A True Heart
By Joseph S. Carroll
There is an acceptable approach to God. What is it? We read in Hebrews 10:22 – “Let us draw near with a true heart.”
Drawing near with a true heart is the first condition of acceptable approach to God for true worship. We can honor God with our lips, but we worship Him with our heart. True worship is heart worship.
In Matthew 15:7-8, our Lord in a clear manner revealed why those in Isaiah’s day were hypocrites or play actors – “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’”
What an indictment! What did they have? They had confession without commitment. There must be commitment, the commitment of a true heart, for acceptable worship.
What Is a True Heart?
…Bishop Westcott, who wrote a classic on the epistle to the Hebrews, said that a true heart is “a heart which expresses completely the devotion of the whole person to God. There is no divided allegiance, no reserve of feeling.” This is perfect self-surrender of the whole person; in other words, it is the intellect, the emotion, and the will.
Another scholar who has given us a classic on Hebrews is Adolph Saphir. He has this to say: “What is meant by a true heart? …Only a whole heart is true. …A true heart is never pleased with itself; but it is at peace, content that Jesus shall be all.”
Andrew Murray, who has given us possibly the best devotional classic on Hebrews, has this to say about a true heart: “In man’s nature the heart is the central power. As the heart is so is the man. …Our inmost being must in truth be yielded to Him. …It is only as the desire of the heart is fixed upon God, the whole heart seeking for God, giving its love and finding its joy in God, that a man can draw nigh to God.”
This may possibly cause you to think, “What hope do I have for a true heart? Can I fix the desire of my heart upon God? Can my whole heart seek for God, giving its love to and finding its joy in God? Can I do that?”
If you seek for a true heart with all your heart, you will receive it. It is entirely your decision, for God’s callings are His enablings. He lives in you by His Spirit to meet His own demands. Most certainly, without the enabling Spirit, such a heart is impossible; but with the Spirit controlling, it is the very life into which He will lead you.
In Genesis 22:1-2, we read of the great surrender of Abraham. Let us therefore note carefully what he surrenders. “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”
What is He saying to Abraham? “You must put Isaac to death. You must offer him as a burnt offering. Your only son whom you love, you must place on an altar.” What a test! But we would do well to remember that when God tests a person it is because He wants to bless him. This test is going to be severe; but if Abraham passes it, the blessing is to be not only for him but also for multitudes.
Now before Abraham can obey, he is going to have to surrender three things. The first thing is his intellect. What God has asked him to do does not make sense. It defies the understanding. Why? Isaac is the child of promise. He is the miracle child. All depends upon Isaac. Now God says to put him to death. Well, God will raise him up; but why put him to death if He is going to raise him up? It makes no sense.
Therefore, the first thing Abraham must surrender is his intellect. Abraham had to yield to the imperative of Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”
This is a command of God. It is a command we need before us during these days when we are apt to lean on our own understanding, apt to lean on what man can do by his trained intellect, apt to become the victims of a subtle, man-centered, religious humanism. The intellect must be surrendered. This is the first thing.
What must he surrender next? Abraham must surrender his affections, his emotions. He loved Isaac, so he must surrender his emotions.
And, finally, he must surrender his will. He must will to do the will of God in preference to his own will.
In other words, what is God asking Abraham to do? He is asking him to surrender his heart – his intellect, his emotion, and his will – that he might do the will of God. This is the test. This is also the test for us, for it means death to what we want in order that we might have what God wants.
Surely if there was one thing that Abraham wanted, it was that Isaac be preserved. Offer his son, his only son whom he loved? Anything but that! But what did Abraham do? Did he call his friends together and say, “Now we must have a prayer meeting. I must seek the Lord about a big decision that I must make.”
Oh, no! “Abraham rose early in the morning” (Gen. 22:3). He rose in immediate, unquestioning, unhesitating obedience to the revealed will of God. When God speaks, we do not have to pray. We can ask for grace, that is true; but we do not have to seek guidance.
When did you surrender your heart to the Lord? Surrender of the intellect and emotions apart from the will is no surrender. When did you yield yourself in totality to the Lord? Do you have a true heart? That is what God wants, and that is what He must have. That is the great imperative.
Here are five examples of those who offered a true heart, wholly surrendered to God:
D. L. Moody – What was the key to the life of D. L. Moody? He once heard British evangelist Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God can do through a man wholly consecrated to Him.”
D. L. Moody said, “By the grace of God, I will be that man.”
We know how God used D. L. Moody. Was it because he was brilliant, because he was gifted, because he was educated, because he was a man of essentially superlative gifts? No, he was a man with a perfect heart who proved the truth of Second Chronicles 16:9 – “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
It is not what we can do for God; it is what God will do for us and through us when we have a perfect heart. He is waiting for such men; He is waiting for such women; and when God finds such a man or such a woman, He will show Himself strong in their behalf. We must never forget that it is not what we can do for God; it is what He waits to do for us and through us that glorifies Him.
We must perfect our hearts. There must be that altar in our lives upon which we have laid our intellect, emotion, and will to be God’s man, God’s woman, if God is to use us as His tried and trusted servants.
Graham Scroggie – I was present at the famous Keswick Convention in England in the early 1950s when the Bible readings were given by Graham Scroggie. A master expositor, he delivered his message with great power. But more than the message was the man himself; his intensity, his obvious love for Christ, his masterly grasp of the Scriptures. The consciousness of the Spirit of God speaking through the man is what impressed me.
At the conclusion of his first message, he gave a word of personal testimony. On one occasion while ministering, he was suddenly taken with illness. The illness persisted, and he consulted his doctor concerning what he should do. A diagnosis was made, and the doctor informed him that the only cure would be for him to cease from preaching; for if he continued preaching, there was no cure. In his dilemma Scroggie cried to the Lord and was led to seek counsel from Grattan Guinness, a close and trusted friend in Ireland.
Back from his friend came a Spirit-directed, unusual letter. “Scroggie,” he said, “have you ever truly surrendered to Jesus Christ?” What a question to ask a famous preacher, but it is a very important question to ask anybody.
Scroggie replied, “I have in a general sort of way.”
Back came another letter from his friend. “Do it in a deliberate, specific manner.”
Again, Scroggie sought the Lord; and in the stillness of His presence, powerful conviction gripped him. He realized that he had been living for his preaching, living to make a name as a preacher; and it had grieved his Lord. So in tears, he yielded himself in a deliberate, specific manner to be God’s man, not Scroggie’s, and was healed, going on to preach for many years with great power.
When did you surrender to Jesus Christ? You might give the same answer as Dr. Scroggie, “Well, I have surrendered in a general sort of a way.” Well, do it in a deliberate, specific manner; and do it once for all. You must give up your right to yourself. Intellect, emotion, and will must be yielded in a deliberate, specific manner.
F. B. Meyer – F. B. Meyer, another of the great Bible teachers of his day, was mightily used not only in England but also throughout the world. He was greatly gifted and had a brilliant mind.
As a young man with a thriving reputation, he went to a farewell meeting for a number of graduates of Cambridge University who were going out to China. These young men were called the Cambridge Seven. One of them was a young man named Charlie Studd, the most famous sportsman in England, for the captain of the English cricket team was always considered the foremost athlete in the land. Now he was turning his back upon the world of sport to go to China with the China Inland Mission.
That afternoon as he gave his testimony, F. B. Meyer listened intently. It was not so much what F. B. Meyer heard, as what he saw and felt; for it was obvious that C. T. Studd was a man totally yielded to Jesus Christ. A statement that C. T. Studd once made perhaps sums up the whole man: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
After the meeting F. B. Meyer went to Charlie Studd and said, “It is quite obvious that you have something that I lack, something that I need. What is it?”
C. T. Studd in his very forthright manner looked him straight in the eye and asked, “Have you ever surrendered everything to Jesus Christ?”
F. B. Meyer thought a moment and said, “Yes, I have.”
But a small voice within said, “No, you have not.”
Deeply troubled, he made his way home, hurried to his bedroom, fell to his knees, and began to pray. He tells us that when he was praying it seemed as if the Lord came to him and said, “Meyer, I want all the keys to your heart.”
F. B. Meyer began to argue a little with the Lord. “All the keys?”
“Yes, Meyer, I want all the keys.”
Then F. B. Meyer deceitfully took a ring of keys and handed them over to the Lord. But you cannot fool the Lord. There was one missing. The Lord, it seemed, F. B. Meyer tells us, took the ring of keys and began to count them carefully. When He had finished, the Lord looked at him and said, “There is one key missing; and if I am not Lord of all, I am not Lord at all.” Then, He turned as if He would leave the room.
In his dilemma, F. B. Meyer cried out to Him, “Lord, don’t leave! Why are You leaving?”
Back came the word, “If I am not Lord of all, I am not Lord at all.”
“But Lord, it’s just a very small key, a very small place in my heart.”
Back again came the word, “If I am not Lord of all, I am not Lord at all.”
In desperation, F. B. Meyer surrendered that last key. And what happened? He became a Spirit-controlled man who was a blessing to countless multitudes. Even today his magnificent books speak in many languages.
That was the crisis of his life. He had to build an altar, and he had to place F. B. Meyer upon the altar. Every key had to be surrendered.
Archibald Brown – In the days of Charles H. Spurgeon there were other famous preachers, and one of them was a man named Archibald Brown. He was a gifted preacher but not a great preacher until the Spirit of God began to work in his heart; then certain things began to take place in his life. One evening, up in his study, Archibald Brown was rather disturbed, for God was speaking to him. He was so disturbed that upon reaching the top of the stairs he suddenly tripped and fell. When he had recovered himself at the bottom of the stairs, realizing that God had spoken to him, he cried, “Lord, anything!”
Back came the word, “Not anything, everything.” That is what changed Archibald Brown from just another good preacher to a great preacher.
Not all are called to be preachers, but we all need a true heart to worship God; for worship is the highest art of which a man or woman is capable in the spiritual realm and the imperative preparation for any service.
Nicolaus von Zinzendorf – In these days we are all conscious, I believe, of the desperate need for revival. If you are a student of revival, you will know that possibly the purest of all revivals was that which took place among the Moravians in 1727 under the leadership of Count von Zinzendorf. And what was the key to that great movement of God? The key was the worship of the slain Lamb.
As a young man, Count von Zinzendorf visited an art gallery in Germany. Admiring the various, priceless paintings, he was suddenly transfixed by one. As the curator of the art gallery made his rounds, he noticed this young man gazing intently at that painting hour after hour. Finally when it came time to close the gallery, the young Count was still there. At last the curator went to him and put his hand on his shoulder. He was about to tell him that he must leave when he saw tears streaming down the young man’s cheeks. There in front of von Zinzendorf was a magnified painting of the slain Lamb of God, beneath which were the words, “All this I did for thee. What hast thou done for Me?” Before that painting of the crucified Christ, the Holy Spirit spoke; and Nicolaus von Zinzendorf from that day had a broken heart.
What is a true heart? It is a heart that is broken, broken from self, and offered up to God.
– Excerpts from How To Worship Jesus Christ by Joseph S. Carroll. Copyright ©1984 by Joseph S. Carroll, © 2013 edition by the Estate of Joseph S. Carroll. Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission. www.MoodyPublishers.com.