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By Jackie Price
"It is very important to realize, over against modern concepts of 'spiritual experience,' that the biblically based experience rests firmly on truth. It is not only an emotional experience, nor is it contentless." ~ Dr Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There
Those words, "the biblically based experience rests firmly on truth..." is important to remember. God's word is truth (John 17:17).
I remember having a conversation with a sweet, Christian lady whose heart I believe was in the right place but whose doctrine was a bit off. She placed great emphasis on her spiritual experiences, to the point where her experiences would often trump Scripture. She was telling me of an incident where she witnessed a friend have a fit of "holy laughter" (this is when people claim to be so filled by the Holy Spirit that they are overtaken with laughter for no reason and cannot stop). She said that it was contagious. Yes, I’m sure it was, laughter is contagious. The problem lies in the fact that these types of "experiences" don't align with what Scripture tells us about God and how He operates in the church.
A good, logical way to think about it is this: If God the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, and God does not contradict Himself; and the Bible tells us that our worship services are to be conducted "decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40), and that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33), and when God tells us that the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophet's control (1 Cor. 14:32), and again that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23), then I can be sure that when I see people falling down in uncontrollable laughter, or all speaking in or praying tongues at once, that what I am seeing or experiencing is NOT of the Holy Spirit, nor is it biblical. A God who tells us that things are to be conducted decently and in order and a God of self-control would not inspire such displays. Oh, it might be a spirit all right; spirit of the flesh or a demonic spirit, but it's not from the Holy Spirit. I can know this since the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture and gave us the above admonitions to discern how and when He is operating is not on display here. If I were to put it into a logical syllogism, it might look like this…
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