Revive Our Hearts Radio

From Good to Grace, Day 2

Program Resources

Listen to the series "Give Them Grace."

Leslie Basham: Here’s Christine Hoover.

Christine Hoover: Women in my church, they deal with difficult things, but it doesn’t scare me. I don’t have to fix that. I can point them to the One who can, whereas before, I probably would have been thinking it’s up to me to fix this.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Friday, July 21, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yesterday my good friend Erin Davis was with us. She’s the main writer for an important ministry of Revive Our Hearts called the Lies Young Women Believe blog. If you’re not familiar with that blog, let me encourage you to go there and check it out. I think it’s something you’d want to recommend to any young women friends you may have.

Now, Erin describes herself not just as a type-A personality, but as double-A. Maybe you can relate to her temptation to want to fight and struggle to prove yourself.

Yesterday, we heard part one of Erin’s conversation with author Christine Hoover. They talked about a different way of life, free from the struggle to achieve and prove ourselves. Christine is a pastor’s wife. She’s a mom. And she’s written a new book called From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel.

This conversation between Erin and Christine took place at a women’s conference, so you’ll hear some of those sounds in the background. In fact, you’ll hear our friends the Gettys preparing to lead a worship time. But don’t let that distract you from this important opportunity to escape from trying hard to be good and, instead, learning to trust in the grace of Christ. Let’s listen.

Erin Davis: I see women trying to cope with the reality of our sinfulness in two ways. The first is achievement—we’re just going to achieve or we will exercise ourselves to death or we’ll parent ourselves to death or wife our ways to death or work in the office—whatever it is, or despair. And the same woman can swing the pendulum both ways. Like, I’m going to claw my way out of this, or I can have an Eeyore response: I can never be good enough, and I’m just going to quit.

And so, there’s great freedom in stopping the pendulum. Right?

Christine: Yes. I think sometimes, maybe women listening are even thinking this: But these are good things, and doesn’t the Bible say that we should be doing these things and being holy as He is holy?

My main question to women is: But who is leading it? Is it you what you just described? That’s us. That’s us leading. I’m in control. I’m the one who’s in control of my children. I’m the one who’s in control of the people around me—my husband, whatever.

But the gospel is that God is in control, and He has made a way for all of these things, and we come and submit ourselves to Him. That’s where the rest comes in, to know, truly, it’s not up to me. That’s freedom to know we have a Father who provides for us and cares for us.

Erin: Sure. For me, it was really helpful to realize that I can’t become a better Christ-follower by being a better woman, but I can become a better woman by becoming a more intentional Christ-follower. It’s by knowing Him and reflecting Him that I’m transformed in these other arenas of motherhood and marriage and as a worker, a kingdom-worker. But that feels kind of counterintuitive. Right?

Christine: Definitely. I think it feels counterintuitive to just depend on someone else to do the work and say, “We’re going to stop, and we’re not going to strive, and this God that we can’t see is going to change us.” But I can say from my own life that is exactly how I have changed.

My life is completely different than what I described earlier. I do know what people are talking about when they talk about joy because God has done the work. He’s done the work in me when I quit trying to earn something that I already had. I already had it, but I was trying to earn something from Him.

It changed everything. It changed how I related to people. It changed how I minister to people. I changed how I relate to God. It changed my spiritual disciplines. It changed everything because suddenly what I was doing was a more of a response to the gifts that I had been given by God, His grace, and His Holy Spirit and righteousness. It really did just kind of sink in and almost like a fountain that just overflows. You can’t stop it.

And so, yes, it seems counterintuitive, but the gospel really is true, and it really is powerful, and it really does work. It changes us. Grace changes us.

Erin: You mentioned earlier that when you’re operating outside of grace in serving in ministry that loving people was a challenge. You didn’t have enough oomph to love people like God had called you to love them. Has that changed?

Christine: Yes, because you know why? Before, I think I was looking to people to validate me, to love me because I wasn’t sure of God’s love. And so since I felt I couldn’t be sure of His love, I was looking at people who I could see. As such, I’m would do things and perform so that they will validate me.

Erin: There’s a little verse about that—fear of man being a snare. It’s a trap. Right?

Christine: Yes. I think knowing God’s grace, it really withers that need for approval from other people. Now, that still is always going to be a struggle for us, but it’s not this powerful drive to like, “Oh, I need that person to approve of my decisions, what I’m doing, to think I’m a good Christian.” It’s like, "I’m loved by my Father, and He has called me to do this, and it may look different than what you’re doing, but they’re both okay. I can rest in that. I don’t have to worry about that."

Erin: Yes. When you’ve been transformed by grace and see the reality, that it’s grace that rescued you, you didn’t rescue yourself, then you’re free to see that what they most need is grace. They don’t need a behavior modification plan or to change their personality or dress like you think they need to dress. They are most in need of grace.

Christine: Yes. Exactly. They do not need my judgment. Just as I am in process, they are in process. So I can give them that space for God to do the work in them. And I can engage that. I think, because I have learned that the gospel is so powerful, I can trust that God can do that for them, too.

I meet with women in my church, and they deal with difficult things. Women I know are dealing with difficult things. But it doesn’t scare me because I don’t feel like I have to have an answer for that. I don’t have to fix that. I can point them to the One who can. Whereas before, I probably would have been thinking it’s up to me to fix this or to help them. Like, every word that I choose needs to be just right to help them.

But, really, it’s like, “I can love you. I can help point you to the One who can really change your heart.” And I share truth, too.

Erin: Sure. Don’t you find grace to be just so transformative? I mean, it’s such a potent concoction.

Once I got invited to speak to this group of moms which was a nomadic Asian group that didn’t have a country. I didn’t know that until I came to speak to them. So everybody else was known as mom, and then there was me, Erin Davis, not mom. They have their own language. They have their own culture.

There’s no word in their language for grace, no concept for grace. It’s a works-based culture. So when they hear the gospel, and they hear this word "grace," they’re coming to Jesus in droves.

Christine: Yes! That’s awesome!

Erin: That’s all they had to hear was grace. The rest of the gospel was secondary to them to this: You don’t have to earn it. It’s a free gift. It was amazing. It’s one of my favorite memories about the transformational power of this idea of grace, even though it feels a little weird to us. It feels counterintuitive. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. You can’t quantify grace. You can’t explain it.

Christine: I will, even now, in the back of my mind still question: Is it really that amazing? Is it really that much of a gift that it’s just by faith?

Erin: Yes.

Christine: So when I question that, I want to reach out and hold on to something else, like, “I want to be good, just in case.”

Erin: Sure.

Christine: “I’m going to do these things just in case.”

But I love how 1 Peter talks about setting our hope fully upon the grace of Christ, nothing else. It truly is letting go of everything else. And that feels a little funny, you know? We don’t want to cheapen grace.

Erin: Sure.

Christine: I don’t want to cheapen grace by what I’m saying, because it’s not to be cheapened, but it really truly works. It changes us as we release all other hopes and just say, “By faith, I’m walking by faith in Christ that I am divinely approved, and there’s nothing else I can do to earn His love.” It really does change us.

Erin: Sure. So I think of the woman who’s listening to this while she’s mopping her floor, or she’s driving in her mini-van to wherever she’s going, and your words have pierced her like that student’s words pierced you, that she’s been trying to white-knuckle her way through the Christian life. And, either for the first time she recognizes her need for grace, or she does have a relationship with Jesus, but she’s forgotten the grace part of the gospel. I wonder if you would just say a word to encourage her?

Christine: Sure. Well, I think if you’re living according to the distorted gospel, the first thing you want to do when you realize that you are is to fix it—to do something. Figure it out, like, “I’m going to do step one and step two, whatever”

So I would just say to her: Let go of the things that you’re placing your hope in and just fall back. It’s really like falling back into a swimming pool of grace. Just fall back and let the Lord take the lead. Go to Him and just confess that and ask Him to change you. Ask Him to reveal Himself through His Word, and He will do that. That’s what He did for me, and I know He will honor that prayer.

So that’s what I would say to her: Just go to Him and just ask Him to change her mind, her heart, and help her understand what grace is.

Erin: Yes. Let’s pray for her.

Christine: Father, I thank You for this gift of grace that we have talked about. It is truly a gift, and it is truly amazing. We thank You so much that You have loved us enough that You have made a way for, not only our salvation, but also for our entire Christian life—our sanctification, our spiritual growth, and our fruit. I thank You for that. I thank You for the Spirit that You have given us and indwells us and that will help us.

So I pray for women listening who are just wrestling with condemnation and guilt and pride and just feeling so far from You. In Galatians it says when we set aside grace, we feel estranged from You.

So I pray for these women who are experiencing that, God, that You would do a work in their life, that You would overwhelm them with the truth of the gospel—everywhere they turn, they would hear it proclaimed to them—and that You would give them faith to believe, to believe what they’re hearing is true for them and not just for everyone around them.

I pray that they would also recognize the depths of their sin, and that they would turn to You with just worship and thankfulness that You have made a way to deal with that sin.

I pray that they would enjoy You, that they would know what it means to have joy; they would know what it means to have peace and be able to rest in this gift of grace that You have given them.

So, Lord, for those women who desperately need to be removed from bondage, this bondage that they’re in to their own works and their own self, I pray that You would do that today for them. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Erin: Amen.

Nancy: That’s my friend Erin Davis interviewing Christine Hoover about her book, From Good to Grace. This interview took place at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference.

Now, if you can relate to this conversation, and you feel like you’re always struggling to be good enough, I hope you’ll get a copy of Christine’s book, From Good to Grace.

When you send a gift of any size to Revive Our Hearts, we’d like to send you a copy of this book as our way of saying, “Thank you.” And when you make that gift, you’ll know that you’re helping Revive Our Hearts speak life-giving truth in your area and around the world.

Be sure to ask for the book, From Good to Grace, when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: As we wrap up this series on grace, we’re going to revisit a program from the archives at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Author and speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson have written a book called Give Them Grace. It shows parents how living by grace day by day affects their parenting style. Elyse and Jessica talked about this at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference a few years back.

To close our time today, let’s listen as they show parents how to communicate Christ and the gospel of grace to their kids.

Elyse Fitzpatrick: In a landmark study that Christian Smith did a number of years ago, in interviewing thousands of American youth, the study of youth and religion in America, he came away, after interviewing thousands of youth, and said that what young people of America and from Christian homes believe that Christianity is moralistic, therapeutic deism.

And what that basically means in common language is: Be good so you can feel good about yourself, and God will give you good stuff and not mess around with you too much.

That is the message that our children are getting from us. And the terrible statistic is that over 60%, and this is the best one we could find, over 60% of the children who are raised in Christian homes leave the faith when they leave the home—60%. There are other studies that are as high as 80%. Our suspicion is that these children are not leaving true Christianity because they have never heard true Christianity.

So, actually, there are only two direct commands that I’m aware of in the New Testament about parenting. One is in Colossians 3:21. The other is in Ephesians 6:4, which says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

How many of you have ever heard that verse before? Yes. I mean, we have entire books written on that verse and on the Colossians passage.

My question is: When you hear that verse, what do you see? What do you hear? What does discipline and instruction of the Lord look like? What would that have sounded like to the Ephesians when they first heard it?

What’s different, you see, is that the Ephesians would have heard that verse and then shocked, because, what they did was. If they were Greeks, they would have been raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the philosophers. And the Jews who were there who read Paul’s letter would have been raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the Law.

But what Paul is saying is that we need to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, or of the gospel. What does that look like?

Christian parenting must be gospel-centered—gospel-centered in principle and practice. That means that the gospel, the good news—would your children think that Christianity is good news?

I think that for many of us, what Christianity is is sort of fire insurance bad news because, you see, it’s only the good news that will impel obedience. It will motivate obedience. So, Christian parenting must be gospel-centered in principle and practice. That means that the gospel of Jesus Christ must motivate everything we do.

God, help us. Help us as Christian parents to free our children from thinking that Christianity is all about the rules and really has very little to do with grace.

I will tell you that, at least from my parenting, most of what I was doing had to do with how well I could approve of myself at the end of the day when I looked at my kids. I wonder how much we all do that.

In our parenting, we must determine to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. What do you rely on? Do you rely on your own ability to manipulate, to guilt, to command? These are all things that I know I did with my children. What are you relying on?

This isn’t a new method. This is the gospel of grace, and it’s good news of the work of a Person, a Person who was a Child. Jesus Christ was a little boy. I mean, that’s good news because at some point, one of His brothers or sisters bonked Him on the head with a piece of wood. Right? I mean, we can assume so. And he loved her instead of hitting her back.

You see, our children need righteousness for their childhood. And so do we. He was perfectly righteous in all of His life, fulfilling the Law perfectly in our place. So, this is just the message of Jesus Christ.

How much time do you spend in your family with: What would Jesus do? WWJD. I don’t want to say that’s ever a bad question to ask, but it better not be the question that we ask the most or the question that resounds in the heart of our children. You see, Jesus being my example is not really very helpful if He’s not also my righteousness.

So, how much time do you spend with the Law—WWJD? And how much time do you spend with the gospel—What DID Jesus do? How many times have you said that Jesus was your children’s example without also telling them that He was their righteousness?

There are four levels of obedience. Just the sort of initial obedience that you have with two-years old and three-years old kids, where basically you say, “No! Stop! Get your coat. Get in the car. I’m not going to talk about propitiation right now.” (laughter.)

We also want children to know social obedience. And in different parts of the country, social obedience is different. If you’re in the Deep South, you know you’re very much, “Please and Ma’am and thank you.” But not so much in southern California where I live. It’s a different deal, but social obedience is appropriate. We want to teach children how to be obedient socially.

And then we want to teach children civic obedience, which is, wear your helmet when you ride your bike and stop at the stop sign and don’t cheat on tests. And when you get old enough, vote. This really has very little to do with Christian training.

None of this obedience can save, although, a lot of kids think that if they’re outwardly compliant and always say, “Please and thank you,” and vote properly when they get older, that somehow that means that God loves them more. And that is, of course, not true. There’s only one righteousness that will save.

So why do we give children the law and out of the law rules? Why do we do that? Not to make them good, but to bring them to Christ. We want to bring them to Christ.

When Jessica’s kids were littler—I remember, this is the first time I started thinking about parenting in the gospel.

Wesley, who was the older one, was about four or five, and Hayden, who’s his younger brother, let’s say two or three. Jessica was in another room, otherwise occupied. She heard this blood-curdling scream—you’ve heard the scream, right? And so you come running in. She comes running in, and there was Wesley straddled on top of Hayden, beating the tar out of him.

And as she looked, she also saw that Wesley had a big bite mark on his back—you know, just keeping it real here. (laughter.) So she picks Wesley up, and she says, “Wesley, you must love your brother. It’s the law. Right?” It is. It’s the Law. Love your brother.

Now, Wesley replied, through tears, in great consternation, frustration, rage, “I can’t!”

To which I would have said, “Oh, Buddy, yes you can! And you will. Or I’m going to let you know why!” (laughter.)

To which she said, when he said, “I can’t love my brother.” She said, “You’re right. You need a Savior. He needs to rescue you. Call out to Christ.”

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know complete forgiveness. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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