The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
March 23, 2014
1) I Am He Who Searches the Heart (Harold Fite)
2) Tired of All the Gimmicks? (Frank Himmel)
3) News & Notes
I Am He Who Searches the Heart
by Harold Fite
Jesus writes to the angel of the church in Thyatira, exposing the
wickedness of Jezebel and her sinful teaching. He pronounces
condemnation upon those who condone and participate in her spiritual
fornication: "I will kill her children with death; and all of the
churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and
hearts: and I will give unto each one of you according to your
works" (Rev. 2:23).
Before commenting on the Lord's ability to "search the hearts," we
must determine what it is that he searches. Many are confused
as to the meaning of the word "heart." Under her column in
Parade Magazine, Marilyn writes: "Religions cannot be proved
intellectually. They come from the heart." Marilyn confuses
"heart" and "mind." If religion is from the "heart," where
does it come from? How did it get there?
In denominational vacation Bible school, little four-year-old Mary
insisted on placing her hand on the top of her head while the group
said the pledge to the American flag. When her teacher asked
her why she did this, she replied: "Well, that's where my heart is.
Mother always puts her hand on the top of my head and says Bless
your little heart, Mary." Mary was closer to the truth than
The heart is the mind, the intellect. One "thinks in his
heart," "understands with the heart," "reasons in his heart," and
with the heart man "believes" (Prov. 23:7; Matt. 13:15; Mark 2:7;
Rom. 10:10). When Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart,"
he had in mind, the mind, a mind clear in understanding; unmixed,
without alloy. When David prayed, "Create in me a clean heart,
O God," he was praying for a clean, pure mind. Ezra "prepared
his heart," that is, he prepared his mind (Ezra 7:10). This is
the heart that the Lord searches.
Christ knows the condition of the heart as Nathanael approached him,
Jesus said, "Behold an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile"
(John 1:48). The searcher of hearts could see that Nathanael
was void of deceit and hypocrisy. The Lord determined this
when he saw him under the fig tree. In commenting on this
passage, Albert Barnes remarked, "How happy would it be if he, who
knows the hearts of all as he did that of Nathanael, could bear the
same testimony of all who profess the religion of the gospel."
While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover, many believed on his
name because of the signs which he did. "But Jesus did not
trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men" (John
2:24). He needed no testimony from others, "for he
himself knew what was in man" (v. 25). This Scripture does not
say what he saw in the hearts of the multitude that caused him to
withhold his trust. Perhaps he saw a superficial faith based
strictly on miracles; an unstable people with a tendency toward
fickleness. Knowing their hearts kept him from trusting them.
Christ knows the thoughts of the heart. Jesus entered the
synagogue on a Sabbath and taught. There was a man there who
had a withered hand. The Scribes and Pharisees watched Jesus
closely, whether he would heal this man on the Sabbath. They sought
opportunity to accuse him. "But he knew their thoughts" (Luke 6:8),
and challenged them by restoring the hand.
When Jesus healed a man possessed with a demon, blind and dumb, all
were amazed; but the Pharisees attributed his power to Beelzebub,
the prince of demons. Jesus, "knowing their thoughts," replied, "If
Satan casteth out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then
shall his kingdom stand?" (Matt. 12:22-32). Jesus knows the
thoughts of the heart.
Christ knows the motivation of the heart. Jesus looks deeper
than just the thoughts of the heart. He has the ability to
determine its motivation. After eating the food Christ had
supplied them, the multitude followed him to Capernaum. Jesus
said to them, "You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because
you ate of the loaves, and were filled" (John 6:26). If we had seen
the multitude following Jesus, we probably would have thought, "My,
how they love the Lord; what great interest they have in his
teaching." But he, the searcher of hearts, gave us an accurate
assessment of their motivation, because he searches hearts.
Their motivation was materialistic. They followed him for the
"loaves and fishes."
Christ knows the reasoning of the heart: When Jesus entered
Capernaum, after some days, he healed a man sick of the palsy.
He said to the man, "Son, thy sins are forgiven." Certain of the
scribes reasoned in their hearts that Jesus blasphemed.
"And straightway Jesus, perceiving in His spirit that they so
reasoned within themselves, saith unto them, why reason ye these
things in your hearts?" (Mark 2:8).
Christ was unique. He was never deceived; never believed a
lie; he was never wrong in his assessment of others. He was,
and is, the one and only bonafide "mind reader" for the ages. His
eyes were as a flame of fire (Rev. 1:18), penetrating the very
thoughts and intents of the heart. What was the key to his
power? He was from above (John 8:23).
Only God can search the hearts: "I the Lord searcheth the heart"
(Jer. 17:10). He understands all the imagination of the heart
(1 Chron. 28:9). God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps.
44:21), and knows our contemplations (Ps. 139:2). "All things
are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to
do" (Heb. 4:13).
By exercising this powerful ability, Christ proved himself
God. "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld
his glory as the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and
truth" (John 1:14). In him dwelled "the fullness of the
Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). The family of Deity was bound in a
bodily form. Jesus could say to Phillip, "He that hath seen me
hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). As God in the flesh, he had
power to "search the hearts." This ability cannot be
attributed to an ordinary man. "For what man knoweth the
things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him" (1 Cor.
2:11). We, as ordinary men, cannot know the thoughts of
others. The only way we can know what another person is
thinking, is for that person to articulate his thoughts to us.
Should I say to another, with sarcasm, "I know what you are
thinking," or to impugn the motive of an action, I take upon myself
a prerogative for which I am not qualified. Should I assume
the position of reading minds, I am thinking of myself more highly
than I ought to think, and my action is grossly unfair to the one
whom I judge. Not so the Lord: "for he himself knew what was in
The fact that the Lord searches our hearts, should get our
-- Via Truth Magazine, November 17, 2005, Volume XLIX, Number 22:
TIRED OF ALL THE GIMMICKS?
by Frank Himmel
People should be insulted by all the gimmicks that churches are
offering to draw and to keep them. Most of it is directed
toward families, the children in particular. I speak of all the
secular, non-religious, non-spiritual gimmicks -- the picnics,
luncheons and suppers, the parties, the sports teams, the fun and
games, the square dances, the clubs and socials, the diet and
exercise classes, and the fund-raising dinners and bazaars offered
by churches. Classes and services that used to be purely
religious are given new appearances with gimmickry.
Don't the people realize that the churches are saying, in effect,
"We know that purely spiritual or religious activities and services,
involving worshipping God, teaching and learning His word, edifying
and being edified spiritually, are not enough to draw and to keep
you. So we are featuring all these other secular activities in
which you are probably more interested and adding a little religion
to them and calling them 'Christian fellowship.' We are
willing to compromise to get our crowd."?
So churches cease to be churches and become more like social,
recreational, athletic, health, craft clubs. The Church of
Christ is still a church, and we do not resort to gimmickry.
We are trying to be like the churches you read about in the New
Testament, not the churches around us.
The Work of the Church
Christians have God-given work to do, both individually and
collectively. While there is much overlap, passages such as 1
Timothy 5:16 clearly indicate a difference between the two. What
does the Bible teach about our collective work?
The Bible teaches that God ordained specific tasks for churches to
perform. First-century congregations:
(1) Preached the gospel at home and abroad (1 Th. 1:8). This was
done through instruction given in worship assemblies (1 Cor.
14:24-25), by people talking to those with whom they had contact
(Acts 8:4), and by sending men out to preach (Phil 4:15-16).
(2) Built up the members of the congregation. Everything done in
worship was to be unto edification (1 Cor. 14:26). Elders,
spiritual shepherds, were charged with feeding the flock (Acts
20:28). Even severing association was an act of seeking to
restore the erring (1 Cor. 5).
(3) Provided for needy brethren, either at home (Acts 2:44-45;
4:32-35) or abroad (1 Cor. 16:1-2; Rom. 15:26). This third
area, unlike the others, was not necessarily ongoing, but as
needed. Since the church is a spiritual relationship, it is no
surprise that its work is in the spiritual realm. So much of
what modern churches do is conspicuously absent from the pages of
the New Testament. The Bible makes no reference to churches
operating schools or day care centers, providing recreational
facilities and opportunities, being in the health care business,
being a source for counseling and all sorts of social services, or
even being a general charity. The fact that something seems like a
good thing to us is no justification for altering God's plan.
Neither do we have any right to employ carnal means to attract more
people. See John 6 for the result.
The Bible teaches that Christ equipped the church to accomplish
everything He wants it to do. "And He gave some as apostles,
and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors
and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of
service to the building up of the body of Christ" (Eph. 3:11-12).
God's provisions are simple, yet sufficient. It is only when we try
to involve the church in an unauthorized activity that we find our
resources or organization inadequate. Make no mistake: any
argument that says we must go beyond the New Testament model for
churches in order to be effective is a denial of the sufficiency of
The Bible teaches that each church governs itself, planning and
executing its own work in keeping with Christ's directions.
Elders' oversight is limited to the flock among them (1 Pet.
5:2). No New Testament church ever directed the work of
another, wholly or in part. None ever planned a work beyond its
ability to carry out. Each did what it could.
No New Testament church ever paid a human institution to do its work
for it. There were no add-on organizations, no subsidiary
"ministries," no missionary boards or societies.
Let us be busy doing God's work in God's way.
News & Notes
recently heard from Linda Blevins. Her mother, Virginia
Fontenot, is now receiving an infusion of avastin every
three weeks, along with an oral dose of chemo. While having
previously gone about two months without medication and having
surgery to reverse a colostomy, her cancer markers had gone up;
but have now come down from 88 to 36. Linda continues to be
with her mother 24 hours a day and says that her mother is too
weak to be left alone and especially now that she is also taking
avastin, which can increase the risk of a stroke or
hemorrhaging. Let those of us who are Christians continue to
remember Virginia in our prayers, as well as Linda and her husband
Richard Crews will be having rotator cuff surgery April
16. Let us pray that all will go well for him.
Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer for their
health: Shirley Young, Cheryl Crews, Peggy Lefort, and
Terry and Pam MacDonald.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom.
10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins
(Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet.
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can
be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
(Gospel Observer website)