“A Christian should be able to say that what the Bible says should happen, really does happen in his or her life. If you surrender your life to Christ, there really should be transformation that happens. There should be evidence that both doctrine and experience are colliding together in a romance that creates the offspring of transformation in your life.” Gospel Realities – Chapter 13: The Doctrine of Reality
The world has no shortage of debates, as I am sure you have figured out already. We have found a way to debate just about everything. If there isn’t one yet about a particular topic, just wait a little while and there will be. That reality has also entered the church. Here is one that is actually worthwhile. The question is this: Should we believe God based on what the Bible says, or should we believe based on experience?
Oh man this is a fun one. It is fun because so many people say one thing but mean another. Actually there are about 3 different variations of this. Have you ever met somebody who will spend all day preaching about the authority of the Bible but then will tell you that they have come to some conclusion about Him based on some experience that him or her has had? Or another good one is where someone will also affirm the authority of the Bible in their life, but then have no experience to show for it (their character usually reflects that too). Then there is that person that disregards what the Bible says altogether and lets their own compass determine the direction of their lives (which usually means whatever pop culture says is in or out at the time).
So there are the three basic categories. You might be able to find another one out there somewhere but most boil down to these three options. If not, what I am about to tell you will apply to those that are out on the fringe somewhere as well. Here is what the Bible and my experience have both taught me. You need both. Yeah you really do, and actually if you do not have both you are in big trouble.
Why is this so important? This is important because what the Bible says should happen in your life, should happen. Paul the apostle believed this principle as well. He says in his letter to the Corinthians, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) He actually starts with experience here. Jesus said he would be killed and then raised to life before it actually happened (Matthew 16:21). We later penned that event in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). That momentous experience has become the foundation of Christianity.
Why is this good? This is good because if the Bible says you should have love, then you should have love (Romans 5:5). If you should have joy and peace because you are made righteous through Christ, then you should have those things (Romans 14:17). All the benefits of walking alongside Christ, as well as the harder side of walking with Him such as persecution, people speaking ill of you, and dying to yourself should be your experience as well. This wasn’t written to scare you, but should be an open door to invite Christ into those areas of your life that you have not surrendered yet. When you finally let the reigns go on those areas, if God is faithful, (which He is) then you will have them. I am banking on a few more experiences because they have been written, one being my unhindered access in seeing God and life in the new heavens and new earth. All these things I don’t waver on, because what God says should happen already, has happened. I have gotten a little taste of doctrine and experience already, and am looking for the collision of it’s fullness that has yet to occur!