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Further Application of “Bert Zandstra”

I read with great interest your article in the November 1, 1997 issue of the Standard Bearer, titled “The Sad Case of Bert Zandstra.” I truly appreciate your biblical stand on divorce.

But this leaves me with a question I hope you can help me with, as to what God’s Word teaches us in the following situation.

I have an acquaintance whom I have opportunities to talk to about our great and glorious God and the work of Jesus Christ. He has been open to hearing but as of yet does not seem willing to come to Christ. After reading your article on divorce, I do not know how to counsel this man if he should want to join the church.

The problem is, he has divorced twice and is at this time married again. His present wife has also been married before. Also, there are children from each marriage.

How am I to counsel him, if he wishes to join the church? That he leave his present wife and children and try to return to his first wife (who is still unmarried)? Or, should he stay with his present family?

Please show me what the Scripture teaches us.

Ron Nyhof,

Hamilton, MI

Response:

Foolish, sinful men and women can so snarl their marital lives that a wise man or woman cannot figure out how to set things right.

The responsibility and guilt are theirs. There is no excuse. God made man good. Man corrupted himself. Even now, fallen men and women have “the work of the law written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:15).

Regardless of the complicated circumstances that sin produces, the way of salvation is always plain: repentance and faith.

By all means, call your adulterous neighbor to come to Christ. Coming to Christ includes repenting of sin (Acts 20:21). For your acquaintance, this repentance must be sorrow of heart for whatever sin he committed in his previous divorcing and for his present adulterous marriage.

The burning issue for him is not how to join a church, but repentance. Repentance is necessary! True repentance is necessary: sorrow of heart that he has offended the holy God and exposed himself to God’s wrath, which will damn him eternally, except he repent (Luke 13:1-5). Only in the way of repentance can he find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

If by the grace of God he repents, it will be impossible for him to continue living, adulterously, with a woman who is not his wife, but the wife of another man. Repentance is such a sorrow for God’s sake as turns from the sin, which one now hates, unto God with a determination to please God by a life of obedience to the law (Ezek. 18:30-32; Acts 26:20; Rom. 8:12-14).

This is the way to Christ. This is the only way to Christ. It is also the only way into the church—the true church.

Bring him these passages of Holy Scripture:

1. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

2. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:11, 12).

3. “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s (neighbor’s) wife” (Mark 6:18).

4. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived … adulterers … shall (not) inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9, 10).

5. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us” (I John 1:9, 10).

— Ed.