Friday, March 25, 2011

Doctrine & Experience


2 Corinthians 3:6
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

The Letter & the Spirit

Paul speaks of both the Letter and the Spirit.  We know from a careful study of this and other passages that he is speaking about the Law and the Spirit.  The letter is the written word or law.

To have the word written on paper is not enough.  The Word must come alive in you by the Spirit.  Paul said that he was not a minister of the Letter but of the Spirit.  Paul was not discounting the written Word here but was making it clear that it is the power of the Holy Ghost that brings inspiration to what is written.    In another place the Apostle Paul said these words:

1 Corinthians 2:4-7
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 

Once again the Apostle makes it clear that the Letter is breathed upon by the Holy Ghost.  All preaching that lacks the anointing of the Holy Ghost is dead and will produce death.  Only the anointing can destroy the yoke.

The Purpose of Doctrine

Doctrine is very important for the health of the Church, but it alone is not enough.  If all you had was Doctrine but you did not have a genuine move of God’s Spirit then the Church would be dead.  There are many “Churches of the Letter” in our world today.  They have good sound Doctrine but their services are lifeless and powerless.  They preach out of the same scriptures, sing out of the same songbooks, and function is many ways that are similar to Churches with Life, but there is no life in them.  Why?  All they have is the letter.

We must have Spirit-filled services!  Without Spirit-filled services churches fall into the Rut of Religion.  They become formal and dry.  Our services become boring and predictable.  They become lifeless and stagnant.

Doctrine holds us firmly centered in truth.  We need doctrine.  But any doctrine that will not allow the Spirit of God to move will ultimately lead to spiritual dryness.  Many churches today either tilt to one side or the other on this issue.  Once the balance between doctrine and the Spirit is achieved the Church can go forward.

Doctrine and the Spirit

Doctrine & Experience: One alone is not enough.  It takes both to have a healthy church.  If you go all the way towards Doctrine then you risk dry, dead, formal, boring, predictable, and stagnant churches, and services.

If you go all the way towards Experience then you risk becoming heretical and false.  We see this today in the Charismatic Churches.  They are barking like dogs, collecting gold dust and angel feathers, treating celebrity preachers like gods, preaching unfounded and false teachings on Health & Wealth, and many more errors.  There must be a balance! 

One man told me about a Revival in Louisiana.  He said, “They had a four week Revival and did not have preaching one single night!”  Beloved, this is dangerous!  We need preaching.

Doctrine & Experience

In order to validate Doctrine in your life you must experience it.  Doctrine that is not lived has done you no good at all.  It not enough to believe in the doctrine of salvation you must personally experience it to benefit from it.  I remember B. H. Clendennen saying once years ago, “You can learn everything there is to know about food and still starve to death.”  Knowledge alone will not fill an empty belly – you must eat of the food in order for it to do you any good.  The same is true of our doctrine.  In order for doctrine to benefit you it must be experienced.

It is not enough to believe the Baptism of the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking with other tongues, but you must experience it to benefit from this experience.  These are both great Doctrines, but they are also great Experiences!

Unapplied Doctrine is only Theory.  Applied Doctrine is Experience.  A man that only has Doctrinal Theory, and not Doctrinal Experience, is only Religious.  A man that only has Experience but cannot back up his experience with Sound Doctrine is a Heretic.

Every Experience that I have must be examined in light of the Bible.  Any Experience that cannot withstand the scrutiny of the Word of God is false.  Any Doctrine that cannot be experienced by the adherent is not worth the paper it is printed on.

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