“The preparations of the heart In man, and the answer of the tongue, Is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” Prov. 16: 1,2.
The Natural Man who is born of natural parents, who is not yet born of the Spirit, reasons that all of his own ways are clean. He is confident that his walk is more righteous than his fellowman. He is certain that he knows right from wrong, and that he is capable of choosing and pursuing the right course in this life. He glories in the idea that he can direct his own steps, prepare his own heart, and choose his own destiny. He justifies himself in every act he performs. All of his ambitions are motivated by selfish desires. He loves himself and strives to prove to his fellow-man that he is superior. Any ideas contrary to these ideas are foolishness unto him and he will not receive them as truth.
The Bible contains many plain statements that are contrary to the ideas conceived by a natural man. I desire to quote just a few of these statements: “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.” - (Jesus) “Are we better than they? No, in no wise.” - (Paul) “There is none that doeth good, no not one.” - (Paul) “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” - (Jesus) “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not In himself: It is not In man that walketh to direct his steps.” - (Jeremiah) “A man’s heart deviseth his way but the Lord directeth his steps.” - (Solomon) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” - (Psalms) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” - (Jesus). “Christ Jesus came Into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief’ - (Paul). “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” - (Paul). “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” - (Paul).
Considering the things that are written above, we realize the necessity of the direct operation of God’s Holy Spirit in the heart of man In order for him to receive these things as true. No wonder that Jesus said, “Ye must be born again. “There must be a change of heart before the natural man can receive the things of the Spirit. This changed heart must further be prepared by the Lord. The Lord does not stop with just one preparation but it is a progressive work requiring several preparations. “The preparations of the heart In man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” We would like to consider some of these preparations.
Let us read from Ezekiel 11: 19-20 concerning the first preparation of the heart In man that Is done, solely, by the work of God Himself. “I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Many years ago, I begged people to give their hearts to God. I honestly thought that each human being was In possession of a heart that was sufficient as a sacrifice and worthy of acceptance with God. I thought we were capable of doing things for Him. Alas! I did not know Him; neither did I know my wicked and ungodly heart that I possessed! If it were possible for a man, upon the volition of his own will, to give his heart to God, what value would it be to God considering the wickedness of the natural heart of man? There is no scripture that intimates that the stony heart of man would be worthy of God’s acceptance. God takes this old heart from man and gives him a new heart. There Is heart-giving in the act of regeneration, but instead of the sinner giving his heart to God, God is giving the sinner a new heart. God is successful in this operation and has never lost a case. When we are on the operating table of God’s amazing grace, and He is performing that wonderful operation, we are in close touch with him. He is near unto us and may be found. We behold Him as all powerful, all wise, and most holy. It is while we are in this position that the scripture is applicable unto us which says, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” This first preparation of the heart in man humbles him and gives him a desire for godliness. God does not stop in His preparations, for we read in Psalms 10:17, “Lord, thou host heard the desire of the humble; thou wilt prepare their heart.” This initial operation has awakened the creature to his unworthiness, wretchedness and inability. As a new born babe it causes him to cry. He is crying unto the Lord to further prepare him. Let us read from Jeremiah 31:33, concerning further preparation of the new heart God has given His children: “I will put my law In their inward parts, and write It in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Paul explains to the Corinthian brethren further concerning this writing as he says, “Written not with Ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor. 2:3). The creature with the new heart is not dependent upon the study of the Scriptures to know the Lord or the law of the Lord. This knowledge is indelibly impressed by the direct operation of God’s Holy Spirit. The Scriptures were not written to incite us to our duty but “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The scriptures, “Seek, and ye shall find,” “Knock, and It shall be opened unto you,” “Ask, and It shall be given you,” were not written in order to exhort you to seek, ask, and knock for this is done by the Holy Spirit, but to comfort you with the thought of the results of this asking, knocking and seeking.
The command, “Love one another” is written in your hearts for Paul says, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you:for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). We quote from Christ’s sermon on the mount to His disciples according to Matt. 7:12, “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus said again as recorded in Mat 22: 37-40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto It, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hangs all the law and the prophets.”
These are so indelibly impressed in the heart of each of God’s children that “His delight is In the law of the Lord; and In his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalms 1:2). The child of God would perform It to a jot and tittle but realizes the infirmities of the flesh, and the thorn in the flesh so that he cannot do the things that he would. Paul said, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” This knowledge can only be experienced by those to whom it has pleased God to reveal the holiness of His law and the unholiness of man. All our righteousness appears as filthy rags when compared to the standard of that written law that has been so Indelibly imprinted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We witness further with Paul when he said, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not, I consent unto the law that It is good. Now then It is no more I that do It. but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, In my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Read Romans seventh chapter.) The heart is now well prepared for another preparation which we shall consider. The failure to comply with this law causes such grief and sorrow until we are without hope. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness that we cannot perform causes our souls to faint within us. We realize that the law is just and holy and that if we offend in one point we are guilty of the whole. We are made to exclaim with Paul, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” We have lost all confidence in ourselves and cannot any more depend upon the puny arm of flesh to save us. Christ comes to us in this distressed condition and takes up His abode in our hearts. We now quote from 2 Cor. 6:16, “As God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk In them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is the opportune time that Jesus says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus comes to us in the day of adversity and speaks sweet peace to our troubled souls! He tells us that He has brought us out from under the dominion of the law by keeping it in our stead to a jot and tittle, and that His obedience is accredited to our account. He Informs us that He took our sins upon His shoulders and that they were nailed to the cross; that our sins were charged to Him; and that He satisfied justice by paying the penalty with His own blood on the cross of Calvary. He has stripped us of the filthy rags of our own righteousness and clothed us with the robe of His righteousness. He intercedes to the Father for us and blesses us with His great love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost He not only accomplished the law for us and paid the penalty for our sins; but, also gives unto us eternal life.
“And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is In His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11,12). We hear Jesus saying to the Father as recorded in John 17:22,23, “And the glory which thou gayest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”
Last December while everyone was celebrating Christmas in the customary manner of modern frivolity I was very much concerned about the right way and right time to celebrate such an occasion. While I was so perplexed my nearest neighbor, who is clerk of Bethel Primitive Church here in this community, asked me if I knew when God’s children celebrated the birth of Christ. Feeling that he has an appropriate answer I asked him to answer his own question. I want to pass his answer along to you and see if it does not fit in your experience as it did in mine. His answer was, “God’s children truly celebrate Christmas when Christ is born in them.“ Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus told His disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” He terms the Spirit of Truth as the Comforter. It soothes our troubled souls, heals our broken hearts, guides us into all truth, and glorifies Christ. This spirit dwells in us as Paul states in I Cor. 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” If so be that the Lord has taken from you the stony heart and has given you a new heart, has written His laws In your heart and imprinted them in your mind; and Jesus has come to your rescue as your Savior; and the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, has taken up His abode in your heart; you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. Your heart has been prepared to receive and be comforted by the following quotation: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell In you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have received the Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15). Space will not permit us to consider the various minute preparations of the heart in man that are from the Lord as affirmed by the Scriptures. Let us now take up briefly, “The answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.”
Paul said in Rom. 10:9-11, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe In thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” God causes us to not be ashamed to own Him as our Lord. We do not have to be prompted by man to confess Him as our Savior for the Lord so blesses us.
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he put a new song In my mouth, even praise unto our God” (Psalms 40:2,3). God has put this new song into the mouth of His children, and I am persuaded that they sing it. They render praise unto God for all things. They realize that it is solely by the grace of God that they are saved both in time and for eternity. “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private Interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20,21). God has never changed in His way of dealing with His children. I believe that it is just as true now that confession is made unto salvation by the promptings of the Holy Ghost as it has ever been. I do not believe it is in the province of natural man void of the Holy Spirit to even confess with the mouth. He may make statements that favors a true confession but I am persuaded his language will betray him.
It is natural for a man to want to take some of the praise unto himself and regardless of how much he may try to imitate the speech of a child of God, he will fall far short of speaking in this new tongue. In Luke 12:12 we find this statement, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” God is perfect in His work and does not only prepare our hearts but also gives the answer of the tongue. He does not depend upon us to search out what we shall say in advance, but relieves us by putting the words in our mouths by the direct operation of His Spirit at the time we shall say them. lam impressed that I have experienced that very thing in speaking publicly from the pulpit At times words flow so fluently without any labor upon my part that I feel to know that it is the work of God. I have been blessed to speak upon texts upon which I have not had previous meditation, with all ease and so true to scriptural teachings that it astonished me when I would be given to compare the things that I had said with the scriptures later. Prior to becoming affiliated with the Primitive Baptists I outlined the sermons beforehand and tried to deliver them in accordance. Now I study and outline them after they have been delivered.
I trust that I have been made to believe in the effectual working of God’s mighty power which is far superior to the wisdom of this world. I have only hinted at this far reaching subject but now must submit it for your consideration. May God bless it to your comfort and be pleased to further prepare our hearts and give us the answer of the tongue as it pleases Him.
Elder E.J. Lambert
“Tried in the Furnace”
Signs of the Times
Volume 162, No. 8