Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, featuring T. A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. It’s great to have you with us. In today’s program, Tom is joined by his guest Mike Warren as they address the question: Where Is Your Heart? And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week my guest is Mike Warren. He’s the pastor of Calvary Chapel Gold Country and is a featured contributor to the DVD Wide Is the Gate: The Emerging New Christianity. Mike will also be one of our speakers this August at our TBC conference in Bend, Oregon. Mike, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mike: It’s good to be with you again, Tom.
Tom: Mike, one of your talks that you plan to give at the conference, you titled “The True Heart of the True Believer.” Now, let’s start with the issue of the heart. How does that fit in with the gospel and a person really living out the Christian life?
Mike: Well, you know, Tom, a couple of years ago, we were at Cambria at one of the discernment conferences, and I was listening to the different speakers, friends of mine: Warren Smith, Caryl Matrisciana, Johanna Michaelsen, Chris Quintana. It dawned on me that there was something much deeper than just false teaching coming into the church. And we were exposing in each one of the sessions these different things that are coming into the church, and really aberrant theology and false teaching. And as I was sitting there, I was just praying, and something began to cook in my heart. And I said, Lord, this is deeper than that, and I would really like to understand why – not just that it is, and we need to confront it, but why are so many of Your people buying into this stuff? And it was just as clear as clear could be, the Lord began to speak to me about the heart.
You know, when we go back to the book of Deuteronomy, it’s very interesting because in the first four books of the Bible, “love” is only mentioned seven times. And every time it’s in relation to us loving the Lord or loving each other. But when you come to the book of Deuteronomy, God expresses in a very manifest way His love toward us. In fact, He tells us that He didn’t choose us because we were the greatest of all people, or the best. He chose us because He loves us. And then He challenges us there in chapter 11 that we should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Jesus quotes that again in the New Testament. In fact, when Jesus gets to Matthew 15, He says to the Pharisees, “You are those” (quoting from Isaiah:29:13) “that draw near unto me with your lips and you honor me with your mouth, but your heart is far from me. And that’s why you teach for doctrines the commandments of men. “
And it dawned on me, it’s a heart issue. It always has been a heart issue. And when our hearts drift from the Lord, we’re not passionately in love with Him, serving Him from the heart and not just from the head, then we allow things to creep in like this false teaching, and we become very undiscerning because our heart isn’t in the place it should be. And, so, that’s what I want to discuss in our first session up there at the conference is that our hearts need to be fully the Lord’s. They need to be circumcised. God says He’s going to write His laws upon our hearts. He’s going to take that heart of stone out and put a heart of flesh in. So, I think the heart is, for no other way to say it – it’s a cliché, I know – but the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
Tom: Right. You know, Mike, I think about Revelation, where Jesus – this is the Groom; this is our eternal Groom; we’re the bride. And He’s got some tough things to say to the bride – and good things, but I think of when He’s speaking to the church at Ephesus, just as you mentioned, Mike, apologetics – Caryl and Chris, and there’s so many others that we could mention that are defending the faith and pointing out and encouraging discernment – but how does He deal with this church at Ephesus, which was doing a lot of good things? He commends them for that. But then He says, “But I have this against you: you have left your first love.” There’s where the heart comes in. There’s where the heart jumps ahead of all the good works that we’re doing, or needs to be there. Don’t you think?
Mike: Now, Tom, you stole some of my thunder, because that’s one of the texts I’m going to use…
Tom: Hey, listen, Mike. Let me just say this: let’s repeat things over and over and over again. For my sake, if for nobody else’s sake. We’ve got to hear these things!
Mike: I need to hear it multiple times.
Tom: There we go!
Mike: But isn’t it interesting how Jesus, as He’s dictating this letter, and He has seven letters to seven churches, and as John is writing, when you read the things that He has to say about this church before He gives that indictment, that’s the kind of church you and I would want to be a part of, because He says, “I know your works, and I know your labor and your persistence; how you cannot bear those that are evil, and you’ve tried them which say they’re apostles and found them to be liars. You have borne and you have persisted for My name’s sake. You have labored, and you have not fainted.”
Man, that sounds like a solid church!
Mike: There’s discernment going on there; there’s a passion and a desire for righteousness, it would seem. They’re doing the Lord’s work, but yet, He says, “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee. You have left your first love.” And then He goes on and says, “Unless you repent, I’m going to remove My presence….” That’s serious!
Mike: And so, again, I really think that today the church has lost its heart for the Lord. I would say that the churches that allow false teaching coming in – I think they’ve made it more about the things that they do, like this church, than the heart that’s behind the things that they do.
Tom: Yeah. Mike, I think you really nail it. The verse that comes to me is Hebrews 2: “Take heed lest ye slip away.” You know, that’s not a matter of them just going into a mental fog. That’s their heart as they drift away from Jesus. Maybe some aren’t even realizing that’s what they’re doing, but they get caught up in a good work here, a good work there, and that becomes the main thing. No, the main thing is loving Him, right?
Mike: It’s interesting how the things in the Old Testament are repeated again. I was just doing my devotions yesterday in the book of Jude, and when you get to the end there, about verse 21, it says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” And Deuteronomy:4:9 says, “Only take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently lest you forget the things that the eyes have seen and lest you depart from thy heart all the days of thy life. But teach them to your sons and your sons’ sons and the sons after them.”
That word for “forget” is an interesting thing. It means “to cause to forget.” And I think sometimes when our hearts aren’t where they need to be, we willfully forget the things that God has instructed us, and we fail to teach them to the next generation and we slip away, just like you mentioned in Hebrews. We have to be careful that we don’t neglect so great a salvation. Jesus Christ by himself purged our sins, it tells us in chapter 1, and He’s drawn us into this wonderful salvation, and it is a relationship between our God and us.
My favorite book in the Old Testament (and of course, the people in our church laugh about this, because every book I teach I say, “This is my favorite book.” If I’m in a chapter of that book, I say, “This is my favorite chapter…”) – but 1 John 1 really speaks to me on this issue. And I was just thinking about it a couple of years ago. We were teaching through 1 John when I just kind of had this thought and the Lord began to allow this thing to begin to cook in my heart. We were in 1 John, and if the scholars have it right that John would have been born about 6 AD, so he would have been about 24 years old, maybe 25, when he began to follow Jesus. And, again, if the scholars have it right, and I think they do, then the last book in the Bible that was written was 1 John – many believe that he’s already left the Island of Patmos; he’d already recorded the Book of Revelation; he’d already been very concerned about the warning Jesus gave, that we just mentioned, to the church of Ephesus, leaving their first love. He’s with Polycarp in Ephesus, the very city that was warned not to leave their first love, and I think he sees two things: 1) The church is cooling in their relationship with the Lord; and 2) False teaching is beginning to enter in. Gnosticism is raising its head there.
And I think when John begins to record that, especially in chapter one, where he says that “The things that we have seen, the things that we have heard; we’ve handled, the Word of Life,” I think he’s looking back at his first encounter with the Lord as he’s now called to follow Him, and as a disciple he’s beginning to grow and learn about who the Lord is. But as he gets to the end of his life – it would have been about 65-70 years later, as you’re working through chapter one, he repeats that again. And what he is saying is simply this: “That which I have seen (and I still see), that which I have heard from the beginning (and it’s still ringing in my ear)…” What a wonderful example: John as a young man begins to follow the Lord and as an aged man, he still says (listen), “The very things I heard in the beginning, that gospel message that penetrated my heart, the words of the Lord, which we heard – they’re still ringing in my ears. Listen, the things that we’ve seen, I can still see those things. I’ve not lost my passion for the Lord, I’ve not lost my desire to serve the Lord, I’ve not lost my heart for the Lord.”
And that’s 65 years! I’ve been a believer for 42, and I can tell you, I’m as passionate today as I was that night in that little Bible study when the first time the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated my heart. And I can say, as John would say, the things I heard that night are still ringing in my ear. And as the Lord washed over me with His blood and forgave me of my sins, and I felt that cleansing work as I accepted Jesus Christ, hey! I feel that same thing today, and I’m so thankful!
I think that that was what Jude was talking about when he said, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” Jesus said, “Go back and do your first works over again.” Go back to that place where the Lord first touched your heart. And have that same passion be rekindled in your heart for the Lord. It’s one of my firm beliefs that the heart always makes a convert of the head and of the hands. If you have a heart passionately for the Lord, then your theology will be right; you’ll have the right kind of thinking, and you’ll have the right kind of actions – the right kind of deeds – because the heart does make a convert of the head and the hands.
Tom: Without a doubt. Mike, you make me think of…not just in our walk with the Lord, but how about those of us who are married, in our relationship with our wives? Peg and I have been married 48 years, and sometimes I think, “Tom, you’re getting to be an old dude, here; an old fuddy. Why don’t you get back to your first love with her? Why don’t you bring things into your relationship that maybe you’ve let drift away?”
You know, I do a lot of…well, not a lot, but from time to time, I minister to couples going through situations and dealing with issues, and so on. And it’s a matter of getting back – you say, “Wait a minute! You guys have been married for quite a while. Why are you having problems?” Well, we know why we have problems – because we’re selfish, we get distracted, we set priorities that are wrong, and all of that. But it comes back to the first time – I can think of the first time I met Peg. Wow! I was just absolutely blown away by her! But, Mike, what you’re talking about – you have that passion. Don’t you have to work at that?
Mike: It’s just like every relationship. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort. We just came back from our couples’ retreat at Springs of Living Water, and it’s interesting because we were talking about how a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. I find it interesting that the very word “cleave” God uses in Deuteronomy 4 when He’s talking to His people about cleaving to Him. When you get to Ephesians 5, Paul is working through, masterfully, the relationship between a man and a woman; between a husband and a wife. That the husband is to love the woman like Christ loved the church; and the wife is to respect and reverence her husband as the church is respected. When he gets to the end of that teaching, he says, “Now I show you a mystery. Because I'm really talking about the relationship between Christ and the church!”
It is a covenant relationship. And it is a heartfelt passionate relationship. And there should be something cooking and burning toward the Lord in our hearts just as we’re commanded to love our wives. And I think that that takes time. I know that for me, I have to get up in the morning and spend time without any distraction in prayer. Just before the Lord, giving my heart time to settle into the things and pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And then the first four hours in the morning, our church secretary knows “Please don’t let anybody interrupt me unless it’s an emergency,” because I’m in my time of devotion, and then I’m in my time of study. And it think it’s effort, and it takes time, and it takes energy. But more than that, it takes a commitment. I need to keep myself in the love of God.
Tom: Right. You know, Mike, in this day when we see not only drifting away – certainly by the church. That’s been pointed out. Folks, if you need some support in that just check out church history, then read Revelation 1-3, and you have a picture where things are, where things are going. But the thing I think about is we’ve got a battle today between emotionalism, experientialism, and all that. And sometimes people overreact against that. But wait a minute! When I came to the Lord, I grew in a relationship. I started a relationship with Him. A personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, if that doesn’t have any emotions, wow! You know, then what’s the point? I mean, it’s worthless.
On the other hand, that’s a by-product of our coming to know the Lord, recognizing what He’s done for us and loving Him. But the emotional side is certainly a by-product, and it can be a wonderful…it is a wonderful by-product. But that’s the cart that follows the horse, and once we put that emotionalism ahead, we run into trouble. But we’re not to back away from having a personal… Loving Him more! Growing in our love for Him! If we don’t have that, then we’re going to end up with what we started out talking about: well, we have some good works. These things are good and valuable, but there’s no growth.
Mike: You know, 765 times in the Bible God mentions the heart. That’s amazing to me! And when you come out of the books of Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers, pretty much that’s legalism and legislation. He’s giving them the Law; He’s telling them what He demands of them, what He requires of them. But when you come to the book of Deuteronomy, He begins to speak about relationship – the motive behind the legislation. And I love chapter 10 – could I just read that for a moment, starting in verse 12?
Mike: He says, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all of His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command thee this day for your good. Behold, the heavens of heavens: they are the Lord’s and He is the God of the whole earth. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them above all the people of the earth this day.” And then, here’s the warning: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.”
You can’t separate the heart from the Word and the Word from the heart. They go together. Have a heart for the Lord and then follow His commandments. Have a heart for the Lord and walk in His ways. Have a heart for the Lord and keep His statutes. They’re connected. And, again, you know, in the Old Testament it talks about…in Ezekiel:11:19, and again, in Ezekiel:36:26, where He says, “I’m going to give you a new heart and I’m going to take that heart of stone out, and I’m going to put My Spirit in you, and I’m going to write my laws upon your heart, not on tablets of stone.” It’s not legislative. It’s not legalistic.
Listen, we have a relationship with the true and living God. We are born again, and we are Spirit filled. We are blood bought and blood washed. And we are a new creature in Christ Jesus, and He has written upon our hearts His law. That’s why we follow Him. It’s not just legalism or legislation or rules or regulations. Man, we love the Lord our God with all of our heart. Therefore, we hearken…and it’s interesting – sixty-two times in one form or another in Deuteronomy, that word “hearken” shows up. And that means to lean and to listen with the intent to be obedient. I do that because He already owns my heart. I lean into my wife! And I listen to what she has to say, because I want to be loving and pleasing to my wife because I love her!
Tom: I’ll tell you a little side story about Dave Hunt. I had the absolute blessing and privilege to hang out with that guy for forty years. I mean…I more blessed than… But there’s a story that he tells – and it’s the truth – about His own relationship with the Lord, and we’ll talk about this for just a second. You know, Dave, by the time he was fourteen years old, he could quote you entire books of the Bible verbatim! But guess what? He never tried to memorize or do anything like that. He just heard it so much in his home. They had devotions three times a day, and so on. But guess what – he wasn’t saved at that point! And he talks about how they would have itinerant preachers that would come to their home. And one time, as I understand …remember the story, a man sat down with him and he was talking with Dave, as a teenager, and he quoted him (which is controversial, but I think we can explain this to folks) from Revelation, the church at Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” And that convicted Dave right in his heart! Because he had the doctrine; he was brilliant in terms of understanding the Bible; but he didn’t have the heart for the Lord! And he gave his heart to the Lord.
Now, one of the problems we see today is sometimes you’re hearing an altar call or something like that, or you hear little kids say – like my three-year-old niece, when she was trying to help me come to the Lord, she’s say, “Uncle Tommy, have you asked Jesus into your heart yet?” And of course my response was, “Joy, I need to talk to your mother right now.” That was a problem! But the point being is that that heart thing has got to be there, but it has to be connected to what you believe! What are you believing, and then are you believing with all your heart? Is it any more complex than that?
Mike: Well, you know, it begins with the heart, because that’s what has to be changed. Romans 10: “If you will believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall be saved.” God has to change our heart, and then once He changes our heart – what I’ve done…the same things that Dave Hunt did – I began to memorize scriptures. When I got up to 300 verses, then I began to memorize chapters, because God put in my heart, after conversion, a love for His Word. They go together. They can’t be separated.
Mike: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things that I say?”
“What have You said, Lord?”
“It’s in My Word. You’d better study it.”
And I just think they go together. But I don’t think they can be separated…
Mike: If you lose the heart, then it’s legalism. If you lose the desire for the Word, then you have liberalism. Emotionalism. And I think both of those things are necessary in the life of the believer. You must love the Lord your God with all or your heart, mind, soul, and strength. I think that’s the initial thing. That's the most important thing. And then, if you love Him, “My sheep hear My voice and follow no other.”
Tom: Yeah. Mike, I think about Proverbs – I think we have Solomon speaking to his son here, Proverbs:23:26: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Look, if we don’t have a heart commitment – let’s make this as simple as we can – if we don’t have a heart commitment to whatever we’re doing, it’s a charade, maybe, at best! Not that some good things can’t be accomplished, but they have no eternal value if we’re talking about the things of the Lord. None, whatsoever.
I can’t wait till you get here to the conference! We just have a couple of things left in part one here, but this is so important, and hopefully, the Lord willing, it’s ministering to people out there, because this is the issue! Bottom line: …
Mike: I felt two years ago that the Lord began to cook something in my heart toward this as I was sitting there in Cambria with the guys, and I’m just saying that it’s much deeper than just false teaching coming into the church. Why are people listening to it? Because they’ve turned their hearts away from the Lord. It is the heart. And so, when you asked me to speak and you gave me two opportunities there, I want to address the heart first and then the importance of the Word. Because I think those two things are what we need to be serious about in the time that we’re living. Love the Lord with all of our heart, and build our lives upon the sure foundations of His Word.
Tom: Mike, we’ve got just about a minute left here. Folks, this is part one, my first session here with Mike Warren, and as I mentioned, he’s going to be a speaker at our conference coming up in August. That’s one of his talks: “The True Heart of the True Believer.” But in our second session next week, the Lord willing, we’re going to be dealing with “God’s Word vs. the Teachings of Man.”
So, Mike, I look forward to us getting into that. God bless you, brother, and thank you for being with us!
Mike: Thank you, too, Tom. Thanks for having me.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T. A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638; or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.