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Powerful Experiences of Christians: Mr. G.C.

August 10, 2010

As I study Church history, more and more I am seeing a common experience among those Christians who seem to have “burned the brightest” for God–a second encounter with the Holy Spirit, post-conversion.  There is a great deal of debate between Christians as to whether or not there is a “second experience” beyond salvation where the fullness of God is poured into the heart of a believer.  In the vein of John Wesley and John Fletcher (and many of the early church Fathers) I believe there is a subsequent experience that leads a believer into a deeper experience of the love of God, provides the realization for genuine sanctification, and empowers the believer for spirit-filled ministry.  It is primarily from reading the testimonies of Christians who have experienced such a moment that I am convinced it is real.  Here is one example.  Although the name is not given, this testimony was recorded in the Arminian Magazine (started by John Wesley) in 1783:

‘Friday 28: My body is very weak:  I feel the want of Faith, and the necessity of believing for sanctification.  Likewise I am deeply convinced of the impossibility of Happiness without Holiness.  But I have a lively sense of God’s love, and a confidence that he will fully supply all my wants.

Whitsunday 30.  Blessed be the Lord, that he hath brought into my soul, the liberty I have so long been seeking for.  This morning I thought much of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and prayed that He might rest upon me.  But I found little answer till the singing of the first hymn, when his Spirit made me deeply sensible of his presence.  I then pleaded with him, and that with many tears, to make me a partaker of his sanctifying love, by removing for ever the bitter root of pride, self-will, and unbelief.  All this time my heart was broken before the Lord, and my face covered with tears: and I found nothing left but a fear lest the Spirit should depart, before he had purified me from inbred sin.  While I was thus agonizing with God in prayer, the power of the Lord came upon me, so that my whole body trembled under it.  But I kept my spirit still, and continually cried, ‘My heart, Lord! Work within! Work within!’ In that Instant I felt the Spirit of God enter my heart with mighty power, and as it were literally accomplish that promise, I will take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh: the old heart seeming to be taken away, and God himself taking possession of my soul in the fullness of love:  And all the time of the service, I enjoyed such a heaven of love as I never before experienced.  All the day I watched every motion of my heart, to see if the evils I before felt were there or not: but I found none: I could not find nothing there, but solid joy and heart-felt peace.

This testimony is so much like many others I have read that describes a very powerful experience with the Holy Spirit that is so uncharacteristic of what seems to be the norm for Christian experience today.  One thing I’ve noticed in reading about many of these experiences is that there was always a time of seeking and wrestling (or a gradual progression) that lead to a moment where God’s love and power suddenly broke forth (an instantaneous experience).  I think both are important, but we often emphasize the gradual without expecting and hoping for the instantaneous.

And what is more tragic still, the majority of what I see pass as sanctification today is really just people conforming to certain behaviors.  In other words, true sanctification is explicitly supernatural.  When we are experiencing real sanctification, we will understand it to be God working in our hearts by His divine power as we seek Him.  It will not be simply externalized behavior modification.

Let’s keep seeking to know the fullness of God’s love and presence.  He longs to give it to each of us, but asks the we seek Him diligently for it as well.

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