Mind and Heart
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’” (Matt. 22:37).- Matthew 22:37
Sin has affected all of our being, including the mind. We have seen that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, all of our thinking leads ultimately to futility. But when the Spirit changes our minds, we are enabled to think as God would have us think.
Unfortunately, the role of the mind in the Christian faith is not taken very seriously today. In fact, we live in the most anti-intellectual period in Christian history. But this has not always been the case. The Bible commands us to love God with our minds as well as with our hearts. Historically speaking, the greatest saints of the church have also been some of the greatest giants in intellectual history. Men like Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and Edwards, to name but a few, loved God with all of their hearts as well as with all of their minds.
Today, many people in the church do not think the mind is all that important. All that matters, they say, is the heart. The only important thing, they say, is that you love Jesus. Certainly this is true, but it is only true if you love the right Jesus. It will not do a person any good if they love the Mormon Jesus or the Islamic Jesus. A person will only be saved if they love the biblical Jesus.
Christian faith involves both knowledge and trust. We cannot really trust what we do not know. This is why the Christian faith affirms the primacy of the mind. Our faith has intellectual content. We must know certain facts like sin, the atonement, the resurrection, and the deity of Christ in order receive salvation. We can say we love Jesus all we want, but if we do not know these things about Him, we cannot be saved (John 8:24; Rom. 10:9).
The mind is primary only in order. God must first go through the mind in order to get to our hearts. We must know some content in order for us to love rightly. Just knowing facts, however, is not enough. The devil perhaps could write a better systematic theology than any saint but yet will never come to Christ because he hates the things of God. We must also trust Christ with our hearts to be saved.
That is why the Christian faith also speaks of the primacy of the heart. The heart is primary in importance. You can know all the facts about Christ but yet be damned because you do not love Him. Knowing and loving the true Christ are both essential to salvation.
If you read the theological writings of the saints throughout church history, you will find that their tremendous intellectual content also contains doxology. These men and women loved Christ with their minds and hearts. Ask the Lord to help you love Christ with both your heart and mind.
Passages for Further Study
Rom. 10:14–15; 12:2
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343