Revive Our Hearts Radio

A Powerful Phrase

Leslie Basham: According to Pastor Scott Patty, there’s a small, but powerful, phrase that affects every aspect of your life.

Scott Patty: The person in Christ does everything in the name of the Lord, and that makes everything we do new, not just better by degree, but it makes it new. And that driving principle in the name of the Lord applies to us no matter what our cultural context is.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for September 20, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dannah, I’m so grateful to have you joining us on the program today. You and I are part of a small group of women that interact frequently about our own walks with the Lord, about life and ministry, but also about a lot of the issues facing women today.

One of the things we’ve talked about a lot recently is this whole matter of abuse, the “Me Too” movement, a lot of the pain that’s coming out from women’s hearts, and the whole concept of biblical submission. Because, for many, that sounds like it automatically leads to abuse.

Dannah Gresh: It sounds like an invitation.

Nancy: Exactly. And so we’ve been wrestling with these issues and how to serve women well and be faithful to the Scripture and yet be sensitive to real women with real difficult life issues.

Recently one of the women in that group texted me and said, “You’ve got to hear the message my pastor preached yesterday morning in our church.” And now you and I have both had a chance to listen to that.

He was preaching through the book of Colossians. He came to one of those tough places where these questions surface. Our friend felt he had done such a good job at addressing some of these issues. I agreed when I’d had a chance to listen to it. So I’m thankful that we’re getting to share that message today with our listeners.

Dannah: Yes. I think submission is often a very misunderstood concept, and he tackles it with clarity. I really arrived at kind of an “aha” moment of understanding in a new way.

One of the things he talks about is by what grid we should define submission. And the question I was asking as I was listening to him teach was: Many people are asking, “Is just the whole concept of submission an outdated topic? It doesn’t fit anymore.”

Nancy: I think people aren’t even asking that. They’re assuming that it’s outdated; that it’s some antiquated concept for a less-enlightened era.

Dannah: Yes, probably.

Nancy: And the fact that is, so much of what Scripture has to say to us was never in style. It was never in vogue. God’s ways have always been different than our ways, and yet we have to take them through the grid of a God who is wise and loving and good and whose ways are beautiful.

So this pastor does a great job, I think, of helping us not impose our culture on the Scripture, but take the Scripture and say, “How should it enlighten how we view every aspect of our lives as believers?”

Dannah: Beautifully said, Nancy.

Scott Patty is the founding pastor of Grace Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a blog called “Words of Grace.”

Nancy: Before we listen to this message, Dannah, I think it would be a great idea just to invite the Holy Spirit to come and soften our hearts and give us ears to hear and hearts to receive what He wants to say to us from His Word today.

Dannah: That’s a good idea.

Nancy: So would you pray for us?

Dannah: Yes, of course.

Lord Jesus, as we turn our hearts to learning, not necessarily from Scott Patty, but from Your Word and from Your inspired teaching, I’m thinking of women right now who I’m counseling through some really painful situations. And, Lord, I’m asking that those women in particular, who have been wounded, would be healed by Your Word because Your Word is alive and active, and it always brings wholeness and freedom.

So, Lord, protect those hearts, but, Lord, bring to all our minds a greater understanding of submission so that we’re not formed by the culture, but we’re using Your Word to influence culture.

Be with us now as we learn, in Jesus’ name we ask this, amen.

Nancy: Yes, amen.

Scott: Today, from Colossians, we’re going to look at how one little phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus” changes everything. One little phrase. The phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” changes everything.

So, if you’ll stand with me in honor of God’s Word, I’ll read, beginning in Colossians 3:17:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (Col. 3:17–4:1).

This is God’s Word for us today. You may be seated.

The phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” is what Christians put at the end of their prayers. Sometimes people put that there because they think that’s how they guarantee an answer.

But, really, the phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” when we pray is acknowledging something. It’s acknowledging that Christ, who represents us before God, and it’s Jesus Christ who opened the door into God’s grace by removing the sin barrier in the cross and the resurrection. And so we say, “In the name of the Lord Jesus, I’m here because of what Jesus has done.”

And we say, “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” when we pray because we’re praying because Jesus commanded us to pray. He gave us the authority to pray. So when we stand before God and ask, we say, “We’re in the name of Jesus because He told us to be here, asking You, Father, for these things. And we’re praying for what Jesus wants when we pray in His name. So Christ, the Lord Jesus, totally transforms our prayers because we’re praying them in His name.

Now, think about what it would mean for us to live in the name of the Lord Jesus. To do everything we do in the name of the Lord Jesus—not only pray but live this way.

If Christ transforms our prayers when we pray, and by praying in His name, Christ transforms everything we do when it is done in His name. This is the whole point of this passage today, the whole point of everything I just read. Even though you may have gotten lost in the weeds once we got to verse 18, the whole point of this whole passage is that doing things in the name of Jesus Christ transforms them.

Those who are raised with Christ do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus so that everything is transformed to be for His glory, done for Him, making everything different—not just in degree, but in a whole new kind.

Living as a Christian is not just living life to a greater degree than other people. Living as a Christian and doing in the name of Jesus is to live a whole new kind of life. And everything we do can be considered new because it’s done in His name—not just a bit better than it would be without Christ, but something altogether new in Christ.

“In the name of the Lord Jesus”—that phrase, verse 17, is the key that unlocks and opens the door to this entire passage about wives and husbands and children and fathers and bondservants and masters. The key is that phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

There are so many cultural challenges to this passage. Part of the challenge is to understand what’s happening in the first-century culture, especially when we get to something like bondservants and masters.

But another way it’s a challenge to us is we start with our culture, and we look at what is, and assume it’s right. And then we read the passage, and we challenge the passage. Starting with our culture, using our culture as the key to unlock the passage, will lead us to not only challenge what’s in the passage, but to question whether or not it’s true, whether or not it’s relevant, and maybe even to condemn what the passage is saying and what Paul is saying.

We would challenge, if left to ourselves and starting with our own culture in our own day, and we read what Paul here says about husbands and wives, we would challenge the whole idea that the husband and wife relationship should even include a word like submission. That seems like such an outdated word.

We read it in a first-century context, and we would say, “Well, here, we’re 2,000 years removed from that, and we’ve been enlightened in submission. Certainly it has no place in the relationship between a husband and wife.” So we would challenge it. We would even dismiss it, or we might challenge the whole notion of marriage itself.

There are many studies that are showing that the whole idea of even having to bother with getting married is losing sway and prominence in our culture. So if we start with our culture, we say, “What is he talking about, husbands and wives? How about just partners?”

Or the whole notion that marriage should actually include a man and a woman, husband and wife, starting with our culture as the key to understanding this passage, we wouldn’t be able to understand it. We would probably dismiss it, at best, but condemn it, at worst.

Or, talking about children and parents and fathers, we might challenge the whole idea of an obedient child—“What is that?”—as more and more of our children are simply taught to be expressive, to be individualistic, to be challengers. We treat children today as if they can make adult decisions with their own bodies.

More and more parents are simply afraid of their children. They so need the acceptance of their children that they don’t want to cross them. It used to be that children shouldn’t cross parents. Now it’s parents shouldn’t cross their children.

Or possibly we’re seeing in our culture that sometimes the State assumes more and more responsibility for shaping our children.

So, in that cultural context, how in the world could we read something like this and actually expect for children to obey their parents? You see, if we start with where we are today, then we would actually challenge the text.

And then there’s this whole section about bondservants and masters and the relationship there. And that makes us very uneasy, given our own country’s history of slavery. If we started with our country’s history of the man-stealing, torturous, inhumane, race-based institution of slavery that was a part of our culture, then we would read that back on to this text, and we would have to condemn it and say, “Paul didn’t know what he was talking about.”

Read from our vantage point, it seems that this text is, at best, outdated, and possibly even justifying and perpetuating evils in our society.

If we start with our culture as the key to understanding and applying this passage, then we will either have to dismiss the passage altogether, or we’re going to spend our time trying to justify it, getting all worked up about how we can get people to accept what’s being taught in this passage.

So we might then, in a way to justify the passage, try to show, “You know, marriage and husband and wife and submission in leadership, these are really good for everybody in the whole culture, and it’s in keeping with God’s design. So everybody should just do this.”

Well, that might be true, but the passage is about so much more than that. It’s about those who’ve been raised up with Christ. It speaks to the realities of the heart, not just telling people how to live. Or, to justify the passage, if we get nervous that people might not accept it, then we might merely show how the first-century bondservant/master relationship is so different from our nation’s form of slavery.

And that is certainly important, but there is so much more happening here as Paul is writing to Christians. He’s writing to the Church who has new life in Christ. We need to know how this applies to our hearts.

Now, cultural understanding is important, and we’re going to look at some of that today. We do need to know about the first-century culture in order to understand this passage and see the ways it applies to us and the ways it doesn’t apply to us.

But the problem with letting our culture be the starting point or the key to understanding is that our culture then becomes the argument either for or against the actual passage. And that would lead us, then to say, “You see, the text shows us some great cultural structures that are best for us, and everybody should simply do them.”

Or, on the other hand, it might lead us to say, “This text no longer applies to us because it’s outdated.” And that would so miss the point of the passage.

What I’m saying today is that the key to understanding this passage, the whole point of this passage, is in the passage. It’s in the text itself. It’s not in the culture that we live in. The key to understanding this text of Scripture is in this text of Scripture. It’s verse 17: “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Verse 18: “This is fitting in the Lord.”

Verse 20: “For this pleases the Lord.”

Verses 22–24: “Fearing the Lord . . . as for the Lord . . . serving the Lord.”

Chapter 4, verse 1: “You also have a Master [that’s the Lord] in heaven.”

The person in Christ does everything in the name of the Lord, for the Lord, pleasing the Lord, fearing the Lord, as unto the Lord. That makes everything we do new, not just better by degree, but it makes it new. And that driving principle, “in the name of the Lord,” applies to us no matter what our cultural context.

So that was the introduction. (laughter)

Three relationships in this passage. They’re all under one household. That’s why it’s called the household rule, or the household code—husband/wife, children/parents, bondservant/master—all under one household.

Paul’s mentioning this specifically, but this represents all the relationships that we have. In all the places that we live, we do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, word and deed in the name of the Lord Jesus, which makes it a completely different kind.

The first relationship is that of marriage, verses 18 and 19. It says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.”

Now, that little phrase, “in the Lord,” is the key. In fact, it tells you you should never read verse 18 without going back and reading verse 17, because without verse 17, you don’t have the key. “Submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.”

It is the Lord Christ in her that drives her submission to her husband. The married woman, raised with Christ, putting off the old self, putting on the new self, will live submissively to her husband.

Now let’s talk about submission. The submission is a wife to a husband, meaning not women to men. The idea that women have to submit to men in general is not a biblical idea. That might be a cultural idea from some cultures, but it is not biblical. It is specific here. The submission as a wife to a husband.

And because a wife to a husband is mentioned, then the submission is a part of a partnership. It’s part of a whole. And the submission is what a wife contributes to a whole. The submission is a service to him.

The husband is going to be called to account. He has a responsibility before God, and he will be held accountable to God to serve the good of that family. So the submission of a wife is simply cooperating with the husband as he carries out the responsibility that he has before God. Submission then is helping him help.

Another thing about submission is that it’s voluntary. She, in Christ, chooses submission. The husband never is told to force submission upon his wife. That is a cultural idea—maybe not from ours, but from past cultures. And there are some cultures today in other parts of the world where the husband forces submission upon the wife. That is a cultural idea. It is not a biblical idea. The submission is voluntary.

The submission is qualified. No human-to-human submission is absolute. The only absolute submission is a human-to-Christ. So we have to qualify the submission.

Now, I don’t usually preach news headlines. I don’t consider myself to be a cultural commentator, and I don’t weigh in on the issues of the week. I do pray about them, and I do have my opinions, but I don’t preach them.

But it just happens that this week’s text, right here, “Wives, submit to your husbands,” and the news headlines in the Christian community line up. So I have to talk about it because right now, in the Christian community, the big discussion—or one of them, at least—is over the treatment of women in submission, in particularly, in the place of the home.

So, I’m saying that submission is qualified. Wives are not to submit to the abuse of a husband. Nor is any woman to submit to the abuse of any man. Get out. Get away. Get some help. And get the right people involved.

The call for submission here is not in a situation of abuse. The context of this submission in Colossians 3 is where there is a husband who is loving and is not harsh. He’s gentle. It’s the opposite of abuse. So he’s not calling for women or wives to submit to any sort of abuse.

And then I should probably say that if you are unclear—woman or man—if you are unclear about what abuse is, then you need to ask someone who has wisdom to tell you what it is. And I say that because sometimes people who are abused come to believe that it’s their fault or that it’s normal, and this causes them to stay in an abusive situation. So don’t do that. If you’re questioning, then ask.

Back to Paul—if this submission is just the rule, if it’s just the law of nature, like the stoics of Paul’s day said, then this submission is going to be done as a law and as a rule, and it won’t have any love with it, and it won’t be of service.

It is “in the Lord,” and as such, it will be done as an act of service and an act of love to a husband who is trying his best to fulfill his responsibilities in his household. And you see that makes it a new kind of submission altogether.

If it’s the old stoic kind, and you’re just trying to make it a bit better than them, it’s the same old stuff, just a degree better. But when it’s in Christ, it’s from the heart, it’s an act of service, and it is a totally different kind of submission altogether.

Dannah: Wow! That was Pastor Scott Patty helping us understand what God’s Word means when it says that a wife should submit to her husband.

And, Nancy, I really feel an urgency to pause right here and remind women listening that submission is a safe thing. In the context of a loving husband, who’s laying his life down for his wife, it is a safe thing.

If that’s not what you’re experiencing, we want to really encourage you to heed the advice of Pastor Scott Patty. Don’t do this alone. Get that help. Tell your story. Tell someone. Go to people in your church who are safe. You maybe even need to go to some proper authorities to get the help you need.

Nancy: Yes. We really do need each other. And both of us have seen a lot of women languishing in seasons of confusion or crisis, not knowing what to do, and trying to do it alone. And that’s not a safe thing.

Dannah: No. The Christian experience is a communal experience. I guess that’s one reason why the True Woman movement has been so important to me as a sister in Christ. I have seen so many women come to a live True Woman event, or anticipate on livestream, and in the context of listening to the messages, saturating themselves in the Scriptures and in worship, find the courage to tell a story that they need help with.

Nancy: And to walk through a process toward healing, to find grace.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: And that’s why I’m excited that this time next week we’ll actually be at True Woman ’18 in Indianapolis with 7,000 of our closest friends—women gathered together there at the convention center. I hope you’ll pray for us as we head toward that weekend.

But we’re inviting everyone to join us by means of the livestream. The live conference is sold out, but through the means of the Internet, we’ve set up a special hosted livestream experience for women who want to get some girlfriends together in a home or in a church, get a Sunday school class or a small group to do this together.

You can sit in a living room or a church meeting room with people you do know, that you can do life with. You can listen to the Word being taught. And we’re going to grapple with some challenging, thorny issues—lies women believe—but, more importantly, the truth that sets us free.

And beginning Thursday evening, continuing through Saturday, we’ll have a lot of different speakers. You’ll be speaking, Dannah. I’ll be speaking. Pastor Eric Mason, Mary Kassian—who’s a good friend of ours—Jackie Hill Perry—new to the conference this year.

This is our ten-year anniversary of the first True Woman conference, and we’re so thrilled to see what the Lord is going to do.

Dannah: Woo hoo! I’m so excited!

Nancy: So if you want to participate in this conference through the means of the livestream, you can get more information and register for that atReviveOurHearts.com. I want to encourage you: Set it aside on your calendar. Make the time to be a part of as much of that weekend as you possibly can.

Dannah: In the meantime, we hope you will join us again tomorrow as Pastor Scott Patty concludes his message. If you’re wondering how this small, yet powerful phrase, “in the name of the Lord,” affects the parent/child relationship, join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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