Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 36:24-27
A. In pagan religions, each culture had its own pantheon of gods, and each deity typically was connected to some essential of life.
B. Although religious conversion was not unheard of, it was typically only accomplished by means of force (Daniel 1:1-7; cf. Ruth 1:16).
C. Christianity spread not by means of threats, but rather by the promise of something greater.
I. Christianity is a religion that begins in the heart.
A. This is the lesson of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:8, 21-22, 27-28; 6:1-18).
B. Genuine faith and obedience begin in the heart (Romans 6:17; 10:6-10).
C. Israel’s hearing problem was only a symptom of a serious heart problem (Acts 28:25-27; Hebrews 3:7-11).
II. The gospel has always had a tremendous effect on the heart.
A. It has the power to cut hearts open (Acts 2:37; 7:54; Romans 2:28-29; Acts 16:14; Hebrews 4:12-13).
B. It has the power to purify hearts laden with sin (Acts 15:7-9; 1 Peter 1:22-23).
C. It has the power to unify hearts (Acts 4:32).
D. In order for its message to change us, the gospel must be written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10).
A. God has the power to change our hearts, but we must first make the decision to surrender our hearts to Him.
B. If we don’t let Him open our hearts now, He will open them at the Judgement (1 Corinthians 4:5).