Exploratory Heart Surgery, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

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20Aug Recently I discovered a medical journal entitled Chest.  It is a journal described as the “Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians.”  The journal contains an article entitled, “Exploratory Surgery of the Heart.”  In one part of the article the author asserts: “Exploratory surgery of the heart is logical, simple, and when performed along the lines indicated, a relatively safe procedure.  In most cases, fortunately, it not only establishes the anatomical diagnosis but permits the prompt carrying out of corrective operative measures.”

You might say in Colossians 3:15-17 the Bible is talking about “Exploratory Surgery of the Heart.”  And just like the article in the Chest journal, God would say that such exploratory surgery is a “safe procedure” and that, in every case, He not only correctly “diagnoses,” but also “permits the prompt carrying out of corrective operative measures.”

We will be dealing with the health and condition of our spiritual hearts in today’s blog.  As we study these verses, we will do some exploratory heart surgery, taking a look inside our hearts, seeing what we discover; and seeing whether there may be something that needs correction.

If you are a Christian, then God has given you a new heart because you are a new creation (Ezekiel 18:31).  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  Christians with new hearts will follow the Bible’s teachings in Colossians 3:15-17, where we note three actions in these three verses . . .

1) We Learn To End Strife.

Christians will always endeavor to put an end to any division arising in the church.

We work for peace

In the fellowship.

This is the meaning of verse 15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” 

There are four imperatives in Colossians 3:15-17 identify the precepts believers must follow.  We will look at each one over the next few days and learn powerful truths that will impact how we think and behave in our daily lives.

The first truth God wants us to live by is

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”

That is, look inside your heart.  Do some exploratory heart surgery.  Do you see, “the peace of God” at work in your life?

When Christians need to make choices, the peace that Christ produces in our hearts should be a determining factor.  We should choose what will result in peace between us and God, and between us and one another, if such a course of action lies within God’s moral will (cf. John 14:27).

This directive forms,

With the Word of God

And the witness of

The indwelling Spirit,

One of the most important

Principles of guidance

In the Christian life.

When these three indicators line up, we can move ahead confidently.  Realization of the unity of the body and the peace of Christ results in thankfulness that should also mark our behavior.

You will remember from yesterday’s post that Christians must forgive one another.  Paul stresses this mandate by spelling it out for us in verse 13: “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  There is no excuse for a Christian’s not forgiving another brother or sister.  There is also no excuse for a Christian’s not forgiving a husband or wife.  If troubled couples spent as much time and energy on trying to save their marriage as they did on trying to separate from one another, there would be more saved marriages.

The key is that

We must let

The peace of Christ

“Rule” in our hearts.

The emphasis of this phrase is that we are to continually let peace rule. The background is the Hebrew “shalom” which carries with it the ideas “of wellness, spiritual wholeness, personal and community well-being, justice and equity.”  It is exercised in a spiritual society where everyone’s needs are met and all are cared for.

Paul addresses 2 facets of the peace of God that we are to put on . . .

1) Be controlled by peace.

The peace of Christ is to what?  “Rule.”  Where? “In your hearts.”  The word “rule” comes from the world of athletics and mean “to act as umpire, to arbitrate as the decision-maker.”  Paul says let “shalom,” the peace of God be the final word in your hearts.  Let it decide what is right and let it make the call time and time again in your life.

2) Accept the call to peace.

The peace of Christ is something to which we have been “called in one body.”  We are now family, one community, one body.  To fight and quarrel with each other is insane.  It can be suicidal.  How inconsistent is it for those of us who have experienced the peace of God to war among ourselves, draw battle lines in the sand, choose sides and take shots at one another. What a shame it is for the church. What a tragic witness it is for the world.

Adrian Rogers says, “When we are in the foxhole side-by-side we have no problem fighting against a common enemy that threatens our community.  However, when the war against the real enemy subsides and we are back in the barracks face to face, if we are not careful, and we are in the habit of fighting, we will begin to fight one another.”

It is important to remember that Paul is writing primarily about peace in the body of Christ, about getting along with fellow brothers and sisters in the congregation.

Christians who have been reconciled to God,

Who have peace with Him through Christ,

Should manifest peace with one another.

Strife is the inevitable result when men are out of touch with God who is the one Source of true peace; but there is no reason why those who have accepted the peace which Christ established by His death on the cross should have any other than peaceful relations among themselves.

Peace with God results in peace with one another.  One reason why there may be strife between two church members, may well be because one of them – or both of them – do not have peace with God.  That is, they may not actually be saved.

I think this may be why Paul adds the last three words in verse 15: “and be thankful.”

Gratitude is found in the hearts of those who have been given new hearts.  Christians are forever grateful to God for their new hearts and it causes them to be thankful, and to go on being thankful.  What a difference a heart full of peace and gratitude makes in our lives.

We will look further into the need of gratitude in tomorrow’s blog

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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