Redeeming the Time

As I write it is the 16th day of the New Year. Already a good chunk of 2016 has gone. The sense  of ‘newness’ is  already fading. Many of us will have slipped into the ‘groove’, and we are back to normal life. Sixteen days of our time in this world have gone, never to return. I would press upon you that these have been sixteen days of quality time. Time for the unbeliever to get RightWithGod, and for the believer to pursue holiness and enjoy the full delights of being RightWithGod.

In Ephesians 5:14, 15,16 we read, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and  Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”. The whole context here is addressed to believers, even v14, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give the light”. The death spoken of cannot be the spiritual death which is on the unbeliever,  because it would be absurd to ask the spiritually dead to rise from the dead. The spiritually dead are not commanded to arise from the dead, but to believe on Christ. The imparting of spritual life is of God, and it often accompanies the preaching of the gospel. The death spoken of in v14 is the death, or spiritual slumber which can come on the believer (Even the five wise virgins in the parable slumbered and slept, Matthew 25:5). The call, “Awake thou that sleepest” is to believers who have lost their zeal for Christ, and have allowed a spiritual sleep to come upon them, making them live like the spiritually dead. This slumber is always a danger to the believer in this life.

Paul makes clear the way that we must live if we are to overcome this slumber, or, better still, prevent it happening. “See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise”, v15. ‘Circumspectly’ is not a word we commonly use today, but it is a good word we would do well to grasp, in order that it might help us to keep our souls lively,  keeping us RightWithGod, and  hence delighting in Him. The dictionary defines the word, as ‘being wary, and unwilling to take risks’ We would like to flesh this out with some practical guidance, but we must leave that this week, so that we can deal with the v16: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”.

To redeem  something is to gain or regain for the payment of a price. Here it would have the simplified meaning of getting full control of our precious time, at whatever cost. There will be a cost in terms of making adustments in our lives. Some things would have to go: things that have stolen away our time, perhaps for  many years. We live in evil days,  when Satan is reaching new heights, or depths, to entice and seduce the believer to waste his  precious time, giving himself to thoughts and imaginations which corrode and corrupt the mind, and which prevent him from experiencing  the greatest enjoyment possible in this life: being RightWithGod.



The Big Issue for the Unbeliever for 2016


The Big Issue for the unbeliever for 2016 is getting RightWithGod, rather than keeping RightWithGod, which we discussed last week. The difference between ‘getting’and ‘keeping’ may seem slight, but it is not so. The difference is in fact immense. It is the difference between an overwhelmingly important and urgent quest, and the enjoyment of the resolution of that quest. It is often the case nowadays that this difference is often minimised by preachers, while the bible maximises that difference, equating it to the difference between being lost and saved, death and life, darkness and light, misery and happiness.
There is nothing in this life more important than getting RightWithGod, while we have opportunity.

We often complain about the downsides of this life, and there are many; but there is one wonderful upside to this life, which overwhelms all the downsides: that is, that it is an opportunity to get RightWithGod, and so come into the fullest enjoyment of this life, and the assurance of heaven after death. This opportunity is before us throughout our whole time in this life, but ceases forever on death. There will be no further opportunity. No one will ever be saved beyond death. This life is the one and only age in any person’s existence, of gospel preaching, gospel invitation, gospel appeals, and gospel blessing. This is in fact a good time to be alive, because the door to heaven is wide open to all who will have it, without exception.

But the gospel invitation comes in this form in the bible: “God commands all men everywhere to repent”. This command assumes that there is something for all men to repent of. This brings us to man’s greatest stumblingblock when it comes to being saved: all human beings are by nature sinners before the all-righteous God. They are fallen creatures, guilty before Him, and therefore subject to His wrath. Accepting the fact of this guilt, is hard for fallen man because one of the symptoms of his fallenness is his pride. He thinks himself to be righteous, strong and self-sufficient. It is extremely hard for him to confess his sins before God, and hence it is very difficult for him to repent of his sins. The gospel is for sinners, not for the righteous.

Yet, repentance alone never saved anybody. There is no salvation for men until their sins are not only owned by them, but dealt with. The due punishment must be paid. At this point we are helpless, until we see why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world to bear mockery and rejection, and suffer the cruel death of the cross. Then, glorious light banishes our darkness: Christ died as a substitute. On that cross He suffered the wrath of God the Father for the sins of all who will repent, and bow the knee before God, in confession and deepest gratitude for His great provision for sinners: not for the righteous, but for sinners. This provision permeates the bible in express words and in illustrations: for example, Galatians 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” What a glorious moment for any human being when he sees this clearly and receives this Christ as his own substitute!

He is, at a stroke, made RightWithGod, permanently and irreversibly. O happy moment!

Dear friend, if you have not yet settled this matter between yourself and God, I beseech you to make that your Big Issue for 2016.

Another Year Begins.

I am always thankful that we have a New Year’s Day service in our congregation. I had the privilege of preaching at that service in our congregation yesterday.  As an illustration to introduce my sermon, I referred to a magazine which is sold on the streets of most of our cities by people who are homeless. The aim of the organisation behind the magazine is to give homeless people a start to earn some money by selling the magazines at a small profit, and so build up a businesss for themselves. All the sellers are self-employed. The name of the magazine is “The Big Issue”, that ‘issue’ being homelessness, although the magazine covers a wide range  of topics.

The point of using the title of this magazine to  introduce a New Year’s day sermon is obvious: the question being, ‘Is there a big issue between youself and God, that you need to settle before more time passes?’ The issue of course is, whether you are RightWithGod, or not. It may surprise you that I applied the question to believers first, and then to unbelievers. It applies to both, but in totally different ways.

But surely the believer is already RightWithGod? Yes, most certainly: there is not the slightest possibility, that a person who is saved, united by faith to Christ, trusting in Him as the only One who can save from sin, can ever, ever be lost.

However, when we look at a passage of scripture like Hebrews 12:1-4, which is clearly addressed to believers, we have a picture of the  christian life, which challenges the christian. In verses 1 and 2, we read of a race, not of our own making, but one which God himself has  “set before us”. It does not say, ‘He sets the race before us, and forces us to run it.’ He just  sets it before us, and, if we are believers, we are enabled to run this race, but not forced into it. It is a race which can only be run with patience, literally, perseverance, or staying power. This is very far from the attitude which says, ‘I am saved, and saved irreversibly for all time and eternity, and nothing can change that (which is true), so I can relax, and enjoy my christian life without pushing myself. The last clause is mistaken.

The christian life is a life of intense joy and happiness in God. No greater happiness is possible in this life than this. It is a life of “laying aside” certain things, or separating ourselves from them. The first of these is “every weight”. Weights here mean things which are not in themselves sinful, but which weigh us down: certain company, friendships, reading materials, entertainments, excessive internet chats, etc. The second thing is “the sin which does so easily beset us”. We must get to know ourselves, and especially the sins which all too easily over take and enslave us, filling our thoughts before w know where we are. We must separate ourselves from all the situations which make it easy for these sins to ‘grab’ us: If you are honest with yourself, you will soon know what these situations are. This race is really a pursuit: it is pursuing holiness. This is a pursuit which is in itself is the joy of all who are in it. The greatest happiness possible to the christian is the enjoyment of God.

This is supremely being RightWithGod.  As we separate ouselves from the things mentioned, we separate ourselves unto Christ; “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. We make Him the focus of our thoughts and aims. He is the one whom God the Father graciously, lovingly sent to “endure the cross” for us. His Joy was that He would reconcile us to God by His suffering the penalty of our sins for us on the cursed cross. Let us endure for Him, just  for the sheer present joy of dong so.

I have written enough for this week. If spared, we will address the unbeliever next week.


Conceived in the Womb of a Sinner, yet without Sin.

We now take a closer look at the conception of Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary. We noted that Jesus was “made of a woman” (Gal 4:4), and that this is expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith as “of her substance”. This means that Jesus was formed from an egg ( or ovum) from Mary’s ovary. Is this important? It is extremely important, because Jesus could not suffer and die in the place of human sinners,  making them RightWithGod, without being of the human stock. Does this not drive us to the question, ‘How could He be of a sinner’s ‘substance’ without inheriting her sin? Is there an answer to this profound question? Yes.

However, but before we answer it, we must say a word of caution. We must not put the authority of science above the authority of the bible. If there was no other explanation than the teaching of the bible, we would still, I hope, believe it, because the bible is God’s  infallible word.

Fundamental to this whole matter is the fact that only a person can be a sinner and carry sin; and a person does not come into being until a female egg is united with male sperm. God then miraculously brings a new person into being. That person is immediately a sinner the moment he or she is conceived because descended from the human stock. But until there is a person, there can be no sin. The egg from Mary’s ovary was not a person, therefore it could not sin, or be a sinner, or carry sin. It was not a morally responsible being, it was nothing more than a product of natural processes, which, if not fertilised, would be washed away as waste.

Now, when we come to look at the conception of Jesus, we read that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Highest overshadowed her (Luke 1:35).  Jesus, though made of the substance of Mary and hence of the human stock, did not inherit the sin which completely permeates the human race. But how did this egg become a person. The answer is the surpassingly wonderful fact given to us in the words of Galatians 4:4, “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman”. Yes, the miracle that took place in Mary’s womb was that the Holy Spirit united the Person of the Son of God to Mary’s egg, and so the God/man, Jesus Christ was conceived.

So, the birth of Jesus, which we make so much of at this time of year is a distorted emphasis. The birth itself was completely normal and natural. In itself the birth was not a miracle. It is an important fact for the modern church to note that the letters of Paul and the other apostles to the congregations of the early church paid little attention to the birth of Jesus, but much attention to the person of Jesus as the God/man.

I leave you with this thought: it would be a desperate pity if we grasped the ‘workings’ of the conception of Jesus, and were not filled with such amazement at it all that we did not bow the knee before God, and get RightWithGod, through the suffering of the God/man on the  cross of Calvary.


The Greatest Miracle of All

There is no doubt that the creation of the human nature of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary was the greatest miracle of all. There is nothing to compare with it. Indeed, it is not just a miracle, but an amazing intervention by God in the history of the world. The story begins with the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, saying,  “Hail, thou that art highly favoured. The Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Fear not,  Mary, for  thou hast found favour with God. And behold thou shalt conceive  in thy womb and  bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS  ” (Luke 1: 28, 30-31). Mary, naturally, was astounded and troubled at this, but amazingly, she did not seem to doubt. She did have a big question, of course, as to how this was to come about, when she had never  known a man, i.e, she was still a virgin. The angel answers her question: “The Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit) shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore the holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35). So what happened in Mary’s womb? We do not know all the answers, but we know enough to enable us to understand  the basics of what took place in that womb. We must do so with the realisation that this all took place in a the womb of a sinner. Mary was highly favoured, but she was of the  human stock and in her own conception in her mother’s womb, she inherited the sin of the first parents of the  human race, Adam and  Eve. This  brings us face to face with  fundamental questions about the conception of Jesus:  How could Jesus be sinless, and still be of the stock of mankind. The fact is that He had to be truly human, of the stock of mankind, in order to truly represent human beings, and take our place in bearing the Father’s wrath for our sins. We might think that the simple answer is that God created a whole new embryo in the womb without being conceived by mary, and that is what many believe; but such a saviour would not do, because there would be no continuity with the stock of mankind. Such a saviour could not in righteousness represent you and me. Nor does it agree with the scriptures. The angel said to Mary, Luke 1:31, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb”; and in Galatians 4:4 we read, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman”. Jesus had to be from Mary’s egg.

The way the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it is that Jesus was “conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance (Chapter 8, paragraph 2)”. The conclusion must be that Jesus was conceived from Mary’s egg, by the power of the Holy Spirit. That leaves the question, How could Jesus be conceived from Mary’s egg, and not inherit her sin? There is a very clear answer to that question, which we will deal with next week. In the meantime, is it not clear that our thoughts at Christmas time should not begin and end with the birth of Jesus, which was in all ways a natural process, but should centre on the conception of Jesus, which was the miracle of miracles?

The Seed of the Woman

At this time of year our thoughts turn to Christmas. Sadly for most it is a time dominated by a presents list, and the stress that often goes along with it. The demands on our time and resources is great.  Our focus should, of course be on God’s great intervention in human history: the sending of his Son to save His people from their sins. As the angel said to Joseph in the dream, “You shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people  from their sins (Matthew 1:21)”.

Sometimes we speak of the ‘miracle’ of the virgin birth, but there was no miracle in his actual birth. It was a perfectly normal and natural birth. The miracle was in his person, and for that miracle we have to go back to his conception in the virgin’s womb.

Now there is a miracle in the conception of every human being. We must not reduce conception to simply the uniting  of egg and sperm, or the implantation. Something else occurs at the very moment of conception, which is what actually makes it conception: a person with an identity is created. From that moment there is a “me” there: in Psalm 51, verse 5 David says, “In sin did my mother conceive me”. (This is not a reference to the act of sexual union, which of course is not in its nature a sin, but to the fact that he was a sinner from the moment of his conception, as all descendants of Adam are.) The important thing for us is to realise that there is a miracle of creation in the conception of every human being over and above the biological union of egg and sperm: the creation of  a person, different from any that have ever been conceived in all of history; an identifiable person which imperceptibly develops a full self-consciousness. That self-consciousness is something which science cannot create, and cannot even explain or define. It is a miracle of creation.

Now when we come to the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb, there is a startling difference. Mary was a virgin. Her egg was fertilised without the involvement of a man. An angel was sent to tell her, “The Holy Ghost (i.e. the Holy Spirit) shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which  shall be  born of thee shall be called the Son of God”. Yes, every conception is a miracle, but this one was a greater miracle than any other conception in the whole history of the human race.

But what was the identity of this miracle baby, and  how did he get that identity? What was his nature? Who was he? These questions have wonderful answers, but they will have to wait. We will look at them next week, if the Lord will.

There is much sadness, poverty and uncertainty in the world at this time, but I hope that you all have a happy time on Christmas day.  I would recommend that, as you turn your thoughts to the birth of Jesus, that you realise that the conception was the miracle, not the birth.

The Casting out from Eden

The scene before us in Genesis 3:22-24 is an extremely sad one. Adam and Eve being ushered out of  the garden in which they had lived so happily RightWithGod for a short time. I have no doubt  that they were  in tears: tears of regret and self-reproach. One can imagine their  thoughts: ‘Why, O why did we listen to that evil being with his wicked suggestions. Why did  we not send him packing as soon as we heard the words, “hath God said?” We have been such fools. Why did we entertain another authority rather than the God we knew and loved?’ Satan had brought them down with his subtlety. The first thing we learn of him in the bible is that he was very subtle, Genesis 3:1.

Perhaps they thought that, at least, they would be allowed to remain in the garden. They certainly did not leave of their own free will, but were sent out by God. Indeed it says in verse 24 that “God drove the man out”. Reluctance to leave would have been natural, but they knew they could not resist God. over against that, they would be grateful that God did not immediately carry out the punishment  for their eating  the forbidden fruit, which was, “In the day that  thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”. The sentence was not revoked, but it was postponed,  giving time for God’s plan of salvation to be carried through.

Adam and Eve were now in the ‘world outside’, with instructions to ’till the ground from whence they were taken’. No longer a pleasurable and satisfying task because  the ground itself was under God’s curse since they fell.

Not only were they driven out of the garden, but return was barred. God had placed at the east of the garden (logically the place where the entry was), ‘cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life’. The cherubims were a high order of angel.

We are not  told much about this tree of life. It was in the midst of the garden, 3:9. That this was a very special tree is clear. What was special about it is not so clear. There was no prohibition on eating of this tree before the fall, although it does not seem that Adam and Eve did eat of it. However, after the fall it was put out of their reach lest they eat of it and live forever. Is this further judgement? It sounds like it,  but in fact it was not judgement, but mercy. How is this? We are not told what the tree of life was for before the fall, but there is a strong possibility that it represented a point in the progress of Adam and Eve which they would eventually reach if they continued to obey God. It is inconceivable that they would be kept by God indefinitely in a state where the fall was always a possibility. It is more likely that a certain  point would come when they would eat of the tree of life, and inherit everlasting life, removing the possibility of further sin.

However, God is merciful, and puts them out of the garden and makes their return impossible, lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever. How is this a mercy? Because it is difficult to imagine a more miserable existence than living forever in a fallen state. Growing older forever, weaker forever, and with all the other cumulative effects of sin on our bodies and minds. So, for us in our fallen state, death is truly a mercy.

The Seed of Eve, and Christ.

We have looked at the sentence pronounced on Adam and his wife after the fall, and noted that it was judgement mixed with mercy. This is God’s way during this present life. It will not always be so. We also noted the importance of these sentences for a clear understanding of this present existence. We cannot be happy and RightWithGod in this life, except by a humble submission to these sentences. When we do submit to them, we glorify and justify God in His pronouncing of them.

Two very important things now take place before Adam and his wife are sent out of the garden of Eden. First of all we read of the naming of his wife by Adam in Genesis 3:20, “And Adam called his wife’s name ‘Eve’; because she was the mother of all living”. The Hebrew word translated, Eve, means ‘life’. It would hardly be necessary to say this, if all that was meant was that she was the mother of all members of the human race; that would be patently obvious anyway. It is very likely that Adam had in mind the gospel promise of Genesis 3:15, regarding the seed of the woman, where it is clearly a reference to all believers that will ever receive everlasting life through the suffering of the Saviour who was to be born of the seed of the woman: “In him was live; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Adam was expressing his faith in the God’s promise of a Saviour, in naming His wife, Eve.

Then there is the wonderful gospel illustration of God making for Adam and Eve coverings of skins. This necessitated the killing of an animal. Immediately after the fall Adam and his wife made for themselves coverings for their nakedness made up of leaves sewn together into aprons. (v7). This pitiful attempt represents the feebleness of the coverings that mankind make for themselves to hide the shame of their sin, by covering themselves with good works. It just will not work. A whole lifetime devoted to good works will not cover even one sin, or bring a person one bit nearer to being RighWithGod. I fact they will simply alienate us further from God, because they inevitably generate self-righteousness, which God hates. Instead of these feeble, and worse than useless coverings that Adam and Eve had made for themselves, God Himself makes for them better coverings, made from the skins of slain animals.

Why were these coverings better? Because they pointed forward to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which in  turn pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross of Calvary, the final sacrifice to end all sacrifices. The bible encourages us to do good works, and it is natural for the person who is RighWithGod to do so; but they are an incidental part of the christian life, and must never be looked to as a way of salvation, not even part of that way. It is looking away from self and all that is within, and looking outwards to Christ and Him crucified that saves, and nothing else. He says, “look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22).

The Thorns and Thistles of this Life.

This is a very important subject. It explains so much of why life is the way it is for man. If we try to cope with the difficulties of our daily labour without a biblical understanding of it, we are going to feel quite dissatisfied and discontent in our daily work. in order to understand the ‘Why?’ of our daily work, it must be seen in the context of the divine sentence pronounced by God on Adam after the fall. Our daily toil should never be seen in isolation from that sentence, no matter what the nature of  that work is. We saw last week, how the first man and woman, by their disobedience,  brought sin into the world, making them immediately ashamed in the presence of each other, and of God. They were no longer RightWithGod, nor right with one another as they were before. We also saw how God pronounced sentence on the woman.

Today,  we are going to look at the all-important sentence pronounced on the man, Adam. Notice that this sentence is far more involved than that pronounced on the woman. First of all the  ground is severely adversely affected by the fall. God pronounces a curse upon it: “Cursed be the ground for thy sake” (as a result of your disobedience). The sad effects of Adam’s sin on the  ground is that the growing of crops for food was going to be accompanied by sorrow. This was a massive and very sad change. It was not the beginning of man’s work activity, because man was commanded to work even before the fall:  Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”;  At this point labour was a totally satisfying and pleasurable activity. The difference that came into man’s work activity was that the experience changed from a totally satisfying one into one of much toil and much frustration: Genesis 3: 17-19: “In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days  of thy life”. The diet at that time was mainly vegetable in character. This necessitated working the earth, but it would produce not only what was planted, but unwanted things, such as thorns and thistles: “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field”.  It was to be  hard toil: “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread”, and this continues throughout man’s life on this earth.

Does this have relevance for us today?  It most certainly does. We are not all farmers, but the principles apply to every job in this life,  whether we are manual workers, office workers,  computer operators, top surgeons or even pastors, the principles apply. Every one soon comes up against thorns and thistle in some form in his daily work. The natural man sees nothing in his labours but toil and frustration, and he ends up living for his days off and his holidays for respite. This is the only way he can cope. He is not RightWithGod, and, consequently, no matter how satisfying the job may at first appear, eventually he cannot see his work as much more than a means of earning his living.  However, for the child of God who has been made RightWithGod through Jesus Christ, things are, or  should be different. He reads the first three chapters of Genesis, and he sees God’s judgement on mankind mixed with gospel mercy in Genesis 3:16. This enables him to cope with the thorns and thistles, because he knows they are God’s righteous judgement on mankind because of sin; he knows that by a full acceptance of God’s sentence, He glorifies God. He is saying to God, ‘Thou art just and right in all thy dealings with me, and because I see thy great mercy to me as a sinner in the promise of the Saviour in Genesis 3:15, I bow to thy rightness and justice’.

The unbeliever sees his labours as simply an economic activity, but  the person who is RightWithGod sees his labours as a religious activity. He worships and glorifies God in his submission to the sentence. He is happy that in his work, because it brings him nearer to God, and that is the happiness of the christian in every area of his life. Once we really grasp this, our experience of daily labour is transformed.

Judgement mixed with Mercy after the Fall.

We have looked at what God said to Satan after the fall: the promise of a Saviour born of woman, who would deal a crushing blow to Satan. That this Saviour would do so by suffering, is  indicated by the bruising of the Saviour’s heel. You may wonder why we have not dealt with the first part of Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed”.  The reason is that this enmity is a massively important matter for understanding the history of this world, and will require thorough treatment in a future posting of RightWithGod.

There are important matters for us to attend to before we leave the post-fall situation. We have seen that there was an immediate effect on the man and the woman in their self-consciousness. This showed in the way they immediately felt because of their nakedness. They even hid from God, showing that they were no  longer RightWithGod. Let us see clearly that this was an immediate effect of sin, and not brought about by divine sentence.

We now have to move on to God’s response to the disobedience of the woman and the man. It was certainly a pronouncement of sentence, but it was all eased by the promise that they heard concerning themselves, in the words spoken to Satan in Genesis 3:15. God’s judgements on sinners, are always mixed with mercy.

Let us look at the sentence pronounced on the  woman in Genesis 3:16: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow, and your conception: in sorrow you shall bring forth children.” It is a great blessing for a couple to have and to raise children, but the  process is mixed with trials. At every point there may be sorrow, while the child is in the womb, at birth, and throughout life. Nevertheless,  it is rare to find a mother who would say at any stage in their child’s life, ‘I wish I had never had this child’. The delights of  having children far outweigh the sorrows involved.

Also, having children nearly always has a wonderful effect on the parents. How often have we seen two selfish, irresponsible  people being transformed into responsible, self-denying, and self-sacrificing people by the arrival of their first child. As a pastor of many years’ experience, I would say that this is one of the most encouraging things that I see. It is a thing of beauty. I know that some couples are not able to have children, and, for some, this is a sore trial for them, and we must all understand something of what they go through. It is particularly important for them to get RightWithGod, and to remain so, rather than quarreling with God.

Then there is the second part of Genesis 3:16: “and your desire shall be to your  husband, and he shall rule over you”. Many attempts have been made to explain this verse, but some mystery remains. Whatever  we say,  it is clear that the fall has brought tensions into the marriage relationship. Satan will take every opportunity to magnify these tensions, and cause the couple to give up on the marriage. The important thing is for couples to read these words, “and your desire shall be to your  husband, and he shall rule over you”,  and realise that these tensions do not mean the marriage is meaningless, and that they must always guard their marriage by not allowing Satan to  magnify these tensions. They must be patient with one another, talk things over, pray together if possible, and acknowledge that God  has brought them together. These things pass over and lead to better days. From what I have seen, I am  convinced that God sustains marriages.