them apply it to their lives.

There is still the question of why. Why would a husband do all of this? To me, this is where marriage and husbanding just takes off into a whole new dimension. It gives it such a beautiful and inspiring goal and purpose. Why are you as a husband to give yourself up for your wife and to wash her in the Word? Because you get your marriage as close as possible to the real marriage when you prepare your wife to be presented to Christ as holy and unblemished.

Paul paints this picture of Jesus Christ dying for his people so they could be made holy, so they could be presented to him, so they could stand before him free from any kind of blemish. That is your future and it is mine. That is what Christ promises and we are all looking forward to that day. Now let’s apply that to marriage. Husband, you need to picture yourself one day presenting your wife to the Lord! There you are, standing beside her before the Lord and saying, “Here she is! Here is the wife you gave to me. Look how beautiful she is! I have given up my life for her, I have washed her in the Word, and now here she is. I present her to you.”

Do you see what your wife will be on that day? On that day she will be completely free from sin. Every shred of sin, every shred of imperfection will be gone. That old self will have been put off entirely and the new self will be all that she is. She will be completely holy, completely pure and clean, all that God created her to be. As beautiful as she is now, she will be more beautiful in that day.

Do you have that picture in your mind, of your bride, your wife, standing there before the Lord, washed clean of every trace of sin? Fix that in your mind because God calls you to help her get there! You have this amazing privilege right now of seeing glimpses of what she will be. You see it better than anyone else, of seeing her in that eternal perspective, of holding onto it with faith, and helping her get there. Marriage is about holiness the same way the Christian faith is about holiness. Christ died to make his people holy; you are married to make your wife holy.

So don’t be short-sighted in marriage. Don’t take too low a view of it. The farther ahead you can look, the greater the vision is. You’re standing in the plains with this whole mountain range spread out before you. You can look down at your feet and enjoy the beauty of the grass and pebbles. You can raise your eyes a little bit and enjoy the low hills and small mountains. Or you can look straight ahead and see the sun breaking through the clouds over the whole mountain range. Do that and it puts everything in perspective—the grass and pebbles and foothills and all of it.

When we see God’s purpose for marriage, when we see Christ and the church, when we see that church being presented to Christ in splendor, washed by the Word, holy and without blemish, we have raised our eyes and taken in the whole view. And it’s just so beautiful.

My brother, if God has charged you with washing your wife by the water of his Word, this means that you need to be in the Word. If God has charged you with helping your wife become holy, this means that you need to lead in holiness. For the sake of your wife, as a tangible expression of your love for her, you need to be relentless in your growth in holiness.

How do you live with this in view? How do you take verses from the Bible and live in such a way that you are now doing your part to be that beautiful, sharp, accurate portrait of Christ? Why not begin like this: When you think about your marriage you are to be always asking yourself, “How did Christ love his people? How can I display that kind of love to my wife? What would it mean in this situation to act the way Jesus acted toward his church?” This is true when you take time to sit and ponder your marriage and this is true in those moments where in a heartbeat you need to choose to react with grace or pride, calmness or anger. Everything you do, everything you say, every way you lead, is to be a reflection of that great portrait of the real marriage.

The Bible tells us that your marriage is a portrait of Christ and the church, and in view of all this great gospel theology of salvation by grace through faith, of course you will long to be an accurate portrait. Picture that same wedding scene, that bride and groom, painted by the hand of a toddler using finger paints, or as an eighth grade art project, or from the brush of a capable artist, or from the hand of a master. Where is your marriage? Do you see that God is calling you to keep working at it, to keep growing in skill and wisdom, to make that portrait a more accurate portrayal of the real marriage?

When a wife rubs against authority and bickers with her husband, when she refuses to respect him or refuses to follow his leadership, the beauty of that portrait, the sharpness of it, is disrupted. When a husband loses love for his wife, when he dominates her or stops treating her with love, this picture gets all out of focus and distorted. And if a husband and wife divorce the portrait is destroyed altogether.

Your marriage is a work of art to be stewarded, to be held as a treasure, to be worked on like a masterpiece, so it can become a beautiful and accurate portrait of the real marriage, a stunning picture of the gospel.

All rights belong to: Tim Challies

The Picture Perfect Marriage 2 (By Tim Challice)
A Picture-Perfect Marriage II
Tim Challies
Yesterday I began a short series called A Picture-Perfect Marriage. This is my attempt to study what Paul says about the marriage relationship being a picture, a portrait of Christ and the church. Having laid that foundation, I now want to look at how the wife fulfills her part of that portrait.

Here is what Paul says to wives: You make your marriage an accurate portrait of the real marriage when you willingly submit to your husband’s leadership. You have the unique task of displaying the gospel in your willing submission to your husband. Here is the text I am drawing on:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
In this relationship that serves as a portrait of Christ and the church, it is the wife who is called to be an accurate portrait of the church—at least an accurate portrait of what the church is called to be. Wives, this is your calling from God. It is your duty and your privilege. As you relate to your husband, you are to be toward him as the church is toward Christ. That is a little bit abstract so let’s see how it takes shape by asking three questions: What, how and why?

First, the what question: What are you to do to complete your part in this portrait? The answer is, You are to submit to your own husband in everything.

Paul says, “Wives, submit to your own husband.” Let’s not miss your own. A woman is not to submit to every man, as some people may teach, but to her own husband. The Lord has determined that there should be a leadership structure within marriage but this does not mean that women are to submit to men in general. The head of the church is Christ and the church is to submit to him; the head of a wife is her husband and she is to submit to him.

She is to to submit in everything. That is an intimidating statement and we need to deal with that word everything. We need to be careful that we don’t make it mean more than it says. If you want to be ridiculous you could say that I could now order my wife to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge and she would have to obey me. But of course we know that a wife is to submit to a higher authority before a lesser one. The whole idea of a hierarchy of authority is that there are levels of authority; if a lesser authority tells you to disobey a higher authority, your submission needs to be to the higher authority. So let’s not make in everythingmore than it says.

Yet let’s not make it mean less than it says either. It is an all-encompassing phrase which means that you really are to obey your husband in everything that isn’t directly contradictory to what a higher authority says. You are not free to follow his leadership or ignore it as you see fit. Really, the only time you are to refuse to follow your husband’s leadership is when you can come to him with your Bible and say, “Here is where God says that I may not submit to you.” You don’t have to believe in what he says and you don’t have to like what he says, but you do have to follow him. This will not always be easy and yet the Lord calls you to submit to his leadership. This is the role God has given you—a role in which you can beautifully display the gospel. You aren’t submitting to your husband for your own happiness or peace, but to be that display, that portrait.

So that is the what question: you are to submit to your own husband in everything. But how? How is a wife to submit?

The answer is, You are to submit willingly. There isn’t any such thing as forced submission—that is just servitude or slavery. God calls you to submit to your husband with joy and freedom. Submitting to your husband is not just your wifely duty, but your unique calling and privilege, the unique way that you can make your marriage an accurate portrait of the real marriage. Paul doesn’t impose this upon you as a cross to bear. He doesn’t apologize for this and comfort you as if this is in any way undignified or dehumanizing or a negative result of the fall into sin. Not at all. He isn’t describing a kind of submission that makes the wife completely passive and broken; he doesn’t describe something here that robs you of your will or dignity. Paul simply and unapologetically describes this position of submission as your God-given role in the created order and your unique contribution to the marriage relationship.

Paul wants you, the wife, to understand that God has made you to fulfill a unique role in the display of the gospel and he wants you to embrace this role joyfully and voluntarily. He is calling on you to understand who God has made you to be and then be glad to fulfill this role with true joy because in submitting to your husband, you are able to be a great display of the gospel. No one else can do this. Your husband cannot do what you are called to do here.

And now the why question: Why are you to willingly submit to your own husband in everything? Because ultimately your submission is God-ward. You are to submit to your own husband as to the Lord.

Your submission to your husband is a component of your greater submission to Christ. Submission to husband and submission to Christ are not two different things. The wife’s motive in submitting to her husband is to submit to Christ by submitting to one of the lesser authorities to whom he has delegated authority. When you submit to your husband, when you submit willingly and joyfully, when you submit to your husband as a God-ordained authority in your life, you are being a picture of the bride in the real marriage—the bride who submits to Christ, the bridegroom.

How do you live with this in view? How do you take verses from the Bible and live in such a way that you are now doing your part to be that beautiful, sharp, accurate portrait of the church. I’m glad you asked.

Well, why not begin like this: In your mind, in your heart, in your marriage, always be thinking about this question: “How does the church submit to Christ? How do we as Christians relate to Jesus?” That is how you are to then relate to your husband. I will grant that you aren’t to begin worshipping him or singing hymns to him, but you do need to give him respect, to make much of him. You are his helper, which means your life is wrapped up in his.

Whatever he longs to be, however he intends to use his gifts and passions and calling, you are to join him in that. His mission is your mission, his calling is your calling, his passion is your passion. So join him, serve him, love him, respect him and you will be your part in this portrait, this image of the real marriage.

Tomorrow we will see how the husband does his part to complete this portrait.

All Rights belong to: Tim Challice