Why it is Essential to be Moved by the Truth
Christian extremes are extremely dangerous. The make-up of the Christian is a living soul in a dying body (2 Cor 4:16). Of course, the unbeliever is a dead soul in a dying body. The difference is the actual, abiding presence of the Spirit of the Living God. It is the Holy Spirit and the Word of life who have produced this new life in the soul of the born again (Jn 6:63; 1 Pet 1:3). The Christian soul has been made alive in Christ (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13).
“Alive in Christ” is vital union, whereby Christ is living in the soul of the Christian by His Spirit (Gal 2:20), and at the same time, the Christian is positioned, legally and spiritually, in Christ (1 Cor 1:30). There is an obvious change when this transformation is executed by the Person and work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:2). The Christian life begins at the time of the new birth (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3), and there is a course of spiritual growth to maturity (Col 1:28). Maturity, in the realm of the Spirit, which is the kingdom of God (Rom 14:17), is toward conformity to Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29), the perfect sinless God-man (Rom 8:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15).
Maturity, even perfection (holy and blameless), is achieved at the glorification of the saint, body and soul. This is when the resurrection of the saint’s dead body is conjoined with his or her regenerated soul — itself having been resurrected from the dead at the point of regeneration — which will occur on the last day, at Christ’s second advent, when the dead in Christ will be raised from the grave in the resurrection to life (Jn 5:28–29; 1 Cor 15).
Our living hope is Jesus Christ, Himself. To know Jesus, personally, is to know God. God is true (Rom 3:4), and Jesus Christ is the truth (Jn 14:6). He is not a set of facts or a concocted philosophy that happens to be true. Jesus is the embodiment, a body of knowledge that is true God and true man in His fullness. Jesus is the divine Logos (Word) enfleshed (Jn 1:1, 14).
People walked with Jesus. They talked with Him. Some beheld His glorious transfiguration. Even more people touched Him and ate with Him, following His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection from the dead. Others were privy to His glorious enthronement prior to their own deaths. The point is that this is personal. It is true. It is real, and it should move everyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
There are extremes in the Christian experience that should be avoided because they are enticements of the devil. One extreme is a false emotionalism, and the other extreme is a stoic intellectualism. Both extremes are a distortion from the true Christian experience. We must warn the practitioners of both.
The mind and the heart are the elements of the soul. They are not adversaries. The mind of Christ is the knowledge of God. The heart of Christ is true emotion, as one relates to God. The ideal Christian experience is both true emotion and truth (true knowledge). It is balanced. It is holistic. Further, it is manifest when the soul is considered in relationship to the human body. The whole Christian identity is body and soul, and this identity is inseparable from the vital union it has with the already glorified body and soul of Jesus Christ.
One’s assent of truth without true emotion is dead intellectualism. Emotion without truth is a fabrication. The dour Christian is an oxymoron, and the mindless experientialist is a freak show. These two extremes are the works of the devil, who delights in messing with people’s heads and their emotions. Christianity is not just collected facts in a body of knowledge, nor is it a hurricane of emotion without thought (zeal without knowledge).
Recognizing the Christian’s authentic experience with the truth requires some recognizable jargon. First, there is wonder. Truth is amazing, like the brilliance of a diamond set against the black cloth, for it shines beautifully against the lies of this dark world. “We beheld His glory” is how the Apostle John put it (Jn 1:14). To fall down as a dead man (faint) is the elevated experience of those who were escorted into the visible presence of God in heaven.
Truth is invigorating, while lies tap us of our energy, our spirit. They rob us of our will to press on. Contrived emotion is a prevarication. It is unnatural and hardly supernatural. It is the difference between looking at a beautiful picture of the Grand Canyon and standing on the edge of it in real life. True emotion is a genuine product of true experience.
Second, the afterglow of awe and wonder is joy. Joy is the result of the manifested presence and work of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), who is the Spirit of truth (Jn 16:13). Truth brings the Christian joy, and it strengthens him, body and soul. Simply put, the Christian is moved by truth.
The invigorated Christian is vibrant. She knows who and what she believes, and no additives are necessary. She finds nothing deficient in Christ, either. He is enough for the eyes (Heb 12:2), for the mind (Col 3:2), for the hands (1 Jn 1:1), for the feet (Rom 10:15), and for the heart (Heb 10:22).
My dear reader, first examine yourself to determine whether Jesus Christ really is the centerpiece of your life experience, both mind and emotion. Do you sing, “He has made me glad!” If you claim that Jesus is Lord of your life — your all-in-all — then ask, “What does that look like in practical reality?”
In your quest for the knowledge of the truth (double-check that this is your quest) are you also pursing love (1 Cor 14:1)? Truth delights the mind, but the experience of love delights the heart. Both truth and love must be the God-version, not cheap imitations. Have you been looking for love, even some truth, in order to bolster your hope, in order to keep you going?
Here is your test. Truth is for the mind and love is for the heart. Love is the result of the indwelling Spirit in the heart (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 5:5). Truth is the result of the Spirit of Christ loving us, in giving us the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), which is expressed as the Word of God — the Bible. If it is not the Bible that is moving you in life and worship, you are functioning on a cheap substitute provided by your adversary.
Lacking something? Pray to God for wisdom to discern the truth, as it is in Jesus (Eph 4:21), and as it is found in your growing in the knowledge of Him (2 Pet 3:18). The guarantee of God’s Word is that if you have the truth, it will truly move you. Consider the emotions of the various writers of Bible books. These men of God were moved in a mighty way by the truth revealed to them by God.
May God move you to open your Bible, to read, meditate, and marvel at what is revealed to you. If you are somehow enjoying the Bible in your mind, but it is not transforming you then pray that God would move His Word to your heart, too. If you are not reading your Bible and delighting in Sunday sermons and worship, then whatever is moving you apart from God’s Word is a cheap trick.
The endless loop of God’s Word of truth, moving you into a vibrant life of worship, coupled with a wonderful experience of the Spirit, driving you back to His Word for understanding, is the authentic Christian life. Live it with true emotion, body and soul.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 24, 2022