There is no doubt that “experiences” are at the heart of a lot of what the HH’s write about, and are a part of what causes much question and controversy in the church.
Things like visions of angels, trances, healings, etcetera need to be weighed against Scripture. Scripture needs to be tested against Scripture. For example, there’s quite a few people – myself, Todd Bentley, a bunch of ex-witches and ex-muslims – whose testimony is that they have seen Jesus (visions, dreams, and even physical appearances). The Heresy Hunters (most notably Bud Press) have told me since I saw Jesus in a dream and that led to my salvation, I must not really be saved because Matthew 24:23,24 says that if anyone says to you, “Look! There’s Jesus!” you shouldn’t believe them, because false christs and false prophets will arise and even do signs and wonders to deceive the elect.
However, if you read through the books of Acts and Revelation, several people not only saw Jesus, they had a face-to-face encounter with Him. Should we toss out Paul and John (and most of the New Testament) because these men weren’t saved because they saw Jesus? Of course not – and neither should we say people aren’t saved or that they didn’t see Him.
[if you want a real-life example of what Jesus meant when He said, “false christ”, see this CNN article. This guy’s not the only one. Interestingly, I’ve yet to see anything on the HH’s sites about him and his counterparts!]
Should we test? Yes, absolutely. However, most people’s theory of testing experiences runs something like this:
Could it be good, or is it evil?
Untested as of yet – it could be either
Therefore, it could be evil
Evil must be avoided at all costs
Therefore, experiences must be avoided at all costs
[discard this experience and all future experiences]
This not only doesn’t compute, it’s unbiblical.
The Bible says to test all things… why do so many people stop there and use that as an excuse to throw out baby with the bathwater? What the Bible really says is to test all things and hold fast to what is good (and incidentally, it says that immediately after Paul wrote, “do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophecies”!!)
In my reading of the Bible, I’m discovering that there’s very little recording of the apostles asking about voices they heard and angels they saw and things that happened. When Peter…
- went into a trance
- saw a vision
- heard a voice saying something that he believed was contrary to God’s word <gasp!> He even argued with God about it: “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” — “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
…he didn’t say, “Yeah? How do I know it’s really You?” He knew that he was hearing from the Most High.
Why? How? I think it’s because he knew God well enough to know that he knew that it was Him. Perhaps that’s our problem in the church today – we don’t know God well enough, intimately enough, to immediately know what’s Him and what’s not.
That should of course be our goal, but until we “get there”, what should we do? Test all things according to what the Bible really says.