Friday, October 19, 2012

Feelings or Truth?

by Ron Livesay
Humans are most certainly emotional beings. This is part of being created in the image of God. However, our emotions must not be allowed to control what we do, because emotions are unreliable. How we feel must be controlled by truth, not the other way around.
I once was involved in a church situation where a major decision was made on the basis of how a church leader felt about it. I cannot think of one biblical example of a good and right decision being made on such a basis. Instead, the Bible makes it very clear that good and right decisions must be made on the basis of good and right doctrine. For example, I do not believe that Gideon felt very comfortable with the idea that God instructed him to cut his army to 300 men, but regardless of what his feelings may have been, he simply obeyed the Lord, and a great victory followed. Many more examples could be cited. On the other hand, decisions made on the basis of feelings tend to have disastrous results. I think of the case of Cain. He was upset because God did not respect his offering. Nevertheless, in his anger at God for not respecting his unbelief and disobedience, he killed his brother. Again, many such examples are found in Scripture.
I recall a church business meeting from many years ago when I was a teenager. A topic was being discussed and there was no clear agreement on what should be done. A man stood up and said, "I feel this is right." My dad, who was never at a loss for words and was never afraid to speak up, stood up and asked, "What does feeling have to do with it?" He then quoted a Scripture that was most pertinent to the debate. Someone else stood up and asked, "Who does he think he is,  quoting Scripture in a business meeting?" Really... someone would actually quote the Bible in a church business meeting? What is the world coming to? But then in reality, what is more appropriate in any church meeting than the Scriptures?
This is very much like the deacon board chairman who told the pastor, "We don't care what the Bible says, we don't believe that, and we don't want you to preach from that passage." That is a major "oops," to put it mildly. "We don't care what the Bible says" is extremely dangerous ground.
"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1, NKJV). Sound doctrine leads to sound living. Loose doctrine leads to loose living. Far too many churches today emphasize teaching of feel-good "pop psychology" instead of sound doctrine. This certainly can lead to ignorance of biblical principles and the resultant natural disobedience to those principles.
There is also the idea that we must make visitors feel comfortable in order to attract them to the church and ultimately to salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more absurd. If unbelievers feel comfortable in the church, there is something wrong with the church. The gospel message is offensive to unbelievers because of the sin nature. Without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, the natural man is repelled by the truth. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV).
If we think we can draw them in by entertaining them and making them feel comfortable, it necessarily follows that we must either hide or water down the gospel. Concerning hiding the gospel, the Scripture says, "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord..." (2 Corinthians 4:3-5, NKJV). The gospel must be made clear and must not be veiled behind "feel good" teaching.
The reality of sin is an important teaching, yet many are afraid to mention it in this day for fear of offending people and driving them away. However, a person needs to be aware of his lost condition before he can get saved. It is a great disservice to hide the truth for fear of being offensive and causing someone to feel uncomfortable.
Not only are we to avoid hiding the gospel, we must also avoid watering it down. Watering down the truth in order to make it more palatable to unbelievers and to make them feel comfortable is to pervert the Gospel of Christ.
"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3, NKJV).
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9, NKJV).
I once had a young pastor tell me the advice he had been given by an older, more experienced pastor. It was quite simple and was stated something like the following:  "Don't put your confidence in methods or new ideas. Just faithfully preach and teach the Word. Let the Lord bring the results."
Other posts related to this topic are found here and here.


1 comment:

  1. You have too many good points for one post. Ouch, Ouch, Ouch and Ouch. I sometimes feel if more people in church would begin reading their Bibles they would probably stop attending because they would not like the standards and expectations laid down.

    It reminds me of the guy, who has since left our church, who complained that the pastor's sermons were too negative, they made him feel like he wasn't a Christian.

    Grace and peace.


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