The Emotional Life Of The Apostles, Prophets and Great Christian Leaders

(Acts 13:22 NKJV) "…. 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'

If the previous chapter summary of the emotional life of the Christ-like Christian is correct, then it will predict the lives of the most Christ-like people - and will also predict, in a negative way, the lives of the most carnal people.

In this chapter will check if the theory of biblical EQ has predictive validity when applied to the lives of the great Christian leaders and in the next chapter we will check to see if it also predicts the emotional lives of carnal Christians.

According to our model the following twelve things should be true of the apostles and prophets and great Christian leaders.


1. They should see the world differently from the rest of us. For them the Kingdom perspective will be the only true perspective.

2. They should be able from time to time to see into the hearts of men and women and to speak accurately to their condition.

3. They should be conversant with dreams, visions and symbolic language. They should readily grasp the prophetic and be excited by the Scriptures.


4. They should have beliefs that the surrounding culture has not taught them or which it opposes vehemently, beliefs that only God can have taught them.

5. Those beliefs should give them a sense of what is righteous and what is unrighteous like Jesus had when He cleansed the temple and create an unusual zeal within them that consumes them.

6. Those beliefs should give them unusual poise and power in crisis situations like Jesus in the storm.

7. As a result of those beliefs they should resonate with and be emotionally drawn to others who are of great faith, like Jesus resonated with the Roman centurion.


8. They should have deep and vivid emotions like those of Jesus Christ.

9. They should have a sense of their emotions being God's emotions and be aware of what they are feeling and able to name it clearly as Jesus did with His emotions. They should be people of authentic and powerful emotional expression - groans, tears, crying, and rejoicing.

Physical Nature

10. They should demonstrate victory over addictions and sexual temptations and have a renewed physical nature whereby they were able to express their emotions in godly ways through their physical bodies.

Emotional Expression

11. These righteous emotions should lead to righteous actions such as when Jesus' compassion moved Him to act. Their emotionality should be an integral part of being a righteous person. Not detached from life like the emotions of an actor or a hypocrite.

12. The course of their lives should demonstrate an ever-increasing wisdom in emotional expression as if they were being taught by God in how to say things.

Do these twelve predictions pass the test of Scripture and of the testimony of the saints down the ages? Are great men and women of God people of deep and vivid emotionality? Do they demonstrate an unusual sense of righteousness? Do they indeed see life differently? Do they hold counter-cultural beliefs or have an unusual power and poise in crisis situations? The answer is Yes! In fact great men and women of God are so vivid emotionally that they are often accused of being overly emotional - from Jeremiah with his tears to John Wesley with his preaching. Luther saw life so differently that he threw his ink-pot at the Devil! Isaiah was so counter-cultural that he went around for three years with his buttocks uncovered! (Isaiah 20:1-3).

Lets test our predictions on the spiritual heroes of Hebrews 11. I will go paragraph by paragraph commenting on how these heroes perceived, believed, felt and reacted differently. The bible version is the New King James Version.

(Hebrews 11 NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. {2} For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. {3} By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

These heroes of faith saw a different reality to others they had evidence of things not seen and understood that the visible world was predicated on perception of an invisible spiritual world.

{4} By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. {5} By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. {6} But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The belief system of these people was different from and more excellent than that of their contemporaries and was grounded in the invisible spiritual reality that they perceived.

{7} By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

{8} By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. {9} By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; {10} for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. {11} By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. {12} Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude; innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

{13} These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. {14} For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. {15} And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. {16} But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

These great men and women of God had beliefs that gave them an unusual sense of righteousness which condemned their generation e.g Noah. Their beliefs gave them the courage to be counter-cultural to seek a heavenly country and to see life from a Kingdom perspective.

{17} By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, {18} of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," {19} concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. {20} By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. {21} By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. {22} By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. {23} By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. {24} By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, {25} choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, {26} esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. {27} By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. {28} By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. {29} By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

Their unique beliefs led to godly emotions such as Jacob worshipping on the top of his staff . It led to unusual poise and courage in the face of enraged Pharaoh. It led to the ability to go against normal human emotions in the case of Abraham sacrificing Isaac.

{30} By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. {31} By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. {32} And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: {33} who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, {34} quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. {35} Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. {36} Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. {37} They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; {38} of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. {39} And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, {40} God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Finally we see such great emotional mastery and Kingdom perspective that men and women of faith were enduring torture in the hope of a better resurrection! Poise, power and peace and a most unusual set of emotions characterised these heroes of faith. Their emotions moved them to righteous lives and actions. They were not subject to cravings or addictions or impulses of the flesh, rather they had the steady strong enduring emotions that were part of the life of Jesus Christ.

What’s The Difference Between Overly-Emotional People And The Vivid Emotions Of Jesus And The Prophets?

Good question! Lets start this investigation by taking a look at that chronicler of the emotional life - David the Psalmist. I have just picked a Psalm "at random" - Psalm 30.

(Psalms 30 NKJV) I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. {2} O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. {3} O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. {4} Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. {5} For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. {6} Now in my prosperity I said, "I shall never be moved." {7} LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. {8} I cried out to You, O LORD; And to the LORD I made supplication: {9} "What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? {10} Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!" {11} You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, {12} To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

These twelve short verses give us a good sample of David's emotional life. What is the difference between David’s emotional life and the emotional roller-coaster of some Christians?

· The negative emotions are temporary "weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning".

· There is a righteous resolution of the emotions, a giving of thanks in the end.

· The emotions are primarily directed towards God in a private and appropriate fashion.

· There is a wide range of appropriate emotions from joy to a troubled spirit. The emotional thermostat is not stuck in just one position e.g. deep gloom or constant happiness.

· There is an ability to see good in God in the midst of it all - to sing praise and give thanks. The spiritual perspective is not lost.

· There is no stifling of emotions, they are expressed in spiritual terms "that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent".

· There is repentance of false perspectives and beliefs. "Now in my prosperity I said 'I shall not be moved..". When God challenges this David repents of his self-sufficiency. People who are out of balance emotionally do the opposite and cling to their self-defeating perspectives

· In the expression of emotions there is genuine dignity and beauty. This psalm is poetry!

[If this area interests you why not take some more of the Psalms and explore their emotional content. The men and women of God down the centuries have valued them for the insights they give into the emotional life of the believer.]

So we se there is a vast difference between the deep, powerful and godly emotions of the saints and the clanging, shrill emotions of Christian neurotics. The emotions of the saints have God at the center. The emotions of neurotics have self at the center.

What About The Different Temperaments?

The question "which Bible character are you most like?" is an interesting one. I am a miniature "clone" of Paul the apostle sharing much of his impatience and his intellectual approach to the faith. Others say they are like Peter or Moses or David or Jeremiah or Amos. Tim La Haye made an important contribution with his book Transformed Temperaments which identified four personality types - Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic. Those of you familiar with Myers-Briggs personality tests will know it also has four basic categories divided into sixteen sub-types. Whatever your schema, one thing is obvious - there is a wide range of personality types! God uses people of all temperaments in His Kingdom and designs ministries and places for each of them. He called complex Thomas as well as straightforward Peter, Simon the Zealot and the sons of Thunder as well as Matthew the pragmatic tax-collector, sophisticated Daniel was sent to minister to Nebuchadnezzar while Amos the farmer went to bluntly prophesy to the northern kingdom. Having a high biblical EQ does not mean that you are the same as everyone else or that you become a cute, saccharine sweet, always smiling,never-a-hair-out-of-place believer. There is a vast range for individuality and even for eccentricity within the Kingdom of God!

Eccentricity? Well the prophets were hardly "normal"! John the Baptist wearing camel's hair clothes and eating locusts may be viewed as "eccentric" along with Elijah, Ezekiel and characters such as Samson. These people were culturally distinct but not the least bit mentally ill - they just lived by a different and higher reality which consumed them.

Different temperaments have different uses within the Kingdom of God. Barnabas was a great encourager of the brethren, Peter's high emotionality made him a master preacher and evangelist, Paul's razor sharp mind made him a great one for attending to the operational details and theology of church life, John's mystical temperament pointed to the deep abiding spiritual realities and resulted in wonderful teaching on prayer. Titus seems to have been a born trouble-shooter while Timothy was the sensitive and caring pastor par excellence.

God will use your basic temperament that He has built into you - and even some of your weaknesses for when you are weak then you are strong! Your basic God-created and renewed self is OK! God can and will use it and has accepted it in Christ Jesus (Romans 14:7).

Being accepted does not mean being unchanged. The Holy Spirit will take certain parts of your basic emotional temperament and refine them into the image of Christ Jesus. Paul matured in tolerance and love, Peter became stable and reliable, Timothy had to overcome his timidity and learn to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. As the Holy Spirit convicts you and teaches you and ministers to you a slow but sure transformation will take place that will increase your maturity in Christ and your usefulness to the Master. I find Hebrews especially encouraging - the fact that I have a merciful and faithful High Priest in heaven who understands my weakness and intercedes for me and a throne of grace that I can go to for strength and help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16).

Emotions In Times of Revival

If the Holy Spirit acts to redeem our emotions into those of Christ Jesus what causes the emotional excesses during times of revival? Does the Holy Spirit, who so desires balance, holiness, wisdom and truth cause these bizarre manifestations? This is an often discussed question and in recent years this has become a controversial topic and so I will try to offer some comment and resolution.

Firstly emotions DO run high when God moves mightily in times of genuine revival. I recommend the book "The Nature of Revival" a collection of writings from the journals of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield abridged and put into modern English by my friend Clare G. Weakley Jnr and published by Bethany House Publishers. These journal entries give great insight into the emotionality of these great men of God and the extraordinary events of their times. Here are a few more or less random extracts.

P 84. John Wesley.. "On Friday all Newgate rang with the cries of those whom the word of God had cut to the heart. Two of these were filled with joy in a moment, to the astonishment of those who watched them"

P 85 John Wesley regarding one who opposed the revival: " While reading the last page he changed color, fell off his chair, and began screaming terribly as he beat himself against the ground…..between one and two in the morning I came in and found him on the floor. The room was full of people who his wife tried to keep out. He cried aloud "No let them all come! Let all the world see the just judgment of God!". Two or three men were trying to hold him down. He immediately fixed his eyes on me, stretched out his hand and said "Aye this is he who I said was a deceiver of the people! But God has overtaken me! I said it was all a delusion, but this is no delusion!" …(He is eventually released from torment..)

P 87 "While I was enforcing these words "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10), God began to bare His arm, not in private but in the open air and before more than two thousand witnesses. One then another, and yet another was struck to the earth, greatly trembling at the presence of God's power. Others loudly and bitterly cried "What must we do to be saved?"

Few revivals have been without great emotion and the revivalist Jonathan Edwards wrote a famous treatise on "Religious Affections.." which established that the emotions were a by-product of grace not its chief aim. The aim of the godly evangelist is not an emotional audience but a repentant and believing audience.

If the emotions expressed so powerfully indicate that repentance is taking place and that people are meeting with God and having their souls transformed then that emotion is a good thing. However if it is simply emotionality, hype, manipulated sentimentality and the like and no work of God is taking place and people are not truly turning from darkness to light then it is unprofitable.

A revival in which there is no great emotion would be like a wedding without joy. Such a momentous thing is happening to so many people that surely some great expression of emotion must accompany it. However when the emphasis is on the manifestations - the tears, the laughter, the falling etc then it has gone off track. The wedding should focus on the bride and groom and the revival on Christ and on the believer's transformation. The emotions are just part and parcel of the process and not ends in themselves. In a later chapter on handling our strong emotions I go into the issue of discernment at quite some length. However I think we should conclude this brief section by saying that the powerful and bizarre emotions of revival are a temporary excess that God permits, but does not encourage. After the emotions and the changes the person so powerfully affected should go on to lead a normal, balanced, wise, godly and sanctified life. They should not keep on having bizarre emotional experiences. That is immature. Mature people display resonant love and deep wisdom and emotional control.

Christian Maturity and Emotion

I soon got the impression as a new Christian that my enthusiasm was expected to wear off and that when I "became mature" I would have rather dull and respectable emotions that resembled cold porridge poured into a grey flannel suit. Is this the sort of emotional maturity that Scripture speaks of in Ephesians?

(Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; {14} that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, {15} but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;

Christian emotional maturity does involve emotional stability - we are not "tossed to and fro…by every wind of doctrine". It also involves "growing up" in all things and becoming a person participating in the stature and fullness of Christ. While it involves the stability of Christ it also involves the passion and zeal of Christ (John 2:17, Titus 2:14) and His ability to bless and to care. In fact part of the purpose of our redemption is to become a people “zealous for good deeds”.

(Titus 2:14 NASB) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Maturity is not the loss of emotions but the educating of emotions so they are like those of Jesus Christ and the mature person is both stable and zealous.

Childish emotions are OUT for the mature Christian but Christ-like emotions are IN. In the next chapter we will see what carnal emotions look like, how they are the reverse of the biblical EQ process and how we can move beyond them and start the process of "growing up in all things into Him who is the head - even Christ".

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think that King David was overly emotional? If not, why not?

2. What is different about the emotions of the great Christian leaders?

3. What about revival? How should we cope with strong emotions in Christian gatherings?

4. Go back over the twelve predictions that we began this chapter with; how do you feel as you read them and what picture do they paint for you about how the Christian life should be lived?

5. How do our different characters and temperaments fit in with a view of emotions that is centred around one person – Jesus Christ?

6. What do you think Christian maturity looks like?