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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, August 07, 2006

Heart Problems - Part 2

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Daily Scripture Reading - Ephesians 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #35 - What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

Answer - The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Rom. 5:1-2, 5), are assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end (Prov. 4:18; 1 Jn. 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 29 – Baptism

Devotional Thoughts
We have seen how discernment is necessary if we are to avoid defilement. Embracing the traditions of men as if they were the Word of God will indeed ensnare us, but even more dangerous is misunderstanding the truth. If we miss the truth then how do we know how to act, or why to act that way? Without discernment, without understanding, we cannot hear, know, understand, or do the truth. We fall easily to false doctrine and are entrapped by the traditions of men.

It does not help that as we studied in Part 1, we have a heart problem. Each of us is born with a terrible condition - we are dead! And our hearts are deceitful and wicked. As we studied, Jesus tells us that our hearts are full of "evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."

So what then is the cure? Can we clean our hearts up? Can we remove the evil? Can we renovate the inner man and salvage what is good while getting rid of what is bad?

Our fallen, wicked hearts are truly beyond hope. We have, as it were, hearts of stone. Rock hard, darkened, past feeling, dead and bound in sin. There is not a shred of good there, there is no divine spark, there is nothing to renovate. If left in this state with this heart we are doomed.

But we must remember that the gospel is the good news. It is a message of hope, for Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. We may be beyond renovation, but we are not beyond redemption! Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin, taking God's wrath toward our sin upon Himself and giving us His righteousness. This is what we mean when we talk about "getting saved." When sinners are converted they by God's grace turn from their sin in repentance and they turn to Christ in faith, trusting Him to save. They repent and believe, obeying the gospel.

We know from the Scriptures that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We know that repentance and faith are both gifts of grace, not something inherent in us, but a gift given by God to us when we need it. We know that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot be good enough to be saved, we cannot merit salvation on our own, and we cannot work for it either.

So how do we deal with our heart problem?

The answer is that we don't do anything - God does something! We are dead. Lost. Impotent. Unable to hear, understand, or respond to the Word of God on our own. But praise be to God, the Holy Spirit is able to use the Word of God to call us to life. We, who were once dead, He has made alive! The solution for our heart condition is a transplant. We need a new heart.

And that is just what God does when He saves us. He gives us a new heart. He takes out our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh - a new, living heart capable of repentance and faith. This is regeneration. That point in time when God calls a sinner to life from the dead. Just as He did with Lazarus in the grave.

When Jesus called to Lazarus in the tomb, Lazarus was dead. He had been dead for 4 days. He could not hear, respond, or answer. But the authority of the call of Christ - the power of His voice - brought Lazarus back to life from the dead. One who was dead was raised to new life.

So too we, by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, are effectually called to new life. We were dead, children of wrath. And the next moment we are alive, able to hear, understand, and believe the Word of God. This is why we say that salvation is by grace alone. It is not a decision we make on our own having weighed the gospel against whatever else we might believe. A dead man has no options to weigh.

The cure then is indeed a new heart. Not a renovated heart. Not a repaired heart. The old is put off and the new put on. The hard heart is removed and a soft, pliable, believing heart replaces it. This is why there is so much that is new about us when we are saved.

Consider this newness today:

We are given a new heart. We are a new creation. We are renewed in the spirit of our mind - in the inner man. We are transformed by renewing our mind, as we have the mind of Christ now. We, who were dead, are now alive, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. We are members of the New Covenant. This is indeed new life.

Today, how is your heart? Dead, hard, stone cold? New, alive, full of the joy of the Lord? If you do still have a heart problem there is a cure. We find the cure for this curse in the cross of Christ. Look then to Him, turn from your sin, and trust Him. That is the only rememdy!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Regeneration Preceeds Faith by RC Sproul
Regeneration or The New Birth by AW Pink

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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