Here is a comment from a reader with my reply below:
I now understand your point about supernatural experiences being available to people regardless of the state of their “heart”. But, due to the problems involved with such experience with, what we might call, less mature individuals, you go to some length to outline concerns about this, and suggest remedies such as Humility, and developing the fruits of the spirit, and other ways to try to avoid using Gods power without having His purity. You even suggest some have walked away from powerful experiences (I do know this to be true) because they are not, as you say,
“….committed wholeheartedly to the pursuit of God.”
But this raises what I think is a very important question about what makes people halfheartedly committed to God? And what might it take to move increasingly toward being wholeheartedly committed?
I think Paul touches on this when he suggests, I think in his letter to the Corinthian church, that it is better to remain single than to be married so ones commitment to God is ones focus.
However, it seems to me that in our culture, it is extremely difficult to remain focused on any one thing for long, as our attention is constantly being drawn away to many other things, many of which are legitimate pursuits in themselves. What can be said to the married father of young children who works long hours and tries to spend time with his children, and have some time with his wife, and doesn’t have much time, or energy left after that?
What does it really mean to have a wholehearted pursuit of God?
You may say that isn’t the book you were writing. But, it remains an important question, if you want your readers to desire more than just the more surface level of “spiritual experiences.” Your thoughts?
I have to respectfully disagree with you for two reasons.The first is that my personal experience and those of others that I have observed for many years suggests that spiritual power is not dependent upon holiness [or to put it in a more contemporary way – emotion or spiritual healing – or even growth in character]. The fact is for me that when I was most screwed up I was operating in great power. I know some of the most messed up people whose lives are not working and whose character is an embarrassment to the Kingdom of God and who move is great Holy Spirit power.The second reason is theological. God’s gifts to us, which includes spiritual gifts and power, come by grace, as free gifts. They are not earned just like our salvation is not earned. They come by faith, which is to say taking risks in the belief that God will move through us. In the case of the gift of prophecy it is to say that we believe that God wants to communicate to us and through us and we take the risk of speaking for Him even when our lives are messed up and even if we may be wrong.Where I do agree with you is in the understanding that spiritual power is a powerful drug and only the development of Christlike character will enable us to survive Christlike power. Later in the book I deal with these issues and I hope, address your concerns. I believe the reason that children hear from God so well is because they take Him at His word and believe that He actually wants to communicate with them just as they are.Years ago in the middle of the night God revealed to me what a psychological mess I was. It was such a disturbing revelation that I almost threw up in bed. I said to Him, “How can you stand to have someone as !!@& ed up as me touching your bride [the church]. You should have gotten rid of me long ago!” He said to me, “In my world I heal you as you go.”And that is what He did. And that is how His love works. Don’t get me wrong – emotional healing is essential to a successful Christian life and ministry, not to enable it but to survive it.
The safety net in any community whether a small group or large church where spiritual gifts of power and particularly prophecy are being developed is mutual accountability to be teachable and correctable without taking offense.Budding prophets are extremely suseptible to pride and an independent spirit. They need good leadership.I deal with this issue later in the book. I think the best thing would be for your group to read the book together and try the gift out in a spirit of humility and trust.Keep your thoughts coming.