“The Heart Prepared for Christ” Part 2
1. When I wrapped up last Sunday night’s message I ended with a question: With respect to soul piercing sorrow, does God work this way in everyone who gets converted, or not? Must everyone who comes to Christ be prepared in this way, or not?
2. To answer that question, let us go back to the day of Pentecost and read Acts 2.29-37:
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
3. Observe carefully and you will see that those men who gladly received Peter’s words, verse 41, were among those who were pricked in their heart, verse 37. Must all who gladly receive the Word be among those whose heart is pricked? Isn’t it possible to gladly receive the Word without a heart that’s been pricked?
4. The reason I pose this question is because there will always be some poor Christian who thinks, “The Lord never worked on me in this way. My heart was never battered and bruised as you are describing, so how can you insist that everyone who comes to Christ is prepared in this way?”
5. My friends, we are deep into the Christmas season. Our children have sung Christmas songs tonight and they will go to different houses tomorrow night to go Christmas caroling. For this and other reasons I am limited in what I think we can accomplish during the holiday season.
6. However, there are some of you who are in great need, and I don’t want to neglect you. So allow me to do what I can do, waiting until Christmas has passed to resume this serious and intense series of messages.
7. Let me establish, tonight, that your heart must be prepared before you will come to Christ. You may question the propriety and the necessity of a deep and soul piercing sorrow to prepare your heart for Christ. Put that question to rest.
8. “But I am a Christian and I’ve never had such an experience.” Let us not evaluate Scriptural truth by comparison to your experience. Rather, let us evaluate your experience by comparison to Scriptural truth. Amen?
9. This evening we will look at three verses of Scripture that establish, since one part of God’s Word does not conflict with another part of God’s Word, that your heart does need to be in this way prepared for you to get converted to Christ.
1A. Luke 19.10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Observe two things here:
1B. First, in order to be qualified to be someone the Lord Jesus Christ seeks and saves, you must see yourself lost. After that, you must see the absolute certainty of your salvation once you are lost. And this goes to the very heart of your understanding of God and His Son, Jesus. For, you see, this is the reason Jesus came. He came to seek and save that which was lost. And the Lord Jesus will not miss the sole purpose for His coming. He came for the lost sheep, so it’s lost sheep He will have. And since lost sheep cannot seek nor save themselves, Christ must, Himself, do the saving of them.
2B. So you see, all men must therefore be lost before they can be saved. And if ever a sinner truly gets lost he certainly will be saved. But until a sinner gets truly lost he cannot be saved. It’s not enough for a man to be in a miserable state and a damnable condition. You must see the condition you are in. And your heart must be truly affected by your condition. And you must feel the burden of your sin. Not so much for the punishment, but for the sin whereby your heart is estranged from God, and also God from your soul.
3B. I think this should be rather easy for everyone to see. Cain, you will remember from Genesis chapter 4, had a great feeling for God’s wrath toward him for killing Abel, but he had no sense of his own sin. He was keenly aware of the punishment that was due him, and complained about it bitterly, but he had no sorrow of heart that would lead to conversion. And the same things can be said of Judas Iscariot. How, then, can someone be saved who has never seen himself truly lost, and who has no real apprehension of his own sin? Such a person cannot be saved. Thus we see, the heart must be prepared before any sinner can be converted to Christ.
2A. John 6.44: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Recognize that coming to Christ and believing in Him are the same things, since John 6.35 reads, “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Two parallel phrases which illustrate conversion to Christ. This verse is based upon two realities: First, a man must be drawn to Christ. Secondly, if he is drawn to Christ he shall surely come.
1B. Here is how this drawing process may be understood: When God opens your eyes, and makes your sins known to you, and so pierces your heart through that you acknowledge your sin and you feel the vileness and burden of your sin, and you are interested in parting company with your sin. When the Lord lays all your abominations on you, all your adulteries, and all your thefts, and now you see what it is to be separated from a holy and a pure God. Then you will be vengeful, and spiteful, and unclean, and malicious no more. Why not? Because your heart has become weary of it, and is very content to part with it once and for all.
2B. From this understanding of what drawing is you can see that true drawing to Christ is always accompanied by true believing in Christ. When your sense of sin focuses on the punishment you will receive for your sins, when your mind is fixed upon Hell and the lake of fire, the result is not always true faith in Christ. But when your sense of sin focuses, not on the punishment sin earns, but upon the vileness and wickedness of the sin itself, then you will truly believe.
3B. But such will not occur in your life until you have first been drawn in such a way that your heart is pierced through and you acknowledge your sin and you feel the vileness and burden of your sin, and you are really interested in parting company with your sin
3A. Matthew 11.28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
1B. This stream of thought runs throughout Scripture. Let me read Isaiah 61.1-2 to you: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”
2B. Don’t you see? Regardless of the specific terminology that is used, whether it’s pricked, or sorrow, or heavy laden, or mourn, the underlying truth is the same. Only that person whose heart has been run through with sorrow, whose heart has been prepared, will be converted.
3B. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted,” Jesus said in Matthew 5.4. Yet another illustration that the promises of salvation that are found in God’s Word either obviously belong to those who are broken in heart, or else the implication is such that a man must be of a broken heart or a contrite spirit before ever God can or ever will accept him.
1. Christmas season is a time when an unconverted person is profoundly challenged with temptations not ordinarily encountered at other times of the year. And among those challenges is the temptation to quit striving, to abandon Church, and to give up ever being converted.
2. Let me encourage you to hang tough, to continue striving, to cooperate with the Spirit of God’s ministry of convicting you of sin, in the hope that you will see yourself truly and profoundly lost. For then you will be found.