Today's scripture passage comes from Isaiah 56:1-7:
Thus says the Lord: "Keep justice and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come and my deliverance will be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this—and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil." Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from his people." And let not the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." For thus says the Lord: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it and holds fast my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
Let's pray together. Father, I pray that the worldview that tries to fit biblical pieces in but is shaped by unbiblical assumptions would be changed, so that marriage and singleness are seen to be what they are in the radical alteration of things that Jesus has brought. This is something that I can't make happen, but you, by your Spirit through your Word, can. And so I ask that you would perform it. Not that a few little nuggets would be fit into a defective paradigm, but rather that the whole system would be blown away and replaced by a biblical understanding of all things, so that the smaller things like marriage and singleness would fit in the way that you have designed in Christ Jesus, in this brief and temporary age in which we live in preparation for eternity. So come and help me to be faithful to your word now, and give ears to hear. I pray through Christ, Amen.
I'm going to start and end with my main point, and in the middle saturate you with many texts so that we have foundation under the beginning by the time we get to the end and say it again. My main point is that God promises those of you who will remain single blessings that are better than the blessings of marriage and children. And secondly, that by your Christ-exalting devotion in singleness God calls you to display four truths about Christ and his kingdom that shine more clearly through singleness than through marriage.
These are the four truths:
- The family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ.
- Relationships in Christ are more permanent and more precious than relationships in families (of course, it is wonderful if relationships in families can be both relationships in families and relationships in Christ, but we know good and well that is not the case for many of us).
John Piper is pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, radio speaker for "Desiring God," and author of Desiring God (Multnomah).
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