Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36
And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Jude 1
SIFC Note: [Late edits have been made to this piece due to the kind advice from a stander who is a Church of Christ member, that ministers in this denomination do not approve of being addressed by a title, such as Reverend. This was done quite inadvertently, with no offense intended. Our sincere apologies to David Sproule. ]
In the fall of 2013, a pastor in a very large Florida church did something unheard of in our age that put a huge smile on the face of the Master. To the very best of his knowledge and comprehension, he stood up for 10 weeks and preached a 97% accurate series on covenant marriage, civil-only divorce and civil-only “remarriage”. He did so with so much uncommon depth of biblical understanding that it could only have been done in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with so much fearlessness that it’s hard to watch the videos that follow without being reminded of the oratories of Peter or Paul or Stephen. This shepherd clearly fears God and labors to snatch real souls from the hell-flames. If our nation is to survive as divinely founded, we need every pastor who calls himself by the name of Jesus Christ to emulate this man!
To be sure, there are other pastors stepping up to the plate to try and shore up “the culture of marriage” in the wake of the horrifying Obergefell ruling last June, and a handful of them are beginning to do so with some degree of introspection because they are beginning to see the “handwriting on the wall” (so to speak). However, the worst of these are urging adulterously-remarried couples to “remain faithful to your current marriage”, which is contrary to the word of God which says they are living in ongoing adultery, as specifically defined on three separate occasions by Jesus Himself. Many are preaching a 90% accurate sermon, but covering their tails by saying something at the end that effectively negates what they’ve just preached, and are stopping short of urging the only action that will help such spouses recover their inheritance in the kingdom of God. Most likely, the majority of them continue to solemnize weddings that Jesus repeatedly called adulterous. No wuss, this pastor sees the message all the way through to its moral and logical conclusion.
Why do we say David Sproule of the Palm Beach Lake Church of Christ is preaching only a 97% accurate call to action?
This is an excellent question. Brother Sproule repeatedly refers to Jesus making an “exception” in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 which he asserts was Jesus’ “permission” for a believer to initiate a divorce (1 Cor. 6:1-8 notwithstanding ) and to remarry if their covenant spouse has committed “sexual immorality”.
At the time Brother Sproule delivered these teachings, he was presumably unaware that his contemporary English bible translation (he tells us he’s reading from the New King James Version) had been tampered with by the manuscript selection / bible translation team led by Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort who in the 1880’s altered the translation of the Greek word porneia from its traditional rendering of “prostitution or whoredom” to “fornication”, then successors changed it to the far more interchangeable “sexual immorality”. Throughout the series, in a false argument that the innocent spouse may remarry, he has used the word “fornication” interchangeably with “adultery”, perhaps not considering scholarly evidence that these two separate sins were not at all used interchangeably by Jesus in those verses, nor several others. Brother Sproule has also frequently interjected “sexual immorality” in the remarriage discussion without recognizing the key point that Jesus was specifically referring to in both of the Matthew passages, that is, undisclosed premarital immorality while a legally binding bride-purchase agreement, predicated on the bride’s virginity, was in force – the betrothal ketubah. We are in the process of writing to Brother Sproule to commend him and to send him an excellent book by Rev. Daniel Jennings, “Except For Fornication“. Please pray that it is received with favor and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s where we feel you are very much on target with your teaching in a way that is truly rare, courageous and biblically-faithful:
- Crucially, you recognize and publicly acknowledge that there is a unique one-flesh joining that is supernatural and accomplished by God that is never an element of adulterous remarriage.
- You are unequivocally clear that only God can unjoin what He was joined, but the only act of men that does this is death.
- You further recognize that God remains in covenant with that one-flesh entity He joined, even when a mountain of man’s civil paper says otherwise. (You are, therefore, more truthful than Dr. John MacArthur).
- You deal faithfully with Greek verb tenses in a way that some national ministry leaders who certainly have the education to do likewise can’t seem to muster the courage to do. (You are more accountable than Drs. Voddie Baucham and Russell Moore).
5. To the best of your own knowledge and awareness, you seem to also be very faithful with word translation, and rightly dividing some passages of scripture that most others abuse.
6. You capably debunk the notion that baptism washes away inconvenient marriage covenants. (You are more accountable than Dr. James Dobson and host of other international voices).
7. You are honest about the heaven-or-hell issue involved, and that 1 Cor. 6:9-10 applies to respectable, church-going people whose pastor presided over their second or third wedding.
8. You are forceful instead of wishy-washy in urging people to act on the biblical truth and exit their immoral unions, even when there are children, as if real souls and eternal destinations ARE indeed at stake. (You are more concerned about those souls than Dr. John Piper and most of the stander community’s own pastors.)
9. You refrain from the cowardly and intellectually lazy device of covering the story of the Samaritan woman at the well with unsupported inferences. (You are, therefore, more truthful than Drs. Russell Moore and Robert A. G. Gagnon.)
10. You have quite capably recognized and called out, in an easy-to-understand fashion, several of the more pernicious heresies out there in evangelicaldom (some of which, sadly, appear in my denomination’s 1973 position paper, a cowardly document written in the wake of unilateral divorce enactment, given 60 years of sound prior doctrine that it drastically revised)….
We herewith bring you the entire series, to the extent we could round it up from Youtube. We give a couple of brief highlights or caveats for each video. Most of the videos are 40-45 minutes long, but with minimal overlap, and each one very much worth the time investment to listen.
Introductory Matters on Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage – September 16, 2013
(+) Rightly gives context to the future of our nation depends on obeying God’s marriage law
(+) Points out that the believers’ choice to obey or not obey affects our relationship with God, and is a matter of salvation.
(+) Despite the 21 different views MDR, only God’s commandment matters
(+) Diplomatically acknowledges the sensitivity of the topic without pandering or back-pedaling
( + ) Our love for God must supercede our love for everyone else.
( + ) Puts forward the true view of repentance
( + ) Exposes the wrongful invoking of God’s love, mercy and grace while in a sinful relationship and unrepentant state
( + ) Cautions about emotions overriding obedience; refers to Ezra purge of unlawful marriages
God’s OVER-view of Marriage and Divorce – September 16, 2013
(+) God is the only One with authority to regulate marriage
(+) Civil law never supercedes God’s law
(+) Emphasizes “1 + 1 = 1” (but see below*)
(+) Points out one of the purposes is to help each other make it to heaven
(+) Astutely quips that if Rom. 7:2 and 1 Cor. 7:39 were taken seriously it would be considered “hate speech” in our culture
( – ) Erroneously claims a “divorced” victim of adultery may remarry
( – ) Erroneously implies a civil marriage license is necessary in God’s eyes
( – ) *Erroneously implies that human action is necessary to create the
one-flesh state, rather than God’s supernatural, instantaneous act.
Special encouragement to standers at approximately 28:00, where a permanent marker analogy applies to man-made “permanence” – it does eventually dissipate despite early resistance, but it’s God’s participation in true covenant matrimony that creates the actual permanence; His lack of participation that dooms permanence in the church-sanctioned counterfeit.
(+) Provides insightful context to Matthew 19
(+) Discusses John the Baptist’s martyrdom for rebuking remarriage adultery and does not wimp out by claiming the problem was “incest”
(+) Unequivocally states that God did not design or provide for marriage dissolution while spouses are alive
(+) Calls out the imperative tense in Matt. 19:6 “let not man separate”
( – ) Equated “uncleanness” in Deut. 24 with adultery – no support offered
( – ) Erroneously claims a “divorced” victim of adultery may remarry
( – ) Erroneously implies a civil marriage license is necessary as a godly citizen (when that license does not reflect God’s law in any aspect)
(+) Points out that God’s marriage law applies regardless of spiritual condition of either spouse at the time of vows
(+) Appropriately emphasizes Christ’s authority to override Moses
(+) Points out that Christ had a role in the Creation – He was there
( – ) Claims Matthew 19:9 as the “core” of Christ’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, instead of the same-occasion, no-exception, mixed-gender passage in Mark 10
( – ) Erroneously repeats that a divorced victim of adultery may remarry
( – ) Appears to be unaware of the relevance of Hebrew betrothal to correctly interpreting Matthew 5:32 and 19:9
(+) Points out that there was no gender difference in the way Jesus applied his teaching
(+) Addresses annulment as unbiblical and beyond men’s authority
(+) Calls out that the Church doesn’t join or regulate marriage; God does
(+) Points out that God does not join ineligible marriages
(+) Debunks (instead of appealing to) the Samaritan woman encounter
(+) Calls out the present tense usage in the Mark 6 account of Herod’s remarriage adultery – “nothing Herod could do to ever lawfully have Herodias”
(+) Calls out other pastors who rationalize keeping adulterous marriages intact based on “loopholes”
( – ) Misstated Matthew 19:9 as the “core” of Christ’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, instead of the same-occasion passage in Mark 10
( – ) Repeats (wrongly) that a “divorced” victim of adultery may remarry
( – ) Discussion of “adultery redefinition” discussion seems more complicated in this video than strictly necessary
( – ) Skips discussion of Matthew 19:12 while arriving at a position equivalent to Shammai. Agreeing with one of the two false choices presented by the Pharisees would cause the disciples’ extreme reaction? This would lead into a discussion about becoming a eunuch?
(+) Refers to the full content Matthew 19:9 including the commonly-omitted prohibition on marrying a divorced person
(+) Calls out the false justifications for remarriage by the adulterous party
( – ) Fails to discern the “slippery slope” of claiming one party is “released” from the marriage bond while the other is not
( – ) Inappropriately conflates fornication with adultery
( – ) Reads from NKJV, inserting “sexual immorality” for the more accurate, specific translation of porneia as a premarital sin as Jesus stated it
( – ) Erroneously repeats that a “divorced” victim of adultery may remarry
( – ) Inappropriately limits Christ’s absolute prohibition against marrying any divorced person to marrying the “fornicator” so divorced
( – ) Relies on an inappropriate inference, which the Greek sentence structure and article usage in Matthew 19:9 does not support
( – ) Neglects to reconcile this theory to Luke 16:18, the exceptionless third occasion where Jesus prohibits everyone from marrying any divorced person.
(Presumably, for the widowed “put-away fornicator”, it is better to remarry than burn !)
(+) Debunks 1 Cor. 7:15 unequivocally and very effectively.
(+) Debunks the related heresy that Christ’s marriage commandments only apply to believers.
(+) Accurately traces Church history back to the 4th century and Catholic apostasy.
(+) Accurate care made to the different audiences for the various instructions in 1 Corinthians 7
(+) Calls out that every part of 1 Corinthians7 is equally inspired
(+) Calls out that Greek choridzo (depart) is not equivalent to apoluo (put away), and that divorce and remarriage are out of context
(+) Calls out that “not under bondage” means not required to choose allegiance to spouse over allegiance to God
Adulterous Marriages Are Sinful and Must Be Severed – November 18, 2013
(+) Acknowledges the emotions that conflict with God’s law, and the need to set aside own prejudices
(+) Calls out the false doctrines that have been raised up in the church
(+) Refutes the heresy that salvation and baptism dissolve pre-salvation covenants or that God’s law does not apply to non-Christians
(+) Debunks the abuse of 1 Cor. 7:20 and 1 Cor. 7:14 to justify staying in legalized adultery
(+) Debunks the idea that repentance from a state of adultery is satisfied by confession without requiring severing and termination of the relationship
(+) Affirms that God’s word does not contradict itself
(+) Calls out that elders / shepherds are responsible for the souls of their members
( – ) Refers (wrongly) to “one exception” that permits divorce and remarriage – discussed in a previous video.
Adulterous Marriages Are Sinful and Must Be Severed (Part 2) – November 25, 2013
(+) Points out that we will be judged according to God’s word alone, not what a church, pastor, friends or others teach or practice
(+) Revisits in-depth the heresy that baptism washes away prior marriages and “sanctifies” the existing adulterous relationship
(+) Clarifies that baptism forgives repented (discontinued) sins
(+) Correctly points out the Matt.19:9 present-tense verb that makes the definition of adultery an ongoing state of sin
(+) Correctly emphasizes God-joining, only in a righteous marriage
(+) Truthful definition of repentance, contrasting with false repentance
(+) Courageously relates the story of the purging of illicit marriages (with children) in the book of Ezra, elevating God’s instructions above emotional arguments
( – ) Refers (wrongly) to “one exception” that permits divorce and remarriage – discussed in a previous video
( – ) Omits discussion of Hebrew betrothal’s connection with the Matthean exception
Concluding remarks: In the book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, the priests of Israel were amazingly quick to agree with the Spirit-anointed, bookish prophet of God even though he told them they must saw off the immoral branches of their own families in order to recover the sovereignty of their nation after decades of exile. Deep-down they knew they had willfully and knowingly violated God’s clear commandment, and the fact that there were children involved wasn’t going to deter God’s directive to purify their community and to purge the immorality from their midst. In many cases, this was polygamy that competed with an existing God-joined covenant marriage between two Jewish spouses whose marriage remained intact and blessed. The separation and severance did not happen without provision for those separated concubines and their children, nor did it happen without a solid plan.
In the same fashion, separating and civilly-divorcing out of a subsequent non-covenant marriage (undertaken while a covenant spouse remains alive) must be led by the Holy Spirit and motivated by an authentic desire to put nothing ahead of our relationship with the Holy One. The plan of severing must treat the children and severed spouse as we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. It must encourage the severed spouse to make changes in their own life, such as seeking reconciliation with their own covenant spouse, that will recover or attain their inheritance in the kingdom of God, and it must be undertaken with firm finality. (There are many “standers” who are currently standing for restoration of an adulterous remarriage who are hostile to the idea of reconciling with their true spouse for various reasons).
A few of those in an adulterous remarriage now have covenant spouses who are deceased. The death of that true spouse does not instantly transform an immoral union into holy matrimony without taking a few deliberate steps of repentance. Is there a living, estranged covenant spouse on the other side of the union? If so, the adultery continues and your remarriage needs to be terminated.
If not, a season of separation is still a good idea to get alone with God and purge the idolatry that originally motivated entry into the non-covenant union. If and only if Jesus is our first love are we ever qualified to take a spouse. Are there estranged relations with covenant children, and / or are they also living in a state of immorality due to emulating your example? Fix those relations while separated and celibate – confess your wrong choice to them and seek to make restitution to them as best you can.
Will you be unequally yoked if you attempt to undertake holy matrimony? Under those conditions, you will be renewing a relationship with idolatry if you do. If and when you are in a place where it makes sense for the whole of your family, and you can do so with a clear conscience before God, take new covenant vows before godly witnesses and pastor so that the supernatural one-flesh joining that was precluded from occurring in the adulterous prior vows can now occur by God’s hand, and His irrevocable covenant will attach, transforming the union into holy matrimony if there are no remaining impediments.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” – Luke 14:26
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