The Heart In God's Word
North Fort Myers, Florida
A. Matthew 5:8; 6:20-21; 12:33-35 - The thought content of these passages is:
1. The religion of Jesus Christ is a "heart religion." But it is not the "heart felt religion" of Pentecostalism where assurance of salvation is based on how one feels, rather than what the Word of God teaches (Rom. 8:16-17).
2. All obedience to God must come from the heart and God is not pleased unless the heart is right with God.
3. What the Bible teaches about the heart and what men think about it are poles apart. It is vital that we know what the Bible heart is.
4. In the New Testament the heart stands for the entire inner life: the capacity of a person to feel, think, and resolve, with emphasis on thinking and willingness.
B. Churches of Christ have been accused of having a heartless religion. Such is not the case. The thesis of this lesson is to demonstrate this point.
I. The word "heart" in the Bible means mainly the center and source of the whole inner life (F. Wilbur Gingrich, Lexicon). In the heart:
A. Sin is committed (Matt. 5:28).
B. Forgiveness is granted (Matt. 18:35).
C. Condemnation is felt (1 Jn. 3:20).
D. Thought is formed (Mk. 7:21).
E. Speech is born (Matt. 12:34-37).
F. Obedience is given (Rom. 6:17).
G. Doubt (Mk. 11:23), decision (2 Cor. 9:7), deception (Jas. 1:26), belief (Rom. 10:9), sorrow (Jn. 16:6) and assurance are all affairs of the heart.
II. Members of the body of Christ walk by faith and not by fleshly feeling (2 Cor. 5:7). Our true heart felt faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), and our heart is attuned to God's Word. Our feelings are the result of our faith, and not our faith the result of our feelings. Christians believe in "heart felt religion" the way the Bible teaches it. Not the kind the denominations espouse.
A. "I feel it in my heart" is no more a standard to determine salvation than saying "I feel in my heart that my bank balance is correct," "I feel in my heart that this board is 6 feet long," etc.
1. The reason: this is subjective and subject to change depending upon the person, "experience, " etc. One needs an objective standard in all fields.
B. The Bible says you cannot trust your feelings when it comes to salvation (Prov. 28:26; Jcr. 10:23; Prov. 14:12).
C. We are to trust in God (Prov. 3:5), for He has given Scripture to make one wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15; 2 Pet. 1:3).
III. What is the heart that must be converted? A thing is known by what it does, i.e., a farmer farms, a teacher teaches, etc. The major functions of the heart may be classified in four groups; from these one can learn what the heart is that must be changed.
A. It has an intellectual process (thinks, Matt. 9:4; Heb. 4:12; - reasons, Mk. 2:8; - understands, Matt. 13:15; - believes, Rom. 10:9-10).
B. It has emotional processes (loves, Matt. 22:37; despises, 2 Sam. 6:16; - rejoices, Psa. 33:21; - suffers anguish, 2 Cor. 2:4; -may be stolen, 2 Sam. 15:1-6).
C. It has the process of will (a will that purposes, Acts 11:23; 2 Cor. 9:7; - determines, 1 Cor. 7:37. This is the process of the will).
D. It has the process of conscience (pricked, Acts 2:37; - cut, Acts 5:33; - condemns, 1 Jn. 3:20-21).
E. When one thinks of the heart he must take into account all of these things.
IV. What can happen to my heart?
A. It can be stolen (2 Sam. 15:6).
B. It can be hardened (Ex. 7:15).
C. It can go from a person (2 Kgs. 5:21).
D. It abides with a treasure (Matt. 6:24).
V. The condition of the heart.
A. In early life it is pure (Matt. 183; 19:14).
B. When sin enters the heart, it is poisoned, i.e., the intellect is clouded, the emotions are corrupted and the will is paralyzed. In this state the heart is:
1. Evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21).
2. Deceitful (Jer. 17:9).
3. Corrupt (Eph. 4:18).
C. We are responsible for this and we must change the heart (there is no salvation without a change of heart, Matt. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:22; Jas. 4:8).
VI. How is this change of heart brought about?
A. The intellect is changed by testimony (God affects this with evidence that produces faith (Jn. 20:30-31; Rom. 10:17). Illustration: An attorney labors to change the minds of a jury with reference to his client. He wants the jury to think, reason, understand and believe that his client is innocent of the charges against him. Therefore he sets before the jury testimony which he considers necessary to convince them and to cause them to have a desired attitude toward his client.
B. The emotions are changed by loveliness, i.e., by God's love (Rom. 5:8; Jn. 3:16; 2 Cor. 8:9). Illustration: When a young man tries to win the affections of a young woman, he does not resort to intellectual arguments. He shows his own affections and does things for her.
C. The will is changed by motives (goodness of God, Rom. 2:4; - fear of judgment, Acts 17:30-31. These are powerful motives inducing obedience). Illustration: Parents place motives before their children to induce obedience. A drunken father and/or husband may be won back if the proper motives are placed before him.
D. The conscience is changed by fight-doing (Active faith must follow understanding what God has done through Jesus, His Son, Jas. 2; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 4:17). Illustration: A man who has mistreated a fellow man (if he is honest and knows how God feels about it) can never have peace of mind until he has done what he can do to correct it.
1. Hebrews 4:7, "Today if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
2. The story is told of a young woman who was greatly distressed because she could not "experience" a change of heart. Someone pointed out to her that her heart had already been changed, with the exception of her conscience, i.e., she already believed in Jesus, had a tender feeling for Him and wanted to serve Him. She needed to act on the desire to serve Him by obedience. Like the Eunuch of Acts 8 her biblical "heart-felt" action would rejoice. She too could go her way rejoicing!
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 4, pp. 106-107