“You could really FEEL the Holy Spirit in the service this morning.” I have heard statements like that all my life in Baptist churches. But what does that mean and is that a Biblically sound statement?
I would not deny that emotions are a part of Christian spirituality. But nowhere in Scripture is it recorded that anyone felt the Spirit. Is that the same as “feeling the electricity at Death Valley in Clemson?” How do we know that feeling comes from the Spirit?
Feelings or emotions are the weakest and most unreliable part of our system of spirituality. And it is a mistake to trust our feelings or to elevate emotional experiences to the level of definitive spiritual reality.
Emotions can and are often used to manipulate but they do not authenticate truth and they cannot verify the historicity of any historical or theological reality. Truth is authenticated by the written Word of God. It is true because the Bible says it is true.
Emotions do, however, authenticate our understanding of truth. So proper emotional reactions to truth include joy, conviction, gladness, gratitude, sadness, abasement, grief over sin, and so on. We don’t normally talk about feeling those emotions coupled with truth taught, but we talk about some tingly sensation that we contribute to the Holy Spirit. It would be refreshing to know, not feel, the Spirit is with us because the Word of God says that he indwells every believer and that he is present where there is real worship around the truth of the Word of God!