"HOW SHOULD I FEEL?"
This is an all-too-common question among Christians. Many people doubt their salvation because of feelings or the lack of them. The Bible has much to say about salvation, but nothing to say about “feeling saved.” Salvation is a process by which the sinner is delivered from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment against sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7).
Some people have an idea that the change of heart is a matter of feeling. Some do not want to claim Christ as Saviour until they have the mysterious feeling that they want. Do not let the Devil deceive you here. But the Bible nowhere tells how one must feel before he is saved, nor does it anywhere say how you feel after you are saved. In fact, people do not feel the same. Feeling varies with the person saved. Some cry when they are saved, some laugh, and a few shout aloud the praises of God. One is no more saved than the other.
Our part in the salvation process is that we are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe—fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16) and His sacrifice alone. We have no confidence in works of the flesh to achieve salvation. This faith—which is a gift from God, not something we produce on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9)—involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Salvation results in a changed life as we begin to live as the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Be sure you notice another fact, too, and that is that you cannot feel right until you get right. Rejoicing does not come before you trust the Lord. One does not feel the result of medicine before he takes it. The Children of Israel in the wilderness, bitten by fiery serpents and at the point of death, were not healed and did not feel healed until they looked to the brass serpent on the pole (Num. 21:6-9). People are not saved by feeling; they are saved by trusting in Christ.
The Christian who is forewarned and well-armed is a person not governed by feelings but by the truth he knows. He does not rely on his feelings to prove anything to him. Relying on feelings is precisely the error most people make in life. They are so introspective that they become preoccupied with themselves, constantly analyzing their own feelings. These are those who are continually questioning their relationship with God. “Do I really love God?” “Does He really love me?” “Am I good enough?” What we really need to do is stop thinking about ourselves and focusing on our feelings and redirect our focus to God and the truth we know about Him from His Word.
When we are controlled by subjective feelings centered on ourselves rather than by objective truth centered on God, we live in a constant state of defeat. Objective truth centers on the great doctrines of the faith and their relevance to life: the sovereignty of God, the high-priestly intercession of Christ, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of eternal glory. Understanding these great truths, centering our thoughts on them, and rehearsing them in our minds will enable us to reason from truth in all of life’s trials, and our faith will be strong and vital. Reasoning from what we feel about ourselves—rather than what we know about God—is the sure path to spiritual defeat. The Christian life is one of death to self and rising to “walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4), and that new life is characterized by thoughts about Him who saved us, not thoughts about the feelings of the dead flesh that has been crucified with Christ. When we are continually thinking about ourselves and our feelings, we are essentially obsessing about a corpse, full of rottenness and death.
After you are saved, you will get peace and joy out of following the Lord in baptism, reading His Word, winning souls and otherwise pleasing Him. You need to go to the Lord again and again day by day for the joy of a Christian life. But thank God that salvation is settled once and for all when you simply depend upon Christ as your Saviour.
AMAZING GRACE BIBLE INSITIUTE