I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a mocha and a water, staring at this screen with my heart full about what I want to write today but I cannot come up with a good opening to capture your attention. I’ve been a Charismatic Christian all my life. I believe God still speaks today, in healing, prophecy, even unusual feelings such as goosebumps, falling down, etc.
With this wonderful introduction I am just going to state what’s been on my mind the last few days concerning my tribe in the body of Christ. I think many in the charismatic, prophetic, healing and such streams have become focused on experience to the point we have a lesser focus on Scripture and making sure our experiences are theologically sound.
I am all about experiences, I believe in experiencing God but I have watched some services lately that have had little Bible teaching in them. There has been round about talk from Scripture but no direct teaching. On the other side of this coin there is much Scriptural teaching on all that God will give you but little emphasis on magnifying God in our hearts, daily worship of Him, and the importance of delighting in God for God Himself.
Charismatics tend to dismiss theology, saying just focus on Jesus. But if your understanding of Jesus is simply based from experiences at events and not firmly based in Scripture, the “Jesus theology” you have may not be biblical.
The New Testament warns us about false teaching, false prophets, and other wrong interpretations of Scripture. While we like to focus on our experience and experience is good our first priority must be the Word of God, the Bible.
Theology is good! Let me say it again, theology is good. A right and thorough study of Scripture is important, it is the thing that will keep us from false experiences. The devil comes as an angel of light to be able to deceive. That deception will be easy if your relationship with the text of Scripture is shallow.
We know that Jesus is the Word made flesh, that should mean the written Bible is of utmost importance to us. If you see theology as dead and dry it isn’t. Men like Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards reached thousands in one service in the days before technology and social media. Those men walked in power that our generation hasn’t touched. Charles Finney who is known for theology and lectures would walk by people and they would cry out in repentance. When was the last time one of us had that happen?
Reading theology, old books, and even old sermons have the ability to draw us closer to God unlike the books of our day. With all due respect to our generations, books of old carry more of a weight and honor of God than the vast majority of our books. The books of old and books today written in that same manner go to the deep places of the Bible.
Encouragement is important but so is challenging ourselves and searching out the deep things of Scripture. It is just on my heart this week to encourage us all to go deeper in our relationship with God. Go deeper in knowing the person of Jesus. Get a book of sermons by Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards. Ask Holy Spirit to take you to deeper places in the Word. An experience of feelings is wonderful but nothing compares to the deep study of the Word of God. Scripture can touch the believer deeper than any feeling in a worship experience.
Understand, I’m not against experience, we just need to be based in the Word not experience. When we have a solid Biblical foundation, alarm bells will go off when we read a book that doesn’t line up with the Bible. Jesus is first experienced in the depth of His Word. Take time today to read Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s all about the Bible. The Word of God is eternal and will change our lives. A deep understanding and study of the Word (theology) will lead to a fuller, deeper and more stable experience.
Challenge yourself this year to read a deep book, don’t go fast with it, read it slowly, study it, read it with your Bible. Go deeper in God by going deeper in His Word.