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.


Chrystal said...

Found my way here the last couple of days. Not really sure how :) but I am so loving your blog. There is no better feeling than stumbling across a total stranger in the blogosphere and feeling like you've found a friend.

Thanks for laying your thoughts. I am really inspired and look forward to reading more.

dcrmom said...

Wow, Jess. That's an awesome post. I don't know what to say except AMEN!

*~Tamara~* said...

Wow, now that I can finally get back to reading your blog, this is an interesting post to come back to! I can't tell you how much I agree with your last paragraph. It should be in flashing neon lights. (Can you do that on Blogger? :-P) I recently had a conversation with someone, discussing God's expectation for obedience even when we don't think it makes sense or really "applies."

Consider this a big ole "Amen!" from my corner of the room. :-)

heather said...

This is an excellent post! Why are so many Christians wary of doctrine? I find that as I have grown in my understanding of God and doctrine, my faith is more solid than ever. I still have lots (and lots and lots...) of areas to grow in, but as I have grown in obedience, my joy has surpassed anything I have ever known. Doing life according to God's plan just works. By "works" I do not mean it is perfect or we get "our way", rather, there is joy that circumstances don't easily shake.

Isabella in the 21st Century said...

Wow! This was a great post. A Christian life should be characterised by self-lessness. We are meant to serve. How can we forget "self" and learn to serve when we are constantly craving new sensations or in search of happiness...which soon becomes the search for the next "big thrill"? Contentment comes from following God's I'm off to try to forget my "self"...

Lori said...

I found my way here via the LAF site and I'm so glad! You're such an encouragement.

BrideOfChrist said...

What a wonderful post!! I am going to share this with my husband to be...I know he will like it too! You have a great blog...stop by mine some time if you have the chance. You live in central Asia, how exciting! God bless you!