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The world is searching for the ultimate experience.
Virtually every day it seems that I receive some form of communication from someone who has a new “experience” to market to me. “Experience white-water kayaking!” “Experience polar bears in the wild!” “Experience New Jersey!!!”
One brochure went so far as to inform me that I would not be “complete” without the experience of jumping off a bridge with a piece of elastic tied to my ankle.
In our day and our culture, experiences are the goal. Somewhere along the line, someone got the notion that man is the product of his experiences, and that idea has caught on. If I am to believe what I read, the object of my life is simply to be a receptacle for as many experiences as possible, and then to “experience” death.
We should expect this kind of foolishness from the world. As someone once wrote, the natural man has a “God-shaped” hole inside him that he is constantly seeking to fill. He tries filling it with money, with pleasure, with religion — why not with experiences?
Christians, however, should know better, because for us that hole has been filled.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
God’s Word declares that by believing on Jesus Christ, in a moment of time, once and forever, we are complete. This is “truth unchanged, unchanging.” And yet many Christians apparently are either ignorant of this truth or reject it, for the church today abounds with experience-seekers, sniffing out and running after the next new program, method, or movement. And the next, and the next, and the next. But, once the novelty wears off, they continue to feel like something is missing.
What’s missing is believing.
In truth what God has done for us in Christ is overwhelming. And God wants us to experience it. But we must understand that this experience does not lead to completeness. Completeness came first, in Christ, by grace. I learn about it from God’s Word. I believe it. And then I can begin to experience it.
Consider the following truths:
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Many claim to be trying to “find God,” and perhaps they are. But the reality is that man, due to sin, is estranged from God. Thus, access to God is something they can never experience simply through their own ingenuity.
Thank God, He found us. He offered us complete and total access to Him, paid for by Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, that access is yours. We don’t need to quest after it, but simply to use it.
I Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Sadly, Christians run all around the world searching for the experience of healing. Others long for the assurance that they are truly forgiven. God tells us that both of these things are ours to claim, simply on the basis of Christ’s completed work, right now.
II Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 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.
Although this verse is referring specifically to Paul and those who ministered with him, it can be applied by all Christians. So many are continually on the lookout for the newest class, program, or “Christian guru” to follow in order to make themselves able ministers, but in truth, only God can make one able. And He has, in Christ.
I Corinthians 12:7
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
Part of the ability that is ours in Christ is the operation of the nine manifestations of holy spirit. No matter how many misled preachers or outright charlatans promise to give others the ability to experience these manifestations (which they call gifts), God’s Word shows that this ability belongs to the Christian. It will be experienced not by getting something new, but by using what is ours.
And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Looking for a “transcending” experience? This, too, is ours in Christ.
Clearly, God is in favor of Christian experience — but the experience which He validates springs from believing what is already ours in Christ, not from trying to add to it.
Rather than rallying each other to pursue some new experience, we as Christians need to encourage one another to read and believe the Word of God. As we do so, the potential for experiences — guaranteed experiences, and, what is more important, godly experiences — is almost staggering. In the words of the one who paid that we might have the privilege:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.