"We are not called to choose between a Christian life based on truth and doctrine or a life filled with spiritual power and experience.
They go together.
I was not being called to leave behind my theology and launch out to look for 'something more,' for experience. Rather, I was meant to ask the Holy Spirit to help me experience my theology." Tim Keller
I love this quote. We shouldn't choose good works or doctrine over spiritual growth, and we can't choose spiritual maturity over knowledge of His Word... They go together.
We experience God through His Word.
In R.C. Sproul's book 'The Holiness of God' he quotes Jesus here:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Matthew 23:23-24
R.C. Sproul then says:
"Jesus rebuked the scribes and the Pharisees for neglecting weighty matters and overemphasizing minor matters. He saw this issue not as an either-or matter but a both-and matter."
In other words, Jesus wants us to both keep His Word (doctrine) and grow spiritually mature in our experience with Him. The Pharisees were focused on the doing and neglecting the growing in the fruit of the spirit, which are:
"the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
R.C. Sproul later goes on to say:
"To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the 'mind of Christ.' We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things that He considers weighty.
That cannot happen without a mastery of His Word.
The key to spiritual growth is in-depth Christian education that requires a serious level of sacrifice.
That is the call to excellence we have received. We are not to be like the rest of the world, content to live our lives with a superficial understanding of God. We are to grow dissatisfied with spiritual milk and hunger after spiritual meat."
Now when he says 'christian education' I don't think he means we all need to go to Bible college, but rather that we need to dive deeper into God's Word.
If we long for Christ, we will long for His Word.
That is the key to growing in Christ. (in truth, doctrine, good works and spiritual power)
We need both doctrine and spiritual growth. They go together. As Tim Keller said, 'we need the Holy Spirit to help us experience our theology.'
The book of James has a great example of this.
It says here:
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." James 1:27
This teaches good works and holy living, that both are essential in the Christian life.
We should never pick and choose from God's Word. It is all to be learnt from and all to be experienced as we grow in Christ.
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
When Jesus came to the beloved disciple John, on the island of Patmos to dictate His letters to the 7 churches, what did John see?
He saw a two-edged sword coming from the mouth of Jesus.
"He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength." Revelation 1:16
He is the Living Word of God.
Something to ponder.
*Note: Quote by Tim Keller from his book 'Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God'