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John Bell had a chance to do something most of us will hopefully never be able to do: he held his own heart in his hands. Bell had undergone a successful heart transplant two years earlier, and now, through a program called Heart-to-Heart at Dallas’s Baylor University Medical Center, he was able to hold the organ that had kept him alive for seventy years before it was replaced. This amazing story reminded me of another heart transplant: my own. And while I haven’t undergone a “physical” heart transplant – all of us who follow Christ have experienced a spiritual version of this process. The cruel reality of our sinful nature is that it can only end in spiritual death. The Prophet Jeremiah puts it clearly: "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV).
When faced with the reality of our spiritual “heart condition” it can be hard to have hope. Because on our own the chance of survival is zero. But amazingly for us, Jesus Christ offers us the only possible chance at spiritual life: a heart transplant at the core of our very being. The Apostle Paul refers to this freely given gift of Christ as the regeneration of our humanity, the renewal our human natures, the transformation of our minds and the liberation of our wills. All this is what is involved in God’s saving work through the eternal Son through the Holy Spirit. Through that all encompassing salvation, we’re offered the miraculous opportunity to exchange our old, dead heart for his new, healthy one — a heart overflowing with his love and everlasting life. Paul says: "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:6-8 NIV).
God has accomplished a miraculous exchange in Christ so that we might live a new life in Him, sharing in his own fellowship and communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. As we enter a new year, let’s remember that each day we live is only by the grace and mercy of the one who has called us to him – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.