Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Protecting Children from False Teaching

Jodi Ware: All right, I have a question for each one of you. You can think about it. The question is: What is sin? Riley, what is your answer?

Riley: Sin is disobeying God.

Leslie Basham: Today’s guests are Bruce and Jodi Ware, asking children what they think about sin and salvation.

Child 2: Sin is either not doing something which God has commanded us to do, or doing something that He has commanded us not to do.

Child 3: You’re pretty much hopeless.

Dr. Bruce Ware: Okay, kids, one more question: What does it mean to be saved?

Riley: It means God has given you a new heart, a new spirit, and you have been forgiven of your sins.

Child 2: We accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, that He died on the cross to save us from our sins.

Child 3: Christ lives in you. You’re completely transformed.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, July 15.

Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with our guests, Bruce and Jodi Ware.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You’ve probably seen the statistics of how many children have grown up in our Bible-preaching, evangelical churches and homes today but have graduated from high school, gone into their college years, and have left the church. They are leaving the faith—whether or not they ever actually had it—and they are leaving behind, rejecting, what they were taught. They are saying, “I don’t want to have anything to do with that anymore.”

Or there are those who get to college, who get into difficult classes or have professors who are challenging their faith, and who find out that they don’t know what they really believe or why. When their faith is tested, they find that it doesn’t withstand the test.

True faith, of course, will withstand the test. But it’s a great burden on my heart that we be equipping the next generation with the knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word, and the knowledge of His ways so that they can stand up to the assaults that will be leveled against that faith.

I’m so thankful for my dear friends, Bruce and Jodi Ware, who love the Lord. They love the Scripture, and they’re actively involved in ministry of different types, teaching the Word and the ways of God to others.

Bruce has written a book we’ve been talking about this week, and we’re going to talk more about it today. Bruce and Jodi, thank you so much for being with us here on Revive Our Hearts and sharing with our listeners what God has put in your hearts.

Dr. Ware: Thank you, Nancy. It’s a delight to be here.

Jodi: We’re so glad. Thank you.

Nancy: One of the things that I really appreciate about you, Bruce and Jodi, is that you’re both very knowledgeable in the Word of God. I appreciate that. But what I love is that when you talk about theology and doctrine and Scripture, it’s not something that’s boring or dull or hard to listen to. It’s . . . well, the word that comes to mind is “doxological.” You love the doctrines of God, and there’s joy and vitality in your hearts and in your countenances and in your expressions as you talk about the things of God. That’s really the way it ought to be for all of us.

Dr. Ware: Amen.

Jodi: That’s something for which we are thankful to God for His work in our life and for the Spirit giving us that joy.

Nancy: You believe in the importance of passing that joy on to others—not just the content. The content is a foundation, but it’s so important to place the content in the context of who God really is, His greatness, and the wonder of His salvation.

Bruce, you’re a seminary professor at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and you teach these things to people who will be teaching them to others in our churches in days ahead.

Dr. Ware: Right.

Nancy: Thank you for doing that.

Dr. Ware: Well, thank you.

Nancy: And, Jodi, you’re involved in ministry to young women in your church and to the wives of seminary students, and you’re teaching these things as well.

Jodi: Yes.

Nancy: Thank you for being a Titus 2 woman, passing these truths on to others.

Jodi: One thing I love about growing older is the opportunity to be an older woman in younger women’s lives. It’s a privilege. It’s a high calling. It’s something we don’t get from the culture, but there’s great joy in being an older woman.

Nancy: Bruce, you have done something that I think is such a huge service to the body of Christ by writing a book. You’ve written many books, but you have written a book that anyone can understand who’s got the Spirit of God. It’s a book called Big Truths for Young Hearts. It’s intended to help parents pass on the theology of the greatness of God to their children.

Dr. Ware: Yes.

Nancy: Tell us just a little bit about that book for a listener who may not have been with us for the last couple of days.

Dr. Ware: Right. Well, what you said, Nancy, is exactly the purpose of this book—to pass on the greatness of God, His richness and beauty, the wisdom of His ways, and the richness of the teaching of His Word to the next generation, to our own children. Parents have this enormous privilege and responsibility to be the ones through whom their children will be acquainted with the most important truths there are to know—period. There’s nothing greater than understanding God rightly. There’s nothing worse for a person than understanding God wrongly.

So here parents have this tremendous opportunity and privilege—and one that I hope this book will assist them in—and that’s passing on truths that are great and glorious. These truths have the potential of shaping children’s minds and worldviews, informing their affections—the things they care about—helping them love what they ought to love and hate what they ought to hate, and giving them a basis to prioritize things that are truly important and to see things that are not important for what they are as well.

So really, we’re assigning to life the value of things as God sees them, and keeping God first and foremost because He is worthy. He alone possesses those qualities that ought to elicit from us our deepest affection, adoration, and worship.

Nancy: Amen, amen. We’re seeing in our churches and in our culture today the fallout of not having right theology.

Dr. Ware: Yes. In so many ways. I was with a group of Christian people last night, and we talked about the multitude of ways in which, even in the church, Christian people are turning away from the clear teaching of God. It’s because the values of our culture are more attractive. The ways in which our culture thinks, the things it thinks are important, the things it thinks are right and wrong—these are actually contrary to Scripture, but nonetheless, Christian people begin believing more what the culture thinks than what the Bible says.

So we have to be intentional in our own lives as parents, in truly believing the Word of God, in studying it, embracing it, taking it into our own hearts, and reshaping our own minds. Then, with our children, we have to help them resist the onslaught of cultural pressure to think in worldly ways rather than in the ways of God.

Nancy: One of the things that interested me that I heard you say last night was that there are more strains of false doctrine floating through the church today, many of which did not even exist thirty years ago.

Dr. Ware: Right.

Nancy: And we’re seeing new . . . it’s like new viruses developing.

Dr. Ware: Exactly.

Nancy: And what will immunize Christians against these things which are being taught? You can get them from Christian books, Christian bookstores, Christian radio, Christian television. What will help give normal, average church members the capacity to discern and to deal with those dangerous doctrinal strains, some of which are very popular, is an understanding of theology.

Jodi: That’s right, Nancy. So much in our culture today encourages us to be shallow thinkers, to not think things through logically. We need to be motivated ourselves and then to pass on to our children the importance of learning to be thinkers, to be people of the Book, to know and love and cherish the truth that God has revealed to us, so that when false teaching comes our way, we can detect it and be on guard against it.

Nancy: For any mothers and dads who may be listening, let me say that there is nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing more important or essential that you can do for your children than to be teaching them the doctrines of the Christian faith:

  • who God is—Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • who man is
  • what sin is
  • who Jesus is
  • why Jesus came
  • what salvation means

On and on we could go.

If you are not training your children in the ways of God—they may be great students, they may be great athletes, they may be great musicians, and they may have great earning capacity, but if they don’t know God and the truth of God’s Word, you will have done them a huge disservice. I really believe God is going to hold parents accountable for whether they were faithful in teaching their children the ways of God.

I feel like I’m on a soapbox.

Jodi: It’s a good soapbox.

Nancy: I believe this so strongly, and, Bruce, I’m so thankful you’ve written this book. It’s a huge aid and help to parents who say, “I don’t know where to start.” Maybe as a parent you didn’t get this training when you were growing up, or you’ve forgotten some of the things that you did know.

This is a systematic approach to teaching doctrine to your children—in bite-size portions, short chapters, with questions for interaction at the end of each chapter. And then I love the fact that you included a Scripture verse or verses at the end and something to read or talk about.

Jodi, I know that in your home, as you were raising your daughters, Scripture memory really was an important part of that process.

Jodi: It has been a big priority in our home. It’s so apparent that young children can memorize much better than older people. I find that as I get older, it’s harder and harder to memorize, so I wanted to invest in their capacity when they were young, to encourage them.

We did a lot of different things. We had charts and stickers and passages to memorize, but one of our favorite things we did was on family vacations. All of our relatives and extended family live on the West Coast. For years we have lived in Minnesota and Illinois and Kentucky, so we have taken a lot of trips driving across the county to the West Coast.

Nancy: A lot of hours in a car.

Jodi: Lots of hours in the car, and we wanted to redeem those hours. We didn’t want to waste them. So every trip we would pick out a passage—such as a psalm or Romans 12—a chapter we wanted to memorize together as a family. It’s so interesting that even to this day, I will read some of those passages, and I’m instantly transported back to the Rockies, or some place where I remember we were working on that passage together.

It’s a great way to emphasize the priority of the Word of God in our lives together and also to be engaged as a family discussing what these things mean and how that should affect the way we think and the way we live. That’s something we did a lot on family vacations.

I am grieved when I see families who have DVD players in the car, and everybody is listening to their own music, doing their own things, and not interacting together as a family. Those are precious times that can be redeemed in ways that matter for eternity.

Nancy: And lost opportunities if you don’t.

Jodi: Absolutely.

Nancy: What you are really doing is what Scripture talks about in Deuteronomy chapter 6, where it says these truths—these commands of God, this doctrine about who God is—these are to be on your heart; you are to love Him with all your heart, etc. (See verses 5-6.)

These words are not only to be on your heart, but “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”—and, we might say, when you drive through the Rockies. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (verses 7-9).

I think the concept there is that this is to be the environment in which you are raising your children, not with the DVD players and the television and the external influences. Not that those things in and of themselves are sinful, but are you taking advantage of every opportunity to get the Word of God in front of your children?

And to use those teachable moments—I know for you, Bruce, a lot of those teachable moments started in the evenings when your kids were getting put down to bed. It’s amazing how kids . . . That’s when they start to come alive and really want to talk.

Dr. Ware: That’s right. At least, it was true of our two girls that the Lord graciously gave to us. They were just lively, happy, giggly little girls, and it was difficult to get them to quiet down and go to sleep at night. One evening it occurred to me, “Boy, why not take advantage of all that energy. They don’t want to go to sleep, so take those moments before they go to sleep at night, in their beds, and just think through things that really matter—the great, glorious truths of God—to help shape their minds in those last moments of the day.”

The Lord just brought me to this. I’m so glad He did. I didn’t have any intention, really, of doing it. It was just a thought that came to my mind, which I’m sure the Lord gave me, of using that time to teach them theology.

So at bedtimes I would spend about 15 minutes with each of our daughters. We went through the whole Christian faith from the doctrine of the Bible to the doctrine of last things. That really was the seed for what prompted this book to come about: the experience we had as a family learning doctrine together.

Jodi: And what a great way to go to sleep—with those things filling your mind, with truth about God and who He is. What a wonderful way to go to sleep and rest.

Nancy: And to have those thoughts working in the hearts and subconscious of those children. We often wake with what was the last thing on our mind when we went to sleep.

Dr. Ware: Yes.

Jodi: That’s right.

Nancy: Are you taking opportunities to fill your children’s minds with great thoughts about God? Not just any thoughts about God—the world has a lot of thoughts about God that are wrong—but biblical thinking about God. We’ve talked about the importance and value of doing that on the drive through the Rockies and in everyday, real-life moments, teachable moments, as they’re going to sleep at night.

When I was growing up, something that was really emphasized in Christian circles—you don’t hear it so much today—was the whole concept of family devotions or the family altar or family worship. The idea was to take a set time for the express purpose of teaching the Word and training children in the ways of God. Is that something you try to do in your own family?

Jodi: It certainly is, and it’s something for which we’re thankful—both Bruce and I were raised with that in our families. It was a time to read the Bible, ask questions, discuss, and share things. We spent time in singing and learning hymns and then praying together.

One of our favorite things was a notebook of prayer requests for our family. We’d write the request in blue ink and then write the answers in red ink, so we could just riffle through that notebook and see all of the red ink—see all of the ways that God had answered prayer. It was so encouraging to our faith as we faced a new challenge.

Nancy: What a great way for your children to grow up knowing that God really does answer prayer—that God is real.

Jodi: Absolutely.

Nancy: This is not just head knowledge. This is something that is true and that God is a powerful, prayer-hearing God.

Dr. Ware: Absolutely. I remember, Nancy, times when we would get the red pen out because it had been maybe weeks since a prayer request had been written in there from one of our family members, or maybe something Bethany had said from school, and we’d prayed about that and prayed about that and committed it to the Lord. And then when the answer came, boy, what a thrill to pull out that red pen and write in there the way in which God had so clearly answered that prayer.

It became for our family such a rock—a testimony of the faithfulness of God and the reality of what it means to live life trusting Him and really committing things to Him. Our children and we, their parents, benefited so much in that exercise.

Nancy: Now, I’ve got to ask this because I’m one of seven children. I don’t know if this was an experience in your family with just two children, but were your daughters always eager to have family devotions, to sit down, hands folded, saying, “Teach me, O great father”? Was this something that was always a joy and just a very orderly experience? Or did you ever experience anything like what we did in our family, which was that it was hard to get everyone settled down. Did you ever feel like, “I really don’t know if this is working”?

Jodi: Feel like giving up?

Nancy: Yes.

Jodi: Absolutely. Oh, yes. We are all sinners, and we were distracted, and there were times when they did not want to enter in and weren’t terribly responsive. But you have to keep on being faithful and having a regular time, trusting that the Spirit will work.

We are not our children’s Holy Spirit. We cannot bring conviction; we cannot open their eyes to see the glories of the gospel. But we can commit ourselves to keep exposing them to these things and then trusting the Spirit to be at work.

Dr. Ware: Another thing, Nancy, that ties in to what Jodi has just said is that I needed to learn, as the one who led most of these times together, just some practical things—like don’t be too long. They have relatively short attention spans when they’re younger, although I think they’re longer than we assume.

Nancy: Especially if they’re not growing up glued to the television.

Dr. Ware: That’s right.

Jodi: Absolutely.

Dr. Ware: I really think that if there’s something interesting, you can hang on to them a lot longer than you think. But nonetheless, you don’t want to overdo it.

Nancy: There is a limit.

Dr. Ware: There is a limit. I needed to learn, as the dad, to be reasonable in my expectations and to have shorter pieces that were meaningful. Also, Jodi and I both tried to convey to them not only the truths that we talked about but also our own hearts. Honestly, if we cried over things, I didn’t feel embarrassed about that. I thought that was probably a good thing for them to see that their mom or their dad is touched by this.

I wanted them to know that the truths we’re talking about are authentically real. We, as their parents, are putting our own hope in the very truths we’re talking about. So I think conveying to children the authenticity of this in the lives of the parents is part of what makes it real to the children.

I give praise to God—it’s all of His grace—but we do have two girls, and our two girls are walking with the Lord with sincerity. I know the Lord worked in their hearts in genuine ways, and I think that one of the things that contributed to that was the Lord working in us as the parents to portray before them an authentic commitment to the very things we were trying to pass on to them.

Nancy: I think your lives are such a beautiful picture of the fact that there is an effort on the part of the parents. It does take effort; it takes intentionality; it takes sacrifice; it takes being purposeful and not just letting the world raise your children, but saying, “God has given us this responsibility.”

So you set yourselves to it. You did the hard work and made the investment—when I’m sure that at times it would have been easier to pass off that responsibility or delegate it to someone else—and yet you also recognize in humility that you can’t make your children love God.

Jodi: Absolutely. There are no guarantees in parenting. Our children are gifts from the Lord, and we’re responsible to be good stewards and to teach and train and work hard and be faithful. But there is no way that we can produce in their hearts what only God can do. We are very aware of our dependence upon Him. We were from the beginning, knowing what we cared about the most we couldn’t do in their life—only God could do.

Dr. Ware: Yes.

Nancy: That’s what makes prayer so vital in parenting.

Dr. Ware: Yes.

Jodi: Absolutely.

Nancy: I want to thank you not only for being faithful to the Lord yourselves, faithful as parents in the parenting of your daughters, but now for providing such a service and gift to the body of Christ. Bruce, this book, Big Truths for Young Hearts, is a great resource for all of our listeners who have children, or who influence children, or who themselves are just needing a refresher course in basic Christian doctrine.

Listen, the Word of God is alive. It is powerful. God is alive. He is real. His gospel is true, and on every front around us today, those truths that we hold dear are being challenged. You need to know what you believe, why you believe it, how to prove it from the Word of God, and you need to be passing these things on to your children.

My dad went to be with the Lord on the weekend of my 21st birthday. I’m the oldest of the seven children, so the seven children at that point were the ages of 8 to 21. Shortly after he died, within just a matter of a couple of days, I received in the mail a piece of paper in his handwriting that he had sent just before he went to be with the Lord—not knowing, of course, that he was going to die. On it was just the reference of 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

My dad’s been with the Lord now for more than 30 years, but I think that was his joy. That was what He wanted. That’s what my mother wanted for us. And what a joy, if he can see and knows in heaven today what is happening through this ministry—what a joy that would bring to his heart to know that his firstborn daughter and his other children are walking in the truth.

You can have no greater joy as a parent than to know God and to know that your children know God and love Him and are serving Him.

It’s not a matter of books and tools—they can’t do it for you, but they can be a help. They can give you a track to run on. So I just want to appeal to you and encourage you to commit yourself afresh to this task of teaching the next generation the truth of God. Thank the Lord there is this book available, Big Truths for Young Hearts, that will help you and equip you in that task.

Leslie: We want to send you a copy of the book Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking about with Bruce and Jodi Ware. The book is called Big Truths for Young Hearts. When you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send a copy to show our gratitude. Ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

While you’re on our website, you can interact with our guest, Bruce Ware. He’s participating on our Listener Blog today. Ask him a question at ReviveOurHearts.com.

“Kids need anchors.” That’s what Tom and Jeannie Elliff say while looking back on their earlier parenting years. They’re not talking about putting your kids on boats. They’ll explain further tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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