Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth calls us to both truth and love.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: For those who really do dot their i's and cross their t's theologically (they’re sound), it’s really important that we also have heart, that our hearts be aflame. Because otherwise a lot of the modern day evangelical world is looking at our Bible-centered, theologically orthodox people and saying, “You guys are uptight. I’m not interested in that. That does not appeal to me.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Thursday, September 21, 2017.

In the book of Revelation Jesus sends seven messages to seven different churches. In these letters He challenges the church of Thyatira for tolerating unsound doctrine and immoral behavior. This letter to Thyatira has a lot to say to us today, as Nancy explained yesterday, in the series "Letters to the Churches in Revelation, Part 5: The Sin of Tolerance."

Today she and some friends will explore some of the practical implications of this letter even further.

Nancy: In the last session on this letter to the church in Thyatira, we got real practical. I tried to make some specific application of what we’re talking about in issues of worldliness. I found as I was preparing for this series that it was hard enough to understand these passages and then to figure out how to explain them in an understandable way because there’s a lot of Old Testament background.

But then one of the most challenging things for me was how do you apply this to a twenty-first century mind? And how do you do that? Do you name names? Do you give specifics? In fact, in the session I referred to some current books and video games, and then we opened up for some questions afterwards.

And one of the questions was, “Can you tell us what you were talking about? What was the movie? What were the books?” which I did in that session. I’m not going to do that here on the radio because we need to learn discernment. If I just name three, then there are thirty-three others that maybe haven’t gotten named, and people’s hearts can change. We just need to learn to discern.

But I want to continue some of that conversation about helping people connect the dots between what we’re talking about in Revelation 2 and how that applies to life. I have three friends with me in the studio. Terry Morledge. She and her husband, Mike, serve as part of the Revive Our Hearts ministry team. I have Holly Elliff and Kim Wagner; you’ve heard them a number of times on the broadcast. We love to interact on these things and talk about how as women we can really apply them to our lives.

Maybe this could just set up our discussion. As we’ve been looking at these different churches, we saw the church of Ephesus that was doctrinally orthodox, but they had a lack of heart and passion and love. So a lot of light but not a lot of heat—what we call dead orthodoxy.

I think in many senses that is what sometimes gives rise to false teaching. People growing up in these churches maybe think, I don’t want that lifeless . . . the head is all right but the heart is missing.

So then we come to Thyatira, this church which had love and service and heart but it lacked doctrinal soundness. They devalued objective truth. They justified and rationalized immorality and idolatry. And it seems like churches kind of go to one extreme or the other.

I have tended to gravitate, because I’m such a strong believer in truth, to churches that are probably more like the church at Ephesus where there is strong orthodoxy, strong teaching; where they don’t tolerate Jezebels, at least not knowingly in the church, but where sometimes there’s not as much spirit and life and love for Christ. I think some of our listeners perhaps more are inclined in that direction. That’s why they like this program because it’s strong on truth.

But it’s true of myself that I can be heavy on the truth and lacking in the heart and the love. And my concern is that some of the children growing up in some of those kinds of homes, some of the next generation growing up in some of those kinds of churches, it doesn’t draw them to Christ. They’re not drawn to want our biblical orthodoxy.

So we have now the pendulum swinging in this generation and a whole lot of Christians in churches going more after this. We love each other, we serve each other, but we’re going to tolerate some of this false teaching.

Do you all see this happening in the Christian world that sometimes the lack of heart is what sends people off into some of these doctrinal aberrations?

Holly Elliff: I don't think it's so much a choice to tolerate false teaching, as it is that we have so gotten away from the truth of God's Word that we don't know what true doctrine is. We have now, in churches men and women and teenagers who go with what is said because they do not have discernment. They do not know that it violates God's Word.

It sounds good, and they are not doctrinally wise enough for it to bother them. They don't know that it is error because it sounds good and it is truth with a mixture of error. But because they are not students of the Word, they can't discern that that mixture is there.

Nancy: I agree with you Holly, but what I think I want to point out here is that for those who really do dot their i's and cross their t's theologically. They are sound. It's really important that we also have heart. That our hears are aflame. Otherwise, the modern-day evangelical world is looking at our Bible-centered, theologically orthodoxy and saying, "You guys are uptight. I'm not interested in that. That does not appeal to me."

Holly: There are two churches. There is church A over here who does have all the doctrine right but does not have the passion for Christ that church B over here is heavy. They are looking for the passion and the emotion that goes with that, but are light on the doctrine. Ideally, God’s church, the church of Scripture that Christ describes, is one who understands both those things. It’s Titus 2 where it talks about behavior that matches belief.

So it’s not one or the other. It’s a woman or a man or a student who is balanced in both the truth but they are not dead. They have the life of Christ flowing through them. So they have a balance of reaching out to that lost person in their life, of seeing how God’s Word fits in this current world, and how God desires to redeem this world not in spite of the truth but through the truth as it is balanced with love and grace.

Nancy: Now the focus on this particular church we’re looking at in Thyatira and the preceding one, Pergamum, is this concern that Jesus had about what we’ve been calling worldliness—a love for the world, for the things in the world, for its passions, our hearts being drawn away from love for Christ and drawn into the world.

And the mindset so many times today is this worldly mindset. I know that term really sounds old-fashioned to a lot of people. But it’s a biblical concept we need to resurrect. The concept is that you know it’s not anybody else’s job to police this stuff or to monitor this stuff and that you’re going to fall into legalism if you say, “These are clear-cut issues.”

If you raise the question about, “Is this a movie that a Christian should be comfortable seeing?” the quick charge is going to be, “You’re being legalistic.”

Kim Wagner: A common byword that I hear today in churches but especially with the students that I work with is, “It’s not that big a deal. Why does anybody make a big deal out of this? It’s not a big deal.” It's the idea that you can be exposed to a ton of ungodliness and it not affect you—so the reasoning goes.

It was interesting that you mentioned a movie. There are so many movies that would not fit with a biblical mindset. It would not be promoting godliness. 

I was a visitor in a Sunday school class this past week out of town. And as a visitor normally I don’t speak or share my opinion or thoughts. But a discussion began before the lesson even started with a lot of the women in that classroom talking about their daughters being so taken by this new movie that had come out.

I had actually researched the movie online and knew that this was something very inconsistent with godliness or holiness. And one woman in that class spoke and said, “I think every decision we make should be weighed by what Scripture instructs us to do. And Philippians 4 gives us instructions on what we are to put into our mind.”

I was so glad to hear that one woman was standing up and speaking that. But the Sunday school teacher then expressed his opinion. His daughter was one that had gone to the movie, and he didn’t have a clue what the movie was about until these other mothers were telling him what it was about.

But he said, “Well, I think it’s wrong to shelter our children from the world. And we don’t need to be sheltering our children. If they’re going to live in the world, they need to be exposed to the world before they get out there.”

So a lot of discussion ensued.

Nancy: And you were coming out of your chair? Were you having a hard time keeping your seat?

Kim: I did speak.

Holly: I was going to say, “If you made it through that class without speaking, I was going to be amazed.”

Kim: I didn’t. But I learned your lesson. I was smiling, Holly, while I speak truth.

I did share that there is a reason why in Proverbs that God instructs us to guard our hearts. And we are to guard our minds. And we as parents are to be responsible for what our children are exposed to. We do give them opportunities to make decisions—at proper times.

God has instructed us to strive for holiness. I knew specifically in this movie that two teenagers were unwed and sleeping together at night with their clothes on.

Nancy: Actually, people who have spoken positively about the movie say it's a picture of self-restraint, of abstinence.

Kim: I think it is a picture of the church in bed with the world. You’re trying to get as close to sin as you can, but you’re not taking your clothes off. You’re not actually committing fornication.

But you’re right there on that borderline trying to get as close as you can and saying that it’s all right and justifying what you’re doing when your passion are being enflamed. You can’t tell me that those two teenaged children in bed together were not having passionate sensual feelings toward one another.

Why would we want to defraud one another by enflaming in another person something that you cannot righteously fulfill?

Holly: I think probably the most dangerous thing about this movie or these books or this type of thing is that we for generations now have not taught our children to be discerning. That’s why we’re losing Christian kids to the world. That’s why they can walk into these movies and never have any sense at all that their spirit should be troubled about that. There should be a check in their spirit.

Nancy: Is that saying that perhaps their parents don't have discernment?

Holly: I do think for generations now . . . We could track this back to early days in feminism when women began to abandon their role as the spiritual nurturer in their home. Parents quit doing that. As we have taken our hand off that area, we have opened the door in so many ways for the world to become our tutor for our children, rather than the parents to be the tutor in that home. So we have yielded our children to developing a godless mindset that encourages them to become numb to spiritual things. If you go long enough numb to spiritual things, you can walk into any movie or read any book.

I've talked with my kids so many times about asking the Lord to make them sensitive to things that maybe their friends aren't sensitive to, because I'm not responsible for their friends, but I am responsible for training my children to have discernment.

Now I would come down heavy on truth as well. But I believe the balance in that truth is realizing that when Philippians 4 says, “Whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable and worthy of praise, think about these things.”

But then it goes on and says, “You’ve seen these things in me. You have learned these things from me. Now you go and practice them yourself"  (vv. 8–9, paraphrased).

What’s happening is we have short circuited that process. And so not only are we not learning them ourselves, but we’re not training our children to learn those things and to practice those things. The fact that we have to practice them means they’re not going to come naturally. They have to learn those things.

Kim: As I shared with that teacher I said, “We’re not to come across to our children in a harsh, obnoxious, arrogant way and saying, ‘This is wrong. You do not need to go to this.’ We share in humility and grace the truth of what the Word says.”

When these different opportunities come up, what I’ve done with my son . . . I remember he called me one day when I was out asking about a movie that his cousins wanted him to go to with them. Now these are fine Christian young men, and they were pretty old teenagers at the time.

And I said, “Well, go on the Internet and go to www.pluggedin.com, which is Focus on the Family’s movie reviews and read me the review on that movie. And so he did that, and he proceeded to read. He got partway through the review, and he said, “Mom, I don’t need to see this movie.”

So he had learned discernment. He made the decision himself that I don’t need to go here. That is our goal and our hope as moms, not that we have to come out and say, “Look, no, you can’t go to that movie. You can’t do that activity. Absolutely not.” And you’ve got this conflict and harshness between you and your child.

But you’ve talked about it. You’ve poured enough truth in them. You’ve built a relationship of loyalty and love where they are listening to you and they’re open to hear your wisdom. And then you talk about it, and you let them be a part of that decision-making process.

Nancy: That probably increases as they get older. To a six-year-old, they’re going to have less say in the process.

Kim: Right.

Terry Morledge:  But there is a point in which they have to take on discernement themselves. One thing that Mike will do is he'll say, "If we allow you to go see that movie, when you come home, I want you to tell us the things about it that were against the Word of God. What was the worldview of that movie, of the people making that movie? We want to discuss that with you."

Often our daughter will just say, "Well, I don't want to go."

Nancy: Isn't not worth having this discussion.

Terry: The point is, when they are old enough to make those decisions, they have to figure that out.

Holly: And you know what? If we want them to be wise, thinking, discerning twenty-year-olds, we have to start when they’re young. We do have to start when they’re six. And so it doesn’t mean that I let them decide everything they’re going to do. But if I just give them a list of do’s and don’ts, I am not developing the quality of discernment in those children.

I have watched shows I would never watch on TV for short, brief times because I think it’s really critical to sit with my child. Recently, there was one that Disney or somebody put out. And it was not terrible. It did not have terrible things in it.

But what it did have was a worldly philosophy dressed up cute. So I want even my younger kids to be able to sit down and think through. If we watch ten minutes of this, now let’s talk about what is right about this and what is wrong about this.

I want even a younger child to be a thinking TV viewer. I want them to be a thinking Internet viewer so that by the time they hit places where I’m not there at sixteen, seventeen. They’re out there; they’re driving with friends making choices for themselves. If I don’t train them from the time they’re younger to move into discernment, that’s a very tough process to begin at sixteen or seventeen or twenty.

Now if you’ve never done it, it is never too late to start trying to teach discernment. But it’s so much easier if we train them from the very beginning to be students of God’s Word and to practice discernment.

Nancy: Now I’m glad you mentioned God’s Word there because the standard is not, “What do my parents think?” The standard is not, “What does Focus on the Family’s Plugged In review think?”

Holly: Right.

Nancy: That can be a helpful tool, and it is a helpful tool. But the ultimate standard is, “What does God’s Word say?” So our kids like their parents have got to be really immersed in the Word of God, saturated in the Word of God.

This is where I thank the Lord for an upbringing that was very saturated in the Scripture and that didn’t have a television. So the input into my life in those very formative years was Scripture, Scripture, Scripture.

Well when you have that; I went out to the University of Southern California for my last two years of college. I moved out there at the age of seventeen, and I didn’t live on campus. But I went from a very protected Christian school, Christian home environment to a secular campus environment, and living with a Christian family; my parents weren’t nuts.

But then at the age of seventeen, I had a lot of freedom to make a lot of choices without my parents. And this was before cell phones and email so we were talking once a week. They would not necessarily have had to know about the choices I was making. But what I’d found had happened by that point was that my heart was really desirous of following Christ and my mind was grounded in the Scripture.

It didn’t mean I still didn’t need godly input. But there was a bent toward the Word of God and the ways of God and an appetite for the things of God, which again, we need to ask God to give our kids, to give this next generation. Not just a rigid “stay away from these things,” but a love for Christ who is the pearl of great price.

A woman said after one of these sessions in this series, “You know, this thing of choosing the world over Christ, what the world offers over what Christ offers, it’s kind of like choosing to eat rice cakes rather than have a great Thanksgiving meal.”

When you put it that way, if our kids could see, if we could see that what Christ offers in Himself and in His treasures, pleasures at His right hand forevermore. We’re not saying God wants to cramp your lifestyle or make you rigid or uptight or unhappy. We’re saying He has so much more to offer you through holiness than what you can get from living in the world’s thinking.

Holly: I think the value of that in your life—and it’s not just with our children. Our church is full of new believers and those who may have recently come back to Christ ruling in their life. And you know what? They are all over the place in what they believe.

But what should happen if it’s a New Testament church is that those who have less understanding of scriptural truth are surrounded by those who have more understanding of scriptural truth, and they are growing in wisdom and knowledge. As they grow in Christ, they’re being discipled toward godliness.

So it’s not that it’s a cult and everybody looks the same and has the same list. If it is like that, it is not a New Testament church. It’s that there are babes in Christ and there are mature believers. They are on this journey together toward godliness not worldliness. That should be happening as a normal part of our lives.

Kim: That’s what Hebrews 10 instructs us to do when it talks about the church is stimulating one another unto good deeds (see v. 24).

You know why I think people make that choice of the rice cake or choose the things of the world rather than Christ? I think, it’s that they have not yet tasted deeply enough of Christ to be able to see what joy there is in walking in fellowship and intimacy with Him.

That's what we need to keep pointing them toward, not the negatives.

Terry: You talked in the beginning of the children, the young adults, that are walking away from the church. I think that could be because of a list of rules—a list of do's and don'ts. There's nothing there for them. They are wanting to figure something out, here, let's try these things. But if it is about a person, it's about Christ, then it is going to be real. That's your testimony when you went to California.

We want our churches to be pure and have right doctrine, but they have to be centered around Christ, not around behavior.

Holly: It can't be a legalistic box.

Terry: I think that's why you see some of these young adults turning away. It's because we taught them the principles of doctrine, but we haven't taught them the person, the relationship.

Nancy: Yet what Jesus says to this church in Thyatira is, you can have love and service and faith and perseverance, but if you don't have sound doctrine and godly, holy behavior, you've missed it too.

Kim: There has to be the balance.

Nancy: Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. That’s what we want our lives to call this generation to—to see that God’s truth is good. His ways are good. His standards are good and pure. He is holy. He is worth pursuing. He is worth loving. And we want our heads to be screwed on straight. We want our hearts to be full of light and full of Christ and full of His Spirit in representing to the world the holiness and the goodness of our God.

Holly: In the world but not of it.

Nancy: Yes.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Holly Elliff and Kim Wagner. They want their children to learn discernment, and they’ve been sharing some of what they’ve learned along the way.

That conversation is part of a series called "Letters to the Churches in Revelation, Part 5: The Sin of Tolerance." If you’ve missed any, you can listen or read the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com. Your thinking will affect your behavior. We’ve heard some negative examples of that on today’s program, but your thinking will also affect your behavior in positive ways.

Revive Our Hearts wants to help you fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word. So during this series from Revelation, we’re hoping you’ll read this passage on your own. And we’d like to send you a booklet to help you get even more out of the passage. The booklet is called Ears to Hear, perfect for your personal Bible study. We’ll send you the booklet when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size—one booklet per household during our series on Revelation. Call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well when God acts as judge, do you ever think it’s unfair? Nancy will describe the God who gives and who judges. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you discern biblical truth. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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