WHAT IS A GODLY EXPERIENCE
(1) A godly experience consists in a saving knowledge of Christ. Many have a theoretical knowledge of salvation. But when we come to enquire into the one essential knowledge which far transcends all other knowledge – that is, to know personally and experimentally the saving, emancipating, delivering, renewing and transforming power of salvation upon the heart, we fear the number is limited. What we understand by godly experience is the realization of the Christ-exalting blessings of the new covenant, the possession of the grace of Christ. It is to know Him, not merely as a Saviour, God’s unspeakable gift, but to know Him personally, and to be able to say my Saviour, Redeemer, Intercessor, yea, ‘My Lord and my God’. To be able also by divine grace to give a reason of the hope within us, that hope arising from the possession of the saving grace and power of Christ and His resurrection resting upon us. In a word, it is to know in whom we have believed, to be fully persuaded that our hope is cast within the veil, to be resting upon and trusting in the finished work of Jesus as the only Rock of our salvation.
(2) A godly experience consists in the possession of certain proofs. It must necessarily have some substantial, some positive proof, some inward reason to give for the profession we may make. The great question is, By what means do we acquire this proof? Have we been called out of bondage and death into the liberty, light, and life of the gospel? Do we possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Does the Spirit of God bear sweet and blessed witness with our spirit that we are born of God? Has the incorruptible Word gained an effectual entrance to our souls? These are momentous questions, and can only be truly answered by God’s saved people. The possession of these things is the undeniable proof of that experience which agrees in substance with the Word.
(3) A godly experience consists in a twofold approval of service. The Apostle Paul points this out very clearly in Rom. 14.17, 18, where the Christian is said to serve Christ by righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The possession of these spiritual graces constitutes the essential part of vital religion, and he that experiences and exercises these virtues renders acceptable service to God. When by divine grace we are enabled to live as becometh the Gospel, we have the testimony of God, our brethren, and even our enemies, for doubtless such conduct commends us to the consciences of men in general.
(4) A godly experience consists in the testing and trying of our faith. The trial of faith (1 Pet. 1.7) is the testing of it in order that it may be found genuine and capable of enduring the strain put upon it. The means used for this testing process are called ‘divers
temptations’ (Jas. 1.3). The trials which befall us discover to us the genuineness of our faith, and at the same time manifest the hollowness of the mere empty professor of Christianity. In the experience of the godly man, he is led to approve of the trials, because he regards them as beneficent manifestations of the divine love, and that his daily trials are not inconsistent with divine compassion, but that they prove the tender regard God has toward all His family (Heb. 12.6). Happy is he who can bear with the trials of life, who can endure as seeing Him who is invisible, and who can manifest a patent adherence to the divine will. Verily His experience will be rich, and his joy divine.