If experience has taught us anything…

August 14th, 2007 | 6 Comments | Christianity, Cults, Evangelism, General Topics, Jehovah's Witness, Mormonism, Scripture, Sin, Teaching If experience has taught us anything… |  Facebook

Can experience be the measure of all things? Is all peace which we experience the same peace? How about love? Where does witnessing and truth fit into the mix?

…and that’s how I found inner peace

said to me, -my devoted witch friend, -my drug dealing friend, -a Muslim in my chat room, -Oprah Winfrey to the nation… yet Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7), was no where to be found.

This world groans in suffering (Romans 8:18-22), in the reality of a world facing the consequences of our sin, our rebellion against God. On the outside of death, of war, disease, hatred, gross lies and injustice. On the inside the spiritual chasm of wanting to know our true purpose in living and the wrestlings of the wicked nature within ourselves that causes us continually to sabotage our relationships with each other and violate God’s holy commandments. Is it little wonder the world is looking desperately in all directions to find real peace?

As the King of Kings is soon to return in judgment, putting an end to wickedness and sin, restoring creation – I cannot escape the question, “Are we all looking for the right kind of peace? Is all peace we experience the same peace?

The Lord Jesus says to His disciples,

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you…” John 14:27

There is indeed a ‘peace’ this world has to offer us – then there is something altogether different, His peace.

I cannot doubt many people who are not saved have experienced some soft of life altering situation before which brought about a state of peacefulness; be it of the drug culture a chemical peacefulness, the materialist culture’s refreshing realization of a personal goal such as financial control, personal fitness or overcoming personal relationship difficulties, or even a peacefulness resultant from occult experience or some religious practice. But the question remains, is this enough? Can we judge the state of our eternal souls by such a subjective thing as our experiential feelings?

Moments before in the same John 14 passage Jesus said,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

In our ‘tolerant’ new world of every way and any truth, there certainly seems to be no tolerance for the real Jesus Christ and His message. The peace of Jesus which is not of this world is real, but notice it follows after Jesus talks about the truth found in Himself, not before it. What personal testimony I have in the Lord’s peace transforming my life is real, the thousands of drug addicts, slave owners, wife beaters, and self righteous who are born again and transformed. Their faith and peace from God is real – but it is not the reason for which they have their faith, “if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.(1 Corinthians 15:17)”, the truth of the gospel, what Christ has done – that is the reason. The power of God in the life of a Christian is tremendous, but we would be at a loss, if our preaching consisted solely of telling others about the subjective feelings we have experienced. The Apostle Paul was a changed man, more than happy to tell us his testimony as a murderer turned humble worshiper. Yet the apostles were never forgetting to appeal to the undeniable objective truth. To the prophesies fulfilled, to the historical account of eyewitnesses, to the sound reasoning of their faith in accordance to scripture and many infallible proofs. Instead of conjuring up emotions with a stage performance, they trusted the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11) and God’s promise that His word shall not return void (Isaiah 55:8-11).

Satan is not without his counterfeits, and a cult member such as those individuals in Mormonism may quite easily tell you of their radically changed lifestyle, and the sense of peace and purpose it has brought them.

We are all in a sense spiritual creatures. We posses a spirit and, rather than be godly and right with God, the more popular attitude would prefer to merely be ‘spiritual’, an exploration of our own spirituality apart from the one who made us. Yet the Bible urges us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1). The more important question for our age is not, ‘should we be spiritual or not?’, but more appropriately, ‘are our spiritual dealings from the Holy Spirit or some other spirit?’/ ‘Is our spirituality a godly spirituality?’ – Anyone can be spiritual, though it is another thing entirely to be godly – to have a spirituality and spiritual nature of the Lord’s people, of Christ.

Talking about the Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, who is the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us,

“the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6)

Life and peace…

  • HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED OR ASKED THE QUESTION, JUST WHAT IS THIS LIFE AND PEACE DESCRIBED BY PAUL? How are we suppose to define it? After all for a component so essential to every human soul, we cannot afford to be ambiguous.
  • Many new fads (just like old fads) promise abundant improvements to your life and peace. For recent example, “The Secret“, which Oprah promotes using the occult notion of willing your thoughts into reality by the supposed ‘laws of attraction’ of the universe, and for this she actually claims Biblical justification, “The Secret is about supporting the great spiritual traditions in a more modern form. “It really is just putting Christianity, Judaism, all the great teachings into a current vernacular”

    Could this be what Paul means in Romans 8? Is this the way to obtain true life and peace of the spiritual person? Does the Bible simply mean a peace that we can all experience at times despite our ‘spiritual tradition’? A peace that man can manufacture?
    Or is there another definition?

    As most are aware, there are no chapters or verses in the original letter of Romans. Paul writes,

    “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God… …For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 4:25;Romans 5:1-2;Romans 5:6-9)

    It is clear, the kind of peace Paul talks about is far more precise, and far more profound. When he describes peace, he describes having that near inexpressible peace with God – that peace of knowing your sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus on the cross, – that peace of being reconciled and having the weight of sin lifted off your shoulders. The life as Paul describes “life” in Romans, is not abundant finance, or even a vitality, self-confidence or an extra emotional ‘spring in your step’. Jesus never came with a promise of a better material life. It is eternal life (Romans 6:23), new life born from above – Amen. To know Him, a real man, our God, who is the way, the truth, and the life.

    “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

    So paying attention we see Paul says the mind set on the spirit is life and peace. It is the Holy Spirit who directs us on the narrow path, to our benefit convicting us of sin, righteousness and judgment, and so to have a mind set on the Holy Spirit is to ever continue to point our minds toward the cross, our minds, meditation and life’s focus toward our eternal life and peace by the blood of Jesus. What He has done for us. For we see our Lord teaches us of the Spirit,

    “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:14)

    And perhaps this truth may assist then in understanding Romans 8 a little more clearly, as less about some ‘mystical force’ to obtain and wield, and rather about the truth of God working in our lives through the gospel as we set our minds upon Him, to walk in Him. This is the true ‘experience of peace’ Paul would have us know.

    Glory be to God. And dear reader if you do not know this peace of your sins forgiven as a Christian, it is sad to say you do not know the God who made you and are lost on your way to judgment for your sin. It is Christ who came to save sinners, and you must repent – turn from your rebellion and sin, and turn to God and put your faith in Jesus who bore our penalty of judgment – and God who is rich in mercy is pleased to forgive those who come to Him.

  • To demonstrate the limit of experience, allow me to (ironically) reflect on some recent incidents of my own experience:

    The hour grows late – and the two Mormons who had by invitation, attended our evangelical Christian Bible study, decide to call it a night. Lots of topics were discussed and debated, and in final remarks one of the Mormons says, “look we all believe in Jesus anyways, and all I know is that if you’re sincere, if you pray and really mean it, God will convince you in your heart that Joseph Smith really is God’s prophet. He did for me.” My Christian friend soberly replies, “my friend I have to tell you; your Jesus, is a different Jesus.” Quite far from what were the actual expectations of my friend and I, the reaction of these two Mormon men was one of disarming shock and speechlessness.

    The reality of using the right name but worshiping a false god is a serious one. The Israelites faced this charge with the worship of Baal. The word Baal simply means “master” or “husband” and implies “Lord”, however the human sacrifice of infants on high places certainly established beyond doubt specifically which god they were worshiping, and it was not their true Master, Husband and Lord. Likewise Paul charges the Corinthian church,

    “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. ” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

    In Mormonism, with its multiple gods, a Christ who is merely a created being, the half brother of Satan and not part of the trinity, who teaches a different, sacramental gospel of works – We considered mentioning this point as vital, and were very surprised as to the effect of this truth.

    So striking was the effect of pointing out we worship different gods, that in a subsequent smaller meeting, when my friend and I were again joined now by four Mormons in the living room, that we decided (after sharing the clarity of the Biblical gospel) to illustrate and emphasize this difference again. The absolute insistence of the Mormons that we worshiped the same Jesus was surprising, but not so much as the unprepared surprise they had at hearing the clear Biblical differences. Mormon proselytizing often involves targeting people with a Christian influence, and they often appeal to and believe themselves in the idea that their Mormon Christ and even sometimes salvation are the same. In the end of this second evening, after several discussion topics, it was the true identity of Jesus, and the truth of the Biblical gospel, which turned out to be crucial, the power of God to utterly shake their composure and make the largest ground room.

    Okay interesting, but why this story?” – you may ask.

    Through the course of our evening we attempted to provide scriptural and historical facts in discussion and refutation of the various theological arguments. When much of their proclamations had been answered in quite extensive detail and the four of them became increasingly anxious and prepared to leave (obviously this is only my perception), a sudden change occurred with our guests as they made their departing speeches – even to the point of a radically different tone of voice. One of their elders, almost as if throwing up his hands, explained to us,

    “Just look. We could talk about these ‘scripture arguments’ and I don’t even know how to answer them, but in the end of the day, I am simply convinced that Joseph Smith is a prophet. You see God gave this to me in my heart and so I ‘just know’. You see I’ve got this burning feeling inside me. Look at all of us, we’re out here, talking to you two. This is our whole lives. Do you think we would do that if we weren’t sincere and didn’t have this burning feeling in our hearts from God? If you read the book of Mormon sincerely, wanting to know it’s true, God will convince you in your heart that it’s true.

    Can you see the dilemma that is presented here?

    All evening we’d suffered the slight frustration of providing truth, upon fact, upon objective truth, in the face of little more than dismissals and highly strung emotion. But in the end, sadly for our guests, the final decision and method of outreach was an appeal to subjective personal feelings and convictions. In our personal lives between my friend and I due to coming to Christ, we have left the Catholic church and Catholic family tradition, dramatically changed a lifestyle of carousing in drunkenness, or the drug, occult and homosexual culture, lost all our friends, for the testimony of the gospel also been labeled cult members, nearly thrown out of home for being baptized, entered third world countries on evangelistic mission, and consigned gladly to telling others the gospel in various ministry activities, street evangelism and our daily lives, etc..

    Can you see the dilemma yet? It is clear that the Mormons held strong feelings of conviction – life changing experiences even. However it is clear that my born again Christian friend and I do also. Along with a great many people of all walks of life. The dilemma is that neither of us can tangibly share those feelings with somebody else. I can’t telepathically share and compare my convictions with you, and even if I could, that would still be just the two of us and our points of reference. Say someone sincerely reads the book of Mormon honoring God and asking to know the truth and instead ends up not being convinced in their heart? Are their feelings then wrong or insincere? The one thing I can share is the objective truth.

  • Christ tells us

    “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

    Fact -> Faith -> Feelings

    Sadly, the great many people, reverse the representation in this image above, particularly when it comes to the destiny of their eternal souls. Yes peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Our feelings can certainly come from our faith, but it ought not be the other way around where our faith is pulled along by our feelings or personal convictions. Most of all, humans with their tremendous depth of mental capacity can believe anything they choose to, even if it deludes. The feelings are then sure to follow or, fickle as they are at times, change.

    Truth remains where feelings fail. For those who would be honest, we cannot avoid the facts. Truth, especially that of the most important kind, is so very much independent of our personal opinions.

  • Why get so interested in sharing the facts of the truth?
    Well Jesus does command us to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15) and Peter exhorts us to,

    “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15)

    As for demonstration, allow me still to share another recent story:

    In the same living room – this time just myself joined by two Jehovah’s Witness guests. We had discussed a very strange idea which they hold to – their teaching of “new light” or “greater light”. After documenting error upon error with various teachings of their organization they pointed out to me that this is strangely enough real proof that they are Jehovah’s true witness. Allegedly moving on from these mistakes (though not all of them mind you) was suppose to be evidence that their watchtower ‘beacon of light’ was actually getting brighter. The ability to interpret an ever increasing record of errors as really a record of increasing blessing and light from God is a hallmark trait for many such groups that claim to be the inerrant mouthpiece of God.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained in proselytizing to (amongst other things), change or redirect the subject when the going gets tough. This practice is justifiable allegedly, because they believe we are lost and so wish to avoid stumbling blocks to our coming to their organization (instead of dealing with these stumbling blocks). My experience that afternoon was little different, and I surprisingly managed to note no less than seventeen times in which a question was deflected and the subject changed. Aware of this, and thankful for God’s eternal presence, I was fortunate to be able to point out and consistently return to those hard questions for the benefit of my guests, and consistently summarize and recapitulate points they had better preferred ignored.

    So effective was the consistent returning to the questions for which they had no answer and the reasoned arguments from the scripture, that my guests, who witness daily for a living, started to become utterly speechless. One gentleman became visibly bright red and lost his ability to control his shaking, clenched fists. Seeing what had clearly made a strong impact, I went on to the hope in sharing the gospel.

    This is sadly when again it happened. One gentleman in a sudden, radical departure of body language and change of vocal tone, motioned to the other to leave and shared the following closing words with me,

    “Well I can see you’ve certainly been searching the scriptures, and you know.. well.. I don’t know what to say,.. but we’re just here to help people and love people,.. do you know what I mean?.. We’re not here to debate with you, we’re here to love you.. and share that feeling with you which we have from Jehovah.”

    Again we have a dilemma and the crucial need for honesty. What kind of love was this dramatically different closing speech all about? These gentlemen had earlier in the evening told me plainly that they really don’t believe I’m saved, even that I’ve misunderstood the whole Bible. With an honest heart I had shared the same. If they truly intended to love me, why not strive for my life? Why not risk the unpleasantness of debate with meekness and respect, in order to attempt to show the error in my understanding, that error that allegedly damns my soul in their eyes? Truth be said, thanks to God I now have plenty of hugs and close friends for emotional support, and so if these gentlemen, these apologists and frequent wittinesses were not honestly attempting to convert me, to share with me the truth and discuss the Bible, it begs to ask whether we’re still talking about love at all, or merely emotion feelings.

    Real love “rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6); love obeys Christ and preaches the gospel (John 14:15; Philippians 1:16-17), and Paul prays,

    “that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10)

    Rather than a promise that you can experience consistently feelings of love in this life, the Bible promises the assurance of knowing for certain Christ’s love, through His salvation and eternal life (Romans 5).

    Now it’s an easy thing point out the error of various cult groups such as in Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but what about the rest of us? What about you? If you have the time and consider the importance of the gospel, do check out the following short video.

  • The Bible describes the attitude in particular which is characteristic of the end times before God’s judgment. This is as those with a deluded contentment and much talk of ‘peace’.

    For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3)

  • If experience has taught us anything… it is that we must turn to the truth and not personal experience as our measure of this reality, our lives, our religion and yes even of our personal experiences.
  • We must be prepared all the more to disturb the peace ‘as the world gives it’ so that the Peace of Christ may be known, be prepared to upset this peace lest people contently live out lives of sin without turning to the salvation they so desperately need. Truth, yes truth that offends our sinful pride and foolish ideas. Giving a defense for the hope that is within us in truth, and of course in meekness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

    We must be prepared to ask the hard question,
    “All that I’ve know, all that I’ve experienced, all that I’ve believed and felt. Could it be wrong? Is it founded on the rock of Christ?”
    We must be prepared to consider the shortness of our time here, consider our loved ones, consider the stranger, consider our enemies. Consider more so that we are all enemies of God lest we be reconciled through Christ (Romans 5:10). What are we doing with ourselves and our time here? Who are we kidding?

    I can’t see inside your house, I don’t know what depth of feeling, pain or contentment you have inside the house of your soul, your life. But it doesn’t matter, God knows. I can look on the outside of your house and tell you by the truth of God, if it is not founded on the rock which is Christ Jesus, despite what you may feel, dear friend it shall fall and you will perish in Hell (Luke 6:47-49). Let this not be you today. Regardless of whether you think you are a Christian or not, you could die today, (you think most people are expecting the day they die?), and we know ten out of ten people will die someday, isn’t it time to stop thinking and start knowing?

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

    [and read on still]

    For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21)

    [Editorial note: Moments after writing this article two Mormon missionaries arrived at my door. I thank God for the opportunity to share with them and I mentioned a few things from this article. I fear not being a good enough witness, but one thing I ask is that we’d be a people that continue to pray fervently for the gospel to free these people, all the millions of them.

    One things they did mention in order to refute the utmost importance of speaking the truth in God’s Word, was 1 Corinthians 2 where Paul talks about not speaking from the wisdom of man but in the power of God. Obviously this still doesn’t give a justification to make your personal feelings the sole basis of outreach. Rather than cleverly appealing to the heart strings, Paul was still “preaching and speaking”, but he tells us here his preaching and speaking was in the wisdom of God, the power of His true gospel and speaking the truth (as opposed to cleverly devised human speech) – trusting in God’s promise through His Word and the Holy Spirit to convict sinners.

    So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

    I will give You thanks with all my heart;
    I will sing praises to You before the gods.
    I will bow down toward Your holy temple
    And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
    For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. (Psalm 138:1-2)

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    6 Responses to “If experience has taught us anything…”

    1. This is great Justin!

    2. bebereans says:

      This is wonderful! What a blessing y’all are.

    3. [...] If experience has taught us anything… [...]

    4. dani says:

      excellent and insightful article justin! sadly though, i think the mormons use subjective
      “truth” in many areas. they are trained to give their “testimony” (burning in the bosom) when the meetings are not going so well. so maybe a good meeting! as far as the jehovah’s witnesses, you probably have “misunderstood the whole Bible”… according to their translation anyway! they have made some changes, most notably John 1:1. quite necessary in order to teach Jesus as just “a god.”

      “if they truly intended to love me, why not strive for my life? why not risk the unpleasantness of debate with meekness and respect, in order to attempt to show the error in my understanding, that error that alledgedly damns my soul in their eyes?” what a great point!!

    5. marty mcfly says:

      “So effective was the consistent returning to the questions for which they had no answer and the reasoned arguments from the scripture, that my guests, who witness daily for a living, started to become utterly speechless. One gentleman became visibly bright red and lost his ability to control his shaking, clenched fists. Seeing what had clearly made a strong impact, I went on to the hope in sharing the gospel.

      This is sadly when again it happened. One gentleman in a sudden, radical departure of body language and change of vocal tone, motioned to the other to leave and shared the following closing words with me,

      “Well I can see you’ve certainly been searching the scriptures, and you know.. well.. I don’t know what to say,.. but we’re just here to help people and love people,.. do you know what I mean?.. We’re not here to debate with you, we’re here to love you.. and share that feeling with you which we have from Jehovah.””

      Hey this is pretty much exactly what happened the last time i was visited by 2 mormon missionaries – only one of them got so angry that he stood up and started yelling at me about how much guts it took him to be out as a missionary for 2 years and how much of his time i had wasted – there was no interest in debate or reason based discussion, that, no I was simply a waste of their time – I couldn’t help but feel the love!!

    6. marty mcfly says:

      sorry for the double post but i just thought that this:

      “Now it’s an easy thing point out the error of various cult groups such as in Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but what about the rest of us? What about you? If you have the time and consider the importance of the gospel…”

      was an excellent point :) thanks justin

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