Feelings and Salvation

Let me tell you of a conversation that I once had.  I was eating with two others.  One was a member of the church.  The other was probably not.  He was questioning his baptism.  Had he been baptized for the right reasons?  Did he understand what he should have understood before baptism?  He asked me if he should be re-baptized.  Instead of giving him a “yes” or “no”, I asked him to have a Bible study with me.  I wanted him to come to his own conclusions based on scripture.  Then, he said, “I just want to feel again like I did on that day, long ago, when I was baptized.”  The church member chimed in, “You will!  God will give you that feeling again.”  I cringed.    There are a couple of things wrong with the church member’s reply.  First, if feelings are given by God when one is properly baptized, and are evidence of a relationship of fellowship with God, then the man did not need to be re-baptized.  He may have needed to confess his sins to God and to return to walking in the light (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22).  However, he would not need to be re-baptized, according to the Scriptures, if he had been properly baptized.  Second, feelings can be very deceptive.  Consider: (a) The heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9).  (b) The book of Proverbs warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).  (c) Naaman’s thoughts were not in line with Elisha’s instructions (2 Kings 5:9-14).  (d) Saul thought that he was serving God when he persecuted the church (Acts 22:1-5 cf. 26:9-11).  (e) Imagine the feelings of one who thinks that his loved one was on a plane that crashed, which left no survivors.  Now, imagine that this same one later learns that his loved one was not on that plane, but had taken a different flight.  Feelings are not always based on reality.                                         

Do not misunderstand.  Feelings are not necessarily bad.  At times, they are appropriate.  Consider: (1) Jesus speaks of joy in finding hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44).  (2) Jesus speaks of there being joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7, 10).  (3) The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized and “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).  (4) The Philippian jailer was baptized, and we are told that he “rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:34).  (5) If one is in a right relationship with God, then, even when persecuted, one can rejoice and be exceeding glad for his reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12 cf. Hebrews 12:2).

Here are how things should be approached.  Feeling should follow facts.  Facts are not determined by feelings.  Faith should be based on God’s word (Romans 10:17; Luke 8:11-12; John 5:45-47; 17:20; 20:30-31; Acts 17:11-12; 18:8; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:10).  Faith should not be based on feelings.

Consider this poem:


“For feelings come and feelings go,

And feelings are deceiving;

My warrant is the word of God

Nought else is worth believing.

I’ll trust in God’s unchanging word

Till soul and body sever;

For, though all things shall pass away,

His word shall stand forever.


About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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