Saturday, June 11, 2011

Experiencing God

In talking with a dear friend, the subject of ‘experiential knowledge along with doctrine and not just doctrine only’ has come up and I’m not sure what is meant by that.  Don’t they go hand in hand?

I don't know exactly what your friend means when she—assuming it's a female—uses the words "experiential knowledge" but if it is what I think, and what I have dealt with in others over the years, then what she could be saying is that you need more than just the written Word of God to guide you in your Christian walk, but that you also need some kind of experience to confirm God's presence in your life. 

I looked the term up and it has a couple of meanings. The first is in relation to experiences in life; i.e., how to ride a bike/drive a car/buy a home, etc. These are things we learn by experience, even as grace believers.

But the second definition--the one that I think she is talking about comes from philosophy/human viewpoint/religion/New Ageism/Genesis 3--is very dangerous.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Eve was tempted by Satan, not to trust and obey God's Word to her for her knowledge, but to actually have "experiential knowledge" by experiencing for herself (self-will) what that tree was all about!

Here's what I found from Wikipedia

“Experiential knowledge is knowledge gained through experience as opposed to a priori (before experience) knowledge. In the philosophy of mind, the phrase often refers to knowledge that can only be acquired through experience, such as, for example, the knowledge of what it is like to see colours, which could not be explained to someone born blind. … A priori knowledge is can Adam or Eve know what water feels like on their skin prior to touching it for the first time?

“The phrase also crops up in philosophy of religion, as an argument against God's omniscience - here it is questioned whether God could genuinely know everything, since he (supposedly) cannot know what it is like to sin. “

(In that the Godhead established the existence of sin from his knowledge, one must recognize that the Godhead does not have to experience sin in order to know what sin is and the effects sin has on man and the Godhead.)

While it is true that in this life we all need to experience certain things in order to gain knowledge to function (i.e., driving skills, house cleaning skills, budgeting skills, how to swim, etc.), unfortunately for your friend (and many others) when it comes to spiritual things, you do not need experiential knowledge to be right with God!

When God told Adam and Eve to dress and keep the garden, Adam had to learn skills on how to maintain it, but when it came to being right with God—i.e., that they would “surely die” if they ate of the forbidden fruit.  God expected them to just believe His Word to them, and not to eat and, consequently, “taste death.” They did not need to experience eating the grape, or to feel (experience) the resulting pain/sorrow/death that came later to know that it was real. All they needed to do was take God at His Word! That is what believing doctrine means!
2 Corinthians 5:7
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Remember, you cannot trust your experiences, because they are sometimes wrong! Every one of us has felt or experienced something that we thought was right or from God (like a relationship with the opposite sex), but it turned out not to be.

That's why God gives us sound doctrine, and not experiences to depend/rest/stand upon. When it comes to spiritual things, He'll tell us what to do and how to do it.

2 Corinthians 1:24
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

Sound Pauline doctrine is what our lives as believers is to be based upon:

Romans 6:17; 16:17
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart [believed] that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

1 Corinthians 14:6, 26
Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Ephesians 4:14
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

1 Timothy 1:3, 10; 4:6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1, 3
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

2 Timothy 3:10, 16; 4:2, 3
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7, 10
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:10
Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

So you see by these verses, it is doctrine that God’s Word teaches as what is needed to guide a believer in their walk with the Lord.  We are to take Him at His word—that being, believing the doctrine found in the pages of holy scripture.

Maybe you can go over the verses, above, to show her God’s opinion over what ‘man’ has to say about what is needed in a believer’s life. 

Romans 3:4
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

No comments:

Post a Comment