Summary: A topical message on what is needed to make a marriage work.
Title: 4 Keys to a Successful Marriage
July 21, 2002
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. Every Sunday is special as we gather to worship the Lord, but today is extra special because at the conclusion of today’s service, Mark Stanley and Lisa Kelly will be wed. Weddings can be wonderful events though sometimes unexpected things do happen. For instance, my wife’s a veil briefly caught fire during our wedding ceremony and we’ve been on fire for each other ever since! I recently read of another wedding which had an unexpected ending.
Illustration: A young minister was faced with his first wedding ceremony. He sought counsel from an older preacher. The experienced man told the young man everything he needed to do and made one final suggestion: "If you ever forget what you are supposed to say," he advised, "just quote Scripture. It is always appropriate to quote Scripture." The young man did a great job in conducting the marriage ceremony, until he pronounced the young couple husband and wife. At that point, his mind went blank. He did not know what to say. He remembered the advice of the old preacher to quote Scripture, so he quoted the only verse that came to his mind. It was, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Source: www.sermonnotes.com
Unfortunately his mistaken words are all too often true. Many couples do enter into marriage not knowing what they do. Many couples have little knowledge of how to have a successful marriage. After all, being married and having a successful marriage are two different things. Today I will be sharing with you from the Bible on the subject: Four Keys to a Successful Marriage.
Normally it is my practice to bring you biblical messages each week in a verse by verse format through books of the Bible. Currently we’re in the Book of Luke on Sunday mornings. Next week I will continue in that expository series in Luke, but today I will be delivering a topical message on marriage using various texts from the Bible, though I will begin with a couple verses from Luke that I skipped last week.
Read Luke 16:16-18
There is room for debate as to the meaning of verse 16. Different Bible translations translate this verse quite differently because some of the Greek grammar allows for various interpretations. My understanding of this verse is that Jesus is contrasting people’s reaction to the Gospel and the Law. Since the days of John the Baptist the primary focus had been on the Good News of grace and forgiveness instead of on the Old Testament Law.
People had responded positively to this message, as Jesus said, "Everyone is forcing his way into it." In other words, they were responding to the Good News in the same way as a crowd of people might respond to a millionaire offering free money; they were excited and diligently pursuing this great offer of grace and forgiveness. This is a great response but Jesus did not want people to think that his teachings on forgiveness and grace meant that the principles and commands of the law did not matter any more. As Jesus said, "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." God is serious about his word, all of it!
What has all this to do with marriage? Well, one area where people were either ignoring, disobeying, or compromising on following God’s word in regard to marriage. Divorce and cheating were rampant in Jesus day, as well as in our own, so Jesus reminds them of what God’s word said about marriage in verse 18. In essence he wanted people to know that divorce is still divorce and in most cases is still wrong. Adultery was still adultery despite the Good News.
We must take God’s words seriously, including what it says about marriage. What does the Bible say about building a successful marriage? Before I share the first of four keys to successful marriage let me elaborate on what defines a "successful marriage " since that is what these four keys are about. I did not say "Four Keys to a Happy Marriage" because that makes our personal desires or satisfaction the highest goal in marriage. A successful marriage on the other hand, from a Christian viewpoint, means a marriage that pleases God, i.e. one that is lived in accordance with his principles. These marriages are often the happiest also but that is not the goal of the marriage rather it is the result of building your marriage on biblical principles. With that note of explanation let’s get to the first key to successful marriage.
1. The first key to a successful marriage is to be committed to a permanent relationship.