Righteousness: A Real Change of Heart
January 31, 2012 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

This week in my devotional I came across the following quotation from one of the founders of my church:

Christ came to manifest the love of God to the world, to draw the hearts of all men to Himself. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

The first step toward salvation is to respond to the drawing of the love of Christ. God sends message after message to men, entreating them to repentance, that He may forgive, and write pardon against their names. Shall there be no repentance? Shall His appeals be unheeded? Shall His overtures of mercy be ignored, and His love utterly rejected? Oh, then man will cut himself off from the medium through which he may gain life eternal; for God only pardons the penitent! By the manifestation of His love, by the entreating of His Spirit, He woos men to repentance; for repentance is the gift of God, and whom He pardons He first makes penitent. The sweetest joy comes to man through his sincere repentance toward God for the transgression of His law, and through faith in Christ as the sinner’s Redeemer and Advocate. It is that men may understand the joy of forgiveness, the peace of God, that Christ draws them through the manifestation of His love. If they respond to His drawing, yielding their hearts to His grace, He will lead them on step by step, to a full knowledge of Himself, and this is life eternal.  {1SM 323.2} 

What do you hear in this passage? First, God is for us! God is intervening to reveal Himself to us in love, to draw us, encourage us, woo us, bring us to the point that we trust Him again with our lives. He is working to get us to experience a change in heart from one who is at war with God to one who loves and trusts God.

It is commonly taught in Christianity that God declares those righteous who are not righteous, that He legally pardons people who are not yet transformed. Yet, this author makes a powerful point that only those who experience a change of heart, repentance, are pardoned of God.

This is exactly what is taught in Romans chapter four when Paul states that because Abraham trusted God, God recognized, accounted, or declared him to be righteous. Our natural hearts are opposed to God, at war with Him and His principles and do not trust Him. (Rom 8:7) When one is wooed by God to the point that they repent and surrender in trust to Him, the heart is changed and it is then that a person is recognized as right with God, or righteous.

God never declares someone right with Him who is still His enemy in heart. And what is the method God uses to bring us to repentance, to change our hearts, to put us right with Him? It is a revelation of His character of love! We shall know the truth, the truth about God, and the truth will set us free!

It is our privilege to be His agents to share the truth of God’s character of love with others and thus share the knowledge of God, which brings people to repentance, transformation of heart, and rightness with God! We invite you to join us in sharing the truth about God’s character of love with the world.

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.