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Are You Satisfied With Jesus?

August 5, 2009
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A friend and I are reading Beth Moore’s book Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life.  This is the first book I’ve ever read by Beth Moore and I have been surprised at how I misjudged her without reading any of her books. For some reason, I associated Beth Moore with seeker-friendly churches and women’s tea parties.  I expected fluff and chicken soup for the soul, but instead I’ve discovered a woman of deep faith and Biblical knowledge with whom my heart resonates.  I agree with her assessment that many Christians are not satisified with Jesus and that the problem lies with Christians, not Jesus who is absolutely satisfying!  I agree with her that a spiritual war is raging and Christians must fight to be free from areas of captivity in their lives.  Even though the trials I have experienced have been different than hers, I can relate to her journey of finding peace and satisfaction in Christ by surrendering deeply to God in the midst of difficult circumstances.

She asks a question that should provoke soul-searching for all those who claim to be His followers:

Is your soul, your spirit, your inmost place-the real you-entirely satisifed with Christ?

She then expounds upon the biblical meaning of satisfaction by studying several Old Testament Scriptures (Isa. 55:1-2, Jer. 31:23-25, and Psalm 63).  The Hebrew word used for “satisfy” in Isa. 55 means “to have enough, be full…sufficiently”; the word used in Jer. 31 means “to fill, accomplish, the filling of something that was empty…the act of replenishment as well as the experience of satiation.”  David was so satisfied with God that he said God’s love was “better than life” and that his soul was satisfied “as with marrow and fatness” when he meditated upon God (Ps. 63:3).

After examining the biblical meaning of the Hebrew words used for “satisfy”, she shares some additional observations and insights:

The most obvious symptom of a soul in need of God’s satisfaction is a sense of inner emptiness.  The awareness of a ‘hollow place’ somewhere deep inside – the inability to be satisfied…  Does your hungry soul ever manifest physical symptoms such as irritability, selfish ambitions, anger, impure thoughts, envy, resentments, and eruptions of lust? (p. 39)

Since this blog is dedicated to my study of Mormonism, I was wondering if any LDS talks focus on this topic of being satisfied in Christ.  I tried doing a search on LDS.org to see what would come up under the topic of satisfaction/satisfied.

I found a number of talks by former LDS President, Gordon B. Hinckley.  He was apparently satisfied about a few things.   One article was discussing the satisfaction found in marriage and family.  He said some things quite the contrary to the common Christian teaching I’ve received over the years, including the book I’m reading by Beth Moore.

According to Hinckley, “The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage…”

Hinckley went on to say that God intended that our deepest satisfactions be found in our human relationships:

“God is the designer of the family. He intended that the greatest of happiness, the most satisfying aspects of life, the deepest joys should come in our associations together and our concerns one for another as fathers and mothers and children.”

Beth Moore would not agree with this.  She says this regarding her human relationships:

As much as I enjoy my husband, daughters, family, and friends, no relationship in my life brings me more joy than my relationship with God…. He is the absolute joy of my life. I don’t just love Him. I love loving Him (p. 49-50).

Beth Moore’s satisfaction in God is derived from her study of God’s Word and flows out of her intimate relationship with Him.  Writers of scripture and many saints of old have testified of such joy in their relationship with God – a joy that surpasses the joy of even the most satisfying of human relationships.  David testified: “in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).  His soul was most satisfied and delighted in God:

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches (Psalms 63:5-6)

I think most committed Christians would consider it idolatry to find one’s greatest satisfaction in human relationships.  Not that we don’t all struggle with idolatry, but to actually teach that the deepest satisfactions are found in human relationships??  I mean, wow.  And in addition to the idolatry aspect, talk about setting a person up for disappointment!  Nothing fails and discourages me like when I put my hope in human relationships!   Humans are prone to fail and we inevitably fail one another.  But God will never disappoint us.  We are encouraged to set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Col. 3:2).  We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and then He will fill the desires of our heart as only He can (Ps. 37:4).  No human being can fill our heart’s deepest desires and longings.  We were created for an intimate relationship with God!  We are most satisfied when we surrender ourselves to Him and let Him fill us with Himself.  If we do this, we will never be disappointed.  Sure, people will disappoint us and circumstances may seem unbearable at times, but if our hope is planted firmly in God we will never be shaken.  Though we lose everything else, we will always have Him and His satisfying love.

I think there are some underlying doctrinal differences here that may be causing this difference in emphasis regarding what should be considered most satisfying in life. Bible-believing Christians do not agree, on Biblical grounds, with what Hinckley quoted in this article on marriage:

“no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone…”

The Bible, of course, never teaches that marriage is a prerequisite for heaven, but, rather, that it is better if a person remains single for the purpose of wholehearted devotion to the Lord (if they have power over their will and can abstain from fornication – 1 Cor. 7, Matt. 19:10-12). Hinckley’s teaching is contrary to the Bible’s teaching on marriage and exalts the human marriage relationship above a status warranted in the Bible.  Perhaps this is the underlying difference in why he placed such an emphasis on the satisfaction to be found in human relationships and why his descriptions of his experiences with God fail to ignite holy envy in me. For example, in a 1997 interview Hinckley described his prayer life.  He stated that he prayed to the Lord in the night and morning.  He said, “I think he hears my prayers. As he hears the prayers of others. I think he answers them.”

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. psychochemiker permalink
    August 6, 2009 3:26 am

    Pure misconstrual, Jessica.

    But don’t worry, most of us are use to that.

  2. August 7, 2009 6:45 am

    It happens that people on both sides of an issue get excited for the merits of their viewpoint. They may paint a distorted picture of their opponent, whether purposeful or not. It hurts when it happens.

    This happens, for example, with debates between Democrats and Republicans, or Mormons and Evangelicals. We’ve all seen it, felt it, and may have even been guilty of it.

    However, can you show us, how is Jessica’s article misconstrued?

    Are there quotes, in context, that show Gordon Hinckley saying that God, not family, is the deepest longing of the LDS? Even if there are such quotes, are Jessica’s quotes revealing something inherent to LDS teachings or are they not?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe the major point to this article, and to Beth Moore’s book, is to be satisfied first and fully with God and with nothing/nobody else. (Family, church, and friends, etc., are still very important, but of less importance than knowing Christ):

    Phillipians 3:7-11
    7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
    8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
    9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
    10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
    11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

    So, I don’t want to take you, Mormons, Jessica, or Beth Moore out of context or to put words in anybody’s mouth…. 🙂

    Please let us know.

  3. psychochemiker permalink
    August 8, 2009 4:51 pm

    Thesis:
    OK, I should have been clearer. I have not read Beth Moore’s book, and have no idea how well contextualized Jessica’s statements about that book are. What I should have said, in order to be clear, is that her assessment of Mormonism using the search function for one word fails to properly contextualize Mormonism within the conversation that she started about this subject.

    Jessica’s: Theme:
    I agree with her statement that our relationship with Jesus should be a satisfying one, and that if it’s not, ultimately the reason lies with us. I agree with the beautiful scriptures she referenced (I love the Isaiah reference the most). I think all gospel metaphors that involve food are the best (the parable of the pie, which I still need to write well). But I think that the tactic of reducing the concept of these scriptures to one word, and then doing a search of that “one” word, and judging all of Mormonism by one search on one word is very intellectually misleading. I don’t care if Jessica doesn’t have a graduate degree, I think she should still be above that. This type of behavior is exactly what is meant by becoming an offender for a word, something the Bible explictly condemns (Isaiah 29:21). So what I’d like to do, is first rebut the evidence she shows, and then show some evidence that she should have found before writing her rebuke of Mormonism.
    Evidence: An incomplete look at Mormonism.
    By using some very bad scholarship, Jessica presents some quotes of President Hinckley, and then implies by this comparison, that Hinckley thinks humans should be satisfied only by marriage, whereas the true Christian, Beth Moore, thinks humans should recognize that the relationship with God should be more satisfying than with a spouse. So while it is true that President Hinckley did say, “The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage that stands pure and unsullied above the evil of the world”, he never said, nor implied, that this relationship is MORE important, more satisfying than our relationship with God. I interpret Hinckley as saying, between human mortals, (i.e., not comparing our relationship to God) the highest expression of love is found in a pure marriage. Especially having grown up listening to Hinckley’s teachings that our duty is first to God, second to family, third to Church, next to our careers.
    Hinckley, describing what loyalty means: “I think of it in terms of being unequivocally true to the God of heaven, our Eternal Father, and His Beloved Son, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.” May 2003, 58 Ensign.
    One could assume that Hinckley was saying that the relationship between spouses should be greater than that of God, but there’s simply no proof for such a bad assumption.
    While idolatry is certainly a sin, so is bearing false witness. I charge, Jessica, you have committed the sin of bearing false witness on this blog, and against a great man of, servant of, and witness of Christ, and I call you to repentance. It is true that humans will disappoint (case in point, Jessica), and that God is truly faithful to us, and that we aren’t supposed to set our hearts on earthly things.

    The Bible, of course, never teaches that marriage is a prerequisite for heaven, but, rather, that it is better if a person remains single for the purpose of wholehearted devotion to the Lord (if they have power over their will and can abstain from fornication – 1 Cor. 7, Matt. 19:10-12).

    Not quite, jessica. To be fair, you should also quote this out of the Bible: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:11.) This statement certainly says that man and woman are required to be united. It certainly isn’t as clear as the LDS Church’s teachings, but to ignore it, is to be, well, unacademic. Further, Genesis certainly teaches that marriage is what God intended: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:23–24.)

    why his descriptions of his experiences with God fail to ignite holy envy in me.

    And perhaps Jessica, your unfair, unacademic, and dishonest treatment of Mormonism is what ensures I have very little holy envy for anything Evangelical.

  4. August 8, 2009 8:12 pm

    Jessica,

    “Thinkest thou that because thou are virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?”

  5. August 10, 2009 1:35 am

    PC,

    You have accused me of bearing false witness. Please explain how I have done so. I was focusing on one particular aspect of theology – the topic of being satisfied in Christ. If you google “satisfied in Christ” you will find this is a common subject among traditional Christians.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=satisfied+in+christ&hl=en&start=0&sa=N

    I simply went to LDS.org to search for talks on this topic. I came up empty on the topic of “satisfied in Christ” – I could not find any talks on this topic. If you know of any, please advise me.

    Rather than finding anything on this topic, I found the quotes I referenced where Hinckley said the greatest satisfaction is found in human relationships. It’s not bearing false witness to do research on a topic and post my findings. The quote you cited in your comment does not have anything to do with the topic of being satisfied in Christ. I don’t see that you’ve substantiated your claim that I have born false witness.

    I realize we disagree regarding the person and work of Gordon B. Hinckley. It’s one thing to disagree. It’s quite another to falsely accuse someone.

  6. psychochemiker permalink
    August 10, 2009 11:30 pm

    Jessica,
    That’s not a very good defense of your methodology.

    Did you ever think to use some of the synonyms of satisfied in your search?
    Or, heaven forbid, to ask real live Mormons who might speak Mormon speak (when you don’t) to find the right word to search under?

    As long as we’re doing one word searches, The BoM has the word “atonement” in it more times than the New Testament. So Mormons must understand Jesus’ atonement better. See how it feels to be on the receiving end of such bad logic. If I, unacademically, restrict my search to the word atonement, all I’ve really done is show that I may be able to count. But in order to properly contextualize that data, I’d have to do more work. Look at synonyms, parables, ideas, and compare them. Since I know that Hinckley has taught the same principle that you find in the scriptures you quoted, I know he believed the same. But you write a blog thesis stating the contrary using limited, and miscontextualized evidence. It doesn’t reflect poorly on me, Jessica.

  7. August 10, 2009 11:45 pm

    Hi PC,

    I will tell you what reflects poorly on you. This is the 2nd time I have had to correct you for bearing false witness against me that I do not have a graduate degree. I do. So please stop bearing this false witness against me. 🙂

    Now, on a more serious note, you seem to be making the claim that LDS do believe that a person should be most satisfied in Christ and that their satisfaction in Christ should exceed their satisfaction in any other relationship. Is that what you are saying?

    If so, it would be helpful if you would share why it is you believe LDS teach this and to provide some citations for your claim. You indicated that proper scholarship would help one find these sources. Would you please enlighten me? Thanks

  8. August 10, 2009 11:52 pm

    Just a thought I had just now… Jessica wrote:

    “a person should be most satisfied in Christ and that their satisfaction in Christ should exceed their satisfaction in any other relationship.”

    This is a common Evangelical sentiment. But consider this:

    “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these… ye have done it unto me.”

    Which basically means, if you want to have the ultimate relationship with Jesus, you should start with your fellow human beings.

    Think I’ll start with my wife and kids, if it’s all the same to you guys.

  9. psychochemiker permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:21 am

    Let me put it this way.
    I once heard a man say that having a relationship with his wife was more important than a relationship with God. I severely disagree with that, and have never found a quote in Mormonism that implies that.

    I feel that president Hinckley’s quotes do talk about the incredible love and satisfaction that he had in his marriage. I understood, that among human relationships the marriage relationship is supposed to be the most satisfying (and that as a corollarly, if it isn’t you’re doing something wrong). I understand what Seth is saying, one learns to love by loving their family. But there is nothing in Mormonism that allows a marriage to become more important than a relationship with all members of the Godhead. And while we might express this moreso as duty, love, and service, when it comes down to the principle, it’s the exact same one. Duty to God first, then spouse, then children, then church, then employers. It is always possible to serve any of the others without serving God, but it is impossible to truly serve God without serving the others. That’s what I learned growing up at President Hinckley’s knees.

    Jessica,
    Perhaps I should contact the school and ask them if you are following principles that they taught you there, perhaps in statistical analysis or contextualization. Somehow, I think they’ll feel somewhat disappointed. Would you mind telling me what you got your degree in and from what school? If you don’t want me to contact them, I won’t, but I’d still like to know which school, so I can understand how “well” they teach their students.

  10. psychochemiker permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:22 am

    And yes, any spouse who places their spouse above God in esteem is not following the precepts of Mormonism.

  11. Stephanie permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:39 am

    PC,

    Please lie down on the couch while I psychoanalyze you. I’m getting out my cigar right now.

    First of all, permit me to observe that at times you come across as very rude. I’m sure there is cause for this. Perhaps we could go back and look at your relationship with your mother… It also could be supported with evidence that at times you also seem arrogant to the point of being cocky. And to use the phrase that football players love to endorse, “It’s not boasting if you can back it up!” Jessica has suggested that you utilize your contextualization skills and pull up LDS sources that indicate that Mormons are taught to first find their satisfaction in Christ, then in their family, work, etc.

    Stephanie

  12. August 11, 2009 4:03 am

    Without digging into the scriptures, I recall that as young as age 13 I was being taught to put God before all other considerations.

  13. Stephanie permalink
    August 11, 2009 4:05 am

    This is similar to what PC was pointing out , but duty and consideration are atotally different set of concepts than “satisfaction.”

  14. August 11, 2009 4:12 am

    One can naturally lead to the other.

    Evangelicals need to learn to chill out just a touch, and allow people to grow in the Gospel where they are at – even if their paradigms are not entirely optimal.

    Duty can play schoolmaster to devotion.

  15. psychochemiker permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:10 am

    Um Stephanie,
    I was trying to use duty and consideration as the same concept, not different.

    I’ll include my direct quote:

    And while we might express this moreso as duty, love, and service, when it comes down to the principle, it’s the exact same one.

    It’s still a loyalty and love to God first.

    There are numerous scriptures that talk about putting our faith in Christ first, and not in the arm of flesh (which could be my parents, my Bishop, my prophet, my evangelical with whom I banter, my as yet non-existent wife). The scriptures are very clear on this matter, and I feel the prophets have been to.

    Unless you have a degree in psychology, Stephanie, I’d suggest you don’t quit your day-job and keep out of my head. I’m only pissy when people data-mine and only seek out data that supports their thesis, by using poor statistical search methods, and then say, “I didn’t do anything wrong” and when they don’t get what I’m saying. I mean, can’t you just let me text speak for itself???

  16. August 11, 2009 6:15 pm

    Would you mind telling me what you got your degree in and from what school?

    My degree is in Christian counseling. I don’t list the name of my school or other personal details on my “about me” page. I prefer to retain some level of online anonymity as I’m fairly new to the blogging world and still have a few safety concerns re: the internet. I’m sure you can understand as I notice you don’t even post your name on your blog.

    I hope you have a nice day, PC.

  17. psychochemiker permalink
    August 12, 2009 1:48 am

    That’s OK, Jessica, I understand the need for safety on the internet.

    Just because I’ve never heard of it before, but what exactly is “Christian Counseling?” Is that emotional psychology from a Christian perspective or something different?

    While I’m hopeful that whatever the degree is has helped you learn to help society in a good way, I’m just not certain I would place such a “graduate degree” on the same level as one that teaches critical thought through the use of science, statistics, or even humanities.

    I don’t want to sound like an arrogant physicist (I’d be an arrogant chemist, afterall), but I just don’t how comfortable I would be accepting someone with a graduate degree without being able to tell what type of accredidation the granting school had. I’m not saying that everyone has to have a graduate education to contribute to society or to have an informed opinion, but I do see the difference between accredited institutions and private religious institutions that may not be up to the same logical rigor as other granting institutions.

  18. August 12, 2009 4:32 am

    I know what school Jessica went to. It’s fully accredited and a [darn] good school.

  19. August 12, 2009 11:36 pm

    PC, I will email you the details of my school. I just don’t like posting my personal information on the internet.

  20. August 17, 2009 7:03 am

    Hi, jessica! I have missed you! For some reason, when you switched your blog over, I just could not access it…. I finally was able to,thru a link on Todd Wood’s blog!! Yeah!
    In any case, I hope to read thru your thoughts here in the next few days, but just wanted to stop by and say “hi”.
    Hope you are enjoying a lovely summer,
    gloria

  21. faithoffathers permalink
    August 18, 2009 3:20 am

    Jessica,

    M. Russell Ballard once said that the central message of the BOM is summarized in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8).

    Nephi had the same vision and had the following exchange with an angel:

    “And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

    And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

    And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Nephi 11:21-23)

    This is the central message of the restored gospel and the BOM.

    The word “satisfying” is not found in this passage, but the meaning could not be clearer.

    fof

  22. tomchik permalink
    August 27, 2009 10:55 pm

    FOF and Seth, good examples from the scriptures! Thanks!

    Jessica,

    I simply don’t yet understand what the scriptures mean when they say satisfied. I don’t think that Moore could be considered any more authoritative on interpreting scripture than Pres. Hinckley (of course I consider Hinckley more authoritative). But you are talking past your LDS audience until you provide a practical definition of what being “satisfied in Christ” really means (all you have currently done is say that the scriptures say we should be satisfied in the Lord and posit without support that this means we should love Christ and find more joy in Him than in our families). What do the scriptures really mean on the practical level when they say “satisfied?”

    You may criticize our emphasis on family relationships, but for us exaltation is a family experience (at very least a husband / wife experience). PC has quoted 1 Cor. 11:11 – “Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.” In the Celestial Kingdom, people will be a part of God’s family in a way that those in other kingdoms are not. The sealing/marriage ordinance in our temples is where we are promised that we will receive that blessing together as husband and wife, equally yoked (pending our enduring to the end). I know you will disagree, but, as I’ve said before, I just want you to understand my/our position.

    Have you attempted to contextualize Pres. Hinckley’s words with the rest of his ministry, particularly with things he was teaching during that same time period? We Mormons often get accused of poor Biblical hermeneutics, but if you want to criticize Hinckley’s words, please practice good hermeneutics and give it some context, just as you would do for Paul’s or Peter’s words.

    I believe Christ commanded that we love others as much as we love Him. This perfect love between us, God, and other humans leads to the unity that will exist in heaven between Father, Son, and us (cf. John 17).

  23. Gina permalink
    October 29, 2013 1:19 am

    Thank you for writing this! As an ex Mormon who has found Jesus, and loves Beth Moore, I could not agree with you more. I don’t want to get in a debate with other Mormons, but I pray that your blog will reach out to Mormons who have a sincere desire for Jesus and HIS truth. I hope others will find the complete joy and happiness that we fnd in Christ alone. Keep at it, sister!!

  24. Staci permalink
    September 1, 2015 2:29 am

    I appreciate this article and I think you’ve brought up some great points. I love Beth’s books and know she teaches truth. Someone asked the question of being satisfied in Christ. Satisfaction in Christ is knowing that He is enough. All you need. He can fill any good, pain, hurt, need. He’s got it covered. You don’t have to be married to be completely satisfied and content. If that’s His will for your life He will fill it with good things. Psalm 103:5. He doesn’t withhold any good thing from those who love Him. Psalm 84. If marriage is the highest emotional relationship how can His words be true for those who don’t ever get married? Would that mean He loved them less? Absolutely not! Jesus himself never married. Many of His disciples left their families to foow Him because He is enough. I applaud you for asking tough questions and receiving such negative commentary back. I can see the Holy Soirit planting seeds in your heart. I think you’re so wise to listen. ☺️

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