One thing I learned about having an operation like I had is that many people wish to share their experiences with you. That is good to some extent, because I had never gone through anything quite like this and wasnít really sure what to expect.
Someone said once that Ďexperience is the best teacherí. I am sure that there is some truth to that statement, but experience isnít everything because experience varies with each individual. Many folks are looking for an experience when it comes to their religion. And many religions offer a variety of experiences for those who seek them.
I. What is Experiential Religion?
A. A religion based primarily upon emotional experiences or subjective feelings.
1. Some miraculous event.
2. A warm glow, or fuzzy feeling.
3. Visions and voices.
B. These "experiences" are especially numerous in two areas:
1. Among the uneducated where life experience is the master teacher.
2. Among ĎChristianí humanists
a. Matter is the only thing that matters
b. Now is the only time that counts c. Self is the only valid concern
3. Closely associated with experiential religion are visions, tongue speaking and claims of miracles.
4. Experiential religion is deceptive.
a. The devil offers many delusions to fill man's vacuum.
1) Astrology and the Occult
2) Drugs and Alcohol
3) Anything to offer exciting experiences.
b. Experiential Religion is a counterfeit.. substitute for the real thing
1) Faith comes by feeling instead of God's Word. Rom 10:17
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom 10:17)
2) Hope is based on experience rather than on the promises of God. Cf Heb 6:13-19
3) There is a tendency to dwell on personal testimonies.
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Mat 7:22-23)
C. Not all spiritual experiences are of God.
1. False prophets work signs.
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Mat 24:24)
2. Not all spirits are from God. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)
3. Lying wonders from Satan deceive men into believing a lie. Cf 2 Thess 2:9-12
Experiential Religion teaches that faith depends on and comes from one's experience. The Bible teaches that faith is produced by the Word of God is the basis and guideline for experience. Faith must be experienced.
II. Is it necessary to have an "experience" to be saved?
A. Many would say yes!
1. When sharing my testimony with Patís uncle, he was disappointed that I saw no visions nor heard no voices.
2. Is this taught in the Bible? Should we "seek" to have an experience?
B. Let's look at some in the New Testament who had "experiences" and see how they related to their salvation.
1. Saul of Tarsus. Cf Act 9:3-8
a. Light flashed. many expect this, but is not promised to anyone.
b. He heard a voice. likewise some expect this, but it isnít promised.
c. What did this "experience" have to do with his salvation?
1) He was not saved at this point.
2) His "experience" got his attention and pointed him to Christ.
2. Cornelius, Act 10:1-5
a. Did this vision save him? NO!
b. What did Cornelius gain from his experience?
1) Opportunity to hear the gospel from Peter. Cf 10:5,34
2) Proof that the Gentiles were to be saved, too. Cf 10:45
3. The Philippian Jailer. Cf Act 16:23-30
a. He had a great experience.
b. He certainly was moved by God, but salvation would not come until he believed! v31
c. If he failed to believe, regardless of the experience, he would not be saved!
We have all had experiences in life that have awakened our spiritual awareness. You probably could relate some event in your own life. Perhaps a tragic accident, meeting a special person, or reading a book.
However awakened these experiences are, they can only open the mind to accept God's Word. Only those who hear God's saving message, believe it and obey it will find the joy of salvation. No experience will ever substitute for the experience of obedience.