Sunday, November 27, 2005

Intimacy with God (8) - God speaks to our heart

We learn from the Bible that God can communicate with us directly by putting things in our hearts.

Here are some examples:

  • The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. (1 Kings 10:24)
  • In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing. 2 Chron 36:22 (also Ezra 1:1).
  • I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:2)
  • I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. (2 Cor 8:16)

We don't know exactly how God worked in putting something in the hearts of these men. Luke gives us a clue:

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:1-4 my emphasis).

Notice what Luke didn't write: “The Lord led me; the Lord spoke to me; I felt impressed by the Spirit to write.” Luke simply had a good idea, and that good idea caused him to write inspired Scripture. When God wanted Luke to write an account of Jesus' life which would become part of the canon of Scripture - what we call "the Bible" - He put it in Luke's heart simply as a good idea.

Some people will argue that this may have been the experience of people "in Bible times" but God doesn't do that sort of thing today (and they say this without any Scriptural evidence that God has stopped communicating with His people in this way). What does the Bible say?

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33 my emphasis).

The writer of Hebrews quotes these words twice and says first that this prophecy is fulfilled in the "new covenant" which was instituted by Jesus (Heb 8) and then quotes the same prophecy again in 10:14-16 when he says we are "being made holy" through the priestly minstry of Jesus.

So when God says He will put His words into our hearts and minds, He is speaking about something which is accomplished through the work of Jesus and which will become the experience of those who are "being made holy".

Through Ezekiel God says: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26). He is telling us here that this transformation of the heart is the work of His Spirit.

Paul takes this up when writing to the Corinthians and says: "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Cor 1:21-22)

We should expect as a result of the work of Jesus that God will put things in the heart of His people even more so than "in Bible times".

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