Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Lifestyle of Growth

Leslie Basham: Churches can promote growth or thwart it. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want to tell you, there are many highly respected churches today that are teaching things that are not biblical. You need to become discerning because wrong teaching leads to wrong living.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, January 20. False teaching will distract you from your mission. It’s a detriment to your growth as a child of God. Nancy’s been in 2 Peter helping us understand qualities like godliness and brotherly love that we all need. She’s about to wrap up that series called, Adding to Your Faith.

Nancy: I don’t think we’ll ever forget the tsunami that hit in December 2004, and just watching the graphic images of all those cities and villages along the Indian Ocean that suffered enormous, catastrophic losses. However, I read about one particular city. It’s a port city in India called Pondicherry, and this is a city whose 300,000 inhabitants were spared in that tsunami even though they were on that coast.

Just outside the city limits of this city, 600 people were killed by the tidal wave, but Pondicherry, with all its inhabitants, withstood the tsunami. How were they protected? Well, the answer began 250 years ago when France first colonized the city, and they built around that city on the coast a massive stone wall.

Year after year, the French continued to strengthen that wall, piling huge boulders along the 1 ¼ mile length. The French stopped building Pondicherry sea wall in 1957, but all that work over 200 years prepared them for a disaster that would occur nearly five decades later, something they never could have imagined would happen.

Now, through this series we’ve just considered the first 11 verses of 2 Peter chapter 1, but today for just a few minutes, I want to give you a very quick overview of how that passage, about being intentional about your spiritual growth—how that fits into the context of the rest of 2 Peter. So in eight or nine minutes here, we’re going to go through the rest of 2 Peter just by way of overview.

Now, you know the theme has been for believers, grow. Add to your faith. Be intentional. Be diligent. Don’t let up, and we’ve seen several motivations in chapter 1, reasons we should grow.

If we do, we will be kept from being idle or unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. We will never fall. It gives us many reasons that we’ve already looked at this week for why we should be intentional about our faith, but there are three further motivations that are given in chapters 2 and 3 of 2 Peter. I want to touch on those today.

First is, if we are growing spiritually, we will be protected from false teaching and ungodliness that take place within the church, and Peter says this is going to happen. I want to tell you—it is happening. It happened in the 1st century, and it’s happening in the 21st century. There is false teaching, and there is ungodly living being promoted within the church.

Now, we grieve and mourn and shrink over the things happening outside the church, but God’s concern is what’s happening inside the church. The Scripture says in 2 Peter that this kind of ungodliness and false teaching that leads to ungodly living will cause many who profess to be believers to be led astray.

Peter addresses these dangers of false teachers and ungodly living, and I want to say that Peter’s teaching is just as needed today as it was then. There is so much confusion today! I hear people within the church saying things, and I’m thinking, “Where in the world did they get that?”—things being promoted and endorsed that are just not biblical.

It’s interesting how Peter ties together false teaching and sensual living, immorality. So he says you need to be guarded up against these, and many will follow those ways. To not fall into those things requires that we go against the flow, and that’s why we need to be reminded of what we’ve been listening to these last two weeks from 2 Peter chapter 1.

The guarantee, the protection, the preservation against falling into wrong thinking about God and wrong living toward God—what will protect us? It’s adding these qualities to our faith, growing spiritually, adding to your faith virtue and knowledge and self-control and steadfastness and godliness and brotherly affection and love.

If you are consciously, intentionally adding to your faith, you will be kept from doctrinal error, and you will be kept from sinful choices and lifestyles. So Peter, challenging these believers to go against the current, to be like salmon swimming upstream, he says in chapter 3, verses 17 and 18, “You therefore, beloved,” this is believers, “take care. Beware, “that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

He’s speaking to beloved believers here. He’s saying, “Be careful so that you don’t get carried away in this stream of unbiblical thinking.” I want to tell you there are many, even large, successful, well-known, highly respected churches today that are teaching things that are not biblical. Peter says if you’re not careful, you’ll get caught up in it.

Then he says, verse 18, but instead, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here’s the choice, ladies. If you’re not growing spiritually, you will be carried away with wrong teaching and wrong living. You will lose your own spiritual stability. You cannot stand still spiritually.

Then here’s a second motivation. All through chapters 2 and 3 of 2 Peter, Peter talks about the coming day of the Lord. If you’ve never studied that, you ought to. It’s the day of God’s judgment on all unrighteousness, the day of terror, the day of the destruction of the ungodly, a destruction that will be far more severe than that tsunami of 2004. Peter says to the believers, live in light of the fact that judgment is coming.

Now, you don’t live in fear of it if you’re a child of God. You remember that God is able to preserve and deliver and spare the righteous as He did Noah in the days of the flood, as He did Lot when He sent judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, and God is able to deliver the righteous out of that coming judgment.

If you are righteous, God will deliver you, but you need to be building a wall of protection around your life. If you’re not adding these qualities to your life, remember what we said? You have no basis for assurance that you are a child of God, so it’s the coming day of the Lord, the coming judgment of God that is a motivation to spiritual growth.

Then here’s a third one. It’s all through 2 Peter. It’s all through the New Testament. It’s the return of Christ. We see that all through 2 Peter, but then he comes to chapter 3, and he says,

According to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace (verse 13-14).

I read about a wealthy builder who gave his son some instructions to build the best possible, top-quality house, and then the dad left town on a long trip. Well, while he was gone, the son thought, “Dad’s gone, and he’s not ever going to see what this is like underneath the finish work.”

So he partied and whiled away his time and cut corners while he was building the house. He made sure that everything looked good on the outside, but he didn’t really take much care for how sound the structure was. Then the day came when the father returned and went to the son and handed him a title and said, “Here’s your house, son.”

What kind of house are you building? You will have to live with the consequences. Live in light of the return of Christ, and as you expect Him and wait for Him and anticipate His return, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish.

How do you want to enter heaven? You want to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant”? Then you have to keep growing.

I shared with one of my accountability partners my answers to some questions that I’ve asked some of my friends to ask me. One of my friends emailed me and said, “This is a little disheartening to me,” she says. “You’ve been walking with the Lord for 40 years, and you’re still struggling with some of these things. What hope is there for me?”

I want to answer that question by closing with a passage from the book of Jude, Jude verses 24 and 25. What hope is there for us? How do we keep from falling? How do we make it all the way to the finish line?

Now to him who is able to keep you from [falling] and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NKJV).

My prayer is that one year from now, you will be way ahead of where you are today because you will have been adding to your faith. But remember you do it by His promises, by His power, by His grace, by His strength, by His precious Holy Spirit who lives within you to make it true.

Lord, that is our prayer, that we would move onward and upward, with You, for You, toward You, in You and that all the things of this earth that so consume our days and our vision would just help us press onward to you. We pray that this would be a day, and these next weeks and months would be ones of great growth and grace; that You would protect and keep us from falling; and that we would be preserved blameless to stand before You in that great day.

Thank You, Lord, for those precious and very great promises for Your divine power that has given us this day all that we need for life and godliness. In that light, make us diligent, faithful, training, exercising toward godliness. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been pushing us to grow and mature. Nancy’s been in a series called, Adding to Your Faith. If you missed any of the teaching segments, get a copy for yourself on CD. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. In this series, Nancy’s explained the qualities that need to be added to our faith—virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, and brotherly love.

Rosalie Elliott knows a lot about those qualities, and her life has demonstrated steadfastness, especially in prayer. Here’s Nancy with the story.

Nancy: Rosalie Elliott grew up in church but never heard the Gospel actually preached.

Rosalie Elliott: I never knew I was lost, never heard about witnessing, never heard that you could be born again, never heard that Jesus was coming back. It was just tradition.

Nancy: So when she met a young man named Arthur, she didn’t ask whether he had a relationship with God.

Rosalie: His name is Arthur Grady Elliott. His middle name is Grady, but we call him Arthur. I liked him because he seemed sincere, and I knew what he had been through.

Nancy: World War II had just ended. Rosalie was still working in the military, and she met Arthur as he returned from his service in the Pacific. Arthur had been through incredible experiences during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the action that followed.

Rosalie: That morning, he was on the deck. When they gave the order for battle stations, he swam, for the fire was coming closer and closer as some of his buddies were burned to death. Some were burned badly. Waves would come at you, and he said, “It brings you back. It’d push you back as you tried to swim.”

There were men below in the engine room and places that never came out. He took that ship back to Seattle with a skeleton crew, where he was assigned to the Corregidor, the carrier that took them out to the Pacific, where they fought off Kamikaze planes all the time out there, so his life was almost all war up until I met him.

Nancy: But Arthur kept most of those stories to himself.

Rosalie: He doesn’t say much.

Nancy: He didn’t even express many words when he proposed to Rosalie.

Rosalie: One day from his office, he called and said, “Miss Lawrence,” (that was my name) “would you go down to Leonard’s Jewelry and pick out a set of rings?” This was all he said.

I said, “I couldn’t do that unless you were to go with me.” So at lunch time, we went down, and he helped me pick out the rings. I guess you’d call that a proposal. He never said anything until he gave me the first ring. There were no words.

Nancy: After they were married, Rosalie attended a new church and discovered the power of the Gospel.

Rosalie: We had our first little boy the second year, and I said, “I’m taking our little boy to that little, white church up the hill. I think I’d like that.” I took him to the nursery, and everybody was so nice.

I came in, and everybody had a Bible. Never had I been in a church where they carried Bibles. And the first Sunday the pastor said, “Turn with me.” He began in Romans, and that whole month he talked about salvation. That was in 1951. It didn’t take me long till I knew that I hadn’t been saved. I went up, and I was soon baptized.

Nancy: She was excited to share her faith with her husband, but he wasn’t interested.

Rosalie: He would always change the subject.

Nancy: His dad had been outright antagonistic to the things of God, and Arthur didn’t see any need to embrace his wife’s new way of life.

Rosalie: Everybody was a hypocrite, so he heard that. He knew nothing about the Bible, nothing about all these stories that all the children know from the Bible.

All along, I took the next boy and the next boy, and they would wake up. It was Sunday, and they would come up to him at the table and say, “Daddy, go with us.”

“No, you go with your mother.” He did not come to see the first three boys baptized.

Nancy: Rosalie was tempted to keep the pressure on her husband, pleading with him to come to church with her.

Rosalie: He finally said, “That’s enough. That’s enough. Don’t start preaching,” so I would hush. I finally said, “Lord, You can handle it. I can’t handle it by myself,” with some of the ladies at church who said, “Turn him over to the Lord, Rosalie. That’s all you can do.”

Nancy: She decided that her main course of action would be prayer.

Rosalie: The first few years, I didn’t get sincere about it, but after we had the children, I began to really get sincere.

William Crook: I grew up in that church and was saved there in 1977.

Nancy: William Crook was a boy at Rosalie’s church.

William: Mrs. Elliott was a vital part of my growing up years. She was a Sunday school teacher in the children’s division.

Nancy: He remembers hearing about her husband.

William: I remember my dad went out on visitation visit one Monday night and visited in the Elliott home. I remember as a young man, him coming home and talking about his visit, that it was a very hard man that they had went to see that night. He was talking about Mr. Elliott.

Rosalie: One particular deacon would just nail him down, and he would always turn the subject around.

William: So it just kind of stuck in my mind as my dad was sharing that about the hardness of someone’s heart or resistance to come to the Gospel.

Rosalie: He would always say, “Not now. Not now,” or change the subject. With me it was very difficult.

William: Then I moved away to Jacksonville. I got married and moved away; I was gone for 20 years.

Rosalie: The years came along. He began developing problems and minor surgeries and different ones at the hospital praying by his bed. People came here and prayed. He would always change the subject.

I would just smile and say, “Good morning. Did you see the sun this morning? Did you see that rainbow? Did you hear those birds out there?” I would try to show him that the world is beautiful outside, and he had a negative attitude for a long time.

Nancy: As the decades rolled by, you might wonder if she was tempted to give up.

Rosalie: No, the devil would try to get me to do that. I’d be praying, and he’d say, “What’s the use?” He would try to stop me, but I have a little room where I go in the morning.

He has to come to know the Lord. He’s the leader of the house. I am not going to give up.

Nancy: Not long ago, William Crook returned to Rosalie’s church. He was the boy who had heard about Arthur’s hard heart, and he now returned as the pastor.

Rosalie: Something struck a chord with my husband—about William.

Nancy: God was able to speak to Arthur through Pastor Crook in a way no one else had been able to do before.

Rosalie: He’s been going to church with me, hearing the messages, knowing what he needed to do, but if you looked at him, and I’d say, “Do you want to go up and kneel?” He would always say, “No.”

July 22 he was feeling pretty bad that morning. He got up first, and he said, “I want you to call Brother William.”

William: So within the next 40 to 45 minutes, I was sitting in their living room. He was sharing some of his experiences there at Pearl Harbor and some of the things that he had seen and witnessed firsthand. He just kind of did full circle about he didn’t know why he survived that and why was there all that trauma that he had to go through and witness. Why he still, at 90 years old today, is still living.

He kind of summed it up by saying, “You know what? I’m probably a good person and be a good neighbor and do things I was supposed to do,” he said, “but I just don’t think that’s enough.” From there I was able to lead him and tell him, “Well, yes, that’s what the Bible teaches.”

Rosalie: He said, “You’ve been good to your family. You’ve been good to all your neighbors. You’ve served your country, but there’s one thing lacking in your life. You know what it is?” And he said, “Yes.”

William: He came to the realization that he needed Jesus Christ in his life. So as I shared with him the Roman's road Scriptures and asked him, “Mr. Grady, is that something that you would like to do?”

Rosalie: “Are you ready to pray now and ask Jesus to come into your heart?”

William: And he said, “Absolutely.”

Rosalie: I grabbed my granddaughter real tight, sitting by me and watched and listened.

William: He asked Jesus Christ to come into his life and save him.

Rosalie: Oh, I was elated. I cried, of course. When the pastor was here, I cried, and when we went out, I hugged him. He’s just a young man. I said, “I’ve waited so long. I’ve waited so long.” My granddaughter and I were both crying and hugging each other.

William: He and Mrs. Elliott had been married for over 62 years, and she told me, “William, I cannot tell you just how much I’ve been praying for this man to get saved.” She said, “It demonstrates to me the power of prayer.”

Rosalie: I would not give up. Maybe it seemed so dark at one time. Think, “Why?” My question was, "Why does it take so long?" Why? I will never know, but God knows.

William: She said, “On Sunday mornings, I would have fellow choir members in the choir who were prayer partners with me, and they were praying for my husband’s salvation.” She said, “All these years, I just had faith in God, just to continue to pray.”

Rosalie: I like to look positive at things that happen. They’re for God’s glory.

William: She even mentioned to me the verse in Luke 18:1 about how we’re to always pray and not lose heart. So what a testimony it was to Mrs. Elliott about the faithfulness of God and also the perseverance of prayer!

Rosalie: I give Him all the glory for Grady’s salvation because He did it.

Nancy: The story of this wife who understood the power of prayer is an inspiring example to all of us. Women truly can have great influence in their homes, their churches, and their work places, and God wants us to use that influence to shine the light of His Gospel into this dark world and to further His kingdom.

The True Woman event coming to Chattanooga March 25-27 will help you discover how you can make a difference as a woman, for such a time as this. I hope you’ll join me and all of our speakers.

Pastors James MacDonald and Voddie Baucham will be giving us a biblical understanding of what being God’s woman is all about. And then Kay Arthur, Jennifer Rothschild, Mary Kassian, and many other speakers and workshop leaders will be there as well. They’ll show you what it means to live as a true woman in 2010 and in the years ahead.

If you sign up for the True Woman Conference in Chattanooga by January 31, you can take advantage of the early registration discount. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com for more information.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. We are nearing the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that effectively made abortion legal in our country. Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a woman who has had to deal with the aftermath of abortion.

Lisa Dudley: Many women come to that point where they just don’t want to live anymore. It’s hard to live with yourself when you’ve taken the life of your own child.

Leslie: That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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