When it comes to emotions it is easy to jump into conclusions as to how important are these in the every day life. We have on one side those who rely completely on emotions even when making big decisions in life. From deciding what to eat, what movie to watch, what clothes to wear, to the extent of deciding who to marry, or what career to pursue. But before we are too quick to judge those who live in an emotional rollercoaster, we can’t miss out those that rely completely and absolutely on knowledge and nothing else. It is as if they were made of steel; no emotions at all. In other words, everything becomes technical with no room for feelings or emotions. Everything is based on knowledge, the problem with this approach is a lack sensibility to the world around, a coldness which many times can lead to hurting others, or even themselves.
So what is the limit as to the extent of relying on emotions? Let’s first understand what we mean by emotions. There are positive emotions, which include wonder, elation, tenderness, joy, and surprise, while negative emotions are fear, disgust, anger, sadness, anxiety, and depression (Meier, pg. 73). According to Meier, Americans rely on emotions more so than people in other cultures. We can see the results of overreacting on feelings in broken homes, and families as well as the lack of commitment to institutions including the church. We must understand that feelings are not only a reaction to something. Many times they are the cause of an action, in other words, we act upon feelings and we also react with our feelings. To rely solely on feelings is certainly not the biblical way to approach life. In fact, the Bible emphasizes knowledge over feeling (Sovine 1988). And as Meier mentions, the Greek word for “feeling” occurs only twice in the New Testament, while “knowledge” is found 491 times. This doesn’t mean that emotions are neglected in the Bible, in fact, many emotions are emphasized in Scripture which may be an indication that there is a middle ground between emotions and knowledge. Without going to deep into all the specifics about emotion theories, and concepts, we can see that emotions play a very important role in our lives, we can’t neglect or deny them completely in fact it is impossible to do that even for those that rely only on knowledge, and we must not overemphasize their importance because as we know, they can lead to trouble.
Emotions, no matter how much importance we think we give them, are responsible for a lot of the things we do, the way we act, and how we face life. When it comes to happiness for example, it is hard to determine if happiness leads to success, or if success leads to happiness. We will all experience some kind of trouble in life. Dealing with happiness and success, a study shows “happy people are capable of experiencing sadness and negative emotions in response to negative events, which is a healthy and appropriate response”. (Lyubomirsky). According to this same study, happiness does lead to behaviors that often produce further success in work, relationships and health, and these successes result in part from a person's positive affect. But even though this study shows that happiness has a great influence in leading to success it is not the only factor necessary to do so. In many cases, intelligence, family, expertise and physical fitness, can also play a role in people's successes.
There are those who claim that by changing our thinking we can tweak our feelings. For example, in his new book "The Emotional Life of Your Brain," Davidson lays out his explanation for why meditation and other "neurally inspired behavioral interventions" can help people tweak their own emotions in search of happier, more productive lives. Can this be possible? I can’t help it but be reminded of Romans 12:2a “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. I find interesting that in the mid-1970s, there was hardly any research on emotion — it was hardly considered a field when in the Bible is evident that emotions are important. Trying to make this paper completely focused in psychology without any Christianity is almost impossible for me, because I see that most answers are found in Scripture. However, even research confirms the necessity of meditation, which in our case is one made in God’s Word and promises.
Happiness can be found by changing our mentality and thriving to succeed, but what about the bad times? Why do some people suffer physical and mental breakdowns when faced with overwhelming stress while others seem to thrive? Some suggest that emotions are not solely dependent on our thinking; in other words, emotion might not just be relegated to the brain's basement? This simply means that even when making bigger decisions in life, we most likely will consult our emotions even after approaching the situation with calculus knowledge.
Emotions are important regardless of how we approach life, too much relying on them we can overreact, and on the other side we can pretend we base everything on knowledge and calculus when in reality we are suppressing God given emotions to the extent of becoming cold. The best way to handle emotions, especially for those claiming to follow Christ, is by renewing our minds though God’s Word. We may still struggle with some difficulties, and hard times, but that’s when faith comes in, and faith should not be based on emotion but on the knowledge that God is God no matter how we feel.
In this paper, I will approach a question that has draw the attention of many believers in Christ, it has brought separation and debate at some extent. Yet, Christ continues to be preached, people to be saved, and the church is still moving forward. The question is, can I lose my salvation? I will try to prove biblically that even though we can’t do anything on our own to earn salvation, we are called to take care of that salvation and walk in holiness, which is in a constant relationship with God through Christ empowered by His Spirit. In order for us to understand the question, we must come to agree as to what salvation is, and how it is attained. The Bible says that Salvation is the restoration of the relationship between a Holy God and us. Sin separates us from God, and the only way to cover that sin is through blood which Christ shed for us at the cross providing salvation for everyone who believes in Him. His sacrifice is sufficient to save the whole world, but it is contingent upon the acceptance of it. The Bible says that we are saved through grace by faith, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV)
From this standpoint, there is common agreement in the fact that we can do absolutely nothing to earn our salvation, it has been freely given to us (Eph. 1:6), and many believe that just as we can do nothing to earn it, we can do nothing to lose it. I don’t doubt God’s love, grace, and sufficiency to save us. But God is also a just God, and if He had to send His Son to die on the cross to make those who believe in Him righteous before the Father, it would not make sense that we could go back to our old ways of living after accepting His grace. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul talks about God’s grace as an enabling power to live a righteous life before God, and also to fulfill His purpose of reaching out to the lost. Why would he allow such grace to empower Him, if such empowerment was not necessary to maintain his salvation? Paul also talks about running a race in Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) To finish a race you must persevere, remain in the track. This does not mean that there will be no times of struggle, or battles, or even weaknesses when we drift from our goal, but when that happens, we should allow God’s grace to empower us to seek Him once again, and restore our relationship with Him. But to deliberately sin and believe that there will be no consequences to the point of even loosing our salvation is a dangerous and risky belief. Paul also calls us to “work out our salvation with fear”
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12-13, NIV)
Paul also makes great emphasis in crucifying the flesh, and leaving behind the old nature. Just as Christ was crucified, we are also to crucify our flesh.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)
Once, again, why should we not abuse the grace if there is no consequence? I do believe that there is security in our salvation as we continue in the faith, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Col. 1:23, NIV). There is a condition in this verse to remain free from accusation, and that is to continue in the faith. The great news is that as we continue in the faith, He has promise to help us, and work in us (Phil. 1:6). Not only Paul calls us to remain faithful, to finish the race, to not abuse grace. But in the very words of Jesus we are warned also to produce fruit, 1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4, NIV).
Matthew 7:21 says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”. We can’t place the seriousness of our eternity in a mere confession without fruit, without perseverance in the faith, and without repentance and turning from sin as more light is revealed to us through God’s word. I would even question that if this happens may be we were not really saved in the first place, but that may cause another debate or argument. The question remains, can we lose our salvation? More than arguing with the answer I would emphasize the need to understand when are we really saved? From scripture we can see than not everyone who even perform miracles in the name of the Lord will be saved. May God help us to know Him, seek Him, and remain faithful to His word. His grace is sufficient, Christ sacrifice is enough, and His love was manifested on the cross, it is up to us to receive it, and live a life that pleases Him empowered by His Holy Spirit, motivated by the cross, abiding in the Father’s love. I would say that the term itself, “losing salvation” is wrong, we can’t lose salvation, because we are talking about a relationship with the living God. We either have a relationship or we don’t. The question then should be, am I having a relationship with Christ daily, or am I not? The answer, only God and us individually know.
The Bible, OT and NT, has been questioned for many years. The Christian fait has been victim of several accusations regarding its veracity and reliability as a historical document. Some how, the Bible has been able to survive and advance against all criticism. The amount of evidence we find and have to support what the Bible says goes far beyond what any other ancient document has. The evidence is not only archeological, but also scientifically validated. When compared to other religions one particular characteristic separates Christianity and makes it different. Not only the amazing stories from the OT, but the NT and particularly Jesus Christ is what came to change the course of religion forever. Many try to discredit the Bible but when they find themselves without any strong prove to do so; the most common thing to do is attack the person of Christ, his claims, and his resurrection. Many have tried to label Him as a great teacher or a great prophet, others of not being God, but when we read what Jesus said, and who he said he was, we have no other choice than to believe that He was the Son of God, otherwise he would be a liar and made the greatest scam in history. One of the most fascinating particulars of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection makes Christianity different from other religions, not only because of the resurrection itself but also because of the amount of evidence to prove it.
As I mentioned before, the Bible is a historical document, the NT is validated by not only the Bible, but other non-Christian sources validate what the Gospels say happened. “Quite simply, we have more witnesses to the text of the New Testament than to any other ancient Greek or Latin literature” (Strobel, pp. 215). Between Greek, Latin, and other languages we’ve got 25,000 to 30,000 handwritten copies of the NT. When we talk about the resurrection, we are not relying on anything else but in the evidence found in the NT. After having explained in a few words how the Bible is reliable, we have no other choice but to believe what it says about the resurrection.
Through history it has always been admitted that the tomb was empty, Jews have only tried to explain why the tomb was empty. Trypho, a Jew, said in the second century:
“One Jesus, a Galilean deceiver …we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven” (Dialogue with Trypho, by Justin Martyr).
This is only one of many examples that talk about what happened from an outside point of view, but that makes sense with what the Bible says. So if we have an empty tomb, validated by non-Christian sources, what choices do we have to explain such thing? Resurrection? Body was stolen? The Bible, since it is historically reliable, gives answers to the empty tomb.
At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the Jews were under the Roman dominion and the Romans handled the crucifixion of Jesus. If we would say that the disciples stole Jesus’ body, as Trypho described it, we need to explain how the disciples could steal it going over the Roman guard outside the tomb. And if this would have happened, some romans would have known and would have written about the delinquent incident against their authority. The disciples not only would have had to sneak and go over the guard, but also they had to continue to lie about Christ’s resurrection and even die for that lie. All the disciples died and suffered for the sake of Christ, they preached Christ’s resurrection and that brought persecution not only for them but also for Christians and their message. If they had stolen the body of Christ, it is most likely that at least one would have backed up and confessed before being killed by crucifixion, sword, or stoned. To make my point let me compare this to the Watergate scandal. Chuck Colson, former aide to President Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship, went to prison over this scandal. As he explains the Watergate scandal in Geisler’s book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist he says:
“Watergate involved conspiracy to cover up, perpetuated by the closest aides to the President of the United States—the most powerful men in America, who were intensely loyal to their president. But one of them, John Dean, turned state’s evidence, that is, testified against Nixon, as he put it, ‘to save his own skin’” (Geisler, pp. 493).
He later says that this cover lasted only two weeks. Could you imagine face crucifixion as a consequence of hiding Jesus’ body? If Peter could deny Jesus before, couldn’t he deny him now that the punishment was greater? Something supernatural must have happened to give the disciples so much boldness to even die for the Gospel.
So, the disciples could not have been the authors of such scam, but what if someone else removed the body? Someone like the Jewish or Roman authorities. This is totally impossible, if this would have been the case, I am sure they would have produced it for everyone to see. That would have been the perfect condition to discredit Christianity and the resurrection of Christ. As we know, Christianity faced persecution but if they would have been behind the “scam” of the empty tomb, persecution would not have been needed; all they would have had to do is expose the body and embarrass the Christian promoters’ message. All these are theories that try to discredit the real reason for the empty tomb.
The NT also describes many appearances of Christ after the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul gives a list of some of those who saw Christ: Peter, the twelve, 500 brethren at once (most still alive when Paul wrote this), James, and Paul himself. When referring to the 500 brethren, I find interesting that most were still alive when Paul wrote about the appearance of Christ. If they knew Paul was writing a lie, we should have many writings about the scam. But we don’t have anything that contradicts Paul’s account of Christ’s appearances.
It is hard for me not to get spiritual when talking about Christ’s resurrection. And even though I will try to stay in historical facts, I can’t do so without mentioning the incredible transformation that the disciples experienced after Christ resurrected. It not only validates the promise Jesus talked about when he said that they would receive power, but also proves once again that the resurrection was as real as the evidence of the promise. Take Peter as example, the very one that denied Christ, a few chapter later after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the upper room preaches a message and thousands are transformed too. Peter’s life was not the same, he must have seen Christ resurrected, otherwise there is no way he would have had the boldness and courage to die for Christ. And what about Paul? He persecuted the Christians, what could have transformed him in such a way that he turned around to preach Christ resurrected? Only something supernatural; Jesus. Paul’s teachings are still strong foundation in the Church today. Only the resurrection could have had such an impact in Paul’s life.
But probably one of the most incredible transformation is the one from James, Jesus’ brother. I can’t imagine him living and growing up with Christ besides him and doubting him. The Bible don’t talk much about it, but I guess there was some jealousy, who knows. The interesting thing is that after the resurrection, James was also transformed, so changed that he even died stoned for the sake of Christ. Again, only something incredible as the appearance of Christ could have changed him in such a way.
If the resurrection would have been an invention, I believe we would not have seen such an increase and spreading of the Gospel as we saw in the early Church. Many customs changed and persecution took place, but no one could discredit that Christ had resurrected. No prove at all was found. The Jews used to worship on the Sabbath, but we see that after the resurrection, the early Christian Jews started to worship on Sunday’s as part of the resurrection celebration. Easter also was incorporated and the art of the early Christians was now consisting of crosses as remembrance of the resurrection. The resurrection is consistent with Jesus’ life and with all that he said he would do. Immediately after the resurrection, we see a unique exaltation of Christ as Lord of Life. The Christian Church propagation, and growth increased and history changed.
Without the resurrection, Christianity becomes the greater scam of history; such scam has never been proved. So what does the resurrection prove? It proves that Jesus was (and is) who he claimed to be, the Son of God, God in flesh. It confirms the atonement and it shows that He can overcome death.
The empty tomb is not prove enough about the resurrection, even the disciples were not convinced (with the exception of John) that Jesus had risen from the dead. Nevertheless, the appearances erased all doubts and turned the disciples lives into lives of commitment to peacefully preach the Word with boldness.
We need Jesus, and we need an encounter. If I may, I would like to make an application here, many Christians today have not experienced an encounter with Christ. We live in a different time and we must exercise faith since we will not see Christ as the disciples or the 500 did. However, I believe Christ through His Spirit is revealed to those who seek Him. After erasing all doubts about the veracity and realness of God’s word, it is necessary to pray for that encounter and yes declare it by faith but I believe a confirmation will be given to those who seek Him.
I believe in God, in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. I believe He gave his life for me on the cross and that on the third day He rose from the death, that it is only through Him that I can be saved. What a great savior and hope we have in Christ. Not only our faith is what sustains us, but also an incredible amount of evidence that proves that our faith is real and solid. History, archeology, science, all these prove the realness of the Bible, God, Jesus, and His resurrection.
Martyr, J. Dialogue with Trypho.
Strobel, L. (2007). The Case for the Real Jesus. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
Turek, N. L. (2004). I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.