When reading the posts of others, I often find myself between a rock and a hard place, especially when it comes to God’s sovereign intervention in our lives. The teaching within the church falls into two extremes: God reveals Himself to us through hysterical experiences and manifestations or God’s sovereignty precludes Him answering our prayers or intervening in our lives. There is much that is amiss within the church today regarding mystical experiences, but that has to do with the source (Satan and the flesh), not God being intimately involved with us. If we, like so many in Calvinism, were to castigate all references to experiencing God then we would have to discredit the majority of the Bible, for God’s Word is His story of His interactions with His people. Has He ceased to work in our lives? Those who know and love Jesus Christ, who follow Him, will have to say no.
It is so true that we can receive a false spirit and be led astray from the truth of the Word of God, from genuine love and devotion to Christ, from tender affection for our brothers and sisters. Paul and John, by the power of the Holy Spirit both warned about this, Paul in his letters to the Corinthians, and John in his first epistle.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (2) Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. (3) Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 12:1-3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (4) For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1 John 4:1-3
So, we do have to exercise discernment and reject anyone teaching falsehood about the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives. We can easily be led astray by deceiving spirits if we get involved with ungodly groups glorying in spiritual manifestations that have nothing to do with Christ Jesus and His gospel of salvation. We can always know they are false because the will teach lies about Jesus Christ and twist the Scriptures. However, does this mean that all experiences with the Holy Spirit are fraught with danger? No, the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of truth will lead us into all truth, will exalt Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds as we dwell upon the richness of the revelation given to us in God’s glorious Word, will comfort our hearts in the midst of trials, persecutions, and sufferings, will establish us in godly living and will perform miracles in our midst for God’s glory and our edification. God has promised to never abandon us, He has given us His Holy Spirit and we can trust His Word.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me: John 15:26
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. (14) He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. (15) All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. John 16:13-15
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (3) Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (4) Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. (5) He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth He it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2-5
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (12) No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. (13) Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because he hath given us of His Spirit. (14) And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. (15) Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in Him, and He in God. 1 John 4:11-15
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (6) So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 13:5-6
On the other hand, is all of our experience with God centered only and solely in the Bible? Does the Word of God lead us to believe that experiences with God are unscriptural? Are we taught in the Scriptures that our prayers are unnecessary because our sovereign God rules and has no need for our petitions? Again, as always, it is so important to look at the testimony that God has divinely reserved for us in His Holy Word. Throughout the Scriptures God’s people have always experienced Him working in their lives, and in such a way that they could without reservation give God the glory for what He had done. Our salvation is the direct intervention of God in our lives which we experience when the Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts and minds to see our sinful rebellion against our Holy God and then graciously reveals the salvation that has been provided for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. Without this experience of God’s divine intervention in our lives we are doomed to eternal destruction in hell. The fruit of the Spirit is the direct work of God in our hearts, minds and lives so we may live for His glory. We have love for the truth and love for other believers because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. God does encourage us to pray, throughout the Scriptures, so that He will answer our prayers.
(3) And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. (4) And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. Act 15:3-4
(8) Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. (9) For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (10) That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (11) Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (12) Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: (14) In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Colossians 1:8-14
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (26) Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26
(13) Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (14) Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (16) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (17) Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. (18) And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Jamess 5:13-18
(1) And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. (2) And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (3) Give us day by day our daily bread. (4) And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (5) And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; (6) For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? (7) And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. (8) I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needs. (9) And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (10) For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (11) If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? (12) Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? (13) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? Luke 11:1-13
One final thought, we must acknowledge and be aware of the fact that our daily lives are overshadowed by the providential goodness of God overflowing towards us, and indeed, towards all of His creation. How could we ever, therefore, escape His ministry in our lives by His goodness and gracious kindness?
(24) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (25) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (26) And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: (28) For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring. Acts 17:24-28
My beloved brothers and sisters, we must be Bereans, always searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so. If what someone teaches does not line up with the Scriptures, then we can be sure they are false teachers. Beware many are false today leading many astray. May Christ keep us faithful. Amen!
(10) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. (11) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (12) Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. Acts 17:10-12
Lord Jesus Christ, so many are going astray and wandering away from Your truth found in Your Word alone, the holy, inspired, inerrant, infallible, preserved Word of God, the Bible. May we measure anything and everything by the standard of Your Word by Your Indwelling Holy Spirit and so be protected from the wiles of the enemy who goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Please keep us faithful to You. Amen!