Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How we experience the Spirit's work

Faith Misguided is a Moody Press book by Arthur L. Johnson from 1988, now unfortunately out of print. Johnson deals at length and well with some of the dangers of mysticism. Here's a portion from pages 142-3 that's long stuck in my mind, and is worth serious pondering:
[The faulty view that God dialogues with us in prayer by inner, emotional impressions] actually rests on the failure to understand just how intimate and close the relationship is between the Christian and his heavenly Father. People view God as an outsider speaking to our minds through our emotions. God is out there," striving to communicate through a means that is inadequate and foreign to the process of normal communication. 
However, God lives in us by His Holy Spirit. Therefore the picture of God trying to communicate to us from "out there" is incorrect. God is in us. He is not in our spirits distinct from our minds, as Watchman Nee teaches, but rather He is as much "in"our minds as in any other part. He seeks to control every part of us. This His response involves our minds. As we fill our minds with His written Word, He uses that revelation to communicate His desires and wisdom to us. 
We experience the Holy Spirit's work in us, not primarily as inner, totally subjective, noncognitive impressions, but as thoughts that are wise, just, loving, kind—in other words, as godly, wise thinking about the issues of life. We do not experience this as some other person addressing us, but rather as our minds influenced and directed by the Holy Spirit using the Scriptures. 
There are, then, two factors constituting God's response to our prayers. God "speaks to us," first and foremost, through the propositional information found in the Scriptures. The Bible is God's "letter" to us, His "instruction book," His verbal part of the conversation. we speak to God in prayer; He speaks to us through His Word. 
The second part involves His control of our entire persons. It results in our wise thoughts, plans, and words. This should not be seen as "our doing," in the sense that we become proud of such wisdom. Where there is true wisdom its source is always God, to whom all praise and glory belongs. As we yield to Him, "we think God's thoughts," because He is controlling our minds.
Ponder that!


Unknown said...

I just sorta feel that God is telling me that you are right about this. ;-)

Seriously, spot on!

DJP said...

That's helpful, isn't it? Made an impression on me when I first read it.

Anonymous said...


Timing is everything, they say, and this one was timed perfectly.

I'm planning, this week or the next, to speak with the youth pastor at our church (I work alongside him with the kids) about this very thing. He's an otherwise theologically solid guy, but this area is a concern of mine as well.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Another thing that occurred to me...

This post also reminds me of R.C.'s presentation at Strange Fire, about how the primary charismatic error being an under-estimation of the Holy Spirit's ability and work.

He simply doesn't need to do what we so often wish He would. He's much better at His work than that.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

What a great excerpt. So much better than trying to wiggle around one's "feelings" and "impressions".

Julie G