Christ Preparing our Hearts 1

1. The heart must be convinced of the basic truths of Christianity and of the reality of heaven and hell.

While a person is not saved by the amount or degree of knowledge, one cannot believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ apart from knowing something of them. A person cannot trust in one that is not known. The truths of Scripture must be taught to us or read by us, but it is the teaching ministry of Christ (as Prophet) to teach the inner man by His Spirit. Jesus gave the Great Commandment to go and make disciples of the nations, and His disciples went out preaching and teaching. In other words, they went out proclaiming the truth of God and of His Messiah. It is through and by the preaching of the Word that Christ prepares the hearts of men and then gives them life.

In the modern day it is thought that men, women, and children can go our and give a simple message (virtually devoid of truth at all) and all a person has to do is to repeat some words (called a prayer) after another. But Jesus did not say go out and get people to say words, but instead He commanded His apostles to go make disciples. He then went on and said that they were to teach that disciples all that He had commanded His disciples. Now that is a rather tall task, but He did command it. The hearts of people must be taught the basic truths of Christianity and a person must believe those basic truths. This is not to make an argument about how much a person must know, but it is to say that the people must be taught.

We are told over and over again that people must believe in Christ. Without going into what it means to believe, surely people must believe something about who Jesus is in order to believe in Him. If one is going to believe in order to be saved, one has to know certain things about salvation. One must know what one is being saved from and saved for. One must know something of the sin of the heart in order to know with some degree of depth that part of salvation is to be a new creature in Christ. There are basic truths of the Gospel that a person must know in order to be saved because we are commanded to preach the Gospel. Paul also said that the Gospel was the power of God unto salvation.

It is true that people do not like the word “prepare” in terms of the Gospel, but we should take great notice that it is Christ who must do the teaching in the inner man and it is Christ by His Spirit that must prepare the heart. While the word may be disliked, it is also quite descriptive. We are told in Scripture that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. This should at least teach us that sinners must be brought down from their pride and that their hearts must be humbled before they receive saving grace. No, this is not to say that in our pride we can kill the pride in our hearts, but we should seek the Lord in our teaching that He would humble the pride of the hearts of those who are listening. A proud heart will always be at enmity with God over who will rule it and a proud heart will always be opposed to the Gospel of grace alone.

Matthew 18:1-4 is so clear that a heart must be turned and a person must become like little children to enter the kingdom. The text is also clear that it is God who must turn the heart since “turn” is in the passive. God alone can take a proud heart that has a fortress of pride around it and break down that fortress and make that heart like a little child who must receive all from the hand of another. But these things do not happen in a vacuum, so these things must be taught to people. People must come to know who they are and they must come to know what it will take for them to be saved and they must know the Gospel of grace alone rather than just asking them to say some words that some think of as a prayer. Jesus said a person must have faith as opposed to just saying a prayer.

Hebrews 10:26 tells us that “if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Surely this at the very least teaches us that men and women were being taught the truth. People are so ill taught in our day that they don’t know what they think they are praying for when the say what they think is a prayer and others have no idea what they are rejecting. People are joining a professing church without knowing what a church is and are having no idea of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have many methods and formulas for getting people to say a prayer and to join the professing churches, but people must be taught the truth if they are going to be really and truly converted. James 1:18 tells us that “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” If we are not teaching people the truth, are they being brought forth by the word of truth? No, they are deceived.

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