Monday, August 30, 2010

"A New Heart"

In 1967, Dr. Christiaan Banard performed the first heart transplant on a man named Louis Washkansky. The operation was considered a success, although Washkansky died of pneumonia 20 days after surgery because of immunosuppressive drugs administered to prevent his body from rejecting the donor heart.

Since the first transplant, many people have received new hearts, and while the procedure is always the most major of surgeries, the rate of success has increased to the point that some people have survived for decades with the implanted heart of another. Improved knowledge, methodology, machinery, drugs, and the skill of doctors, nurses, and medical technicians have made heart transplants a fairly common and often successful marvel of modern science.

There is, however, one fact about the advancement of the procedure about which we can be certain: there will never be a "do it yourself heart transplant." We will never be able to go to drugstore to ask, "Which aisle are the heart transplant kits on?" Someone else will always have to perform the operation, and the transplant recipient will always require the knowledge, skill, and willingness of others on his behalf.

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).

Salvation involves our very Creator acting on our behalf to not only forgive us and assure us of eternal life, but also to change the very core of our being. He does for us that which we could never do for ourselves. The new birth through the Lord Jesus Christ provides a "new heart," and "a new Spirit." We literally become "a new creature" in the innermost sanctuary of our being, and a "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24). The entrance of the Holy Spirit births a person who did not exist before we believed, a spiritual being inhabited by the Spirit of God Himself. Our earthly faculties and members remain, referred to in Scripture as "the flesh." Sin therefore remains possible if these natural components of our being control us. However, nothing changes the fact of the new heart and the new Spirit given by God, and united together and forever for His glory. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 6:17).

If we have believed in the Lord Jesus, we must know and affirm that this transplant has taken place. While we could never perform the procedure, it is our privilege and responsibility to affirm the reality of newness that exists within us. "Reckon ye also yourselves to dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11). We must believe that in the innermost part of our being, a literal death and resurrection has taken place that changed the very fact of who we are. Again, God did for us that which we can never do for ourselves, but He did it in such a manner that we must presently believe the Truth in order to consistently experience the fact of a new heart and a new Spirit. The Word of God and the Spirit of God unite to bear witness to this blessed gift of saving grace, and we must join in the holy union. To the degree we believe the truth of the holy transplant performed by our Great Physician, our lives will flow in the spiritual vitality and health it makes possible. Or, as the Apostle Paul counseled Philemon...

"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."
(Philemon 1:4-6)

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