Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Secret to Happiness

"Nothing betrays our deepest theories more eloquently than our practice."
-R.C. Sproul,
Knowing Scripture

There are many Christians who make comments like, "I don't need to know doctrine, I just want to know the practical stuff." The problem with this is that when we don't have a solid foundation, the walls we build aren't sturdy. These "practical" walls are walls that buckle when the winds of opinion shift. When someone else comes along selling a different version of common sense, built not on the Word of God, but on men's opinions, we'll fall for that, because we don't know our faith well enough to tell what's from God and what's not.

This kind of Christian inwardly groans when challenged to begin diligent, intentional study of the Word of God. Sproul called this person a sensuous Christian,
"one who lives by his feelings rather than through his understanding of the Word of God. [This Christian] cannot be moved to service, prayer, or study unless he 'feels like it.' His Christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. ... He constantly seeks new and fresh spiritual experiences and uses them to determine the Word of God. His 'inner feelings' become the ultimate test of truth."
While Christianity is not merely an intellectual and thinking faith, it is that. We are not meant to enter into faith solely through emotions and strong feeling. We are to approach faith in Christ with our hearts AND brains fully engaged. Sproul puts it this way:
"The Christian life is not to be a life of bare conjecture or cold rationalism; it is to be a life of vibrant passion. Strong feelings of joy, love, and exaltation are called for again and again. But those passionate feelings are a response to what we understand with our minds to be true."
Recently, Oprah and others have lauded a book called "The Secret," which is really no more than an overhaul of age-old New Age and Pagan beliefs. But the Bible identifies something other than following human feelings as the key for happiness.

Sadly, among Christians, and even pastors, we will find advice dispensed that is people-pleasing, but entirely contrary to the Word of God... "Yes, Mrs. Jones, go ahead and divorce your husband despite the fact that you are without biblical warrant, for I am sure you will never find happiness married to a man like that."
"If there is a secret, a carefully guarded secret, to human happiness, it is that one expressed in a seventeenth-century catechism that says, 'Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' The secret to happiness is found in obedience to God. ...How can we be obedient if we do not know what it is we are to obey? Thus, the top and the tail of it is that happiness cannot be fully discovered as long as we remain ignorant of God's Word."
Our happiness rests on our knowledge of and obedience to the Word of God. The more we stray from it, the more our lives will be in disarray; and the more we cling to it, the more our lives, even if full of challenge and suffering, will be characterized by a contented happiness that only God can give.

Most Holy God, give us a desire for your Word. Help us to make it a priority today and every day. Let us hear it and learn it ourselves so that we can teach our children and encourage others with it. Give us a passion to know and obey Your Word.


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