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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Experience the Difference
In the very moment that I surrendered my life entirely to God, I experienced a change. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I can't tell you now if I actually heard it, but in my memory it seems there was a rushing sound, like wind in my ears, and a sense within me that I was not only accepted by God, but cleaner than I had ever been. I didn't sense any alien intellect, nor did I see a vision, or hear a voice, but I knew a peace I had never known before, and I was certain - utterly certain - that I was right with God, because Christ was right with God, and I had been joined to Him in the moment I believed. I knew, in the core of my being, though I would not have articulated it as such, that the Holy Spirit was now in me, where before he Had not been.

My experience, profound as it may have been for me, doesn't "prove" that I was (or am) saved. I know I am saved, not because I had an experience, but because the scriptures tell me that if I call upon the name of the Lord (and I have) that I will be saved. For all I know my experience was nothing more than an emotional reaction to the sudden conviction that I was no longer among the damned. Surely such a conviction would be uplifting. Perhaps my conviction of salvation triggered the release of endorphins and the sudden rush of experience was interpreted by my yearning mind as the elation that accompanies a spiritual phenomenon - and so I regarded a perfectly natural experience as something unnatural.

Having said that, I am convinced that something spiritual did happen on that day that I called on the name of the Lord in earnest. It isn't my experience that convinces me of this, it is the word of God. What I believe is that God is true, and His promises are yes and amen. I believe that God is going to save me because He promised to save those who call upon Him - and I have called upon Him in earnest. I don't look back to this experience as proof that I was (am) saved. When doubt as to my true estate assaults me, I do not comfort myself with the thought that I (at one time) called upon the name of the Lord, nor do I look back and comfort myself with the thought that I had some pleasant, and seemingly confirming experience. I don't look back at all. Instead I remind myself that I am not saving myself, but that God is saving me. I look to the scriptures again, and am comforted because in these I find the character of God put on display, and I anchor my hope anew to the sure knowledge that the God who has begun to save me, will not leave the work unfinished. That the promises He has given, are not empty, and will be fulfilled. My hope is not in myself, but in Him.

Leonard Ravenhill wrote in his book, "Why Revival Tarries", that the man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. I love the way Ravenhill could turn a phrase, but I don't like this particular gem, and here is why: experiences must be interpreted, and we are all fallible interpreters. Islam's founding prophet had a number of profound experiences which he then interpreted in a way that, according to his understanding, invalidated the scriptures. His experiences trumped everything else, including the truth. I don't doubt that this fellow had the experiences he claimed to have, what I doubt is his interpretation of these experiences.

The Apostle Peter remarked that although he had had this remarkable experience on the mountain, seeing Jesus in His glory, and Elijah and Moses, and hearing God the Father speak out of the clouds that surrounded them, yet he had something more certain that his experience: the scriptures (c.f. 2 Peter 1:16ff). I take my cue from Peter when it comes to experiences, I can't be sure that my experiences are anything, but I can be certain of the word of God.

I am convinced, and I hope I have encouraged you also in this direction dear reader, that the man with an opinion derived from the clear teaching of the bible is on far more stable ground than the one who regards some personal experience as on par with, or even having more authority than scripture.  A personal experience may be edifying, it may be genuinely spiritual, but give it no more authority than it deserves.  You could be wrong, the scriptures cannot be wrong.  Do the math.
posted by Daniel @ 12:18 PM  
12 Comments:
  • At 3:41 PM, February 21, 2013, Blogger Steve Finnell said…

    you are invited to follow my blog

     
  • At 8:25 AM, February 23, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your post really has me thinking. It's important to my testimony/witness, I think.

    I had such an experience as yours. In my recollection, from about 13+ years ago, after that moment on my knees, the room - the church where I was in - was physically brighter. I scarce noticed ANYone in the room. I know my husband came alongside me to whisk me away from the altar and stand somewhere on the side of the room, then everyone began singing, but I hardly noticed them. I know my husband felt embarrassed or ashamed. I had gone to the front of the church and kneeled and confessed my sin and asked the Lord's forgiveness and pleaded for Him to accept and change me, and He did. Everything changed that evening. I was lighter inside. It's like that huge weight of guilt, burden, shame just was lifted from me. I bore it no more.

    I couldn't have articulated any of that then. I can scarce give it adequate words now.

    And sometimes, when talking with brothers and sisters in Christ, about how I know I'm saved, what leaps to my mind is experience first. The only way I can articulate that I know it - deep down - is that He does not leave me alone. I am tempted and I sometimes feel the pull of the world on me - old idols or worldly pleasures and distractions - but... He never fails to compel me ever toward Him. It's not that I couldn't in my feeble way just forget my first love. I could. But He doesn't leave me. He doesn't forsake me. I know these are words from Scripture, but it's my experiencing them for myself that makes them real to me.

    So while I agree with you that His words are always faithful and true, and my experiences cannot be relied upon, I need to stand on that Rock and testify to His Word alone, which changes lives. My experiences don't, but they are my testimony. My feelings, my interpretations are all fallible. And yet it's my experience with His Spirit in me that bears witness to His Truth.

     
  • At 9:05 AM, February 27, 2013, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon,

    Thanks for taking the time to share a little of your testimony with me and my readers. Having read your comment, I wasn't sure how to understand your final paragraph.

    You started it with the words, "So while I agree with you..." - which I understood to be your way of introducing the thought that while you agree in general, there was a point of disagreement that you wanted to share. Only, having read the last paragraph I wasn't sure what that point was.

    I am going to assume that your final statement is a summary of the point of disagreement, and address what I think you meant, but I am really guessing here, so don't read too much into it if I am way, way off.

    You said, "And yet it's my experience with His Spirit in me that bears witness to His Truth."

    We both surely agree that a witness is either a person or a thing that testifies to the truth of something.

    You reference your own experiences as something that cannot be relied upon, but reference these same experiences as bearing witness to God's truth.

    I don't know what to make of that. It sounds like you accept the truth that your own experiences are unreliable, but yet you rely upon them as a witness to the truth.

    The apostle Paul had a profound experience on the road to Damascus - one that eventually led to his salvation. But by Paul's own writing (c.f. 1 Corinthians 2:1-14) we learn that it is the Holy Spirit who makes the gospel intelligible, that without the Holy Spirit's teaching, no person is able to comprehend any spiritual truth. Paul does not fail to describe his experiences in giving his testimony, but he does not understand these experiences as testifying to the truth of the gospel. He explains that it is the Holy Spirit who testifies to the truth of the gospel - that is, it is the Holy Spirit who makes the gospel intelligible/salvific.

    Am I reading you right, and did my response make sense? I don't want to misunderstand or misrepresent you here. I am just looking to understand, and be edified by, your closing remarks.

     
  • At 11:44 AM, March 01, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Daniel,

    I'm going to break my comment up into two or more because I'm receiving this error message:
    "Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters"

    I apologize for not making myself more clear. Let’s see if I can state it better than I did the first time.

    Only God’s Word will convict someone of the Truth and cause that person to be born again, via God’s work through His Holy Spirit. It is His work and His work alone. That we agree upon.

    I also think that our testimony before others can include our experiences which can be relied upon as our own testimony as to how God works in our own lives. It’s not that the understanding of our experiences is always reliable, but if it agrees with what God has communicated through His Word, that experience is reliable to the point that it agrees with Scripture.

    I agree with you that the interpretations of our experiences cannot always be relied upon since our interpretations can be in error. but not all interpretations are in error; We need to examine them in the light of God’s Word to see if the Spirit confirms those interpretations as truth.

    Naturally, there will be times when Godly men disagree on interpretation which is another example of how man’s interpretations can fail, but that doesn’t mean that every one of them has failed, of course, since one interpretation may in fact be accurate. What we know is that God’s Truth is never in error.

    When I wonder whether or not I am saved and when I have gone through periods of doubt – if I share with another believer how I know that I am saved, my first words are usually from experience and not Scripture – affirming that “He never leaves me alone,” which is experiential. I suppose the Scripture which leaps to mind at this point is that He only corrects those He loves, which is in my experience how I realize I am saved – that in spite of my own wickedness, bad thoughts, distractions, I know that by my experience, if I were unsaved, adiaphorous things wouldn’t bother me, but they do. I am acutely aware of my impurity, my selfishness, my sin ...

     
  • At 11:46 AM, March 01, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ...Perhaps in this small example, you can see how I am in a sense relying on my experience, which is my experience with the Holy Spirit indwelling, to rest assured of my salvation, because it has nothing to do with me, but Who is within me. If I weren’t saved, I don’t think I would care one way or another about my spending too much time engaged in things that are not in outward opposition to God’s Word, but I know in my heart and by Scripture that I am not doing “all as unto the Lord.” I live selfishly when I do not walk in His Spirit. It is this conviction - and experience - that makes me know His love for me. He doesn't leave me to myself.

    Perhaps this is tangential to your post, but I can see a connection between experience and God’s Word. And I think this is important when we witness and share testimonies, which are in fact how we share the Word of God – we do so by our experience with it – not relying on experience, but applying it all the same.

    How does one preach or witness to another without bringing themselves into the picture (personal testimony) – not giving ourselves the credit, but stating what God has done in and with and through us – much like Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus?

    You mention Peter, and I think of him a lot as I relate his “experience” on the water when he looked at his own situation and sank, but when his eyes were fixed on Christ, he walked on the water. From Peter’s “experience” I learn to stop living by sight and walk through my situations by faith (as the Word tells me to do). To keep my eyes on Christ. To stop myself in the middle of my mind’s wandering to the details of any particular trial to instead praise the Lord and keep my heart and mind set on Him (again, as the Word says). I’m not saying here that Peter’s experience is key, but it is a manner or method through which he (and we) learned God’s Truth.

    Perhaps it’s the word “experience" that’s causing the misunderstanding here, because experiencing things is how God comes to us. He created us as beings that interact in the world through our brains, our feelings, our touch, etc. All of the ways we “experience” something. Not that we and our perceptions are always perfect or wholly reliable, but His Word in us – His Spirit in us – His causing us to be born again, well, that’s an experience, and one that we ourselves know. ...

     
  • At 11:46 AM, March 01, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ...
    Rereading your post, I think very similarly as you do – I know that God will complete the good work that He began. I know that He is the author and finisher of my faith. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I committed unto Him against that day. I know that not even I – nor any created thing (inc demons) – can separate myself from the love of God. I know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. I know that He will work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. I know these things. Yet I know them by my brain, my heart, my faith, all the He has given me to “experience” this.

    I’m not suggesting that our experiences have authority - merely that they are a means through which God saves us - by His grace through giving us faith experientially. We are created as experiential beings, and I’m just trying to both agree and disagree with your post in that certainly God’s Word is Truth, and our experiences are not the arbiter of that Truth. Nor are our interpretations ever going to be always accurate, whereas God’s Word will never fail. But our experiences have their place, I guess is what I’m saying. It is through our experiences that we come to hear, feel, know, and ultimately share that Truth.

    I hope I haven’t muddied the waters any. I hear relatively new believers at my church talk about what they’re going through, and I can empathize about those experiences with them, while offering understanding and encouragement from God’s Word, that alone will carry them – and me – through the rest of our experiences until we reach the end of this time on earth and reach our final home.

    Thank you for your patience with my lengthy explanation.

     
  • At 1:07 PM, March 01, 2013, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon

    I am at work, and can't respond to you in as timely a manner as I would like, but I will get back to you soon.

     
  • At 1:28 PM, March 03, 2013, Blogger Curt said…

    Daniel,

    Awesome! I recently came to this point in my life - trusting the Word of God to confirm my salvation rather than what I experienced the night the Lord Jesus saved me. Your words mirror EXACTLY what happened to me - I am saved because I have called upon the name of the Lord, as the Scriptures say. Dan Phillips "The World Tilting Gospel" shone the light of this (not sure about plugging a book here - I apologize if it's a no-no).

    Thanks Daniel!!!

     
  • At 10:58 AM, March 05, 2013, Blogger Daniel said…

    Curt,

    Thanks for commenting. You can plug Dan's book here, as I hear from those who I both trust and have read it that it's a good book.

     
  • At 1:07 PM, March 05, 2013, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon,

    I apologize. My response hasn't been very timely, and you may no longer be even following this thread. I honestly forgot about your comment until I was notified that Curt had commented.

    If I understand you correctly, and I am summarizing this rather flavourlessly, so bear with me, what you are saying is that when we believe an experience line up with the scriptures we can trust that experience.

    If that isn't what you're saying, let me know.

     
  • At 8:38 AM, March 07, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,
    No problem at all. I understand that you're a very busy man.
    Well, yes, that is in part what I'm saying. I don't know how much more to elaborate on it than I already have.
    I'm just saying that experience has its place, not granting it authority, but that it is through us experientially (with God's Holy Spirit in us) that we come to faith - come to repentance, come to love God, come to know Him, come to obedience. This is how experience has its place. I'm just saying it shouldn't be easily dismissed.
    We are to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength - and that is experiencing Him - as we are connected. Engaged.
    I myself am clumsy at explaining this. I was just trying to affirm the truth of what I read in your post, yet not dismiss experience out of hand.
    Blessings to you, brother, and peace that passeth all understanding.

     
  • At 8:53 AM, March 07, 2013, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon,

    I agree with what you have said in this last commen. We oughtn't to neglect or dismiss our personal experiences simply because they have no authority whatsoever. Our experiences have a place in our history, such that we cannot examine or consider our history without touching upon them.

    My concern is only piqued when there is some suggestion (whether intended, or because I am reading something into what is written something other than what is intended) that our experiences can be relied upon, or that they possess an authority beyond what our own subjective interpretation warrants (which ought to be no authority at all).

    Thanks for taking the time to clarify that for me.

     
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