I Have Never Felt the Holy Spirit
I have spent more than 25 years in ministry. During that time, I have been privileged to preach and teach lessons numbering more than I can count. I have conducted multitudes of Bible studies and been fortunate to be involved in the conversion of many precious souls. Yet, my experience in ministry is completely lacking in one area that I am told is essential to the Christian faith. I have never felt any experience of any kind with the Holy Spirit.
From the sermons I have heard preached in recent years that should not be possible. The indwelling of the Spirit is, I am told, universal and unconditional. Every saint of God receives the Spirit at baptism. Neither that saint’s personality, level of spirituality, nor any other potential variable trait has any bearing on that reception.
Further, that indwelling is so pervasive that it serves as the seal of my faith and the evidence that the Spirit has guaranteed my salvation. Yet, in all my life, I cannot point to a single second of experience in which I could identify the Spirit’s presence. I have never received the “ready recollection” on any verse I had not studied to deliver during a sermon. I can point to no moment in time when some influence other than the preparations of my journey with the scriptures has produced. If put on the witness stand, I could not identify a single word of testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit ever directly influencing me.
What is wrong with me?
The answer is nothing. For me, and a countless multitude like me, our experience simply contradicts the necessary elements of most doctrines relating to the Holy Spirit currently being taught. Neither my faith, nor my person is flawed to the point that I should be incapable of discerning the most Important gift God has provided me. If the doctrine I have been taught is true, I should know it to be true.
Therein is the most basic reason that I know people are mistaken about the Spirit. If what they teach is true, then I should be able to know it. If the power of the Spirit is coursing through my veins, I should feel it. But I don’t. They tell me I should, but I don’t. They tell me every Christian has this presence, but I don’t. And I am certain that I am not the problem.
Their doctrine is flawed – not me. Their teaching demands an experience beyond the word. They may say the experience is indescribable, but they cannot claim that it is the “seal” of my inheritance while holding that it is also indistinguishable. Before I begin to make a single textual argument, I know the position I am opposing is wrong. It demands an experience beyond the text. It demands that experience comes to every single Christian. And somehow it skipped over me.
Until I feel what they say I must feel; until I experience what they hold my faith must experience and until I am moved the way they argue that all Christians must be moved, their arguments will not convince me. I simply know that they are wrong.
If you have lacked the same experience that I have lacked, I encourage you not to doubt yourself. Doubt those who have told you otherwise. It is their burden to prove the universal, “sealing” experience they preach – not yours to disprove it. Until that experience moves upon our hearts, you and I stand as living evidence that their doctrine is demonstrably false.