Several weeks back, we posted an article titled “Visions, Dreams, and Spiritual Experiences, Part 1,” where we addressed, in part, an email from an individual who asked the following:
Hey I was reading your site and I was wondering if it is possible for there to be people who can have visions or spiritual experiences that are actually from God.
In part one, we wrote about visions and dreams, explaining that, although it is possible (in our opinion) that God could speak to us through visions or dreams in this day and age, it is not likely, because:
- God’s Will has already been expressed to us through Scripture;
- His plan to preserve His people for the purpose of Jesus Christ has already been completed;
- the identity of and the Divine nature of Jesus Christ has already been proclaimed and made manifest;
- the church has already been established;
- and all the instruction we need to guide us today, whether directly or by principle, can be found within His Word (the Bible).
We concluded, through citing Scripture and through sharing personal experiences and insights, that the Christian who seeks after being guided by dreams or visions is prone to being led astray by the demonic, who are all too happy to provide dreams or visions to guide the individual in the wrong direction. Therefore, we should not seek after being guided by dreams and visions. We should, instead, seek God’s Word, seek after God’s Will, seek to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, seek to follow Jesus Christ, and seek to please God.
If there is any vision or dream from God to be had, then the Spirit of God will give it to us, if it is within His Will. And that is enough.
But what about other types of spiritual experiences?
Perhaps the first question we have to the individual who emailed us is: “What do you mean by ‘spiritual experiences’?”
In other words, how are “spiritual experiences” being defined?
When some Christians today think of “spiritual experiences,” it’s not uncommon for them to think of what it’s like to have a “feel-good” service … or to think about a vision or a dream someone has that is automatically assumed to be from God … or to engage in automatic writing … or to think about having an encounter with an angelic-like being … or with supposedly meeting Jesus face-to-face.
Within certain charismatic-minded circles, some may think of a “spiritual experience” as spirit traveling perhaps to what is thought to be a “heavenly place” … or with having supposed encounters with individuals who have passed on … or maybe with having a supposed battle with a demon and commanding coals of fire be poured upon him, or wrapping him in chains, or commanding angels to destroy him, or something of the sort (these things are a type of unbiblical spiritual warfare).
In our book and frequently on this blog, we have been very vocal in condemning these types of activities, and have done our best to explain why we condemn them, warning that not every spiritual experience that one can have is of God; and that seeking after spiritual experiences will eventually lead to Christians being led astray by the demonic.
But does this mean we are trying to say that every spiritual experience is something to be wary of? Are there any types of spiritual experiences to be had today that are genuinely of God?
To the latter, the answer is most emphatically: “YES!”
Here are a few spiritual experiences that are most certainly of God. This is not a complete list, of course, but merely a starting point meant to highlight a few of the important spiritual experiences one can and should have as a Christian.
⇒ Being Born Again
The first spiritual experience everyone must have is that of being born again. If we are not born again, we cannot be children of God, and cannot, therefore, be of God.
The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.John 1:9-13
He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.Titus 3:5
When we are born again, the Spirit of God begins to work within us, making possible all other sorts of miraculous and life-changing spiritual experiences that every believer must and will continually have, if they submit to His working, including:
⇒ Our Eyes Being Open to the Truth of God’s Word
Having the eyes of our understanding opened is a most joyous spiritual experience. In fact, we cannot have a clear understanding of truth until we, by faith and by submitting to His working, allow the Spirit of God to reveal to us that truth.
Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom—but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Rather, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no heart has imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except his own spirit within him? So too, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone’s judgment. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.1 Corinthians 2:6-16
⇒ Submission and Obedience
As Christians, we should always seek to be submitted and obedient to the Father, to His Will, and to the authority of Jesus Christ. Doing so is a spiritual experience that brings us, for example, to a place of humbled awe of His power and majesty, that brings us peace, that brings us healing and deliverance in accordance with His Word., etc.
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-11
We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5
⇒ Renewing and Transforming
Being renewed, or renovated and changed for the better, comes from the Spirit of God when we study the Word of God, and as we walk by faith and in obedience to His Word. Over time, this renewing transforms us into the image of Christ, and fills us with strength and with the yearning for the things of God rather than the things of this world, teaching us to discern what is of God.
These are wonderful spiritual experiences that should daily take place for every Christian.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.Romans 12:2
Sanctification is a magnificent spiritual experience that every Christian should have. As with renewing and transforming, sanctification is a process that occurs over time, day by day, as we study the Word of God and walk by faith and obedience to Him. It is defined, in part, as being “purified internally by the reformation of the soul.” It comes from God, through Jesus Christ, by the working of His Spirit, through His Word, and through the understanding of His Truth (which is from God and which is found in His Word).
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Thessalonians 5:23
⇒ The Fruit of The Spirit
As the Spirit of God continually works within us His renewing, transforming, and sanctifying work, His fruit will become evident within us and through us, and we will begin to realize freedom and deliverance. This is not just a realization by faith (although, by faith is where we must begin, and in faith is how we must continue), but in actuality, as well, because “faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
For instance, we will be set free not only from things like anger, hatred, jealousy, the desire to gossip or lie, the sticky web of addictions, sexual immorality, etc…, but also set free from negative thought patterns, from the brainwashing of the world, from religious programming, from mind-control programming, etc…. and in place of these things, the Fruit of the Spirit — which is life, righteousness, truth, and light — will be evident instead: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Therefore, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we lived according to the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, bearing fruit for death. But now, having died to what bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.Romans 7:4-6,
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to test and prove what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.Philippians 1:9-11
Most Christians — in fact, most people, regardless of their beliefs — do their best to avoid suffering. And it is wise to avoid suffering needlessly, if you can at all avoid it. And it is also good to help others out when we are able, so as to hopefully lessen their suffering in whatever way we may be able to.
But sometimes suffering is unavoidable.
While it’s true that sometimes we suffer because of our own sin, or because of the sin of others, if we live long enough, we will realize that some level of suffering is a necessary part life, and sometimes we suffer just because that’s what life is: a mixture of both the good and the bad. It is not that we should dreadfully avoid such suffering, were that even possible, nor should we eagerly anticipate it, but it is just to say that some types of suffering come to us simply because we are alive. It just is what it is.
But although both believers as well as unbelievers experience at least some level of suffering in this life, as believers, we have a special promise: our suffering is never in vain.
Godly suffering (which is not the same as suffering for being ungodly), produces perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5). Furthermore, if we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will also share in His glory (Romans 8:17).
So then, our suffering as believers is never pointless, and it serves a higher purpose which, if we allow the Spirit of God to work within us, will eventually be realized, not just in our Heavenly life, but also in this life, as the Spirit of God works all things to our good (Romans 8:28).
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.Romans 5:3-5
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us.Romans 8:16-18
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.2 Corinthians 1:3-5
For those Christians who have not experienced these things, and so much more, you should desire to — even the suffering, because, since you are going to suffer in this life anyway, shouldn’t it be worthwhile?
So forget about chasing after visions, dreams, supernatural encounters, and the like. Instead, dive into and study His Word, and allow His Spirit to convict you, to teach you, and to transform you into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
This is the most magnificent spiritual experience you will ever have in this lifetime.