Is "Being Saved" An Emotional Experience?


The Bible teaches that salvation is based upon teaching.   We can be taught a lie and think that we are saved, or we can be taught the truth, believe and obey that truth, and know that we are saved.   Not only does salvation depend upon being taught, but it depends upon what we are taught.   This message of salvation is called “the gospel” or “the faith”.   It is the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  This message can be changed or perverted, as has often been the case, but even today 2000 years later, it can be understood, believed and provide the same blessings as it did when first preached.

Salvation Comes Through Teaching

Here are a few Bible passages to be considered.   Jesus Himself said, quoting the Old Testament:  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.  Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”  (John 6:44-47).  Yes, those who come to Jesus must be taught of God.   In a series of connected and logical statements, Paul wrote: How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, 'HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!'  However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, 'LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?'  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:14-17).    My dear reader, do you get the point?    The pure word of God must be taught.

In the parable of the sower , Jesus emphasized the necessity and importance of preaching  or sowing the word.  This simple parable speaks of sowing the seed on four different kinds of soil and the different results obtained.  Jesus, in explaining the meaning of the parable—Matt. 13:18-23,  states clearly that “the seed” represents “the word of God”.  The different types of soils represent different kinds of hearts of those who would either reject or receive the word of the kingdom.    Just as there is power in a grain of wheat, so there is power in the word of God to germinate and bear fruit in the heart of man.  When the pure word of God is planted in the heart, it will produce only one thing – a Christian.  In order to produce anything else, a different kind of seed would need to be planted.   The pure gospel makes only Christians or disciples of Jesus Christ.   In the end, only those with good and honest hearts would bear fruit. 

 The apostle Peter drives home this same point with these words:   “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,  for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.  For, 'ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,  BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.' And this is the word which was preached to you”  (1 Peter 1:22-26).

The power of God’s word is stated in Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” 

The Great Commission

When Jesus sent out His chosen apostles to bring the message of salvation to the whole world, which is called “The Great Commission”, this message contained details that must not be perverted or changed.  This commission was given to the apostles after Jesus was raised from the dead.   The children of Israel would not dare change the 10 COMMANDMENTS given by God through Moses to Israel.   Why would anyone want to change the great commission given by Jesus to the apostles to be preached to the whole world?   As stated in three accounts, these are the words of Jesus: 

Matt. 28:18-20:  “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’.”

Mark 16:15-16:   “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned’.”

Luke 24:45-48: “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
 and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,  and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things'.”

Jesus gave some final words to His apostles recorded in Acts 1:8:  “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  From this we see that these particular men were to receive special powers of the Holy Spirit (see also John 14; 16:13) so that they could verbally express accurately the message of Christ.  They were also eye-witnesses of the resurrection.  The combination of their being eye witnesses plus their testimony being aided by the power of the Holy Spirit guaranteed that their testimony would be complete and consistent.  This protection involved both their speaking and their writing.    A perfect example of inspired writing as to their witness of the resurrection is found in 1 John 1:1-4.

The Preaching Of The Gospel in Acts

The book of Acts contains example after example of the message that was preached by the apostles in their role of preaching the “great commission” to the world.   Is it not comforting to know, with all of the verbiage coming out of Washington, with all the rewriting of history, with all the books on every subject imaginable, that there are some words and some writings that can be depended upon to tell the truth?   This is why I encourage everyone to read the Bible for themselves and not through some second hand filter.   The words of Jesus, these are the words of eternal life (See John 6:63).

Saved Apart From Being Taught?

Now some believe that salvation can be divorced from the message preached and that it has more to do with some emotional experience than anything else.  Some teach that being saved has to do with a “direct operation”  of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, and that those who experience this know that they are saved.  Many religions believe and practice such “subjective” tests of salvation, even though such a thing is nowhere taught in the Bible.   For example, if you are approached by a Mormon, how do you know if they are telling you the truth?  Do you compare what they say with the Bible?   No.  Here is what they tell you to do. They say all you have to do is pray to God and God Himself will reveal whether or not their religion is true.    This is an emotional appeal and not a test based upon any objective truth or evidence.   Others simply say, just believe in Jesus with all of your heart and immediately God will save you.   Not only that, they say, you will know in your heart that you are saved.   It finally comes down to an emotional experience.   

One young man that I know told me that he knows that he was saved by faith, and that having experienced this salvation, he knows that he could never be lost.    When I questioned him about the importance of being a disciple of Jesus Christ and following Him in everything (which is part of the great commission), he told me that such a commitment was optional and not necessary to salvation.   Here he has taken hold of a particular concept, salvation by faith only confirmed by a “religious experience”, which enables him to ignore anything else that Jesus or His apostles taught.   He wanted no more talk about religion.  He interpreted “not being saved by works” (Eph. 2:8-9) as meaning that obedience to Christ as Lord has nothing to do with being saved.   My pointing out scripture after scripture which contradicted this interpretation had no impact upon him.   I do not know of any doctrine that undermines so completely the authority of Jesus Christ.  Sad to say,  thousands who claim to be Christians share his views.   

So, with many, faith boils down to a particular experience which has no connection to obedience or following any rules, etc.   Thus, you can understand why so many people profess to believe in Jesus Christ and yet remain so completely divided over what the Bible teaches and don’t really care.  Ignorance and apathy will destroy us all.  What we have in America is that most people claim to believe in Jesus Christ but church attendance has never been lower.  There are hundreds of different denominations professing to believe in Jesus Christ while teaching and practicing conflicting things, even on basic principles.  This encourages the spread of atheism and agnosticism more than anything I can imagine.   Does this represent the preaching of the gospel and the kind of results we read about in the New Testament?    Not by a long shot.    The fact of the matter is that truth and the word of God have little to do with what people believe and how they act.    The subjective mindset has little to do with standing upon the foundation of God’s message and “growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.”      It has now descended to the point that even so called religious people refuse to talk about the doctrine or teachings of Jesus Christ.   They feel good about themselves and their religious choices and that is good enough.   Some think that it is the job of the “pastor”, “priest”, etc. to make the people feel good and understand that God loves them no matter how they live or what they believe.  Since they are told not to judge anyone (that is one scripture that they know by heart), the conclusion is that there are no standards by which any judgment can be made.   All of this tends to undermine the authority of God and His word.   For such people it is never proper to preach against sin, and especially don’t get too specific.   After all, I’m saved and I know it!      

Will Rogers, An American Humorist

If something is based upon emotions or how we feel, then no proof or objective evidence of any kind is needed.   This is about where we are in religion today.  But this is not much different than it has been for a long time.  I recently read a book about Will Rogers, the great American humorist.   He was also a first rate roper and entertainer.  At one time his writings were syndicated in Newspapers all over America reaching about 40,000,000 million people at the peak of his popularity.  He wrote mostly about politics, making fun of politicians in a generic way, which is always a popular thing to do.  People took him seriously although he disdained anyone taking his humor seriously.  However, He got very serious money, about $130,000 per year during the great depression, for not writing anything to be taken seriously.  To his favor, he had a lot of common sense and wrote on the level of the common people.  He was also part Cherokee Indian which identified him with the downtrodden and common people.  He gave a lot of his money away to charities.   Of religion, which he seldom mentioned,  he wrote:  “I was raised predominantly a Methodist but I have traveled so much, mixed with so many people in all parts of the world, I don’t know just now what I am.  I know I have never been a non believer.  But I can honestly tell you that I don’t think that any one religion is ‘the’ religion. . . . . Every man’s religion is good.  There is none of it bad.  We are all trying to arrive at the same place according to our own conscience and teachings.  It don’t matter which road you take.”  (The Quotable Will Rogers, page 86).    He also was very negative about religion.  He believed that when it came to religion, the more learning a person has the more evil he will become.  He wrote:  “There is no argument in the world that carries the hatred that a religious belief one does.  The more learned a man is the less consideration He has for another man’s belief” (ibid, page 86).   So, he believed that every religion is good, just don’t become too “learned” in a particular religion.  That would be bad.   And certainly do not heed all of the admonitions found throughout the Bible to learn about God by means of His word.  Too much learning might drive us to madness, as the worldly Festus accused Paul in Acts 26:24.   Yet on another level I can understand what Will Rogers was saying.  Much evil has been done in the name of religion, but misguided zealots do not represent the teachings of Jesus Christ.  The Bible itself warns against such things.

Getting back to the main point and heading of this article, is being saved just a matter of some emotional experience or how we feel?  Legally speaking you can believe what you wish to believe or you can believe nothing at all.  Thank goodness, the constitution guarantees the freedom of religion.   That allows me to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in its completeness and simplicity even if someone adamantly disagrees with me.   But if Christianity is based merely upon how we feel, it differs not one iota from all of the others religions of the world.  If that is the case, Will Rogers was perfectly correct in his analysis.   When the gospel was taught in the 1st century, evidence was brought to light which was strong enough to convince good and honest hearts that the Bible is the word of God, that God does exist, and that Jesus Christ is the son of God.  Even Jesus taught that no one should believe in Him apart from convincing evidence (read John 5:3-47).  

As a Christian I ought to know what I believe and why I believe what I do.  It is a great joy when I find others who are sincerely interested in the truth.    It is my prayer that truth seekers everywhere may abound more and more.  As Jesus taught, only the truth can set us free.    He declared that His kingdom was based upon truth.     Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by me.”  It does not matter what men say, only the truth will abide forever.   Please, Lord, open up the hearts of men and women that they might see.

                                                                             Lindy McDaniel
                                                                             April, 2013

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The photo at the beginning of this article is a baseball cartoon appearing in the St. Louis Globe Democrat newspaper in 1960.  Amidee is the cartoonist.   The boxed quotation in the lower part of the cartoon should read, “Allowing none through June this year” instead of “last year.”   This proves that we all make mistakes.  This cartoon illustrates that baseball is a game of many emotional ups and downs.   1960 was a good year for me, but that was followed by two sub-par years.  In one game you can be a hero and in the next game you can be a goat.   But the point is that how you feel emotionally (whether you are cheered or booed) does not determine who you are or whether or not you are acceptable to God.    Our relationship with God is based upon a firmer foundation than that.   Do we follow Jesus Christ regardless of environmental circumstances and do we seek to do His will at all times?   And yes, serving God with all our heart does bring great joy.   The emotional part is based upon service and obedience.
If you know of others who would like to receive advanced copies of Pitching For The Master attached to E-mail, please write to me at:  1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166.  Or contact me at my E-mail address:    I appreciate your comments pro or con.  If you disagree, I only ask that you give thoughtful reasons based upon reason and facts and not general accusations.   

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