I was reading your page and I was wondering if you thought that the Holy Spirit testifies with people today. I can see what you mean by churches making a following off these emotional responses but are you saying that God doesn't have a way of testifying with us to let us know we are saved or forgiven? This is a problem for me because I said a prayer just thanking God and I started crying, my issues that I was having went away, and I felt happy and relieved because I knew that God loved me† and everyone. I had been wondering if God loved me or not and after that I just knew it, it changed my life for the better. Is this biblical? Do we just write off all emotions as lies of our own physical bodies, or can God act in peoples lives like that? †
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
The question should not be what God can do because God can do all things. The question should be what has God said He will do. "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'" (Isaiah 46:10).
Does the Spirit testify today? The answer is "yes." We call his testimony the Bible. That is what the two parts of the Bible are called the Old Testament and the New Testament. The apostles were directed to record that testimony. "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27). A lot of people read verse 26 and stop, never noticing that Jesus was speaking to the apostles who walked with him and not to us. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). We have no memories of what Jesus said because we weren't with him. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:12-14). Again we see that Jesus was talking to his disciples.
That sending of the Spirit did take place in Acts 2 and the apostles did write what they were directed. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:12-13). Therefore, when we read what the Spirit had written, we learn what God wants us to know. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life -- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full" (I John 1:1-4).
The mistake too often made is to assume that this revelation is on going. That was never promised. Jude said it was revealed once for all. Paul specifically states that it would end. "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). Once the perfect law of liberty was delivered, the direct revelations and other miracles would come to an end. Again, this isn't matter of what God could do; we are noting what God said He would do.
So then, your question is: how do you know you been forgiven? "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). You read in your Bible, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Then the question is do you believe what you read? You did. You confessed your fault and accepted the fact that you were forgiven because you trust that God keeps all His promises, including this one. It isn't because of a feeling, it is because of faith. Your feeling of happiness came as a result of your faith -- not the other way around.
How do I know that I have the love of God? "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6).
I know, it sounds too simple. Many people keep looking for more. Just like Naaman who could not accept at first that dipping seven times in a dirty river could actually cleanse him of his leprosy.
"And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean." But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.' Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (II Kings 5:10-14).
It was Naaman's faith that lead to his cleansing, not the water in the Jordan. We know he had that faith because he submitted to God's will, even though it didn't make sense to him. And it was that faith, demonstrated in his obedience, that made him clean by the power of God.
Throughout the Bible God leads people by instructing them. The results are emotional, but the emotions did not do the guiding. Often people had to act contrary to their emotions to see the wonders God would do in their lives. Don't have faith in your emotions. Believe what God said and find joy and peace in that faith.
Thank you for your answers. The main problem I've been having, I think, is a lack of faith and confidence. I used to have a lot but it was built on the Shepherd's Chapel and now I'm hesitent to believe anything or any side that's different from what I know. It really messes me up.
There is only one place where faith ought to be placed and that is in God and His teachings. That's why I keep directing you back to what the Bible says, so you can see it for yourself. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). When your trust is in the Bible, then there is stability. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).
It will take some time and effort to learn the Bible and compare it to what you thought was true. There will be a number of changes in the way you think. But all of that effort will pay off in the long run. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).