I'm interested in understanding the specific ways in which God's presence and intervention are consciously experienced by Christians in their daily lives. In this question, I'm narrowing the scope to Protestantism. Furthermore, I would like to exclude Pentecostalism/Charismatics from the scope (I understand that those denominations have more controversial supernatural beliefs, and therefore I've asked a specific question for them here).

Do Protestant teachings provide specific guidelines for how Christians should or could experience/encounter God in everyday life? Moreover, are there particular types of divine experiences accepted by some or all Protestant Churches that denominations outside Protestantism would be more reluctant to accept or actively promote?

For context, I'm asking this as a follow-up to my previous question, To what extent are Christians encouraged to make conscious efforts to "experience" God as "real"?


2 Answers 2


If there is any sort of repeated, personal experience for an individual Christian beyond what Nigel J. has outlined above it is this:

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. - Galatians 5:16-17

Which most often manifest in this fashion:

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. - Romans 7:14-25

The Holy Spirit of God takes up residence within a human being (the temple made without hands) at the new birth (when Christ is received) and begins to 'lust' against the flesh (sinful nature) as the manifestation and revelations of God (spoken of by Nigel in his answer) are brought to bear within the rescued sinner in the predestined process of conforming that foreknown one to Christ:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. - Romans 8:29

The minute details of the process may be as different for each believer as each believer is themselves and yet for all of them:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. - Ephesians 4:4-6

"Lord", asked Judas (not Iscariot) in John 14, "how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?":

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. - John 14:23-26

The Holy Spirit teaches all things, guides into all truth, reminds of Christ's words, glorifies Christ, and searches and reveals the deep and hidden things of God. By this indwelling the spiritual man judges all things and is judged of none for he has the mind of Christ:

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. - 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Far from being mysticism or naturalism, this is the bedrock of what is actually real for God is Spirit and our battle is not against flesh and blood nor do our lives consist in the weak and beggarly elements of the earth. The kingdom of our Lord and Christ, the kingdom of which we are co-heirs with Him, is neither mystical nor of this earth.

  • 2
    "as the manifestation and revelations of God (spoken of by Nigel in his answer)" - Could you please make the connection between yours and Nigel's answer more explicit? Nigel essentially made references to natural theology, historical events like the resurrection of Jesus, and sacred scripture. I don't see how "the Holy Spirit taking up residence in a Christian" produces any of those 3 things. Historical events already happened, natural theology is an intellectual enterprise, and most believe the canon is already closed.
    – Mark
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 13:57
  • What I said was that the manifestations and revelations of God are brought to bear within the rescued sinner. The Holy Spirit reminds one of all that Jesus said and did and rightly interprets all things in testimony of Christ. I will update my answer shortly. Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 7:34
  • @MikeBorden Thank you for the update. Could you please further clarify what you understand the word 'mysticism' to mean and how it differs from the Christian experience of the Holy Spirit?
    – Mark
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 11:32
  • This might prove useful: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism
    – Mark
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 11:35
  • @Mark From the article you linked: "The idea of mystical realities has been widely held in Christianity since the second century AD, referring not simply to spiritual practices, but also to the belief that their rituals and even their scriptures have hidden ("mystical") meanings." What the Scripture teaches is different. The new birth is a translation from one realm to another: from death to life, from darkness to light, blindness to sight, etc. We are inundated in physicality and naturally tend to conflate spiritual and mystical. Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 14:51

1. Manifestation

The Bible League Trust, a Protestant Organisation, states in regard to their own heading 'God Manifested' that :

“God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16 [TR/KJV] This is obviously referring to the incarnation of God the Son. It is one of the strongest testimonies to the deity of our blessed Lord in the New Testament.

Bible League

They thus make clear that God, as such, he who is Spirit, is manifested in Jesus Christ his Son. Of him, a voice from heaven has stated, once at his baptism, and once at his transfiguration 'This is my beloved Son' and also 'hear ye him', Matthew 3:17 ; Mark 1:11 ; Mark 9:7 ; 2 Peter 1:17.

Before the world began, eternal life was promised, Titus 1:2. And 'the life, the eternal' says John in his first epistle 1:1, 'which was with the Father' ... 'was manifested'.

Thus both God himself and eternal life, as such, are manifested in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2. Interaction

The Gospel Coalition, a Protestant Organisation, says on the subject of 'God makes himself known' :

God makes himself known as Lord through divine revelation, which is given to all people through creation and human nature and to specific people through events, inspired human words recorded as Scripture, and Jesus Christ himself.

God communicates about himself to particular people in special revelation, which includes the events of nature and history, human words that are inspired by God and recorded for us in Scripture, and through the person of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate image of God. In all of these different ways, God reveals himself as Lord, which is comprised of his control, presence, and authority over all things.

Gospel Coalition

'Manifestation' and 'Revelation' are divine activities : I suggest a further question if information is required regarding the activities of believers in response to God's revelation of himself.

The phrase 'in their daily lives' (in connection with 'manifestation' and 'interaction') indicates, to me, a misunderstanding of what Protestantism understands by 'manifestation' and 'interaction'.

The Protestant gospel conveys Christ to the believer through the apostolic word. It is through preaching and teaching, not 'daily life'.

One's path through the days of this life will be governed by the gospel which one believes. It will not be a continual and repeated experience of that which is taught, doctrinally, through preaching.

That faith will be outworked in daily life. But the expectation of repeated personal 'manifestations' and 'interactions' is unrealistic.

Protestantism is not mysticism.

The lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Saul/Paul and others, show plainly and clearly that visitations by the Lord are especial events in one's life and are not multiplied, day by day.

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