Man’s Heart and God’s Heart
by Inglis Fleming
The Lord Jesus was at Jerusalem. It was at the time of a great religious festival and many people had flocked to the city. Some of these professed to believe upon Him. “But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.”
THE HEART OF MAN
was exposed. Yes! Man’s heart—my heart—your heart—is well known to Him. We may hide ourselves from one another—seeking to disguise our real condition under a respectable and even religious exterior, but God knoweth our hearts.
A well-known preacher tells how, as a boy, he used sometimes to move a plank which lay across a sodden piece of ground near his home. It was curiosity led him to do this. When the plank was lifted up many sorts of worms and insects would be seen wriggling about and hurrying away from the light—they loved the darkness and hated to be exposed to the sun’s rays. So with our sins—the plank, so to speak, of a good moral life covers them. It hides from view much that is hideous and which will not bear looking upon. The Lord, however, sees beneath the plank. He knows all. Our thoughts, our words, our ways, are open to His holy gaze. Nothing can be hidden from Him. And a day is coming when all that is covered will be brought out into the light, for “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.”
Can you bear to have the plank removed? Can you face the coming out of everything, even of that which has been kept from your dearest friends and relatives? It may be that your life has been as good as the life of most. Outwardly there may not be much amiss, but as “he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Our thoughts test us; they show what we are; they are kept under the plank and not even our bosom companion knows all that is in our bosom. It is well that it is thus. It would not be for our profit to know all the evil that nestles in the heart of one another, it would only contaminate and corrupt. But the Lord knows all He has said that out of the heart “proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).
This is the heart of man to which He would not commit Himself when He was in Jerusalem, and that heart remains the same today.
When Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews, came to the Lord Jesus he was met with the serious statement “Ye must be born again.” He came desiring to be taught by Christ, but was told, so to speak, that only those who were born again could be scholars in His school. And solemnly these words apply to men today, for “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” No learning or culture, no education or refinement of manner, no observance of religious rites and ordinances can alter man. He must be born again. The spring is corrupt at its source; no distillation of its waters will render it pure—it will give forth foul waters still. Man is totally corrupt and he must be born again.
Nicodemus marvelled and multitudes have marvelled since, but the solemn fact remains that a man in his natural condition is utterly unsuited to God and cannot perceive or enter into His kingdom.
Do you say these are hard sayings and strong words? Heed them well nevertheless—they are the words of the Son of God, “Ye must be born again.” The same truth is conveyed in His other words, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now how do you stand with regard to all this? Your heart is exposed—you are unfit for heaven, unfit for God, and moreover you are unable to make yourself fit. The more you stir a muddy pool, the more the mud is seen and the worse it appears to be. So the more you stir your own heart, the more will its evil be manifested. You need Christ—you need Him to be your Saviour—and you need Him at once.
In John 3:16 the Lord Jesus unfolds what is in
THE HEART OF GOD.
If man’s heart has evil in it towards God, God’s heart has good in it towards man.
That wonderful verse discloses the greatness of God’s love: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The God Who knows us altogether has Himself provided a way of blessing for us—a way of blessing for all. He has loved the world—so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. A measureless love gave a measureless gift, and gave it for a world of sinners. He knew the world, He loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son for the world. Who shall rightly declare such love? The Son of God alone could fully reveal the heart of God. Creation might tell His power and wisdom. Providence might show His care for the creatures He had made. Redemption alone could reveal His wonderful love.
The source, the subject, and the scope of the gospel are seen in this verse.
God Himself is the Source of the gospel. It was He Who, unasked by us, gave His Son, His only One, His well beloved, that men might rightly be brought nigh to Himself.
The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, is the great Subject of the gospel. He is preached as glad tidings. All blessing for guilty man is found in Him. All that we need—pardon, peace, power—are wrapped up in Him. He has come, He has suffered, He has died, He is risen again, He now sits at God’s right hand, He will soon return for His loved ones and then with them to reign. Through Him is preached the forgiveness of sins, in Him all who believe are justified from all things. By His precious blood sins are cleansed, by His death and resurrection the way of life is opened up.
The world is the scope of the gospel. Not an elect few, but the world. Not the Jewish nation, but the world. Not the civilized and cultivated only, but the world at large. God’s love was towards the world, His gift was for the world. The risen Saviour sent His disciples forth with the good news, and they were to go into all the world. There is no limit to its scope. The promises were made to Abram and his seed. The law was given to one nation. The gospel is for all the world. None are excluded. It is all-embracing—sufficient for all and to spare.
If “the world” includes everybody, “whosoever believeth” opens the door for anybody. Blessedly simple is the message of the Saviour. “Whosoever”—Jew or Gentile, bond or free, learned or ignorant, young or old.
If “the world” throws its arms of grace around everybody, “whosoever” clasps to its bosom every one who believes upon the Son of God. But mark, it is whosoever believeth on Him. The Son of God, Who has died and risen again, is the object of faith.
The man who sees himself exposed, no longer believes on himself as being fit for God. He hears the gospel telling of boundless blessing through Another, and believes on Him. He reposes his faith, his confidence, his trust in the Son of God and that which He has done.
To the one who believes upon the Son of God the blessed assurance is given that he shall not perish. Perdition shall never be his portion. He deserves it, he has earned it as sin’s wages, but he shall never see it, because Christ has met his need and borne his guilt.
“But have everlasting life.” Instead of perdition, everlasting life; instead of the darkness of sin, the light of love; instead of the ruined sinner’s distance, the nearness Christ enjoys.
This is the thought of God for man. His heart has thus told itself out. Have you known and believed the love He has shown?
We can bear to have our hearts exposed when we know His heart revealed. The love of His heart covers, righteously covers, the hatred and evil of our hearts. The work of the Lord Jesus blots out all our guilt and fits us for His presence. His death removes us as sinners, so that we may be before God in Him as risen again and share His place of acceptance and favour.
Scattered Seed 1908, p. 115