Knowing and Experiencing God

I’ve always been amazed at how God will work in and through our lives regardless of education.  Unfortunately, some have concluded from this that education doesn’t matter; some even fear that it will keep you from experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life.  Several times as young believer, there were folks who discouraged and warned me about the dangers of education, “it will ruin you.”  My wise uncles, both church planters, sat me down, and talked to me at length about learning to study prayerfully, worshipfully and encouraged me to get all the education I could.  I’m glad I listened.

I’m reading J. I. Packer’s Keep in Step with the Spirit.  This quote took me back and reminded me that sometimes our experience can exceed our knowledge, but it doesn’t justify us refusing to learn as much about God as we can.

Knowing and Experiencing God

We glibly assume that because we know something of the Spirit’s work in our own lives, therefore we know all that matters about the Spirit himself, but the conclusion does not follow. The truth is that just as notional knowledge may outrun spiritual experience, so a person’s spiritual experience may be ahead of his notional knowledge. Bible believers have often so stressed (rightly) the need for correct notions that they have overlooked this. But fact it is, as we may learn from the experience of Jesus’s followers during his earthly ministry. Their understanding of spiritual things was faulty; their misunderstandings of Jesus were frequent; yet Jesus was able to touch and transform their lives beyond the limits of what had entered their minds, simply because they loved him, trusted him, wanted to learn from him, and honestly meant to obey him according to the light they had. Thus it was that eleven of the twelve were “made clean” (their sins were forgiven and their hearts renewed [John 15:3]) and others entered with them into Jesus’s gift of pardon and peace (see Luke 5:20–24; 7:47–50; 19:5–10), before any single one of them had any grasp at all of the doctrine of atonement for sin through Jesus’s coming cross. The gift was given and their lives were changed first; the understanding of what had happened to them came after.[1]

Love, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!

[1] Packer, J. I. (2005). Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Revised and Enlarged Edition., pp. 20–21). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

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