GWEA Monthly Messages
Forgiveness is the Guarantee to Life-Long Marriage
REVEREND GORDON WILLIAMS, FEBRUARY 2023
Every year when St. Valentine’s day comes around, people ask me about the Roman priest, Valentine. He was a 3rd century Roman saint who performed marriages for Christians despite the strict law back then that forbade Christians from getting married. His refusal to obey the law, and his renegade actions resulted in his arrest, imprisonment, torture, and eventually his own death.
Christian Marriage Explained.
Christian marriage is based upon the love between a man and a woman. Today the number of divorces is about the same for Christians as it is for non-Christians. "Marriage has become more of an individual choice, than a religious one, and some believe that this has made it more acceptable for couples to end a marriage than endure until death” (Cherlin, 2004). The underlying root of the problem stems from the lack of biblical teaching and understanding of the expression of "love" and it's Greek context in scripture.
In the Greek language, there is not only one word for the word “love,” but
four! Each one has a different meaning: friendship (philos), family (storge), and God’s love (agape). The Greek word “eros” (erotic) although a form of "love", is not found in the New Testament since it was debased, meaning that through time it grew into an uncontrolled sexual love that happened outside of marriage.
The most desired of the loves is God's agape or perfect love. It is agape love that a man and woman in matrimony should build their relationship upon "until death us do part." However, it is impossible to give God's agape love, without a person first receiving it from God.
”For God so loved (agape) the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (Jn 3:16)
Is there a Guarantee to Marriage not ending in Divorce?
Many times I am asked, “Is there a guarantee that my marriage will not result in a divorce?” "Yes there is!" I tell people encouragingly. A successful marriage requires both spouses to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as in the Day of Pentecost, or by prayer with the "laying on of hands from others who have already received" (Acts: 2;4; Acts: 8:17; Mk. 16:17–18). Paul tells us that when we receive the Holy Spirit,“ God’s perfect love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom. 5:5).
God's agape love is best described in first Corinthians as:
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it keeps no record of wrongs but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, endures all things. Love (agape) never ends” (1 Cor. 13:4–8).
Several years ago, a woman came to me for some counselling. She said, “Both my partner and I have suffered from bad divorces. When we met, we decided that because our divorces ended so badly, either one of us wanted to get married again. We agreed to just live together in a common law relationship. But since then, our relationship has gotten worse than what it was like in our previous marriages! What difference does it make having a marriage certificate on the wall or not?” "All the difference!" I replied. A marriage certificate is an important legal document that will represent your lifelong commitment to one another, and your covenant with God.
Marriage was God’s idea from the beginning, and for a successful and happy marriage, He must be involved in it daily! When you get married the way God had intended, it is possible to have a honey-moon marriage for the rest of your life!
The woman listened intently, and then after our meeting, she went home to get her common law partner, and brought him in to see me as well. I suggested to both of them that they needed to take the first step and become born again Christians by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. They both agreed. The second step was to receive the infilling or Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I laid hands on them, and as we prayed, they received the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (languages) as outline in the Mark 16:17: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues..." The final step was marriage. I graciously performed their wedding, and they spoke their vows out loud unto each other, their family and friends, and unto God.
Everything went perfectly, but there was just one little wrinkle that the husband told me about afterwards. He said that his boss would fire him if he ever got married again! His previous divorce created so many problems at his work, that if he wanted to keep his job, his boss forbade him to marry again. Knowing this, he decided to keep his marriage a secret from his work entirely!
Things were going well several weeks into the marriage, until one day his boss called him into his office unexpectedly. Fearing that his boss had found out, and that he would be fired, the man reluctantly went in to see him. As he slowly stepped into the office, his boss's face lit up. His boss remarked, “What has happened to you? Your work has greatly improved!” The man was dumbfounded. "Well," he clamored, "to be honest, I'm doing so well 'cause I just got married a few weeks ago! I didn't want to tell you because you told me that if I ever got married again, I'd be fired.” Then he went on explaining how he had just become a Christian, and that his life had now changed around for the better.
His boss was silent, and then he revealed his secret, “Well, I guess you should know, I’m a Christian too!" The man couldn't believe his ears! He rejoiced, and then they both praised the Lord for what they had just learned about one another!
Then something amazing happened. The boss presented the man with an opportunity of a lifetime based on the exceptional work that he had done in the past few weeks. He offered him an advancement - a new position as a representative of the company in Hong Kong! The man was ecstatic, and without hesitation, he accepted his boss's offer!
The company had arranged for him and his wife to go live in Hong Kong. While there, they became involved in a church where we shipped them Bibles and Christian material to help them with their ministry.
A few years later, while Christmas shopping in the mall, I spotted the couple walking hand in hand, and still looking very much in love. Turns out that they were here on a visit. My wife and I went over to greet them and they told us that they had discovered the answer to the very question that they originally came to see me about years ago.
The Holy Spirit had revealed to them that by continually forgiving one another regardless of their transgressions, they were able to maintain a successful marriage. It was like having a honeymoon that never ended! They learned that with the Holy Spirit's guidance, the act of forgiveness is the guarantee to a happy, successful, and life-long marriage.
Just how does the Holy Spirit work in a Marriage?
The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to forgive our spouses continually, and just not seven times a day, but four hundred and ninety times a day! (Matt. 18:21–22) The act of forgiveness is the guarantee that our marriage will remain in God's love continually.
Jesus told his disciples not to leave until the promise of the Father came upon them. He knew that they required the Holy Spirit to live a successful spirit-filled life. The Holy Spirit acts as our Counsellor (Jn. 14: 26;16:7–15) and is Jesus’ guarantee for our lives, and for our marriages (Rev. 3:13).
If you and your spouse would like to receive the guarantee to a life-long marriage, or if you desire to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and live a spirit-filled Christian life, please come to one of our meetings and/or contact me.
"We love because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19)
Yours in Jesus Christ,
Copyright © 2018. The Gordon Williams Evangelistic Association. All rights reserved
While the world sees love as an emotion, God speaks of it as the embodiment of His essence. Perfect love is the unchangeable, unconditional, undying love of God.
"God is agape love (ah-gah-paye)" (1 John 4:8; John 3:16).
There are four words for love in the Greek New Testament language: apape, eros, philos and storge. In English, there is only one word - love.
Perfect love is not eros (erotic love), nor is it philos (brotherly or friendship love), nor is it storge (family love). These kind of loves are imperfect, conditional and can be lost.
God's love is perfect. No one can manufacture agape love apart from God. God is agape love.
Agape is a love that is a remarkable phenomenon. It's exhilarating to meditate on Apostle Paul's definition of God's unconditional love. Why? 'Cause it is the kind of love we are always striving to obtain. Knowing that it is available to each of us through His Holy Spirit, is the foundation for our hope.
Apape love is much more than a fleeting feeling of warmth that overcomes us. It is God's love inside of us; to be set free and poured out on others. The absence of our feelings does not indicate the absence of agape love. In other words, even though we don't always feel it, "God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
However, agape love is not just an ideal. It is God's love with which He loves us and which He gives us to demonstrate to other people by loving them completely; with forgiveness and without any blame. It is the only kind of love that lasts forever and is unconditional.
But in order for us to love unconditionally, we must allow ourselves to be loved unconditionally. For many, this is a relentless task, as the world, (and including ourselves) continue to judge what we say and do. People feel unworthy of God's love.
We can only demonstrate unconditional love when we are "born again" into the family of God, where Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, removes our condemnation (Romans 8:1), and breaks down the walls of self-persecution - he restores us with his unbounding love and grace.
What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:4-65; Mk. 10:6–9). Because Valentine ignored the Roman law that forbade Christians to marry, persecution resulted, and death to anyone who did so. He was arrested and while in prison, he healed the jailer’s daughter and wrote a letter signing it, “Your Valentine” as a farewell gesture.
Saint Valentine was recognized thereafter, and a day was named after him each year to commemorate his martyrdom. To this day, "St. Valentine's Day" has been celebrated annually on February 14th for centuries, dating back as early as the 5th century.
Today, marriage is often viewed as a contract and not as a Holy Covenant. Many times I am asked why so many marriages today end up in divorce.
Is there a guarantee that a marriage will not end up in a divorce? YES, there is! This guarantee was given to us by Jesus Christ when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5).
"THE FORGOTTEN KEY TO CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE" is God's key to a successful marriage. Gordon's book outlines effective tools for building a happy marriage. Also explains why the divorce rate in the church is the same as in secular society and what to do about it.