The heart is an incredible organ created by an even more incredible God. A healthy heart is vital for life. When one’s heart is unhealthy, life is at risk. The Bible understands the importance of the heart. The Bible speaks of the necessity of a healthy heart. In fact, the Bible emphatically speaks of humans needing new hearts (Ezek 36:26). The universal problem of sin kills every human heart (Rom 3:23; 6:23). Only by God’s divine grace can our hearts be made new. Only a sovereign God can perform spiritual heart surgery on stony hearts. Only God can remove an old callused heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.
The great first century missionary Paul realized the need for new hearts. As Paul made his way to Europe with the gospel, he came to Philippi. Instead of finding a synagogue of Jewish people, Paul met a lady by the river named Lydia, a business woman and worshiper of God. This religious lady had never heard the good news of Jesus. As Paul shared the message of Jesus with her, the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14).
In other words, as Ezekiel had prophesied centuries prior, God used the message of Jesus as the instrument to remove Lydia’s stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh. The message went out and by God’s grace it also went in. Only upon receiving a new heart did Lydia respond appropriately to this new message from Paul’s mouth—a message that would change her and her family (Acts 16:15).
Nearly two thousand years later the need is the same. The universal problem of sin still kills. However, the remedy is also the same. Jesus still saves by making hearts new. Lydia’s exist everywhere. The only hope for the Lydia’s and Larry’s of the world is a new heart that comes through Jesus alone.
Missions is about the one answer to the universal problem of sin—new hearts come through Jesus. Yet, only as the message of Jesus is shared will hearts be changed in order for people to respond to the good news of Jesus. After all, how can hearts be made new to respond to Jesus in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (Rom 10:14)? The message goes out and changes hearts only as we go out with the message.
It really is a matter of the heart.