Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Charismatic Experience 1

I recently finished writing an essay on true and false charismatic experience, which finished with 10 recommendations. Here are the first three.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, ESV

1. The structure of meetings should be such that when it is clear that God, through his Holy Spirit, is bringing conviction of sin, righteousness and judgement, then there should be a good opportunity to respond and to spend time allowing him to do his work rather than being distracted by the next thing happening. This might be via a structured and pre-prepared time of “prayer ministry” (for example); it might be via having the flexibility in the structure of the service to allow such a time to be introduced at short notice.

2. Since God gives gifts for the building up of the church, and there is no convincing argument that gifts of prophecy and tongues (for example – see 1 Cor 14:39 and 1 Thes 5:20) have ceased, there should be opportunity to use them within church gatherings, but when this is done it should be done in accordance with 1 Cor 14:26-33. [The precise nature of those gifts is a different matter...]

3. Likewise, both meetings structurally and individuals within the meetings should be open to the possibility of being overwhelmed by God in such a way that there are strong physical and emotional effects. Our praising of God and hearing about God should be of such a type to stir the affections. Indeed, if there is a long period without any perceived effect of the Holy Spirit on the emotions of an individual Christian, especially when they are focusing their attention on God, this should be cause for concern. The expectation of the possibility of emotional overwhelming includes the leaders of such meetings. Whitfield was overwhelmed in this way while preaching at least once, and situations where a distinction exists in expectations of experience between the leader and Christians in the congregation are, from my point of view at least, deeply suspicious.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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