Saturday, September 24, 2005
In more recent times, since giving up my old Charismatic beliefs, I continue to hold strong convictions (albeit not exactly the same ones). Much like my Charismatic days, I will respond if you raise objections to what I believe, but unlike those days, I will most likely respond in a substantially quieter and more thoughtful manner. This change has not come about because my convictions have weakened, but rather because they have become stronger as my knowledge of and confidence in God's Word has increased.
When I was young in the faith and steeped in Charismatic practice, much of my "faith" was based on experiences I'd had: prophecies, dreams, visions, still small voices, etc.: various types of what I thought to be direct "words" from God. Upon receiving such a "word", I'd first hold it with much confidence and enthusiasm, but inevitably the doubts would come: "What if this word isn't from God? Perhaps it's from my imagination, or it could be a deception from Satan." Try as I might, I could never manage to accept with 100% assurance any such "word" as being from God.
Thus, when a person would raise any type of question or concern about my latest "word", my already fragile faith would be shaken to the very core. I perceived that my most precious faith was under attack, and reacted by defending my precious "word" with much passion and vigor. At the time, I fancied that this proved the strength of my faith, but later reflection revealed that the very vehemence of my defense revealed a rather different state of the heart: doubt and uncertainty. Although I professed to hold to the "word of faith" teachings of Hagin and company, my faith was a sham, built upon a foundation no more stable than quicksand. The very vehemence of my protests against the attacks of my enemies merely confirmed the truth: that I had deep, unsettling doubts about the very "truth" that I professed to hold so dear.
Much has changed since those days. As I came to realize that my "words from God" had either failed to come to pass or had led me away from Christ and the Scriptures, I made the decision to put every one of them on the shelf and concentrate instead on what I could know for certain: the Scriptures. Since then, I've come to know the Scriptures much better. Questioners and doubters still come my way, but my old insecurities are little more than a fading memory. Far from being in doubt regarding my bedrock of hope and inspiration, I am at peace because I know exactly what God has said regarding Himself and my salvation. I have no more "words" from God, but I have His inerrent, inspired, sufficient Word: the Bible. Although I often find myself defending the Word with passion and vigor, I find that I do so from a position of confidence rather than insecurity. Unlike the old days, when I was tossed and turned with every wind of doctrine, and concentrated my efforts on defending myself from doubts and uncertainty, my faith in the Scriptures alone has freed me to defend the Gospel of Christ from its enemies.
My friend, in what do you put your faith? Do you put your faith in uncertain experiences or in certain truth? When your faith is under attack, do you respond defensively or offensively? If you often find yourself lashing out against your critics, I encourage you to examine your heart to see whether it may be fear, insecurity or doubt rather than strength of conviction that fuels your reaction. If so, I encourage you to lay aside uncertain "revelations" and begin to feed upon the true and trustworthy milk of the Scriptures.