Cut to the Heart
In Bloom’s taxonomy remembering and understanding are lower levels of critical thinking, yet that’s where most of our sermons, classes … and sadly studies on how to obey the gospel are centered. It is at the level of applying the knowledge where a person sees how his own sin has eternally separated him from God and only the sacrifice of Jesus can restore the relationship. Then, when they are “cut to the heart,” they will ask, “What shall I do?”
I. Acts 2:36-47. The first gospel sermon that was delivered on the day of Pentecost used knowledge to convict the crowd that they were guilty of sin and putting an innocent man to death but that God had resurrected Jesus and made Him both Lord and Christ. The people were cut to the heart and wanted to apply this knowledge, which required further knowledge about how to obey the gospel. 3000 applied it.
II. Romans 6:3-5. In an era where many are convinced there’s no such thing as sin, what they’ve done is not that bad, or the preaching they’ve heard deemphasizes it, it’s hard to see the relevance of the gospel. But even a knowledge-level passage of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 gives the application in the phrase, “for our sins.” After they’re cut to the heart, we can explain how obeying the gospel unites us to Christ’s death and resurrection.
III. Matthew 28:19-20. We each have a job to do. For we who are already living faithfully, ours is to use knowledge to convict the lost to action. Then, when we have made disciples and the cut-to-the-heart are asking what they must do, we baptize–when it’s God’s job to add them to His church–and then teach them to obey everything that He’s commanded. This is how is was for the gentile jailer in Acts 16.
When we push them to obedience before they’re cut to the heart, we risk making low-level disciples who struggle to see the relevance of church and live faithfully. Never having been cut to the heart and applied the gospel, they never utilize the higher levels of critical thinking in their Christian walk.