We’ve heard the saying: You cannot go by feelings; you must go by faith.”
Faith is not just a belief. It is a trust and a commitment to uphold, promote and behave. At times we falter when the products of faith are sparse, and we feel as though we can’t live up to the high calling. We do not feel that we are really different. We don’t feel saved.
In those times the admonition, “Go by faith not by feelings,” instructs us.
However, faith does produce feeling. There is exaltation in connecting with God, realizing that He takes personal interest in us. That makes us feel valuable.
There is the conviviality or joy of human involvement. In faith, we sing a great hymn or chorus with a crowd and our singing makes us altogether one. That is the thrill of conviviality—lifting one another’s spirits, geniality with mutual excitement—and somehow the Holy Spirit is there exciting us through one another.
There is also the settled feeling of assurance that no matter what we are facing it will be alright, because God cares, God hears prayer and God will not test us or tempt us above that which we are able to bear.
Longing is another feeling that comes with faith—a desperate need to know more, a great desire to grow, a determination to be more. We want to grasp more of God, we want to behold the greater reality and we want to be held by the great King of the universe. All these are the Feelings of Faith.
For many of us, the difference in our feelings before faith and after faith is over the set of imperatives and the struggle we feel over obedience to God.
Sometimes people who seem to want to be Christians stumble away from true faith because they merely wanted to adopt the spiritual enthusiasm and the moral standards faith produces. They make a commitment to behave like they were saved, rather than believing in the One who saves, who calls Himself “The Way.”
Tens of thousands were caught up in the excitement of the Jesus Revolution. But some who had no core conviction and no connection with the Savior quietly turned away. Worse yet, some rejected what they never experienced as though they’d had a genuine experience.
Their illusion of Christianity could be maintained in a crowd, but for the most part, crowds of Christians aren’t to be found much outside a church.
For those who are truly saved God has something special that does not depend on our behavior or belief but on His behavior and our accepting it as true. And this is what I call “God Instances.”
God instances are not usually the kind of personal pietism where a person says, “The Lord showed me this, or the Lord showed me that.” Too often people conclude such stories with some observation that any alert person could have comprehended. When people attribute supernatural character to ordinary providential care, it might seem to add weight to the story, but it often reveals a shallowness of heart and mind. It sometimes causes unbelievers to doubt that God really does show Himself in extraordinary ways, because they have heard too many ordinary things described as divine revelation. That does not mean that all truth is not from God. But He uses quite ordinary means to lead us to many truths.
It is the extra-ordinary events that are God instances. It is exciting to experience these instances, though we have to be careful in sharing our excitement because some believers will feel confused or discouraged if they think they have experienced fewer or no such instances compared to other believers.
However, all believers do experience the imperative to believe as God says we ought to believe, to do as God says we ought to do. Sometimes these divine imperatives oppose what we felt before, and so the feeling of faith ends up being a feeling of struggle. Nevertheless, even that should give some assurance because that feeling of struggle is the feeling of becoming. Those who don’t feel a struggle to do God’s will are spiritually numb, since none of us is so perfect that we always do God’s will without a battle. When we struggle to see things God’s way and to do things God’s way we are becoming the kind of people that God wants.
We have feelings about everything we do and faith is a thing we do. Whereas “faithing” is not a word, believing, trusting, resting, standing, resisting, etc. are all verbs that stem from faith. Faith is something that you act on. So, if you do not feel saved or you feel unsaved, remember where you placed your trust. Is Jesus’ death at Calvary and His Resurrection your ground of reality and the basis of your present being, or is it something you just sing and say sometimes?
Take a stand to make Jesus the reason for your present life. Resist what is not of faith. When you take a stand it might be a little while before the feelings of true faith catch up with