Emotional Religion

[NOTE: The following was written by A.P. board member Frank Chesser.]

            Sin moved from the mind of Satan to the heart of Eve, destroyed her purity and innocence, soiled her soul with consequences for life, and broke the heart of God.  Sin is the soothing sound of religious error that blinds the mind and calms the heart with a false sense of security, paving the road to eternal perdition upon which the masses of the earth will travel.  Sin is a husband and father, sitting in the dark of the night, shackled with the chains of lust, as the eyes of the mind feed on pornographic images moving across the screen of modern technology.

            Sin is the subverted, seductive, insidious spirit of liberalism at war with the grace of God, defying law, eroding conviction, and driving the dagger of spiritual death into the heart of faith.  Sin is a small, helpless baby, a portrait of perfect purity, whose brief life comes to a violent and tragic end under the abusive hands of human depravity.  Sin is a perpetual stream of death that refuses to allow solace to inhabit a single moment of time.

            Sin is man’s problem.  Calvary is God’s remedy.  Obedience to the gospel is God’s means of reaching the cross and appropriating its benefits.  Since God is sovereign and His will is paramount, He alone has the right to specify the conditions that man must meet in order to enjoy redemption, provided by God’s grace and the blood of His Son.  Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that  believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). What is baptism?  Baptism is faith refusing to be supplanted by emotion.

            God designed man with an intellect, the ability to think and reason.  The Bible addresses this aspect of man’s nature.  “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).  This text contains four great truths:  God is; God has spoken; God spoke in the past by the prophets; God has spoken to us by His Son.

            These four truths embrace the whole of the Bible.  Hebrews quotes from or alludes to the Pentateuch, the prophets, Psalms, and Proverbs.  Jesus said He had fulfilled all things “which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).  The Bible in its entirety is a revelation from God.  It addresses the mind.  It speaks to man’s intellect.

            Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, presses this truth.  With few exceptions, almost every verse uses some term that describes the Word of God.  Repetitiously, the psalmist implores God to “teach” him and then uses words that pertain to the mind.  God addressed the mind of Israel with the law He heralded from Mount Sinai.  In his final sermon to Israel, Moses called upon the nation to hearken unto the statutes and judgments “which I teach you” (Deut. 4:10.

            Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is God’s prototype for securing the faith of each succeeding generation.  It entails parental discernment of God’s oneness; loving God with the whole of one’s heart or mind; storing up His word in the heart and diligent instruction until the mind of each child was fortified with divine truth.  The gospel speaks to the mind.  It must be taught (Matt. 28:19-20).  The process by which God draws man to Himself through Christ involves teaching, hearing, and learning (John 6:44-45).  Christianity is a taught religion.

            The fourfold profitability of inspiration in doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16) communicates to the mind of man, enabling him to be spiritually complete, “througly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17).  All the principles by which God relates to man necessitates the mind being taught, instructed, and trained by divine revelation.

            Grace teaches (Titus 2:11-12).  The teaching of grace is validated by blood.  The instruction of grace in the Old Testament was ratified by the blood of animals (Heb. 9:18-22).  The tutoring of grace in the New Testament has been authenticated by the blood of Christ (Matt. 26:28).  Genesis 3:6 closed the door to fellowship and communion with God.  Genesis 3:15 opened the door with grace and faith reaching for the cross.

            Faith accesses grace and appropriates its provisions in Christ and the cross.  Saving faith is dependent for its very existence on divine revelation.  Faith needs instruction.  Only the Word of God can provide the instruction that produces faith that pleases God and leads to heaven.  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and the hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).  Biblical faith is an act of the mind that has been taught and trained by divine revelation.

            Agape love is an act of the mind.  Jesus speaks of loving God “with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37).  Agape love shares no kinship with emotions.  It is not dependent upon or affected by emotions. It is a commanded love that even embraces one’s enemies (Matt. 5:44).  It relies upon divine revelation for its actions.  It cannot move until it hears God speak.  “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)  Agape love listens to the teachings of grace.  When it is fully educated on a given subject, it moves faith to obey God.  That which avails in Christ is “faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).

            Jesus summed up these truths and principles when he said, “And ye shall know the truth, and truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).  The truth is the teaching of grace.  This instruction of grace has been validated by blood.  This education of grace produces faith and activates love.  Emotions cannot know anything.  Knowledge pertains to the mind. Only the mind can discern truth—an open and receptive mind that loves truth and can perceive the truth, know the truth, obey the truth, and be liberated from the dominion of sin by the truth.

            Contemporary religion has supplanted the mind with emotion.  It is no longer a matter of “God said,” rather it is “I feel.” When the Bible is referenced, man responds by expressing his feelings about its meaning.  Human emotions have become the lens through which the Bible is viewed and the barometer by which its meaning is determined.  Emotion inheres in Christianity.  But these emotions issue from a mind that has been taught and trained by the Word of God.

            It is a divine imperative for man to love God with all his heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37).  Mark and Luke add “strength.”  The soul is the depository of emotions.  Jesus uses two terms—heart and mind—for the intellect; the thinking and reasoning part of man  There is a world of difference in fleshly emotions that emanate from a man’s own self-centered will and spiritual emotions that spring from a heart that has been educated by divine revelation. 

            The religious world is drunk on distorted emotion.  Claiming angelic visitation and divine revelations, Mohammed exalted himself to the status of a prophet.  He rode across the sands of Arabia with a self-deceived mind and contorted emotions, constructing a religion with a blood-stained sword.  Affirming Mohammed to be a false prophet and shredding the Koran in an assembly of Muslims would provoke a violent display of unrestrained emotions.  Conversely, a Muslim’s denunciation of the deity of Christ and rending of the Bible in a congregation of Christians, while heard and viewed with righteous indignation, would be met with intact and controlled emotions  Only the gospel can conquer, restrain, and govern human emotions.

            Oriental mysticism is the product of mental deception and emotional deformity.  Siddhartha Gautama erected the religion of Buddhism on the sandy soil of emotion.  He abandoned his family and commenced and emotional quest for peace and enlightenment.  He rejected knowledge, paid homage at the idol of “feelings,” and formed a religion that is the antithesis of Christianity.  Hinduism can boast of no founder, date of origin, single guide book, or distinct body of doctrine. It is a self-will, emotionally driven religion that allows each devotee to function as his own god and follow the leanings of his own feelings.

            Taoism is a Chinese religion that rejects the concepts of absolute truth and goodness and views all components of the universe as enjoying some form of mystical union or oneness.

            Jainism is the religion of asceticism.  Some six centuries before Christ, Mahavira, its founder, left his family, joined a monastic order and pledged to assault his body with neglect.  He wandered nude for twelve years across central India in search of Nirvana, a state of complete mental and emotional severance from physical desire.  In the ecstasy of emotion, he claimed victory over his body and spent the last thirty years of his life preaching the ascetic manner of life.

            Confucianism is based on the humanistic philosophy of Confucius that stresses goodness, but not God, and encourages men to live together in harmony.  Shintoism is a Japanese religion that originally paid homage at the shrine of nature, but later Chinese influences broadened its scope of worship and reverence to include multiple gods, country, and the emperor.

            Sikhism is a religion of India founded by Nanak fifteen centuries after Christ.  Claiming an emotional experience in the presence of God, Nanak stressed constant repetition of the name of God, loss of individuality, and absorption into the one God.

            Catholicism is a corrupt, man-made religion that bears no semblance to New Testament Christianity.  It has supplanted God with the pope, the Bible with the catechism, truth with error, and gospel simplicity with pomp and ceremony.  Rapturous emotions compel knees to bow at the feet of the pope.  His presence is venerated, and the sound of is voice is perceived to be the voice of God.  The presence, prevalence, and perversion of Catholicism bears witness to the power of error to deceive the mind, subvert emotions, and bar the entrance of truth.

            Denominationalism and subjectivism are religious twins.  Adherents of denominationalism will seldom exchange their emotional experience for truth.  One such man was confronted with biblical teaching on baptism.  He acknowledged what Jesus said on the subject, then asserted, “I would not give up my salvation experience for a whole stack of Bibles.”  An advocate of denominationalism admitted that he could not point to a single example in the book of Acts of someone who was saved as he claimed to have been.  Thirty years after his religious “experience” he was yet so enraptured with the feeling that his “experience”  produced that he rejected the truth and declared his intention to go to the judgment with a few minutes of emotional excitement as the only evidence he could provide for his salvation.

            The church is replete with people who have ceased to drink from the biblical well in order to drink from the well of emotion.  Their minds have been conquered by the spirit of liberalism. Liberalism and emotionalism are inseparable companions.  They wear the same clothes, walk in the same shoes, breathe the same air, and live by the same heartbeat.  Emotionalism is liberalism’s lifeblood.  Sever then and both die.  “What man hath joined together let not God part asunder” is their guiding principle of life.

            Liberalism had rather feel than think.  Thinking involves the mind.  Liberalism views the mind as its enemy.  Proper mental thought about God, self, sin, and all of their related parts strips liberalism of its influence.  Liberalism is concerned about the moment, the temporal, the superficial, and squeezing all the emotional excitement it can out of each humanly devised religious experience.  The light of truth and proper thinking about truth exposes the folly of liberalism.  Liberalism shuns the light of truth and sober thinking like roaches run from the light of day. 

            Liberalism cannot comprehend controlled emotions, subservient emotions, feelings under the steady influence of a mind that has been educated in the school of divine revelation.  Man’s emotional being needs the guiding control of divine law.  A law is a rule of conduct.  A mind properly instructed by the marvelous laws, precepts, and principles of God regulates emotions and enables them to be displayed properly.  A mind vacant of the discipling power and influence of the laws and principles of the Bible means the emotional aspect of a man’s nature is virtually on its own.  There is no end to the folly that can result from ungoverned emotions.

            Liberalism possesses no appetite for the discipline offered by divine law.  Liberalism loathes law.  Its hatred for law knows no bounds.  It views law as cold, staid, rigid, callous, and legalistic.  In its consummate form, liberalism has decreed an end to law.  It has constructed a pseudo-system of grace that totally excludes law.  Having driven the stake of death through the heart of law, it stands triumphant over its grave, rejoicing over the end of prohibitions, restraints, and restrictions.  Emotions are now free to pursue their desired course of conduct.  The present apostasy of many in the church is a portrait of liberated emotions sailing on the sea of self-will.     Even a transient expression of unrestrained emotion can have devastating consequences.  God instructed Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock and water would come forth to quince the thirst of Israel.  One can discern the uncontrolled emotion in the voice of Moses as he cried, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10).  God declared their emotional reaction to the murmurings of Israel to be an act of unbelief (Num. 20:12).  So serious was this sin that it barred the entrance of Moses and Aaron into the land of Canaan.

            One of the great purposes of the Old Testament is to mold, shape, frame, and mature the mind into a state of deep reverence, soberness, contriteness, fear, and trembling at every thought of God, truth, and the ways of God in relation to self and sin.  It is a vivid portrait of the nature and traits of God with much emphasis upon the sovereignty, holiness, justice, and wrath of God.  Liberalism winces at this accentuation.  It refuses to be swayed by it.  It is so self-centered, arrogant, and defiant that it is incapable of perceiving the truth about anything external to itself.  Having been schooled in the university of emotionalism, liberalism views itself as self-sufficient and in no need of instruction from some outside source.

            Jesus Christ is the personification of love.  He is love in the purest and most complete form.  The cross bears witness to the depth of this love for every accountable being.  The love of Christ is so great it “passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).  Yet, relative to impenitent sin and error, there is anger in His eyes (Mark 3:5), wrath in His heart (Rev. 6:16-17), and warnings of hell from His lips (Matt. 10:28).  The emotion of liberalism cannot abide this inspired depiction of Christ.

            The mind of liberalism is so full of itself there is no room for anything else.  Emotions reign supreme upon the throne of its heart.  Any truth inconsistent with its feelings is not allowed entrance.  In the theology of liberalism, if it feels good, it is right.  The emotions of liberalism scoff at the concept of biblical authority.  It views “book, chapter, and verse” preaching as old-fashioned and incompatible with today’s world.  It disdains the stringency in divine commands.  In liberalism’s world the warm glow of contented emotions is evidence of divine acceptance.

            Satan knows if he can so influence an individual to cease thinking right about God, thinking that is formed and shaped by the Word of God, he can then tap into his emotions and win the war with his soul.  The tragic status of the religious world and multiplied thousands in the church testifies to the success of his efforts.  Emotions that are not under the supervision of a mind that affirms “O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97) are the devil’s playground.

            No biblical subject is set forth with more simplicity and clarity than the subject of baptism; yet the Bible addresses no subject that will provoke a more intense emotional response with more swiftness than when one presses the truth on this vital subject.  Fleshly emotions immediately rise to the surface, and the offended commence to express their feelings on the subject.

            The concern of most people is not with what the Bible asserts about baptism.  It is how they feel about it.  They utilize their feelings as an emotional device to assess biblical teaching. They either accept or reject a biblical declaration based on how it relates to their feelings.  They often respond on how it relates to their feelings.  They often respond to a clear biblical statement with the proverbial “but,” followed by an expression of their feelings as to its meaning.  In all probability, there is no subject in the Bible that has been met with more “buts” than baptism.  “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. 28:26).  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro. 14:12).  It may seem right, look right, and feel right, but if it is not the truth of God, it will lead to spiritual death.

            Jesus firmly pressed that one must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16).  He put water in the new birth (John 3:5).  Inspiration avers that believers must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).  A penitent believer was commanded to be baptized so his sins could be washed away (Acts 22:16).  Baptism saves us (I Pet. 3:21) because it puts us in contact with the blood of Christ.  What is human submission to biblical baptism?  It is faith refusing to be supplanted by emotion.


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