In the third part of my blog posts on Loving the LORD with all your mind we’ll look at the last perspective in John Frame’s epistemological tool, the Existential Perspective. 

Throughout this series we’ve been looking at Proverbs 3:5-7 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”

And we’ve perspectified this verse to help us better understand it’s application. 

We’ve seen in the Normative Perspective that fearing the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge and submitting to His authority is a prerequisite for loving Him with all your mind. We’ve also looked at the Situational Perspective and seen that if we really do reverence the LORD then we will take Him at His word and live out what He commands. As we move into the Existential Perspective we’re going to be looking at the subjective aspect of loving the LORD with our minds: trusting Him with all our hearts. 

Each of these perspectives looks at the whole topic of Loving the LORD with our minds, including the other perspectives. What the heck does that mean? Well in order to trust (existential) the LORD with all our hearts, we must fear Him (normative) and believe in Him, and actually act (situational) on that belief. Trust requires knowledge, we don’t trust people if we know nothing about them, that makes sense right? And if we say we trust someone then we should actually act like it and show them trust in various situations. 

You may be thinking that this perspective doesn’t seem to fit with the other two because it says trusting the LORD with all of our hearts. Isn’t that more about emotions than rational thoughts? Well, when the Bible talks about the heart, it’s talking about the essence of the self and the spring which a person’s life proceeds (NIV study Bible notes from Proverbs. 2:10). So yes that would include our emotions but not only our emotions. We are to trust the LORD with all that we are. I reject the idea that our emotions and thoughts can be compartmentalized completely and are totally at war with one another. We are much more intertwined than the popular lunch tray idea where we have all sorts of separate compartments for our thoughts and feelings. 

John Frame writes about a helpful term for this perspective called “Cognitive Rest”. Cognitive rest is the idea that you’ve come to a place of satisfaction in your thoughts. Cognitive rest isn’t about having found every answer to every possible question and scenario, it’s about coming to a place of contentment in your thoughts. It’s not about denying evidence or blind leaps of faith, rather, it’s culmination of inquiry. Frame says, “Coming to cognitive rest about Christianity is achieving a “godly sense of satisfaction” with the message of Scripture.” (Doctrine of the Knowledge of God pg. 153). 

In the Existential perspective we see that we are to have peace about God’s Word, God’s will, God’s control. It’s not just that we ought to trust Him, but we are able to trust Him. We can have peace and cognitive rest knowing that He is Lord of time and space. If we read in our Bible’s that He is holding all things together and that He is working all things for our good then we can trust Him. We can have peace of mind knowing that if we step out and act on His Word, He will be with us and nothing will ruin His plan for us. If we read that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ then we will trust Him to protect us as we step into hostile situations.  

His Word is full of verses about trusting Him with all of our essence, experiencing His love for ourselves, tasting and seeing that He is good. When we know God through His word and experience His goodness through our situations we can have psychological certainty that He is who He says He is. We can say with Paul that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. Paul wasn’t a dummy, in fact as he’s presented in the Bible, he’s actually a very brilliant man. He experienced Christ’s power on the road to Damascus and he was changed forever. God brought Paul to cognitive rest about His Son Jesus Christ, he was converted to Christianity and acted upon his new beliefs despite the beatings, torture, slander and imprisonment he knew was to follow. 

Trusting in the LORD with all our hearts means that we reject the notion of leaning on our own understanding. As Christians we are not autonomous, we are slaves of Christ. We are subject to the Lordship of Christ. We take all our thoughts captive in obedience to him. In our hearts we honor Christ the Lord as holy and since we do, we are to always be prepared to give a defense to anyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us. 

Trusting in the LORD means building our house on the Rock, not the sinking sand of human autonomy. We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (Hebrews 10:39). We haven’t seen everything God has promised for us yet, but we have faith in Him and His Word. We’ve experienced His goodness in our lives and we trust that He is indeed completing the good work that He started. We are people of faith, “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3).

If we want to fulfill the greatest commandment we must submit to God’s authority, act on His word, and trust in Him with all of our hearts. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Christ is the perfect embodiment of God. We cannot know God without Jesus Christ, we cannot act on God’s word if we don’t submit to Christ’s authority and acknowledge him in all our ways, and we cannot be said to trust God if we don’t trust in His Son whom He sent to save the world. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through him. 

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