But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions."It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. - Jude 1: 17-19 (ESV)
The lights are dim. The smoke from the smoke machine starts to waft through the sanctuary. The drum beat grows louder to almost a deafening pitch. Sappy piano strokes or guitar riffs fill the background noise out. The entertainers on stage are all dressed in the latest fad of ripped skinny jeans and rolled up flannels; exposing their tattoos. The lead female worship leader is rolling around on the ground, laughing almost demonically. Engaging in a faux conversation with Jesus. The lead male is mumbling something about God sending rain down on a barren land. The hipster pastor dude is wading through the congregation, laying hands on anyone and everyone. Sputtering sentence fragments over them and pushing them down ever so noticeably into the waiting arms of someone from the "altar ministry." You can't quite hear what the pastor dude is saying but apparently there is some kind of "shift" going on that requires for everyone to "go deeper." The female lead is now shouting that she is soaking! Soaking in the presence! The male lead starts to invite people to jump into the river if you love Jesus. Strange clouds of gold glitter start to emanate from the ventilations system"I mean heaven. The pastor dude stops and tells everyone to embrace the glory cloud as he shows them gem stones he claims have just "supernaturally" appeared. Soon the scene is utter chaos. Bodies strewn all over the floor. Worship leaders pretending to be caught in a downpour. Uncontrolled laughter mixed with gibberish. Suddenly random people start laying hands on each other while others approach an open microphone to "prophesy" over the people. The prophecies are always vague and never have anything to do with Scripture. It is not about Scripture. It is not about the Bible. It is all about the experience. This emotionally driven, theologically vacuous display is passed off as a "spiritual experience." The pastor will rave about it next week before his sermon. The people will swear there was such an "anointing" and that it was a true move of the Spirit of the Lord. None of it however will be true.
This deception is not creative fiction. It is what is occurring across this country in many churches today. Just catch a service from IHOP or Bethel Church in Redding California. Just catch the latest heretical movie, "Holy Ghost." The cry from these people are always the same. The church is trying to place God in a box - you need relationship! It sounds so good to the itching ears but it remains anathema to us as Christians. No one writes more about the abuses within our church walls but religion is not a dirty word. God used the word religion and differentiated between good and bad religion:
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. - James 1: 26-27 (ESV)
Yet to those enamored with experiential Christianity, all religion is bad. Why? Because of that pesky little box they always like to talk about. There is a Christian recording artist who makes the following statement in the movie, "Holy Ghost."
"What if we said collectively as the church, OK God, no more boxes. No more limits. No more we have to control everything. Just give God total control. Yeah, it's scary but I think that's the way we were meant to live." - Meredith Andrews
That is the way Satan wants us to live beloved. The limits she holds such contempt for is called doctrine. The box she abhors so much is called the Bible. It is the enemy of experiential Christianity and since Jesus is His Word, He too is the enemy to experiential Christianity. The reason why is the Word exposes what is false. When you point out that Scripture does not record any miracle manifestations of gem stones and gold dust, experiential Christians will say that we are "Pharisees" who just want to adhere to the law. The reality is we are Christians who just want to adhere to the Bible. Or we are asked the intellectually vacuous question of whether we believe that God "could have" performed the sign or not. Of course He could - He's God. The real question is why would He? Why would God suddenly depart from His own Word?
The lead singer of the experiential and heretical outfit known as Jesus Culture testifies to a waking visitation from Jesus who took her to the throne room of God. There she claims to have met the Father face to face and watched as He ripped out a chunk of His heart to mold a miniature version of her to dance and sing for Him. Experiential Christians will "ooh and ahh" over this but biblical Christians will call it for what it is - demonic. How do we know that? Because we have the Bible:
And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." - Exodus 33: 19-20 (ESV)
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. - 2Corinthians 11: 14-15 (ESV)
The Exodus Scriptures assures us that Kim Walker-Smith did not meet God the Father because if she did, she would be dead. The Corinthians verses give us the best possible answer to what actually happened. In all likelihood, she was visited demonically and could not tell the difference. Therein lies the rub beloved. The problem with experiential Christianity is that it is completely subjective upon humans who cannot be trusted. Even the most well intended are still encased in flesh, tempted by the enemy, enamored with this world, and have hearts which are wickedly deceptive above all else. Biblical Christianity however relies upon the Words God Himself has given us. There is no need for any additional revelation. There is no need for hidden knowledge; the hallmark of the Gnostic heresies. There is no need to be chasing the next big "spiritual" experience because we have been given the final revealed will of Almighty God! Do we honestly think He forgot something and wants to tell us through Bill Johnson or Mike Bickle? Do we revere the Word as we revere Christ? We ought to since His Word is Himself. What does the Bible teach us about His Word?
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. - 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (ESV)
It does not say that all personal experience is God-breathed. It does not say that we should use our experience as doctrine. To teach people, reprove them and correct them. Our experiences are not to be used to train us in righteousness. If the Bible is a box then seal me inside with it! Only the Bible equips us for every good work. I can convince myself anything is "of God" but only Scripture will reveal if it actually is.
Another side issue is that quite often the experiential Christians do not understand the demonic war they are messing around with. The Bible teaches us that we war against the rulers of darkness in this world and spiritual wickedness in high places. This is not some parlor trick or game we are playing. Lives are at stake. The eternal destination of the souls of men are on the line. It cannot all be an experiential show. The Bible talks about the first experiential Christians. They were known as the Seven Sons of Sceva:
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims."Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. - Acts 19: 13-16 (ESV)