Friday, January 14, 2011

"You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own truth"

There is an extreme danger in not being real in our relationship with the living God. The soul abhors a vacuum, and if it is not satisfied by the Divinely ordained means of life and reconciliation with God (the Cross, 1 Cor. 1:18), then it will default to what we call, for lack of a better term, pietism (religion rooted in feeling or experience, rather than faith).

Pietism is simply that means by which men and women, outside of saving faith, strive to  satisfy spiritual needs and desires by illicit means - means which are always experiential, and always opposed, to simple faith.

Interestingly, it appears that pietism even has her politics. 

On the left would be the secular pietist who tries to satisfy the spiritual void by new age spiritism (which is actually "old age"), or by chemical assist, or by commune with nature or the natural. Again, pietism is always experiential, and strives, knowingly or unknowlingly, to satisfy the spiritual by means of the natural, and to satisfy the walk of faith by means of a feeling or an experience. It is anything but the true way of God which is always by faith (Hab. 2:4; 2 Cor. 5:7). 

But the right also has her pietists, and these would be of the religious sort. Here, you will have the "orthodox" with her various means of trying to feel God rather than believe in Him and His Word. Her means may be by way of crucifixes, or icons, or asceticisms, or smells and bells, or even religious theater in various poses of "sacrificial reenactment" or "naming and claiming it."  Nevertheless, it is all just another form of experience substituting for faith, of mystical "feeling" usurping the rightful place of turning from self to the life of God via faith.

The warning of Holy Scripture concerning the end of the church age was that we would find ourselves in a world which would have a "form" of godliness, but which would, at the same time, be completely void of religious power and vitality (2 Tim. 3). It would have image; it would have experience, it would have the appearance of spiritual prosperity (Rev. 2-3), but it would be vacuos; it would be dead. We are there.

But the Divine antidote and alternative to pietism is clearly stated immediately following the Scripture warning of religious form. For God simply says:
"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" 2 Tim. 3:14-15
Notice, the protection against being deceived by pietistic experiences and feelings is the very Word of God, which leads to faith - the very antithesis of pietistic emotionalism. Or, as God says over and over, in so many ways, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7; Isa. 7:9 NIV).

Luther, the anti-pietist and reformer, said it well when he penned, "Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture." He well-knew that it would be Scripture, in the common vernacular of man, which would free man of the dungeon of his foolish carnal notions to the glorious liberty of the Sons of God.

Scripture warns that it is easy to miss true religion and salvation, and even says that "few will find it" (Matt. 7:13-14). No doubt, much of this is because man continues to insist that he approach God by his own opinions and sentiments, rather than in obedience to God's Revelation and Truth (Isa. 8:20).

Listen to these "lighthouses" of Divine Revelation:
"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." Isa. 7:9, NIV
"Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have  come short of it." Heb. 4:1
"For whatever is   born of God  overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith." 1 John 5:4

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