I recently saw a video on Instagram asking the question, “encountering the presence of God or studying the Word of God, which is more important?”
The video went on to make the correct point: you can’t have one without the other.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where people seek the presence of God and often ignore the Word. There is a desire to engage our feelings in a moment or experience, but there is no framework that allows for an accurate understanding of what God is doing in that moment or what He desires from us.
I know of a young lady who felt the presence of God in a particular service, but had no understanding of what she was actually experiencing. Following the service, she shared that she felt like her grandfather, who had recently passed away, was in that service with her.
She felt something, but there was no knowledge of the Word. As a result, there was a misunderstanding of what was taking place in that service.
We were made to commune with God, to spend time with Him and enjoy His presence. But it is equally important that we know the Word of God. If we don’t have a framework of truth, it is absolutely possible to base a relationship with God on inaccurate assumptions or ideas.
We can encounter the presence of God, even have a genuine experience, but miss some very important things because we don’t know His Word.
His Word is forever settled, and it requires obedience from His people.
How can we obey what we do not know?
How can we know if we are not intentional in our reading and study of His Word?
Jesus warned us in that very Word that,
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:21-27)
How sad would it be to have a supernatural encounter with the Savior but still miss out on an eternity with Him because we didn’t build our house on the obedience to the Word.
It doesn’t matter how good we feel at church if we do not also have a framework of truth that those experiences are built upon and filtered through.
A true experience will never contradict or override the Word of God.
In His conversation with the woman at the well, Jesus told her that her people worship what they do not know. They worshiped God, true. They believed that the Messiah was coming, of course. But there was still a fundamental lack of understanding.
Jesus went on to say, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
The Father is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
You can’t take one and not the other.
You can’t make it on an experience alone, especially if those experiences are not grounded and confirmed in the Word.
We must be intentional in these last days to study and hold on to the Word, our framework of truth.