Salvation Through Intellectual Assent?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Tom Butler, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Someone very close to me stood before the church recently and confessed Christ as his Lord. He did so because of doubts that he had truly been saved as a child.

    In conversations later he said that he has, since a child, trusted Christ for his salvation.

    "But," he said, "I kept looking for a feeling. I don't feel any different."

    So, the question: Should our salvation experience be accompanied by intense emotion?

    Another question: Have we, by the very language we use in calling people to Christ, made emotion the sine qua non of salvation? We use terms like "invite Jesus into your heart;" "He changed my heart." "Give your heart to Jesus." We understand that in our culture, the heart is the seat of the emotions, and we have made salvation a "heart" decision.

    We also tend to put down "head knowledge" as inferior to "heart knowledge." I've even said "I know in my heart that I'm saved."

    But in thinking about the experience of the one close to me, isn't what we call a "heart" decision actually a "mind" decision?

    If I say, like the eunuch, "I believe that Jesus Christ the the Son of God," isn't that a function of my mind?

    I do understand that one can acknowledge intellectually that Jesus died his sins, yet refuse to repent and trust Christ for salvation.

    So, the questions for discussion is: Can you offer the one close to me some help? And, is there a balance between emotional assent and intellectual assent in the salvation process?
     
  2. Amy.G

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    At salvation a person may or may not "feel" something emotional (although it's hard not be emotional when we realize what Christ has done for us), but their desires will change. They will desire the things of God and want to leave the world behind. As my pastor says, their "want to" will change.
     
  3. Mexdeaf

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    Salvation is an act of God and since God deals with us as individuals each salvation experience will be unique just as were the recorded ones in the New Testament.
     
  4. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Recalling my own conversion experience at age 9, the one emotion I remember most is fear. That's when the Holy Spirit showed me my sin. Suddenly, all those sermons on Hell applied to me, and it frightened me.

    So, weeping, down the aisle I went. My pastor asked me a series of questions to determine my understanding. Do you understand that you are a sinner? (Yes). Do you understand that the consequences of sin is Hell? (Yes) Do you understand about trusting God for your salvation? (Yes) Do you trust him alone to save you? (Yes). Okay, sit down over there.

    I don't remember feeling any great joy. Relief, maybe. In fact, I wept with joy over my father's conversion than I did my own.

    Over the past 63 years, I have come to a better understanding of what God did for me on that day. I have seen many people come weeping. I have seen many others come and say matter-of-factly, "I believe."

    A fellow deacon underwent a similar crisis of faith a few years ago, and concluded that he had never been saved. It took a while for him to work through that because he's quite analytical. He was one who told the one close to me "if you're looking for a big emotion, it's not coming."
     
  5. HankD

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    We are all different. Our sensitivities are different.

    Children have shorter histories of sin and their "feelings" coming out of conviction of sin are usually less intense than adults who have wallowed in sin for decades.

    Those who are saved as children should be happy that they don't have to deal with the scars of sin, the ammunition which satan uses against those of us who were his longtime ardent followers.

    We all need to look back on our Christian lives. What has grown up in our garden?

    Galatians 5
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
    23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.​

    "Feelings" or the flesh cannot produce these things only the agape-love of/from our Father.​

    1 John 4
    15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
    16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.​

    HankD​
     
  6. Shortandy

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    Emotions should not be the focal point of determining salvation. While I agree that when the reality of Christ and what He has done sets in a person will have some feelings, those feeling do not equate salvation.

    Intellectual belief is not salvation either....that is the same as easy believism. If I think the right thoughts then I am saved....power of positive thinking and all that jazz.

    I believe the focus for your friend should be on life change. Has a relationship with Christ changed his desires....from desiring sin and lust of the flesh to desiring the things of God? Have the fruits of a sin nature (gossip, slander, lust, lying, stealing, coveting, etc) been replaced by the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc)? Emotions and intellect will conform to a life that has been changed like that.
     
  7. Jon-Marc

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    We are to trust by faith and not by feeling. Feelings change according to the circumstances, but faith planted firmly in the Rock of Ages (Jesus the Christ) will stand.
     
  8. Whowillgo

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    I feel another thing that needs to be looked at is the difference in surrender. I personnaly accepted My Savior as my Savior at a young age but I never allowed the work of the Spirit in the santification process. I accepted a Savior but I did not go on to accept Him as the Lord of my life. Yes I had confession, awareness of the path to hell and a real feeling of His resurection and I was repentant but I quickly turned back to my own path. At a much later age I accepted Him as Lord of this life, although I was so entrenched in sin it is hard to say all of my wants changed I definitely unwent a change that brought shame to me anytime I did sin that I soon found the fun in sin was not the path I wanted.

    Peter gives me much strength, He believed in the Son of God but he still insisted on being the master of his own life, until he wept bitterly in the midst of sin.
     
  9. jaigner

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    Great question.

    The experience is different for everyone, made up by personality and experience and everything else that makes us different as individuals. But I think it is a balance. There are cognitive beliefs that are prerequisite for salvation, but the response that is necessary is the response of the heart/soul, by which I do not mean just emotions. Emotions are cloudy things that can be affected by physical circumstances, mental or mood disorder, or a lot of other people.

    For some people, the moment of salvation is altogether clear in their minds. They instantly feel the change. But not everyone is this way. There are a number of Christian people who simply cannot point to the time and place of their salvation, but they know it has happened along the way.

    I guess, simply put, though there are very important consistencies between people's salvation experience, people experience it different ways. There are cognitive prerequisites, but emotions don't always follow closely.
     
  10. saturneptune

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    This has been used before, but is a good analogy. The difference between joy and happiness is huge. For the Christian, joy is always there, regardless of what happens. Happiness comes and goes with circumstances.
     
  11. Allan

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    It is interesting that the word 'happiness' didn't even exist, I believe, until the 13th century. It was called the 'haps' or berrer refering to your 'happenstance' or what we call 'circumstances' Thus if you were 'in the haps' you were doing well or were 'happy'.

    Therefore happiness speaks to the emotional state of a person at the moment or in the circumstance.

    Whereas joy speaks to the state of being irregardless of the circumstances.
     
  12. saturneptune

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    That is correct. Joy is associated with the soul, the eternal, the real you. Happiness is shallow, fleeting, and worldly. I think any of the fruits of the Spirit could be considered like joy with a feeling to describe an emotion similar. For example, one might take the fruit of Love as eternal, and use the word affection or attraction as a surface emotion. Maybe the word Peace down deep inside is assoicated the sureness of your relationship with Jesus, and a word for the emotion would be contintment, or things are going well, which can change in an instant.

    That would probably be a good sermon or paper, comparing all the fruits of the Spirit with human emotion.
     
  13. Allan

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    Then preach it brother! :thumbs:
     
  14. Aaron

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    Haven't read the thread.

    My advice to him is not multiple confessions and baptisms, but prayer. It's the Holy Spirit that bears witness to one's spirit that he is a child of God. If he is truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness, he will be filled.
     
  15. bodyofchrist32

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    The Word of God describes the heart as "decietful" and "wicked", therefore you cannot rely on a feeling for assurance of salvation. The true test is a changed life. If the Spirit of God dwells within a person, there will undoubtedly be a change, according to Paul, and the persons newfound faith will manifest itself in works, according to James. Advise your friend to examine himself. 1 John is an excellent book to use for this examination, by the way.
     

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