Friday, 15 October 2010

Experience vs. Truth

Experience vs. Truth

“The Spirit-filled walk demands... that we live in the Word of God as a fish lives in the sea” (A.W.Tozer).

To begin today’s “Truth for the Journey” we are going to look at the reality of experience verses truth. Do we give too much leverage to the experience and too little to truth. Are we out of balance and do we seek maturity in all things spiritual or are we content to be spiritual novices forever?

To get to a place of maturity we have to start off from a place of immaturity. And there is room for all of us to learn. There are many different ways of hearing the voice of God’s Spirit along with different ways to feel His presence. Although it’s not necessary to “feel” anything, especially when it comes to obedience - we must “step out” any way and let the feelings catch us up! Each morning we can wake up saying, “Thank You God that You are here. Where ever I am You are there. In fact there is no place that I could be – that You are not!” In other words we can be totally sure and “convinced” of the presence of God, regardless of whether we “feel” anything or not! In fact if we never “feel” anything... it changes nothing. He is always there! On the other hand it is still important to practice the presence of God, learning to be sensitive; knowing when and how to yield.

The Holy Spirit is always “one” with the Word of God, and will never violate it’s clear boundaries. This is the only way that we can expose the counterfeit. If the experience doesn’t line up with God’s Word, then it does not line up with God’s Spirit either. It is really that simple and we must endeavour to rightly divide the Word so that our private-interpretation doesn’t line up with the counterfeit instead! Some folks spend most of their time trying to get the Word of God to say what they are saying rather than prayerfully studying it and allowing the Holy Spirit to show it to them by divine “revelation.” He is our teacher and leads us into all truth.

Technically we could say that He is obedient to His own Word, in the context that He won’t violate its conditions any more than He expects us not to. So to uncover the counterfeit manifestations of the Spirit we need to know His Word. Then we can be sure of what He would “not” do as much as what He “would” do in any given situation; while always remaining open to learn new things. The Holy Spirit for instance is not always predictable and there will always be new things to find out about Him!

We do need however “discernment,” not “suspicion” but real discernment; as the scripture calls it, the ability (gift) to distinguish between spirits; “To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight ([a]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues...” (1 Cor 12:10 AMP) Another translation simply says, “...can tell the difference between spirits.” Therefore operating with the Spirit of God is not all about the “feel good factor” – rather it is all about lining things up with His Word.

The Holy Spirit stirs things up – including us! Therefore some manifestations are caused. Not everything that we assume is the Holy Spirit – is actually the Holy Spirit. We make far to many assumptions at times rather than knowing! For instance, the Holy Spirit can be resting on a person, while the manifestations are demonic. Simply because His presence stirs things up! Some manifestations that we credit to the Holy Spirit therefore are often not of Him at all... so we must learn not to make too many assumptions like this because we can’t afford to and scripture is quite hot about this subject; “Let not then your good be evil spoken of...” (Romans 14:16 KJV)

Going from immaturity to maturity is permissible and acceptable. Remaining ignorant through spiritual laziness, lack of application or diligence is not. So when manifestations become questionable, especially when attributed to the Holy Spirit - we must turn to the “ancient plumb-line” from the “Ancient of Days” – the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit does not just keep resting upon the same individuals to constantly make them shudder and shake! Especially when there is not real evidence of change in their lives; we know it is the Holy Spirit because when He touches us – we never remain the same! Below is an excerpt about some “pre-millennial mania” that people were experiencing – where folks were just beginning to “experience” the things of the Spirit and how this caused some “concerned approval” by others!

In his 1980 booklet, ‘Charismatic Crisis’, Anglican Renewal leader, Michael Harper noted that; ‘The Charismatic Renewal does not have a particularly good track record when it comes to concern for the truth. I am chiefly here reforming to the truth about Christianity. Because of its emphasis on ‘testimony’ at least in its formative years, it has tended to soft-pedal, even to ignore the truth, largely out of fear that it will divide Christians rather than unite them.

Many Christians have in the past been caught up in sectarian battles over words and doctrines, and it has been refreshing to defuse much of that. Animosity side tracks many off the big issues which previously divided Christians, and to find a new unity in one’s experience of the Holy Spirit. But such a unity is bound to last only so long as one can survive on ‘testimony theology’, and that is not for long!

Dr. Patrick Dixon also writes, “Experience is spreading and has had a major impact in Britain. In 1994, August, 1,500 people took part in the Ichthus ‘Revival Camp’ at Ashburnham. Again extraordinary scenes were witnessed.

On the first night of the Grapevine Bible week in Lincoln at the end of August, around 400 out of 3,000 began laughing during the talk. On the final evening, however, the preaching was totally disrupted as a number of those on the platform began convulsing with laughter. After a number of attempts to finish on a sober and serious subject the speaker was forced finally to cut his address short and return to his seat.

These effects on Bible weeks were being monitored with interest and possibly alarm by some involved in planning the Spring Harvest weeks for April 1995, expected in planning to draw 70,000 from across all evangelical traditions - both pro - and anti-charismatic.

The question was whether Spring Harvest broad base of fellowship would survive if there were major disruptions. At a planning meeting of the worship leaders in September 1994 it was agreed that room would be made for what God was doing, while alternatives were provided on site for those wishing to worship in a more restrained atmosphere.

By the end of August 1994 all Bible weeks were now memories, but the effects on individual churches were continuing to accelerate. Ichthus made a decision to run extra receiving meetings twice every week until the end of the year. Kensington Temple was committed to doing the same throughout September, while Pioneer People in Surrey pitched a huge tent in the grounds of a local school for two weeks, for meetings almost every day at which people like John Wimber spoke.

Martin Wroe of ‘The Observer’ turned up at Queen’s Road Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, 31st August, to see how things were developing.

He wrote; The congregation was rolling in the aisles. Rolling and weeping and laughing and sometimes just lying there, moaning, wailing but in no pain. In other churches, they are occasionally barking, crowing like cockerels, mooing like cows, pawing the ground like bulls and more commonly, roaring like lions. But mainly they are on the church floor laughing.

Hundreds of congregations of normally staid church goers are left shaking uncontrollingably, to all appearances revelling in some killer joke that only their fellow charismatic have been let in on.
To the consternation of traditionalist and sceptics, a primitive Pentecostalism is breaking out in sophisticated Anglican churches throughout the country.

Tens of thousands of British churchgoers are experiencing the ‘Toronto Blessing’. At Hole Trinity Brempton, more than 2,000 people - including recent celebrity converts, such as the topless model and singer Samantha Fox - now attend services on a Sunday, including 1,200 for the evening service. The church is jammed to the rafters. Doors open at 5.45pm for the 6.30 opening chorus, but there are queues of 500 outside by 5.30. Converts are split on whether Britain is on the brink of an authentic religious revival - other revivals, such as that in Wales during 1904, began with ecstasy in the pews and ended with emptying of the pubs as the Holy Spirit fell on the unholy drinkers.

Mainstream Anglicans are horrified by the enthusiasm and unsophisticated antics of adherents, while others dismiss it as P.M.T - pre-millennial tension - or mass hysteria. But the official line of the Church of England is cautious approval.

Believers in Holy Ghost power, whether laughing like hyenas or roaring like lions, dismiss the ridicule, pointing to the ‘drunken’ antics of the first disciples in the Book of Acts, mocked for ‘taking too much wine’ (Dr. Patrick Dixon, Signs of Revival).

Many people have been drawn to what is happening by intense feelings of spiritual emptiness, particularly those in leadership who have been giving out for many years. A great desire for more of God and an overwhelming hunger often comes before the experience - but when things happen, they can often surprise even those who feel they are prepared. Personally I think there has been a need of a good laugh in the Church for many years, but as a Bible Believer, I would have cast some of those manifestations out in Jesus name!

Father I thank you for the ability to hear Your voice and for the ability to line everything up with Your Word. I have confidence in Your Word and in Your Spirit. To lead and to guide me into all truth. Continue to make me sensitive to Your Spirit, so that I can hear His voice without delay and without error. Help me to distinguish the counterfeit from the true manifestations of Your Spirit and to walk worthy of You. Amen.

Today You are by my side. I walk free of deception and fear. The counterfeit is not in my life but You are. You work the ability to distinguish between spirits in my life and I am confident in You.


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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