Wisdom and Purity of Heart

I’m reading a book of short essays by Kosuke Koyama (December 10, 1929 – March 25, 2009), a Japanese theologian. One of them discusses the connection between what he calls ‘thinking well’ (I would say wisdom) and purity of heart. He believes that the heart is what motivates us, and to be pure in heart is to be concerned for others. This comes only to those who know God. Without God, our thinking will be egoistic, not wise at all!

Lack of concern for others can cause all sorts of problems in society– criminal activity being the worst. But what about waste? Using others as mere ‘human resources’ or even slaves? Even simply failing to be kind? All these sinful behaviors run rampant in the world today, and in the long run will lead to many sorts of destruction. Left to our own, we are not wise. That’s probably why the Bible tells us:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

When we begin to know God, our heart changes. In the book of Ezekial, God says:

 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26

The Ten Commandments as well as the teachings of Jesus stress love and compassion for others. Kosuke Koyama puts it this way:

“…our failure in thinking well comes from our failure to live in purity of heart. Careless thinking and impurity of heart can make a dreadfully destructive combination. The brain must be guided by the heart. The heart must be enlightened by the brain. ‘Seeing God’–that is, the realization of the most satisfying peace … takes place among us when the dignity of man in his thinking well is combined with the grace of purity in heart.”

Develop a heart of compassion. It’s the only way to be wise.

For more about the heart see these posts:

Pure In Heart by J. Garrett Kell–Book Review

Where Is Your Heart?

Follow Your Heart?

Heart Health

I’ve been thinking lately about our union with Christ (we’ve been doing a study on this topic at our church). How is it possible to be one with Christ, and still have so much sin in our lives? How can we be a new person, and still have so many characteristics of the old one? As I pondered this paradox, here’s the analogy that came to me: it’s like a heart transplant. Although this is a modern medical advance, the Bible actually talks about it way back in the Old Testament book of Ezekial:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26

In this section, the prophet was telling the people of Israel that despite their sin, God has plans to cleanse and restore them. The ultimate plan, of course, was the coming of the Messiah, Jesus who died for our sins and reconciled us with God. And yes, we are now united with Him. Why aren’t we perfect?

Well, here’s what I think. If you have a heart transplant, I’m sure you wake up feeling very different. Once you’ve recovered from the surgery, you have more energy and strength. You probably feel like a new person! However, this new heart requires some changes in your routines. You probably need to take anti-rejection medications; you need to exercise and eat healthy foods. You may have some bad habits to eliminate. You’re willing to do these things because you never, ever, want to go back to feeling the way you felt before–weak and sick. You will probably find it easier to stick to these new routines if you join a support group — some others with heart issues, who are also learning to live differently.

God gives us a new heart through our union with His Son. We are immediately different, but we still need to do some work. We need the Sacraments (good medicine). We need worship, prayer and Bible study (exercise). We need to refrain from sinful behavior. We need the rest of the body (our support group), the church, to keep us going in the right direction.

Remember friends, you’ve had major surgery. It’s changed you. Someone died and that gave you a chance to live. So stick with the program (God’s program) in order to enjoy the new life you’ve received!

For more about the process of sanctification see these posts:

Is Union with Christ a Process?

Trust God’s Process

Clothed in Christ

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn–Book Review

A friend asked me to read this book, and I had to force myself to finish it.  The author is obviously a clever man, well-versed in the Bible and history, and therefore able to come up with many connections that seem “amazing” on the surface.  He relates a variety of prophecies from Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah to present day events starting with 9-11.  These are “harbingers” or omens of a coming judgement on the United States.

Do I agree that our country is going down sinful paths?  I do.  Do I believe that like other powerful societies ours will eventually end and that collapse may be brought about by our own pride and arrogance?  Very possibly.  What I don’t believe is that we need to discover exactly when and how it will happen by decoding secret information hidden in the Bible..  This smacks of Gnosticism, a heresy that obviously still persists.

There is no biblical reason to connect America with Israel.  The Bible is clear that the church has replaced Israel as the chosen people of God, not the United States or any other nation or ethnic group.  Scripture should now be read in light of that understanding.  We may like to think of the United States as a “Christian nation”  but in actuality that has never been the case.  Many of the first settlers did not come for religious freedom at all, and while some of the founding fathers were Christians, others weren’t.

In the final chapters of the novel, the main character is told by the prophet that he must “choose” his destiny before judgement day.  This goes against Lutheran belief that God chooses us.  In fact, the whole premise of the book, that we can repent and turn from our errors is wrong  The point of the entire Old Testament, is that the people of Israel couldn’t do this, not matter how hard they tried  Sin will always prevail in both national and personal life — that’s why we need a Savior.

I suppose, like some other books, it might be possible to simply enjoy The Harbinger as fiction, ignoring the glaring theological errors.  Fiction is not theology, after all.  In this case, however, the author specifically says in his introduction that while the form of his work is a story, the information contained is real.  It is not meant to be read as a fanciful or interesting tale.  Furthermore, in my estimation, it also fails as a novel.  It is repetitious, slow and has very little dramatic suspense or plot.

VERDICT:  No stars.  My advice is don’t bother to read this.

For see what Lutherans believe about the end times see:

Lutherans and the End Times