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Discerning True Holy Spirit Experiences


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 04:30 AM

I once asked a believer in the present day possession of the Holy Spirit and gifts for his understanding of the Scriptural criteria for determining whether or not alleged 'Holy Spirit experiences' are genuine.

He replied:

(1) by determining if they accept the Lordship of Jesus (1 Cor 12:3)
(2) by whether they acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (1 John 4:1-2)
(3) for whether their message edifies and is an expression of love (1 Cor 14:1-19)
(4) i.e. whether it is "good" or "evil" (1 Thess 5:19-22)
(5) if their message is for "the common good" (1 Cor 12:7).


I agree with these criteria, even though I think that additional criteria ought to be added.
But let's just examine modern 'Holy Spirit' experiences in the light of these criteria.

1) All this writhing on the floor, laughing hysterically, shaking spasmodically, screaming incoherently, making animal noises and such like. What believers of Holy Spirit possession are pleased to call 'responses to the presence of the Lord'.

- Is it an acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ? Not obviously. It doesn't direct anything towards him at all, least of all praise, honour, or glory.

- Is it an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ came in the flesh? By no means.

- Is it a message which edifies, or is an expression of love? Not at all - it's not even remotely intelligble.

- Is it for 'good' or 'evil'? Well, one could hardly say it is for good. It doesn't do any good at all, not for the individual, and least of all for the congregation. Is it evil? Well, even being very kind, one could only say that it's entirely useless.

- Is it a message for the common good? No - it's not a message at all. It doesn't even make any kind of sense. The wide variety of meanings and interpretations which have been placed on these manifestations demonstrate that there is no consensus on what these manifestations actually mean.

If there is a message, it has yet to be determined. Even the most optimistic believer can hardly claim that the common good has been addressed by them.

2) Speaking unintelligibly, gibbering senselessly, or gabbling meaninglessly. What believers of Holy Spirit possession are pleased to call 'speaking in tongues'.

- Is it an acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ? Hardly. It's not even understandable.
It gives him no acknowledgement at all.

- Is it an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ came in the flesh? No. See above.
He isn't even mentioned by name.

- Is it a message which edifies, or is an expression of love? By no means. Since it cannot be understood, it can hardly edify or express anything comprehensible.

- Is it for 'good' or 'evil'? Well, to be fair, since what is spoken is never intelligible, the best one could say is that one would have to suspend judgement until the message was interpreted. Which it never is. I would say that if this wasn't exactly evil, it's very far from being good - it's completely useless.

- Is it a message for the common good? No. Never. But apparently this is fine with most believers in modern day 'speaking in tongues'. Apparently this is a personal, private manifestation of the spirit, for the personal and exclusive edification of the individual speaking. Which is so far removed from the Scriptural criteria, that it fails patently.

3) Feeling 'love', 'joy', 'a warm glow', 'tingling', 'happiness', or other pleasing emotions.

- Is it an acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ? No. It doesn't communicate anything about his Lordship at all.

- Is it an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ came in the flesh? No. See above. He isn't even mentioned by name.

- Is it a message which edifies, or is an expression of love? Well, it certainly doesn't edify in the Scriptural sense, any more than seeing someone happy for normal reasons edifies in the Scriptural sense. Perhaps one could argue that it is an expression of love, but only of the individual for their God. Even this is stretching the point.

- Is it for 'good' or 'evil'? Well, it feels good for the individual concerned, but it doesn't go any further than that.

- Is it a message for the common good? It's not a message at all. Nothing is communicated. Someone just feels something. That's all.

Well, we can see that even by these criteria, modern 'Holy Spirit' manifestations fall very far short of being even remotely sanctioned by Scripture.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 04:33 AM

Let's add a couple more Scriptural criteria to this list, and see if modern 'Holy Spirit' manifestations stack up against them any better:

1) Speaking in tongues meant speaking miraculously in a known language which one had not previously learned - Acts 2:4-11.
- Fail. Modern 'speaking in tongues' isn't even remotely similar.

2) Being filled with the Holy Spirit always resulted in a miraculous display of God's power.

Bezaleel was 'filled with the Spirit of God' in Exodus 31:3, that he might have the wisdom to build the Tabernacle.

In Numbers 24:2, the Spirit of God came upon Balaam, and he prophesied.

Samson had the Holy Spirit rest upon him in Judges 14-16, and on every occasion was able to perform feats of supernatural strength.

In 1 Samuel 10:9, the Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he prophesied.

In 1 Samuel 19:20, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they prophesied.

In 2 Chronicles 15:1, ' the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded', and he prophesied.

Elizabeth was 'filled with the Holy Spirit' in Luke 1:41, and prophesied, even repeating, unawares, the angel's greeting to Mary (Luke 1:28).

Zecharias was 'filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied', Luke 1:67.

Jesus, 'being full of the Holy Spirit', went 40 days and nights without food, Luke 4:1-2.

The 120 disciples in Acts 2:4 were 'filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues'.

Peter, in Acts 4:8, 'filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them...', prophesying (in the sense of proclaiming the word of God and expounding it), without having a prepared speech, the words being given to him by God in accordance with Mark 13:11.

Stephen, 'being full of the Holy Spirit... saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God' in Acts 7:55-6.

- Fail. Modern day individuals supposedly 'filled with the Holy Spirit' manifest none of these miracles.

3) Luke 5:17 tells us that when people came to Christ, 'the power of the Lord was present to heal them'.

Christ gave his disciples this power in Matthew 10:1,8, Mark 3:15, Luke 9:1-2.

In Luke 4, we find that this was a fulfillment of prophecy:

Luke 4:
18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.


This then was the purpose of the Spirit of the Lord. It is noteworthy that twice it is specifically mentioned that preaching was part of the purpose of the Spirit. Noteworthy also, is the fact that the Spirit was given to heal.

- Fail. Modern day believers in the Holy Spirit possession/gifts firstly play down the fact that the purpose of the Spirit was for the preaching of the gospel, and secondly deny that it gave anyone the power to heal. If it gave no one the power to heal, then Christ was wasting his time:

Matthew 10:
1And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.


Mark 3:
14And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
15And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:


Mark 6:
7And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;


Luke 9:
1Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
2And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.


Luke 10:
19Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.


Note the number of times which the power of the Spirit is associated with the work of preaching.
Its importance in this regard is evident, and cannot be 'played down' or minimised.

More could be written, but for now this will suffice to demonstrate that by the Scriptural criteria of 'testing the spirits', the modern day 'Holy Spirit manifestations' fail dismally.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics




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