Serious Issues with Experience-Based Christianity – Part 2

Why are so many people attracted to Experience-Based Spirituality?

1Thessalonians 5:21


I.         How Experience Took Over


A.      The Charismatic Movement is a doctrinal split among “Pentecostal” churches that occurred during the 20th Century because of an overemphasis on the spiritual gifts that were temporarily given to the Apostles as “signs” to Israel.

B.       Their main doctrine is their emphasis on speaking in tongues. Other characteristics of the movement include:


1.        Believing in special gifts of healing

2.        Promoting a prosperity gospel

3.        And accepting the possibility of one losing their salvation.


C.       How did they get to this place in their beliefs? They let people’s experiences become more valid, and more true than the words of God

D.      They gave up on trying to understand what Jesus said, and just understand what they feel and experience

E.       It has led to something that has been called “The Later Day rain Movement”


1.        Follow the “Spirit” – follow your feelings

2.        Ignore doctrine, and anything that divides

3.        This is the “spirit” that is behind all the emphasis today on experience-based Christianity instead of Bible based Christianity! The two are completely at odds and cannot be reconciled!


II.       Last Time we started looking at Why are so many people attracted to Experience-Based Spirituality


A.      Because Spiritually Dead Denominations Have Failed To Satisfy The Soul – a spiritual drought has set the stage for a time of the unusual; the sensational; the spectacular; the self satisfaction of the flesh. It is occurring in the world, so also in churches! (Rev 3:1-2)


1.        It used to be that all protestant churches believed the Bible and preached repentance and experienced revivals and multitudes converted to Christ the whole world over

2.        Then, the leaders began to dump the Bible and stop evangelising, and turned to social engineering and human rights issues

3.        Now, the leaders believe none of the Bible – they just teach philosophy

4.        The church members are DEAD spiritually and would do ANYTHING to get a buzz from church now!


B.       Because Satan’s Attack Upon The Church is Through False Doctrine – doctrinal division is always satanic.  The Charismatic Movement specializes in being “carried away” with new doctrines (Eph 4:14)


1.        Satan loves to change Bible doctrine ever so slightly – that’s why the issue of Biblical Inerrancy is so important


a.        Eternal security of the believer (1Cor 1:18)

b.       The restoration of literal Israel – or does it refer to spiritual Israel

c.        Literal creation – or where they just periods of time

d.       Every jot and tittle – or just the general meaning


2.        today there are so many new doctrines you would puke (Cf 2Cor 11:1,2)


a.        Christ in hell for three days

b.       Anybody could have died and saved the world if they have faith

c.        You don’t HAVE to be sick

d.       Anybody can go to heaven, as long as they are sincere


C.       Because Biblical Ignorance produces Shallowness


1.        1 Corinthians 12:1  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2.        1 Corinthians 14:38  But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

3.        Too many people “just go with the flow” on so much of what they understand about Christianity – they do not test and prove all things (1Thes 5:21)


III.     Message - Continuation


A.      Because there is Sinful Pride In Exalting Self With False Gifts – the Corinthians were full of pride.


1.        1 Corinthians 14:26  How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

2.        1 Corinthians 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

3.        1 Corinthians 4:18-19  Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

4.        1 Corinthians 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

5.        1 Corinthians 13:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

6.        That’s exactly what we see today in churches – people full of what THEY can do, and what gift they have, and what THEY have done!

7.        Gifts are not about accomplishments and success – but about people being ministered to, and lives being changed by THE TRUTH – not by the miracles!!!


B.      Because Scriptural Authority has been Replaced by Experience and Emotion.


1.        1 Timothy 4:1-2  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;


a.        Seducing spirits – sensual based spiritual motivation (not Spiritual)

b.       Letting their conscience become seared, numb, because they LOVE what they feel instead of loving the truth (2Thes 2:7-11)


2.        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.


a.        Evidently, the Scriptures are PERFECT

b.       And evidently they can make us PERFECT – just right! We need nothing else. In other words, if I never got a feeling, but I have the truth, then I have all I need! Feelings are just butter on the potato!


3.        2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.


a.        All we should be doing is preaching THE WORD

b.       Not our opinions, and NOT our experiences

c.        God DOES bless our HEARTS and make us feel excited, and enable us to rejoice, but that is not authoritative – it is easily counterfeited!


4.        Truth cannot be counterfeited – feelings and emotions CAN BE!


C.       Because People Enjoy what they Experience – to most people, Church is all about Seeking Excitement Through Fleshly Means – people are looking for a new realm of worship that excites the flesh and gives arise to heightened emotional experience.


1.        Galatians 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

2.        CCM songwriter Chris Tomlin write pop-sounding "praise and worship" music that has replaced traditional hymns in congregations looking for a younger crowd. (Recently some churches introduced the U2-charist, a Communion service set to the music of U2.) "We've been closing the gap between what you would hear in church and on a rock radio station," says Matt Lundgren, worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. "Artists like Chris Tomlin help bridge the gap more and more."

3.        There you have it, closing the gap, and I am sure the rock radio station are becoming more Christ-like every day. NOT.  Churches are closing the gap by becoming more worldly.  LET’S WAKE UP!

4.        To use the flesh to build and fill our churches is the lowest slap against the cross!


D.      Because The Seeking Of Great Wealth is Obviously Popular


1.        Titus 1:9-11  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

2.        2 Peter 2:1-3  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

3.        It’s amazing that the biggest bedrock of attraction to these kind of churches is their insistence that they have “the secret of wealth, and it is God’s will to bless you!”

4.        Oh yeah? Tell that to Paul (more trouble in one year than you or I could get into in 3 life-times),

5.        Tell that to Job (God sure blessed Job didn’t He),

6.        Tell that to Mary (yeah, and a sword shall pierce through thine heart),

7.        Tell that to Jesus (oh yes, a cross, not a crown yet),

8.        Tell that to Peter (beaten and hunted and almost beheaded, then crucified upside down)


IV.    Conclusion


A.      It is important to understand that there is a HUGE division in the body of Christians over this topic of “experientialism.”  Some love all the emphasis on the gifts; others hate it.  Some think they are of God, others think it is Satanic. Some say it edifies them; others say it gives them the creeps.  Some wish everybody did it; others wish nobody did!  The facts are clear.  There is division in the church on this issue of 'speaking in tongues' and of the supposed gifts of the Spirit.  This is wrong.  There should be no division.  This is a sin, so it must be addressed for this reason alone, to find out if it is right or wrong.


1.       1 Corinthians 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

2.       1 Corinthians 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

3.       1 Corinthians 11:18  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

4.       Romans 16:17  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

5.       Proverbs 6:16;19  These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:...he that soweth discord among brethren.


B.       Because of this reason alone, we should realize that at some point, we have to deal with this doctrine of “feelings-based” and “experience-based” Charismaticism.  Nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants to hear it, but we MUST, because it is dividing the body of believers. 

C.       How we deal with this CANNOT be by experience – that is what gets every church into trouble to begin with


1.        “I know what I saw”

2.        “Well, you don’t know what I felt”

3.        “I saw the cancer cured, right before my eyes”


D.      Everything we believe has to be Biblical - carefully, humbly, and rationally tested, or we are fools, and will be carried about (suckered) into every new wind of doctrine that will come along the way!

E.       Let’s guard against


1.        Spiritual Deadness in our homes and hearts

2.        Be on the look out for Satanic attack through new doctrines that sound so much more interesting than the old ones we believe

3.        Watch out for pride and self praise because of some answer to prayer, or some miraculous event in someone’s life

4.        Let’s keep Scriptural Authority our highest priority

5.        Reject the desire to get fleshly excitement in our church – spiritual excitement is so much better – my flesh will get me into trouble EVERY TIME!

6.        Don’t be worried about wealth and success as much as walking with your Lord, and learning how to truly worship Him!


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland