“Don’t seek God-experiences!”

by K.W. Leslie, 09 June 2021

When people wanna know whether God is real, I tell ’em to seek God-experiences. Watch him interact with people in our world, or hear him interact with you personally, and you’ll know for certain he’s real. Especially after you’ve had a whole bunch of these experiences.

New Christians tend to take this advice. Longtime Christians, not so much. Because when someone’s been Christian for a mighty long time, yet have no God-experiences at all, it actually means they’ve been going out of their way to avoid any such experiences. They’ve been intentionally, deliberately staying away from any Christians who dabble in miracles and the supernatural—whom they call continuationist, ’cause we claim miracles have continued from bible times to today, unlike those who say miracles ceased, i.e. cessationists.

Why do they stay away? ’Cause we freak ’em out a little.

Sometimes for totally understandable reasons. I gotta admit, some of us continuationists are straight-up freaks. They bug me too. I’d like to think I’m a pretty tolerant guy (’cause I’m trying to cultivate Jesus’s patience), but some of these freaks are using the Holy Spirit as an excuse for letting their freak flags fly, as if it’s his fault they behave this way. Instead of claiming, “The devil made me do it” (an excuse which works on no one, and shouldn’t), they insist, “The Spirit made me do it”—and no he didn’t. It’s not his fruit!

But more often it’s because the very idea of a present, immanent God, who isn’t way out there in outer space but right here right now, seriously creeps them out. They way prefer the idea of a distant God, who doesn’t intervene, doesn’t correct, and leaves them be. They don’t wanna personally interact with God till they die, and he lets ’em into paradise. Or till the second coming, which they figure isn’t gonna happen for another seven years at least.

And lest they stumble into any continuationist ideas and behavior, their cessationist churches demand they stay away from us. Don’t seek out miracles! Don’t seek out prophecy! Don’t seek out revelation! Don’t. Jesus said not to.

Wait, Jesus said not to? The Jesus? Jesus the Nazarene? Yep. Here’s their proof text.

Mark 8.11-13 KJV
11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with [Jesus], seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

Luke presents Jesus’s public response with a little more detail.

Luke 11.29-32 KJV
29 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Therefore, cessationists conclude, don’t seek signs from heaven. Don’t seek miracles. If you do, you’re a wicked, evil, condemned generation. Those Christians who seek miracles, and claim to perform them: They’re wicked, evil, and condemned. And all their so-called “miracles” are performed by Beelzebub anyway.

Yep, that’s how cessationists keep Christians away from God-experiences: Call ’em devilish. Blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Claim we’re wrong, not they; that God doesn’t want to interact with his people, and speak to us, cure our diseases, and draw us close; he wants to remain distant. Probably ’cause he can’t abide sin or something.

It’s a profoundly f---ed up view of God, and it’s no wonder more and more people are abandoning those churches for continuationist ones. Rightly so.

The motives of “this generation.”

Why’d the Pharisees want to see some signs from Jesus in the first place?

No it wasn’t so they could see, and believe. Wasn’t their intent at all. They wanted Jesus to perform signs so they could have something to critique. It’s the very same reason cessationists watch YouTube videos of Pentecostals and faith healers, then rip apart everything they’re doing as ungodly and ridiculous. They’re not looking for God-experiences: They’re expecting to find Satan-experiences.

(What’s it say about them that they firmly believe Satan hasn’t ceased its supernatural activity in the Christian Era, but the Almighty has? But that’s a whole other discussion.)

The reason Jesus rebuked ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη/i yeneá áfti, “this age-group” for seeking miracles from him, had everything to do with what he regularly encountered from this particular age-group. The longterm Pharisees, same as longterm Christians, were fixed in their beliefs; they were right and nobody could tell them different. And their beliefs made no room for the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene. He closed all their favorite loopholes, so he had to be challenged, not heeded. His miracles, which proved the Almighty had empowered him as his prophet, had to be debunked. But they didn’t have any YouTube videos to mock… so Jesus was gonna have to give ’em some content. Do a miracle, Jesus!

Of course Jesus read their minds, knew their “pious” request for miracles was pure hypocrisy, and rejected it immediately. The request in and of itself wasn’t wicked. The requesters were.

Today’s wicked generation has simply chosen to ignore the Pharisees’ character, and spin the story this way to justify themselves and their doubts: “See? We’re not supposed to seek miracles. Ever. At all. It’s a sign of unbelief and rebellion, just like the generation Jesus condemned. We’re only meant to believe—to trust God even though he never, ever comes through for us, shows us nothing, tells us nothing, and is as powerless as a block of wood.”

And people wonder why the ancient Hebrews used to worship the Baals, even though they never did any miracles. Obviously they had other motives for worshiping those gods; namely the sex, power, and money. Cessationists persist in their beliefs for the very same reasons—although they’re not so open about the sex.

Whereas the real God responds to his kids. Like the LORD responded to Elijah while Baal was silent to his prophets. 1Ki 18 Like the LORD responded to Gideon when he wanted evidence God actually called him to rescue Israel. Jg 6.36-40 Like Jesus responded to Thomas when he wanted tangible proof Jesus rose from death. Jn 20.24-29

Throughout the Exodus, the LORDGod has no problem whatsoever with proving himself time and again through mighty acts. Ex 7.5 “You’ll know I’m the LORD,” he declared multiple times—when acts of judgment took place, when prophecies were fulfilled, when blessings came down upon his people, when people saw God act.

But thanks to one iffy misinterpretation of Jesus’s teaching, cessationists insist we’re not to seek any such thing. In this age of grace, apparently God is enraged when we dare ask to see his face.

Yeah, it’s a stupid interpretation. But it’s everywhere.

The motives of our generation.

The reason cessationists want us to avoid miracles, signs-seeking, and prophecy, is because they’re trying to keep people far, far away. Calling us evil for seeking such things, and threatening us with hellfire if we do so, is a scare tactic which is meant to keep people in line. Stay away from the competition!

Scary thing is: God’s their competition.

Yep. Not for nothing did I say they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit’s empowering present-day miracles…

And lemme say if you’re skeptical of a lot of present-day miracles, I totally get that. Like I said, there are a lot of freaks among us. A lot of frauds too. I’ve met a few. Mentalists who claim to be prophets; faith-healers who couldn’t cure a papercut; charismaniacs who fall down for any reason whatsoever. Frauds are everywhere in Christendom—and there are plenty in cessationist churches too, who don’t believe in God whatsoever, but pastoring is the only career field they know, so they fake it for a living. We gotta always test for fruit.

But again: If the Spirit’s empowering present-day miracles, any present-day miracles whatsoever, yet these folks insist every present-day miracle is of devilish origin, that’s slander. That’s blasphemy. They’re rejecting God, and encouraging you to reject God, and follow them instead.

The Spirit’s trying to get us to know Jesus better. Follow Jesus better. Grow in our relationships with God. Grow in good fruit. Grow in productive, kingdom-building power. Be better people. Be saints. But these preachers insist the Spirit does no such thing; not anymore; certainly not like that. Only they know how to follow Jesus. Follow them.

Oh, and attend their churches and tithe regularly to them. And buy their books and seminars and resources. And obey them when they command their churches to believe various things and vote various ways. And if the youth pastor molests your kids, or you find out about any other shady business they’re committing on the downlow, keep it quiet lest their organization get a bad reputation. Those are aberrations, but you know the church is really doing the Lord’s work. Don’t fight the Lord.

Whereas the Holy Spirit tends to expose that kind of evil, and either gets evildoers to repent, or purges ’em from his church. He’s not just their competition; he’s the opposition. And you don’t wanna be in the camp of the Holy Spirit’s opposition. They’re gonna wind up on Jesus’s left in the final judgment.

It’s understandable if you wanna avoid the everything-goes sort of supernaturalist. We should! Not everything does go. But don’t make the mistake of embracing an ungodly extreme.

1 Thessalonians 5.19-22 KJV
19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

“All appearance” meaning whenever evil appears, whether in a continuationist or cessationist church. And if your church rejects and rebukes God-experiences, it’s evil; abstain. Find a better church! There are plenty.