Spreading The Gospel

Personal Experience Or God’s Word, Which Is Our Standard? #1


SIH STSTA ICONShould we trust the Word when we lack life experiences?

 

Throughout our lifetime, we are called upon to choose between trusting the revelation of God’s Word or placing our faith in our life experiences.  Phrased another way, are we to make our life decisions based upon what our senses have revealed to us, or do we look to God’s Word as the only unquestionable  standard by which our life is to be directed?

This is study I would like us to come to an understanding of God’s will on this all important issue.  There will be three parts to our study for us:

1.  Should we trust the Word when we lack life experiences?
2.  Should we trust the Word instead of our life experiences?
3.  Should we trust the Word based upon Biblical revelation?

THE SCRIPTURES:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  (Genesis 3:1-5)

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.  Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this [is the fashion] which thou shalt make it [of]: The length of the ark [shall be] three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; [with] lower, second, and third [stories] shalt thou make it.  And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die.   (Genesis 6:11-17)

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.  (Genesis 7:4)

And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed [is] the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.  But he said, Yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it.  And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.  For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.   (Luke 11:27-30)

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.  (John 20:27-29)

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 (Hebrews 11:7)

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.  (Hebrews 11:13-16)

 

THE STUDY:

Throughout the history of mankind we find the ongoing tension that runs between the personal experiences of our life and the teachings found in God’s Word.  Some of the most well-known of these tensions include:

Example 1 – Adam and Eve’s Response To God’s Warning – 

In the garden of Eden, the Lord graciously warned Adam and Eve of the results of partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He goes further and explains that if this fruit is partaken of thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17).

Here was the problem…. Adam and Eve had never personally experienced death (physical or spiritual) at this point in their lives, nor did they ever see it take place in the life of any creature in the garden.

Since they had never experienced death, for them to believe God’s warning, they must place their faith in God’s Word.  In doing so, they would be making God’s Word the standard for their decision making and their understanding of the consequences of eating the fruit of the tree.  However, if they chose to rely on their life experience, making them their standard for decision making, they would partake of the fruit believing that neither spiritual nor physical death would not be a result of their actions.

FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THEIR LIFE EXPERIENCES, GOD’S WARNING WAS EMPTY AND WORTHLESS.

This dilemma created an opening in which Satan could work. As a matter of fact, questioning the reliability of the Word was made the central theme of the temptation that was presented to them … But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  (Genesis 3:3-4)

As the Word records for us, Adam and Eve chose to disbelieve the Word and to rely upon their life experience.  In doing so, they sinned against their Lord, experienced immediate spiritual death, would experience a future physical death, and brought both upon all of their descendants.

 

Example 2 – Noah’s Response To God’s Warning –

In Noah’s day, the Lord gave Noah a warning of a coming global flood that was brought upon the world because of the sinful condition of all mankind The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”  …”And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die.” …  For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” 

(Genesis 6:11-13,17; 7:4)

The Lord graciously, goes farther and expresses to Noah the manner in which he, and his family, can escape this coming destruction Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this [is the fashion] which thou shalt make it [of]: The length of the ark [shall be] three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; [with] lower, second, and third [stories] shalt thou make it.   (Genesis 6:14-16)

Once again, we find Noah faced with the same dilemma as that of Adam and Eve.  Before the flood, we are told that the earth had never experienced rain.  The vegetation of the earth had been watered by a “mist” or a “dew” that fell upon the earth (Gen 2:5-6).  Noah had never experienced rain falling from heaven, nor any type of localized or worldwide flood taking place upon the earth.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

BASED UPON HIS LIFE EXPERIENCE, GOD’S WARNINGS WERE EMPTY AND WORTHLESS.

Noah faced the hard choice of relying upon his life experiences, which would tell him no flood was going to take place, or place his faith in the warnings of God, that made it clear the world would experience a worldwide flood.

In this case, Noah chose to trust the Word of God over his life experiences, he built the ark in approx. a 100 yr period, and he saved himself and his family according to the commands of the Lord.

 

Example 3 – God’s People’s Response To God’s Future Promises –

The last of this type of tension we will look at is a tension that involves each and every one of us.  It is the tension that lies between our experiences in this temporal life and the promises found in God’s Word concerning the blessings we will enjoy throughout eternity.

If we were to only believe in those promises that we have experienced, or seen in existence today, we would sadly miss out on some of the greatest sources of motivation, joy and peace we can experience during our walk in this world.

BASED UPON OUR LIFE EXPERIENCES, GOD’S PROMISES BECOME ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE “PIPE DREAMS” THAT HAVE NO BENEFIT FOR US.

In Hebrews 11:, in the midst of looking at many Godly men who placed their faith in the Word of the Lord above their human experiences on earth, we find a text that clearly explains the need for each of us to place the promises of the Word as the centerpiece of our walk with Him.

Note, these promises we are expected to rely upon are promises that we have not yet experienced, “not having received the promises”.  On the contrary, they are promises that have only been “seen afar off” (through their eyes of faith).

Note that they acted upon these promises “were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”   This resulted in them not returning to their old country, but instead, consistently serving their Lord with hope.  “And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.   (Heb 11:13-16)

This was the motivating force behind the great “people of faith” found in this wonderful chapter.  This, too, should be the great motivating force in our life today.  But we can only look to these as legitimate sources of motivation for us if we accept, through faith, the testimony of God’s Word as utterly reliable.

However, if we were to insist that the Lord must “prove” to us the existence of these great and precious promises, we would be counted as no better than the Pharisees who demanded to see signs confirming Christ’s ministry and message, And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed [is] the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.  But he said, Yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it.  And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.  For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.”  (Luke 11:27-30)

Or, we would be placing ourselves on the same level as Thomas who required “proof” before he would accept the testimony of Christ, Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.”    (John 20:27-29)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Personal Experience Or God’s Word, Which Is Our Standard?…  If we take a minute to stop and think about our study, we can see the great importance this original question holds for us.  Two of the greatest events in human history centered upon this very issue.

When the personal experience of man was relied upon, we find the entrance of sin entering into the entire human race.  Condemnation and separation from God for all mankind immediately followed.  All of this took place, because Adam and Eve choose to place their own personal experience in a position of supremacy over the very Word of God in their decision making process.

When God’s Word was solely relied upon over personal experience, we find that mankind’s existence on earth was sustained.  This took place when Noah placed his faith in the Word of God motivating him to build the ark which allowed him and his family to escape the ravages of the flood.

Finally we have seen one area, among many, where this issue comes into play into each of our lives.  Every eternal promise the Lord has graciously given to us requires faith to be accepted as truth.  Our physical eyes tell us the promises of God CANNOT take place, but our eyes of faith tell us these things are AS GOOD AS DONE.  The very existence of our service to the Lord hangs in the balance on this issue.

If our physical eyes are reliable in discerning the spiritual things of God, then the record of God’s Word is not true, and we, categorically, have no reason to serve Him.

If however, we understand that our physical senses cannot be relied upon to discern the things of God, then we turn to our eyes of faith.  Through this faith, we can rest assured that His Word (and the promises therein) are reliable; our eternal future is secure in Christ; and we can joyfully face whatever this world may offer to us, realizing someday we will go home and be with our Lord forever and ever.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth concerning this very important subject.

 

For more lessons…

Settled In Heaven Ministries Home On The Web: http://www.settledinheaven.org

Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: http://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Settled In Heaven Ministries Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven

Email Us At: settledinheaven@gmail.com

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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One response

  1. This is an excellent study, Rob, and timely. Thanks.

    You make the point very clearly that the Word of God is to always be trusted over personal experience. It reminds me of the Lord’s temptation, when He answered the devil only with the pure Word of God. We sometimes forget that our Lord Jesus IS the Living Word, and that He is to always be trusted and obeyed, though circumstances say something, apparently, by our incorrect perception, the very opposite.

    The Lord always calls us into times and circumstances that we have no reference for whatsoever and the danger is in trusting past experience, often bad experiences, that would cause us to disobey or go a different route.

    By bringing up these scriptural examples, your study makes it very clear that faith in God and His Word is always key, since spiritual disciples are often on a spiritual frontier and there is no actual experience to draw on regarding our going forth. We go forth and obey because God said to and for no other reason, especially when it appears we are about to do something that makes no sense. WE MUST HEAR FROM GOD AND IT MUST BE CLEAR. This is what will overcome the natural inclinations to hold back.

    Imagine if Noah used common sense against the clear message from God. No Ark. But Noah obeyed, unlike Adam and Eve. And Abraham obeyed, regardless of the fact that what God said made no natural sense and would have to involve miracles. So Abraham figured that miracles would have to happen because he knew what God said, and He knew that God only spoke the truth, and He knew that God said it would happen, though it demanded his involvement. So, he came to believe in miracles. And miracles happened. And the Word of God was fulfilled.

    June 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm

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