Updated: Mar 28
The presence of God is an interesting thing. Since God is omnipresent, being at all places at once, we must ask why we don’t experience that presence all the time. You see there is a difference between the omnipresence of God and the manifest presence of God. We have seen the manifest presence of God throughout all of Scripture. We see it at the burning bush, the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, in a still small voice, we see it fill up the temple so much that people had to stop what they were doing, The holy of Holies, we see it in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, we see it on top of the mountain at transfiguration, and now we see in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit inside of Christ’s followers. If the Bible teaches that now the presence of God is literally dwelling inside of believers, why do we often feel like we don’t experience His presence in our lives?
Let me clarify, Omnipresence is that God is all around and manifest presence is that God is right here, dwelling among us. When we sense the manifest presence of God something in our heart begins to awaken. The Psalmist said that deep calls unto deep. There is something within us that knows that we as created beings are designed to be with our creator. We think of these moments of great revival or the mountain top moments and we so often long to see God once again on the top of the mountain or see people flood the church and the community in the midst of revival.
The Bible is clear, the presence of God is not intended or designed to be for the select few, the mountains, or generational revival. And as much as you and I long for these things, even to the point where we feel like we may be in a spiritual drought, depression, and we are starving for the next great awakening, Scripture tells us that God has prepared a great feast of his presence and we have become content with starving at the dinner table.
In the Old Testament we see God relating to humanity through the temple. The temple was designed so that people were able to come and make sacrifices that would atone, pay the cost, for their sins. Within this temple the presence of God dwelled. However, it didn’t reside in the whole temple but was actually dwelling within a place called the Holy of Holies. One of the roles of the high priest was to enter into the presence of God, one time a year, to make a sacrifice to cover the sins of the whole nation. If for any reason the high priest was still found guilty of sin and he hadn’t made a sacrifice that atoned for his own sin then he would die when he encountered the holiness and the power of God.
Jesus came and changed everything. He died on the cross and rose again. In doing so the veil of the Holy of Holies was torn and God’s presence is now available for all who are in the name of Jesus. Hebrews 4 says this:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus has made a way for us to not only experience the presence of God, but to live within the presence of God. Not just for the “most holy people” or in the mountain top moments, but for our entire lives. We can always approach his throne and we can do so confidently.
With the truth of Hebrews 4 in mind, it is vital that we do not become so easily content with second hand information. Church services, books, podcasts, YouTube, Instagram preachers, all of the thousands of online churches that are now available, they are all good and important but they are telling us about the things we need. We too often genuinely think that we will have a spiritual awakening from another book, conference, or sermon, but these are a tool God has given only to lead you to the source, Himself.
In John 14 Jesus tells us of the coming of the Holy Spirit and his work:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. "Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
We can think that experiencing the realness of God’s presence is something that is far beyond our grasp, but Jesus says it is simple: love him. When we truly love him we will obey his Word and his commandments. We can try to drum up enough emotion or the right circumstances to make sure that we can “feel” God’s presence in our church services. All of this is nothing more than a facade. The feeling will be gone the moment service is over and no one's life will actually be changed. If we just follow John 14’s commands and simply obey what Jesus has said EVERYTHING changes. This is what the Holy Spirit promises to do when we obey:
He will help us - Vs 15
He will dwell with us - Vs 17
He will reveal himself to us (Manifest) - Vs 21
He will make us his home - Vs 23
He will teach us truth - Vs 26
He will remind us of his teachings - Vs 26
He will give us peace - Vs 27
To experience God’s presence we must do three simple things. They are simple but they are not easy.
Read God’s Word. God has revealed himself within the Bible. Everything we need to know about him and how to have a relationship with him is within it’s pages. It is painful that Christians are far more occupied with binge watching than reading God’s Word.
Know God’s Word. Memorize it. The Bible is rich with promises for those who memorize Scripture. The Psalmist says that he memorized the Word so he would not sin. If we cannot remember God’s commands then we will not be able to obey them when the time comes.
Follow and Obey God’s Word. This is where the rubber meets the road. The book of James tells us that we cannot simply be hearers of the Word but we must do what the Word says. Remember the promises of the Holy Spirit that are listed above? They are not for those who simply know what God says. They are for those who do what God has said.
With God’s presence awaiting easy discovery, why do we continue to seek him in ways apart from what he has spoken. Dig in to the Word of God, Let the Word dwell in you richly, allow the Holy Spirit to make himself home in you. If we simply read the Word, know the Word, and obey the Word our lives will be full of the power and the presence of God.
- Jordan West
Looking for songs about the Holy Spirit and the presence of God? Check out these songs by Red Letter Society:
Our mission is to cultivate a theologically sound society through empowering the local Church with Christ-centered teaching and worship. Will you partner with us?
Click here to learn more!