In the last podcast we talked about making truth discoveries for ourselves — owning truth, affectionately clinging to biblical realities, and not just reading about it from others. I’m curious Pastor John, as you read and study the Bible in your own devotional times, is there for you a space between the initial discovery of a truth and your affectionate embrace of it? Is there a process between seeing a new truth and owning that truth for yourself? Or is this something that happens immediately?
Emotional and Intellectual
The answer is yes. Absolutely, it can be immediate. In fact, it usually is immediate. And the reason for stepping back from an immediate experience of something either terrifying or sweet and precious, is that a whole range of emotions may happen immediately when you see something for the first time that you have never seen before. I think the reason you may have to step back from that is that you might not have it quite right.
There might be an aspect of it that you are seeing accurately and an aspect of it that you are seeing inaccurately. Some of your emotions might be spiritually appropriate to the aspect that you see truly and some of your emotions might be mistaken by responding to something you are misapprehending. You need a season to discern whether that is the case or not. It might not be that day. It might be a week later, or it might be five minutes later, when you get out your dictionary and look that word up. And you see, “Oh, it didn’t mean what I thought it meant and all my emotions were based on an error.”
Or you may find that the error based on this text was true in enough texts so that the emotions were real, they were just based on another aspect or another place in the Bible rather than this place in the Bible. I think that is very helpful to get the intellectual support underneath the emotional experience, so that it is confident now. Then, when you speak of it to others or commend it to others, you can commend both the experience that you had and the intellectual warrant for it that you have checked out.
Two Ways to Know
I have got Lewis coming out of my pores right now, and Lewis is so big on the distinction between two kinds of knowing — the knowing of the intensity, say, of sexual intercourse with your wife, and the thinking about that experience and maybe how to bless her more in it. You can’t do both of those at the same time, not when you are in an experience of exquisite joy, or, let’s just say, fear.
“Let fitting emotions rise and glut yourself on the glory of God in any discovery you make in the Bible.”
Maybe you just saw a bear on the front porch of your cabin and your door is not locked. Right at that moment you are not analyzing the nature of fear. You are just fully experiencing fear. Later you can look at it. Lewis is supremely gifted at both of those, and all of us should be, I think, more or less given to both of those.
Let fitting emotions rise and glut yourself on the glory of God in any discovery you make in the Bible. Then later, in the peace and the coolness of your reflective moments, study it out and make sure you saw what you really saw.