Understanding the heart of the matter

Posted: August 10, 2009 by Daniel in Uncategorized

2 Corinthians 6:3-13 (esv)

The mall, by Lachlan Mcdonald

The mall, by Lachlan Mcdonald

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

What happens when someone become a Christian? Well, their body looks the same. Their voice sounds the same. They also continue to have the same store of memories and to operate in many of  the same cultural practices and tasks necessary for life. Indeed, their personality may continue to be similar in many regards. So where has the change taken place? Well the initial change takes place in the heart, but what do we understand the heart to be? A helpful definition of the heart is, ‘the seat of our understanding’ or ‘the seat of our affections’. That is to say, it’s the very foundation of our desires and intentions. The unregenerate heart is unable to believe God and can only cry out hatred toward God. When a new heart is given, one is, for the first time, able to believe God.

Christianity is not a matter of the tongue but of the inmost
heart. [The gospel] is not apprehended by the
understanding and memory alone, as other disciplines are,
but it is received only when it possesses the whole soul and
finds a seat and resting place in the inmost affection of the
heart. Institutes III.vi.4.

We grow together with Christ into one body, and he shares
his Spirit with us, through whose hidden operation he has
become ours. Believers receive this communion with
Christ at the same time as their calling. But they grow from
day to day more and more in this communion, in proportion
to the life of Christ growing in them. JC: CO XV, 723-24

Not only does [Christ] cleave to us by an indivisible bond of fellowship, but with a wonderful communion, day by day, he grows more and more into one body with us, until he becomes completely one with us. Institutes, III.ii.24
Calvin, quoted on Patheos

(*If you want more of Calvin and the Institutes go to CCEI)

Being possessors of this new heart, this new affection for Christ Jesus and his people, Paul challenges us to widen it and follow in his own example of suffering for the gospel and growing in Christian character and activity (2 Corinthians 6:3-13.) How are you and I doing in this endeavor. What a wonderful passage of scripture we have here to check our life and ministry against. Paul’s heart was ‘wide open’ in sharing the gospel. He was compelled by love in his declaration of the truth of the gospel. What a joy to be busy being poor, but making many rich, having nothing yet possessing everything.

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