Within the Evangelical Church, I tend to find one of two extremes often at play; on one extreme there are those who abandon theology in pursuit of experience and at the other extreme, those who abandon experience in the pursuit of theology. Both extremes, I believe to be in error! To have an experience of God, without the solid theological ground upon which to rest it, is highly subjective and for that cause potentially very dangerous. We are exhorted, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). Yet, on the other hand, to have a theological foundation that does not allow for God to be really experienced is to grieve the Holy Spirit and to deny Him His rightful place in our midst; “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings” (1 Thess. 5:19-20).
This sermon is a challenge and an exhortation, calling God’s people to a true and authentic Biblical experience. The simple fact of the matter is, our God is a God of personal experience!! I understand full-well that such a phrase throws up so much baggage in light of the abuses at the extreme ends of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movements, but that doesn’t negate the truth of Scripture!! Emotionally driven, hyper-experienced based Christianity must be avoided at all costs; but equally, so must also, dry/dead religion. Without a doubt, theology matters!! But once the solid ground of theology has been laid, it must then prepare the way for a personal experience of Jesus Christ.