Every Christian has a story – our unique testimony of how the Father personally drew each of us to His Son Jesus. And this story is so powerful that the Bible lists our personal testimonies as among those weapons a follower of Christ has to battle our common enemy: Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death….” (Revelation 12:10-11) Our salvation testimony will be ours until the day we leave this earth to join our Savior in heaven. We know who we were before we made that commitment; we know who we are now; and we know the difference – living under the shadow of God’s protection, care, peace, strength, compassion and love. No one can ever rob us of our story.
Still, charismatics like myself often place too much reliance on supernatural experiences, and not enough on a solid foundation in what the Bible calls “the word of righteousness.” Personal, even group experiences, form some of the least reliable evidences of spiritual truth available to the believer. They are like the milk that babies depend on for nutrition. In contrast, the mature believer feeds on solid food – the written Word – the revelation of God.
While our experiences may elevate us one moment; they may deflate us the next. But the written promises and directions of God are always trustworthy and constant. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14) Only a mature believer is equipped to accurately judge the authenticity of an experience, either spiritual or physical, as being a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit determines the “if, when and how” of a spiritual experience – not vice versa.
Jesus’ departing words to His followers were: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover…” (Mark 16:16-18) He did not say, seek to create Holy Spirit “moments” (i.e.: outward signs and wonders) that you and others might believe.
If you pray for the sick and you don’t observe a recovery, the voice of experience says, “It must not be God’s will that you or they be healed. Give up!” But the Bible says, “It is My will that you and they be healed. Just seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added. Keep praying. Speak My Word – for it is life and it is healing. I shed My blood for your health, even as your soul prospers. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep believing.”
Long before charismatics, Adam and Eve put experience above God’s Word
When people let their senses (experiences) guide their decisions and actions, they are opening the door to mentally debating the truth of the Word of God – a recipe for deception, rationalization of one’s actions and disastrous results.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Genesis 3:1-7
Knowing the Truth and using the Word
In contrast, when Jesus “experienced” hunger and thirst and loneliness in the desert, He demonstrated that the Word always takes precedence. It is the only thing that will overcome the world, our flesh and the lies of the enemy – and get us through these difficult situations.
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into[a] the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him[d] all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said [in the Word], ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13
Enjoy the experiences you are blessed with, learn from them,and share them with others; but Lean only on the Word of God