The Understanding Heart

Pastor Jay continues his “Guard Your Heart” series this week, with a sermon titled “The Understanding Heart,” from Proverbs 2:1-5.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV)

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you,  making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Desire the understanding heart.

  • An understanding heart seeks God’s wisdom.
  • Begin with the fear of the Lord.
  • Seek it in God’s word.
  • An understanding heart trusts the Lord.
  • An understanding heart is humble.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What is one thing you’ve seen, but don’t understand how it works?
  • What’s the easiest way for you to memorize something for school?
  • Have you ever wanted to make better choices?
  • What does Proverbs 2:1-5 say about how to get wisdom to make better choices?

The Tested Heart

Pastor Jay continues his “Guard Your Heart” series this week, with a sermon titled “The Tested Heart,” from Jeremiah 17:10.

Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV)

“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

God tests the heart.

  • Why does He test?
  • He tests in order to judge.
  • He tests in order to reward.
  • What does God test?
  • He tests our obedience.
  • He tests our faith.
  • He tests our love.
  • Why is His testing good for our hearts?
  • Because it reveals sin.
  • Because it reveals God’s love to us.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What’s the best surprise you ever received?
  • Is it easy for you to keep a secret?
  • Can you keep any secrets from God?
  • How do you feel about God knowing everything about you?

A Peaceful Heart

Pastor Jay continues his “Guard Your Heart” series this week, with a sermon titled “A Peaceful Heart”, from Proverbs 14:30 and Psalm 131:2.

Proverbs 14:30 (ESV)

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Psalm 131:2 (ESV)

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

The peaceful heart is a desirable thing.

  • A peaceful heart is a heart that is absent of disruptive demanding.
  • A peaceful heart is full of God’s three greatest provisions in Christ.
  1. Faith
  2. Love
  3. Hope

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What was the busiest day you remember?
  • What about the last time you remember your family relaxing?
  • What does the Bible mean when it says, “Be still”?
  • Think of some time this week when you can be still with just God.

Assurance of Salvation

Assurance of salvation does not answer the question, “How can I be saved?” We are saved by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Rather, it answers the question, “How can I know if my faith is genuine and not false?” There is a false sort of faith that James mentions in James 2:14. He tells us that a demon-like faith (faith of mere mental assent) cannot save. So, we sometimes speak of “saving faith” to distinguish it from a false faith that cannot save. How do I know if my faith is genuine, that it is saving–that it is of God?

Two Key Truths: At this juncture, it is important to assert two equally important truths. First, the Christian can and should come to the place of having that assurance. Second, the Christian should examine his faith.

John states in ESV 1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” This is almost the same that John wrote in his gospel. ESV John 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. From this we see that a Christian can and ought to know that he possesses eternal life.

Such an assurance does not argue against self-examination. Paul, who preached a gospel of grace, taught that we should examine ourselves. ESV 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

What kind of examination is called for? John gives a quick almost bullet point list of criteria to evaluate the genuineness of faith. Look at 1John 3:18-24.

ESV 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

The Evidence

There are five if not six check points that John gives.

1. Love: Love is the chief fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is the cardinal virtue of genuine faith. In addition, Jesus indicated that abiding in Him would yield such fruit. The absence of love in the life of one who calls himself a believer is a deep cause of concern.

2. Answered-prayer: There are biblical caveats to prayer. We must pray in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14) and not for hedonistic desires (James 4:3). Nevertheless, the believer experiences answered prayer as the norm. He or she comes to depend upon God daily.

3. Obedience: A Christian is not saved by his own obedience. We are saved because of the obedience of Christ through justification. Yet, the evidence of real faith will be a habit of obedience with a corresponding desire to please Him. This is not speaking to the idea of sinless perfection but rather the heart of a child who loves his Father and seeks to please Him however imperfectly.

4. Belief in the gospel: The key act of obedience is to obey the gospel. In vs.23 John writes, “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ…” Along with the other evidences of faith is faith itself. The true child of God will come to know that his faith is genuine as faith cries out of the depths of his own heart.

5. Abiding in Christ: John makes one of his famous statements about the mutual indwelling of Christ and the believer. We are in Him and He is in us (v.24). This is like the analogy of the branch and vine that Jesus speaks to in John 15. Abiding in Christ is an ongoing relationship of remaining in faith while drawing all our resources from Him. Abiding also implies remaining faithful until the end. A key evidence that we belong to Him is that we remain firm until the end (Matthew 24:13)

6. The Indwelling Holy Spirit: John adds that we know Christ is abiding in us by the presence of His Holy Spirit. The Spirit himself makes his presence known by way of His fruit (Galatians 5:2-23). We also have the internal witness of the same spirit confirming to us that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16).

Peter indicates that the presence of fruit in the life of the believer is something that increases with time. 2 Peter 1:8. Someone has rightly compared spiritual fruit to the process of fruit production in nature. A fruit tree will, all things being equal, bear fruit, but the fruit does not begin at the stage of being ripe. At first it is barely perceptible. Yet, it begins to appear. It begins to grow and show evidence of the kind of fruit it is.

The new believer has his faith (this too being a gift of God, Ephesians 2:8). He throws himself upon the Lord as the father of the demoniac who cried out in Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief!” He knows that in his heart he has thrown himself upon Christ’s grace and mercy. He knows that he has obeyed the gospel by repenting and believing the gospel. He loves the Lord. In other words the evidence of real faith begins to present itself immediately. As the new believer becomes rooted and grounded in the faith, these evidences should strengthen.

An Assured Heart

Pastor Jay continues his “Guard Your Heart” series this week, with a sermon titled “An Assured Heart”, from 1 John 3:18-24.

1 John 3:18-24 (ESV)

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

We need an assured heart.

  • Faith that assures is a loving faith.
  • Faith that assures is an answered-prayer kind of faith.
  • Faith that assures is an obedient faith.
  • Faith that assures believes in the Lord Jesus
  • Faith that assures experiences the mutual indwelling of Christ.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Name something you have faith in (besides God!).
  • Have you ever prayed for something and it happened?
  • Ever prayed and it didn’t happen?
  • Thank God this week for always “having your back”!