Today’s message is from Bob, who was a prodigal who returned home and was remarried to me for an additional 23 years before the Lord took him home to Heaven. Bob wrote 19 books from the prodigal’s perspective for more than two decades after our divorce and remarriage. – Charlyne
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
Charlyne and I stayed up until midnight doing something we seldom do; watching television. Earlier we had taped a favorite program, “Pulpit Classics,” which features videos of worship services from years past at Dr. Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church, in Lynchburg, VA.
The program that aired was from a sermon preached over 30 years ago by Dr. J. Harold Smith. It was titled, God’s Three Deadlines. Dr. Smith gave illustration upon illustration of men and women who had crossed one of God’s three deadlines and God had called them into eternity. That night, long ago, when this sermon was preached at Thomas Road Church, over 2,000 people were saved in three great altar calls.
Dr. Smith spared no words in describing the Christless Hell, a place of eternal torment, for people who cross one of the three deadlines. They are:
- Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit,
- Sinning away your day of Grace
- Sinning unto death.
We both went to bed with heavy hearts, thinking about the scores of prodigal spouses who are living so near to one of God’s three deadlines.
Let’s be clear that you are standing for your marriage for one main reason; so that your now-prodigal spouse will, by the grace of God, enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Marriage and full family restoration must be only the results of the one you love coming to Christ.
I wish every stander could have sat in our family room and heard Dr. Smith give examples of people who mocked God – and were dead a few hours later. Without question, your view on standing for your marriage would have been different this morning. The things that seemed so important and so painful to you would pale compared to having your beloved go to Hell.
What have you done with Jesus? The answer could be multiple choice:
- You depend on Jesus for your every decision. As the old hymn says, He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
- You acknowledge the power of Jesus, but do not have a personal relationship with Him. He is, in effect, your last resort in times of crisis.
- Jesus is known to you only as a good man or a historical figure.
- You are sensing the call of Jesus on your life and on your stand.
- You are asking, “Who is Jesus?”
It was nearing midnight when we saw Dr. Smith extending an invitation to the people in that crowded church to confess their sins and to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He especially called for people with secret sins in their lives to respond. We watched as scores of people streamed to the altar of the church.
Many were responding from out of the choir. These people were not off the streets, but had been within the church for at least long enough to join the choir. I suspect that some could have sat through years of sermons, yet God chose that specific night, that time, to touch their hearts.
I wish it were possible to track each person who was in that church on a Sunday night 30 years ago. Some went on to mature and grow in the Christian faith. There are probably men who are now pastors who were saved on that night. Others began the walk of a Christian, but somewhere fell away. A few might have stayed as no more than church members. I suspect there are people at that service who, once more, hardened their heart to the calling of the Holy Spirit.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:5-8
I wonder if there were standers or prodigal spouses in that great service. How fervently was someone praying for their prodigal to repent? Did they continue to pray until God touched their prodigal, or did they grow weary and give up? How much would they be praying today – if they had not stood by a casket sometime in these past 30 years?
The answer to your every question, to your every decision, to your every valley experience, is Jesus. He is waiting patiently to be your Savior, your Friend, your Companion, your Comforter, your Defender, and your Provider. Following Jesus is not one way to restore a marriage; it is the only way to restore a marriage. Anything else is a counterfeit.
Once you have reconciled your life with Jesus, Charlyne and I pray that you will continue to pray until every member of your family also knows Jesus personally. Your prayers and your stand can mean the difference between Heaven and Hell for someone you love.
What have you done with Jesus? If you are unsure, we invite you to visit the most important page on the Rejoice Ministries website.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Because He lives,