Faith, facts, and history (Hebrews 6:13-20)

What distinguishes fact from opinion?  The question came up recently in an op-ed piece which highlighted something from the common-core curriculum for second grade.  The curriculum made the distinction as follows:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested and proven.

Opinion: What someone, thinks, feels, or believes.

What do you think?  For the op-ed columnist, Justin McBrayer, this division between “fact” and “opinion” has only contributed to our children’s inability to ask and answer moral questions.  Why?  Because, McBrayer notes, the definitions above create a false division between fact and opinion.  Can’t opinions be informed by facts?  And can’t our interpretations of facts be influence by our opinions?  Granted, the teaching was aimed at second graders, but McBrayer was able to stump his son:

Me: “I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that a fact or an opinion?”

Him: “It’s a fact.”

Me: “But I believe it, and you said that what someone believes is an opinion.”

Him: “Yeah, but it’s true.”

Me: “So it’s both a fact and an opinion?”

The blank stare on his face said it all.

(Justin P. McBrayer, “Why Our Children Don’t Think There are Moral Facts,” in The New York Times, March 2, 2015)

For many, faith occupies the broad realm of “opinion.”  It’s something we believe, sure, but it’s hardly something we can test or prove.  Atheists such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have built a cottage industry from accusing religious believers of being “deluded” and believing in spite of the lack of evidence.  You’ve surely heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?  It’s a mythical creature concocted by atheists to mock religious belief—after all, you can’t disprove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster any more than you can disprove God.  Though atheists remain a small minority, many apply such similar reasoning to say that no religion can really “get it right.”  Right?

But this confuses the whole issue.  If you study philosophy long enough, you can eventually convince yourself that it’s impossible to know anything (!).  We might, after all, just be plugged into a giant computer like in the movie The Matrix.  But obviously, some things are more reasonable to believe than others, right?  Ah, there we are.  Knowledge and faith might better be placed on a larger spectrum—one in which yes, some beliefs have greater warrant than others.  There may be greater warrant for believing in God than a Flying Spaghetti Monster, and there may be warrant for believing the words of Christ are true.

For Christians, this saves us from turning faith into a flying leap into the dark, or reducing Christianity to blind faith.  Instead, faith rests on the secure promises of God.  These aren’t opinions formed by feelings or personal thoughts, but a promise made from God to man long ago.  So the writer of Hebrews now turns to the story of God and Abraham:

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose,  he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which lit is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,  having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:13-20)

You recall the story?  In 2000 B.C., God reached into human history to save a man named Abram.  Do you recall what Joshua would later say?  He said: “your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods” (Joshua 24:2).  Abram’s family worshipped other gods—presumably the moon gods prominent during that era.  So if God saved Abram—later giving him the name Abraham—it wasn’t because of the purity of Abraham’s devotion but because of God’s great blessing and promise.  And if you read Genesis, you get a glimpse of how God sealed this promise:

7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.   (Genesis 15:7-10, 17)

What’s going on here?  In context, such practices reflected the magical rituals of Akkadian civilizations.  But the symbolism here is striking.  It’s as if God is saying: “If I fail to keep my promises to you, then let me experience the same fate as these dismembered animals.”

When the writer of Hebrews draws from this tradition, he’s telling us at least two things.  First, he’s reminding us that—like Abraham—our salvation has always been something God accomplished for us, never by us.  Second, he’s reminding us of the unchanging promises and character of God.

So when we consider the nature of faith, we must therefore remember that we aren’t basing our lives on the fearful uncertainty of spiritual speculation.  Instead, we rest on the certainty of God’s amazing promises.  Our beliefs are anchored in historical encounters with a living God—all of which ultimately point to the greatest encounter of all, Jesus, the true and greater high priest.  This is what forms an “anchor” for the human soul—all other forms of spirituality and thinking only reflect the person asking the question.  Christian faith anchors us, secures us, and gives us hope.

It matters (Hebrews 6:9-12)

Is religion a good thing or a bad thing?  Now there’s a question that cuts both ways.  Many people today would answer with some variation of: “It’s good for the individual but bad for society.”  That is, religious belief may offer significant psychological benefit, but when religious belief is forced on others it’s bad for society as a whole.

For many, Christianity has become sort of the opposite of the American Express card—whatever you do, leave home without it.  A generation or so ago, Christianity was much more prominent in our social landscape.  But in today’s post-Christian America, Christianity has become virtually synonymous with intolerance and oppression.  So much so that non-Christians lament the power that Christianity has tried to exert in the political and social worlds.  In a recent article by Frank Bruni, he affirms the right to religious liberty all the while asserting that such liberties should not extend beyond the doorsteps of the church:

“I respect people of faith. I salute the extraordinary works of compassion and social justice that many of them and many of their churches do. I acknowledge that we in the news media, because we tend to emphasize conflict and wrongdoing and hypocrisy, sometimes focus more on the shortcomings of religious institutions than on their positive contributions. And I support the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts. But outside of those places? You must put up with me, just as I put up with you.” (Frank Bruni, “Your God and My Dignity: Religious Liberty, Bigotry, and Gays,” in The New York Times, January 10, 2015)

Now that Christians are collectively viewed as the problem, not the solution, it’s tempting to feel discouraged by this collision of values.  Christianity has sparked centuries of progress: think of all the art and charitable work inspired by Christianity over the years.  Yet today such advances are glossed over in favor of condescending reminders of Christianity’s darker expressions, namely the Crusades or the (selective) defense of slavery.

In a pivotal scene from Saving Private Ryan, a German tank is bearing down on Captain Miller’s (Tom Hanks) position.  Worn out, deprived of his primary weapon, he pulls out a pistol, and starts taking shots at the tank—with obviously no effect.  If you seek to live out your faith in today’s world, if you seek to share the good news of the gospel, then you may begin to feel a bit like Captain Miller vs. the tank.  Your every word returns ineffective, and in return you’re only further embattled by those who reduce your faith to a position of bigotry and intolerance.

As we’ve noted previously, the readers of Hebrews occupied a world dominated by the competing values of honor and shame.  In such a world, Christian faith was looked down upon.  So when the author of Hebrews issues a “warning” about the possibility of falling away from the faith, he does so also with the encouragement that yes, despite all appearances, their faith matters.

9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9-12)

His message remains clear—if not repetitively so.  Endure.  Why?  Because while there are plenty who fall away, there are many more reasons to keep pursuing Godliness in an ungodly world.  We have the assurance that while our words may seem wasted on our friends and neighbors, God does not “overlook [our] work” or our “love…shown in his name” (v. 10).

If you’ve ever worked out—whether running, lifting weights, etc.—you know the physical feeling of resistance.  Resistance builds strength as your body works against it.   I discovered not long ago that as much as I enjoy running, I enjoy everything about it except the actual “running” part.  I love thinking about my next goal.  I love the feeling of accomplishment I get after.  But during an actual run, it’s hard to think of those things when you’re just trying to make it up another hill, or the next mile.  Spiritual resistance is like that.  We experience it.  We feel it.  But we also have the assurance that when we persevere God blesses our efforts.  And that’s an important distinction—that is, allowing God to bless our efforts rather than expect our efforts to “work” on their own.  After all, this whole section has been something of an interlude in a larger passage talking about the superiority of Jesus.  If our efforts have any impact at all, it’s not because of our greatness, but the power of the gospel.

Notice as well that we are encouraged to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (v. 12).  We need each other.  We need the church.  The impact we have won’t be a result of a spiritualized Lone Ranger routine.  We need a band of brothers and sisters, men and women to come along side us and share their stories, their frustrations, their successes, their failures—all so that we, too can be assured that the gospel has an impact larger than any one of us.  In short, we need to replace our idol of “efficiency”—that my efforts will routinely “work”—with the promise of “effectiveness”—that God will bless my efforts through His power.

In Saving Private Ryan, Miller’s pistol rounds do no damage to the exterior of the tank.  It’s only when an allied plane flies overhead and destroys the tank from above that Miller is spared from the tank.  If you’re feeling much like Captain Miller, armed with only your pistol against a raging culture, then you have two truths you can lift from the Hebrews passage above.

First, God has placed you with a whole team of friends and family who wish to share this journey with you.  You neglect your church family only to your own peril, and you nurture your church family only to your mutual benefit.

Second, try to hang on.  The battle isn’t over yet.  God’s promises will one day explode before you—before all of us—and reveal truth in a great firestorm of restorative justice.  And on that day we can confidently say that we, too, have had a part in the building of this great Kingdom, though only through the power of God working through us.



Secure or not? (Hebrews 6:4-8)

Just a few weeks ago the popular website The Gospel Coalition posted a quote to their Facebook page.  The quote was from pastor John MacArthur, who said: “If you could lose your salvation, you would.”  The quote sparked a firestorm of debate.  Some of the comments were firm, yet respectful.  Other commenters fell significantly short of loving.

It’s an important question, one whose responses could easily fill whole libraries.  And it’s also the sort of question that defies a middle ground—we must either answer “yes” or “no.”

Why should this matter?  For some, these sorts of questions might seem to only elicit the kinds of in-fighting that makes you wonder if Christians really have any love at all (!).  To be fair, it’s certainly true that well-meaning Christians can get in fights over points of theology.  If I ever needed proof that the devil is real, it’s that theology students can get in fights over the definition of “love” (no, seriously).  Yet the way we answer this question reveals our view of God’s character, and it also sheds light on personal situations we all may have witnessed.  Because surely you may have known someone who seemed such a strong believer—growing up in youth group, serving on missions trips, listening to worship albums, etc.—who now seems to have abandoned their faith as they’ve grown older.

The question is raised by today’s passage from Hebrews—a passage that appears as part of the larger warning expressed in Hebrews 5:11-6:14:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.  (Hebrews 6:4-8)

Does this passage teach that a Christian can lose his or her standing with God?  Let’s explore both positions.


First, let’s admit that this is the most natural reading of the Hebrews text.  John Wesley—who strongly believed that losing one’s salvation was possible—called this a “plain relation of fact.”  The various descriptions used here seem hard to separate from someone who really, truly is a Christian.

Yet if we examine the text more closely we can see that while this might be the case, it’s not really a necessity.  The word “enlightened,” for example, has a range of meanings in both Jewish and Greek culture.  The Greeks might have associated it with their own mystery religions, while Jews would have understood it in light of God’s provision of light in the desert.  Other evidence suggests it might only have referred to Christian baptism.  So it’s hard to connect this word directly to Christian salvation.

But what about having “shared in the Holy Spirit?”  This seems perfectly clear: only a believer can share in God’s Spirit, right?  The Greek word (metochos) can indeed mean a direct connection, as it does in Hebrews 3:14 where believers are said to “share in Christ.”  But the same word is used elsewhere to refer to Jesus’ earliest followers—some of whom were fishermen by trade—working together on their boat (Luke 5:7).  So the word may refer to close intimacy, but it may equally be used to describe work associates.  In other words, there’s no conclusive evidence in this passage to indicate that the people referred to are, in fact, genuine Christians.

Further, Wayne Grudem notes that the image that follows in 6:7-8 seems to also indicate that these folks were less than true Christians, because they never bore actual spiritual “fruit:”

“When we recall the other metaphors in Scripture where good fruit is a sign of true spiritual life and fruitlessness is a sign of false believers…we already have an indication that the author is speaking of people whose most trustworthy evidence of their spiritual condition (the fruit they bear) is negative, suggesting that the author is talking about people who are not genuinely Christians.”  (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 796)


Those who say “no we can’t” have approached this passage from several different perspectives, which we’ll address in reverse order of their popularity:

  • The situation in Hebrews was historically unique. No one outside the first century culture can commit this type of sin—whatever it exactly was.  But the sin doesn’t seem terribly unique.  People wander from the faith all the time.  And besides, why should we assume this position when we assume other letters (such as Philippians, Colossians, etc.) do apply to us today?  It’s not surprising, then, that few hold this position today.
  • It’s purely hypothetical. The writer of Hebrews must be saying: “This is what could happen in you could lose your salvation.”  This is a little better, but for one thing, that’s pushing your theology into the Bible, rather than letting the Bible speak for itself.  Further, if it’s merely hypothetical, it really takes away the force of this warning, does it not?
  • Loss of rewards. The writer of Hebrews is referring to those whose loss of conviction leads to a loss of future, heavenly rewards, as well as the joy of fellowship here on earth.  This is a more popular position, but it’s hard to quite fit “rewards” into the passage as it stands.  Still, this view takes the warning quite seriously.
  • They were never saved to begin with. This is the most popular view, one that simply says: “The people in view aren’t necessarily Christian, therefore if they ‘fall away’ from the faith it just proves they never really were Christians to begin with.”  This view harmonizes well with other scriptures, such as when John tells his readers that some “went out from us but were not of us” (1 John 2:19).  What sense might we make of the warning, then?  That our only true assurance of salvation is a lifetime of faith.

I personally take the latter view, though I’m sympathetic to those who see a “loss of rewards” here.  Wesley, of course, hated this idea, calling it “fallacious reasoning.”  And I must admit, if this passage in Hebrews was all we had, I might be inclined to agree with him.  But thankfully we can measure this passage against the entirety of scripture, where we find other passages that read:

  • I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
  • For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)
  • he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:6)
  • For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

I believe these passages clearly teach something called “eternal security.”  Does that mean I believe “once saved, always saved”?  The answer is a resounding “no.”  Why not?  Because I agree with the “always saved” part—I just disagree with the “once saved” part.  The term “saved” is a carryover from our revivalist heritage, particularly of the 19th century.  In scripture, salvation is something that takes place over a person’s lifetime—beginning in justification (being declared righteous) but proceeding through sanctification (being made righteous) and culminating in glorification (being totally righteous).  God extends mercy to a variety of people—just think of the thief on the cross.  But the Hebrews warning seems to stress that our surest sign of salvation is a diligent, lifelong commitment of faith.


But wait, doesn’t the text say that restoration is “impossible?”  What do we make of that?  Even if you believe that salvation is something you can lose, you have to wrestle with a God that does not welcome his children back—and that’s a harsh warning indeed.  In his commentary on Hebrews, Peter T O’Brien writes:

“What is meant by this?  It does not imply that God does not have the power to bring back an apostate, since he is the one ‘for whom all things and through whom all things exist’ (2:10), and his word is able to shake the foundations of the universe (12:26).  But he may refuse to restore an apostate.  To say that it is ‘impossible’ for God to lie (6:18) does not suggest that he lacks the power to lie, but that he refuses to do so….By not restoring those who commit apostasy, God allows their firm decision to stand.  He does not force men and women against their obstinate resolve but allows them to terminate the relationship.”  (Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, p. 225-6)

If this sort of thing makes you nervous, then the warning in Hebrews has had its effect.  I realize we can’t solve this difficult question in so short a space, but you may already be aware of the dangers of both extremes.  If you believe that yes, salvation can be lost, then you face the danger of judging others—particularly their outward behavior—under the guise of “inspecting their fruit.”  The end result can turn into a works-righteousness, which is ultimately the opposite of what Hebrews is trying to convey.  If you believe that no, salvation is forever, then you face the danger of taking your spiritual life too lightly, taking God’s mercy for granted, and treating salvation as a form of insurance to cover your behavior.

Both extremes are alien to the text of Scripture, and both are alien to the character and mercy of God.  One thing is for sure: we live in a world where it’s both easy and tempting to stifle our growth by abandoning our faith.  What Scripture is saying here is that your life—your character, your actions, your decisions—matter in the grand scheme of eternity.  What impact are you leaving?

Spiritual food, Instagram, and a culture of “Likes” (Hebrews 6)

A funny thing’s happened in recent years.  It seems as if people have shifted away from eating their food in favor of taking pictures of it.  Through the magic of the “smart phone,” we can take a snapshot of our meal and upload it to the social media platform of our choice.

Why?  Good question.  Among the reasons for the trend is the promise of receiving “likes” on your pictures—confirmation that your meal (or at least its digital likeness) caught the attention and envy of all your followers.

Technology isn’t a bad thing.  But some forms of it—or some uses of it—cater towards a form of expression without reflection.  And without reflection we stunt our ability to grow.  We’re left instead to find new and better forms of self-expression: How can I “edit” myself to fit in with others?  How can I manipulate you into liking me?  Psychologists tell us that “emotional maturity” is defined by the ability to give and receive love.  But in a culture of “likes,” our penchant for self-expression not only halts our forward progress; it shoves us back into emotional immaturity.  In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, Jonathan Franzen tells us that such forms of self-interest are ultimately counter-productive:

“…liking, in general, is commercial culture’s substitute for loving….But if you consider this in human terms, and you imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center….If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are….The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.” (Jonathan Franzen, “Liking is for Cowards; Go for What Hurts,” in The New York Times, May 28, 2011)


In our series we’ve been emphasizing the ongoing need to “endure,” to hold fast to the gospel in a world that is open to spirituality in general yet hostile to Christianity in particular.  If you were with us last Sunday, we looked at two passages (4:14-5:10; 7:1-28) that illustrated Jesus’ superior ability to unite us with God—something no human priest could ever do.  Yet sandwiched between those two passages is another “warning” section.  At first it seems out of place—why interrupt his flow of thought like this?  But remember the genre: yes; Hebrews is a letter, but the letter contains content from a sermon or perhaps a collection of sermons.  Those who study ancient speeches note that many times speakers would vary their content like this just to keep their listeners’ attention (I guess this was before Power Point was invented).  By inserting this warning passage here, the author is reinforcing the need to keep going in a culture that mocked their beliefs.  So now the author of Hebrews turns his attention to the concern for spiritual growth:

 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is fa child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

What was happening?  Apparently the readers of Hebrews were guilty of measuring their growth by the surrounding culture—the ancient equivalent of finding their worth through Facebook “likes.”  Notice the metaphor he uses here: of milk and solid food.  The author is saying that spiritual development—like all human development—is about improvement and transformation.  Yet how is spirituality anything like food?  It’s simple, really.  With food we have only two real possibilities: we are nourished, or we starve.  There’s nothing in between.   Likewise, we either grow in Christian maturity, or the soul shrivels.  Our ability to love God and neighbor shrinks.  We slide backward into immaturity.

Yet I’m sad to report just how much contemporary Christian culture can serve as an enemy to this process.  In the late 90’s, Gary Burge wrote an article for Christianity Today called “The Greatest Story Never Read.”  He laments the loss of Biblical literacy across all age groups—particularly our nation’s youth.

“I have asked youth leaders whether their students were learning the content of the faith (solid theological categories) or the stories of the Bible (the chronology, the history, the characters, the lessons).  One remarked, “It is hard to find time.  But I can say that these kids are truly learning to love God.”  That is it in a nutshell.  Christian faith is not being built on the firm foundation of hard-won thoughts, ideas, history, or theology.  Spirituality is being built on private emotional attachment.” (Gary M. Burge, “The Greatest Story Never Read: Recovering Biblical Literacy in the Church, Christianity Today, August 9, 1999). 

The last line says it all: “private emotional attachment.”  Only a few years later social analysts would give this a slightly more descriptive (though elaborate) name: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.  That’s kind of a mouthful, but it’s really as simple as this: it means that I believe God exists, but he’s not terribly involved in my life other than to make me feel better when I’m down, teach me right from wrong and—if I obey well enough—make my dreams come true.

If this attitude truly characterizes today’s young Christians, it should come as no surprise that they would abandon their faith.  For some, it’s because Christianity failed to provide them with personal fulfillment.  For others, if God is here to make my dreams come true, then why not find some other way of making that happen?

So how do we respond to the warning here in Hebrews—or in our own backyards?  We could tighten our grip.  We could become more disciplined.  In many cases, a renewed focus on the text of Scripture could be a welcome remedy.  But we must be careful that we don’t replace a faulty view of God (he offers me fulfillment) with another (we must live up to his standards).

The writer of Hebrews writes this:

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.”  (Hebrews 6:1-3)

I’m sad to say I could find extremely few English translations that reflect the Greek grammar here.  A better translation would be to say: “let us…be carried on to maturity…”  Do you see the difference?  In the first translation (“…go on…”) it implies personal effort.  In the second translation, it implies something that happens.  Spiritual growth is something that happens not by me, but in me.  Growth isn’t a product of good works and sweat equity—it’s an incredible work of grace.

Yet let’s not take that to mean that you and I are wholly passive—just passengers along for the ride.  On the contrary; the writer emphasizes that as we grow in faith, God “permits” us to apply the gospel to every aspect of our lives.  It might not be too far a stretch to say that God does all the work, but we reap the results by responding in faith.

Getting “likes” on tonight’s dinner is no substitute for love.  Nourishing yourself with the feast of God’s word provides far greater satisfaction.  Personal expression is an unending quest for acceptance.  But personal transformation is an unfolding life of joy.