Paul, Peter, James and John on matters of the Heart
A company or organization is often tested when its founder steps aside and the responsibility and vision is entrusted to others. Many enterprises do not survive. Some move to new heights of expansion, innovation and growth. So it was with Jesus and His disciples. And yet, not only did the Spirit of the founder go with them, he resided in them, providing both his power and authority to take the expansion work forward. They were not alone, and the business was one of The Heart.
When you read what the disciples wrote and understand what they were getting at, there is a transaction and then a transformation, and it happens with Christ at the deepest core of a human being—a place created by God for God.
Paul has more references to the heart than any other New Testament writer. Of Paul’s writings, the book of Romans carries the greatest inventory of heart passages in the New Testament. The two passages of greatest significance are Romans 10:10 and Ephesians 3:16-17.
“…confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved.”
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
These passages are central to the gospel message (and of course there are more). Often is the invitation to
“Invite Jesus into your heart”
and this expression could not be more true! In offering Christ to others, we are offering life (I am the way, truth and life, John14:6). What was once dead because of sin; a life without God is then made alive, holy in and through the work and presence of Christ (Col. 3:1-4, John 10:10). Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit actually takes up residence inside a man or woman, in this place the scriptures call the heart.
If that isn’t glorious enough, He makes alive a new nature; resurrecting the whole person, giving full Kingdom benefits… Life, and to the full!
When a “patient” who is pronounced dead encounters the one who raises people from the dead … life is the result. He enters their hearts, redeems them, revives them, and has the power to transform them through an indwelling and intimate connecting of Him in me and me in Him. Amazing. This is why Jesus can invite us to come to Him and by no other, that we may have life (John 5:40).
The Heart and Life are consistently connected in scripture, especially when the subject of scripture has anything to do with the Gospel and how a person is saved from their sin. The result is a new state, new position... we move from death into Life.
That is what we are all searching for… LIFE?
Heart and Life. You cannot have one without the other. Try to have life without a heart or a heart without life. They go together and are clearly meant to by design. It is true in the physical realm and is paralleled in a more significant reality, the Spiritual Realm; the realm that matters most.
Paul refers to the heart again and again throughout his letters written to the first century believers. These are the folk that made up the first century churches, churches, by the way, with serious problems and challenges both from inside their walls as well as from out. In these churches, Paul takes them over and over to the source of life, Jesus Christ, and the place He dwells (takes up residence) within them, their hearts. There are more than fifty references that Paul makes to the subject of the heart in the Christian life.
Luke writes of this early church in its infancy
“All the believers were one in heart and mind.”
When the subject of unity is explored the key ingredient to express their connection is at the deepest level, the core… their hearts.
The other writers of the New Testament after the Gospels and Acts, are the apostles James, John, and Peter.
Peter writes in his first letter to believers
“we are to love deeply from the heart.”
I Peter 1:22
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord, always be prepared to give and answer for the hope that is within you”
I Peter 3:15
The apostle, James, exhorts us in his letter to first century Christians to
“purify your heart”
Implying that it was possible to do so and exhorting us to get busy in the process and partnership with God in that event.
The disciple John writes in Revelation 3:9
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
These men, His disciples experienced something and they experienced it somewhere. They experienced Jesus-Life and they experienced it deep within their being-Heart. Luke 24:31-32…
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Heart and Life… The effect of God on us and in us is experienced in a place the scriptures call the Heart. Not knowing if we have one or if it is alive might mean He’s not there yet. Invite Him into your heart; begin the journey of the burning heart… come alive.
There is no greater thing; He in me and me in Him.