The Lord's Day Morning
January 31, 2010
1 Corinthians 16:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9-12, 3:7
“Quit Ye Like Men, A Call to Biblical Manhood”
Dr. Michael A. Milton
Good morning! Now let me first welcome those of you who are visiting with us today. And preaching this morning is our dear friend and brother, the Reverend Dr. Mike Milton. Mike is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte and previously was the pastor of our sister congregation in Chattanooga, the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. Let us worship Him.
My heart is greatly moved by that choir — “Lead Kindly Light”. What a joy and privilege it is to stand here. It was about twenty four years ago that I was called upon to return to Mississippi where I had been living in Kansas, pasturing, and I was called upon to lay to rest the body of the woman who bore me. Abandoned as a child and reared by my Aunt Eva, and on the way back home from Tylertown, Mississippi I called my wife May and I said, “I don't think I'm taking the Saturday night plane. I'm just going to stay over and go to First Pres in Jackson and hear Dr. Baird. And so I sat up — of course you’re renovated now — but I sat up where you’re sitting, in the back and I've told Jim Baird I don't remember the exact text, but I will never forget the impression of the Holy Spirit upon my soul from his preaching. And so pardon me if I feel some of that now. I feel like I'm exactly where God wants me to be this morning. Though in my robe, as a servant of Reformed Theological Seminary, the Lord opens doors for me to preach all over the place and I'm honored to do that.
I feel like the Psalmist in Psalm 84 who said, “How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts. My soul longs, yes faints, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young at Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house ever singing Your praise.” I feel like that little sparrow who's found a home this morning with you, at this moment, at this time and place, in the economy of God's eternity we're together. And I'm so thankful to be here.
I do bring you greetings from Reformed Theological Seminary, the seminary which is born out of the vision really of this church, to raise up a training ground for Gospel preachers and missionaries to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth to rely up on the inerrant and infallible Word of God to accomplish supernatural ends with supernatural means with a passion for the great commission, and I'm honored and privileged to be here. But my heart again is so greatly moved as I shared with your pastor even from the first service how, to be with you, is always a joy, to be with God's people, so I tremble as God has called me now to serve Him to bring a word from another world.
We’re carrying on with the theme of Biblical manhood, which we started on Friday night at our Men's Rally, which from my standpoint, was wonderful. Those male voices joined in singing great hymns of the faith — it was just great — and the fellowship I enjoyed. This morning I want to continue that with three passages from the Word of God. So I’ll ask if you’ll join me first of all in 1 Corinthians chapter 16. Little did I know that you would be reading through 1 Corinthians and you would come to chapter 5, a hard chapter, but really then the final exhortations of Paul in chapter 16, which are really a veritable flurry of exhortations — like a general giving one command after another — little did I know that when I prepared the message to bring you this morning and you were reading through this, that the context would be set by the reading. And so we come in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 to verse 13. I'm going to add to that two other readings, one from 1 Peter and one from Ephesians. But as I read these passages I remind you that this is the inerrant and the infallible Word of the living God.
1 Corinthians 16:
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
I add to that Ephesians chapter 6 where the apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus says in chapter 5 verse 1, “Be imitators of God,” and then the apostle works that out. He works that out through a life of holiness — “Be imitators of God.” He works that out in the husband/wife relationship. He works that out in obedience of children to parents. But we are to be obedient to God in another way. And I turn your attention to chapter 6 verse 4, again a passage to men:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Now finally add to that in the New Testament 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 7, where the apostle Peter is likewise giving instructions to the congregational life of those who have been scattered from Jerusalem who are on the run, who are settling into new communities of faith in Asia Minor. And here we read in chapter 3 verse 7 more words about men and their responsibilities:
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.
Dear heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer and may I preach as though never to preach again — as a dying man to dying men — in the name of Jesus Christ the Man, Christ Jesus, I pray.
I have to begin this message by telling you that I may have injured my son for the rest of his life by an action I took when he was about twelve years old. John Michael is fifteen now. He reminds me about this decision that I made. He tells me that I humiliated him and he says, “Dad, I'm scarred for life for what you did.” And he goes on to remind me that at about age twelve in Chattanooga his mom decided that he should be in cotillion and learn what it is to be a gentleman. And so he came to me and said, “Dad, mom's got this idea that I'm to go to classes at the Lookout Mountain Country Club and learn how to ballroom dance and fold napkins and escort girls and dad you've just got to do something.” So I did. I took matters into my own hands and went in to see my wife and about three minutes later I returned and said, “Son, you’re going to be going to Lookout Mountain Country Club and there's nothing I can do about it.” And he says, “Dad, I'm scarred for life.” And you know what? It did teach him. Even though his friends were playing football and playing video games and doing other things and he was learning how to fold a napkin and dance with a girl to a nineteenth century dance that he tells me now, “None of the girls know how to dance that way anyway, dad,” nevertheless it was good for him and soon I suspect he’ll thank me and thank his mom especially for it. And the truth is we all need some training these days in manners given our culture. Don't worry, I haven't come here to tell the boys here that you've got to go into such training, but if your mama says you've got to do it, you've got to do it.
But I am here to say that the Word of God has a lot to say about what it means to be a man. The Word of the Lord has a lot to say in the context of our culture what it is to be a man of God in relationship to the community and in relationship to our wives and in relationship to our children. Dr. Duncan was right in saying that not much changes. The situation in 1 Corinthians 5 of course looks similar today. In our culture, the worst sort of debauchery, unimaginable things happening in our culture, and if there's ever been a time where we need to have men of God rise up, like the old hymn says, “Today is that day.” And the apostle Paul of course wanted the men in Corinth to rise up and be men of God. And so in 1 Corinthians 16:13 in the ESV, I read Paul's words — “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith.” And the ESV puts it like this — “act like men.” Now the NIV says, “be men.” The King James puts it differently but I like it, not just because it resonates with me because I grew up hearing it, the cadence of it, but even though it's archaic, it's kind of a little different and it strikes. Here is what it says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men.” And that grabs my attention — “quit you like men” — be strong.
And Paul is calling the men of the church to literally be a man.
In fact, the Greek word occurs only one time in the New Testament — this
imperative verb which is taken from a noun which means “man” — it literally is
now turning the noun into a verb — “become a man; you be a man.”
A friend of mine from Lee's Summit, Missouri
translates this verse like this — “Stand up on your hind legs, son, and be a
man.” That works too.
You get the picture. In the
problems of the Corinthian church the men needed to stand up and address the
very sort of sinful situation that was arising in 1 Corinthians 5, the same sort
of problems that were arising in other parts of Corinth.
They needed to take a stand.
It was time for them to step up. It
reminds me of after
9-11 whenever seventeen-year old boys were lining up at recruitment stations. They were taking their stands. You know, “Sign me up. I’ll let my mama sign for me, but I've got to go to the front lines. I've got to fight.” And it was that type of spiritual warfare going on in Corinth. And my beloved, that type of spiritual warfare is going on now and it is time to stand on our hind legs as it were and be men.
Now of course that doesn't mean the sort of macho image that we find from popular culture about being a man. It's talking about something different. It's talking about not men being a man by going out and partying, or trying to impress someone else by climbing the career ladder, or getting fat and lazy as you glue yourself to a sixty inch wide screen. Men in our culture are denigrated in my opinion in so many ways. Dad is pictured as a harmless bumbling idiot who must be guided by his savvy children or his wife feminist wife. That's not the man we need there. That's the caricature of a man. In fact, that is a boy. That is a boy. We need men of courage today. In our society, our women, our children, in this very congregation, in this very nation, are crying out for men who will be protectors and defenders, indeed honorable gentlemen — will show our youth what a man is really all about. And the honor of our women, the nurture of our children, and really the continuation of anything approaching civilization are absolutely dependant upon it. In fact, one social theorists says that “civilization really is the channeling of strength - the natural strength, the brute strength if you will - the channeling of all that a man is into the narrow vein of care and love and nurture of women and children and the weak and the oppressed” — that is civilization. When men are domesticated in that sort of noble……
When I began to pray about this message this morning there were a couple of things on my heart as I go because this morning I want to talk to you about what I means to quit ye like men, what it is to be a man. And ladies, as I look at you this morning, you were on my heart — and children, boys and girls — because I didn't want you to think, “I can check out because this one's not for me, but honey you’d better listen.” In fact, somebody this morning told me after the service — he came up to me and he said, “My wife told me, ‘We've got a lot to talk about at dinner today.’” I prayed for you women. Particularly my heart is moved by single moms who are rearing their children. As an orphan I was raised without a father, but I hope that you will find that by the end of the sermon that God has got a word for all of you, that your life and your mind is shaped by the Spirit.
First of all, from the passage this is a call to be a man of faith in Jesus Christ in the community where God has called you. To quit you like a man is to be a man of faith in the community. This is what the apostle Paul is saying here in this passage. You are to be guarding the sacred faith that has been entrusted to you. Paul says, “Be on guard.” Such a man is not going to get into the theological whims of the day. Paul says, “Stand firm in the faith.” You’re to be a man of courage, not ashamed of the Gospel, a man who is so studied in the Word of God, so saturated by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you can stand firm. This standing firm is not a standing firm out of your own physical strength, it is a standing firm out of what you have received — maybe from your mama — strengthened by the Word of God that you receive week by week here and in your Sunday school and in your Bible studies and in your home devotions, standing firm. It's a man of God who is courageous, not fearful of what others think or say. And if you look at the passage, I find it very interesting that the apostle Paul says that you are to “act like men,” “be strong,” and then look at verse 14, “Let all that you do be done in love.” Now some of us think that strength and tenderness and love are antithetical to each other.
Before the service I had a song come into my head and I asked Ligon, “Ligon help me with this. Dan Fogelberg; “Leader of the Band”; there's a line.” He got on the computer. He said, “Here it is. It's Dan Fogelberg, a folk singer, writing about his daddy.” He was a band musician at Central High School in Peoria, Illinois. He said he “earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand, his gentle ways of sculpting souls first to understand, that the strength.” God is calling us in the community.
There's a very famous passage for Mother's Day and you know it. It's Proverbs 31. And there's an interesting passage within that, I use it often in marriage counseling, it's verse 23 — “Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” You see one of the attributes of this noble woman is that she uses all of her feminine intuition and all of her godliness to strengthen, to build up her husband, so that he can go and be the man that God has called him to be, and that is to sit among other men, to go out into the workplace if you will, to go out into the arena of the community, and stand as a godly man among them and to bear witness among other men about his faith. That's what God is calling us to do in this passage, to be a man in the community.
But you say, “I'm too busy to be involved with the work of the church.” And many a man has said that — “I'm too busy because of work. I'm too busy because of the sports tickets that I have. I'm too busy because of this or that or the other.” And you know what has happened over the years? I've come to think that to do the work of the Lord whether it's in the church or being sent out to the church, is the work of a guy who couldn't get an honest living — called a preacher — or women. And thus we have in our nation a confusion of role relationships, even about the role relationships about men and women in the church. And sometimes the root of the problem is that men have not gone out and they have not been sitting at the gates and they have not taken their stand in the community. This is a call for men to stand up and be men in the community. Quit ye like men.
And you know there could be an opportunity right here this morning or maybe someone listening or watching to commit yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ right now, to take a stand for Him right now in this body or in the church where you may belong, but to stand up for Christ and to say, “I'm going to offer my life Lord Jesus Christ, to You. And to be a real man is to offer my life for You, to do what You want me to do, to follow wherever You want me to go.” For some of you young men it could even mean today that God is calling you to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. It could be that He's calling you to the mission field. It could be that He's calling you to go to the other side of the earth. And for some of you men it could be that He's calling you to go to the other side of the living room and to be a man in your own home.
And that leads us to the second thing that we find in the Word of God about quitting ye like men, and admittedly the context of 1 Corinthians 16 is dealing with the problems that are going on in Corinth, but I believe that we can move from that quite easily to 1 Peter 3:7 where Peter says, “Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” And this is his second call of a man of God, not only to be a man in the community, but to be a man of God, to be a man of faith in Christ in your marriage. And we could say from that to be a man of faith in relationship with other women. Peter is calling the scattered church to walk before the watching world in a Christ-like manner. He has addressed the issue of submission to government, he's addressed the issue of submission to rulers and masters, and now he comes to marriage. Now Peter has commanded wives to submit through respect to the God-given headship of the husband. But he's calling the men here to submit to the role of being a husband. It remind me so much of Ephesians 5:25 where we read, “husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
A number of years ago in Chattanooga I was doing pre-marital counseling and I remember specially this couple and dealing with this passage. And so I had talked to the young lady about surrendering her life — “Will you take this man's name and surrender your life to this man?” And we talked about what submission meant — sweet surrender to this husband who loves you, who's your husband to be. And then I turned to this young man and I said, “You know the Bible says you’re going to have to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Now son” — he was a young man. I said, “Now son, how did Christ do that?” And this young man from the back of the mountain he said, “Well preacher, He died for the church.” And I said, “Well that's right son. Now what does that mean for you in relationship to this young lady who's going to be your wife?” He said, “Preacher, if a Mac-truck ever comes and tries to run down my wife I'm going to throw myself in front of that Mac-truck and I’ll take the hit for her.” There was a pause, and then the young lady said, “You know honey, I haven't had too many Mac-trucks running after me, but I wonder if you could give up deer hunting for just one season.” All I could think was touché, and then I thought, “You’re going to be preaching that in Jackson, Mississippi. You’d better make sure you say it's okay to deer hunt.”
But I wanted him to see, Peter is wanting the congregation there to see, all of your strength, everything that God has given you…in a chivalry charged way to just prostrate yourself before her in this world so she can … hold her up and her feet and you hold her up and you honor her and you study her, literally to husband, to cultivate. Are you doing that with your wives, praying for her and focusing on her, lifting her up in your heart and lifting her up in your prayers? “Oh dear heavenly Father, Lord, bless my wife, this crowning achievement of all of Your creation, this woman. Lord use everything that You've given me, this strength, this place in the community, everything I have to lift her up” really is what God is saying to us. Consider it and intentional and thoughtful in the way that we relate to them, to the weaker partner. Of course he's meaning the male is physically larger, a stronger creature, but he's really showing from this that the Biblical view of manhood requires us to transform our strength, protection and nurture. It's in no way demeaning. It's simply speaking to the physical stature and saying the physical stature that God has given you is really a metaphor for what you’re to do in all of your life, in the spiritual life. You’re to life her up. Exalt her. She's a gift to you, the Bible says, to you. And I would say, young men, that is the way you are to relate. That is what God is calling us to do. And in fact if we don't do that, the Bible says that particularly in a relationship between husbands and wives that our prayers are interrupted. And yet so many will walk out today and go to lunch and go live their lives and be together and yet there will be no beautiful connection. The husband will not be giving his life for his wife or prioritizing her.
There once was a travelling salesman and this man had trouble with living this truth out. In fact, he was always quarreling and fighting with his wife. He belittled her, constantly put her down. And another trip was coming up, and so he was packing up and leaving. The whole time he's packing up the suitcase and getting ready to walk out the door they’re arguing because he really hasn't been loving and taking care of his wife the way the Lord calls us to do. And generally when he would walk out and slam the door and put the car in reverse and begin to back out of the driveway he would look and she would kind of pull the curtain and look out and at least there was a glimmer of love or sympathy or beauty of marriage in that one act. But that day as he pulled out he didn't see the curtain move so he peeled out and left the subdivision and began heading west. He was calling in west Texas making sales calls. And he pulls into this little café that you find all over west Texas and he slams in there — the dust all whipped up — and he walks into the café, plops down at a counter, and the waitress walks up and says, “Can I help you sir?” And he just says, “Coffee.” “Okay.”
While she's gone to get his coffee, he looks up and there he sees a cowpoke. He had obviously been out working — he was filthy. But next to this cowpoke, and this cowpoke is just kind of leaning in, absorbing this picture before him, and it was this beautiful young woman in a blue polka-dot dress. And it was not just that he was looking at the beautiful young woman in the blue polka-dot dress, in his mind as they were laughing, as he observed them embracing and stroking each others’ arms and holding hands, in his mind he began to think, “I'm the cowboy and my wife…” “Sir, here's your coffee. Oh I see you’re looking at them. Yeah, they come in here about every week. They’re married. And that old cowpoke brings her in every week. This is kind of their date you might day and they act like that every time they come in here and others look at them just the way you’re looking at them.” And he straightened himself up as if he wasn't looking. And she said, “Oh I knew you were looking because that is a pretty sight, isn't it?”
And just about that time the cowpoke got up and got up out of his chair and he picked up the girl in the blue polka-dot dress into his arms. And the traveling salesman who had had problems with his own marriage and was imagining what his own life might be if he were acting like the cowpoke looks at this guy picking up this girl in the blue polka-dot dress, his wife, and all of a sudden her skirt is swept away as he picks her up and he sees her legs and it's then that he gasps. And the waitress even reaches over and grabs his shoulder because what he saw were steel braces and leather. What he saw was a crippled woman. And the cowboy picked her up and brought her outside and he went to his old truck parked right outside. He could see through the window. And he opened the truck door and he put his wife in the driver's seat and then nudged her over just a little bit, but his arm around her as if they were college sweethearts, and that truck went off with the dust flying into the sunset. And the waitress said, “You know the funny thing about it is she can't walk without him; he can't live without her. What do you think about…” and that traveling salesman was out the door — east. This is what God wants. A real man is a man who treats women with honor and dignity and respect - would that we would go home today with that vision.
The Bible also calls us to be men of faith in fatherhood and that is what it is to quit ye like a man. If you turn back to our reading from Ephesians 6 you will see in Ephesians 6 verse 4 that we're not to provoke — or we could use the word exasperate — our children. Instead we are to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. So there is both a warning as well as a direction. The warning is not to exasperate them. Let your children be children. Let your boys be boys. Let your girls be girls. Not too long ago I was at a soccer field and I was watching as a little 6 year old boy — a dad — was focused on his son and this dad was really into the game. His 6 year old son was having just a great time just lollygagging around the field. The ball was over there but he was just kind of chasing a frog or something on the side of the field. And I watched as that dad stripped down that 6 year old boy, exasperate him.
How does God deal with you when you’re not on the ball? Does He strip you down? No, my beloved, He sent His only begotten Son to live the life that you couldn't live and to die a death that should have been yours. Your heavenly Father loves you. He does not exasperate you or provoke you, but He woes you with His love. Yes, there is that strength, but there's that velvet hand working together. You see, all of this is pointing together not just to as to how we should be great dads and great husbands, it is really pointing men to how we should be imitating the Lord Jesus Christ. It is pointing everyone — man, woman, and child — about how we are to receive and understand the grace of the Lord Jesus and then reflect that to others in our lives. And my beloved, if you have not received the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, if you have not received His saving grace, then today is the day to do that, to receive by faith what Christ has already done for you, to appropriate that victory on the Cross in your own life, that gentle, bold, strong act.
Yes there's a warning but also a direction to train them up. Not too long ago I re-read a poem which was a favorite of mine. I don't have the time to read it all. It's Robert Burns, “The Cotter's Saturday Night.” A cotter is simply someone who lives in a cottage and so “The Cotter's Saturday Night” was written by Robert Burns to describe what he believed was the glory of Scotland at the time that he wrote it, why she was the most prosperous nation producing great men and women of science and industry and the arts and letters and it begins by speaking about that Saturday night this way — “The priest like father” — he went on to describe a light — “but the light in the cotter's house where he gathered his children…” How lovely it is when a father or a single mother, as my Aunt Eva did, gathers us.
I said I remember being in my Aunt Eva's lap and her reading Bible story books and I remember her voice connected to the page and my head was against her breast where I heard her heart beating — her heart, closeness. Would there not be revival in your heart, would not your children rise up to call… Well, let me just say that all of this is going to require the model of a man. 1 Timothy 2:5 calls Jesus Christ “the Man, Christ Jesus.” Quit ye like men causes us to say, “I want a vision of this manhood” and the one that is given to us is Jesus Christ. And Paul shows the humanity of our Lord and sinful and fallen mans needs redemption. Every dad here is imperfect, every one of us has sinned, every husband is not the husband we ought to be, and yes there are single moms here, and yes there are children who have now grown and they’re fifty and sixty years old and they’re still holding in their hearts a resentment against their dad for not being this kind of dad, but this morning Christ moves among us to call us to Himself and to look up and to see the Man Christ Jesus. The Man Christ Jesus — He stood before the community. He was a man of the community. He stood before His own people and said “This passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” He went a preaching. He declared the Word of God. The Man Christ Jesus, though He did not marry, He showed tenderness and gentility as He forgave a woman caught in adultery, as He studied the heart of a woman and entered the world of the Samaritan woman at the well. He's a Man like none other. The Man Christ Jesus, though He hung from a cruel cross, bravely ministered to His earthly family and what a tender picture it is that the Man Christ Jesus looks down at the very time when His Father had abandoned Him, when He would cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” when He would experience all the pain and torment that maybe some of you feel in your own hearts, where He would go to the extremity of abandonment, and yet there He would look down and He would say, “Woman, behold thy son. Man, behold…”
What man is like Jesus? What man would give his life for those who cursed Him? What man, though He created the world and all that is in it, would yield Himself up to death by the evil hands of His own creation in order to redeem that creation from sin? Show me such a man. He picks you up and He died for you, claims you as His Spirit moves in you.
Will you stand to sing as we sing number 644? Let us sing the first and last only of “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.”
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our heavenly Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.
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