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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Firm Faith Or Frail, Faltering Feelings

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Firm Faith Or Frail, Faltering Feelings? -  Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.



So, which is it to be? Do you have faith, or would you prefer to rely on your intuition and feelings to guide you in important decisions? Or, should we perhaps try to marry faith and feelings together, not just in a marriage of convenience, but where each constructively supports and complements the other? Are they friends or are they enemies?
As faith and feelings are such common words I really do need to clarify how I am using them, because they are used in everyday social settings and in a variety of religious ones. So what more can we add when we use faith to mean a simple, confident trust or reliance, and feelings being like the rainbow colours or even the darker stormy emotions we experience, flowing smoothly, then troubled, perhaps, as we react to life's varied and sometimes turbulent circumstances?
Are you a person who says, 'I feel I have faith'? That certainly expresses how the two might be married. However, I really do need to dig a little deeper into this subject, because I am concerned to share the biblical view.
When we take a look, for instance, at the teaching of Jesus, we hear him saying, 'Have faith in God' (Mark 11:22). Then, right in the middle of a storm with their little boat threatened, and Jesus' disciples afraid for their lives, he said to them, 'Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?' (Matthew 8:26). And when Jesus explained to his disciples how to forgive others repeatedly, they found this so challenging they burst out, 'Increase our faith!' (Luke 17:5). After Jesus' death and resurrection, we hear the apostle Paul (who had earlier tried to destroy Christianity), sharing how he had taught the good news of salvation, 'testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance towards God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ' (Acts 20:21).
From these teachings (and a whole lot more), we can piece together that faith is a simple trust, a personal reliance upon the ever-living Lord Jesus - in his person, his words, and in his complete faithfulness. Faith credits all of the forgiving love and all of the boundless power and mercy to rescue us from the penalty, tyranny and eventually from the presence of sin, to its wonderful Object. Faith rests content in Him. It never congratulates itself! Faith may falter, faith may be small and imperfect, but it trusts the One who will never falter, who is able to do exceedingly more than we are able to comprehend, and who is infinitely perfect in every way.
Would you like to have a real faith in the faithful Friend and Saviour (and let the feelings take care of themselves), or maybe you would prefer to live in the uncertain, fickle world of feelings? This may mean the humbling discovery that naturally we have NO faith. When we see that our heart is full of sinful, wretched unbelief. Then our pride is crushed by a sense of God's holy majesty, and we know that if ever we are to be forgiven, and receive a new heart, we must ask, knowing that these are freely given to undeserving sinners, like you and me. Wonderfully, salvation is the gift of God - obtained at immeasurable cost (by Jesus' death on the cross), but freely given. So ask expectantly - until you receive.
Each of the following exclamations adds something to the previous one. Maybe you agree, or perhaps you react with strong feeling against such thoughts!
- Forget feelings and focus on the facts!
- Forget feelings, and instead, focus by faith on the facts!
- Forget fuzzy, faltering feelings and instead, by faith, focus firmly on the facts!
- Forget fancy, fuzzy, frivolous feelings and instead focus firmly by far-seeing faith on the full facts!
- Forego frail, fallible, feeble, fleeting feelings and instead firmly fasten and fix far-seeing faith on the full and final facts!
- Forget flimsy, fretful, floundering, flittering feelings and fly to the faithful Friend, firmly fixing your faith on Him and his forever fresh fountain of fullness!
You may object that I have stigmatised feelings so as to put faith in more favourable light. Yes, I accept that in trying to make a point, I do give feelings a rather hard time, so I hope they don't feel too hurt! What I am trying to do is to share the vital role of faith in the Christian life, and to offer a few suggestions for its meaning.
Is there any place for feelings? Of course, but a life lived in trusting love for God, does not in the first place look for feelings to support its reality. Order or sequence is important here. First repent and then trust - have faith in the Lord Jesus. Emotions with their feelings then flow as a consequence of transformed thinking, but in the first place there is no need to look for feelings as a gauge of spiritual life or health. For where there is spiritual life - a humble, grateful trust in the all-sufficient Saviour, with some marks of a transformed life with love, joy and peace as some of the fruit of the Spirit, feelings will necessarily be present.
This is not emotionalism - that is something else - generally the effort or technique that tries to manipulate our minds through our feelings, or to stir up feelings for their own sake or for an end in themselves.
So the big thing, however emotional you may be, is not to depend on feelings as a guide to truth, because feelings are so unreliable. Instead, trust in the ever-faithful God and Father as he has revealed himself in the Bible and you may begin to get a better handle on the place of feelings.
By the way, I accept that the multiple alliteration of 'f's' was a bit overdone, but it can have quite a forceful effect, and it was a gentle reminder for all you readers to take a look inside the alliterative title of my book: 'Dawkins' Dilemmas'!
Finally, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:5) - what a clear description of faith!
Michael J. S. Austin's books and articles offer serious discussions and answers for life's big questions - 'How do I know which is true - Theism or Atheism?'  'Is biblical Christianity finished, or does it still speak to the 21st century?' My title, 'DAWKINS' DILEMMAS' answers, 'will Richard Dawkins' atheism grip millions, fade or stir lingering doubts?' and shows how Dawkins' atheism works hard to shut its eyes to the glory of God revealed in creation, conscience & supremely in Jesus Christ the Son of God. Find out how biblical Christianity uncovers Dawkins' dilemmas and why atheism lacks rational foundations. http://www.amazon.com/Dawkins-Dilemmas-Michael-Austin/dp/1604776668/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302182528&sr=1-2 My second title, 'LOST RELATION - finding humanity and God' is a serious discussion on how the evolutionary beliefs of Charles Darwin undermine the validity of human reason to the point where, if Darwin was right, you would never know! He admits this when he says his own thinking has only come from monkeys - read to find out about Darwin's greatest discovery! Check my books on Amazon and other main bookselling websites - & BUY TODAY! Personal email for book enquiries and brief discussions about published articles: mdaustin@iolfree.ie Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D.  Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6883663


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