There is a sense in which our feelings are our friends. Fear can protect us from certain dangers or taking unnecessary chances. Crying can help us deal with loss, pain, and deep grief. Anger can even be a friend if it is righteous indignation. Consider all the wrongs that would go without a response if no one got upset about them. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26). Paul did not say that anger is a sin. He is teaching us how to deal with it properly. Then there is joy, the joy of true love and kindness. Again, the apostle Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). The Bible teaches that God gave us emotions — feelings — to help us get through life.
Yet our feelings are not always true; they are not our friends at times. Have you ever felt that something was true or good, only to learn later the opposite? Perhaps you didn’t hear correctly, or someone lied. Either way, what “seemed right” turned out to be wrong.
It has been my observation that people often deal with spiritual matters, from the existence of God to the Bible to the salvation of their souls, by the way they feel. Others do so by human reasoning alone. Something seems to be true, so they go with that. Consider the following:
God. It seems right to many that there is no God. The main barrier to atheistic philosophy is origin. We and the universe are here, but by whom, what, or how? A fundamental answer is cause and effect. It is an indisputable scientific fact that any cause is always greater than the effect. The Bible says the cause is God (Gen. 1:1; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 3:4). Then there is the life issue. Life comes from life. That being so, someone must be eternally alive. The Bible says it’s God (Deut. 33:27; John 1:1;4; et al).
The Bible. How does one account for a book written over a period of 1,600 years, by forty different authors in three languages, and without a single contradiction? It has to be a supernatural production, as it claims to be (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Countless individuals deny the divine origin of the Bible based solely on what others have said. People view the Bible as just another religious book, full of fairy tales and inconsistencies. We seem to be living in an age where even known facts are either totally ignored or deemed irrelevant. How many who hold this view of the Bible have actually read it with an honest and objective approach? As a candid, committed student of Scripture, I know it is not what people feel about it. It passes the test of its claims!
The Savior. The absurd claim by some that Jesus never existed can be cleared up with the Bible. Jesus fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies. The odds of Him fulfilling only eight is 1×1028 or 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yet He is the Son of God, born of a virgin and the only way to the Father (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; John 14:6).
The New Birth. How does one receive salvation from Jesus? He told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). Countless individuals will base their understanding of the new birth — their soul’s salvation — on the words of a preacher because his words seem correct, yet they do so with little to no questions as to whether the words he speaks are actually the words of God in Scripture. Others will base their salvation on the beliefs of some respected family member. Others do so based on some supposed “salvation experience.”
This brings up an important question. Is the Bible truly God’s Word and our only source for truth in the matter of salvation? The apostle Peter answers this: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 2:22-23).
We see here that salvation is not based on human feelings, but on God’s revealed truth. Jesus taught that absolute truth is not only knowable but is also liberating (John 8:32). The Lord also prayed that His disciples would be sanctified by the truth which is God’s Word (John 17:17).
In the Scriptures we see certain steps which bring one to Christ. Often only one or two of these steps are considered necessary for salvation. Some are even considered unnecessary for salvation. We should recognize as necessary every point which Jesus or His apostles included in God’s plan to save us from sin and eternity in hell.
Faith. Biblical faith “comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). It is required to please God (Heb. 11:6). Those in Acts 2 had come to believe Peter’s preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and were convicted in their hearts that they had murdered Him (vs. 36-37). While faith involves man’s feelings, as these people were “cut to the heart” (v. 37), it is not merely a feeling. They asked, “What shall we do?” (v. 37)
Repentance and Baptism. In response to their question Peter said, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (v. 38). Jesus and Paul also taught repentance (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30). Repentance is a change of mind. It is not merely feeling bad about sin but demands actions on our part. Paul wrote, “Sorrow that is according to the will of God produces…repentance” (2 Cor. 7:10). Notice again the two things Peter said. Repentance AND baptism are both required to receive the remission of sins. Many feel that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but God’s Word says that it is.
We Are Not Saved By What Seems Right. Nothing in this article has come from what “seems right to a man.” It has come from the Scriptures. Remember that the end of what seems right to a man “is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). What the Lord says in His Word leads to life (John 6:63, 68). Our feelings are our true friends when they respond to the will of God.
Roger preaches for the church of Christ in Adel, GA. He also teaches and preaches in foreign countries once or twice a year.