I once worked with a young woman who was a member of an emotional church. They did a lot of shouting affirmations at the preacher as he spoke and hooting and yelling “as the spirit moved them”. As they left the service, they often spoke of how they “really felt the spirit today”.
I found such experiences unsettling. They obviously enjoyed it, and so that’s fine for them. But there is a danger here.
This young woman once said to me “I need to be saved again.”
You need to be saved a second time? Why?”
“Oh, no; this will be the fourth time.”
Her explanation was that she no longer felt The Spirit working in her life, so she must have lost it and needs to be saved again to get it back. I tried to explain that this is not how it works, but she was adamant. “I need that feeling again!”
Faith is not a Feeling
Hebrews 11 tells us:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
This passage opens with “Now”: not sometime in the past, not some distant future but right now where we live, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. He does not say faith is a tingly feeling or an emotional high. Faith is assurance, belief, certainty.
He goes on to talk about biblical persons who lived by faith and thus were justified in God’s eyes: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel, and others. All accomplished something great for God by having faith that God would be true to His word.
Faith is not a feeling. Insisting on having a feeling is demanding proof. Faith does not demand proof. Faith is relying on and trusting in the promises of God. Feelings are emotion, not faith.
Emotion has a place in our worship, and in our relationship with Jesus, but emotion cannot be the basis of that relationship.
God has no Plan B
When we consider a matter before us, the enemy will offer us options. Faith has no options: we do what God said to do. That is obedience. Choosing a compromise or alternate path is disobedience.
In this passage, Paul wrote of Enoch, “for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (vs 5 & 6)
Romans 8:24-25 says:
24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
With God, there is no Plan B, there is no wiggle room. When man decides to alter God’s Word to suit his own conceptions, he writes himself in as god and steps out of obedience.
Jesus said there was no room for interpretation. Several times he told his disciples that He only does and says what the Father said. Even Jesus took no independent action.
To please God we must be obedient through faith. To be obedient we must know what God expects of us; to know that we must study the Word of God and allow Him to speak directly to us.
Listening to sermons is great for general teaching and learning biblical concepts, but to converse with God we must open His Word and diligently seek Him.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
- God’s Holy Word
- Dr. Dan Netherland