Is Seeking the Presence of God Biblical?

Seeking God's Presence for Today?????

The purpose of this article is to show a difference from God's presence vs the holy spirit in us. (of course the Holy Spirit helps us, convicts, teaches and comforts but it is NOT the same as the Presence of God.   

In today's unbiblical organizations / denominational religious systems of man; there are many strange and dangerous teachings taking root into people's theologies. One such error filled doctrine is that of "Seeking the Presence of God" vs just the holy spirit. This often results in a over hyped worship atmosphere of feelings based/physical ways, signs and wonders seeking, hyper spirituality and emotional responses to the things of God that frankly are not taught in the New Testament writings at all or practiced in the early NT church we are to model. Let's examine this shall we?

We know that Romans 8:8 tells us we cannot please God in the flesh. 
Seeking a "physical presence of God" by feelings/emotions is in fact living in and seeking the flesh.  This we should not do as it is dangerous and unbiblical! God places His spirit in us but we do not have His actual Presence with us as it once was in the temple or by men of old. 

Note: this article in NO way mean's you cant feel joy, peace, conviction or other emotions when you seek God's truth via the spirit. God will give up those via the spirit but it is aimed at the false idea that God's presence (like in the temple) in emotional feelings/signs will come to you if you seek him today vs just His spirit in us. We have the Holy Spirit in us NOT God's actual presence via emotions. ( the spirit of course is one of the 3 in 1 )  

There is no doubt that God's actual Presence was at one time active directly in the lives of His people. It is the blurring of what "was" and what "is" today that has caused grave confusion indeed. The groups that are the most guilty of this type of unbiblical teaching would be the New Apostolic Reformation, Word of Faith, charismatics and those who encourage contemplative prayer.  (Note: it is also beginning to sneak into the protestants places like Baptist and Nazarene organizations as well.)
We will try to briefly explain the difference of what we saw in the Old Testament compared what is the pattern set in God's Word for His New Testament and the dangers of Seeking after God's presence outside of His truth.

If we take a look into the biblical times of Genesis we can see the Creator God was active in the lives of the first humans Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:9 says "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou"? God was walking with and among them so the Presence of God was not a unknown to them directly. As we read on in the Old Testament times we see this is the case with other bible characters who God conversed with directly and gave revelation to them.  (See Moses, Abraham, Noah, etc.)

God then had many more Prophets who He began to speak through to His people, they experienced His Presence and received direct revelation that was recorded for all of mankind to come. While they could not truly see the Lord in His fullness ( no man can ) His glory and Presence was indeed active to them in a powerful way on a regular basis at that time.

In the book of Exodus we can see that God's Presence dwelt with the tabernacle as a sign to His prophet Moses as well the nation of Israel. "There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel".  Exodus 25

What one can see and read about is the actual Presence of God working in and around His chosen men and the nation Israel. Later we see that in the Temple in Jerusalem, The Lord was dealing with His Priests (who were attending to the sacrifices) and He was in fact present in His Temple.

 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. 1 Kings 8:11

All thorough the Old Testament we see the mighty acts of God, His direct communication to His Prophets, His Presence and the physical manifestations done by His powerful hand. Then for over 400 years God went silent with no more communication or Presence until His last true major Prophet; John the Baptist. John came out of the wilderness to herald the coming of the Savior; Jesus Christ who would by His sinless sacrifice on the cross open the way for all men (who will repent and come to Him in obedience) to have access to the Throne of God for the remissions of sins. Jesus' death tore the veil that hung in the Temple separating fallen men from God's Presence.  (See Mark 15:38) 

During this whole time in the Old Testament, we must realize there was no in filling of the Holy Spirit in those who worshiped the Lord. It was all very much about the outward experiences and manifestations of God in the Old testament, all via Gods holy spirit. There was smoke, pillars, clouds, visible miracles, consuming fire, brimstone, parting of the sea, plagues, His glory and chariots of fire.  This is how He moved among His people at that time and while His spirit was active, there was no in filling of those who believed. He spoke through chosen Prophets and His presence was made known by these outward physical acts/revelations.   

Moving on to the New Testament we know that Jesus did many miracles and of course had communion and communication directly with the Father in all He did.  He had the power to show signs and wonders which was a confirmation of who He was. He was Emmanuel (God with us) the God Man who came in flesh (the Word made Flesh / John 1) He lived a perfect life and then was crucified for our sin debt we could never pay.  He rose again and showed the ultimate power that is over death and hell gaining eternal life for His people, the church. Obviously this was a major event that would now alter how God was to communicate with man and have His presence with His bride, the church.

Then in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost and the New Testament church was born by God's Hand with a powerful in filling and we see the act of men speaking in tongues as a witness to those who were there.We then see a period of time where (as promised by Jesus) the Apostles had power to heal and do miracles as a sign of the power Christ had left them to establish the NT church. Paul was converted by a powerful experience with the Lord and he then worked various miracles. This was though a temporary event and that spiritual power is no longer a active in the body. How can we know this? 

We can see that power to heal was no longer available in Paul's later ministry where he told Timothy to take some wine for his stomach. (1 Timothy 5:23)  Then even Paul had a physical ailment he could not remove from himself. (2 Cor 12:8) The sign of gifts and healings were like the powerful Presence of the Lord in the OT, they were there and used for a season and purpose, then it all changed. Can God still heal today? Oh yes... but not via man, as it was once done! While God was once active in person, He is now active through His Holy Spirit. His people now became His temple by the Holy Spirit.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

We have said all of that only to lay the foundation for how God's Spirit (Presence) moved in and with those we read about in the bible. The Old Testament saw the moving of the Lord with a physical Presence that would pass away. Then Jesus came (to dwell with us) and finally the Holy Spirit had come to make us God's temple and show power again; for a short time. Then those signs would pass on but not the Spirit. We see Paul and Peter with great miracle power for a season and they taught us much about how to seek and serve the Lord in detail. So after that time, what did they have to say about seeking God's Presence once the Holy Spirit had come and God was no longer moving as He did in the Old Testament days? We look at those verses.

Before we look at those, it is important to note that today we have many false teachers telling people they must strive for and feel or experience God's Presence if they want to have a real, genuine faith. That is why I am writing this article. They often promote a feeling based salvation and worship rituals. You hear stories of hot energy or electric pulses going through you, they sense the Spirit or they hear God's voice out loud or deep inside or they FEEL God near them.  In their conferences and in religious gatherings, smooth talking preachers, emotional music, smoke, lights, spiritual sermons, feelings of heavenly visitations and new so called personal revelation are encouraged that they say is from God. Sadly it is taking many into a dangerous and unbiblical place.
See this article about emotional based music that is very unbiblical:

 There are hundreds of books written on this subject often including those who are mystics and into contemplative prayer (roman catholic) teaching you to meditate to feel God or experience His Presence. Often it leads to occult activity; certainly not of God. One such place is Bethel in Redding Cal. The false teaching modern pastor there is Bill Johnson. He is part of the NAR and he teaches this feelings based,  emotional, "experiencing God" theology as the main part of his false ministry. There have many strange manifestations there like people falling down, convulsing or acting drunk in the spirit. Much of it like the occult Hindu practices. In fact; he  CLAIMS the glory cloud of God is at times hovering up by their heat ducts in that building.  (Yes, you can see the video on the internet)  Claims of angel feathers and gold dust are said to be falling there as well.  (False signs & wonders / see Matt 24)  He is a very dangerous man indeed and well outside of God's biblical truth.

There are many into this today and it is spreading into all areas of the denominational faith in America. We are here to tell you these are all lies. This is driven by various unbiblical or occult movements and it is feeding on the fleshly, entertainment and emotionally addicted nature of this current lost culture. People are so wrapped up in emotions, themselves and a feel good theology, they are willing to ignore the bible and follow any lies. They seek some kind of a spiritual high, special event or oneness with the community / masses of people locked in this seeking God's Presence false teaching. You can go and see how these hirelings will use music and mood lights to whip people into altered states and give them suggestions on how to feel the Holy Spirit or to hear from God. Keep in mind satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour  (1 Peter 5:8) and he can counterfeit many things to deceive people unless they are holding close to God's Word. Don't be deceived!

So what is the greatest danger in this? If one begins to seek after feelings and experiential based Christianity and tosses away sound bible doctrine; he is off on a rabbit trail that leads nowhere good. These places also then have an unbiblical gospel and they do not teach ALL of God's truth. They are catering to man and not clinging to what God's Word has said. They are deceiving people into thinking an emotional experience equals true salvation or biblical holiness and it does NOT!
The bible teaches faith and obedience to all of God's Word. Jesus taught: man lives by EVERY word out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Paul also dealt with those who bring another gospel in Galatians 1:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

There is a great danger in those who start chasing after signs and wonders as they leave bible truth behind them. This does not glorify God in any way but it does energize man and plays to his flesh that we are to kill.  (See Romans 6 )

We will now show you that God does not dwell, communicate or have a physical Presence with man like He once did, using His Word, and that the Apostles did not practice nor teach us to seek or experience God this way at all.

If we go to Hebrews 1:1 Paul tells us clearly what "once was" and "what is" now.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

One need not be a bible scholar to hear what Paul is saying. God once used Prophets but today... He speaks to us through Christ. And who was  Jesus Christ? The Word made flesh.  (See John 1) So we are spoken to by God today through His Son, who is the Word. If people are getting new revelation today from God or hearing His voice; that would make Rev 22:19 a lie where we are told to not add or take away from this book. We would have to be adding pages to our bibles and that cannot be, as scripture cannot contradict scripture!

Surely if feeling His Presence was so important for today the Apostles would have modeled that and then taught us how to do it correctly amen? Lets look at the verses in the New Testament that speak of God's Presence shall we? Can we find ANY verses that encourage anyone to seek God's Presence today? Well if you search for the word presence in the New Testament it comes up many times but most all of them are speaking of the presence of people with each other... not seeking the presence of God.

Here are the only verses that speak of the Presence involving the Lord:

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3;19
(If you read this in context it means when Christ returns not seeking His Presence today.)

That no flesh should glory in his presence. 1 Corinthians 1
(Here Paul is talking about lifting up Christ not seeking His presence as the next verse shows below.)
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 1 Thessalonians 2:19
(Here Paul is talking about again Christ's second coming. )

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 2 Thessalonians 1:9
(This verses tells us some will be removed eternally from the Lords Presence.)

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Hebrews 9:24
(This verse is really about Christ standing in for us in heaven.)

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy Jude 1:24
(This final verse tells us Jesus can make us faultless before Him for salvation.)

So as you can see there is NOT one verse in the entire New Testament that teaches anyone to seek the physical Presence of God. We do not see an emotional feeling based attempt to draw close to God. The only way anyone of these wolves (teaching this great error) can make that work is to go way back to the OT ways. But then I ask; will they also be sacrificing goats, stoning people and wear tassels too? They cannot pick and choose.

Note: These groups will tell you that the Prophet Joel speaks of a time when these miracles and signs will happen again. While this is true, taken in context; it is referencing events with the nation of Israel and that is near or in the tribulation times. This does not apply today to Christians in America.

This false emotional or sensational way to wrongly bring people into God's church or Presence is not what the Apostles did to grow the NT church. In fact, if you go to Acts to see how the church grew and what was being done to bring people to a close relationship with God; you won't find anything like what the false teachers are pushing today.  No.... what you will see is they preached the Word, Jesus Christ! See Acts 3:20, 4:2, 5;42, 8:4-5, 8:12, 8:25, 8:35, 9:20, 11:20 and more.....

How are we to draw close to God biblically you ask, if it is not by emotions and seeing or seeking His physical Presence anymore? God requires obedience better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15)

Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 what it is that God requires and deserves as our reasonable service.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

In 1 Corinthians 15 he says do what he taught:
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Or this verse....
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1–2

And this verse....
Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6)

What did Jesus say:
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” John 14:26 & John 16:13

We could go on and on with verses but the point is this: you won't find verses that teach you to go inside yourself, run on warm feelings, have an out of body moment, to be emotional in your worship and theology or try to be IN God's Presence by ushering Him with music or deep inner self mediation. The bible really teaches that if you are in Christ and you want to be close and be in Him.... keep His commands, dwell in His Word and walk in His ways.  (See John 14:15)

***Be warned: Jesus did say in the last days (See Matthew 24) that many false teachers will come and deceive many.
 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  (Matthew 24)

As someone once said "if you want to know what God thinks... read your bible and if you want to hear God talk to you .... read your bible out loud! There is great truth in that.

So be wise as a serpent and know that the true Acts 17 Berean and bible believing follower of Jesus Christ must reject this seeking after the Presence of God and seek to be an obedient and holy follower of Him till He comes again for His church. Don't be fooled by false doctrines and those who look to make a man centered emotional spiritual circus out of the things of God or who are following occult seducing spirits to their own demise in the end.

Here is a article on the kinds of deception that are all over today like emotionalism / slain in the spirit:

Stay in God's Word, be obedient, test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21) that you believe and practice it. Then whatever fails the test of scripture, let it go by the wayside as false teachings to be avoided.

For His glory.....

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