“Pricked in Their Hearts”

When Peter said “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom ye crucified”, the resulting action was that the people on Pentecost were “pricked in their heart” and anxiously asked, “Brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:36-37).

Frequently some charge that Christians do not believe in “heartfelt religion”. Were that accusation true, it would be serious indeed. However, before we sadly confess the accusation is true, there are things about the “Bible heart” we urge all to examine and consider.

When we talk about “heartfelt” religion we must understand what the “heart” is we are talking about. Often people pat themselves on their chest and say, “I wouldn’t change what I feel right here in my heart for anything!” To “pat oneself on his chest” and think that is the “Bible heart” is a grave misunderstanding of the “Bible heart”. The physical blood pump is not the “Bible heart” with which one is to love God and which can be “pricked” as people’s heart were pricked by Peter’s preaching on Pentecost.

Jeremiah prophesied 2,500 years ago of a new covenant God would make with the house of Israel and the house of Judah and of that prophecy the Hebrew writer quoted, “I will put my law in their minds and on their hearts also will I write them” (Hebrews 8:10). He later refers again to Jeremiah’s words, saying, “I will put my laws on their hearts, and on their minds also will I write them” (Hebrews 10:16). Notice the slight differences in these two quotations. In Hebrews 8 the writer quotes Jeremiah’s words, saying, “I will put my law on their minds”, while in Hebrews 10 the writer quotes Jeremiah saying, “I will put my law upon their heart”. Different? Yes, but really the same. Jeremiah, like the psalmist and other inspired writers, used dualism to emphasize a truth. This means that the same truth is expressed in two different ways. God put His law on the minds of Israel; He put His law upon the hearts of the people. God wrote His law upon the minds of the people; He wrote His law upon the hearts of the people. The Bible heart is not man’s physical blood pump; it is his mind. Does man think with his physical heart? The answer is obvious. Man does not love with his physical heart any more than he thinks with his physical heart.

The Bible heart is the center of four very important functions, and “love” is  certainly one of these. But the Bible heart is not only the center of our emotions.

The Bible heart is the center of our intellect.  As shown in Hebrews 8 and 10, the Bible heart is the mind of man and the mind is the center of man’s intellect. The Scriptures teach that we reason with and think with the heart. Jesus asked a group of Jews who examined Him, “Why reason ye evil in your hearts?” (Luke 5:22). Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). The mouth expresses the thoughts of the heart. The Psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Love is important. We must love the Lord with all our heart, yet God said, “And ye shall seek for me and ye shall find me, when ye shall seek for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Loving God with all our heart is essential, yet our intellect is just as much part of our heart as is emotion. If emotion is the only factor that determines my service to God, it is not enough. My intellect (mind) is also a part of my heart and one does not seek God with all his heart if he leaves reason and thinking out of service to God.

There is another function of the heart besides emotion and intellect: the conscience. It was the conscience of man which Peter’s words pricked on Pentecost when he told them that their rulers had agreed to Jesus’ death. More than likely, some of those present had heard Pilate ask, “What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” and the crowd answered, “Let him be crucified”. Pilate ultimately called for a basin of water, washed his hands in the presence of the Jews, and said, “See ye to it. I am free from the blood of this man”. And the crowd roared, “Let his blood be us and our children”. Even if none of them on Pentecost had personally agreed to the crucifixion of Jesus, they were guilty of other sins (Romans 3:23). They knew this and their conscience or heart was pricked.

Yet there is still one more thing that is part of the Bible heart: the will. The people at Pentecost cried out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” There was something they could do — if they would. Peter’s response was, “Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins …” (Acts 2:38). Clearly, by asking what they could do, these people believed. They believed that God had raised Jesus, their Messiah, from the dead. Now, laid before them were Jesus’ own terms for the forgiveness of their sins (Mark 16:15-16). Would they comply?

Paul wrote, “But God be thanked that whereas ye were servants of sins, ye obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine delivered unto you and being made free from sins ye became servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). The Romans obeyed, from the heart, that form of doctrine delivered to them. They exercised their will, but their will was (is) part of the heart. Loving the Lord, seeking the Lord with “all the heart” is not complete until man has exercised his will by obeying the commandments of God. Three thousand people did love the Lord with all their hearts; they were baptized into Christ as Peter commanded. If my love for Christ will not lead me to obey the words of Jesus, I do not love Him with all my heart (John 14:23). Do you love God with all your heart?

Jim McDonald

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