With all the events going on at Asbury, I think it is important that we examine the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to spiritual experiences. I bring this up because I see a lot of judgment and condemnation that I think isn’t always done with much consideration of what the Bible says about this. So let’s turn back to the Bible and take a look so we can have views that are guided by the scriptures rather than our intuition.
First, it is clear that when we receive the Holy Spirit the Spirit dwells in us.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” – 1 Cor 3:16
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;” – 1 Cor 6:19
This means the Spirit is not just present with us but in us. This is part of being new creation in Christ with the deposit of the Spirit guaranteeing what is to come (Eph 1:14) and being the identifying mark of our adoption into Christ,
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Rom 8:14-16
If you don’t have the Spirit, you are not born again. If you don’t have the indwelling Spirit, you are not a disciple of Jesus.
The manifestation of the Holy Spirit
There were people in the New Testament who were Spirit-indwelt disciples who also had experiences of the Spirit. These were experiences where the indwelt Spirit manifest Himself in extraordinary ways. We see this in Acts 2 with the Spirit coming on the apostles, in Acts 13 where the Spirit speaks to them. We also see this in the selection of the deacons in Acts 7 where one of the qualifications was that they be full of the Spirit. That seems to me to mean something more than just indwelt by the Spirit, or else why mention it? We also see the experience of the Spirit in the expression of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. There is even the manifestation of the Spirit with Jesus at His baptism.
The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian but the experience of the Spirit’s manifestation is not a constant. Just because you don’t feel the Spirit doesn’t mean the Spirit is not in you. Just because you don’t have the miraculous gifts of the Spirit doesn’t mean the Spirit is not in you (this is where the Full Gospel crowd gets it wrong). If you are in Christ you have the Spirit and from what we learned in Acts, just because one person has an experience of the Spirit doesn’t mean everyone will or that everyone should.
God isn’t always “fair” but He is always right
God doesn’t work the same way with every person. God gives each of us exactly what we need. I sometimes wonder if it is possible some of us don’t experience the Spirit more profoundly because it might make us prideful or take us off track. I really don’t know the answer to that but it makes me wonder. It might just be having this experience would be the worst thing for your faith. However God is dealing with you, don’t fall into the trap of making comparisons with others (check out John 21:20-23)
Let us be careful in criticizing others whose experience with the Spirit is not the same as our own. It might just be that we are criticizing the work of God without realizing it.