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How to Test Spiritual Experience?

1. Is it scriptural? We dare not allow experience to become the touchstone of truth, giving it greater authority than the Bible.

2. Who is enriched? Both personal enrichment and church enrichment are important, but when they conflict, we must prefer church enrichment. 1 Cor. 13 is sandwiched between 12 and 14. Love must control the expression of spirituality in church. “When you come together, everyone has a hymn;, or a word or instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church (1 Cor. 14:26).

3. Is it orderly? “God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). God doesn’t want chaos in our meetings because that brings confusion and unrest. To the church at Colossae Paul wrote: “I delight to see how orderly you are” (Col. 2:5).

4. Is it intelligible? Being spiritual doesn’t mean being mindless. “I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue (1 Cor. 14:19).

5. Is it sensitive to the unbeliever? Since unbelievers come to church, love requires us to worship in a way that shows God is real and present, and doesn’t make unbelievers regard the gospel as unworthy of serious consideration.

6. Does it bear fruit? Jesus said, “by their fruit you will know them (Matt. 7:20). We test spiritual gifts and their manifestation by their results. Are Kingdom purposes achieved? Do they encourage evangelism, discipleship, repentance, praise to God? When Barnabas was sent to Antioch to investigate reports of God’s activity in Antioch, he “saw the evidence of the grace of God” (Acts 11:23).

7. What is my motivation for testing? Some err in becoming critical, corrective, or cynical when assessing phenomena associated with revival. They become “puffed-up experts” in passing judgment, but are themselves without fruitfulness or spiritual vitality.

Craig Brian Larson, Pentecostal Evangel, July 14, 1996, pp. 11-13

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