Pristine Grace

Reconciling Truth and Experience
by Tim James
Reconciling Truth and Experience

     When you have been at the business of preaching for a while, you hear certain questions come up in conversations now and again. Because of the nature and the exactness of the Word of God, it seems that many folks have difficulty reconciling Truth with their experience in religion. For example, once when I was preaching in a conference, a lady approached me after the message and asked me if it was necessary that a person attends services every time that the church met.

     Having just preached the Gospel and experienced the privilege of worshipping God, I wondered at the reason for such a question. Rather than answer the question, I asked her two questions. 1st "Why do you ask?" and 2nd "Do you not desire to worship at every opportunity?" The conversation experienced an abrupt subject change without any reply from her. I later discovered that this lady, while claiming to adore the Gospel of Grace, found numerous opportunities to absent herself from public worship. It would seem that she was not interested in an answer to her question but rather a means of justifying her derelict attitude and behavior toward meeting with God's people to worship.

     Another question that I have often been asked is “How much does a person have to know about the Gospel to be saved?" This query is usually made after a clear declaration that belief in the Truth is the only evidence of salvation. This question is usually asked in the context of a rehearsal of that person's experience in religion prior to hearing the Gospel of God's Grace. I wonder what is really being asked. It seems to me that those who ask such a question are not really concerned with "how much' one needs to know, but: "how little" one can get by with and still hold to a profession made before hearing the Gospel.

     Of course, the answer is not "how much?" or "how little?" The answer is "THE"! One must hear and believe THE Gospel, and further, one does not believe until he hears THE Gospel. (John 8:32, Romans 10:13-15, Ephesians 1:13).

     Our lord said, in John 6:45, that everyone that "…hath heard and learned of the Father", comes to Christ. What do you suppose it is that the Father teaches? He teaches THE Gospel! For someone to claim to have come to Christ prior to knowing the Gospel is to admit that he is not taught of God. Further, it is to hold up a religious experience above the clear declaration of Holy Writ.

     What does a person believe before he believes the truth? He believes the lie. What experience can a person have prior to experiencing the Grace of God that only comes by the hearing of the Gospel? Any experience prior to hearing and believing the Gospel is to be immediately and summarily discarded and disowned upon receiving the Gospel. What would be the possible benefit of the witness of Paul, the Apostle, if he had counted his vast and formidable religious experiences as anything but dung? (Philippians 3:4-9).