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STAYING TRUE

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Facts, Faith, Feelings

Dear Friend,
Have you ever wondered why your faith seems to be strong at times and at other times it seems to be weak? Have you wondered how you could increase your faith?
Have you ever wondered why your feelings are so changeable? Have you wondered what you could do about your feelings?
These are questions that we all have at one time or another. In this lesson we are going to try to answer these questions. We are going to learn one of the most important principles in the Christian life—the principle of Facts, Faith, and Feelings.

Facts! Faith! Feelings!

These words stand for three aspects of the Christian life that are vital to us. It is important to understand them. It is even more important that we get them in the right order and keep them there.
God's order is:
Facts,
Faith, and
Feelings.
Facts form the foundation; faith rests on facts; and feelings come last.
For most people, feelings are the guiding factor in life. If they feel something, they think it is real. If they do not feel anything, they think it is not real. But this is not according to God's order.
Others try to put faith first. They think that if they have enough "faith," they can make anything come true. But this is not God's way either. God wants us to have faith, but our faith must rest on His Word; otherwise it is of no value.
God's order is always the same: (1) Facts, (2) Faith, and (3) Feelings. We are going to consider each of these three aspects of the Christian life so we can better understand how they affect our lives.

What is a Fact?

A fact is something that is true. For example, two plus two equals four. This is a mathematical fact. It has always been true. It will always be true. It is true in this country, and it is true anywhere in the world.
Your believing it does not make it true. It is true even if no one in the world believes it.
We need to get this firmly fixed in our minds—facts are always true. You may not believe a fact, but it is still true. You may not feel that a fact is true, but it is still true.
For example, we know that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again to be our living Savior. We know this is true because God's Word says so. A person may or may not believe this, but it is still true. God's facts are always true.

What is Faith?

The word "faith" is used in the Bible 239 times! This shows us the importance God places on faith.
What is faith? Faith is taking God at His word and acting on it.
God said it!
I believe it!
That settles it!
The Bible makes it clear that all the blessings of God come to us by faith. Without faith we cannot please God. The Bible says,
"Without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
As important as faith is, it cannot stand alone. It must rest on something, and that "something" must be true. This is why our faith must always rest on God's Word. Jesus said, "Your word is truth."
Now let us look into God's Word and learn more about faith.

*Faith deals with the unseen world

Faith deals with things that are real but unseen. We cannot see God, but by faith we know that God is real. We cannot see Heaven, but by faith we know that there is a real place called Heaven. The Bible says,
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
This means that faith is the way we "prove" the reality of things not seen. We cannot see the things of the spiritual world, but we know that they are real by faith in God's Word.

*Faith makes spiritual truths real in our experience

We must understand this: Our faith does not make God's facts true. They are true whether we believe them or not.
Then what does our faith do? Our faith in God's facts makes them real in our experience.
The Bible contains many wonderful promises of God. But they do not become ours until we claim them and make them ours by believing God's Word.
As we said before, it is a great fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins. God promises eternal life to all who believe on Him. But Christ does not become your Savior until you exercise faith in Him.
When you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and you take Him as your Savior, you experience salvation. Faith in Christ makes God's salvation real in your experience. You can then say, "I am saved!"

*Faith believes God's Word

Faith believes God in spite of unfavorable circumstances. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is Abraham.
When Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were quite old, God promised them that they would have a son, and Abraham believed God.
Fifteen years passed, and God's promise had not been fulfilled.
Humanly speaking, it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have a son. Yet Abraham continued to believe God. In due time God gave Abraham the son He had promised to him. The Bible says of Abraham,
"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform." (Romans 4:20-21)

*Faith obeys God

Faith and obedience go together. True faith always results in obedience. Believers are obeyers! The Bible says,
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, OBEYED; and he went out." (Hebrews 11:8)
To say that you believe something and yet not act on it is not faith. True faith believes God and it obeys God. Faith that does not obey God is not living faith. The Bible says,
"…faith without works is dead." (James 2:20)

*How to Increase your Faith

You may say, "I would like to have more faith. What can I do to increase my faith?"
Faith grows by constant, careful attention to God's exact statements of fact in His Word.
A great man of God, D. L. Moody, prayed and prayed to God to give him more faith. But his faith did not seem to increase. Then one day he read this verse:
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
In a flash Moody saw it—faith comes from the Word of God. He began to study God's Word. He studied it carefully each day to see exactly what God was saying in His Word. He believed it and he applied it in his life. The result was that his faith grew and grew.

What are Feelings?

Feelings are emotions such as joy, sorrow, happiness, and sadness. We should understand that feelings are quite different from facts in that facts never change, while our feelings are almost always changing. The state of our health affects our feelings. Our relationships with other people affect our feelings. Even a change in the weather can affect our feelings.
You may wonder why we chose a football shape to represent feelings. The reason is that our feelings are so changeable. There is a saying, "You don't know how the ball will bounce." That's the way your feelings are. You don't know how your feelings will "bounce."
One day you may be full of joy. The next day, for no apparent reasons, you may be sad and depressed. The important thing to remember about feelings is this: Feelings are very changeable. For this reason we should never try to rest our faith on our feelings.
A Christian lady was using the Bible to explain the way of salvation to a young girl. The girl was confused. She said, "I believe in the Lord Jesus, but I thought I had to wait for a certain kind of feeling or some burst of light or something."
The lady pointed to some verses in God's Word and said, "Here's all the light you need." The girl put her faith in God's Word and found the peace and joy she had been seeking.
No matter how much our feelings may change, they do not affect facts. Facts are always true, and they are true regardless of our feelings.
For example, suppose you get a letter from a reputable law firm advising you that a wealthy relative has died and left you a large sum of money. Suddenly you are rich! You may say, "But I don't feel like that money is really mine." Perhaps not, but nevertheless it belongs to you. It has been left to you, and it is yours regardless of what your feelings may be.
Many sincere people seek for salvation but they do not find it because they are looking for some kind of feeling. Feelings do have a place in the Christian life, but they do not come first. Instead, they follow facts and faith. The Bible says, "He who believes on the Son has the witness in himself." Note the order: First, we believe; and then we have the witness of the Spirit in our heart.

How to Handle your Feelings

There are times in the life of every Christian when he feels discouraged and depressed. Even the great Apostle Paul went through times like this. In 2 Corinthians 1:8, Paul wrote,
"For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life."
What should you do when you become discouraged? The thing to do is to turn your attention to God's Word. Read and meditate on such wonderful passages as Psalm 23, Romans 8, and Philippians 4. As you give careful attention to what God says in His Word, you will find new faith and courage springing up in your heart. The Bible says,
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)
In living the Christian life, we are not to be overly concerned with our feelings. We are not saved by our feelings and we do not live the Christian life by our feelings. We live it by faith in God's Word. If we have enjoyable feelings, we thank God; if not, we go right on believing and obeying God. Faith in God's facts is the way to a happy and blessed life.

The Principle of Facts, Faith, Feelings

We have discovered one of the great principles of the Christian life—the principle of facts, faith feelings. The principle is this: Always put your faith in God's facts and let your feelings come along as they will.
God's promise: This is my fact.
I believe it: This is my faith.
God fulfils it and I enjoy it: This is my feeling.
God's order is always: (1) Facts, (2) Faith, and (3) Feelings. Facts form the foundation; faith rests on facts; feelings come last.

How to be Sure you are Saved

Dear Friend,
Are you troubled with doubts about your salvation? Perhaps you have gone forward in a meeting, prayed, and asked Christ to come into your heart, and yet you are not sure about your salvation.
You say, "Sometimes I feel like I have been saved, and other times I don't feel like I am a child of God If only I could be sure of my salvation!"
You can be sure! God does not want you to go through life wondering whether or not you are a true Christian.

What is a Christian?

First of all, we need to find out what a Christian really is. If someone were to ask you, "What is a Christian?" what would you say? Perhaps you would say, "A Christian is a person who reads his Bible, prays to God, and goes to church." You would be quite right in saying that a Christian should do these things, but a person can do all these things without being a Christian. Or you might say, "A Christian is a person who lives a good life, helps other people, and does good deeds." Again, a person may do these things without being a true Christian.
What then is a Christian? A Christian is a person in whom Christ lives. He lives in us by His Spirit. The Bible says,
"Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts…" Galatians 4:6
The Bible makes it clear that anyone who does not have this personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not a true child of God. God's Word says,
"Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." Romans 8:9b

How does one become a Christian?

Many people are not saved, they have no assurance of their salvation, because they have never really understood what they must do to become a Christian. The words which best express what we are to do are: (1) Repent, (2) Believe, and (3) Receive. Let us see what we mean by these words.

REPENT—We must repent of our sins.

Repentance is essential to salvation. It is mentioned over 55 times in the New Testament. The Bible says that God "commands all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30)
What does it mean to repent? Repentance is not just being sorry for your sins. Judas was sorry that he had betrayed the Lord Jesus but he never repented. Repentance is not just quitting a sinful act. Some men have quit certain sins, not because they wanted to obey God, but because of personal reasons such as health, business, reputation or family. This is not repentance.
What, then, is repentance? Repentance is a sincere heart sorrow for sin that leads a person to turn from his sins to God to do His will. David expressed true repentance when he said,
"I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies." Psalm 119:59
The Lord Jesus gave us a clear illustration of what it means to repent. He told of a certain man who had two sons. He went to one of his sons and said, "Son, go work today in my vineyard." (Matthew 21:28) The son replied, "I will not!"
The father went to the second son and said, "Son, go work today in my vineyard." That son replied, "I go, sir." But he did not go.
No doubt the father was deeply hurt by the way his sons were acting. But the story does not end here. Something happened in the heart of the first son. Apparently he saw how rebellious and disobedient he had been and how he had hurt his father's heart. He repented of his sin and went and did what his father wanted him to do.
We are like the first son. We have said, "No!" to God many times. We have been selfish and self-centered. We have gone our own way and done our own thing. We have hardened our heart toward God.
In His love and mercy, God uses various means to soften our heart and cause us to turn our heart toward Him. He sends His Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins and show us how sinful and selfish we have been. Sometimes it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. We see how patient and loving He has been with us.
When we repent and turn to the Lord, we find that He is merciful and gracious and most willing to forgive us. The Bible says,
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Isaiah 55:7
Here are some simple questions to help you know whether or not you have truly repented.
When we give up our rebellion and turn our heart toward God, we are ready to believe on His Son and receive Him as our Savior and Lord.

BELIEVE—We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many people believe the facts concerning Christ. They believe that He is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for the sins of the world. But they do not love Him supremely, nor are they willing to obey Him and follow Him. This is not true faith in Christ and it will never bring salvation.
God's salvation is a person—the living Lord Jesus Himself. The Bible says, "He who has the Son has life." (1 John 5:12) We are told to believe on Him:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved…" Acts 16:31
What does it mean to believe on Him? To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ means to believe that He is the Son of God and that He is worthy to be loved, worshipped, and obeyed.
The Bible not only stresses faith but it also stresses love. We must give our heart to the Lord. The Lord Jesus was asked one day,
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus replied, "You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." Matthew 22:37-38
Loving the Lord is not just having certain feelings; it is the definite choice of our will. David said, "I will love You, O Lord." (Psalm 18:1) This is what we should do. Let us lift up our heart to Him and say,
"Lord Jesus, I will love You with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind! You are worthy to be loved, worshipped, and obeyed."
If we truly love the Lord, we will obey Him. There is no such thing as loving the Lord without being willing to obey Him. Jesus said,
"If anyone loves Me, he WILL KEEP MY WORD…" (John 14:23)
The following questions will help you know if you truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

RECEIVE—We must receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior.

To become a child of God, there is something to believe and Someone to receive. That "Someone" is the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must not only believe the facts concerning Him—who He was and what He did—but we must receive Him as our very own Savior. We receive Him by asking Him to come into our heart.
Jesus likened our heart to a house with a door. He said,
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if anyone hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in…" Revelation 3:20
This is true salvation—the Lord Jesus coming to live in our heart. The Bible says,
"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name." John 1:12

Evidences of God's Salvation

If a person has truly repented, believed, and received Christ, there will be some definite evidences of salvation in his life. We are going to consider some of these evidences. As you think about them, ask yourself, "Is this true of me?" God will definitely speak to your heart as you weigh these evidences against your own life.

The desire to share Christ with others.

One of the first signs that a person is truly born again is that he wants others to experience the joy and peace he has found in Christ.

A love for other Christians.

One way we know that we are truly saved is that we love other Christians—those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible says,
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death." 1 John 3:14

Changed desires.

A person who is truly saved has a new set of desires. Whereas in the past, he did not care for the things of the Lord, now he loves them. The Bible says,
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

The witness of the Holy Spirit.

When we are truly born again, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. One thing that He does is to cause us to know that God is truly our Father and we are His children. The Bible says,
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Romans 8:16

The presence of Christ.

Why have all these changes taken place in your life? They have taken place because Christ Himself has come to live in your heart. The Apostle Paul said,
"Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified (not true Christians at all)." 2 Corinthians 13:5
Christ very definitely and very personally comes to live in the heart of every true Christian. The Apostle Paul said, "Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)
Go over these evidences of salvation until you reach a firm and honest conclusion regarding your salvation. Either God's evidence is real in your life and you are saved, or His evidence is not real in your life and you have never truly been born again.

How to Make Sure of your Relationship with God

If you are not saved or you are not absolutely sure of your salvation, you need to make sure.
A young man who lived on a farm often had doubts about his salvation. Thoughts would come rushing into his mind such as these:
Are you sure you have taken Christ as your Savior? Do you know that you are a child of God?
One day he decided to do something to end his doubts once and for all. He walked out by the barn, knelt down, and prayed something like this:
"Lord, if I have never received You as my Savior before, I am doing it right now. Come into my heart, cleanse me from all my sins, and make me Your child from this day forward. I take You as my Savior right now."
Then he took a wooden stake, drove it into the ground where he had prayed, and wrote the date on it. Thereafter, when Satan tried to make him doubt his salvation, he would go to the stake, point to it, and say, "See, Satan, here is the date and place where I received Christ as my Savior. God's Word says, 'He that has the Son has life.'"
If you have doubts about your salvation, why not do as this young man did and settle the matter, once and for all. You can do this right now. Come humbly and kneel before the Lord Jesus. Tell Him,
"Lord Jesus, I do believe that You are the Son of God who died for my sins and rose again to be my living Savior. Right now, I am trusting You as my personal Savior. Come into my heart and take Your rightful place on the throne of my heart. I want to love and obey You with all my heart."
After you have sincerely prayed, trusting Christ as your Savior, make a record of your decision. Write it in your Bible:
"On [give the date] I settled my doubts and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. The matter is finished!"
This can be your "stake" to refer to whenever Satan tempts you to doubt your salvation.

A Final Matter: Understanding but not Willing

If you have fully understood what it means to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and to receive Him, and yet you are still not saved, there is a reason. The reason is that you are not willing to give your heart to the Lord. You are not willing to obey Him.
To help you understand what it is that is keeping you from being saved, consider carefully the following questions:
Is there some sin in your life which you are not willing to give up?Are you involved in a sinful relationship with someone which you are not willing to give up?Are you holding bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart against someone and you are not willing to give this up?Is there some point of pride which you are not willing to give up in order to be saved?Have you committed some sin against someone which you are not willing to make right?
Whatever it may be in your life, if you are not willing to obey God, then it means that you have not repented. You will not be saved unless you change your heart attitude and repent. The Lord Jesus said,
"…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3
You need to turn your thoughts to the Savior who loved you enough to die for you. The Lord Jesus not only shed His precious blood for us, but He also shed many tears over our sins. He lovingly and earnestly warned us of the terrible consequences of dying with our sins unforgiven. Read Mark 9:43-48 (click on link). Let God speak to your heart.
Maybe you are saying, "Yes, God is dealing with me about a certain sin in my life, but I do not see how I can give it up." There is still hope for you if you will come to Jesus. He is the Friend of sinners!
Come just as you are. Kneel down before Him and tell Him the truth about yourself. If you are not willing to give up your sins, tell Him this. If you are willing for Him to make you willing, tell Him this. Do not be afraid to tell Him anything so long as it is the truth. Be absolutely honest with the Lord Jesus.
Do not harden your heart. Instead, put your heart in Jesus' hands. He can change you. He said,
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." John 6:37
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