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The Renewal of Our Hearts

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 32

We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?

To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood. But we do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.

Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent ways?

By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like is going to inherit the kingdom of God.

 

The Renewal of Our Hearts

Tuesday, July 11: Psalm 115

The Catechism teaches that the Christian life is a gospel transformed life: “Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us.” This transformation or renewal begins with the human heart, the control center of “all our living.” Tim Keller reminds us that “heart” is a Biblical term that describes our mind (Proverbs 23:7, Daniel 2:30, Acts 8:22), will (Proverbs 16:1, 9) and emotions (Deuteronomy 28:47, 1 Samuel 1 :8, John 14:1, 1 Peter 1:22). The question for each us, then, is what our heart most treasures. Speaking of money, Jesus states that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). In other words, if your “god” is money, it will be the defining power of your mind, will and emotions. While the Lord is to be the true affection of our hearts (Proverbs 3:5, Matthew 6:20), our hearts are easily drawn to false alternatives (Proverbs 23:26-28). Holy Spirit renewal, therefore, begins with the heart (Ephesians 1:18; cf. 18-23; Matthew 22:37). Again, the words of Keller are helpful: “Whatever captures the heart’s trust and love also controls the feelings and behavior. What the heart most wants the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find valuable, and the will finds doable” (Preaching, 157-159). It is prudent for each of us to ask what captures our heart’s greatest trust. Perhaps it is our need to be accepted by the right people. It could also be that we measure our self-worth by the accomplishments of our children. Some may find life and hope in financial security. Still others find their greatest treasure in their careers. In the spirit of Psalm 115 we should ask some important questions. Do these idols have ears that hear the deepest cry of our heart? Do they have mouths that speak that we are safe in grace? Do they have hands that sacrificially nurture love and hope? Of course not. History demonstrates that human acceptance, accomplishment, finances and career are at best fleeting delights. They are incapable of bringing the new life, love and hope for which we all long. So, out of gratitude for grace, I hope you will open your heart to the renewing presence of the Holy Spirit. He alone can teach us that in Christ the old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).

Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn