Monday, August 09, 2010

When Biblical Truth and Experience clash!

Ok, I know that is a provocative Title and of course it is intended to be ;-). Last week I attended an evening where a well-ish known Christian was speaking, who has a ‘Healing Ministry’. This was the second of Two evenings put on by a local church.

Firstly this Blog post is not meant in any way to personally criticise a fellow brother in Christ. This is simply me trying to work my faith out and when I come up against something that I find a contradiction I need to get my head round it.

The evening consisted of a singing time of Worship. Then a ‘talk’ followed eventually by what I am going to call ‘doing the stuff’. Sadly just as the ‘doing the stuff’ started I had to leave, as it was 9:40 and the car park I was in shuts at 10:00, but I digress. The ‘talk’ consisted of stories where this person had been used by God in various situations for miraculous healing of others, interspersed with ‘teaching’ from the Bible. Herein lies the issue. It is good to hear stories of God healing people as this builds faith and that is not where I had a problem. It was the ‘teaching’ that was brought that I was, to put it mildly, astonished to hear.

There was one important thing that the person said that I totally agreed with. That when praying for healing you don’t have to tell God what to heal and you don’t need to convince God to do so by many words. A simple ‘be healed in the name of Jesus’ is all that is needed, the rest is up to God. This is largely what Jesus did and what the Bible records the Apostles doing. Great we can agree on that! The whole issue of how ones faith interacts with God’s sovereignty and the resulting healing or lack thereof is another issue entirely. I am not going to go into that here as I don’t have any semblance of a coherent understanding of it theologically.

However apart from that one point, what was taught as being from scripture seemed to me wrong on so many levels and I have not heard a mangling of scripture like that in quite a while. However what is clear is that after I left there were several medically verifiable miraculous healings that I am certainly not going to credit to any power apart from God Himself.

So what do you do with that? Clearly incorrect biblical interpretation yet God powerfully using this person in the area of healing. My approach to these things is always to measure anything I see by the plumb line of scripture. Or be a Berean (Acts 17:10-11). For me if I don’t see it in scripture at least in principal then I do not accept it. I absolutely, 100% believe that God can and does heal today miraculously, I have seen it.

My theological view point is most definitely Reformed and I truly believe it most accurately reflects what scripture teaches. But clinging so close to the importance of right doctrine can have the effect of quenching the spirit. This is possibly why churches that hold to reformed doctrine tend to be very conservative and not actively move in the power of the spirit. New Frontiers churches seem to be fairly unique in this area. NFI is rooted in Reformed doctrine yet is clearly charismatic in its expression of the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.

I totally believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. I totally believe that the gifts through the Holy Spirit seen in the New Testament are for today's church in whatever measure God sees fit to pour out and on whomever He desires. I would even go as far to say that holding a reformed view of scripture does not contradict or stand against the active gifts of Holy Spirit in healing, prophecy, tongues etc.. and actually supports it. It is the holding to certain traditions, viewpoints or teachings of the Reformed Giants of the faith so tight that possibly quenches the spirit.

Therefore whilst I may disagree with much of the teaching and emphasis that comes out of the likes of Bill Johnsons ministry at Bethel Church who this person speaking was certainly related, God is clearly using the ministry to perform amazingly miraculous healings. So I give God the Glory for that!

So where does this leave us? Someone wiser than myself offered these points:

  • Miracles only endorse the power of God not the man.
  • Miracles only endorse the power of God not the mans teaching.
  • Miracles only endorse the power of God not the mans life or lifestyle.

All I can say again is that God is sovereign and who am I to question who He chooses to use as part of His divine redemptive plan. I will continue to hold to the closed handed issues that the Bible is very clear on and I will endeavour to passionately seek and treasure God alone as my ultimate and only source of true joy and only way to salvation. I most definitely want to have a far deeper experience of knowing God more intimately and being open to the working of the Holy Spirit in as yet unimaginable ways, but without throwing my intellect and brain out the window. I repeat we must always measure any and all spiritual experience we may have against the unmoveable benchmark of Gods word. Let none of us, whatever doctrinal position or tradition we hail from, just believe what we have seen or heard without testing the spirits (1 John 4:1-3) and examining the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).

I know I have only scratched the surface of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and I pray we never become satisfied with where we are in all God has for us and all He wants to do through us. Let us remain humble, bearing with one another in Love (Ephesians 4:2) while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-13).