Nothing Beats the Experience

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.  But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.  They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

–          Luke 24:25-35


“’It is one thing,’ said Henry Suso, ‘to hear for oneself a sweet lute, sweetly played, and quite another thing merely to hear about it.’

“And it is one thing, we may add, to hear truth inwardly for one’s very self, and quite another thing merely to hear about it…

“We are turning out… young men and women who know the theory of the Spirit-filled life but do not enjoy the experience.  These go out into the churches to create in turn a generation of Christians who have never felt the power of the Spirit and who know nothing personally about the inner fire.  The next generation will drop even the theory.  That is actually the course some groups have taken over the past years.

One word from the lips of the man who has actually heard the lute play will have more effect than a score of sermons by the man who has only heard that it was played.  Acquaintance is always better than hearsay.”

–          Rev. A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous


A spirit connects these two quotes.  What did the men along the road to Emmaus say after Jesus had vanished?  Their hearts burned within them.  They experienced the presence of God.  This is before Pentecost, but it was the presence of the Holy Spirit that caused their hearts to burn.  This is something that Tozer laments is not happening in many churches today.


The presence of the Holy Spirit is important in miracles today.  I’m not talking parlor tricks and things for show.  But for people who call upon the Lord in a group, Jesus has promised to be there among them.  When the Lord is present, who knows what may happen.


But let’s take the references to the Spirit out of Tozer’s quote and replace it with miracles.  Have you experienced one?  I may have many times, but I may have brushed it off as coincidence, a God-made Coincidence (GMC), but a coincidence still the same.


It is like the reaction of the banking man in the old Justin Wilson story.  I’ll make it short and with less colorful language.  The Cajun duck hunter only has the banking man with him for fear of his mortgage being foreclosed.  He definitely didn’t want the dog along, for some unspoken reason, but the banking man insisted.  But after the dog walked on the water to retrieve two dead duck, one at a time, and drop them into the boat, the banking man said, “I didn’t said nothing the first time, ‘cause I thought it was a lie, but did that dog just walk on that water?”  The hunter replied, “Yeah, and it’s the most embarrassing t’ing.  For t’ree year now, I been trying to teach that dog how to swim.”


We may have experienced a miracle, but since miracles can only be explained outside of the natural law, our minds think we just saw a LIE.  Then, we talk ourselves out of the experience.


I wasn’t there for a healing miracle, but I was there the next day.  I’ve told this story before, but a Hell’s Angel was riding his bike through Tupelo, MS and tried to kill some kids and steal their drugs or get money for drugs.  He collapsed instead, too strung out.  He had stumbled into a Christian youth meeting.  The unchaperoned kids only had a child-like faith and no experience at faith healing, but they healed the man by the laying on of hands.  (Notice: God answered the children’s prayers, because they had such child-like faith, they never considered the possibility that it might not work.  They never doubted that God would heal this man, the man who had come there to kill them.)  I was there the next night, being the nineteen-year-old youth member on the Board of Directors, when we laid on hands again for the former Hell’s Angel to accept Jesus into his heart.


I know that miracles occur.  I saw and smelled the dirty biker.  I have no reason to doubt his word.  Metaxas spends an entire chapter in his book, Miracles, just on conversion miracles.  He starts the chapter with a few quotes.  John Newton wrote in Amazing Grace, “I was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”  That’s pretty miraculous.  John Piper calls Christian conversion “a supernatural thing.  The heart is changed. And the evidence of it is not just new decisions, but new affections, new feelings.”  Joy Davidman, wife of C. S. Lewis said of her conversion, “I changed. I have been turning into a different person since that half minute.”  C. S. Lewis wrote, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.”


Okay, then.  If you are a true Christian, you have experienced at least one miracle.  You have experienced the moment when God did not just leave His realm beyond time and space to wink at you.  No, He entered time and space to touch your heart.  It was your heart, not the crowd, not the preacher, not someone else.  You!  All you did for God to do that was to do as C. S. Lewis suggests, ‘give up your self to Him.’


And did not your heart burn when you knew that Jesus had entered your soul and made you clean?


Even if you have not seen a different miracle, the true believer has seen the one.


As for the rest of Tozer’s lament, let us pray that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in all churches so that people who have forgotten that He still exists will experience the Spirit in their midst.  When that happens, we’ll see a lot more miracles.  As Justin Wilson would say, “I Gaah-raun-teeee.”


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