Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Ask Nancy: Keeping Christ at the Center

Leslie Basham: A young friend of Nancy Leigh DeMoss was questioning the faith he'd been brought up with. After listening to his questions, she gave him this to think about.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I don’t think your issue really is that you can't believe this stuff. I think your issue is you don't want to believe it because of the demands you know it's going to make on your life.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, November 1.

Say you've brought up your child to know all about the Bible and when she enters college, she suddenly starts questioning the validity of all she's learned in the past. What do you do? Nancy Leigh DeMoss will address that topic. She was recorded during a question and answer time after one of our recording sessions. She'll also explain how to keep your focus on Christ day by day and address what it means to rule and reign with Him.

During this Q&A, one mom stood up wondering how to help her daughter. She was taking a class with a professor who was making her re-examine the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Here is how Nancy responded.

Nancy: There has always been a stream of religious folks who have tried in various ways to undermine the authority and the veracity of Scripture. That is not new. Especially since the Enlightenment, with German Higher Criticism—that's where a lot of this came from. But that wasn't even the beginning of it. It starts back in the Garden of Eden, "Has God said?"

But there have been those that think they are smarter than God. I don't mean that disrespectfully of them. I am saying there is the concerted attempt on the part of many in liberal theology today to undermine the veracity, the validity, the inerrancy of Scripture. That's not a new thing. It's been a ferocious attack at some points.

You have people embedded within even Bible colleges, or pastors at churches at some points who will raise these kinds of questions. I'm not saying that those people are malicious in their intent, or that would say, "I'm trying to undermine the authority of God's Word." Some would and some wouldn’t. Some of them can be very nice people. Some of them seem to have a really warm heart toward spiritual things, but the affect is the same, and that is to make people question the authority of Scripture.

It's not wrong to have questions or doubts. God is big enough to handle our questions and our doubts. I think sometimes we feel we can't minister to college students or people who are hearing this kind of teaching because we don’t have this kind of background.

There is a wealth of information out there today if you want to see God's Word honored and people helped in their faith. There are a lot of tools. Today, you don’t even have to go in a library. You can go to the Internet and find a lot of things that will not be helpful, but you can also find a solid defense for the faith—a solid defense for the Orthodox faith. You can find that.

So don’t be afraid of those questions. Don’t feel, the first time you hear it, like you should be able to answer it. There are answers that will satisfy the most rigorous mind. Don't be afraid to look for those answers. They are out there.

But here is what I think is a bigger point, and that is Jesus said, "If a man will do My will, he will know whether the teaching is from God." If there is an inclination to want to know and do the will of God, and if there is a pursuit to seek the Word of God, then I believe that faith will come to the heart even apart from all of the apologetics courses and things that you could learn. I'm not dissing those things. I think they can be really helpful. A lot of people think it can help us have a more robust intellectual faith. But I tell you, there is no substitute for a heart-faith that comes through the honest, humble reading of the Word.

Faith comes by hearing and by hearing of the Word of God. The Word speaks for itself. It's not that if just read this book without anything else that it will answer all of your questions, because I've been doing that for approaching fifty years, and I still have tons of questions that are unanswered. But, the more I am in this Book, the more my heart is assured that this is truth.

That assurance comes into my heart by the Holy Spirit as I read the Word with a humble, honest heart, and a desire to know the truth. So it's through the actual getting of the Word into my system, more than anything else in my opinion, that those doubts are dealt with.

I study. I use those resources. I use those tools. When I am talking with someone, I am not afraid to go find a book or a resource that will help them deal with the intellectual doubts and questions. But in the end, if you don't believe, you don't believe. In the end, if you let the Holy Spirit work in your heart, He will give you faith through His Word.

In the whole area of apologetics, which is the intellectual defense of our faith—and I don't want to minimize that—I think it's important that we as older believers today realize the need for this younger generation in particular to have a faith that is intellectually defensible, and it is. So we want to encourage them in that, and grow ourselves in that.

If you have kids today, high school or college kids, they are asking questions, whether they're in a Christian school or state school. They are asking some hard questions. You need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and to respect those questions and help them find answers. In the end, your greatest weapon as a mother may be the power of prayer, asking God to open their eyes; open their hearts. Take the time to love them though that process, to walk with them—not to dismiss them because of their doubts or, “That's just junk that you're listening to. You just need to believe.”

I think the more they encounter the living Word in the Word, the more those doubts are going to dissipate. Not that they won't then necessarily have answers to all of those questions, but the unbelief will dissipate and will be replaced by faith.

I had a lot of conversations with the son of some very close friends (he was raised in the faith and raised in a ministry environment), but in his college years he was horribly pulled away from the faith by, would you believe, a fellow grad student who grew up in a pastor's home but had rejected the faith and now was setting out to undermine other people's faith.

My young friend—young at the time—was really grappling with this stuff. You could tell there was this battle going on inside of him. He was asking all kinds of hard questions. I would search for him and with him. I would give him things to read. I didn’t have all of those answers, and he was much smarter than I am. I wasn't going to debate him on this stuff. I tried to fuel him with things that would help his intellectual arguments.

At one point I said to him—now this is over a period of a few years—“I don’t think your issue really is that you can't believe this stuff. I think your issue is you don't want to believe it because of the demands you know it's going to make on your life, and what it would mean for you to be really sold out to Christ.”

Now, I don’t remember what he said at the moment. I don't think it was like this bolt of lightning that he agreed with at the moment. But he would come back today and tell you that was absolutely true. He was, at the time, living an immoral lifestyle (which I didn’t know). But he didn't want God to have to rule his sexual life. It was a matter of will, not a matter of intellect.

I'm not saying it's never a matter of intellect. There are honest questions and honest questioners. But more often than not, I think there is a heart-issue involved that does not want to believe because we don’t want to bow before Christ as Lord.

Now, I didn’t say that to him in the first conversation I had with him. That was over a period of years where I loved the son of my friends. I invested in his life, showed a concern, and had been there through some hard times that he went through in his family. But there came a point where this was not an intellectual issue any longer for him. This was really a heart issue.

You know what? When he did finally come to a surrender of his life to Christ, it wasn't by means of getting all of those questions answered. He is a brilliant intellect. Ultimately, it was by means of God breaking his will and him becoming captivated by Christ. He captured his heart, captured by Christ. That is what it took.

Then he started to be able to approach those questions a whole lot differently because his heart believed. Now he was just looking for, "How do I believe this in a more knowledgeable way." But there wasn’t the resistance. There wasn't the kick in the spirit going on.

I'm not suggesting, Brenda, that your friend has that kick in her spirit. But I think it's easy to develop when you have people who are supposed to be very smart like college professors in Bible college telling you these things. That's where I say don't neglect dealing with the heart issues, even as you deal with hard issues of the intellectual aspects of our faith.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss in a question and answer session. One woman in the audience asked a question about a major series aired on Revive Our Hearts called "The Incomparable Christ." It followed an outline from a book by Oswald Sanders. This was an in-depth study of the life of Christ during the Lenten season if 2011. It affected listeners greatly.

For instance, we got an email that said, “This has been the most interesting, deep, challenging, thought-provoking study I have ever completed.” A woman in this question and answer time with Nancy asked, “Once a meaningful series like that comes to an end, how do we continue to keep our focus on Christ?”

Nancy: I found myself asking that question as I've been working on this series. I've spent months now in a very concentrated study of the life of Christ, which has been such a blessing. As you remember when I started that series, I shared with you my first encounter with the book by Oswald Sanders, The Incomparable Christ. It was during the Lenten season a couple of years ago just to fuel my own heart as I prepared for the Passion Week and Easter.

It so ministered to me that I decided I wanted to minister through that to our listeners and encourage a concentrated season of focusing on Christ. I think that is a helpful thing to do. Many of our listeners have said it had been so helpful to have this forty-day-or-so period where we're really honed in on Christ and His life, His passion, His resurrection, His redemptive work.

So I would start by saying it's really helpful to have recurring points of emphasis on Christ that you come back to. That may be on a weekly basis, on Sunday where some churches do the taking of Communion every Lord's Day. That can be a weekly opportunity to recalibrate and to refocus on Christ.

I would encourage you to be, with some degree of regularity, reading the Gospels. Don't just read the Gospels, but make sure you're not too long without reading the Gospels. That will point you to Christ. Then, during the Lenten season, or Christmas season, or the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas . . . The church calendar can be very helpful in this for those who come from more liturgical church backgrounds. That can be very helpful because there are these periodic markers throughout the course of the year that keep pointing us back to Christ.

You can do that even if you're not in a church like that. In the Old Testament God said to His people that certain events were to be celebrated year after year. Passover—God said this is the day of your salvation and deliverance from slavery. So every year, at this time you are to celebrate this. You are to remember that the blood was shed. It was spread on the doorpost and the angel of death passed over your house. The firstborn sons of the Egyptians were killed but you were spared. You are to celebrate this. You are to commemorate this. Which, by the way, is what we do every time we take the Lord's Supper. We remember His death until He returns.

I try on the anniversary of the day on which I came to Christ, May 14, 1963, (around that season, not always on that day, but around that time) I try to take time to really focus on God's saving work in my life and what that means so that it doesn’t get old. I try to look at it with new eyes.

I try to read devotional literature on Christ and the gospel that will give me fresh eyes toward some of these things that I’ve heard over and over again. I ask the Lord to give me a fresh sense of wonder at the old, old story. He has ways of doing that that are really sweet. I don't experience that every day of my life, the wonder of my salvation. I wish I did, but I don’t. But He does recurringly give me sweet reminders and remembrances of what He did for me.

I try to fuel that. If you have a fire that is going out, you throw more logs on the fire and you stoke the embers so that they'll get next to each other. That is, by the way, another way that that fire of love for Christ gets fueled in our hearts. It's by getting around other embers, by getting around other believers who love Jesus.

There are a few people in my life that any time I get around them it makes me want to know Jesus. There is something about their spirit. Some of those people have died and gone to heaven. There aren't enough of them, but there are some. You know some people like that perhaps. Get around those people. Plan, when you are together, to talk about spiritual matters. What is the Lord doing in your life? What have you seen of Christ recently that has been a blessing to you?

Malachi talks about those who loved the Lord spoke often of Him to each other. I am paraphrasing that verse in Malachi 2. Get around others who love Christ. Then, as you're reading the Scripture, which I hope that you’re doing every day—and I don’t mean that I don’t miss a day, but that is my goal every day to spend time with the Lord in His Word.

Sometimes I am reading in parts that don't seem to have anything to do with Jesus. You get into those heavy parts of the Old Testament. One of the things in my subconscious that I am mindful of when I am reading in the Scripture is how does this picture Christ? How does it point me to Christ? That is not always easy to see. But if you’re asking that question, you're going to be seeing Christ throughout the Scripture. It is His story. This is the redemptive story from beginning to end.

How does Jesus show up in the Garden of Eden? Ask yourself that question as you're reading the Scripture. The answer won't always be obvious, but at least you'll be more tuned in. When God clothed Adam and Eve in their nakedness because they were ashamed and guilty after they sinned, He killed animals, and out of those skins made clothes for Adam and Eve. Do we not see here an Old Testament foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ, who was killed, the slain lamb of God so that we could be clothed in His righteousness? Look for Jesus in the Scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you. I think that will help you keep a fresh love for Christ.

Sometimes we just need to do what Revelation 2 says—the word of Jesus to the Ephesian church. You've left your first love. You need to remember where you've fallen from, and you need to repent. You need to go back to doing the things that fueled your love in the first place.

Sometimes we need to stop and take stock and recalibrate and say, “I don’t love Jesus the way I did at one time. This has gotten too commonplace to me.” That is actually what the word “profanity” means. To profane something doesn’t just mean outward swearing. To use Jesus' name as a curse, that would be profanity. But profanity really means to treat something that is sacred as if it were commonplace. In that way of thinking, how many of us really live profane lives? Thinking or not thinking about Christ, treating something that is so sacred as if He were commonplace.

Sometimes we just need to confess that. “Lord, I have profaned You. I have not valued You and cherished You as you deserve. So, capture my heart afresh with who You are.”

Singing helps me with that. You asked me to be practical. Singing hymns about Christ and the wonders of Calvary and the wonders of the cross, they help me love Jesus more. They point me to Christ. They can put some fuel on the fire of my devotion for Christ that may have grown cold or dim.

We do grow cold sometimes. We do forget. That is why we need to remember. That is why we need to do things that help us remember:

  • the Lord's Supper
  • the Scripture
  • Old and New Testaments
  • encouraging one another
  • exhorting one another about Christ
  • speaking to one another about Christ
  • singing

These are all things that can help keep our focus on Christ.

Woman: You made a comment in one of the final sessions that in faith we also reign with Christ. What exactly does that mean?

Nancy: As you walk through epistles like Ephesians, Ephesians tells us, as others do in not so extensive a way, that we are, as Romans says, crucified with Christ and buried with Him. But Ephesians says you've been raised with Him, seated with Him in the heavenly places.

Christ, from that right hand of God, does reign and rule. Now, His reign and rule are not accepted—yet. It is still contested. The outcome has been determined. He is King; He is Lord. It's not that He's going to be Lord at the end of the ages. He is the reigning King and Lord of this universe. But there are still foes that are competing for His throne—people and nations and groups that want to reign themselves.

So we have the now. We have this reality that is not yet what it will be at some point in the future when all His enemies have been subdued and put under His feet and He will reign and rule with no contest, no challenge, every knee will bow. That's the "then" that we only have a glimpse of. We have the promises, and we see a bit of it now.

As that is true with Christ's rule, so I think it is true of our reign and rule. Scripture says that one day we will judge angels. One day we will judge nations with Christ. We'll do it in the redeemed new heaven and new earth with Him. Now we're on this old earth. But he has left us here as His vice-regents to express in this world to the extent that it can be known on this earth now of His reign and His rule.

We do that when we let Him reign over our own hearts and when we let Him control us. But also when we engage culture, when we represent Him through many acts of worship, faith and service, parenting, gardening, sharing Christ in a host of ways by being good workers in the workforce, and in so many ways that we express the kingdom of Christ, the reign and rule of Christ.

So as we will reign and rule with Him someday, to some extent that is true today. Not to the extent that it will be day. We could get discouraged having been left here on earth to do His kingdom business and to promote the kingdom of Christ. We see this world is taken over by devils and people representing the devil's cause. We can feel very hopeless, outnumbered, and overwhelmed if we just look at the situation down here on earth.

That is why I think Ephesians says before it ever goes to the part about putting on the spiritual armor of God and be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God so you may stand against the schemes of the devil. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against rulers and authorities (see 6:11-12).

Before He comes to all that in chapter 6, he comes in earlier parts of chapters 1 and 2 where he says you've been raised with Christ. What is Christ doing in His raised position at the right hand of God? He is reigning and ruling.

So as we pray prayers as a great weapon of our spiritual warfare, as we wrestle principalities and powers and the forces of spiritual wickedness in high places, we do so not from a position down here on earth where we are under the foot of people who don’t believe in Christ and are seeking to obliterate the gospel. We would get discouraged and give up if we thought we were wrestling from that vantage point.

That is where, by faith, we have to see ourselves as being raised with Christ, seated with Him in the heavenlies as Ephesians 1 says, in a way that is not bodily holy as it will be one day. But by faith, we will be united with Christ, therefore we engage in the battle here on earth from a position of victory, from a position of being exalted with Christ.

Again, not in the sense that it will one day be, but recognizing that we serve and minister and wage battle here in the victory and the triumph of Christ who has won that final victory and is being lived out and worked out now.

Leslie: We reign and rule with Christ. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining what that looks like for believers now. She was speaking to a group of women during a question and answer session.

Do you appreciate hearing Revive Our Hearts each weekday? We're able to come to you because listeners have given to support the ministry financially. 

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d like to say "thanks" by sending you a one-of-a-kind gift. It’s the 2014 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. We commissioned artist Timothy Botts to craft twelve original pieces for this calendar, including quotes from Nancy and focusing on the names of Jesus. It will add beauty to your home and help you think about who Jesus is as you look at the calendar and flip the pages each month.

We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Ask for “The Wonder of His Name” calendar when you call with your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you look at the deep needs of the women around you, do you feel inadequate to know how to help them? Nancy Leigh DeMoss says the first thing to do is realize God is your helper. She’ll talk about it next week in a new series called “O God Our Help.”

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Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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