In true Christianity God’s revealed truth is believed, it is lived out, and it is felt. It impacts the soul. If we forget this we will eventually lose biblical religion altogether.
But what are we to make of our emotions? What does the Bible say? And does it tell us how to know which of our feelings are pleasing to God, and which are not? This book begins by answering these questions before moving on to examine other aspects of spiritual experience. It sheds light on the Holy Spirit’s work in the soul, on how to know whether we are true Christians or not, on what it means to experience the felt presence of Christ, and on how to seek and receive God’s guidance.
The book closes with two chapters on experiences in prayer which are now largely forgotten. There is an extended treatment of ‘the prayer of faith’; that is, praying in such a way as to have certainty about the outcome. This is followed by teaching about ‘waiting on God’ and the wonderful things that happen to those who do.
Whole continents of spiritual experience are waiting for us to explore them, and it is the author’s prayer that this book will help many of the Lord’s people on their journey.
I read this book with a hungry heart – as the title,’a missing note’ echoed my own observation of the state of evangelicalism in the UK. Stuart is right in identifying the ‘missing note’ of experience of Christ and goes some way to explaining what this means. In the first chapter, he identifies many people who know of the baptism of the spirit but have not experienced it and in fact, have had no or little ‘spiritual experience’. Some readers may find this a little offensive but nevertheless there is a lot of truth in what he says. The first chapter is interesting and helpful in showing how our emotions are interconnected with our will. He claims ‘genuine spiritual experience is largely a matter of emotions’ and then proceeds to explain this through various bible references. I was intrigued by his view on the soul being the source of all thinking and understanding rather than the brain and would have liked to have heard more about how he came to that conclusion, through more scripture referencing and discussion. Stuart does not beat about the bush when he says things like, ‘We must face the facts: clinical, unfeeling Christianity is not authentic Christianity and is a great evil; the wonder is that such large sections of the professing church of Jesus Christ seem to have encouraged it!’ He has quite a dogmatic style which I think works against him at times. Some of his assertions I would want more evidence for before I am thoroughly convinced. I agreed with Stuart’s view that much of current evangelicalism has moved it’s focus away from seeking to move the heart (without being manipulative) and that this is a real spiritual danger. However, i did not agree with everything purported in the book. For example although there is much helpful writing on guidance from God in the Guidance chapter, he seemed to be saying that some gifts have died out with the apostles, for which i find no biblical evidence and he does not support his view here, claiming it would take him another book to explain. Confusingly though, he explains how he often knows what will happen ahead of time or will say exactly what someone needs to hear, which in my thinking is a prophetic gift which he himself shows evidence of?! There is a helpful chapter on the Holy Spirit’s work in the soul and how this relates to God’s word and how we can slip into the error of ‘mediate regeneration’ –buy the book if you want to know what that is! I found the chapter on ‘Asking and Receiving’very compelling and I’d like to study this more.The chapter on ‘waiting on God’ is a much needed subject for which we need more teaching on in our churches. We sing about waiting on God but I doubt many think about what that actually means. However, although Stuart paints an attractive picture of how he has felt God come to him,it surely cannot be a ‘magic formula’ of wait for long enough and God comes. It certainly hasn’t worked for me and I have tried many times. Instead, i find that perhaps God brings a song to mind to worship him with, perhaps for others it is other manifestations. Could it not be possible that God deals with each of us as individuals in regard to spiritual experience? Overall, i think this is a very thought –provoking and prayer–inspiring book. It makes me long all the more to experience Christ very really in the ways in which he has worked in his saints through the ages. What could be more precious and satisfying? Stuart certainly goes some way in putting the ‘flesh onto the bones’ of Piper’s teaching on the all –satisfying relationship with Christ.The bible constantly turns our eyes to a feast set before us and promises of joy at God’s right hand –surely if we do not even desire to have an experience of this there is something awry in our faith. This book is starter for the feast..enjoy!
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