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Bible verses about Emotionalism in Religion
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 John 2:3-6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This passage helps us understand how we can have the right attitude and emotion in our obedience. We come to know God through the same general process we get to know fellow human beings—by fellowshipping or experiencing life with them.

Around 500 years before Christ, Greek philosophers believed they could come to know God through intellectual reasoning and argument. This idea had a simple premise: that man is curious! They reasoned that it is man's nature to ask questions. Since God made man so, if men asked the right questions and thought them through, they would force God to reveal Himself. The flaw in this is seen in the fruit it produced. Though it supplied a number of right answers, it did not—could not—make men moral beings. Such a process could not change man's nature.

To them, religion became something akin to higher mathematics. It was intense mental activity, yielding intellectual satisfaction but no moral action. Plato and Socrates, for example, saw nothing wrong with homosexuality. The gods of Greek mythology also reflect this immorality, as they had the same weaknesses as human beings.

A few hundred years later, the Greeks pursued becoming one with God through mystery religions. One of their distinctive features was the passion play, which always had the same general theme. A god lived, suffered terribly, died a cruel, unjust death, and then rose to life again. Before being allowed to see the play, an initiate endured a long course of instruction and ascetic discipline. As he progressed in the religion, he was gradually worked into a state of intense expectation.

Then, at the right time, his instructors took him to the passion play, where they orchestrated the environment to heighten the emotional experience: cunning lighting, sensuous music, fragrant incense, and uplifting liturgy. As the story developed, the initiate became so emotionally involved that he identified himself with and believed he shared the god's suffering, victory, and immortality.

But this exercise failed them in coming to know God. Not only did it not change man's nature, but the passion play was also full of lies! The result was not true knowing but feeling. It acted like a religious drug, the effects of which were short-lived. It was an abnormal experience, somewhat like a modern Pentecostal meeting where worshippers pray down the "spirit" and speak in tongues. Such activities are escapes from the realities of ordinary life.

Contrast these Greek methods with the Bible's way of knowing God. Knowledge of God comes, not by speculation or emotionalism, but by God's direct self-revelation. In other words, God Himself initiates our knowing of Him, beginning our relationship by drawing us by His Spirit (John 6:44).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Love


 

1 John 2:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christians are to do as Jesus did. The implication in the larger context is that those who claim to be Christian must live morally, as He did. We are to follow His example and to have the same ethic as He did - especially as it echoes what He says in John 8:28-29, which strongly implies that His behavior was drawn directly from God the Father.

The emphasis in I John 2:6 is on the way that one lives. To some, Christianity is little more than an intellectual exercise. Some of these people may study frequently and spend long hours doing it. Somehow, though, it never translates into the practical aspects of living; it is purely intellectual. They do a lot of research, but their lives never really change.

There are others whose relationship with God is largely based on feelings. Because feelings are transient - they come and they go, they change - these people's lives are constantly up and down and highly irregular. They blow hot and cold. John stresses that a Christian must follow the same pattern of life as Jesus lived, and He did not fly from pillar to post based on his emotions!

There is another aspect of this, too: Jesus was baptized, but He never sinned. He says to John the Baptist that the reason that He did it is to fulfill all righteousness, that is, to fulfill all right doing. We are baptized because we have sinned and because God commands it of us. He wants us to make a public statement of our commitment and the giving of our life, the sacrifice of it, to be raised in the likeness of Christ's resurrection.

Christ did not fit any of those parameters. The fact that He did it makes a point: He was baptized to do what was going to be required of us, those who would follow Him. Therefore, He did it as an example. He never offered an animal sacrifice. Why? It would not be required of us. Even so, it would have not have been technically wrong for Him to do so, even as Paul went through one of the Old Covenant rituals in the book of Acts.

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath and the holy days, and those whom He personally trained also did. That is a powerful lesson. We cannot go wrong following His example, regardless of whether a specific law is stated.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)


 

 




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