For years believers have been taught good Bible information and have, if they are paying attention, become well versed in the stories and principles of the Bible. This is especially true in North America where we are free to preach the Gospel openly and freely. We have great Bible teachers and preachers in our church pulpits. Television and radio preachers and teachers keep us well versed in biblical truth. And, the internet certainly gives ample opportunity to hear the Word of God, the Bible, taught 24/7.
But, almost all of the teaching is aimed at the head. The way we, the preachers and teachers, were taught in seminary and Bible Schools to teach the Word of God was designed to impart information to the mind. The goal of the preaching style was and is to impart head knowledge.
So, we know a lot. But knowledge does not transform us. It may renew our way of thinking – our minds (Romans 12:1-2). It may educate us and give us wisdom (Proverbs 2:6) and even understanding (Proverbs 3:5). But, unless the truth of the Word deeply touches our heart it remains no more than mere information. And, we are really not short of information to process in this mass media age in which we live.
We have many believers who know the Bible well and can even quote it. But their lives have not changed in spite of this. One might say that they are hearers of the Word and not doers of the Word (James 1:22). They can quote the Word and pray the Word but their life remains the same – unchanged and not transformed – because they have not applied the Word. Even “renewed” could be questioned and become a big if.
People who are my age and preaching the Word of God need to alter the way we teach. This starts by recognizing that our target must be the heart and not the head. Yes, people need to hear and receive the Word, understanding its implication for every day life. But, we must learn to teach and share the Word in such a way as to actually touch the heart. Because it is out of the abundance of the heart that life flows (Matthew 12:34). The heart must be the target because only as the heart embraces truth can a lifestyle permanently change. So, we need to teach in a different way so as to impart life to people’s spirit (heart). As Jesus said, “My Words are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). For this to become a reality we must teach to reach the heart.
Because we live in a culture and society that values logical and rational thinking, the preachers have been teaching in a way to communicate truth to the mind, line upon line and precept upon precept. We were taught to do that. But the Scriptures state that we are to “love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Matthew 22:37). Heart first. And we have been neglecting this as we aim only for increased knowledge and information (the head). We now need to change the way we teach and preach so as to release “spirit and life” into the heart for then we will see lives transformed, changed, and begin to experience freedom and the abundant life that Jesus promised us (John 10:10).
And, as we do this, lives will be radically transformed. All life-change starts on the inside and works it way out to alter the way we live life and relate to others and the world around us.
So, it is not either heart or head but both heart and head. A shift is needed in the way the Word is taught and in the expectations of the listeners who hear the Word taught. Then we will begin to see people walking in the fullness of the Spirit and actually showing forth the “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) that they have become when born again and experience eternal life (Romans 6:23b; John 17:3).