When I was walking toward a small Mexican town in my late teens, I first heard this question, “Hey, Ministro, what church saves?” This person was looking to start an argument. What he wanted me to say was, “The Baptist Church saves.” Then he would have argued that the Catholic Church saves. And he was looking to engage me in a fight over religions and churches.

That question shows a misunderstanding about salvation. Another question is very similar to that is, “Which religion saves?” Here the understanding is that membership in a certain church or a certain religion is essential to be saved.

My answer to that man on the Mexican border surprised him. I said, “No church saves. Only Jesus saves.” Over the years as I have shared the Christian faith with many people all over the earth, I hear the statement: “I don’t want to change religions.” Again, the person who says this thinks that salvation is dependent upon belonging to a church, an organization, or a religion.

Jesus never told us that we needed a change of religion; he said we needed a change of heart. A leading religious leader of the Jewish faith came to Christ one night. The story is found in John 3. A man named Nicodemus was talking with Christ about his signs that showed he was a teacher come from God. Instantly Jesus got the point. “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) notice that Jesus did not say, “Nicodemus, you need a new religion.” Jesus told him he needed a new birth. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

One objection I hear often today is that a person is born into a certain religion in a certain country or culture, and therefore, they do not want to change their religion. They view it as a rejection of their culture or their family. They say, “you have your religion. I have mine.” So, it comes back to the argument of which religion saves, or which church saves?” Still the answer is, “No church saves. Only Jesus saves.”

Today people view religion as any other commodity. In I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, authors Geisler and Turek say that truth in religion is like selecting ice cream flavors. Some will say, “You like chocolate. I like vanilla” (Crossway Books, 2004 p. 21). As if it is just a matter of personal taste. “You like Christianity. I like Islam.” It is not trying to find a religion that suits us.

Jesus never said that we had to pick the right religion. Jesus never said that one religion was better than another. He never said his religion was superior to others, in fact, he never said he was coming to bring a new religion. He said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus did not come to establish a new religion. He did not even come to reform Judaism. He came to be the fulfillment of all the prophecies and sacrifices from the Old Testament. Those sacrifices were a foreshadowing of his sacrifice on the cross.

He said in the same passage where he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He did not say, “whoever joins my religion,” but “whoever believes in him shall…have eternal life.”

Do not let clinging to a religion or an experience rob you of being born again. To be born again, you must trust in Christ alone for your salvation. Joining a church, a religion or an organization can never save you.



We’ve all been there. Sitting in a doctor’s office just waiting. We have already spent more than an hour in the waiting room flipping through outdated magazines looking at photos of people that we will never look like. A nurse calls us into the back where she weighs us and takes other vital signs. Then she leads us into another room with the butcher-paper covered table. There we wait some more while looking at different, older magazines than those in the waiting room.

We wait and wait, an hour past our appointed time. Our blood pressure begins to rise, not because we are ill, but because we are irritated. We begin to think, “My time is more valuable than this. Who does that doctor think he is?” Finally, he comes in, asks a few questions, runs through the ritual, then he writes a prescription and lets us out. He tells us to see the receptionist on the way out. We become irate because he charged an outrageous amount for the little time spent diagnosing us. Then we try to figure out how much that visit made the doctor for an hour of time. We calculate that the doctor is making an inordinate amount of money per hour. We leave the office cursing the health-care system, and we begin to wonder about a more equitable way to pay the doctor.

Derek Halpern uses the illustration of a locksmith to distinguish between paying for time and paying for value. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VhCUHNdijo at 1:50) A locksmith went around helping people open their stuck locks. At first, it took him two and a half hours to open the locks. He charged his clients $250, and they happily paid. As he improved his skills, he shortened the time to an hour, then to half an hour, and finally down to ten minutes. The clients began to get angry because he was charging the same amount of money for the same job. So, they began to gripe because that was making more than $1000 an hour.

The difference was that they were thinking about how much they were paying for his time rather than how much they were paying for his value. The same with the doctor. You do not pay for how much time the doctor actually spends with you. You are paying for the value due to his or her training and years of experience. Value not time.

Now think about your pastor. Should a pastor be paid for his or her services? Many think not, that he or she should just “live by faith,” whatever that means. The Bible says, “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (First Corinthians 9:14). Jesus also said, “The worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). Pastors and ministers are to be paid. The question is how much? I often hear “jokingly,” “You only work two days a week, and only half days at that.”

When you pay a minister, what are you paying for? Time, or value? A recent article on http://www.theatlantic.com talked about the decline in the numbers of full time jobs for ministers. It has come to the point that some are having difficult times trying to pay back their student loans. (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/higher-calling-lower-wages-the-collapse-of-the-middle-class-clergy/374786/) Many ministers have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, myself included. Often the spouse has to work as well. When a church calls a minister, they should ask themselves, “What are we willing to do to support our minister?”

So, the question remains, “What is it worth to have a full time, seminary-trained pastor? Are you going to treat him or her as an hourly employee, paying by the hour? Or are you going to pay by their worth? If we were to be honest with ourselves, many church budgets do not reflect that they truly value the minister. Some members spend more on fancy coffee on the way to church than they put in the plate at church on Sundays.

Ministers do not punch a time clock. Much of ministry takes place outside of “office hours,” and much of it takes place outside of the office itself. I have had church members over the years tell me, “We want to find you in your office!” Doing what, I wonder. How much time can be spent studying the Bible for sermon preparation?

When I began pastoring almost thirty years ago, personal computers were a rarity and cell phones only for the elite. Now a pastor is not tied to a desk waiting for the phone to ring when a member calls and needs to talk. Over the years I have served, however, the majority of the calls came from salespeople rather than members.

So what is it worth to you to have a full time, seminary-trained pastor? Is it valuable enough to your church to make sacrifices in other areas to compensate your minister adequately? Another way to look at it would be to ask yourself, would you work for this salary?

Ministers’ families have the same needs as yours. He or she may have student loans to pay off as well. Seminary is not cheap as it is not subsidized like public universities. Money does not just fall out of the sky and into ministers’ bank accounts any more than it does into yours. That is not what living by faith means.

What does your church budget say about how much you value your minister? Jesus said that the worker deserves his wages. That means value, not time.

Salvation Lost?

Another term people use to explain “falling from grace” is talk about losing one’s salvation. Like falling from grace, this idea means that persons can become believers in Christ by grace through faith, but through sinful, disobedient, or disbelieving actions, can somehow lose their salvation. Still no one has been able to tell me when that happens. This teaching again makes maintenance of one’s salvation dependent upon the person who receives it. It may come by grace, but it must be maintained by religious works and avoidance of certain behaviors, which the group decides are unacceptable.

The apostle Peter wrote that God “has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1: 3-5). What is that inheritance? Four places in the New Testament, Jesus talks about inheriting eternal life. (See Matthew 19:29; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25; Luke 18:18).

Eternal life is the inheritance. Notice how Peter described it: incorruptible, undefiled, not fading away. These terms speak of the quality of this inheritance. It does not become corrupt with time, as metal corrodes. It does not become polluted or adulterated with impurities added to it. It does not diminish or lose value as earthly investments do. He also said that it was guarded in heaven, and that believers are kept by the power of God because of faith so that the salvation will be revealed in the last times. There is no one stronger than God who can guard our salvation.

In my upcoming book, Evangelism on the Go, I wrote about an experience I had in college. I related how, as I reflected on John 3:16, the word “everlasting” grabbed my attention. I focused on that word for a moment, then I realized something. Everlasting means that it does not end. If a person ever received everlasting or eternal life, and then lost it, it wasn’t everlasting. Jesus did not promise probationary life that is conditional as to how well we hold a certain standard. He promised eternal life, one that never ends. As Peter said, it does not spoil or diminish. God reserves it in heaven for us. God himself keeps us through faith. It is beyond our ability to lose.

John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” Again, Jesus used the word “everlasting.” When a person believes Jesus’ words, and believes in God who sent Jesus, he or she possesses eternal life. That’s the present tense. Not “will have,” but “has everlasting life.” That person also passes from death to life. That cannot mean physical life, because the person does not change physically, and all people die physically. It is speaking of spiritual life, which did not exist before the person believed. He or she was dead in trespasses and sins (See Ephesians 2:1-5).

The only way that a person could lose eternal life and pass back into spiritual death would be to receive a death sentence or condemnation. However, Jesus said that once a person believes in his word, that person will not “come into judgment.” Judgment on that person’s sin has already taken place. There is no further judgment, so, the person cannot lose eternal life and go back to death. Such life would not have been eternal.

Similarly, Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation. You have been acquitted. There is no double jeopardy in God’s court. Jesus paid for all your sin once and for all on the cross (See Romans 6:10, Colossians 2:13-15, 1 Peter 3:18; and Hebrews 7:27, 9:12; 10:10). Your debt has been paid in full.

How does a person become “in Christ Jesus”? In Ephesians 1:13, Paul wrote, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” You become “in Him” after hearing the gospel and believing in Him.

Believing the gospel requires repentance (Mark 1:15). Repentance is a change of mind and heart toward sin. Believers are to die to sin and live in it no longer. (Romans 6:2). Christ died for us so “that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) Does that mean that believers can say they believe and then act anyway they want? Paul’s response would be, “May it never be!” (Romans 6:2 NASB). We are to live in sin no longer.

When we repent, we acknowledge our sinfulness and turn away from it. We turn to Christ in faith believing He died for our sin and rose again. As an act of gratitude, we live the rest of our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). Once salvation is found, it cannot be lost. So, let’s live like a grateful saved, person rather than a lost one.


In the early 1960’s, a space-age cartoon came out on Saturday mornings. Many of my generation can probably remember the theme song to “the Jetsons.” Each episode started with George Jetson taking his family out on his way to work. Each member of the family slid forward in the seat. Beginning with his boy, Elroy, and moving on to Jane his wife, George somehow snapped his fingers over their heads, a shield encased their seat, and they rode safely to school or the shopping center respectively. Each jetted off in complete confidence and safety in a protective bubble to their world that day.

Many people often have this same idea about being a Christian. They feel that somehow becoming a follower of Christ causes God to place a protective bubble around you, and you can jet through life with no problems. You will never lose your job or a loved one. You will never be poor or sick. You will always have the victory, and nothing will be able to keep you down.

If you ever experience any of those kinds of problems, it means one of two things: 1) you have unconfessed sin in your life, or 2) you simply don’t have enough faith. Either way, the problem is yours. You only experience hardship because you have down something wrong.

This same erroneous thinking took place in Jesus’ day as well, while walking through the streets one day, Jesus’ disciples noticed a man blind from birth sitting by the road. They asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?” Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, “This happened so the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-2). The disciples had concluded that the man suffered from blindness due to his own or his parents’ sin. Jesus said that neither was the case.

When a Christian, especially a minister suffers from some tragedy, critics often want to point fingers and find blame. What did that person do? Is there some hidden sin? Is there a lack of faith? There must be for a person to experience such tragedy. We often think that God is just sitting up in the sky glaring down at us so he can zap us if we aren’t 100% perfect.

God does not place some spiritual bubble over us when we begin to follow Christ. In fact, in some ways, we become more vulnerable because the world often attacks Christians. Jesus basically said, “If they hated me, they will hate you as well” (Matthew 10:22; 24:9). Around the world, Christians today are being persecuted for following Christ. Christians suffer hardship and loss as well. Paul also told Timothy to “endure hardship” in his ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). In 2 Timothy 3:12 he wrote, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with a parable about two builders, one wise, the other foolish. The wise one chose to lay his foundation on a bedrock while the foolish builder laid his house’s foundation on the sand. A storm arose and descended upon both houses. The one built on the rock withstood the storm while the one built on sand collapsed. The storm was the same in both cases. The difference lay in the foundations of each house.

Jesus compared these two builders to ones who had heard his word. One put it into practice, the other one did not. The storm came on both of them. The one who put Jesus’ words into practice was not exempt from the storm. The difference was that one person’s reaction to the word. He chose to build his life upon the word.

When you become a follower of Christ, your life will not necessarily be any easier. It may bring trouble and persecution your way. If you build your life on Christ’s words, you will eliminate some problems from your life because you will make wiser choices, but he also said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ may not shield you from the storms of life, but he will go through them with you.

What Does the Bible Say About Falling From Grace?

“You have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:4

You often hear this quote from church groups that believe that it is possible for people to lose their salvation. They will tell you that this means that a person can live like a believer for many years, attend church, tithe, and perform all the outward works of a good Christian. At some point, the person “backslides” and loses his or her salvation. They either commit some egregious sin, or perhaps a large number of lesser sins, and they fall from grace. In all the years that I have discussed this topic with those who believe in falling from grace, no one has ever been able to tell me what that point is. How does a person know when he or she falls from grace and loses his or her salvation?

One of the major themes of the Book of Galatians is the conflict between the doctrine of grace and works. Paul wrote Galatians in response to the movement of the Judaizers. This false teaching arose from a group of people who felt that it was necessary for people to become Jewish before they could become Christian. This meant that males would need to undergo the ritual of circumcision, which had been a standard mark of being Jewish or an Israelite for centuries going back to the time of Abraham.

The question of circumcision was one of the first controversies of the early church. The record of the Jerusalem Council is found in Acts 15. Verse one explains the controversy. “And certain ones came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” Paul and Barnabas “had no small dissension and dispute with them” (verse 2). The question went to the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem to deal with it.

The Apostle Peter testified at that council about his dealings with Cornelius, the centurion of the Italian (Gentiles) Regiment (Acts 10). He gave as evidence the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles without their being circumcised. Peter concluded, “God shows no partiality” (verse 34). The Jerusalem Council rendered their decision and wrote a letter to the Gentiles: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.  If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29).

Notice they said nothing here about circumcision, Sabbath worship services, animal sacrifices and Jewish feasts. This would have been a good time to have said, “Look guys, if you want to be good Christians, you must be circumcised as we are. You must do church on Saturday as we do, and you must observe the Passover and all the other Jewish feasts as we do. If you do these necessary things, you will be good Christians as we are.” Remember Peter’s question at the Jerusalem Council: “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). Not even good Jews could be good-enough Jews. Why then demand that Gentiles become Jews first?

We cannot keep the law. That is the point that Paul is making in the Book of Galatians. In Galatians 4, Paul compared the Law to a guardian to have authority over the son until he matured. The guardian took the son to be trained. He pointed the way to his teachers. The Law was never meant to save. It was only meant to point out our need for a Savior. Dealing with a similar problem in Colossians 2, Paul pointed out that laws regarding festivals, New Moons, and Sabbaths were “only a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17).

For Christians, trying to be saved by observing the Law is very dangerous. The Apostle James wrote: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (2:10). If you are going to emphasize going to church on Saturday, then you are obligated to keep all the Sabbath law, not just Saturday church attendance. The Commandment reads: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-10ff). Notice it does not say to work five days and have a two-day weekend. You must work six days. That is the commandment. If you fail in one point, you are guilty of breaking it all.

These same principals can apply to many man-made requirements today. Acts 15:1 “Unless you…, you cannot be saved.” You fill in the blank. Unless you get baptized, go to church, take Communion, speak in tongues, wear certain clothing, read the Bible, tithe or whatever you want to add to it, you cannot be saved. That is what Paul meant by falling from grace. It means the exact opposite of what groups use it for today. They say unless you keep our list of rules, you will fall from grace as though we maintain grace by our own ability. In fact, Paul wrote that ones who are fallen from grace are precisely those who come up with lists of saving activities.

The rest of Galatians 5:4 reads: “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” In verse 1, Paul referred to the observance of the Law as a yoke of bondage”. He wrote that if anyone submitted to circumcision as a basis for salvation, that person was obligated to keep the whole law (verse 3), “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10).

“Falling from grace” is a club that is often used to beat people into submission to a group’s distinctive marks. It compels people to regular religious activities and compliance with group standards, but it leads to a yoke of bondage. Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. Stop trying to please people. Relax in Christ. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).


After Christ’s resurrection, he met his followers on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. One morning he asked them if they had any fish. Peter told him that they had been out all night without success. When Jesus told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, they hauled in a large number of fish.

Peter realized who it was on the shore and jumped overboard to swim to him. After eating breakfast, Jesus turned to Peter and asked, “Do you love me?” Each time when Peter said yes, Jesus told him to feed and tend his sheep. That is what a shepherd is to do.

At Pentecost when the church was born, Peter preached the first sermon. He explained to the crowd what was happening at Pentecost. Then he proceeded to talk about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. At the end of his presentation he pointed out, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). He squarely blamed them for crucifying Christ. They asked what they should do. Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (v. 38). He did not sugar coat the reality of their crime and their need. That is how you feed the flock. You give them the word of God even when it is unpleasant.

In the 1970’s, however, a shift began to take place. In an effort of make church “relevant,” pastors tried different techniques to get people to come in the doors. One pastor went so far as to do a survey where he asked people what kind of church they would want to attend. Using that information, he set out to build a church that unchurched people would attend. Rather than call them to repentance as Peter did, this built the church  on the principles and desires of unregenerate people. The goats started coming in to the churches and crowding out the sheep.

Churches began all kinds of activities to keep the goats coming in so that they could pay the bills. This is not new to our time. Charles Spurgeon recognized this trend more than a century ago. “An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_cbaMBoDac).

Churches today go to great lengths to get people to come into their buildings trying to win them. They have contests and entertainment, concerts, clowns, drama, motivational speaking, life enhancement sermons, and entertainment evangelism where they discuss popular television programs from the sixties, but they are afraid to preach the gospel for fear of offending the goats. Spurgeon said, “Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church.” Christ said to go into the world and preach the gospel, not to placate the goats so they will feel comfortable. Spurgeon commenting on the crowds leaving Jesus in John 6: “I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow.’”

Using carnal means to attract people only attracts carnal people. Watch Paul Washer’s video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w3qZjp3jYU) Whatever you use to get people into your church, you will have to top next time to get them to come back. You will continually have to outdo yourself to keep entertaining the goats, because they are not coming for the right reasons. The church cannot compete with the world on the same level, because it lacks the financial resources that the entertainment world has, so we come off as a cheap imitation.

Pity the poor sheep of the church who languish and go without food as the pastor runs off trying to amuse the goats so they will come back. Sheep need feeding and tending, but many are starving spiritually. Pastors need to return to tend the flock that God gave them and quit trying to appease the goats who will only be separated from the sheep at the judgment. Remember Paul Washer’s words, “If you use carnal means to attract people, you will only attract carnal people.



Living By Faithfulness

One frequently misunderstood Bible passage is Romans 1:17, which states: “The just shall live by faith.” Some interpret that to mean that you do not need to plan for the future, you just have faith and everything will work out. The summer before I entered seminary, I found myself in the living room with some sales prospects to purchase insurance products. Since I was in training as an insurance salesman, I simply observed the whole process. The conversation turned to me as the mentor was explaining to the prospects that I was about to enter seminary. They asked me why I was learning to sell insurance if I was going to enter seminary. I told them that I needed to make a living somehow while attending class. They literally asked me, “Can’t you just live by faith?” I said, “I have to live like everyone else. The money has to come from somewhere.”

Several years later as I was conducting a Bible study class for young married couples, one of the young men asked me, “Why don’t we all sell everything we have and just live by faith?” My answer was the same. The money has to come from somewhere. People think that if you just “live by faith,” money just somehow magically appears in your bank account allowing you to pay your bills. So, what is faith? Just believing something and hoping it comes to pass?

Imagine farming by faith. A farmer lies in his hammock every day believing that one day he will reap a harvest. He actively visualizes his crops. He does not cultivate; he just farms by faith. He does not plant; he just farms by faith. He does not irrigate; he just farms by faith. It does not matter how strong his faith is or detailed his visualization is; he will still not reap a harvest if he skips all the steps necessary for a harvest.

Romans 1:17 quotes a passage from Habakkuk 2:4. There the prophet says, “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Psalm 96:13 uses the same Hebrew word, but translates it as “faithfulness.” Living by faith is not living with no cares, and hoping that circumstances will somehow work themselves out. It is not living by emotions, passions, or impulses over which you have no control. It is not capricious living doing only what you feel like doing. It means being faithful despite feelings. In Sentimentality or Spirituality, I wrote about persons who were driven by feelings and passions. If they do not feel like doing something, they simply do not. They only do what they feel passionate about.

Living by feelings can lead to depression. For example, Christians may struggle with feelings of acceptance by God. Since they do not feel close to God, their feelings lead them toward sadness. Rather than trusting by faith what God has said in His word, they rely on their own feelings. Believing your feelings rather than God’s word is calling God a liar.

If you feel that God has not accepted you, you are not living by faith. Ephesians 1:6 says that God has called us to be adopted as his children, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” His word said that he has made us accepted in Christ. We are accepted in Christ. If I do not feel accepted by God, then I am the one at fault, not God or his word. I am not a child of God, dearly loved and accepted by him because of what I feel is true. It is so because his word says so. To follow my feelings and feel depressed is to call God a liar.

Living by faithfulness means living according to God’s word and promises regardless of how I feel about circumstances. When you begin to feel depressed or anxious, go to God’s word and find a truth to trust. If you feel anxiety, for example, go to First Peter 5:6-7, which says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (NKJV). Focus on the meaning of these words. You are to humble yourself before God, casting all your anxiety on him. Trust what it says, then go to God in prayer and do that.

If you feel guilty about sins you committed in the past, turn to First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NKJV). Focus on what it says. If you have confessed your sins to him, he has cleansed you from all sin. This should eliminate guilty feelings. Believe what these words say and act accordingly.

Living by faithfulness means living to please God despite how you feel. Rather than following your heart, or your emotions, focus on the facts of God’s word. Several years ago, Campus Crusade for Christ put a diagram in one of their tracts. It was a drawing of a steam engine train with three parts. They labeled the locomotive Fact, the coal car Faith, the passenger car Feelings. They said that the engine could run with or without the passenger car.

Another book used a similar drawing. It showed three people walking along the top of a brick wall. The first was Fact, the second was Faith and the third was Feeling. The book said that if Faith kept his eye on Fact, he would not fall off the wall, but if he looked over his shoulder at Feeling, he would fall off the wall. Remember that Christians are to live by faithfulness, not feelings. If you look to feelings for assurance, you will be derailed. You can always trust God’s word no matter how you feel.