“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Matthew 7:21-23
How devastating it would be to live a life doing things for God only to find out that what you thought was His will was all done in vain. What heartbreak when hearing “I never knew you,” that you were never even one of His children though you felt you were. Imagine the terror when He says, “depart from Me,” although you lived a life devoted to proclaiming everything in His name only to learn that what you had practiced He calls lawlessness. It’s a terrible thought, but a reality we must all consider if we are going to take Jesus’ words seriously. None of us want to be on the receiving end of those words of wrath so what can be done to prevent this? My evangelistic brother and elder, Westley Pollard, breaks it down with three simple words that have stuck with me…. facts, faith, feelings.
Emotionalism has become a big thing in our religious world. So many are basing their service to God on what feels right. Following God has become about emotional highs that confirm one’s salvation. Feelings are being put before facts with the claim that these feelings are the Holy Spirit guiding them. This is all unfortunate because we can all understand that in requards to faith, feelings can be misleading but the facts never change.
This is not to say that feelings aren’t important. Part of the greatness of salvation is the emotions that accompany the assurance of knowing you are saved, but you can only have that assurance by confirmation of the faith you gain from the facts revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in God’s word. The problem then is not that we experience feelings but when those feelings take precedence in denying the facts.
By understanding and practicing the pattern of facts, faith, feelings that is seen consistently throughout the Bible, we can have a faith that is based on evidence that produces profitable emotions. To do this, you first learn the truth (facts). Next, you believe the truth (faith). Then, you experience emotions such as assurance, joy, peace, and comfort based on your belief in the truth (feelings).
We see this happening over and over in the conversion stories in the book of Acts. My favorite story has always been Philip teaching the Ethiopian eunuch found in Acts 8:26-39. I highly encourage you to read the full story, but here’s a few verses to pinpoint this concept of facts, faith, feelings in action.
Philip taught the Ethiopian about Jesus starting in the book of Isaiah.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Acts 8:35
The Ethiopian believes the facts and asks to be baptized confirming that Philip’s teaching about Jesus included baptism. He is immediately baptized which demonstrates the necessity of belief-based action.
Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Acts 8:36-38
The Ethiopian rejoices in the salvation he now has from obeying with faith the facts he has learned.
Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:39
This story is most memorable to me because I first heard it the night I received some disturbing facts. Over sixteen years ago I was lovingly shown truth from the Bible that contradicted what I had always felt and believed about my own salvation. I had a choice to make. I could deny the facts and continue in what I had always felt was right or submit to the facts in faith by obeying the truth. Being cut to the heart, at around midnight that same night, I went down into the waters of baptism and came up with tears running down my face while hugging the man that had just baptized me for the remission of my sins (Acts 2:37-38). I knew then that my joyful feelings of salvation where according to God’s will as confirmed by the truth of His word, and that I would devote the rest of my life to diligently study and live according to the scriptures.
I hope what I have written here provokes you to seriously think about your soul’s condition. Is this different from what you believe, have done, or learned? If so, examine it for truth and find out whether your faith and feelings of being saved are based on facts. I am here to help you in whatever way that I can. In the end God will judge us all according to His will and I want you to joyfully proclaim with me, “Lord, Lord,” as we enter the kingdom of heaven. These words will be expressed successfully by all of us who have abided in the truth and are free as Jesus says:
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32
How can [I] cleanse [my] way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word (Psalms 119:9-16). Amen!
Truth in love,