Sunday, September 16, 2018

Actual Sensing of the Holy Spirit or God and then the More Prominent Fake Kind, Which Is a Lie

Part One

My first part in this series was due to many varied circumstances, primarily spurred by a letter I had read, but this is something that I've basically been putting up with for years.  If you don't put up with it, much like with Charismatics, you are in trouble.  You've got to accept these subjective, mystical, esoteric feelings or experiences as something legitimate, or you are against the working of God or the Holy Spirit.  I'm not going to be in on it.  Count me and our church as out.

I cared about what I wrote about in part one, but the reaction was bigger than what I expected.  I want people to think about it, and I do think it actually is important, so I'm glad that it has received attention.  I said I was going to write an answer to some comments, and this is part of it.  It won't be all, because I don't think it will answer everything.

Think about the Day of Pentecost, the one 50 days after Passover, the year Christ died, was buried, and rose again.  The church there in Jerusalem, 120 baptized believers, was waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ.  In other words, they couldn't sense His presence.  What was the means of sensing God's presence?  We know what it was, so if we are basing the ability to sense God's presence from scripture, that actually given to us by God, by the Holy Spirit, this is what would inform of that.  What was necessary to know the presence of God is what God says is necessary to know the presence of God, and we find out in Acts 2.

Jesus promised the presence of the Holy Spirit, but those saved people in Jerusalem wouldn't know He had come, because this wasn't something that you could know without being shown.  If there wasn't anything needed to indicate the presence of God, then the way God would show He would come also wasn't necessary.  But it was necessary, and it was external, obvious, and verifiable.  It wasn't an inkling, a hunch, an impression, related to something natural, what anyone could just make up.  Not only did the verification of the presence of God occur, but it was recognizable by everyone at once, not just by some type of unique caste of spiritual specialists.

Acts 2 makes specific mention of the experiencing of the presence of God.  Here's the description (Acts 2:2-4):
2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
First, the feeling or the sensing of the presence of God came audibly with a sound of a rushing mighty wind without actual wind present.  Everyone could hear that.  The word "wind" is a unique word in the New Testament, found only here and another place, and it is a blast, unprecedented.  They heard wind like a hurricane without there being wind, just the noise, minus the blowing.  Hearing wind with wind present is something many have experienced and that would have signified nothing.  Hearing a cyclone-like wind sound without the wind is highly impressive, swaying, convincing of something, especially in conjunction with the promise that God the Holy Spirit was coming soon.

Before I move to number two, understand that this was the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover.  This event was sovereign.  It was under the power of God, as God did it when He wanted.  Jesus died at Passover, He rose again at Firstfruits, and the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  These are not haphazard.  This was the plan of God.

Some might say, it was an answer to their prayer.  I think they were praying for this event.  I have no non-ambiguous proof that they were praying for this event.  I think it is what Jesus taught them to pray in Luke 11.  We know they were praying, it just doesn't say anywhere they were praying for this event to occur.  This event was going to occur, whether they prayed for it or not.  It also occurred with everyone.  The presence of God is sensed in an unambiguous way by everyone.  It isn't isolated.  Everyone knows it.

Second, the feeling or sensing of the presence of God came visually with the appearance of tongue-shaped cloves of fire.  It wasn't fire.  It was the appearance of fire.  The appearance of these tongue-shaped cloves of fire was on every single one of them.  Each person knew he had this.  This is how he sensed.  He could see it.  Everyone else could see it.  Everyone would know it.

If God is going to be sensed in a lesser way, that someone testifies he got in his own individualistic manner, that would be the absence of sensing God's presence.  That would be not to sense God.  Sensing God should be like sensing God in the Bible, or that sensing would mean nothing.  The expressed sensing of God would void scripture, make it as nothing.  God exalts His Word, says it is sufficient, but we would be saying that, no, our experiences supercede or surpass the Bible.

God's Word is truth, and saying that it is true means that it should not be contradicted.  If the sign or the manifestation of the presence of God is what scripture says it is, we should expect to get that.  If we don't get it, we should reject our experience and go with what God says in His Word.

Third, the feeling or sensing of the presence of God came through speaking in an actual foreign language that the speaker did not naturally know.  God gave men the supernatural ability to speak to people in a different language.  They suddenly knew a language or their mouth just moved in that language while their brain fed it information in their own language.  Acts 2 does a lot to establish these as actual languages, but this is sensing the presence of God.

There will very often be claims of the presence of God or the sensing of the presence of God.  No one should just assume that is going to occur.  If it was something that someone could sense, he should expect to sense it like the Bible shows someone senses it.

You might ask, is there any other way to know the Holy Spirit is there?  Sure, but it isn't characterized as sensing it, like people claim to have done.  If they were sensing it, it should be verifiable on the outside.  Claiming that in a subjective, individual way someone senses God's presence is not what scripture teaches.  Scripture is sufficient and God isn't a liar.  Let God be true and every man a liar.

There are ways that we know the presence of the Holy Spirit is there, which are biblical and sufficient.  I see four ways in scripture.  I'm going to list them and say nothing about them:  fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5), spiritual giftedness (1 Cor 12, Rom 12), changed relationships (Ephesians 5:18-6:6), and boldness in proclamation of the Word of God (Acts 4:31).  What I've noticed most often is that the actual ways scripture says you will know someone has the indwelling Holy Spirit are not there, not witnessed, but the very individual, subjective feelings are there, and the latter is elevated above the former, which is the norm today, it seems, for the discernment for true spirituality.  That doesn't honor God -- it is wicked and adulterous.

Because men are not satisfied with actual knowledge of the Holy Spirit, I have witnessed them going about to manipulate situations to fool people about the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes, I suspect, they themselves are fooled while they fool others.  However, through the use of music, speaking style, and other external stimuli, they give a wishful public their placebo experiences.  They can produce crowds through a gimmick and then say it was the Holy Spirit.  They use emotionalism for tear-jerking altar calls, and then when people come, they say that's the Holy Spirit.  Things that are not miracles are called miracles.  It is one thing after another.  If you say that you don't have or do these things, they say you don't have the power of God.  They are lying.

I don't expect to sense the presence of the Holy Spirit through the Acts 2:1-4 type of occurrence, because that experience is complete.  If it was an ongoing experience, I would expect Acts 2:1-4 authentication.  Here's what I've witnessed though.  A preacher says something like the following.  "Our whole church fasted all day and then our men got together and prayed all night for the outpouring of the Spirit of God, that He would come and meet together with us.  It's no wonder that I have felt the presence of God in this meeting.  You can sense the presence of God, a movement of the Holy Spirit in numbers of ways:  how that the hymn choices have matched the sermon choices, the obvious power that has been there in the preaching, and that others have told me they sensed God's presence."  Have you heard that?  I've heard it numbers of times among independent, even unaffiliated Baptists.  Every time, I either feel something, sick to my stomach, angry, or the blood drain from my face.  That is in reaction to something that is not true.

This last paragraph I've called "soft continuationism."  I don't know anymore.  Maybe it's just continuationism.  They aren't seeing some wacky Charismatic manifestations, but they are seeking and having experiences that are lies.  I'm not saying they don't have the experience, but their interpretations or stories are lies.  I wish they could be satisfied with what God says, since He wants that faith in His Word.


Unknown said...

Sir, you are nailing it with these articles. Thank you for the encouragement.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Kent, I'm with you through this whole article. I especially liked that you point out there was no wind and no fire. A lot of preachers somehow totally miss that! It's disheartening. Here, we're supposed to be making the word of God clear to people, and we can't even understand what "as" means.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks. It's nice to hear.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks. It's a relief to know that we have the Holy Spirit, can and do know it the way the Bible says, and that we're all equals in this, who are truly saved.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandenburg,

Would this be a fair logical representation of your understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit?

Premise A: Those who claim the Holy Spirit can lead in a subjective manner are lying.
Premise B: Dr. So and So stated that the Holy Spirit lead him to witness to a certain individual.
Conclusion: Dr. So and So is a liar.

Evan Roberts

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Evan,

I wasn't not answering your comment. I had published it without reading it, and then noticed it just now.

Your premises are too ambiguous to say if they represent me or not. I don't know what they mean.

Anonymous said...

I think Evan Roberts should read his biography which is being shared with us each Friday.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: My name is actually Evan Roberts, so I don't think I'd want to use that biography to learn about myself. I'd prefer to have a biblical "biography" as the Apostle Paul did with the Corinthians when he was able to say, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men[.]" (2 Cor. 3:2)
Besides, I'd rather read a biography that doesn't have footnotes approximately as long as the main body of text--not my style. Right now, I'm being blessed by the autobiography of John G. Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides.

Anonymous said...

@Kent Brandenburg
Sorry if I seemed ambiguous. I didn't want to name any names, but I do think this is a typical scenario in many churches. Somebody stands up during testimony time and says that they were led of the Holy Spirit to witness to someone.

I'm honestly wondering if you think it's unbiblical, and hence a "lie" to say something like that. The person who says that is basing his testimony, I would think, upon his apparent sensing of the leading of the Holy Spirit.


Kent Brandenburg said...


Usually I'm more delicate or sensitive with people's experiences. Door-to-door, when someone tells me his experience, I believe him that it was an experience. I often don't believe it was the truth. I don't mind dealing with the experience, but I don't start there, because usually there are more foundational, underlying issues to deal with. However, if he rejects scripture for his experience, it is a problem, because faith comes by hearing the Word of God and we're saved by faith.

I've used the word lie, perhaps capital L Lie, as in not the truth, as opposed to an attempt to deceive others by telling a tale. If we can't tell the truth on this, even if someone is deceived about it, it's not going to change. It impacts many people's understanding of true spirituality and their source of authority. There are many other issues I've dealt with now in the three parts to the series.

We have evangelism testimonies on Sunday night every week and I don't remember any of our members ever saying anything like they sensed the leading of the Spirit to evangelize, but I understand the language, because I heard it growing up in various churches and situations.

Romans 8:14 mentions believers being "led by the Spirit of God." It's connected to v. 13 by the word, "for." It is very specific, not general. The leading of the Spirit of v. 14 is the killing of sin in v. 13. If you are saved, you aren't going to go on sinning, because you are now under the dominion of the Holy Spirit. This is not the Holy Spirit telling you to evangelize or witness to a particular person.

Galatians 5:18 is an almost identical message. We will not walk in the flesh, but in the Spirit. This is not subjective. It is very objective, because it is laid out in very objective fashion. The Holy Spirit enables this with every Christian. He will submit to the Holy Spirit, because He is not under the law any more, but a son.

How does someone distinguish the voices in his head so that he knows it is the Holy Spirit? Using your example, a voice says, evangelize this person, not some other person. I heard the story recently of a woman where the Holy Spirit told her to comb an old man's greasy long hair at the airport. How does she know that is the Holy Spirit's voice? This is the problem, Evan. She doesn't. I would say she's lying, not being sensitive or delicate for the purposes of these posts. I'm not saying she's lying on purpose, but that she is deceived about the nature of spirituality. The Holy Spirit isn't talking to people like that. She doesn't know what that voice is. I'm not saying she didn't hear a voice, but that she doesn't know it was the Holy Spirit.

If someone is hearing voices, then where does it stop? This is the quality of control that scripture gives. We obey scripture. That's how the Holy Spirit works. When authority is given to a voice in the head, this can move far astray, and it has.