30 June 2024: Hardness of heart

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home

30 June 2024


“We love to see the blossoms on the trees indicating that fruit is on its way. So let us persevere and seek the Lord until we see the fruit from the Lord that is on its way.”



Graham Kendrick – 1988 Make Way Music


Hardness of heart

Between 1981-83 I used to go to Chorlton-cum-Hardy Shopping Precinct every Saturday morning and preach. Most weeks I went back home discouraged because of the lack of response. I would go straight to my room and pray about it. It was remarkable how as I went to open my Bible to get some encouragement from the Lord, each time it would open up at verses like these:

Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s hearts has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.

Acts 28:26-27

Paul, here is quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10. It is remarkable how many times these verses are quoted in the New Testament, e.g., Matt. 13:13-15; Mk. 4:12; John 12:40; Rom. 11:8 and Acts 28:26-27 above.

I started to believe that the Lord was trying to tell me that the lack of response is because of the hardness of people’s hearts. We can beat ourselves up in the Church at the lack of response to, and interest in, the things of God. Obviously we have to ask the Lord to examine our hearts to see if there is any wrong within, and to be open to all that the Holy Spirit wants to do through us. But at the same time, there is this other matter of the hearts of people in general being hardened to the Gospel.

We are looking at this in Romans in the Bethel services on Sunday mornings and Paul wrestles in prayer as to why the majority of the Israelites are unreceptive to the Gospel. One of his conclusions based on his study of the Scriptures is that

… they were hardened,

Rom. 11:7

When our hearts are hardened we cannot receive the blessings of God, in particular, the many blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not just a Jewish problem, Gentiles also, it’s something we all inherit from Adam:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

Eph. 4:18

When the disciples did not understand the basic teachings, parables and miracles of Jesus, the reason given was because their hearts were hardened, e.g. Mark 6:51-52; 8:17. This was the same for the Jews in general, e.g., John 12:37-40. What to do then about the hardness in people’s hearts? The most important is to do what Paul did:

  1. He continued to pray for his people, the Israelites, Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1. Only when we get to heaven will we realise how long people prayed for us before we finally came to faith in Jesus.
  2. Continue to share the Good-News and our testimonies with them.

To be continued …

Quote of the week

“… by a hard heart is … meant an unaffected heart … not easy to be moved with virtuous affections, like a stone, insensible, stupid, unmoved and hard to be impressed.”

Jonathan Edwards

Verse of the week

But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.

2 Cor. 3:14

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, pray keep our hearts tender. Lord we pray for all those we know who are hardened to You; Lord by Your Spirit and Your Word, soften their hearts that they may receive You as their Lord, Saviour and Friend, and so build Your Church, Lord, in Jesus Christ, Amen.