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Jim & Elisabeth Elliot

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 16, 2021 12:00 am

Jim & Elisabeth Elliot

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 16, 2021 12:00 am

He was the model of sacrifice and she was the model of forgiveness. Together, they reminded the Church that while the cost of discipleship is great . . . the reward is far greater.

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As Christians, God has given us the privilege of serving as his ambassadors. He's entrusted us with a message of hope and deliverance. Delivering to our world the terms of surrender and how they might have peace with God.

It might mean the loss of our comforts and the loss of our agendas and the loss of our privacy and the loss of our desires and maybe even the loss of our lives. This is our ministry. God has delivered us out of the darkness and into the light of the gospel. More than that, he commissioned us to take that message to the world.

That could mean the loss of our comfort or perhaps our lives. Today we're looking at the life and legacy of someone who gave his life so that others could find eternal life. This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen Davey is in a teaching series called Legacies of Light. He's exploring the lives of several Christian heroes and martyrs.

I'm glad you've joined us today. Now, here's Stephen with today's lesson about Jim and Elizabeth Elliott. Wilmer McLean had retired from the Virginia militia and had become a rather successful wholesale grocer living there in his home state. However, he was doing everything he could to stay out of the conflict that was brewing because, again, he was retired from the military and this developing conflict he wanted to avoid known as the American Civil War.

He wanted to stay out of harm's way, but harm's way seemed to follow him. In fact, the first major land battle of the Civil War that took place on July 1861 was called the first battle of Bull Run and it took place on McLean's plantation in Manassas, Virginia. Union artillery fired at McLean's house because it was being used by the Confederate general and his staff as their headquarters. In fact, a cannonball dropped down his fireplace destroying most of his kitchen. McLean never wanted to take sides and since he was retired, you remember, from military service wanting nothing to do with this outbreak of war, he sold his plantation after that battle and moved his family 120 miles south to get out of harm's way. He bought another plantation in Appomattox, Virginia.

Poor guy. When General Robert E. Lee knew that he was going to surrender, he sent one of his aides to Appomattox to find a location where they could meet and that aide knocked on the door of Wilmer McLean's plantation home. Here was a man who wanted to steer clear of the conflict and yet it really did start in his front yard and end in his front parlor. One of the misconceptions of the Christian life is that we really ought to be left alone. That we ought to be able to avoid conflict with the world. That somehow we have a right to peace time conditions. According to God's design though, every Christian has been drafted into service.

Frankly, your front yard and your front parlor do not belong to you. They belong to the commander in chief whom we follow. In fact, we've all been, according to the Bible, commissioned to occupy a singular role. It will have a million applications and it will have a million different assignments to this commission, depending on the will of God for our own particular lives. But we are to take the gospel to a world that is at war with God, that is at war with God, we are to take the gospel to a world that is at war with God and we put everything on the line as we desire, as we seek to see a peace treaty signed between man and God. The apostle Paul informs the Corinthians in his second letter of this special commissioning. Look at 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Look at verse 18. Paul writes, if you want to back up, verse 17, therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things passed away, behold new things have come.

What are some of those new things? Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Did you catch that? He reconciled us to himself and then turned around and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, our lives effectively serve as front parlors where we effectively demonstrate to a world at war, we deliver the gospel of Christ to those engaged in civil war against their creator. Paul goes on to reference not only the ministry of reconciliation but the message of reconciliation. Look at verse 19, namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation. In other words, mankind is reconciled to God by means of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. The sin, he references them as trespasses that are in the way, are no longer in the way, that is they've been paid for by Christ.

There's nothing in the way of mankind signing the treaty. The gospel is the message of reconciliation. Reconciliation then really is nothing more than accepting the terms of surrender offered by God through the peace treaty drafted on a blood-soaked cross and that's the treaty we offer as we engage our world and deliver to them the message. In case any of the Corinthian believers or believers living in Cary or in this vicinity get the idea that this ministry, this message of reconciliation is for you clergy, he clarifies here that we're all involved. Look at verse 20. Therefore, in other words, based on what I've just said, we, he includes the church, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making an appeal through us.

We beg you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God. We are ambassadors of Christ. Part of our problem in misunderstanding our commission is in misunderstanding this idea of being an ambassador.

You know, we're tempted to think in modern terms, whatever we may have, and I'm sure we have misconceptions, but we tend to think of ambassadors as men and women who spend a lot of time attending banquets wearing out tuxedos or formal dresses, you know, smiling at foreign dignitaries who really don't mean what they say, but that's okay because we're going to try to put our best foot forward and the best face on our unsettled and rather uneasy peace. Well, you need to understand that when Paul wrote this, ambassadors would show up and they would determine the boundaries of the provinces by order of the emperor. They would draw up a constitution telling the people this is now how you are to live.

You can imagine how welcome that would be. They were literally responsible, one historian called it, for bringing these vanquished people into the family of the Roman Empire. The ambassador reveals the terms of peace from the conquering king. The ambassadors effectively assimilate people who have surrendered into the family of the victorious empire. That isn't the gospel.

I don't know what is. Listen to some of these additional characteristics I uncovered in my study. Ambassadors were to spend their lives among people who of course spoke a different language with different traditions, a different way of life. Ambassadors were often to deliver their message, the message of the emperor, to these people. Ambassadors were to deliver a definitive message, to carry out a definitive policy, but they were encouraged to be alert for opportunities to place before their hearers in the most attractive form possible the message of their emperor.

Listen to this. One author wrote, it was the great responsibility of the ambassador to commend his country to the people amongst whom he was placed. What a great analogy for the believer. Do we not do the same? We have a definite message.

We are to commend on every opportunity our home country to the people around us. For some reason the deaths of five new tribes missionaries never made it into the headlines. They had attempted to reach a savage tribe in Bolivia in 1943 and all five of them were killed. 13 years later, five missionary martyrs would indeed send shock waves, not only throughout the Christian community, but even our own culture took note. Life magazine would publish, I've seen the article, a 10-year-old woman on the lives of these missionaries.

God would choose to use the deaths of these ambassadors in a way that literally incentivized for decades the church to send hundreds if not thousands into service. Their names, some not so familiar as others, were Roger Uderian, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Jim Elliott. No doubt the most well-known martyr of the five, more than likely because of the fact that his story would be retold through his wife, Elizabeth, who would write two books and eventually host an international radio program for many years called Gateway to Joy. Elizabeth, in fact, along with Nate Saint's sister, would make contact with and actually go to live with the Alcas, this vicious tribe who had cut down their beloved family by spearing them on a sandy riverbed deep in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. Let me reintroduce you to Jim and Elizabeth.

Let me back up a few minutes though and tell you how Jim and Elizabeth accepted their foreign commission. They met at Wheaton College where they were both majoring in Greek. You can imagine it was a small class they would eventually meet.

They were actually majoring in Greek because they both felt the leading of the Lord into linguistic and Bible translation. Elizabeth would later write, and I quote her, there was this student on campus whom I had been noticing more and more. In fact, my brother Dave had been encouraging me to get acquainted with him. He and Dave were on the wrestling squad so I went to a match, supposedly, to watch my brother wrestle.

But I found myself laughing along with the other fans that Jim Elliot nicknamed the India Rubber Man because he could be tied in knots without being pinned to the mat. I noticed Jim and the Foreign Missionary Fellowship on campus earnest, committed to missionary service, outspoken. I noticed him in dining hall lines with little white cards in his hand memorizing scripture verses or Greek verbs. Finally my brother Dave invited Jim to come to our home for Christmas break and we would end up having long talks after everyone else had retired for the night.

When we returned back to college I began to hope that he would sit next to me in class once in a while and he did, often, even when at times he had to trip over other people to get to the seat next to mine. Eventually Jim shared his heart's desire to marry Elizabeth but first believed that God wanted to settle him in Ecuador to learn the language and Elizabeth would come a little later on to Ecuador as well to serve nearby him. But they agreed to put off their marriage until they both learned the language so that marriage and homemaking and maybe even parenting duties would not interfere with their ability to speak the language. So to accomplish their ultimate desire to reach these people they put off their wedding for five years. Five years after initially proposing, Jim and Elizabeth were married in Ecuador.

Within two years he would be dead. It wasn't long after their wedding that Jim and his four missionary teammates began to make contact with the Alcas. In fact what they did to pursue this brutal primitive tribe that was still living in pre-stone age conditions was to fly their plane over the village and drop gifts.

Roger, Ed, Pete and Nate, the pilot, along with Jim, spent months pouring over maps of the jungle of Ecuador. Now they were very aware, by the way, of the previous attempt of those five new tribe's missionaries. They were well aware of the risk. They knew that they had been savagely killed. One author writes, they knew what they were risking. Their dream was not pursued on a whim. They would risk their lives because they furnished them. They would risk their lives because they firmly believed this was their calling. They were to be ambassadors for Christ even if it meant losing their lives. So they began to fly over this village and they rigged up a loud speaker and they would shout as they would circle slowly around the village, we are your friends.

We are your friends. The team found a sandbar along a river nearby where they landed their plane and eventually contact was made with a couple of younger women in the tribe and everything was progressing wonderfully. They even made contact with one of the men and the missionary team was excited with the prospects. On January 8, 1956, they flew back to that same location after spotting nearly a dozen Alka warriors on the trail leading to that river.

Within minutes of making contact, the killing would begin savagely and unexpectedly. Even though all of the missionaries were armed, they had decided not to fire on any of the warriors even if they were being attacked. In fact, Nate Sain had told his wife and son of that decision. He said, we have decided that we cannot kill them. They are not ready for heaven.

We are. Steve Sain, if you've been around here long enough, the number of years we had him here to speak, Nate's son, years after this event, would be seated at a campfire with seven of his warriors, now believers, committed disciples of Christ. For the first time ever there at that campfire, they recounted to Steve the events of the afternoon. They remembered being mystified as to why the missionaries didn't fire their weapons at them, but only into the air instead. Why one of the missionaries would simply wait for one of the warriors to wade out into the river to spear him when he was armed. Why another missionary would beg the warriors in their language, we are not going to hurt you. Why are you killing us?

We are not going to hurt you. One native said to Steve, if he had run away he would have probably lived, but they all died, almost intentionally. Months later, Elizabeth Elliot, her young daughter, ten months old, and Rachel Sain, Steve's sister, were able to establish a home among these Alcas thanks to a young native girl who had fled the village and come to faith in Christ and then led these women back. These women would live among them for years adapting the hardships of an incredibly primitive lifestyle in order to deliver to them the gospel. In fact, Elizabeth would personally lead to Christ two of the warriors from that killing party. Elizabeth would remember and write later, and I quote her, when I stood by my shortwave radio in the jungle of Ecuador and heard the report that my husband was missing, God brought to my mind the words of Isaiah the prophet, when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Jim's absence thrust me, forced me, hurried me to God, my only refuge.

I can say that suffering is an irreplaceable medium through which I learned an indispensable truth, that he is the Lord. Nine years after the martyrdom of these five men, the gospel of Mark was published in the Alca language. The church had already been established. The pastor of the church was one of the warriors who'd speared these missionaries.

He, if you can believe it, would personally baptize Steve Saint in that river, adopting him as his grandson. No better way to illustrate the ministry of reconciliation than that. One author wrote, God had used these martyrs, a wife and sister of the slain missionaries, to reconcile with the Alcas and bring them the ultimate reconciliation of Christ's salvation. Steve Saint, just as an addendum, and his family would later return to Ecuador in 1995 and they would build a hospital and an airport for the tribes of this region. In fact, just fifteen years ago or so, Steve published the conversation he had with these warriors there at the campfire.

And let me fill you in on one incident. One of the now aged Alca warriors who'd taken part in the killing of Jim, Elliot and Steve's own father, told a story that was confirmed by the other warriors who were still alive and the women who'd been there on that sandy river bed that afternoon. They talked about hearing music, strange music. As the missionaries lay on that river bed, dead or dying, these Indians began to hear music and looked above the tree line to see a multitude of kawodi, the same word for missionary or foreigner, hovering above the trees. One native described this singing these people as lights moving around and shining, a sky full of jungle beetles similar to fireflies with a light that was brighter and didn't blink on and off. One of the women who were there told Steve that she had hidden in the bush during the attack and after it was over saw the kawodi above the trees singing. She said, we didn't know what this kind of music was until we later heard recordings played by Rachel Saint. When she came to live with us, she brought a record player and she would play us recordings of Christian choirs singing. That was the music they'd heard.

Steve said, all the participants there saw this bright multitude in the sky and knew they should be afraid because they knew it was something supernatural. Evidently there at that riverbank an angelic host had arrived to testify of these ambassadors who were now heading home and I guess God determined to sing them along their way from their assigned posts to their home country of heaven. Perhaps on this occasion to give tangible evidence that Christ has overcome the world even when his ambassadors lay dying. Evidence that we also, his ambassadors, for you don't have to go to a field to be an ambassador, that we have been given the honor of a lifetime to represent his everlasting victorious kingdom. Delivering to our world the terms of surrender and how they might have peace with God.

It might mean the loss of our comforts and the loss of our agendas and the loss of our privacy and the loss of our desires and maybe even the loss of our lives. This is our ministry. This is our message as ambassadors delivering the message of how to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ who happens to be our conquering already victorious Lord. Well I hope this look at the life of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot has challenged and encouraged you today.

It may not be God's plan for you to become a martyr or the spouse of a martyr but it's certainly his plan for you to be an ambassador and tell others about the good news of salvation. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey our Bible teacher is working through a series of Christian biographies called Legacies of Light. If you missed any of the lessons so far you can go online and get caught up. We've posted them to our website which you'll find at In fact we've posted the complete archive of Stephen's teaching ministry to that site. You can listen to the message or read Stephen's manuscript. Those resources are freely available on the website and on our smartphone app.

I encourage you to install that app to your phone. It would encourage us to hear from you. We'd be excited to hear how God's working in your life and we'd be delighted to pray for you at our staff prayer time. You can send us a card or letter if you address it to Wisdom for the Heart P.O. Box 37297 Raleigh North Carolina 27627. I'll give you that again in case you were trying to write it down. It's Wisdom for the Heart P.O.

Box 37297 Raleigh North Carolina 27627. You can also send us an email if you address it to info at By the way there's other ways that you can interact with us as well. Be sure and follow us on Twitter and Instagram and hit the like button on our Facebook page. It's a great way to keep up with new resources and get reminders about our broadcasts. So there's many ways you can interact with Wisdom for the Heart and I hope that you will. I also hope you'll be back with us tomorrow at this same time for more Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-22 13:31:08 / 2023-07-22 13:39:39 / 9

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