The "Heart" of the Gospel Is Medicine for the Hearts of Sinners
Lord Jesus I come today to celebrate the new life you have given me through your suffering, death, and resurrection for my sins. Thank you! Keep me in Your grace so that I never stubbornly turn from You and from Your Word. Minister to the hearts and souls of us all, giving us the healing medicine of Your saving Word. Amen.
When the Children of Israel heard the thunder, trumpet, and God’s voice and saw the lightening and smoke on Mt. Sinai, they were terrified! When we hear God’s Law and its judgment against our sins, we will be terrified by what we deserve. The Gospel of Christ, however, shows us God’s mercy and grace and brings hope instead of fear.
Dead in sin! That is the conclusion God pronounces upon us sinners—spiritually dead from the beginning of life and eternally dead in hell UNLESS new life can be given to the dead. In an incredible miracle of grace and the redemptive work of Christ, we who were dead are now ALIVE!
The only way for the dead to live and for those under the curse of the Law to escape its judgment is through the work of Christ. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to be our Savior from sin and bring life to the dead, freedom to the captives, healing for the sick of heart and soul.
Text: Romans 10:1-12
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them." 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ " (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, " ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
In Christ Jesus, dear fellow-redeemed:
The average human heart beats over 36,000,000 times each year with precious little rest in between each beat. It is very much the work-horse of the body—very much an important and vital organ. It is the heart that pumps the lifeblood to all the extremities. All the rest of the body depends upon the condition of the heart, and the ability that it has to do its work of pumping the blood. So, we can frequently see little drawings of a "happy heart" on foods that are more "heart-healthy." We hear of the need exercise for the sake of the heart and if there are danger signs for the heart to take the proper medication.
The health of our spiritual heart is in many ways similar. Our spiritual heart doesn’t pump blood, but the condition of our spiritual heart is what will determine the condition of our whole body—our whole being. If the condition of our heart determines our own well-being then, by extension, the condition of all our hearts collectively determines the condition of this congregation—this part of the body of Christ.
Anything that is the center or focal point of something can be described as being the "heart" of the issue, or the "heart of the matter" and everything that surrounds it hinges on the health of that center core.
The "HEART OF THE GOSPEL" is the basic core of our salvation. For example, John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” The basic truth of God that we are lost and condemned sinners but given free salvation through Christ is the core, the HEART of our salvation and of the Gospel message. When we apply that HEART OF THE GOSPEL to our spiritual heart, it is medicine for our heart and soul. So this morning we consider that THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL IS MEDICINE FOR THE HEARTS OF SINNERS We see I. The sobering truth of diagnosis II. The free medicine for all and III. The new heart through faith.
Our text opens with Paul’s deep yearning for the spiritual health of his own people, the Children of Israel. He writes, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” [v.1] But the diagnosis or analysis of their spiritual condition didn’t lead him to any kind of confidence because they did have a zeal for God, Paul writes, but not according to knowledge (cf: v.2). “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” [v. 3]
It was a source of deep sorrow for the apostle Paul to see his own people by blood relying on themselves (just as he once had done), looking to their wisdom, blindly saying that Christ was not the Son of God. In his analysis of the life and spiritual health of his people, the apostle Paul saw death. Earlier in this letter, Paul speaks of the same thing. Paul SO desired the salvation of his people that he said, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh…” (Romans 9:3).
Jesus saw the same symptoms of a sick spiritual heart when He was on the earth. He saw the Pharisees relying on themselves, relying o n their own outward obedience of their own man-made laws. He saw other people walking blindly not seeing the truth of God. When Jerusalem and the people as a whole had rejected Jesus, He looked out over the city and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). Theirs was a sick heart—a sick spiritual heart which relied upon itself which was SINFUL and REJECTED Christ who was SALVATION.
When we speak of a "spiritual heart" we mean more than just the emotions. It includes the whole inner being of someone: The emotions, the planning, the scheming, the thinking things through, the whole course of life that we plot for ourselves, and that WHOLE INNER BEING was SICK with sin! That sickness led to the rejection over which both Paul and Jesus wept.
When we diagnose ourselves and analyze our own spiritual health, we don’t really find anything different. Paul writes in our text, For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them…” [v.5] The Law of God as given through Moses on Mount Sinai stands. As we hear the summary of God’s moral law in the 10 commandments (as we did in our Old Testament reading this morning) and use that law to analyze ourselves, the law stands in condemnation of our sin. God, through Moses, says that if you keep that law, if you are COMPLETELY clear of sin, then that law will give you life; then through the law you will have a healthy spiritual life, a healthy spiritual heart, BUT when we look at the law we find that we too are SICK with sin.
In Leviticus God says, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:5). IF we KEEP…we DON’T KEEP. There’s not a one of us here—from youngest, Isabel, to the oldest member—who can look at ourselves in the light of God’s Law and say that we have kept it perfectly. First of all we have inherited our sinful natures from our parents and to that we daily add the sins of our thoughts, words, and deeds. We add the things we do when God says, "thou shalt NOT!" and the things we don’t do when God says, "you SHALL!"
The realization in the diagnosis of our hearts is that we are sinful. Where there is sin , there is death, which means that there we have a sick heart. Jesus says the same thing when He says, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21-23), as well as every other imaginable kind of sin.
The temptation is to still (like the Jews) rely on our own righteousness. We do it all the time. We sin, we’re wrong, but we get defensive at being wrong. "Well, it wasn’t ME…it wasn’t MY fault…yes, I did that BUT someone else did something too…." We don’t like to admit that we are SICK, but a true evaluation and diagnosis proves that we ARE.
We might go boldly out into the dangerous country of temptation thinking "we’re going to be OK." By so doing we ignore the fact that we have sick heart that cannot of its own bring us safely through that temptation.
If we honestly evaluate our daily life we do see the sins we commit and it is a sobering truth—we are sinful, we are sick with sin.
We too, as we evaluate ourselves and the world around us, might long like Paul that those who are "heart-sick" with sin might find health and healing. For whom do we long? For whom do we mourn? Do we long over and weep over the world’s youth of today, praying daily that they will be able to find the medicine that their souls so desperately need? Do we have specific friends for whom we long and weep as did Paul over his people? Do we have family members? …and then we always have our own weak hearts to observe and over which we weep. We NEED the MEDICINE and the heart of the Gospel provides that medicine.
Throughout the book of Romans, Paul gives a detailed description and explanation of the whole plan of salvation. From time to time there are little "core passages" that so carefully and wonderfully sum up the whole of our salvation as in verse 4 of our text: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Christ is the COMPLETION of the Law. We hear the words of God thundering down from Mount Sinai, we look at our sins, and we can’t see life. We see sin, we see sickness, we see helplessness; but Christ has fulfilled that law. He has completed it on our behalf. Jesus has not only completed the law by living a perfect life according to it, but He’s also completed it in the sense that He bore the full condemnation that the Law places on our sins.
So when Paul writes, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness…” he is saying Christ has wiped out your sickness. He gives you righteousness. He give you forgiveness of sins to everyone who believes. Elsewhere in Romans, Paul writes, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin” (Romans 8:3).
In Acts, Paul was preaching to the people and said, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man (Christ) is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). Everything we lacked…everything that points to sickness when we evaluate our spiritual health in the light of the law, is taken care of by the medicine of the Gospel.
The "heart of the Gospel" that Jesus came and fulfilled the law for us and died to wipe out our sins is medicine for our hearts, and its FREE! Paul says, "to EVERYONE who believes." He doesn’t add, "to everyone who believes and does this…." or, "to everyone who believes and pays that…" Rather it is to everyone who believes…PERIOD. The heart of the Gospel is out there, it’s true, BELIEVE IT! Put your trust in it because its true and through that truth you have forgiveness of sins and life.
This medicine is for ALL. There are current ads on TV and radio in which the benefits of a particular medicine are praised up and down, it sounds like it is the greatest medicine to ever enter a pharmacy; but then at the end of the ad (quickly spoken to get them all in) come all the exceptions. "This is a wonderful new drug to help you unless you…" and then follows the whole list of people who should not take the medicine because it might harm them.
The beauty of the medicine of the heart of the Gospel is that it is for all people. There is not a single person for whom it is not intended. There is not a single sinner whom it cannot help, for Paul says, “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him." [v.12] Paul also writes in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
The medicine of salvation and forgiveness applied to our sick hearts is FREE and available for ALL.
Sometimes we take medicine and it doesn’t do any good. It fails and doesn’t help us or it may help us for awhile and then we have a relapse. The medicine of the Gospel gives us a NEW HEART.
Paul writes in the text, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [v.9-10] Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and YOU WILL BE SAVED! No ifs, no questions about the effectiveness…the medicine of salvation through Christ Jesus gives LIFE where once there was death. The Holy Spirit uses the message and medicine of the Gospel to work in our hearts and to create hearts that can believe in Jesus and which will prompt our mouths to confess Him.
Without the grace of God converting our hearts into something NOT our sinful hearts of stone, but rather a heart that lives and believes in Christ, it takes His work. He transplants us—our sinful heart for a new creation through Christ Jesus. God promises in Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
This is exactly what we witnessed this morning with Isabel’s baptism. God through that miracle of grace in Baptism and the power of the Word gave her a new heart—a new creation in Christ. That new heart that we have through Christ Jesus gives us the kind of confidence that we sang of just before the sermon:
“God’s own child I gladly say it: I AM BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST!” . . .
“Sin disturb my soul no longer…” Why? Because “I am baptized into Christ,” I have a new heart, salvation, and forgiveness, and life.
“Satan hear this proclamation: I AM BAPTIZED INTO CHRST…Drop your ugly accusation…”
“Death you cannot end my gladness, I am baptized into Christ.”
The new heart that Christ gives us and the effect that the medicine of the Gospel has upon us in giving us life means that sin can’t disturb us, Satan can’t accuse us, and death can not conquer us. We have a new heart…a new life…through Christ Jesus.
We read in an earlier chapter of Romans, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). It is a completely new life—a new outlook, a new way of living, a new confidence in our Savior. Again, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We may still face fears and have relapses of the old heart that wants to stiffen up against God and His Word. We do still find ourselves sinning because we have that constant struggle of the Old and New Man in us. But hear what Paul writes: "the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will NOT be put to shame.” [v.11]
There are a lot of places, a lot of people, in which we can place our trust and a lot of times they are going to let us down. A car mechanic may promise to fix our car and we put our trust in his ability to do so, and the car breaks down the next day—our trust has been somewhat misplaced because of the failure. We trust something to a friend, a dear secret or treasure of some other kind, and the friend will somehow compromise that trust. We are "put to shame" by having put that trust in that friend, but God says "You will NOT be put to shame when you put your trust in ME."
Applying the medicine of the Gospel to our sin sick heart means that we have a NEW HEART, one that can trust completely in Christ…COMPLETELY—EVERYTHING put upon Him and resting upon Him and He will not disappoint.
With that new creation by the Gospel, we have a new heart beating within us and it affects our whole life, because remember: the condition of the heart determines the condition and health of the whole body. So when we feel ourselves getting sick and we have the weakness, we need to take our medicine and go back to the Gospel, be strengthened once again and life on through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt