I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a mocha and 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, in healing, prophecy, even unusual feelings such as goosebumps, falling, 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. Many in the charismatic, prophetic, healing and such streams have become focused on experience. 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 roundabout talk from Scripture but no direct instruction. 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 based primarily on experiences at events and not firmly established in Scripture, the “Jesus theology” you have may not be biblical. Moreover, the New Testament warns us about false teaching, false prophets, and other wrong interpretations of Scripture. So while we like to focus on our experience and experience is good, our priority must be the Word of God, the Bible.
Theology is good! Let me repeat that theology is good. A right and thorough study of Scripture is essential; 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. 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.
Reading theology, old books, and even old sermons can draw us closer to God, unlike the books of our day. With all due respect to our generations, old books 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. This week, it is just on my heart to encourage us all to go deeper in our relationship with God. Go deeper into 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 terrific, 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 align 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 an older 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.