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Saturday, February 28, 2009


For as long as I could remember, I had believed in the doctrine of a “seven year tribulation”. But when I discovered that such an idea was foreign to the Bible, I began to realize that serious students of the Bible must have some objective “benchmarks” by which to know what was a scriptural doctrine and what was not. It was not long after this that the Lord directed my thoughts to three passages of scripture which I have come to believe provide 3 simple tests by which to know the difference between scriptural and unscriptural doctrines.

Psalm 12:6 says “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Proverbs 30:5 and 6 say, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar.”

I Corinthians 2:13 says, “Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

There are doubtless other good scriptural tests of sound doctrine, but these three have been of invaluable help to me. As I consider any doctrine which I hold or any doctrine which I encounter, I simply ask three questions…
(1) Can this doctrine be stated in the pure words of scripture?
(2) Can this doctrine be stated without any words which are additional to scripture?
(3) Can this doctrine be stated in words which the Holy Ghost teaches or must it be stated in words which man’s wisdom teaches?

It was then that I began applying these three simple tests to many doctrines which I had embraced. I was amazed to realize that many of them simply did not pass any one of these tests!

I’m sure you would agree with me that the doctrine of “purgatory” is not a scriptural doctrine! Why not? Because it is simply not found in the words of scripture, it must be stated in words that are additional to scripture and it can only be stated in words which man’s wisdom teaches because it has never been framed in words which the Holy Spirit teaches!

So too, for the very same reason, the doctrine of infant baptism is not a scriptural doctrine.

But what of the doctrines of “the imminent or any moment return of Christ” and the “pre-tribulation rapture”? Do either of these pass the scriptural tests above? If they do, I have yet to find the place in scripture which teaches either one!

But consider with me two simple statements of scripture which deny the imminence of Christ’s return from heaven…
Acts 3:20 &21 say, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
II Thess.2:1-4 say, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or troubled, neither by spirit, not by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;..”
Both of these scripture clearly teach that certain things must happen before the day of the Lord Jesus’ return can come.

What of the “pre-tribulation rapture” doctrine? It tells us that the Lord Jesus' coming is actually in two stages: (1) He comes in the air for his saints and then returns to heaven. Then (2) after the seven year tribulation is over he comes to the earth with His saints.

Certainly, I Thess.4:13-18 tells us that saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, but nowhere in scripture can one find what I call the “U-Turn doctrine”, i.e. that the Lord Jesus meets us in the air and then takes a u-turn and returns to heaven with us! It just isn’t in the Book! Nor is there a verse of scripture that teaches us that he will come in the clouds prior to the tribulation!

Again, without any explanation, the very words of scripture tell us the exact opposite!
Matt.24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Those who believe in the pre-trib rapture also believe that the rapture is the time when they will at last rest from their troubles and experience the redemption of their bodies. It is true that our rest and the redemption of our bodies will happen when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, but when does scripture teach us to expect our rest and the redemption of our bodies? Before or after the tribulation? I simply let scripture speak for itself…

Luke 21:25-28, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

II Thessalonians 1:3-10 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

So I think you can see that the three tests above will very simply show whatever doctrines are NOT scriptural doctrines and simple statements of scripture will demonstrate scriptural doctrines.

It is by this objective means that I came to reject the doctrines of imminence and the pre-trib rapture. Can you imagine that it was not a post tribulationist who convinced me but rather a dispensational pre-tribulationist’s Bible study which failed to adhere to dispensational principles of interpretation??!!

In my next post, I hope to demonstrate that the guiding principles of dispensationalism (which I mentioned yesterday) are excellent principles to go by. But, in my view, it has been failure to follow those principles in their end-times teachings which has lead dispensationalists into error in those teachings!

Sir Robert Anderson's "THE COMING PRINCE" Examined

While my observations of the way that dispensationalists approached Daniel chapter 9 had greatly shaken my confidence in their end-times scheme of things, I was not yet ready to reject them entirely without further examination of the writings of prominent dispensational writers. Having listened for years to dispensational teaching on the end-times, I had often heard Sir Robert Anderson’s book, “THE COMING PRINCE” being highly recommended as “the standard volume in the field of the classic interpretation of the book of Daniel.” Dispensational preachers among the Baptists and those among the “brethren”, although they could not agree with one another on many things, are all agreed on at least one thing, that Anderson’s book is “the standard” volume in this field of study!

So I determined not to make any final decision regarding the “seven year tribulation” and related teachings until I had carefully read and evaluated “The Coming Prince”. I’d heard that Anderson claimed that it could be demonstrated that the time between Cyrus’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the crucifixion of Christ was exactly 483 years or 69 “weeks” of 7 years calculated to the very day!

I really did not want to throw over all that I had been taught regarding the end times, so I was hoping that Anderson would prove me wrong and enable me to honestly “return to the fold” of classic dispensational end-times teachings. So I purposed to read his entire book and follow all of his explanations and mathematical calculations with my own calculator. If what he taught was accurate and reliable, I wanted to be able to explain it clearly to others.

As I read “THE COMING PRINCE”, I also took note of the author’s own principles of interpretation which he detailed and then I wanted to make sure that he was indeed consistent with his own stated principles of interpretation of Biblical prophecies. At least 5 specific principles of interpretation of prophecies are given in the book. But before I had finished reading the book, I found that Robert Anderson violated every single one of his own stated principles! But worse than that, calculations which he claimed were exact and left no room for looseness were often found to be far from accurate!

By the time I was finished reading “THE COMING PRINCE”, I was disgusted! Everything I had previously read about Robert Anderson lead me to believe that he was a godly man, a faithful Bible student and a meticulous mathematician. But simply doing all of his calculations after him and comparing his methods with his own stated principles convinced me that, at least on the subject of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, Robert Anderson had not handled scripture honestly. Rather, he had knowingly deceived his readers! He had very evidently approached scripture with a pre-conceived idea in his mind and was determined to teach that notion regardless of what scripture actually said for itself! He knew that few, if any, of his readers would “check up” on all his calculations as I had purposed to do. And, as I have spoken and written, about my own findings, to many teachers who hold Anderson in high regard….not one of these men, of which I am aware, have believed me or gone back to personally check his calculations after him! There is one basic reason for that general unwillingness of dispensational teachers to investigate the truthfulness of the author of their standard volume…Someone put it this way, “It is next to impossible to get a man to doubt something when his very livelihood depends upon his believing it!”

When I realized that the standard volume which was the foundation of dispensationalists’ end-times teaching was not one which could be trusted, I realized that the end-times teaching of that system could not be trusted either! Since the “seven year tribulation doctrine” was not a scriptural doctrine, I had to ask, “What about the pre-tribulation rapture teaching that goes hand in hand with it? And what about the doctrine of the imminence of Christ’s return?”

I began to wonder, “How many doctrines have I embraced and taught to others which are not clearly taught by the scriptures themselves, but may in fact be contrary to them?

It was a most distressing time in my life, but I knew that I must get to the bottom of these matters if I was ever to be able to honestly teach the scripture to others again! It was about this time in my journey when the Lord directed my thoughts to 3 key passages of scripture which have given me three “benchmarks” by which to evaluate every doctrine which I believe and teach to others. Applying those benchmarks eventually required that I reject a number of doctrines which I had embraced as “convictions” for years. But I must wait until the next post to share with you what those scripture are and what radical changes they would still require in my own beliefs!

(P.S. My evaluation of “THE COMING PRINCE” by comparing the author’s methods to his own stated principles of interpretation of prophecy comprises 5 typewritten pages. I will be happy to send that article to anyone who desires to read it and check out the facts for themselves. You can simply leave a comment below or email me at to request it.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My End-Times Views: Weighed and Found Wanting!

While most of the posts on this blog recount how particular people have challenged and changed my thinking, I will seek to show in this post or series of posts how a ministry which encourages Bible Study was used to radically challenge and change my views about end-time events.

But first, some background…. I was raised in a home and church background where I was taught a “dispensational” view of the scriptures and of end-times events. Dispensationalists believe that the Bible should be understood literally, plainly, or normally and that things which differ should be clearly distinguished and not confused, i.e. Israel, the nations and the church should be distinguished because they comprise different groups of people. They believe that prophesies of scripture are fulfilled literally.

Regarding end-times events, dispensationalists believe in:
(1) the imminent return of Christ, i.e. that no prophecy of scripture must yet be fulfilled before Christ returns.
(2) a 7 year time of tribulation before Christ comes to earth to reign in righteousness for 1000 years,
(3) a pre-tribulation rapture of the church, i.e. that before the tribulation begins, the Lord will come from heaven to the clouds and that believers in the Lord Jesus (those who have already died and those who are yet alive) will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and then go to heaven and will remain there until after the 7 years of tribulation.

I had been taught these things as long as I could remember, I was trained at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a school which held these views, served with Berean Mission which was dispensational in its’ theology, and for many years we enjoyed fellowship with believers in brethren assemblies which also embraced the dispensational view of the scriptures. Then, in the late 1990’s, Judy and I were privileged to be part of a Bible study group with a number of other couples. We enjoyed doing quite a number of book studies (Philemon, Philippians, II Timothy, II Peter and Jude) using studies prepared by “Precept Ministries” of Chattanooga. “Precept” is also a ministry which is soundly dispensational in its’ theology.

All of those Precept studies had taught us the inductive method of Bible study, i.e. we were taught to observe the text of scripture by asking the basic questions, “Who?”, “What?”, “Where?’, “Why?”, “When?” and “How?” and to find our answers to each of those questions in the very words of the text we were studying. Thus we were taught to find out exactly what scripture SAID. We were also encouraged NOT to go to commentaries until after we had observed the text, answered the basic questions from the text and thus knew what scripture said for itself. Then, when we at last consulted commentaries, it was not to evaluate the scriptures by the commentaries, but rather the reverse! We were taught to evaluate what various commentators had written by what scripture (the authoritative standard) had said! Thus the consistent practice we were taught in each chapter of every book study published by “Precept” was to observe the text, find out what it SAYS and don’t let any commentary tell you, “The text says this, but it really means that!”

At this point in my life, I was confident that I could clearly explain from the Bible all of my end-times views except for the “7 year tribulation”. I was a little “fuzzy” in my thinking on this and was not sure I could explain it clearly to someone else from the Bible. So when it was suggested that our next Precept study be on the Book of Daniel, I was very enthusiastic! I knew that our teaching on “the tribulation” came from Daniel 9 and Daniel’s prophecy of “Seventy Weeks”. So I was sure that, by the end of this study, I would be crystal clear in my understanding of the 7 year tribulation. But I was just about to experience one of the greatest surprises of my life!

For the first eight and a half chapters of the Book of Daniel, the “Precept” approach was the same as that to which we had grown accustomed in all our other “Precept” studies: -observe the text, -find answers to your basic questions in the words of the text, and –don’t let commentators tell you what the text means UNTIL you know what the text says.

BUT….when we got to the last portion of Daniel 9 which deals with Daniel’s 70 weeks, the writer of the “Precept” study notes was already telling us (before we had been encouraged to actually look up the word "weeks" for ourselves) why Daniel could not have really meant what he said when he wrote “weeks”! Then followed a commentary on the text explaining why Daniel really meant something other than what he’d said! I immediately “smelled a rat” so to speak! I wondered, "Why are the principles of inductive Bible study which we have been learning and applying consistently, in many other books of the Bible and in the first 8 chapters of Daniel,….why cannot these same principles be applied in the latter portion of Daniel 9?? Why could we not continue to apply the principles of literal, normal, plain interpretation of scripture to this one chapter of the Bible as we’d been taught with all the rest??"

The “Precept” commentary on Daniel 9:24-27 taught us that Daniel’s word “weeks” did not really mean normal weeks of seven days, but really meant “sevens” and that it could mean “sevens of days”, “sevens of months” or “sevens of years”!!! So I checked out the Hebrew word, “SHEBUAH” which was translated “weeks” in Daniel 9 and found that in all twenty places where it was found in scripture it was used consistently of a week, a period of seven normal days! Nowhere in scripture is it ever used as the numeral “seven” in connection with any other unit of time but “days”, i.e. “seven days”! Not only had the writers of the Precept course deviated from the standard “Precept” practice, but they had actually lied to us about the usage of this particular Hebrew word!!

So I was even more determined to find out for myself what the scriptures taught about the “seven year tribulation”. So I did a simple word study searching for the words “seven years” and “tribulation”. To say that I was ASTOUNDED at what I found would be an understatement! I could not believe my eyes when I learned that scripture NEVER ONCE refers to such an expression or such an event!!!

You can imagine my consternation at this discovery after having been taught the doctrine of the “seven year tribulation” all my life by many men whom I had looked up to, respected, admired and followed. Those men included my own grandfather and many other well known Bible teachers, pastors professors and writers. For a while, my mind and heart were filled with anger, bitterness and resentment towards these men whom I had trusted, respected and followed. Rather than teaching me the truth they had actually taught me falsehood when they taught regarding the “seven year tribulation”! But the Lord soon “brought me up short” with a gentle but very firm reproof, “Bruce, you have no one to blame but yourself! You did not follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:11!…You “received with all readiness of mind” what these men taught you , BUT you did NOT “search the scriptures daily whether these things were so”!

So I had to acknowledge to the Lord that I could not blame anyone else, that I had no right to be angry and bitter towards anyone in this matter and that I must accept responsibility for my own deception as I, personally, had failed to test this teaching by the standard of scripture!

I am fully convinced that the vast majority of men who teach the "seven year tribulation" do so for the same reasons I believed it for many years....they believed the writers and teachers who taught them but failed to search the scriptures carefully for themselves!

This was the beginning of the shaking up of my convictions relative to the events of end-times prophesy. But it was by no means the end! In a few short weeks the “applecart” of my thinking on end-times events was to be upset forever! (I must continue in another post!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

THE GREATEST OBJECTION to this view of divorce and remarriage

As I have had opportunity to share teaching on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in a number of different contexts over the last few years, many objections have been presented to me. To many people, these objections seem to indicate that this view is either unscriptural, unworkable or just plain heartless!

This particular objection has been expressed to me by dozens of people but was perhaps put most clearly by a sister who wrote many times with questions and comments on the divorce problem. In one letter she wrote as follows: " divide a home where two people have children and reside lovingly in harmony, although one is divorced, is confusing to me and to a watching world..."

In reality, this objection is asking, "How could this be God's way when a loving relationship will be torn apart, the lives of children will be deeply affected and the world will be watching and observing the consequences???"

My response to that particular comment was as follows: "...After receiving your letter yesterday and reading it a number of times, I went to bed last night pondering your question and asking the Lord for something from His Word that would deal specificly with fathers and mothers and children affected by such a split. I awoke a number of times in the night thinking about Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. Gen.21:9-14 records the first divorce in the Bible (it was commanded by God). A father, in obedience to God and no doubt with a broken heart, sent away a wife (Gen.16:3) and his first son.

There are 2 other cases in scripture where divorce was commanded and children were involved: In Ezra's day, 113 Israelite men were commanded by God to put away their strange wives and also the children they had by them.See Ezra 9 & 10 and especially 10:44. Also Matt14:3-11 and Mark 6:14-29 we read of John the baptizer calling on Herod to put away Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. That relationship also involved Herodias' daughter. Let's consider these three cases and see what encouragement we can draw from scripture for those who face this very situation:

A.Notice how readily men responded in each case to the revealed will of God:
-when tested regarding Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham responded immediately. Gen.21:14 "early in the morning". This was also Abraham's response when tested years later regarding offering up Isaac. See Gen.22:3.

-In the matter of putting away strange wives in Ezra's day- 3 days were taken to consider the matter. They agreed to obey but gave 4 excuses for delay. Then 10 days later they began and took 90 days to complete the matter. See Ezra 9 and 10 especially 10:8-17. Thus they took 103 days to obey the Lord. In that time 113 men put away strange wives and also the children they had by those marriages.

-Herod was reproved by John regarding Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. He was told, "It is not lawful for thee to have her." Matt.14:4 and Mark 6:17,18. But Herod never obeyed!

Thus we see the contrasts: immediate obedience, delayed obedience and outright disobedience.

B.Notice the effects of obedience or disobedience to God's directives:
Will obedience to God ever be detrimental? Will disobedience to God ever be beneficial?

(1)What were the effects upon Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael as a result of Abraham's obedience? In spite of heart-wrenching difficulties for all (Gen.21:11,15,16) obedience brought blessing:
-for the father............A PROMISE v.13
-for the mother..........A PROMISE v.18
-for the son.................PROVISION v.19
-for mother and son..PROSPERITY, PRESERVATION AND A PARTNER v.20,21
-for all.........................PROMISES OF GOD WERE FULFILLED: PROGENY Gen.25:12-16
Furthermore, all the time that Hagar spent in Abraham's encampment, she never once had a personal encounter with Abraham's God!!! Only when she left, did God reveal Himself to her!!! See Gen.16:6-14 and 21:17-20. God has promised to be a Father to the fatherless and a judge to the widow! Psalm 68:5

(2)What were the effects upon the men of Ezra's day and upon the wives and children which were put away? (Ezra does not mention these things, but other scriptures teach how God deals with those who confess and forsake their sins:)
-redirection of sons to honor the true God (sons who formerly had served other gods.) See Deut.7:1-8 -removal of the curses promised by God for disobedience: Ezra 10:14. See the curses: Deut.28:15-68; Ex.20:5; 34:7; Num.14:18; Deut.5:9 and also Haggai 2:15-19 -reinstatement of the blessings of God promised for obedience: Deut.28:1-14. See also Solomon's prayer in I Kings 8:33-40.

(3)What were the effects of disobedience upon Herod, Herodias and her daughter?
-disdain for divine reproof
: Herod imprisons John. Matt.14:3,4
-desire to silence divine reproof is restrained in Herod: "When (Herod) would have put (John) to death, he feared the multitude for they counted him as a prophet." Matt.14:5
-desire to silence divine reproof is still restrained in Herodias: "Herodias had a quarrel against (John), and would have killed him; but she could not for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and a holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things and heard him gladly." Mark 6:19,20
-divine reproof is silenced in the daughter: "I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the baptist." Mark 6:24

When divine reproof is continually rejected, the conscience is hardened, the reproofs are removed and (in God's time) judgment falls. See Gen.6:3; Proverbs 29:1; Heb.13:4; I Cor.11:30,31; Heb.12:5-11

What lessons can we learn from all of this? What are the blessings which flow from obedience at any cost? What are the consequences that follow disobedience against all restraints?
1. Great blessing always follows great obedience. "Them that honor me, I will honor..." I Sam.2:30; Ps.37; Matt.6:33; Prov.3:5,6; Phil.4:6-9
Specificly, see the blessings promised in Matt.19:29; Mark 10:29,30 and Luke 18:29,30 for a man who forsakes HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN for the name of Christ, for the Gospel, or for the kingdom of heaven's sake. (What other situation in all of scripture would require a man to do so, other than a marriage that was defiled from the very start??) Leaving one's wife and children for weeks, months or even years on end for the sake of "one's ministry" is often viewed as a commendable sacrifice! But such a practice is clearly forbidden by scripture! (I Cor.7:3-5) The only exception to this is for mutually agreed upon PRAYER AND FASTING! And, of course, the time is limitted by the time one can actually spend praying and fasting!!!

2.Repentance toward God always brings restoration to God and blessings on others. Ex.20:6; 34:6,7; Num.14:18; Deut.5:10; Prov.28:13 etc

3.Rebellion against God and reproofs from His prophets, His Word, His Spirit, His servants and from one's own conscience can only result in judgment. Heb.13:4; Prov.29:1 etc.

4.Matt.6:22,23 teaches the great truth that light received brings greater light, but light rejected brings darkness! Oh, that we might always seek to be sensitive and obedient to the light we have received!

I'll conclude this lengthy answer re. the consequences of separating a marriage which is characterized by marital fornication (incest, sodomy, adultery and/or polygamy) with the consideration of I John 5:3...

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous."
Many of us, before we got saved, feared the consequences (as most unsaved still do!): "It will be the end of all my fun!", "I'd never be happy again!", "I couldn't get along without being able to do this or that!". Even as Christians, we sometimes do not obey the Word because we think the cost will be too great, or because we are convinced that God really doesn't know what's best for us! WE HAVE BELIEVED SATAN'S LIES THAT SOME OF GOD'S COMMANDS ARE VERY GRIEVOUS!!! We need, rather, to side with God, call Satan what God calls him, A LIAR (JOHN 8:44), choose to obey God whatever the apparent costs may be, and leave the results to Him.

In Daniel 3:17,18 (Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego choosing obedience to God in spite of facing the flames of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace) we find the proof of the truth expressed in this little poem,

"He knows, He loves, He cares!
Let not your hope grow dim;
God always gives His best to those...
Who leave the choice to Him."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sorting out Confusion of Numerous Marital Relationships

If this is your first time reading my blog in awhile - I would urge you, before reading this post, to read the series of posts previous to this starting with "Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage (1)" on Friday January 23rd. Without that background, this post will not make any sense and will most certainly be misunderstood!

This post is for those who have read the previous posts and wonder how folks can ever make any sense out of confused marital situations in which many find themselves today. I trust that this will help those who have only been married once as well as those who may have been married, divorced and remarried numerous times to know just where they stand and what scriptural guidance applies to them where they are.

The following article is NOT for one who wishes to tell someone else what to do! It is strictly for those who desires to know and do the will of God in their own situation. The questions asked below CANNOT be answered on someone else's behalf so please do not try!

I am deeply concerned for folks who have married without knowing what kinds of relationships God judges and what kind He joins. But in my estimation, it is this ignorance which has lead to an extremely high rate of marriage failure in our society. But I am thoroughly convinced that there is always a righteous remedy available to any person who is willing to obey God. While obedience to God is always costly right on the front end, obedience to God always pays rich dividends of blessing in the long run. By way of contrast, disobedience to God is always the easiest thing to do at the beginning but the costs and consequences of disobedience also multiply in the long term!

So here is the questionaire:

I. FOUNDATIONAL UNDERSTANDING: Do you understand and can you clearly explain the six scriptural features which characterize each and every marriage which God joins? Do you understand and can you clearly explain how a marriage which God judges can be distinguished from one which He joins? If you cannot clearly explain these from Matthew 19 and Genesis 2 the rest of the questionaire will be pointless. Please review these things in the previous posts until they are clear in your own mind.

II. YOUR HEART'S MOTIVATION: Have you purposed in your heart that obedience to God is your number one priority, regardless of what it may cost you in the end? If you are willing to do His will whatever He reveals to you, you have the guarantee of the Lord that you will know His will. (John 7:17) However, if any are simply seeking for information in order to justify and maintain their current status and are unwilling to change if obedience requires it, the Lord assumes no obligation to teach them anything. (see Mark 11:27-33)

III.LIST THE FOLLOWING BASIC INFORMATION REGARDING ALL MARRIAGES IN WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN A SPOUSE: (This information is not for anyone else's eyes but your own unless you voluntarily choose to share it with another. The purpose of this list is to simply allow you to see the facts and be able to evaluate them in the presence of God.)

A. First Marriage:
1. Date of marriage:_________
2. Name of spouse:______________________
3. Kind of marriage at its very commencement: (circle one) divinely joined marriage or
divinely judged marriage.
4. If it was a divinely judged marriage, circle the perversion(s) which characterized the relationship between you and your spouse at its very commencement. (bestiality, sodomy, incest, adultery, polygamy)
5. If a divorce was obtained relative to this marriage, date of the divorce:____________
6. If the spouse of this marriage has died, date of death: ____________

Record all the same information for any and all subsequent marriages i.e. B. Second Marriage, C.Third Marriage etc.

1. Since death effectively terminates any marriage relationship, draw a large "X" through the record of any marriage above in which the spouse has died.
2. Since marriages which God judges are not joined by him but only by legal process of men, draw a large "X" through the record of any divinely judged marriage for which a legal divorce has been obtained.

The remaining record(s) will indicate the current marital situations which must be considered and dealt with. If according to your records above, there is a divinely joined marriage remaining, even if a divorce has been obtained in respect of that marriage, this marriage bond cannot be dissolved by anything but the death of one of the spouses. (Romans 7:1-3)

If there is a divinely judged marriage (or marriages) remaining, your information given at #'s 3 and 4 with respect to that marriage (or those marriages) will indicate the kind(s) of fornication for which that relationship has been judged by God and the reason(s) for which it is to be terminated and forsaken. The scriptures never counsel or permit spouses to sever a divinely joined marriage on account of an immoral relationship of one of the spouses outside of that marriage! The remedy for any immoral relationship is the severing of the immoral relationship, itself! Thus the "fornication exception" in Matthew 19:9 deals specifically with a marriage which, itself, is characterized by fornication from its commencement. i.e. bestiality,incest, sodomy, adultery or polygamy. (Polygamy is a common, legal and socially acceptable form of marital fornication in some countries. Adultery has become a common, legal and socially acceptable form of marital fornication in our own society. In recent years, following the same trend, we have witnessed sodomy becoming a common, legalized and socially acceptable form of marital fornication in our own society. So unless this trend is arrested, do not be surprised when incest and bestiality also become common, legal and socially acceptable forms of marital fornication as God and His Word, the Bible are abhorred more and more!!!!!

As we have seen in previous posts, marriages which God has joined form "no more twain unions". Thus when people seek "legal divorces" from such unions they utterly fail to sever the bond which God has joined. One scriptural example demonstrates this clearly: neither Herod's and Herodias' respective divorces nor their remarriage to each other succeeded in severing the marriage bond between Herodias and her husband, Herod's brother Philip. That is why John the baptizer reproved Herod with the words, "It is not lawful for thee to have her" (whom God referred to as, "his brother Philip's wife" .)Matthew 14:3,4

So if you are yet a spouse in a divinely joined marriage but are divorced from that spouse and married to another, obedience to God requires fleeing fornication which will mean terminating such a marriage which is judged of God.
I Cor.6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers (fornicators) and adulterers God will judge.

Your options of obedience to God regarding the spouse of your divinely joined marriage are two:
(1) remaining unmarried or
(2) being reconciled.
I Cor.7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

If there is no divinely joined marriage remaining, you are free to remain single or to remarry (Romans 7:3; I Cor.7:39,40) provided that such a marriage would be joined of God and would not join a believer and an unbeliever (II Cor.6:14)

I am fully aware that what I am teaching here is not at all a popular position, although I am convinced that it is thoroughly Biblical. So I am also well aware of many common objections to this position but am also convinced that the scriptures have adequate answers to all such objections. Therefore I'll deal with the major objections to this view in my next blog post. (To be continued....)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage (7) Beth Cole's Recent Testimony

In this post, I'm departing from my usual plan for this blog (chronicling ways in which other people have influenced my life and changed my thinking). Rather, today I am posting an account which I just received which illustrates and exemplifies many of the principles regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage which I have embraced and have been recounting in previous posts, i.e. ...
-Marriages which God joins are for life and are not ended by anything but death.
-When unfaithfulness to one's spouse mars a marriage, the remedy is not ending the marriage, but rather repentance by terminating the adulterous relationship, and forgiveness.
- When a couple whom God has joined are divorced, they are to remain that way or be reconciled. Remarriage to another is not an option for either.
- Such spouses can be scripturally reconciled and should be.

My last post recounted one woman's experience in a marriage which was judged by God, her divorce from that marriage and how she found that she was free to enter into a marriage which God would join. But this post chronicles a marriage which God joined which went so sour that the husband and wife were divorced, but also recounts how that same couple experienced the grace of God, reconciliation and eventually remarriage to each other! Please be warned... this is a very long post! (About 16 pages in 12pt script) So if you don't have time to read it all at this time, here are two options which might help you: (1) You can simply "cut and paste" the entire account from my blog into your word processing program and then read it at your own leisure, or (2) You can scroll down to the end of this post, click on the "envelope" icon and email yourself (or anyone else) the link to this post so you can quickly return here to read it when you do have the time. But however you choose to read it, I know you will be challenged and encouraged as you do!

So without further ado, here is Beth Cole's testimony in her own words.......

This is what happened. I wondered how to tell you my story, our story, a story that is true to the best of my memory. It’s a story of unrequited love, God’s unlimited love, Christ’s saving love and a miracle of reaffirmed love. A story of hope in a hopeless world, a story of faith and the lack of it, a story of wonders and miracles amidst failure and need, and security amidst chaos. I have learned that the Bible holds the answer to all of the questions in our lives and is infallible. In fact my first few words are directly quoted from the book of Esther in the Bible: “This is what happened”. My prayer is that this story will encourage many people to trust further the One Whom is worthy, the Lord Jesus Christ and the words in God’s love letter to us, the Holy Bible. “Indeed they say to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now! ” (Jeremiah 17:15) and “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. (Psalm 18:30).

This is what happened to me in my life. I was the middle child, the only girl. My two brothers and I weren’t raised in a Christian home but it was a loving home. My life was plenty full of positive influences such as family events, school, cottage life and negative elements such as TV, magazines and movies. I was loud, flirtatious, funny and immodest. I knew I was a liar. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that God clearly saw me for who I really was. He tells all about the “real me” in the Bible: “In his arrogance the wicked man… boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God…He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble. His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.” (Psalm 10:2-7)

In my later teens, my older brother, Brad, was “born again”, as he declared to our unbelieving family. We laughed at him, calling him “the religious fanatic”. If you had known him (and you didn't know the Lord) you’d have said the same. Parties and beer were mostly Brad’s thing. Suddenly, during a car accident, his life flashed before him. He told us that this woke him up, made him think about life and death. Brad became a Christian and “preached” that we were all going to hell if we didn’t repent. He said that there really was a God and that if we didn’t accept that Christ had died on the cross for sinners like us, we would never get to heaven. In hind sight, I see that Brad told me the truth. But my self-centred response was, “Get away from me!” Not long after, Brad got a job in Calgary, Alberta, on the other side of Canada. "Just far enough", I thought. With him out of the way, life got back to normal.

I moved to Ottawa to get my teaching degree and met Rob, my future husband. You might say that Rob “coincidently” got a job in Calgary (of all places) at the end of that summer and a year later we were married. Moving to this strange, new city of Calgary we basically knew no one but my “religious fanatic” brother. By now Brad’s fervor had mellowed a bit, although he was definitely still a Christian. He continued to speak to us about Christ but in a quieter way, letting his changed life and new-found joy speak to us. To our surprise, we found that we really enjoyed spending time with him and his girlfriend Linda (who would become his wife). They were so much fun. We went to the mountains snowshoeing, ice fishing and hiking. Brad took us out in his sailboat many times. We would laugh into the wee hours of the morning playing ridiculous card games. I look back now and see the Lord’s hand in so many things.

Rob and I decided to get married that next summer (1981). Our families were delighted. Our well-prepared dockside wedding at the cottage was "washed out" when the rain continued from the previous night throughout our wedding day. We had to go into a church in Washago to be married. It all worked out. Yes, twenty seven years ago, Rob and I said those vows that people say on their wedding day. Maybe we meant them. Maybe not. I think, not really. Neither one of us knew the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We were both twenty five years old and just having fun. We did love each other but things might change, who knew?

A few days later, Rob and I loaded up the pickup truck and headed for Alberta, back to our jobs. Rob had a steady job as an office manager in a window company and I had accepted a grade one teaching position at a Calgary school beginning in September.

“Coincidently”, my first teaching job in Calgary had me teaching with a young Christian woman, Helen, whose testimony would become yet another example of joy and sparkle. Within the first hour of meeting, on the day before school was to begin, Helen and I were talking, getting to know each other, while collecting school supplies from the school storage room.
"Where are you from?" Helen asked, knowing that no one was ever from Calgary in those "boom years". This was a time when the oil ran and the jobs were plentiful.
"Ontario" I replied vaguely.
"Where in Ontario?" she continued. I'm sure she was thinking, "They are all from Ontario. That's no surprise. Be more specific. I know a little geography."
"London, Ontario," I answered.
"I went out with a guy from London, Ontario, a few years ago…" Helen began.
"It's a really big city,” I interrupted. “There are 250 thousand people or something." I couldn't help liking her even though she obviously didn't know anything about the size of cities in my home province. She was so full of life or ….something.
Her face dropped when I cut her off. I apologized, "Go ahead. What was his name?"
"Brad Osborne" she said.
My mouth dropped open. She had to be putting me on.
"That's my brother!" I laughed.
It was her turn to look surprised. We became friends immediately.

Helen had been happily married to Paul for a year at this point. Rob and I spent many evenings and weekends with Helen and Paul. They were fun. Rob liked that. There was something so “different” about them. I liked that. I really wanted what they had. Not material things…but something. Brad and his fiancé, Linda, were to be married in January. These two couples, all Christians, became our closest friends. Months went by. Many evenings of long talks and some great dinners continued to convince me that there was something special about these people. Something that I desperately wanted. Rob enjoyed them but didn’t have the same attraction to them beyond the “fun”.

Looking back, I see God’s plan for my life in that move to Calgary. He gave Rob a job there so that I might follow him and (three years later) be “saved” there. Many years and much joy and pain would pass before God would move me back to Ontario.

I knew that Helen and Paul attended a Bible Study on Wednesday nights so every Thursday morning, before our grade ones arrived at school, I would want to know what the Christians had talked about. I was mostly interested to know why she had so much joy. I suppose it must have been hard for Helen to know what to tell me at first but soon she expected me in her classroom early on those Thursday mornings. She answered my questions. Soon enough, she and Paul introduced Rob and I to some of their Christian friends. To my surprise and delight, I found that they shared that same love of life.

Three years passed, during which time I began to read the Bible and attend the Wednesday night Bible Study as a "seeker". As God promises, "seek and you will find" (Mathew 7:7). To every difficult question I threw at these believers, they always opened their Bibles and found an answer. “Pat answers” were frowned on. “Prove it with the Bible", they would challenge one another. The translation they used was in language I could understand. I began with the paraphrased Living Bible. I later came to view my first Bible as a “TV Guide version”. But it had gotten me started because, honestly, I was a TV Guide person. Within a year, and on my own, I moved to a different translation that seemed more accurate. (I encourage Christians to consider these versions as good starting places for people who don’t know anything about Christ and are seeking for the truth. It’s like a child trying to read a text book before a simple reader or a picture book. Do we worry that the child will only desire picture books for the rest of his life? No. As a teacher, I know that they master the art of reading and want to move on to something more challenging. I moved on to the NIV version. It was in this version that God spoke to me over the next twenty years, sometimes in very profound ways. It is just in the last year that I have begun to enjoy the New King James Version.)

Many events were involved in my journey toward salvation. Listening to a speaker at a Christian Retreat, a Messianic Jew, had a huge impact on me. Also, that Wednesday night Bible Study group, their Bible and some of the chorus songs they would sing were warming my frozen soul. Taking little baby steps of trust were always rewarded with what I still call “miracles”. I was surprised by God’s interest in the little things of my life. One time I asked God to show me that He was really listening to me as we drove home from the dark, cloudy mountains. At the very moment I asked, the sun broke through the thick, grey clouds. The brilliance of that sun was breath-taking. Another time I was vacuuming in the living room of the little townhouse Rob and I lived in when first married. We had a rambunctious new puppy who couldn’t decide which it wanted to chew more, my leg or the vacuum. So it settled for both. I had company coming and was in a frenzy to get the house clean. I prayed, "God, are You big enough to get this dog to settle down?" As I finished those words, I picked up a cushion on the couch to vacuum under it and there was the dog's favourite chew toy. The puppy grabbed it and ran away to lie down totally absorbed for the next few hours. Was it possible that this God of Brad’s and Helen’s had interest in me and also a sense of humour?

I had no trouble recognizing myself as a sinner. I knew that I was a compulsive liar, had problems with unclean thoughts and controlling my anger and that I had broken more than one of the Ten Commandments. Even though I looked nice and neat on the outside, I had come to realize that my inside was not clean and I would have no place in heaven if I should die. I had now heard the words from the Bible which stated clearly “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There was my problem. I was a sinner. I knew it and now I knew that God knew it too. The Bible tells us that “every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Going to the Bible Studies made me aware of God’s standards and His expectations. I wasn’t going to get out of this even if I stopped my bad behaviour right away: “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) Then there were these words: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). My punishment would be death. But thankfully the solution was provided in the same breath, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) and “we are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in [Jesus’] blood.” (Romans 3:24,25). Jesus Christ was the only one who met God’s perfect standards. He never sinned or broke any of the commandments. God said of Him, “This is My Son in Whom I am well pleased.” So Jesus would, therefore, never die. No one could even kill Him. He did not earn the wages of sin, which was death. But, He chose to lay down His life in exchange for the lives of those who accepted Him as their Savior. Then He proved that He had the authority to save when He Himself was raised from the dead. The headaches that I felt after some of these Bible studies were monstrous and made me wonder if learning the truth was so foreign that it made my brain hurt.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior (the solution to my sin problem) while in our bedroom on an evening in March, 1984. Rob, Brad and Linda, were all there with me. I admitted that I was a sinner and that Christ had died for me. I realized that His death on the cross paid for my sin. “Salvation is found in no one else…we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) The northern lights put on quite a show that night. Linda said that the angels were rejoicing. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) What a Savior!

Now, I began to pray for Rob's salvation. I found this passage in the Bible: "And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife" (1 Corinthians 7:13). Rob showed no interest in the Lord at all but was willing to come to social events with the Christians. I prayed on. I did not go to a church but never missed the Wednesday night Bible Study meetings. Years went by. We had a son in 1986 and a daughter in 1988. They were precious to both of us. Rob was still not saved. I prayed on. I was baptized in a local indoor swimming pool. Rob brought the children to watch. Not interested in getting saved himself, thank you. More years passed by. I prayed on. The Christians who attended the Wednesday night Bible Study group decided to begin a church, meeting at a school. I began to take both children to this church on Sunday mornings. Rob was fine with this. It gave him more freedom, I guess. I knew he was unhappy, miserable in fact. I knew that he was doing the best he could to find his way without a Savior.

This little church group grew from 35 to 100 very quickly and became affiliated with the Vineyard movement. Within, a few years it was huge. They focused less and less on the Bible and more and more on healings and prophesy and worship music. I got caught up in the "church thing", being a Sunday School Teacher and a leader in quite a few Bible Study groups. I attended conferences and went to pray for people. At church I was important, really important. People needed me. They asked for me to pray with them or visit them. I was with my children all day but many evenings I got a babysitter. Rob was seldom home. When he was, he was very distracted and irritable.

I cringe now to think how I neglected my husband in those years. A Christian woman in my neighbourhood, who had been attending one of my women's Bible Study groups, informed me one morning that she would no longer be joining us. When asked why, she quietly said, "I can't watch you walk the path I walked." I knew that her unsaved husband had left her years before. She was raising their kids alone.
"What would you have done differently?" I asked.
"I would have given up everything, including going to church; held on to my faith in the Lord with all my strength and focused on my husband and children" she tearfully told me.

Within days I read this passage in the Bible: "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine…train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (Titus 2:1,4,5) I took a hard look at my priorities and realized that Rob was a very long way down on my list. A list, in which God's desire was for him to be placed at the top, next only to Himself. Could I dare take the Bible literally?

It was so tough to say goodbye to all of my committees, my church, ladies groups and commitments but I did it, crying every inch of the way. I came to embrace this new path and saw it as an adventure of trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, against all that the world would council as wise.

Rob was seldom home anymore. I refused to let this discourage me. I had lots of time to read the Bible and listen to tapes. I began to discover amazing truths about our Lord Jesus Christ. The one thing that I never stopped attending was that Wednesday night Bible Study. Some of the original believers were still there, like Brenda and Kevin (who would courageously see me through some very dark days/months/years ahead). Many of the others had also left the Vineyard church for their own reasons. On Wednesday nights, we were discovering the central position of Christ, how He is everything. His death on the cross, what a miracle! One day, my dear friends Conrad and Joy, brought the lyrics of a hymn to our attention. "Amazing love! how can it be that Thou my God should'st die for me?" Up until this point, my experience with Christian music had been choruses and contemporary rock music. These new-found lyrics were so much more deeply rooted. Following this, I began to become more acquainted with the elderly lady who lived next door. Pearl provided me with lots of hymns which I ate up. These hymn writers knew my Savior intimately and passionately. Many had suffered to gain this depth of appreciation of the price Christ had paid for souls like mine.

The Bible studies continued to challenge me. Randy, one of the believers, once asked which character represented Christ in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). He encouraged us to, “search for Christ in all of the parables” and treat them as more than stories. I hungrily took on this challenge which led to a great journey. I certainly had plenty of time to pursue this idea each night after the children went to bed. Rob was not home very much…hardly ever….anymore. I perceived that he had become consumed with being physically fit and with his appearance. Unbeknownst to me, he was having an affair or two as well. When he did come home, he spent the majority of his time in front of the TV.

I found a used Christian library in downtown Calgary. One day I stumbled upon a book that would further confirm my growing belief that the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, is a revelation of Jesus Christ as God, Creator, Redeemer. The book was called, "Portraits of Christ in Genesis" by M.R. DeHaan. It was vitally important to my growth in faith.

Through God's mercy and grace, the words in the Bible became profound to me. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword."
Scriptures came to life, such as "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope -the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:11-13)

Personally, I was still dealing with exaggerating the truth. Not every word out of my mouth was honest and I knew it. I felt a pin-prick every time. I continued to be plagued with unclean thoughts also. I knew I was saved but I needed to "say no to ungodliness and worldly passions” while waiting for Christ's return. I closely examined my dealings with husband and children. I had the façade of patience when in reality I was often frustrated. I would find myself rolling my eyes or clenching my teeth when no one was looking. But God was looking. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

So, I needed to have a long look at myself and my ways of dealing with others. I truthfully examined how I used manipulation during conversations with Rob. I saw that I used carefully placed silences, body gestures and hidden meanings to express my anger, frustration or disappointment instead of giving these things to the Lord and letting them go. Forgiveness was expressed but not complete forgiveness. Even in my Christian walk, not telling the whole truth continued to plague me. A need to look better than I truly was, this had always been my goal. In my past, I had always kept "a dagger in my back pocket" so as to have a verbal comeback if anyone hurt or insulted me. I now realized that when I became a Christian, this "dagger" didn't disappear. It just took on a more subtle form, not so verbal, but just as deadly.

But in fact, looking at it from God's perspective, I was manipulating and lying. To put it honestly, I was sinning against God.

Although Rob did not seem to want to be part of my life or the lives of the children anymore, at least he hadn't left us. It wasn't too late. I realized that I had better stop praying that God would change Rob. I was the Christian. God was telling me that He would be only too happy to change me.
"…when you received the word of God, …you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." (1 Thessalonians 9:13) and James 1:22 says: "So do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." Okay. This is a new concept. God wants me to stop praying that He will improve others. He wants to change and mould…. me. And He says that His words in the Bible will do this if I accept them and do what they say. What then, does the Bible tell me to do? Is there something specific that covers my situation with a husband who doesn’t believe?

"Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her what is right and do not give way to fear." (1 Peter 3:1-15)
I was to be like Sarah, who submitted to her husband (Abraham) when he made a selfish mistake, with no regard to her safety. In Genesis 12:13, Abraham asked Sarah to lie so that the Egyptian king would not kill him, but this resulted in Sarah entering into Pharaoh’s harem. God honoured her submission to her husband and protected her. It was Abraham who suffered the consequences of this ungodly act years later. This sin ultimately put an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar into his household (12:16) which would cause strife in the marriage (Genesis 16) and is still causing strife among the nations today. (The son of this maidservant would become the father of the Arab nations). Did God desire for Sarah to point this out to her husband at the time or even later? Did He expect her to give her opinion or say “I told you so”? No. She is held up to wives of all history as an example of submitting even when it doesn’t look so good and not giving way to fear.

This revelation that God wanted to change me, paved the way for a series of miracles where the Lord decided that it was time to deal with some of my sin issues. It really became a conscious choice to totally believe God at His word or continue to depend on my own coping skills. I knew that my dagger-like comebacks would have to go. They were incapable of protecting me and were getting in the way of the effective tools the Lord requires. Ephesians 6 spelled it out clearly: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world…Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist (time to deal with the lying issues), with the breastplate of righteousness in place (those long-time unclean thoughts would have to go so I could be in right standing with God), and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (peace in a war zone…no daggers, “without words”, just submission to my unbelieving husband). In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith (build my faith in You, Lord), with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation (the absolute assurance of my salvation) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Jesus Himself used the words of scripture as His tool to fight against the devil in the wilderness). And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18) In the wee hours of the morning, the Lord confronted me with my ungodly thoughts, revealing that my thoughts were no different or less sinful than a much-publicized case in the news. The truth of this was devastating but this pain was immediately turned to joy when God miraculously took those thoughts away. I had a clean slate suddenly. What freedom! In the book of John, Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In response to this the people said, “We…have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:32-36). And of course, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Those unclean thoughts were no longer a plague to me. I had been a slave to them since I was a teenager. Now, suddenly, I was “free indeed”.

The lying sin was a little less dramatic and became an exercise of faith. Each time I exaggerated the truth, the Holy Spirit would prick me terribly. I felt the need to confess each and every time I exaggerated the truth or added just a little something to it. I forced myself to admit to others that what I had just said was “not quite accurate. Please forgive me. This is what really happened……”

As I was working through these truths, Rob had become rather mean and unkind …and no wonder. He was like a "sheep without a shepherd". (Matthew 9:36) He got into some things I didn't even know about and God bless him he was doing the best he could without a Savior. He was so lost, miserable really. Many scenes come to mind now. Would it help if I described them? Would it edify the Lord at all? I think not. It is enough to say that things were very dark.

I looked even more closely at the text quoted previously, 1 Peter 3:1: "Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” What did it mean "in the same way"? I looked to the previous passage in 1 Peter 2: "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh, (Sometimes Rob was harsh.) For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God…if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you an example that you should follow in His steps… When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly…" (1 Peter 2:18-23 emphasis mine). Rob was constantly insulting my faith and my Lord. His standard lines were: “You Christians make me sick.” “There is no God. Don’t you get it?”

Did I truly believe that these words in the Bible were how I was supposed to respond to Rob’s insults, which seemed to come from a growing hatred of me and my God? How much faith did I have for this kind of scriptural advice? God would commend me? The Bible gives comfort and confidence to follow this path when it says, "do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord." (1 Peter 3:14,15)

As I began to take God’s words in the Bible as my guide, my faith grew in leaps and bounds. I really did focus on my husband, loving him when I knew he didn't return my love. I remember spending a whole day singing and rejoicing as I laboured over a special meal for him. He never came home to eat it that night and I learned that his response to my love was not to be my goal ("submit yourselves… [even] to those who are harsh"). After all, I had received my reward of joy and peace all day. I was going to have to stand on God's promises that His way works best. I read in 2 Samuel 22:29 "You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light." And 2 Samuel 22:31 says, "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless." This was going to be hard. I had to totally throw away my pride and society’s expectations. It was like not only having the rug pulled out from under you, but the tile and plywood and sub-flooring as well. Could I stand on the bare Rock? He said things like, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say; all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad…" (Matthew 5:11, 12) Could I trust Christ completely? I was determined to.

Much time passed and many heartaches as far as winning the love of my husband back. But my faith grew as did dependence on my God. God is faithful. Things became very hard and it became clear that Rob no longer wanted me. I knew no specifics but sensed that he had gotten himself into some dark deceptions. All I could do was ask God to bless him, sanctify him, set him apart. I still truly believe that he was doing the best he could to find happiness without knowing Jesus.

One dark night, Rob screamed at me, “There is no God! When are you finally going to wake up? Do you think a God would ever let you go through this?” I was tired, so tired. I began to sob and ponder, “There is a God, isn’t there? Could Rob be right? Maybe… he’s… right.” I felt myself slide to the floor in a heap (as if finally beaten down with a powerful stream of water from a hose, as had happened in one of my dreams). God didn’t let a heartbeat go by without absolute assurance of His loving presence. “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5,6) Did I hear Him whisper into my ear? Had He not prepared me over the last year? Those words echoed in my head: “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” Oh yes, there certainly was a God! He had known that this moment would come and His tools were at hand. If all I could manage at this point was to merely stand, that would be just good enough.

It became possible that maybe 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 was again for me as it had been when I began my Christian journey. But now sadly the emphasis was falling on the last part. "And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him…But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife whether you will save your husband?" I was done. I was weak and worn out. I was so very sad that it didn't work. That loving him God’s way didn't work… I was more sure of not being verbally abused while walking down a street full of strangers than I was in the hallway of my own house. I still loved Rob passionately but didn't trust him at all. He trusted me but had no love for me.

I was tired, so tired. I just wanted to take the kids and go home to my parents in Ontario for a little while. I just needed some time to get strong. I had no money to get my own place there in Calgary and no energy either. I was done.

It was so hard to say goodbye to friends like Brenda and her family and Kevin and his. Their phone calls would be a constant source of encouragement over the next four years. They both supported me in my decision. I am sure that they prayed for me and the children. I love them.

I packed up the children (a six and eight year old now) and began to prepare for the move to my parents' house in Ontario. (My Mom and Dad had built a home where our summer cottage had once stood.) My younger brother, Doug, flew out to Calgary to help me drive our old car across the country. I had no money. Just as we were saying goodbye, Brad handed us a pouch full of cash that completely and exactly paid our way (gas, motels).

As we drove across those prairie provinces during that unusually hot week in September 1994, I listened to my two children laughing and singing with their dear, silly Uncle Doug. He’ll never understand how much I needed him to make them laugh. I was so thankful to him and still am. I, on the other hand, spent most of the trip sitting in the back seat with tears running down my face. “It didn’t work, Lord. I thought it would work. I thought You would put my marriage together if I submitted to Rob and honoured Your word. I really thought it would work. I’m so very sorry.”

I was not at all sure that this was God’s best plan for me but I knew that He still loved me. I was so tired, so sad. Isaiah 48:17 says "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go". Had I failed? Probably. But He let me go home to parents who loved me and cared for me anyway.

My dear parents (then in their seventies) graciously welcomed us into their home. Mom and Dad had not seen this one coming. Rob and I had lived with them every summer for all of the thirteen years since we were married, driving from Calgary at the beginning of July and back at summer’s end. I hadn’t ever indicated that our marriage was in trouble during the last six summer visits. I'm sure it was a shock for them. They were retired and settled into a routine. But their arms were wide open to us, full of love and support. My mother immediately noticed my weight loss and began a program to fatten me up. My father, although angry at Rob, focused on providing for us and protecting us.

On the second night, I could see that my parents needed some sort of explanation. What had happened between Rob and I? What was going on? After the children had gone to sleep, I explained that I would not tell them what Rob had done until they knew some of my great flaws and mistakes (things that I had been forgiven of when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior). I told them that I had been a compulsive liar and described some scenes in my past that were shameful. This was difficult for them…but necessary. They needed to know that what Rob had done was not any worse than what I had done. It is all sin. It is all awful. But none of it is unforgivable, none too horrible that we can’t have complete forgiveness when we realize that Christ died for all of it. So I told them about me, the sinner. I ended the evening with, “Tomorrow night I will tell you about Rob.”

I knew that I would have to tell them. Not everything, not even close, but enough that they would be prepared for what my lawyer thought was inevitable. Some of Rob’s sin was sure to come out in public and it would be best if they were ready. So, that next night I spoke as gently as I could. I didn’t know many details. It was best to stick to the facts as I knew them. I hope I spoke with compassion, with forgiveness, without bitterness. I was painfully aware that this was very difficult for Mom and Dad, especially Dad.

The children now had to be enrolled into a new school. I’ll never forget their first day at the country school where they would attend until high school, although at this time I thought it would be a year at most. I stood outside with them at the first recess, on that warm day in late September. Tears welled up in my eyes. “How could Rob do this to us? Oh Lord, this is so unfair. They are so young. Will they be safe here? I don’t know anything about this school.”
Just as I inwardly sobbed, a boy ran up with a gorilla mask on and asked my son to come and play across the field. Away they went. Should I be thankful or terrified? I watched. He played. I prayed. He laughed. I smiled. He waved. God is faithful.

To an outsider my life must have seemed pretty grim….living with my senior parents, no job, no money, two kids, near a small hick town. But in fact, I began to refer to my life as “The Grand Adventure/The Great Romance”. My faith was growing in leaps and bounds. I was reading my Bible daily and often late into the night and finding gems I had never seen before. We had much laughter and joy in our new lives. Yes there were sad times and hard times but pleasant moments were also plentiful. Two children so full of life and love can certainly be good medicine. The Bible says, “a cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). At night, Dad or I would read classic stories aloud. We would sing while Mom played the piano. It was so delightful to be in a household where people loved and trusted one another.

Due to expensive rates, I would wait until after 11:00 p.m. to phone believers in Calgary. Most often it was Brenda, my dearest Christian friend. We would talk and pray together. I needed this connection.

The Lord was so alive to me, to us. The children and I read the Bible, sang and prayed together “without ceasing” it seemed. We lived in this lovely home at a beautiful, sparkling blue lake. We took walks in the quiet forests. We took trips to nearby spots of interest. I played with my children and enjoyed my parents. Not that there weren’t troubled times. But at these times, I trusted in God and tried not to take a path of bitterness or resentment, to live according to Philippians 3:13 "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." I was also reminded by God what the end of Proverbs 17:22 ensures, “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”. I understood that it would be my bones that would be dried up with bitterness. I leaned on my God to help me speak in a positive way about Rob.

Within two months it became clear that we had left Calgary just in time. In a book in the Bible called Numbers, it says: "you may be sure that your sins will find you out." (Numbers 32:23) Rob's "sins found him out" and came into the public eye but the children and I were tucked away in this quiet spot in Ontario, thousands of miles away. I held on to God's promise in Isaiah 32:17,18,20 "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest…how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream…" No one knew our past here in Ontario. And amazingly, to this day, we have lived in cottages, rented houses and homes and each one has been a “peaceful dwelling place” beside a “stream” (either a river or a lake).

Rob’s troubles and consequences continued to multiply in Calgary. How much do I share about these things? Is it edifying to Rob or the Lord? It was very dark for him. He had already lost his family. Now he lost his job, his friends, his reputation. We were forced to sell the house. I cashed in my life insurance. I look back in my Journal and read, “I have only$100 left. I excitedly watch to see what God will do.”

I kept in touch with friends in Calgary during this time with letters and phone calls. One letter I sent said,
“I am sure of one thing only –that only Christ can save [Rob]. What a relief this is…..My faith is stronger than I thought possible. I have literally experienced the moving of a mountain. The Bible is absolutely ALIVE. The timing of events has been unbelievable. The love that has been shown me by friends like you and my family has touched my heart. And as an added bonus –I believe that I’m living “the peace of God which transcends all understanding”. I truly must live day by day and have re-discovered the feeling of “the grand adventure/the great romance”…Of course, there are moments of uncertainty but at those times one of you phone me and that old “umpire peace” returns.” (Dec. 1994)

One of these friends, Laura, sent me a copy of a poem by Victor Hugo:
Have faith!
Be like the bird
Who halting in his flight
On limb too slight,
Feels it give way beneath him;
Yet sings
Knowing he has wings.

In May, 1995, I wrote to a friend after an Easter time encounter with Rob where I had prayed with him,
“there’s a chance that Rob has finally accepted Christ. There are some indications like he bought a Bible and seems to be reading through the Old Testament, he cries a lot, he is willing to take some (if not all) responsibility for his situation and he admits that he’s not afraid to get old now…I suppose it takes time and faith and Christ’s Hand to help us understand that He’s the truth, the way and the life…If Rob could only “joyfully accept the confiscation of [his] property, because [he] knew that [he] [himself] had better and lasting possessions.” (Hebrews 10;34) I have taken much comfort this winter in Christ’s words: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11,12) and “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Luke 6:22, 23)

Half a year later, October, 1995, I wrote,
“[You] probably…know Rob’s situation. I believe that things are unfolding as God desires. You know that last Easter Rob showed signs of becoming a Christian. I wish that I could tell you that I’m sure of his conversion. I find, though, that I am only sure of my own. I pray that Rob has the courage to meet the TRUE CHRIST and does not settle for a christ made in his own image. For me, I believe that I have the incredible freedom of only two options and these are spelled out clearly in 1 Corinthians 7:10,11: "A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband." Since I don’t feel that God is calling me to reconcile with Rob, I have the freedom of “undivided devotion to the Lord”.

My “ambition” became that of 1 Thessalonians 5:11: "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody". It was at this point that the Lord secured a teaching position for me at the very school that my children attended. We settled into my parents' home in this little rural community. It was a bit of a tight squeeze but neither my parents or children ever complained, in fact we all bonded closer than ever. My daughter and I shared a bedroom for 3 years. Summers found us a little more comfortable in a one room cabin on their lot. However, this cabin was not winterized.

"A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:39) As Rob was still very much alive, I knew that I would remain unmarried. Not to say that there weren’t temptations to be “loved” by another man in that way. You can’t even grocery shop without hearing love songs to remind you that you are alone romantically. At a social gathering, a little plaque on the wall of the house read, “If I had it to do again, I’d still choose you.” Would I? Would I still choose Rob if I had the chance to live this life over again? Would I, knowing what I now knew? I pondered this a few days, finally deciding that I definitely would. I could never have come to know or believe in the Lord Jesus Christ so deeply without this trial. Does the end justify the means? Yes, I think it just might.

What now? I was to have no husband then. In Isaiah 54:5 it says "For your Maker is your husband -the LORD Almighty is His name -the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit -a wife who married young, only to be rejected" says your God." Christ would be my husband. Yes, Rob had rejected me but I had the guarantee of something far more romantic. Those sappy love songs that you can't avoid in the grocery store became a joy instead of a plague as I thought of the Lord as my husband.

Some times were more difficult than others but I continued to think of this time as “the great romance/the grand adventure”. I truly strived to speak of Rob in a positive way with the children. Back stabbing would not be tolerated by my God and I knew it. I had to continually remind myself of Philippians 3:13 "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." We made frequent visits to Rob’s parents so that they could spend time with their grandchildren. I sent Rob letters to keep him informed of what they were doing, although I admit that I struggled to begin each letter with “Dear Rob”. Instead I began one page with “About [our daughter]” and another with “About [our son]” and then continued to relay news about hockey games and school events. My phone conversations with Rob were my greatest challenge. His attitude and apparent lack of kindness were hurtful at best. One time Rob tried to convince our son that he should come back to Calgary and live with Daddy. This led to a little boy’s tears and I found myself having to remind him that his Dad was never home.

“But we can pray for Daddy”, I found myself telling this little eight year old. “You can love him from a distance for now. God will fix this somehow. We can have faith, you and I, that something amazing is in store for all of us. And there will be visits.” And there were. Rob would fly to his parents’ home and my Dad and I would meet him half way to exchange the children. We made a trip out west and Rob had the children for a week which they still remember and were discussing just a few weeks ago.

I searched for a church in Orillia for the children and I, but couldn't find one that I felt right in. I couldn't go back to the rock band worship now that I had discovered hymns. I could no longer listen to a pastor stand up and talk about such things as tithing or being good Christians. I wanted to know the One who permeated the Bible, in the Old and New Testament, in yet a deeper way. The Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection had to be at the centre. It seemed impossible to find a place of worship that met these criteria. I came away discouraged but would not compromise on this.

Two years passed. The divorce came through. The Bible tells us that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and for good reason.

Rob had dealt with his sins in Calgary and decided to move to Ontario to be closer to his children. Before he left Calgary, he asked some friends if they knew of anyone that he could live with in Orillia until he found a job. He was given the names of an older couple, Earl and Audrey Pears. He phoned them. They invited him into their home with open arms. Of course, I had never met them, nor had I found their little church in the downtown core of this little town.
Daily, he witnessed the love Earl and Audrey had for each other and their obvious love of the Lord. Within a month in their home, Rob was “born again”. The Lord Jesus Christ reached out and saved him from certain spiritual death just as He had saved me twelve years before.

Hallelujah!!! It was at least a year later until I actually believed it though.

He asked me to come to their “church” and the minute I stepped in the door I knew that this was "home". This place was everything I was looking for: Christ-centred Bible teaching, scripture texts on the walls, the hymns I had come to love and an abundance of loving Christian saints, mostly elderly. By the end of the next summer, Rob had been baptized and we had each joined the fellowship, breaking bread at the Lord's Supper each Sunday, sitting next to each other. We were divorced and that's the way it was. They accepted us there just as we were, although we would hear later that it was a stretch for them.

We were able to raise our children in this strange arrangement. Rob found work and rented a basement apartment. I was getting some temporary, part time teaching assignments so the children and I rented a little cottage of our own. The four of us would go to visit Rob’s parents in Ottawa. We would go bike riding or skating together as a family. We often shared meals together and had many mutual friends.

Sometime during our fourth year after the failure of our marriage, Rob began to hear from God that we should reconcile. Although I had not heard a similar direction from God, my faith in His Son continued to grow, especially under the excellent Bible teaching and Christian love at this little gathering place, Dominion Gospel Hall. But I knew that I didn't love Rob. No, I certainly hadn't heard from God that we were to remarry. Thankfully, I wasn't "going it alone". I went to the elders and asked if I should submit to Rob's “revelation” even though I had not heard from God. They said, "No. God will tell you. Wait for His time". I wanted what God thought was best for me and promised that if He told me to remarry, I would. Again I found myself standing on God’s promise in Isaiah 48:17, which says "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go". I seemed to be having many, little experiences with this as I discovered that God was quite capable to “direct [me] in the way [I] should go” through my daily reading in the Bible. You see, this was the year that I decided to try reading my Bible from beginning to end. Earl and Audrey, who were now my friends as well as Rob’s, had given me a small, flip calendar called Choice Gleanings. Besides the daily Bible passage and teaching, there was a list of 3 specific readings each day so that when the year ended you would have read through the entire Bible.

Each day, according to the list in the Choice Gleanings, I read one New Testament passage and two Old Testament passages of scripture. The date I am speaking of was Monday, July 27, 1998. To be honest, sometimes I would read a chapter ahead if I was enjoying it on a particular morning. Then I would catch up by doubling another one the next day. This had happened on the Sunday when I read Isaiah 41 and Monday's Isaiah 42 back to back. On that same Sunday, Rob and I and our two children had taken a family bike ride. We ended up at a picnic table in a park and stopped to give thanks for the ice cream we had treated ourselves to. Rob prayed out loud, asking God to put our family back together. I remember thinking, “I wish he wouldn’t do that in front of the children because I am not hearing from God about this.” I wasn’t mad, just irritated.

The next morning, Monday, July 27, 1998, was to be one of the most important days in my life. In the summer, as I have said, the children and I stayed in a one room cabin on my parents’ property on Lake Couchiching. We loved staying in "the cabin" all summer. This had been "the cabin" since my childhood and had many memories of sleepovers and water fights. With no kitchen or plumbing, it allowed us to spend lots of time with my parents in their house on the same lot. The “rent free” price was also a blessing! On this summer Monday morning, the children woke up early and had raced into their grandparents’ house to have breakfast with them. Enjoying the quiet, I pulled out my Bible, ready for my daily reading. Being a teacher I was privileged to be on holidays for the summer. So there I was ready to do my first reading of the day. I opened to 2 Corinthians 2. Verses 5-8 turned my whole world around, to say the least. The Bible says:
"If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent -not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him."
God was talking to me! "If anyone has caused grief" caught my attention immediately. I thought of the grief Rob had caused in my life and in the lives of many in our families. "The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him." This couldn't have been more clear. The consequences he faced during and after his “sin found him out” were sufficient. "Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him". I felt that I had forgiven him long ago. Thank the Lord, I had never held bitterness toward him and never "put him down" to our children. He was just a lost soul without a Shepherd. But those words "comfort him" spoke loud and clear. I had been no comfort to that dear man. The words, "you ought to", (not, "you must" or "you have to") told me that if I was truly praying for God's best direction for my life, this was it. Okay, I could be a comfort to Rob. Yes. I'd do it. Then came: "so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow". Unbeknownst to me, Rob had spent an evening three days earlier with Earl and Audrey Pears, that dear Christian couple who had led him to the Lord two years before. During this evening, Rob had unburdened his heart to them, revealing his pain upon the fear that I would never marry him again and his sureness that this was indeed God's will for us. They, all three, wept together and knelt in prayer asking Christ to intercede in my heart. Rob was apparently in such a state as to be quite "overwhelmed by excessive sorrow" if things continued as they were. To repeat, none of these three prayer warriors revealed this to me at that time and I knew nothing of it during this Monday morning devotional. In fact it was weeks later before they shared this with me. The next words in 2 Corinthians 2 were a clear trumpet call to me: "I urge you…" (Again it was not, "you must" or "you have to".) But "I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him." Wow! God was talking to me! By this time I was crying. The words "reaffirm your love" told me that Christ knew my heart intimately. I had loved Rob in the past but quite honestly, I didn't love him now. I liked him. He had become a good Dad to our kids. I believed that he now loved the Lord and had changed but he did not yet have my heart. How could I do this without my Savior's help? I didn’t love him. For the first time I was faced with the fact that this was God's best plan for me. Now the ball was in my court.
I knew enough about scripture to know that God would confirm this to me. Needing to catch up with the previous day's reading in the Choice Gleanings schedule I turned to Sunday’s Ruth 1 and then Monday's Ruth 2. (Pick up any Choice Gleanings, turn to July 26 and then July 27 and see for yourself in the DAILY READINGS section.) Looking for confirmation in God's Word, I now turned to Ruth 1 and rejoiced at verses 16 and 17 "But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." That was it. I had heard from God Himself. The love for Rob literally poured into my heart. When God speaks to us in His Word, the Bible, we can depend on it. If I would ever doubt at any point in the future, which I have not, I could go again to these passages and boldly remind God of the truths He promised me there. I didn't have to believe the words of some man or good advice or a dream I'd had. I could read and reread God's "best plan" for me personally in the written Word. A week later, during my DAILY READINGS, I again enjoyed Isaiah 48:17 "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go". What a marvel and what a comfort!
I was absolutely filled with love for Rob. Since he would be at work all day, I decided to go ahead with our plans to go shopping with the children that Monday afternoon. Who should we meet at the store entrance but Earl and Audrey Pears!?! I didn't want to tell anyone what God had spoken to me that morning until I talked to Rob. So I merely scribbled "2 Corinthians 2:5-8" on a scrap of paper, handed it to them and asked them to pray for me. Apparently, they were thrilled to read the passage when they reached home and dared to pray that the Lord would accomplish reconciliation through it. Remember, they knew Rob's heart as I did not.

Previous to this, Rob had been invited for dinner at my parents' home this evening. I don't remember how I got through dinner that night but immediately afterward I asked Rob to go for a walk with me. I carried my Bible along and didn't get far before I had it opened and was reading and crying and telling him what the Lord had done in my heart that morning. To say he was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I don't think he really took it in at first. When realization hit…it was a joyful reconciliation!

Upon returning to my parents, we read the passage to our children privately, explaining that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was about to put our family back together. Then we went to my parents and read it to them. My father, who had been quite bitter toward Rob four years earlier when we first arrived on their doorstep, had come to see the change in Rob's life for the past two years after Rob was "born again". They could honestly give us their blessing. (As an aside, my Dad got saved a few years later himself. Much of his interest in the Lord was due to Rob’s transformation.)

My girlfriend, Brenda, still living in Calgary, was also reading the Bible in a year using the same Choice Gleanings daily schedule. Upon reading the 2 Corinthians 2 passage on that same Monday morning, she wondered if it would speak to me and had prayed about it. When I called her later that night she wasn't a bit surprised and had the very same scripture ready to read in many different Bible translations (King James Version, Philips, Revised Standard to name a few). We wept together with joy because the direction was clearly from God in each and every version.

It was a cause for celebration when Rob stood up the next evening at Prayer Meeting, read the Bible passage and explained the change in direction Christ had led us to. We soon had a date set. Rob sought the advice of the elders on how to love me and honour me as his wife.
Within a month, we were married right there in the Gospel Hall. Our dear friend, Earl Pears, married us as he had a license to do so. Our twelve year old son was our best man and our ten year old daughter was our maid of honour. My mother and father both walked me down the aisle. The dear, dear women in our "church" put on a buffet meal that could never be imagined. What a day the Lord had made! God truly smiled on that event. Many of our families were able to come on such short notice. Brad and Linda were unable to make it from Calgary as they had a two day old baby to care for. We had a lovely 3 day honeymoon in a cabin in Huntsville that one of the older couple’s at our assembly lent to us. That was ten years ago and we are so blessed! God has kept all of His promises.

The Bible talks about being “yoked” together in marriage in 2 Corinthians 6:14,15: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? …What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” Rob and I were equally “yoked” when first married in 1981. Neither of us were Christians. We were again equally “yoked” during this second marriage in 1998. Both of us were "born again" and this time: "May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." (Ruth 1:17) Our passage in Daily Readings, a week after our wedding was 2 Samuel 22:31 "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless."

During the year after our marriage we rented a small cottage. The four of us were overcrowded but incredibly happy. We enjoyed remembering the man named Paul in Acts 28:30 who "stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him." When the owners told us they wanted to sell, we found a beautiful home on the river a few doors down and have lived here for nine years now.

Another letter I sent to the Christians two and a half years after our second marriage tells of how life was progressing for our little family. “We are very, very happy. We are both growing spiritually. Rob in leaps and bounds. Me with steady pace (usually forward)…Rob often speaks/preaches at our church and particularly enjoys the books of John, Genesis, Revelation, Daniel and the Psalms. He has been greatly influenced by the writings and tape ministry of John McArthur as well as the many faithful men of our assembly. This new husband of mine is a caring, sensitive man whom I love very much….We live in a beautiful house on the river, only 5 minutes from my parents….They are both well at the moment, although Dad suffers from various respiratory problems….Please pray for him in these final years. He has begun to search for the Kingdom and we are praying that the Lord will reveal Himself fully to him (and Mom too).”

In August 2008, Rob and I had the choice of celebrating our tenth or our twenty seventh anniversary. We picked the one that celebrates the number of years that we have been married in the Lord. God has provided full time work for Rob and I. I teach Kindergarten in the local school and Rob works in the city of Barrie, about 45 minutes away. Our son is now away in Ottawa at university and our daughter is attending university in Orillia and living at home at present. They are both "saved", baptized and are a joy to us.

I never tire of telling this story to anyone that will listen. It's been told to women’s groups in the area, people on airplanes, in staff rooms, over coffee and now I hope that the dear soul reading this account will be touched by it. Is there a God? Absolutely. Did He tire of the human race and become uninvolved? Not a chance. He sent His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die in our place and then God raised Him from the dead so He is alive today. Can anyone be saved by Him? Yes. Whoever accepts the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross as a payment for their own sins will have eternal life. The Bible says so in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” How can I know Him? Read about him in His love story, the Holy Bible. Is He interested in the lives of His people? Most certainly.

Please feel free to share the story with anyone that might be encouraged by it. Rob joins me in praying that God will bless you with a greater appreciation of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God promises to use His words in the Bible to cut directly into our hearts. May He touch yours today.

With love in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Beth Cole