The Dreaded “D”

By The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

divorceDivorce is a raging beast that maims people and devours homes. It’s a bloody battleground where everyone involved becomes a casualty of war. No one wins in a divorce. Before you judge others for being divorced keep in mind that the dreaded “D” can happen to the best of us. That’s just life!

Are you being beaten over the head because you’re divorce? I want to offer a note of encouragement for those who have been pushed into a divorce. I intentionally use the word “pushed” because no one in their right mind actually wants a divorce. However, many of us find ourselves with no other option. I have gone through that heart-wrenching experience and have learned a few things that I would like to pass on.

Over the years I’ve discovered that many who call themselves “Christians” are more tolerant of a murderer, prostitute or drug pusher who became a Christian than they are with a Christian who has been divorced. This is especially true if you’re called to the pulpit ministry. However, the divorce rate for Christians is now matching that of the rest of America (50%). Unfortunately, the ranks of those in the church that have experienced divorce are swelling. Fortunately, though, the compassion of many churches for us who are victims of divorce is growing as well. It’s sad to admit that for many, even in Christian homes, marriage has become a combat zone. It doesn’t make it right but that’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, I have good news for those of us who are survivors of the dreaded “D.”

Let me begin with a statement that may startle you. Did you know that God is divorced? It’s true! “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”(Jeremiah 3:8) Yet someone might say, “How can this be? Didn’t God say in Malachi 2:16, ‘I hate divorce.’?” You’re absolutely right. God does hate divorce. I believe that the main reason for his disdain is more personal than theological.

God desires that marriage be a perfect representation of the marriage-like relationship that he wants with professing Christians. The church is even called the bride of Christ. (Revelations 21:9) So, God meant for marriage to be a beautiful earthly representation of a Heavenly covenant. When both parties in a marriage walk in obedience to God’s Word concerning their role as a husband or wife, the relationship that they enjoy will correctly mirror the relationship between God and the believer. So, for that reason divorce goes against the grain for God in the worst possible way.

As I said, God hates divorce more on a personal basis. It’s amazing how many have missed this elemental truth. No one hates divorce more than one who has experienced it. God has been there and done that. He may not have a T-shirt but God certainly has the scars! Like us, our LORD has experienced rejection. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!” (GNT) *  He’s acquainted with the grief that divorce brings. God has personally suffered sorrow and heartbreak.

Furthermore, he knows what it’s like to be treated with disrespect and unkindness by someone he loves. Isaiah 53:3 says this about Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with [our] pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (NIV)

Yes, God hates divorce!!! In fact, He loathes it!

Finally, I want to hopefully clear up a damaging error that Christians make about adultery. Many have gone through divorce for reasons other than sexual infidelity. Nevertheless, they still lug around much of the same bitterness and pain that the victims of an unfaithful spouse carries. They also experienced the same sensation of personal loss and separation. They’ve had to deal with the same feelings of guilt and abandonment as well as a kaleidoscope of other dark emotions.

Maybe the divorce wasn’t over a spouse committing adultery through a sexual encounter with someone other than their marriage partner. However, one can still be guilty of unfaithfulness even without having sex with someone other than their spouse. There are other ways of dishonoring your marriage vows. Many have suffered physical, mental and emotional damage in their marriage. One can dishonor one’s marriage vows with this kind of cruelty as well. When one abuses their spouse in these ways the marriage covenant is broken. For this is another form of unfaithfulness.

I’ve been there. I know the damage that someone you love can do to your heart and mind. In addition, I’ve found that too often the emotional devastation remains long after the physical scars have faded. When you open your arms to someone you expose your heart. Jesus opened His arms, exposing his heart and what did the people that Jesus loved do? They took his open arms and nailed them to a cross. Then they pierced Jesus’ loving heart with a spear. Indeed, he is “familiar with [our] pain”.

Again, my point is simple. You may have been divorced and as a result you may have been singled out and, at times, faced scorn from others. Perhaps you’ve been rebuked by some well-meaning-but-misinformed church leader or church member because your divorce wasn’t on the grounds of what they considered to be adultery.

This may make the Pharisees and Sadducees mad at me. But bear this in mind, my friend, adultery takes many forms. Again, one cannot only be unfaithful sexually; one can also be unfaithful emotionally, physically and spiritually. One can break one’s marriage vows, or covenant, in ways other than through a sexual betrayal. When that happens that piece of paper so nicely framed and hanging on the wall means nothing.

God sees unfaithfulness differently from what you and I see. The Bible makes it clear that we can sin in our hearts and minds as well as physically. For to God be it in the mind or in the bed it’s all the same. (Matthew 5:28)  So, your spouse can be unfaithful to you by abusing the vows you made to one another in the presence of God, the minister and the witnesses. Whether, abused by a spouse mentally, emotionally or physically. In God’s eyes, it’s all the same.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10 NIV)

So, don’t give into condemnation from those who don’t really know what they’re talking about. (Romans 8:1 NIV) It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. It’s simple to sit in judgment of someone if you’ve never been where they’ve been. If someone does point a finger at you simply say this to them, “If you haven’t walked in my shoes, don’t tell me how to wear them. Furthermore, if you think my shoes are dirty, well consider this. You don’t know how messy the path was on which I was forced to tread. Don’t act so self-righteous, because life is so unpredictable you too may one day find yourself walking that same dirty path.”

Life can be a cowardly dog. When you least expect it can sneak up behind you and take a huge chunk out of you leaving you hurt and scarred. So, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8) Paul also warns, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1Corinthians 16:13 NIV)

Be of good cheer my friend, and don’t give in to the emotional bondage that divorce can bring. Remember these wonderful words of Jesus, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

A video version of this message is posted on my YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/user/chaplainrod825

* Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

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Was Jesus Really Raised from the Dead?

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1Peter 1:3)

All four of the biographies on the life of Jesus, referred to as The Gospels [meaning, “Goodempty-tomb2tn News”] of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John describe in great detail the events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the most important event in human history and one of the most documented events of the ancient world. In fact, it is said that there is more documented evidence on the resurrection of Christ than there is on any single event in the life of George Washington.

The evidence is simply overwhelming!

“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .” — E. M. Blaiklock (Professor of Classics, Auckland University)

An Englishman by the name of John Singleton Copley, better known as Lord Lyndhurst, is recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history. He was the solicitor-general of the British government, attorney-general of Great Britain, three times high chancellor of England, and elected as high steward of the University of Cambridge, thus holding in one lifetime the highest offices ever conferred upon a judge in Great Britain.

After Copley’s death, some personal papers were discovered which contained his comments concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the light of legal evidence, and why he became a Christian. Listen to what this great legal mind said, “I know pretty well what evidence is: and I tell you, such evidence, as that for the resurrection, has never broken down yet.”

Dr. Simon Greenleaf was a famous Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University and was primarily responsible for Harvard’s eminent position among law schools in the United States. Greenleaf produced a famous, three-volume work, entitled A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which is still considered one of the greatest authorities on the subject in the entire literature of legal procedure.

At one time Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the “myth” of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection, Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion!

With a lawyer’s skill Greenleaf put his principles to work as he examined the historical evidence surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible and other historical writings. After careful examination, he wrote a book concerning the authenticity of the resurrection entitled An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. The evidence wins out again. He said, “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact”[1] (For more information go to http://www.av1611.org/resur.html)

Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, was once talking about the truths of Christianity at a dinner party and particularly the evidence for Christ’s resurrection. Placing his fingertips together, assuming a judicial attitude, and speaking with a quiet emphasis that was extraordinarily impressive, he made this powerful statement, “We as Christians are asked to take a very great deal on trust; the teachings, for example, and the miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be skeptical. The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what he proclaimed himself to be must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favor as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”

Thomas Arnold, formerly Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford, one of the world’s great historians, could say: “I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead.” [2]

Why is the resurrection of Christ so important? The point Lord Darling was making is this. If Jesus had not risen from the dead he would be just another dead, self-proclaimed prophet. However, Jesus resurrection proved he is all that he claims to be. By physically raising from the dead, Jesus validated the fact that he is indeed Lord over everything, and all that Jesus taught and said is true.

“The most important proof is that of the testimony of the people who were actual eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ. It is important to note that the following people would be qualified eyewitnesses in any court of law, either in Roman or Hebrew courts of the time or in modern American courts. To qualify formally to give eyewitness testimony, the witness must be shown to be mentally competent as well as having been competent at the time the events occurred. The witness must also be able to withstand an examination of his own character as a basis for accepting his testimony.

*The Roman soldiers assigned to guard the tomb were objective witnesses to the resurrection, even though they did not believe in the deity of Christ. (Matthew 28:12-15)
* The unbelieving chief priest and the elders of the Sanhedrin were eyewitnesses to the empty tomb. (Matthew 28:11-12)
* Mary Magdalene, (Matthew 28:1, 6; John 20:15-17; Mark 16:9-11
* Five other women, including Mary (the wife of Cleopas), and Salomé, (Matthew. 28:9-10; Mark 16:1-6)
* Peter, Luke 14:12
* Matthew, by written testimony, (Matthew 28:6)
* John, by written testimony, (John 20:1-8)
* The written testimony of facts as given by witnesses, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:3. All people, in fact, mentioned in the previous section, to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection, were eyewitnesses.
* The fact of the resurrection of Christ may also be inferred from a number of other sources. For example, Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, chapter 3:3, states that Jesus Christ was resurrected and had made appearances on the earth.”[3]

I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” — Professor Thomas Arnold [4]

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades [the place of the dead].” – Jesus (Revelation 1:18)

Once for all Jesus demonstrated himself to be Lord over death, hell and the grave. And in so doing, he not only confirmed his personal claims about himself, but also Jesus demonstrated his matchless ability to save us—to redeem us from sin and its power over our lives. Jesus can, therefore, offer new life, direction, and hope to those who choose to follow him.

To read an excellent article entitled Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell, go to http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

[1] Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists, (New York, 1874), p. 28.

[2] Thomas Arnold, Sermons on Christian Life, Its Fears and Its Close, (6th ed., London, 1854), p. 324.

[3] Taken from Grace Notes at http://www.bga.com/~wdoud/topics/resurrection.html

[4] Was for fourteen years the headmaster of Rugby, author of the three-volume History of Rome, and holder of the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts.