Let me explain further ... Many Christians are adherents of "Sola Scriptura", the theological doctrine which holds that the Bible is the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice. The spiritual aspects of our faith are given little or no attention. Then there's the faction of Christians who uphold that since God is all about relationship, the best way to hear from Him [as to what His will is] is for us to transcend this material world and sit at the foot of the throne to hear from Him directly. I often find myself trying to explain my position that it's not either/or, but both, which are essential for the full experience of our faith walk. One viewpoint is not more correct than the other. In fact, if you don't utilize both sources, then it is my opinion that you are not receiving the full counsel of God.
As representatives of Jesus on earth, we must find the balance and the proper exercise of both methods of growing our relationship with our Creator. Speaking for myself, my relationship with God developed in what felt like a natural progression: I began reading the Word, admittedly from a very surface level at first. But by just taking that step, it was an open door for the Holy Spirit to begin instilling a strong desire to know and learn more. That quickened my mind [and soul], and as I pressed into God more [through His Word], I learned that I could have a spiritual experience with Him. I could actually hear His will for me, just as Jesus heard what to say and speak from the Father ... What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me (John 12:49-50). From there, as I dove deeper into the Word, I began to seek out the experiences that were being highlighted by the Holy Spirit; my faith grew to the ability to engage my spirit with the Spirit of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I could not have done this without first, exploring the Word with ever-increasing fervor.
So, I am often concerned when I hear Christians advocating for more "going in the spirit" experiences, while minimizing the importance of Scripture for discerning the legitimacy of those "experiences". And I am equally uneasy when I hear Believers deny or criticize our ability to have that intimate relationship with God in the spirit, declaring them to be "un-Biblical". The Bible says that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). To me, this verse validates that we can hear from God [which is a spiritual experience], but it starts with seeking Him through His Word, the Bible. Encouraging Christians [especially immature Christians] to explore the spiritual realms without a solid foundational understanding of who God is from His Word, invites the potential for those Believers to "get smoked". And likewise, discouraging mature Christians from enjoying our status as co-heirs with Christ, while being seated with Him in the Heavenly realms, is to be like the Pharisees, shutting the Kingdom of Heaven in people's faces (Matthew 23:13).
It all comes together for me when I consider how easily the Enemy can keep us confused and in conflict. The Bible is so rich in the knowledge of the Nature and Character of God! Studying it can be a spiritual experience in itself. Yet some Christians only long for the "sensual" encounters they have access to as spiritual sons and daughters. Just consider the foundational belief of our Christian faith, as stated in Ephesians 2:4-6, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus... We cannot possibly understand the fullness of all that this passage teaches us without first, studying the Bible, and then experiencing the spiritual effects!
If we tried to go in the spirit where we are seated with Jesus, without the knowledge of the history of all God did to make that experience possible for us, then I submit we could not possibly comprehend the fullness of who we are. And in the end, for me, that is the most important aspect of both Biblical knowledge and Spiritual experience -- to fully know who we are; why we're here on the earth at this time in history; and what Jehovah Elohim, our Creator, expects from us. It is more important, now than ever, that we understand that "all of creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons [and daughters] of God ... to be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God". That will indeed by a spiritual encounter worth experiencing! But the impact of that experience will be lessened if we do not have the knowledge of all that it has cost God to bring that about! May we embrace the fullness of our relationship with God, and know Him in all the ways possible!
Ephesians 3:19 And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].
Constantly growing and learning, learning and growing. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
That should be the goal of every Christian... to learn more about the God we serve, and grow into the fullness of Christ. Glad to be on this journey with you!Delete