Posted by Jerry White on Jun 6, 2016
It is far better to know God’s presence by faith than to know it by feelings.
This generation wants to feel something, whether it is the loud music from huge speakers at a concert, or the thunderous sound of explosions in a movie theatre, or stirring praise music in church. Political correctness has become an issue because of various sensitivities. We are instructed that we must not hurt anyone’s feelings so everyone feels included and their feelings are protected.
In recent years among Christians an increasing emphasis on sensing or feeling God’s presence has occurred. I have been a part of this, but I have had a growing discomfort about it. Has this become a badge of God’s blessing upon one’s ministry? Does it represent God’s approval? Is it a sign of success? Oh, there are times when our Lord graciously draws near and His presence deeply affects us. We bow and humbly worship. But just because our feelings are stirred up does not mean the presence of God has been revealed among us. Beautiful praise music with stirring words can move our souls to tears but it is not necessarily because of God’s presence.
Faith pleases God; good feelings please me. This raises a question. Do I want to please and honor Him or do I want Him to bless and please me? I cannot think of a Scripture where the early believers emphasized feeling God’s presence. There were times of dramatic encounters with the living God, but they were the exception, not the rule.
Through faith on the basis of God’s sure Word I can always know God’s presence, and this honors Him. Feelings, or sensing, has nothing to do with it. Believing God’s promises has everything to do with it. He promised His invisible presence repeatedly. The issue is, will I believe it, receive it and enjoy it with a glad, rejoicing and thankful heart? Knowing God’s presence by faith delivers me from needing anything other than God’s promise. I do not need special music, or a worship gathering, or a worship leader. Alone in a quiet place one can profoundly know the Lord’s presence again and again without any outside stimulus. An open believing heart receives, and this faith pleases and honors God. When He is pleased there will be moments when He gives Himself so there is a deep sensing of His nearness.
Posted by Jerry White on Aug 16, 2015
“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.”
John 14:21 (ESV)
“Sometimes the revealed presence of Jesus Christ by His Spirit can be so felt that it affects your physical being. His presence brushes against you. His hand is upon you. A revelation of Him passes right through your soul. You know that the King of Heaven has come and visited you and you feel the lingering embrace of this Holy Being whom you cannot see.
During these times, conviction of sin and failure is accompanied by a profoundly deep awareness of being loved by this Holy One from heaven. A window of heaven opens and a measure of its rarified atmosphere falls upon earth in a particular place at a particular time yielding moments that are indescribable, unexplainable, and unforgettable. And you respond to the Holy One of heaven with hushed reverence, a sober humility, and a more pure worship.
Sometimes stunned silence is the only appropriate response. At other times ‘joy inexpressible…full of glory’ is one’s experience (1 Peter 1:8). In either case, we become aware that we are finite, created beings who have been visited by an infinite, invisible and eternal Creator, Redeemer, and exalted Lord. The sovereign God who is always present everywhere has drawn inexplicably and breathtakingly near in the Person of Jesus Christ by His Spirit.”
The Spirit and Presence of Christ, 168
Seeking spiritual experience selfishly can be dangerous. Seeking God for Himself and for His honor is what His Word commands. We should seek His face (Psalm 27:8). We should thirst for Him (Psalm 63:1; 42:1-2). We should draw near to Him (James 4:8; Jeremiah 29:13). Finite human beings can never manipulate Divine Sovereignty. He reigns and does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). For the sincere soul that seeks God just for Himself, He draws near, and this is the highest blessing this side of heaven. His promises are steadfast and sure, Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Posted by Jerry White on Apr 19, 2015
“With penetrating insight A. W. Tozer wrote decades ago:
‘One distinguishing mark of those first Christians was a supernatural radiance that shined out from within them. The sun had come up in their hearts and its warmth and light made unnecessary any secondary sources of assistance. They had the inner witness. It is obvious that the average evangelical Christian today is without this radiance. Instead of the inner witness we now substitute logical conclusions drawn from texts…
Nothing can take the place of the touch of God in the soul and the sense of Someone there. Where true faith is, the knowledge of God will be given as a fact of consciousness altogether apart from the conclusions of logic. The spiritual giants of old experienced God.
We are only now emerging from a long ice age during which an undue emphasis was laid upon objective truth at the expense of subjective experience. Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh for enjoyment… Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them.’
Dr. Tozer also wrote, ‘When the Spirit presents Christ to our inner vision it has an exhilarating effect on the soul much as wine has on the body. The Spirit-filled man may literally dwell in a state of spiritual fervor amounting to a mild and pure inebriation. God dwells in a state of perpetual enthusiasm. He pursues His labors always in a fulness of holy zeal’” (Gems from Tozer, Selections from the Writings of A. W. Tozer, 18-19).
The Spirit and Presence of Christ, 210-211
Posted by Jerry White on Feb 2, 2014
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
Exodus 34:5 (ESV)
Walking with God for a Christian begins with knowing who He is and what He is like. All other Biblical doctrines rest on this solid foundation— the knowledge of God.
YAHWEH (the LORD) in humility descended to Moses to be with him. He descended to seek Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He descended to dwell in a special way in the tabernacle and the temple. The eternal Son of God descended to become flesh when He came as a helpless baby and lived as a human being on earth. This displays God’s perfect and beautiful lowliness. He is both high in glorious majesty, but also lowly and gentle in heart like Jesus (Matthew 11:29). To see Christ is to see Sovereign God, our Heavenly Father (John 14:9).
The LORD descended in a cloud because there is always a mystery about Him. He reigns on high far beyond our comprehension, both in His being and in His ways (Isaiah 55:9). We only see and know what He chooses to reveal (Matthew 11:25), but He lovingly reveals whatever we need to know so that we can reverence Him, adore His beauty, worship Him, enjoy His Fatherly love, and experience His presence. He hides some knowledge from us for reasons known only to Him (Deuteronomy 29:29). He hid evil from Adam and Eve for their good and earthly bliss. The evil one tempted them to want what God in love had chosen to withhold (Genesis 3:5). Tragedy followed.
The LORD proclaimed His character (Name) to Moses. God knows that knowing Him intimately will be our greatest joy, our deepest fulfillment (John 17:3). Sin causes us to run from Him (Genesis 3:8; Isaiah 53:6), but with love He humbly pursues us. He does not need us, but marvel of marvels, He wants us. So with humility He comes after us. With infinite tender love, whatever circumstances may be yours at this moment, the Lord is present in order to reveal more of Himself to your heart. This He does through His Word by the Holy Spirit who came to communicate the presence of Christ (John 14:21).
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8, ESV). Draw near, and the Lord will come near to you so you can know Him more intimately.
Posted by Jerry White on Dec 30, 2013
“The only difference between the presence of Jesus with His disciples when He lived bodily on earth and His presence with them after Pentecost was the means by which He made His presence known. With Jesus’ bodily presence on earth, they could touch and see and hear God incarnate. After Pentecost, this same Jesus was present with them, not in His body but by His Spirit. The presence of Jesus would be just as real. They would not be able to touch His flesh, but they would sense His spiritual presence. They would not hear His human voice, but they would know His voice in their inner beings. They would not see His human form, but with the eyes of their hearts they would see His glory. By His Spirit, He would be present with them in larger dimension than He was when He walked with them in the flesh.
When the first church met, they fully expected the Spirit of Jesus to be present in their midst. And He was, as the book of Acts reveals. We can and should anticipate this same experience of Jesus’ presence in our individual lives and churches today. When we encounter the shining brightness of Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit, all earthly things pale.”
The Spirit and Presence of Christ, 155-156
A couple of years ago I wrote in my journal,
“I AM WEARY OF:
1. Church form without God’s presence
2. Commercialized Christianity.
3. Self-exalting, self-promoting ‘ministries’.
4. Praise music without humble worship.
5. Fleshly efforts to build churches according to man’s plans.
I LONG FOR:
1. Christ’s sovereign, humble presence and power.
2. Only that which He authors and which glorifies Him.”
Posted by Jerry White on Jun 24, 2013
The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:3 (ESV)
“When Moses was on Mount Sinai, God passed before him. So magnificent and overwhelming was the presence of God that Moses threw himself face down on the ground.
What passed before Moses might be described as the bright gleaming facets of God’s nature, His invisible qualities. The sight was so brilliant that Moses was stunned. And later, when he was given the plan for the tabernacle and the holy place, these eternal brightnesses were presented by the ever-burning ‘lamps.’
On Sinai, though, as the Lord passed, He proclaimed His brilliant attributes: The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…(Exodus 34:6-7.
These are the aspects of God Himself, which struck Moses’ heart so that he loved and knew God more profoundly than even before.
This is the way in which God shines His Light—which contains many lights—into our soul. For His Light is all of His many virtues, and when He allows these to burn within us, we know He has ‘revealed’ himself. Though we do not see Him with our eyes, we say He has ‘shown’ himself within our soul, when the lights of His glory pass within us.
Is it any wonder that the soul feels it is being lifted and opened, rising as if on a current of pure and wordless joy, whenever He is near?… The soul is completely absorbed…and we know beyond human knowing that His love is Life. We long for the day when we are united with Him in eternity and we are filled forever with this Love and this Life.”
John of the Cross
You Set My Spirit Free, 138-139
Arranged and Paraphrased by David Hazard
Posted by Jerry White on Sep 6, 2012
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
John 15:26 (ESV)
“Once as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer. I had a view that was for me extraordinary of the glory of the Son of God as Mediator between God and man, and His wonderfully great, full, pure and sweet grace and love and meek and gentle condescension.
The grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heavens. The Person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception; which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour, which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not how otherwise to express, empty and annihilated, to lie in the dust and be full of Christ alone; to love Him with a holy and pure love; to trust Him, to live upon Him, to serve Him, and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity.”
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
The Father has given believers His Word and His Holy Spirit. These two gifts work together for our spiritual health, both being necessary like the two wings of an airplane. We must be grounded in God’s Word so we are established in God’s truth. We also need to experience the dynamic reality of His Spirit revealing the presence of Christ to us here and now. Reading through the book of Acts one discovers that the Spirit’s manifested presence made a major difference in the lives of first century Christians. I fear that today some try to fly with the one wing of God’s truth and yet neglect the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit revealing Christ’s presence (John 14:21). Others try to fly with the wing of the Spirit while neglecting the solid foundation of pure Biblical truth. Jonathan Edwards, and hosts of others, knew and taught God’s pure truth but also experienced the glorious ministry of God’s Holy Spirit. We desperately need the same today.
Posted by Jerry White on Jun 6, 2011
“The story is told of a platoon of soldiers making their way through the Egyptian desert in World War II. The sun was merciless, the sand scorching and the water bottles bone dry.
Despite weariness and parched throats, they trudged on, assured by their guide of a nearby oasis. But the minutes turned into hours, until discouragement and desperation engulfed them.
Suddenly there was a shriek of delight. ‘Look!’ said a young soldier, pointing in a quite unexpected direction. ‘There’s water!’
They could scarcely believe their eyes, but sure enough, several miles away was a desert lake! With newfound energy, they made straight for the glistening water, despite the pleadings of their guide. After all, ‘seeing is believing.’
Nearing the body of water, they found it smaller than first assessed. What did it matter? But the nearer they got, the smaller it seemed, until on arrival they found nothing but glowing sand.
They had chased a mirage—appearance without reality! Only a journal recorded their dying hours.
Many of us live disappointed lives. We were told about the ‘rivers of living water,’ but all we have experienced is a mirage, or at most a dripping tap!
Some have accepted the mirage as the norm of the Christian life. They act as though the reality does not exist, as if it is only a mirage! Not wanting to lose face, they stick with the crowd of similarly disappointed church-goers. A few secretly hope that one day they will ‘be surprised by joy.’ In any case, they go on keeping up appearances.
Others, more openly disillusioned, pursue another mirage, then another, and yet another! Ever seeking, they never seem to find the satisfaction they crave.
In Isaiah 35 the prophet has uplifting words for still-thirsty people like this. ‘You’ve been chasing a mirage? Well, take heart,’ he seems to say. ‘The reality does exist. The rivers do flow. The parched soul will be satisfied. And ‘the mirage shall become a pool [v. 7]’”
Thirsting After God, 8-10
Posted by Jerry White on Jan 20, 2011
Jonathan Edwards wrote a tribute to his bride-to-be, Sarah Pierrepont. He was eighteen and she was thirteen (1721 A.D.).
“They say [he wrote] there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is beloved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him—that she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight forever. Therefore, if you present all the world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular piety in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.”
C. Samuel Storms
The Grandeur of God, 27-28
The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me, and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father. And I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him—I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to Him.
John 14:21 (Amplified Bible)
Posted by Jerry White on Jan 6, 2011
And he [Moses] said to him [the Lord], “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
Exodus 33:15 (ESV)
The greatest blessing God gives is His presence. If I could choose any of life’s blessings, I certainly would not ask for wealth, because wealth cannot bring freedom from pain, concern, or anxiety. I certainly would not ask for popularity, because there is no rest for the world’s leaders. My choice, my highest honor, would be to have God with me always. When God is with us, there is no difference between Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace (Dan. 3:19) and a comfortable bed. It does not matter! We will be happy in either. If God is with us, if His divine love surrounds us, then we carry our own atmosphere and residence wherever we travel, and we can say with Moses, ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations’ (Ps. 90:1). The individual who can say this is full of heaven, full of God, and blessed beyond measure. This is the privilege of all who truly believe in Jesus, of all who come out from the world, and of all who, like Abraham, live a life of faith (Gen. 12:4). Bow your head, believer, and let the Lord God pronounce this blessing, ‘I will bless you.’
If you are sorrowing, suffering, weary, or burdened, receive this blessing from God’s own mouth, ‘I will bless you.’
If you are poor, despised, or slandered, this blessing is not shortened. Take it with you, and go on your way rejoicing.”
C. H. Spurgeon
Beside Still Waters, 3
Roy H. Clarke, Editor
Saints through the ages have testified with unified voice about the joyful reality of knowing the Lord’s presence. He is indeed omnipresent. However, His near presence is what we can seek after and experience as our dwelling place regardless of our circumstances