I remember years ago while being a charismatic I was also taught that:
Salvation was based on what I felt and experienced and the decision that I made.
My false conversion experience began when I trusted my own feelings rather than what the Bible said. And in order to create some kind of emotional experience; they would use music, motivational preaching and the offer and expectation of experiencing miracles and healings. All these together created the atmosphere that where affecting people emotionally. In short this was manipulating people’s emotions to create something that made me think it was from the Holy Ghost. These things where just added by men to seek for something other than the natural presence of God which they felt it to be ‘dead’.
The teaching, or what I thought was ‘the Gospel’ was more of a motivational speech to give you self-esteem. There was not so much focus on the sinfulness of man, the justice of God and the judgement to come. It was mostly about experiencing miracles and expecting sign and wonders in your life. Physical healing and an easy life where the offers brought in front of me. And I accepted it, because it was exactly what my fallen human nature desired. It only targeted to please my emotions and not speaking to me the truth.
So I went to pray the sinner’s prayer to ‘accept Jesus into my heart’ (which by the way Christ said “Ye have not chosen me, but i have choosen you” John 15:16) and then experiencing trembling and shaking because of the tension the atmosphere created. This led me to make a decision for my own salvation based on my feelings alone. I was told (and I believed) that those feelings where marks of God’s work in my heart. I was convinced that I was saved because of a decision I have made. But I wasn’t because i trusted in myself.
Because the Bible for me was a book of verification for my irrational subjective way of finding truth. I felt it was an old book but not the Word of God. When I used to experience a vision from God, I used to take the Bible verses that friends would show me and say to myself pointing my finger ‘this is valid, because the Bible says so’. Yet later on, after going back to those text’s that I used to point out to, now I discovered that most of what I believed was based on an erroneous method of Bible interpretation. Because it was based on text taken out of context and adding to it a teaching that was never in the text. Because I try to feel the truth.
Furthermore, when I sinned, I was not deeply disturbed by it. I felt bad for what I have done and at times I would have drops of tears. Sometimes at meetings I would fall down when I was ‘slayed’ by the spirit and crying allot. Yet I kept going back to sinning with the desire to keep it. I did not have the conviction that David had in (Psalms 51) nor the humility of the tax collector compared to the Pharisees in Luke 18. I did not understand what it meant to repent from sin and trust in Christ. I did not know the Gospel and its saving power. I was comfortable with secular music and worldly thinking and living. Feelings alone where my authority. In short, I was comfortable with a sinful lifestyle because there was no change in me. I was not a convert, but a false convert for years. I was the product created from the system of charismatic experiential doctrine.
But thank God I am now a true believer in Christ. And here is one reason why:
Salvation can only be found in the revelation of the Scriptures alone.
While I used to believe that salvation was based on what decision one makes by his feelings alone; the Bible clearly states that salvation can only be found by trusting in the written Word of God alone. As we read in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 “the holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”. Which concludes “All Scriptures is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”.
The Holy Spirit convicts us through the Word of God (John 16:8-10) and reveals to us our sinfulness and our need to be saved by the Saviour. Salvation is by faith alone, but how can I believe? And what does Paul say in Romans 10:17? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. By hearing God’s Word, salvation is then responding to God’s word and then believing it. Trusting in Christ’s person and work upon the cross and our need for forgiveness and mercy. By the way, the faith and the ability to believe is also an act of God’s Sovereign work within us. So salvation is not from you but from God and what He has done.
Someone may say that this is good but ‘I feel that I still find it hard to believe’. Then I show them what our Lord said to Philip in John 14:6-9 where are Lord said “I am the way the truth the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. Then Philip said to him “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us”. But our Lord said to him “Have I been so long time with you, and yet has thou not known me, Philip?”. And the lesson that our Lord is giving to his disciples before He leaves them is this: my Word is enough for you. If you see the Father in me, then you know God through me’. Philip was not satisfied with what Christ said that he said to him ‘no it’s not enough for me’. He wanted Christ to show him something else, perhaps another sign and another miracle like the people in John 6 who only wanted Him to make bread and not the real bread of life. And as we see in the text, our Lord was upset because of Philips response: ‘am I not enough for you Philip? Is my Word not enough for you?’. Let us not make the same mistake as Philip did.
In John 6:28-29 the people asked him what they must do to have eternal life. Our Lord said “that ye believe on him whom he hath sent”. How? By trusting in His Words. Later He says “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”(John 6:63). Knowing your salvation and trusting in Christ alone who has died for our sins is more precious and important than experiencing physical healing and miracles.