“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?’” Acts 2:37
What was it they heard that pierced their hearts? Peter had shared God’s Word about Jesus, the Truth about who He is and how they participated in His crucifixion. How strong, offensive and strange this message would have been in their day. It seems it would have been easy to dismiss Peter’s words as craziness, had it not been both given and received in the power of the Holy Spirit. They responded by asking, “What must we do?” The Holy Spirit used God’s Word as His surgical instrument to thoroughly pierce their hearts, and in that pierced condition, only repentance and a heart transplant would save their lives. The Holy Spirit, God’s master surgeon, pierced 3,000 hearts that day with God’s Word and then came to live in them by that same Word with the heart of Jesus.
Today we have the benefit of history, and in the developed world, we have easy access to Bibles. According to a 2014 Barna study, 88% of American homes have Bibles with an average of 4.7 of them per home. Here the story is not so strange, but in trying to not be offensive, we can be tempted to soften the gospel message. We might want to speak of God’s love but leave out the pinnacle of His love, which is Christ crucified (John 3:16). Or we might hope that our lives will be the example that wins people over to Christ. Either way, we fail to trust the surgeon with His knife, and forget that this message must not only be given out but also received in the Holy Spirit’s power. We fashion our own surgery tools to try and make it less painful, but what we end up with is a dull knife. How many lives have we witnessed being saved this way? How many of us are wondering why we aren’t seeing more transformed hearts?
Jesus couldn’t avoid the cross and neither can we. Without all of God’s Word, the knife won’t be very sharp. Without the message of the cross, the heart-piercing point will be missing. Or with only our lives as examples, there may be no knife at all. Faith comes from hearing the Word about Christ (Romans 10:17). It is the only knife sharp enough to perform a successful heart transplant (Hebrews 4:12). And God’s Holy Spirit is the only surgeon in the universe that can perform that transplant. Will you trust Him to do that? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word removes our old heart, replaces it with the heart of Jesus, protects this new heart from rejection and continues to clear out the clogged arteries which block the flow of His work in our lives. Where else can we find such life-saving, life-changing and life-giving power?
Prayer: Dear God, Give us hearts that beat with your Word, your Will, your Son and your Spirit. Thank you that we don’t have to live with defective hearts because your Word is sharp enough to transform them. Forgive us for trying to avoid the cross, for watering down your Word or using it without the Holy Spirit’s power. Help us to trust whole-heartedly in the power of your message of love to a dying world. May your Word be given out and received in your Spirit’s power so that many hearts will be pierced and ask, “What must we do?” In the heart-piercing, heart-changing and heart-protecting name of Jesus. Amen.