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Part 2 of 2

8. What About The Different "Experiences" That People Claim To Have?

Many people in the religious world today are claiming to have all types of experiences in relationship to the Holy Ghost baptism and infilling. Many prominent evangelists of our day are often proclaiming, reporting, and demonstrating how the so-called baptism of the Holy Ghost causes people to do all kinds of things. Some claim to be slain in the Spirit. Some fall to the floor under the influence of the "Holy Ghost" power. Some people lose consciousness during these experiences. Often times people speak in what they call "unknown tongues" as a result of the Holy Ghost infilling. It seems the devil knows no end in providing “religious” experiences. The longer that time goes on, the more unrestrained and excessive these experiences seem to get.

Are these experiences real? A better question we should ask ourselves is "Are these experiences of God?" First of all, it should be clearly pointed out that it is very dangerous to go around seeking "experiences" and afterwards try to justify them. Many honest hearts are being deceived this way. Some "experiences" that people are having are undeniably real. I read of a women evangelist who was preaching a message to a crowd of people some years ago. Right in the middle of her sermon, she lifted her hand in the air and with her mouth open, froze in that position for three days. Some claimed she came under the power of God. Several thousand people came by to see her during those three days. When she finally came out of the trance, she continued preaching her sermon. She even thought that it was the same night. Now, can anyone deny that she had an experience? No. Was it of God? No! Experiences from God will bring glory to God. Nothing like what this woman experienced is found in the scriptures (One exception might be Lot's wife, but she was turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying God). This lady later became known as the "voodoo priestess" and the "trance evangelist". She also was known for having the frequent capability to bring her audience under hypnosis.

Experiences do happen; however, their source is not always God. We must always check out these experiences with the Word of God. The Bible says: 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. Satan has the power to perform signs and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). I'm afraid that what some are calling "light" may actually appear to be light on a surface level, but it's source is Satan. Remember, the devil is a deceiver of souls. I suppose it doesn't seem good to question whether or not people are walking in the light, but at times we do question - which light?

I know some young people who went to a so-called "Christian concert" once. They had never been to one before and thought that they would attend one to see what it was like. It turned out that this was not a wise thing to do. The groups singing that night were all Baptist so they thought it would be a fairly mellow concert. Were they ever wrong! The first group was a bluegrass group and they sang some nice “down-home” Southern Gospel type songs. However, the second group brought the house down, literally! The lead singer slowly began to work up a spirit by playing loud rhythmic and repetitive music and as he did, my friends began to feel sick to their stomachs. (This often happens when the Spirit of God is grieved.) The more he worked up a spirit, the sicker they got. He began to sing a song that asked the question: "When did you get the Holy Ghost?". During the end of the song, he asked if anyone in the audience had gotten the Holy Ghost on a Monday. A few acknowledged that they had. Then he went on to Tuesday. A few more responded. Then he went on Wednesday and so forth. When he got to Sunday, the people in the audience just went wild. Obviously, the majority of the people there that night thought they had received the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” on a Sunday, most likely during a church service. By this time, people were literally falling forwards, backwards, and every which way. There were people laying all over the floor when the singer got done! People were shaking, jerking, and having all kinds of spasms. It didn't take much discernment for my friends to feel the presence of horrible ungodly spirits moving through the crowd, taking control of selective people in the audience who were of a kindred spirit. These young people were sitting in the balcony, in the second row back. A lady directly in front of them began shaking vehemently and had it not been for her friend grabbing her, she would have no doubt fallen over the balcony and probably would have been instantly killed! There was no doubt that these people were definitely having experiences. Needless to say, my friends got out of there as fast as they could and have never had a desire to go back to one of those kind of concerts again. Readers, these false spirits are nothing to play around with. When my friends got outside the building, they were very oppressed in spirit and fervently prayed that God would rebuke the spirit of the devil. God did, and taught them a good lesson through all of it. The indwelling Spirit of God will witness to our spirit what is of God and what is not of God (Rom 8:16). The Spirit will always witness to the Word. I could multiply experience after experience of those that I've heard about, read about, and have personally witnessed on several occasions. However, this would not be edifying and is not necessary as the point has been well made.

What about the people who claim to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost after they get saved? Now this gets close to home for us Church of God people. In the book entitled Birth of a Reformation - Life and Labors of D.S.Warner (Bro. D.S. Warner's diary and biography) on page 139, the following is recorded: "Sister Ella Snyder called on us. She was visiting at Brother McKey's, who by the way, is a strong opposer of entire sanctification. Ella soon began talking on the subject and talking somewhat differently from what she did on the last Sabbath. We think it probable that she had just been receiving the teaching of some one outside of the second work. She treated the subject with much lightness. Before we left we bowed in prayer, at the close of which she fell powerless on the floor. I raised her head, asked her if she was sick. She said not. Looked strange and confounded. Prayed some and confessed that the hand of God was upon her. Wife asked if she was now sanctified. She replied that she knew not where she was. She grasped my hand very firmly. I raised her up, asked Sarah to support her; but she would not loosen her hold. As I endeavored to give her over to Wife, she gripped my hand the harder. We raised her up but she could not stand. We dropped her into a rocking-chair and soon kneeled again in prayer. She prayed constantly to God for a "clean heart," "sanctification," etc. Her full consciousness had hardly recovered when she said she had to go, as her party were waiting on her. Sarah accompanied her a piece and left looking very solemn. I pray to God to lead her to the cleansing fountain". In another place in the book, Brother Warner was praying with another sister for this same second work of grace. This sister "was the subject of a wonderful work of grace tonight. For eighteen years she had sought for this experience. She had a dreadful death, turned perfectly white and shook like a leaf...It was a wonderful work wrought by the power of God." (page 165).

The following are additional accounts in our Church of God history of questionable incidences such as described above:

THE WARNER INCIDENT??

Bro D. S. Warner wrote the following in an article "The Spirit's Indwelling" in The Gospel Trumpet, April 1, 1887: "We frequently lay hands on persons for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and He comes upon them in a sudden, powerful shock, and they are instantly prostrated to the floor."

The following was written by Church of God pioneer Bro A. B. Palmer in The Gospel Trumpet, June 15, 1886. (Note: Bro Barney E. Warren is the Church of God hymn writer). "After the Holy Ghost feast, on leaving the house, after all had gone out, the power of God so moved on Bro's Thos. and Barney Warren that they were prostrated on the ground.

Bro D. S. Warner wrote the following in an article published in the Gospel Trumpet. "A sister received the laying on of hands for the healing power of the Holy Spirit. The mighty power came upon her in a wonderful manner, sweeping away all her afflictions and perfectly overwhelming her mind and body. She leaped and shouted about the room, and when flying violently against the wall, she remained there in whatever attitude she chanced to be, like a snow flake alighting and sticking to the side of the wall, supported by the power of God, while the glory of God shone in her face. Of course her company had to remain about an hour before she returned to the body and could travel." (D. S. Warner, "The Spirit's Indwelling" in The Gospel Trumpet, April 1, 1887).

Bro J. C. Fisher wrote the following quotation as given in "News from the Field," The Gospel Trumpet, October 1, 1886: "Dear Bro. Warner and his little band came to Bro. Miller's Friday evening, and came to the Grove Saturday morning. …There were quite a number of consecrations that day, and men and women received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. They were slain by the mighty power and laid like dead persons."

This article entitled “The Work At Home” by Joseph Fisher was published in the January 1, 1885 edition of The Gospel Trumpet. “Christmas Eve a load of the saints went over to the Boardman School-house where Bro. J. Cole, is now engaged in the work of the Lord. As they went on their way and their hearts burned within, they began to pray for victory in the meeting where they were going. And the Holy Ghost fell on them and they were all filled, and some shouted; and others were over-powered, and prostrated in the sleigh. When they reached the place of meeting, two of the sisters had to be carried in to the house, which produced no little effect among the saints at that place; for soon they all caught new fire, and a Pentecostal jubilee began. Praise God for the hail, and fire mingled with blood that God sends forth to destroy all sin; and all the works of iniquity. Hallelujah to God!”

Brother D. S. Warner and our Church of God pioneer brethren walked in the light as it was revealed to them during the sixth seal. God blessed their obedience and no doubt they were great man of God and God used them in a wonderful way. But, Brother Warner and any of the pioneer brethren were not the head of the Church of God. They never were, never will be, and never wanted to be. Truth didn't stop or start with any of these sixth seal pioneer brethren, just like Truth didn't stop or start with Martin Luther, John Wesley, Charles Finney, or other great men of God. The Truth is in Jesus Christ (John 14:6)! As with the unveiling of all the previous seals, God has revealed more light and understanding in this seventh seal time period than ever before. Some of these sixth seal baptism "experiences" mentioned above sound alarmingly like those performed out in false religion today. It's often been said, receiving the power of God will not lay you out on the floor, but it will give you grace and power to stand and live a holy life (Eph 6:13-14). What God has for you will keep you from falling. These kinds of experiences mentioned above are not spiritual, but extremely emotional. Being led by fleshly emotions will quench the Spirit of God and give place to the devil. Many can be swayed and misled by great emotional moves. Only those who are truly filled with God’s Spirit can discern “fleshly emotions” from the genuine moving of the Sprit. My friend, the real underlying problem in these instances wasn't just with the shaking, the loss of consciousness, and falling on the floor, the problem was with the unscriptural experience that caused them to shake, lose consciousness and fall to the floor! We've shown, with the help of the Lord, that the scriptures don't support such subsequent "baptisms" after the believer has received the baptism of Jesus. All these baptismal experiences just don't add up. More than one spiritual baptism is contrary to scripture, therefore, all the rest cannot be of God. If we, as the Church of God, are going to "go back to the old paths", and I believe in many cases we should, let's go all the way back to the beginning. The Apostle John said in John 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (also see 1 John 1:1-4). Let's go all the way back to Jesus and get His baptism and leave the rest alone!

On this subject, I believe many honest hearts are being hindered from walking in the light because of the reality of an experience that they may have had in the past. Here, I relate an example in the recent past of the Church of God to illustrate what can happen when we are not properly instructed in the Word of God and what can happen when we base our beliefs on our experiences and not on scripture. I illustrate this, not in a spirit of malice or ill will towards any individuals or group of persons, as I love everyone who is involved in these various teachings. Also, I have the utmost confidence in many who don't see these Truths as the Lord has shown me through His Word. A good example of a doctrine that is associated with an "experience" is the so-called experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost in a "second cleansing", as we have already discussed. Such an experience is not taught in the Bible. Since the Holy Ghost doesn't have a legitimate second baptism subsequent to the baptism of Jesus, seekers don't get a real Bible baptismal experience from Him the second time around. The Spirit of God and the Word of God always agree. So, through a lack of understanding, honest souls are taught to "claim it by faith". Often, after being emotionally charged with the preachers sometimes yelling and screaming things like "Kill him!", "Crucify him!", "Fill him!", in the believers ear, and laying hands on and firmly gripping and jolting the seeker about, the seeker finally obtains an "experience". As do the preachers, sadly, many times the seekers also get carried away in an emotional frenzy and claim the baptism experience to be from God. To doubt the reality of such an experience is a viewed as a lack of faith, and, since supposedly a lack of faith is always sin (Romans 14:23 Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.), the believer dare not doubt, or he sins and must start all over again. Some would even accuse a believer of nearly blaspheming the Holy Ghost if he would ever doubt or question the reality of such an experience. Sadly, many times, and over a period of years, this process gets repeated over and over and over again for the believer. My friend, God has something better than this for us.

There is a spirit of depression and fear that is often is associated with this particular teaching. Many times when entire sanctification as a second cleansing is preached by the ministers, honest souls repeatedly flock to an altar of prayer to get an experience that they thought they already had. They go forward to meet a condition in their consecration that they thought they had already met. They go to receive the Spirit of God that they thought they had already received, sometimes many years ago. These confused seekers try over and over again and are often told to tarry for the Spirit and "claim it by faith". The preachers and religious leaders often put the people under such a spirit of fear that some are even afraid to ask legitimate questions or to study the subject in the Word of God. If they happen to read something in the Bible that seems to contradict their personal experience, it is immediately dismissed from their minds and is associated with an accusation from the devil. What terrible bondage! The Bible says in 2 Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We can rest assured that when a spirit causes us to be afraid to study the Word of God for fear that we might find something that contradicts our experience, that spirit is of the devil and the experience probably is too! The Word of God is given to us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction (2 Tim 3:16). Sometimes we, as saints, have to re-prove our beliefs. If our experiences don't line with the Word of God, we need to stand corrected, lay them aside, and walk in the light.

We can also rest assured that when a spirit causes people to not personally check out what their leaders are telling them to determine if it is true or not, it too is of the devil (1 Thessalonians 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord).

A possible source of confusion for many honest hearted people may be associated with the Bible teaching of full consecration. The Bible does teach in consecrating our bodies as living sacrifices after the experience of salvation. Holiness must be perfected in the life of the believer (2 Corinthians 7:1). Paul said in Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. This presentation of our body is our reasonable service, as saints, back to God. Just as we need the Lord, He needs us. Initially, we are saved from all sin and we yield our souls to the Lord. However, as Christians, we soon discover that we are saved for service. With this reality, there often comes a need to make additional consecrations to the Lord, one of which is our body. Please note, as is stated in Romans 12:1-2, at the time of this particular consecration, our body must already be holy. We do not present our body to God at this time to be made holy or to be cleansed. As in the Old Testament types and shadows, the sacrifice must already be clean and without blemish or any such other defect at the time when it is presented to the Lord. The cleansing of the sacrifice must take place before the sacrifice is made and accepted. A blemished sacrifice was not and is not accepted by God (See Lev 22:17-25, Lev 1:9 &13). Upon presenting our body to the service of the Lord, there is no need for an additional cleansing from sin. This experience is not a "second cleansing". Because of a lack of understanding, many have no doubt confused the Bible experience of presenting our bodies a living sacrifice to God with that of Holy Ghost baptism. They are not the same. One will be filled with the Spirit (become more under His influence) as a result of this experience, but we do not receive the initial spiritual baptism at this time. In fact, we must already possess the Spirit of God to make this consecration. When we present our body to God, it is to be a "living" sacrifice and the indwelling Spirit must have already given us life (2 Cor 3:6). It is the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God that enables us to make a living sacrifice, i.e. a sacrifice that is constant and perpetual. As we empty out more of ourselves, we may experience the infilling of the Spirit many times in our walk with the Lord. As we grow in grace and in the knowledge or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18), we will make additional consecrations, each time setting more of ourselves apart for service to Him. I'm afraid to say that some who have had a consecration experience have mislabeled it “the baptism of the Holy Ghost”, or the "second cleansing" and therefore accept, as truth, the various false teachings (unknown tongues, being slain in the spirit, Original sin, etc...) that are so commonly associated with it. Consequently, many people will refuse to walk in any further light because they know they had an experience. May God always help us, as the people of God, to always base our experiences on the divine Word of God.

I believe that there are many today in the religious world who understand the fallacy of the two cleansing teaching, but who may not be practicing the message of full consecration as God would have them. Naturally, as a result, we see far less fully consecrated and Spirit-filled people today. This lack of consecration is hindering the message of Truth as it brings a reproach to the cause of Christ. No doubt many honest hearted people are concerned that these subsequent consecration experiences may border the "definite second cleansing" doctrine. Some are therefore fearful of the Truth of the message and shy away from practicing it in their lives. Be that as it may, spiritual ground is being lost and will continue to be lost unless the entire Word of God is preached and practiced as it should be. As saints of God, we cannot turn our heads, look the other way and point the finger at others entrapped in false doctrine. Instead, we should examine ourselves and the depth of our own consecration. If it falls short in any way, we should get it straightened up and obtain all that God has for us.

In speaking particularly of the presentation of our bodies to the service of the Lord, the Apostle Paul exhorted and instructed the brethren of his day to make this consecration. I believe that the same Truth applies to us today. God's requirement is still for wholly sanctified saints (1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.). In these last and evil days, God is in need of our service to Him as never before and nothing short of a full consecration of both body and soul (a complete setting apart) will be accepted. This is the reasonable thing for us to do for God in return for all the wonderful things that God has done for us.

Finally, because of a deception that could be brought on us, we are not to base what we believe on what we may have experienced in the past or what others have claimed to experience. Just the opposite, we are to experience what we believe, and, it is essential that we continually examine what we believe by the light of God's eternal Word. Our foundation must be built on the Truth of the Bible: Jesus Christ. This is true especially when it comes to our eternal salvation. Unless we have a solid foundation upon which to build our spiritual lives, we will find ourselves coming up short in the time of crisis, and certainly at the final Judgment. Sadly, many have built their salvation on a refuge of lies as a foundation. Unfortunately, the higher they build, when their foundation is removed out from underneath them, the harder they fall. If we are building on a foundation of wood, hay, and stubble (things that burn) and not on a solid foundation, when the fire of God's Word is revealed, our experience will come crashing down, profession and all. The works of men, including the teaching of two spiritual baptisms, will be burnt up by the Word. However, if our foundation collapses and we will fall on Christ, we can rebuild on a solid foundation. In this case, the same fire that initially burnt us will then save us. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Summary

It is hoped that this study has been helpful and has enlightened your mind along this doctrinal line. It is intended to lay out the scriptures for consideration. I fully believe that this is what God's Word teaches and countless thousands have experienced it and witnessed it in their own personal lives. The baptism of Jesus is the greatest experience available to mankind! However, the devil has his imitations. There is little doubt that most two baptism advocates, if they are honest with themselves, would have to acknowledge that personal experience - and not scripture - is the foundation of their belief system. As much as these dear ones want to give the Bible a high place of authority in their lives, the scriptures too often rank second to experience in defining what they believe. This is exactly backwards from how it should be. Those who claim subsequent baptism "experiences" to the baptism of Jesus need to see if their experiences line up with the Word of God. If not, they should forsake them and walk in the light of God's Word. God's Word and God's Spirit never contradict each other; they always work together. As the people of God, we need to be sure that the Word of God justifies our experiences before we seek them out. If we are not careful, the devil will provide an experience for us as he delights in getting people to seek experiences and de-emphasize God's Word. When and if this happens, there is almost no limit to the kinds of false teachings and experiences that can emerge. In such cases, the experiences themselves become their own source of validity, leaving the Bible to either be ignored or misinterpreted so as to justify the experiences. Experimenting with experiences is a dangerous weapon in the hands of Satan!

There may be things in this study that sound different than you may have been taught and even experienced. It may be the first time that some have been exposed to these Truths. The Word says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. I admonish all to be like the Bereans, who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11), to determine if what they were being told was true or not. In these last and evil days, it behooves us to do the same.

I believe if all who study these Truths will have an open mind and a keen ear to hear what thus saith the Lord, all the people of God will be standing for these same Truths. If you are worshipping in a place that is not teaching these Truths and God reveals them to you, you need to pray and ask God to lead you to a place where the full Truth is taught. Yes, it will cost you something and, yes, you will most likely be persecuted by those you leave behind. But God will be faithful to you and will honor His Word. He will not forsake you. God is calling His people out of confusion and into the precious Truth of His Word. I guarantee, any sacrifice that you make for the sake of Truth and for the cause of Christ, will be richly rewarded by God. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Let's allow the Holy Ghost to rightly divide the Word of Truth and give understanding to our hearts. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. [ The End ]

 


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