Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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To Gain What You Cannot Lose, Day 1

Jim Elliot: I, as a Christian, I don't speak of myself as Jim Elliot but I as a Christian and you as a Christian are stepping in the fullness of the blaze of God's truth in order that we might know what it is to walk confidently.

Leslie Basham: Now well known for his martyrdom in the jungles of Ecuador, Jim Elliot was once a college student.

Jim: If your salvation rests anywhere else but in the fact of the resurrection and the implications of that resurrection that is like the Lord Jesus said, "If I live, you shall live also or because I live you shall live also." The implications of the resurrection are what make the gospel real.

Leslie: Years later his widow, Elisabeth, spoke of how focused he was, even as a student at Wheaton College.

Elisabeth Elliot: He had made up his mind that he wanted two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts and an A.U.G. The one he wanted most was A.U.G.—Approved unto God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

Sixty years ago this week, five young missionaries in Ecuador said goodbye to their families and flew out to make contact with a group of the Waodani people, sometimes called the Auca's. Those five missionaries never came back, but their influence continued to shape that area of Ecuador and inspired generations that followed to surrender everything to the Lord.

As we're marking the sixtieth anniversary of this martyrdom, we're also still remembering the life of Elisabeth Elliot who went home to be with the Lord this last year. We honored her life last year through some tribute programs and then by airing her memorial service.

Today, we'll hear from Elisabeth as she tells this story from the jungles of Ecuador. Here's Nancy to get us started.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Thanks, Leslie. You know, I'm afraid that all too often we say we'll go anywhere or do anything God wants us to do, but our lives don't always match our words. We say, "I'll serve you, Lord, but . . . I'll agree to what you're asking of me as long as I can insert some fine print before I sign on the dotted line."

But Jesus doesn't want half-hearted, lukewarm followers. He said in Luke 9, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (vv. 23–24).

God has used Elisabeth Elliot in so many people's lives, including my own, to challenge their thinking about life, about relationships, and about the Lord. And what we're about to hear today is no exception. We're going to head back in time to a conference held by Campus Crusade for Christ in Kansas City in 1983.

They called the conference KC83, and Elisabeth Elliot was one of the keynote speakers. All this week, to commemorate the martyrdom of those five missionaries, including her husband, we're going to listen to this classic talk by Elisabeth Elliot. I think you'll be encouraged in your faith when you find yourself put to the test. Let's listen to Elisabeth Elliot speaking on the topic of endurance to a stadium full of college students in 1983.

Elisabeth Elliot: A few generations ago, a young Scottish athlete was put to the test. An athlete put to the test you say? So what else is new? It happens all the time. It's the only way to become an athlete—training, coaching, endurance, tests. The one I'm talking about was put to a test, not by his coach, but by his God. With every chance of winning a gold medal, this man went to France to run in the Olympics.

The test came the minute he got off the boat. Somebody told him that his race was to be run on Sunday. You know who I'm talking about: Eric Liddell. I heard somebody say that. The man in the film Chariots of Fire. Liddell was a Scottish Presbyterian. Running a race on Sunday was, to him, unthinkable.

Do you remember what happens next in the film? Does he get in touch with his feelings? Do you find him sharing his hang-ups with thirty-eight of his closest friends? You don't see any of that; the decision is already made. The decision has been made years before, as a matter of fact, when he made up his mind to follow Jesus Christ in obedience.

Jesus was Lord of Eric Liddell's life. That settled a whole lot of things before they even came up. One of the most moving scenes in the movie was the one in which the President of the Olympic Games and the Prince of Wales tried to persuade him that he's made a foolish choice. One of them suggests that it is arrogance to put his personal convictions above the glory of the British Empire.

With perfect courtesy and perfect resolution in a quiet voice, Liddell answers that the arrogance lies in the man who would seek to persuade another to act against his conscience. Liddell was a man who knew what really mattered. The price that gold medal was not too high for him to pay. Does anything matter that much to you?

The God who put the Olympic runner to the test has been doing the same thing for a long time. Some of you might have read a book called Genesis. In chapter 22 it says this:

The time came when God put Abraham to the test. "Abraham," he called, and Abraham replied, "Here I am." God said, "Take your son, Isaac, your only son whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and there you shall offer him as a sacrifice on one of the hills which I will show you" (vv. 1–2 paraphrased).

Can you imagine a command like that? What would you do? I bet I can guess: you'd struggle. Everywhere I go, young people talk to me of how they're struggling with this and that. "I mean, like, I'm just really struggling, you know, just really, really struggling." Sometimes "struggling" is a nice word for postponed obedience.

Sometimes "struggling" is a nice word for postponed obedience.

The Book doesn't say a word about Abraham's feelings. If he worked through his feelings, he did a mighty quick job of it. You know what the Book says? "Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his ass and went out" (v. 3). Immediate obedience. Abraham knew his God. That was what mattered.

Hundreds of years later, God was still sifting the hearts of men. A man came to Jesus. "Master," he said, "what good must I do to obtain eternal life?"

Jesus said, "If you wish to go the whole way, go and sell your possessions. Give to the poor and then you will have riches in heaven. And come, follow me."

That man knew what mattered most to him—money. The book says, "He turned away sadly for he had great wealth" (from Mark 10:17–22). He was too rich to follow. That's what it comes down to.

Do you know what really matters to you? Have you made up your mind about that? The tests are coming. I promise you they're coming. If you're anything like me, you'd like to have some idea of what the tests are going to be. I can't tell you what the specific tests will be that God will use to sift your heart, but I'm going to tell you what they've been for some twentieth century Christians.

But first, I'll tell you what to expect in this talk. I'll tell you what I'm going to say. Then I'm going to try to say it, and then I'll try to tell you what I've said. After that, I'm going to shut up. You know, they say that a speaker has four speeches—the one that he prepares, the one that he gives, the one the audience thinks it heard, and the one that the press reports the next day. There's not necessarily any connection at all between them.

My talk tonight is about endurance. Ever heard that? Ever heard that word? Three points—can you remember three?

  • Number one: What do you live for?
  • Number two: How do you get it?
  • Number three: Is it worth it?

What do you live for? How do you get it? Is it worth it?

Number one: What do you live for? Honestly now, what is it? I wanted to give you a chance to answer that question for yourselves. It's one question about which you simply must make up your mind. If there's one thing that seems to be a problem for students these days, it's making up their minds.

They don't have any difficulty whatever knowing what kind of music they like, what they want on their Big Macs, and what kind of a car they'd buy if they had about $40,000 to throw around. They know the answers to those questions.

But I'm talking about things that matter a little bit more than those things . . . things like, "I'm just not really sure whether I can hack it with this roommate for the rest of the year. And, I don't really know whether I should major in political science or home economics. I mean, it's just really hard. I'm just really not sure I know what I'm going to be and maybe I should switch. I'm not sure I came to the right college. Well, my career, my dad wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer or something like that, but I'm just not really sure what I want to do. And then there's this girl in my life. We've got this neat relationship and all, but well, I'm just not sure that I'm ready for all that stuff like commitment and all. You know what I mean? I really haven't made up my mind."

Am I ringing any bells out there? What have you made up your mind about in the last, let's say, two years? You know what you want in music and on a hamburger. Do you know what you really want in life?

The Quechua Indians in the jungles of Ecuador had a very handy word that worked for an answer to anything. The word was yunga, and it means, "for nothing, for no particular purpose."

I remember one time a young Indian came to my husband, Jim Elliot, and told him that he wanted to be baptized. Jim said, "Why?"

And He said, "Huh?"

And Jim said, "Why do you want to be baptized?"

And he said, "Yunga." For nothing. No particular reason.

Well, Jim said, "You're going to have to come up with a better answer than that."

What do you live for? Yunga? I want to tell you a little bit about that missionary, Jim Elliot. I knew him when he was a college student. As far as we women could see, he was unattainable—handsome, popular, champion wrestler, president of the Foreign Missions Fellowship, honor student, campus clown—but alas, a woman hater. That's what we thought.

And incidentally guys, if you want them to swarm around you, let them think you're unattainable. Give them something to wonder about.

But we were way off. Jim Elliot was no woman hater. He had found out when he was in high school that he could spend an awful lot of time and money on girls. They were very attractive and very interesting and very expensive. So he decided when he got to college that he would just delete them from his schedule.

It sounded like the men were cheering on that one. He wanted something much more important. He had made up his mind that he wanted two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, which the college was qualified to confer, and an A.U.G. which the college was not qualified to confer. The one he wanted most was A.U.G.—Approved unto God. He got that out of the apostle Paul's letter to Timothy, and he had made up his mind what he wanted to live for.

I found out how resolute Jim was in his decision when the college year books came out. I don't even know whether you have college year books anymore and I certainly don't have any idea whether you go rushing around trying to get all your friends autographs in them, but that's what we used to do.

We girls would hope forlornly that the man we had our eye on might put something besides his name in the book—something sweet. It was with great trepidation that I presented my book to Jim Elliot, asking for his autograph; and very fast with his flowing, rapid hand, he wrote, "Jim Elliot, 2 Timothy 2:4."

How long do you think it took me to get back to the dormitory and get my Bible to look up that verse? I was desperately hoping for a cryptic message. There was nothing cryptic about it. It said, "A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved in civilian affairs." It's not the end of the verse. "He must be wholly at his commanding officer's disposal."

Now, think back to Eric Liddell. How had he gotten to be a champion runner? By putting himself at the disposal of a coach, by learning the rules, by being obedient. Obedience to a track coach is bound to involve a tremendous amount of something called endurance.

This brings me to my second point. You've already forgotten the first one. It was, "What do you live for?"

Number two, how do you get it? Whatever it is you want, it's going to cost you something. Eric Liddell put his gold medal on the line; Abraham, his beloved son; Jim Elliot, his life, ultimately.

If you want a 3.2 Liter Farari with torsion bar suspension and forty venturi carburators, it's going to cost you something. Most of you, if you had the money to buy that kind of a car, would not feel that it was a sacrifice. It would be well worth it.

If it's God's will that you want more than anything else in the world, it's going to mean endurance. Where did I get that idea? Isn't the Christian life supposed to be "happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind," and feeling comfortable about things? Lots of good feelings and lots of good vibes? I heard a song about, "I love the feeling that I get when I get together with God's wonderful people." Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews says: "You need endurance if you are to do God's will and attain what He has promised." You need endurance. Do you feel comfortable with that word? I don't. We like to feel comfortable about everything. Do you think those thousands of hours pounding the cinders were soothing to Eric Liddell? How relaxed do you think Abraham felt as he toiled up that mountain with his donkey and his servant and the wood to roast his son? Relaxed? Comfortable?

Listen to what an old preacher of the seventeenth century named Samuel Rutherford wrote:

It costs Christ and all His followers sharp showers and hot sweats, ere they win to the top of the mountain; but still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside when we are sleeping and lying down with us that we might go to heaven in warm clothes; but all that came there found wet feet by the way and sharp storms that did take the hide off their faces and found to's and fro's and ups and downs and many enemies by the way.

How shall we late twentieth century Americans and whoever else is here, how shall we who hardly know what the word "suffering" means ever grasp this idea, so central to the gospel, that following Jesus Christ means a cross? The cross was an instrument of torture. Would you wear an electric chair on a little gold chain around your neck? It was the Roman method of execution. "If you wish to go the whole way," Jesus said to the rich young man, "sell everything." The whole way.

Jesus put His finger instantly on the crucial point: the man's money, his possessions. "Get rid of it," He said. "Then, follow Me." Who wants to hear that? Who takes that kind of discipleship seriously? Some people do. I want to encourage you to see that it's still possible to believe that God means what He says. He expects us to trust Him, and He offers us staggering rewards if only we'll endure.

Nancy: Well, we've been listening to the first part of a classic talk by Elisabeth Elliot that she gave at KC83, a rally college students held in Kansas City in 1983. And those words are still relevant and fresh today because principles from God's Word are timeless.

Song: Twila Paris

There once was a man born of high circumstance,
Heir to advantage, he had every chance to succeed.
But light from the cross made his dreams appear small.
And to their surprise he went far—from it all.
For the love of his Savior, for one priceless jewel,
They could not understand, so they called him a fool.

He is no fool
If he would choose
To give the thing he cannot keep
To buy what he can never lose.
To see a treasure in one soul
That far outshines the brightest gold.
He is no fool, he is no fool.
He is no fool, he is no fool.

There once was a boy who could run like the wind.
Given to lead, every man was his friend at the line,
But light from the cross made his race appear small.
And to their amazement, he followed the call.1

Nancy: I appreciated the way that Elisabeth used Jim Elliot and Eric Liddell and even Abraham as illustrations of men who made up their minds ahead of time, before they were put to the test. So, your life may seem to be smooth sailing right now, and if it is, praise the Lord. Remember that now is the time to make up your mind what you're living for.

Leslie: We'll be hearing more of that message tomorrow. Let me tell you how to hear more about this woman of God. Last year we aired a series honoring the life of Elisabeth Elliot. And we heard from many evangelical leaders who were influenced by her life. You can hear those programs at Just click on today's program and find the links in the transcript.

And I hope you'll get a copy of Elisabeth's book Through Gates of Splendor. It tells the story of the five missionaries martyred sixty years ago this week. We'll send you the book as our thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts and help this program to continue coming to you every week day. Ask for the book Through Gates of Splendor when you call 1–800–569–5959 or visit

We'll continue to hear from Elisabeth Elliot tomorrow. Not only did Jim and Elisabeth surrender everything to the Lord while in Ecuador, they had surrendered much earlier than that and it affected all areas of their life including their courtship. We'll hear about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

1"He Is No Fool," Twila Paris, For Every Heart ℗ 1988 Star Song Music.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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