a new heart
I have “always” been a Christian. What I mean is this: I grew up in a home that went to church on Sunday mornings, evenings, and even Wednesday nights. I learned about God & his love for me from before I can remember. I decided at the age of 7 that I wanted to believe what Jesus did on the cross covered my sins… and I did.
I have grown up since then… and as I grew I learned more about God, more about the Bible, and I believed it. Honest-to-goodness faith.
Yesterday, though, I went from being just** a believer to being a disciple.
Maybe you are reading this and you too have grown up in the church. Maybe you ask yourself… “aren’t they the same, a believer and a disciple?”… and my response (as best as I can tell from my experience) is NO.
Believers may have faith… but there is something missing. Something that makes them fall on their face arms spread wide in repentance when they read the Word of God. Something is missing that makes their hearts ache for other people. Something is missing that makes them desire to obey God, regardless of what it may look like.
Let’s be honest. My whole life, I thought I was all of these things. I really believed that I would do anything for Christ. I was, in effect, a Peter. In John 13:38, we see a man who has followed Jesus, believed & seen with his own eyes miracles of heaven, and yet Jesus asks him this question:
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Yikes! I’m sure Peter thought & believed with his whole heart that he would indeed die for Christ (and later, he would). But, at this point, although he believes, he denies the One he follows!
Is is possible that Peter experienced the same heart change I did after the death & resurrection of Jesus?
All of that is just background to what happened yesterday… all of it is to explain that I believed in God, I had faith that Jesus’s death covered my sins, and that I was going to heaven as a result.
Yesterday, I woke up early as is my (most-of-the-time) habit to spend time studying the Bible. That may sound grand, but the total time added up only to about 20 minutes, and that included my “prayer” time. Read: my monologue to God…
Yesterday, I read the verses for the study (Luke 16:19-31), and came to the conclusion that I was possibly more hard-hearted than I realized. Then, I read this passage out of a book…
But the gift of grace involves the gift of a new heart. New desires. New longings For the first time, we want God. We see our need for him, and we love him. We seek after him, and we find him, and we discover that he is indeed the great reward of our salvation. We realize that we are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins or to be assured of our eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God. So we yearn for him. We want him so much that we abandon everything else to experience him. This is the only proper response to the revelation of God in the gospel. – David Platt, Radical (all emphasis are mine 🙂 )
The Holy Spirit used this passage combined with scriptures to change me in that instant. In that instant, I no longer was just a believer, I was a disciple.
You see, the disciples gave EVERYTHING they had for Christ. Their weaknesses become strength when they handed their lives to the will of God. Their doubts found answers, their fears fled. They became people who’s sole purpose in life was to bring glory to Christ.
It looks different for everyone. There are some that will give their lives for the gospel; it happens in countries all over the world on a daily basis. There are some that will leave all they have to live in another country & minister to other peoples. There are people who will commit their lives to prayer. There are people who will adopt children. There are people who may always live in the same house, same subdivision in suburban America… but all these people will have something in common.
They will be a people who live to die, whose sole purpose in life is to bring glory to Christ.
I am one of those people.
Lord strengthen my weaknesses through Your power.
** when I say “just” a believer, I am referring to James 2:19 which says “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder” Obviously belief alone is not enough. There must be a change of heart… true repentance & a turning away from the old life & embracing the new.