This is an ongoing post about the book “If Grace Is True” by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Here are the words for today.
Many people are suspicious of experiences with God. The believers in Jerusalem were suspicious of Peter’s experience. You may be suspicious of mine. Some argue that such experiences aren’t trustworthy, that infallible Scripture is the only safe guide in our search for truth. They forget the Bible contains the accounts of hundreds of experiences with God. Again and again, God came to individuals and spoke to them….
The Bible was never intended to end the conversation, but to encourage it. God didn’t fall silent with the last chapter of Revelation. He continues to reveal himself. It makes no sense to glorify the accounts of our ancestors’ encounters with God while dismissing our experiences with him today. We who are Protestants should be especially conscious of this need to listen for the voice of God. We are the descendants of people who, based on their experiences with God, challenged the Church’s interpretations of Scripture and its long-held beliefs. Martin Luther, John Wesley, George Fox, and many others described such experiences. They believed they had received a clearer vision of God’s character and will. All these people respected the Bible. Indeed, it was often in reading Scripture that they began to glimpse God’s new word. But they were also open to God’s leading in their lives. They understood what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 37-38). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
I believe that God has spoken directly to me on a few occasions in my life. The most recent one was when he told me to quit being worried about what all those Christian theologians say about him but to listen to his words for myself. When I have mentioned experiencing God in the past it has come under suspicion of some, particularly a Lutheran clergy friend I once had. He came right out and said “How do you know it was from God and not the devil?” These words shocked me as I think I could tell the difference. This was the beginning stage of losing that friend due to theological differences.
I truly believe as Mr. Gulley stated above that the Bible was never intended to end the conversation, but to encourage it. I believe that my previous clergy friend’s staunch insistence that the Bible is the last and absolutely final words of God are depriving him of so much more than he realizes. Dismissing the experiences with God for the last nineteen-hundred years makes absolutely no sense to me!
It seems ironic that my previous Lutheran clergy friend discounts direct experiences with God when the founder of his denomination claimed to have just that when taking on the pope more than five-hundred years ago. It is obvious that not everything Luther believed was from God. His absolute hatred of Jews was certainly not. His belief in the total inerrancy of King Constantine’s bible wasn’t either. But then again his wanting to completely throw out the book of James among others shows he really didn’t either. I will say that his understanding of just how wrong the church had gone did come from God.
If God said he wants all of us to accept his grace then I will take his word for that…. He certainly has the power to make it happen in whatever timeframe he deems best.