Summary: The fearful heart cannot accept what God offers; but the healed heart receives freedom from shortcomings, confidence before the world, and liberty from becoming a controller of others.
Takoma Park Baptist Church, Washington, DC; November 23, 1986
By now you are probably weary of heart, this several weeks of dealing with what I have called, "heart diseases." By now you may have felt that everything that could be said about the heart in a Biblical reference had been said, maybe twice and three times. Well, I did a little research, and found in my concordance that the word heart appears in the Bible nearly 700 times. Let's see, we've been at this series now eight weeks; eight from 700 leaves -- well, you see, it's really only a small sample of all the material that is there. For the men and women of the Bible, the heart is the symbol of the very center and core of human life, the heart is the place where I do both my thinking and my feeling, it is the place where my loyalties are confirmed and my allegiances are worked out. The heart, in Biblical thinking, is that part of us that is really what God works with, what relates us to God and makes us creatures made in His image and after His likeness.
But now· you will remember, I hope, that the title of the series has been "Heart Diseases." Heart Diseases, illnesses of the heart, sicknesses of the soul. We have spoken together about the great physician and his desire that we have the core and center of our lives transformed, because there is an illness there known as sin. In our several weeks together we have exposed the unyielding heart, the cold and rigid heart. We have taken an account of the price we pay when we close our hearts to the needs of others. We have thought about the consequences of a heart in which there is a loneliness and emptiness; we have taken the scalpel to the ungenerous heart, and have dissected the compassionless heart. And so on; most of what we have thought about together during these seven weeks has had to do with the dilemmas brought on us by our sin-sick hearts, by our heart diseases. But today I want to take another approach. Today I want us to think together about the Healed Heart – the healed heart. Who are we and what are we like after the heart has been healed by the great physician whose name is Jesus the Christ? If after all, he healeth all thy diseases, what then? What can you expect from the healed heart?
To break this open for us I’ve chosen to lead you through the 35th chapter of Isaiah, surely one of the finest poetic passages in all of the world's literature. It's rich in images, it's profound in meaning, and, most of all, it brings comfort, comfort to the not-yet-healed heart, and makes some promises about what you might expect when yours is the heart that’s healed.
As I said earlier, we've spent an awesome amount of time these last few weeks thinking about the diseased heart, the sin-sick soul. But there is another approach to doing medicine, you know, there is another aspect of the care of the heart from either the physical or the spiritual standpoint. And that is what you do after the healing takes place; that is, how you can prevent the disease from coming back, how you can keep away from relapses. What do you do with the healed body in order to keep it well? What must you do for the healed heart in order to prevent more problems? And, for our purposes, from our perspective, what do you do with the heart redeemed, the spirit saved and transformed, so that disease does not take over again?
Several images are offered us by the prophet; Isaiah presents several visions of what it is to be healed. I want us to look at each of these this morning and I want us also to pay attention to Isaiah's caption over them all. I want us to see how each of these visions of a healed heart is bolstered by the prophet's reassuring word, for the theme of this chapter, the theme of my message is this: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, ‘Fear not, be strong, behold your God will come’”. Be strong, fear not, behold your God will come. And then Isaiah continues, “Your God will come with vengeance and with recompense, but your God will come and save you.”
Say to them that are of a fearful heart; that's the prophet's word to me, to the preacher – say to them that are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not, your God will come." Now watch with me how this gives some visions of a healed heart.
The first of the prophet's images of a healed heart calls out pictures of a broken human being, a handicapped body, for the first time able to perform as it was intended. Isaiah would say to us, to us who are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not. Be strong, for your brokenness and your handicaps will be compensated. Listen to the image: