Why do we seek the presence of the Lord today? The current modern church landscape has many things wrong with it. We all know we are failing the culture and losing this generation, but we prefer to be in denial and celebrate our supposed victories inside our four walls. If you speak up you are labeled an extremist or a church hater. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We love the Body of Christ and have dedicated our lives to serve Him by faith for almost 30 years.
It is for this reason we seek to build up His Body, the One Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that before that can be done, we must remove the hindrances that prevent us from building upon the foundation Cornerstone. This is not about preferences or theological differences. Many believers and leaders today are hurt, disappointed, and discouraged because of the religious system and its man-made rules. It’s time to stand up and speak up about these things. The selfish self-centered quest for the presence is one of those things that must be confronted.
Why is there not one reference of believers going to a gathering of His people to experience the “presence” in the entire New Testament?
Why are we are still in an Old Testament paradigm?
Why do we seek the Presence of the Lord?
Here are some thoughts to help us understand how we got in this mess and why this confusion concerning His presence remains in the Body of Christ like a terminal illness.
- Most Christians live carnal and immoral lives throughout the week. Very few Christians live in 24/7 relationship with the Lord. Most believers flow in and out between spiritual and secular like hot and cold running water faucets. This idea finds no basis in scripture. There is no such thing as a life for “Church Stuff” and a different life for “My Stuff”. We confuse the change in feeling from the lows of our daily quenching of the Holy Spirit to the high of His fullness as the arrival of His presence. This usually happens when we repent of our sins and return in our hearts to abide in Him. The Holy Spirit is a Person and not a comes-and-goes feeling.
- Most Christians believe that the Lord abides in buildings. Many confuse the House of the Lord for a church building. Scripture clearly says the Lord does not abide in buildings made by human hands, and as part of the New Covenant, the Lord’s House is now us. Most Christians and leaders know this fact in their head, but not in their hearts.
- Most Christians look to men (clergy system) to bring us His presence. We are not anti-leadership, or those who reject the existence of five-fold elders functioning in their gifts to mature the body of Christ. This is very different from the dependence we have misplaced today on Pastors/Priests/Worship Leaders and the celebrity status we have given to them. The scriptures are very clear that only the Lord Jesus is the mediator between God and man. This is not helped by the fact that most Christians are not students of the Scriptures.
- The religious system needs us to stay confused. They need our attendance to financially support the modern business of “Church.” My Facebook stream is filled every Sunday afternoon with believers extolling the mighty presence they felt in their congregations. Some even change congregations when they no longer get that feeling. Many jump from congregation to congregation depending on who has the well-known speakers or the popular worship groups. Because of this the modern religious system spends millions of dollars weekly to affect the ambiance of their services. Churches compete for an audience with dry ice, incense, special lights, video effects, comfortable seating, professional musicians and singers and charismatic orators to keep the people happy “in His presence”. Since all these amenities cost money to maintain, the services are built around making sure you feel “His Presence” so you will stay to pay for the salaries and the mortgages. Preachers also jump from church to church selling their titles and resumes to the highest bidder like NFL football players. It is a sad state of affairs to say the least, but for the system to continue and thrive, they need you to stay confused concerning His Real Presence.
- Most Christians say “It has always been this way!” Few Christians have the courage to buck the religious system. Most of us have never experienced anything any different than the models we see today. We agree with values from the business sector and say if it’s big and growing it must be God. We also wrongly surmise if they can sustain a large budget, they must have the backing of the Lord. I have heard this many times; “They have the seminary degrees and the religious titles so they must know more than us.” The problem is an identity issue. The status quo remains and is maintained by believers who don’t know who they are in Christ.
What is the REAL Presence of the Lord?
The REAL presence of Christ doesn’t come and go like it did in the Old Testament. We are New Testament believers, and as such we live in a NEW totally different and better Covenant. The Lord Jesus entered into the Presence of the Father that we who believe may abide (remain) in His presence eternally. This assurance is the greatest strength of the New Testament believer (that the Lord would never leave us or forsake us). Any insecurity concerning His presence in us and with us is the enemy’s greatest weapon against believers so that they may not accomplish what they were left on earth for.
Let’s look now at what the scriptures do say about the presence of the Lord (the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity):
- The Lord Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Helper.
The Holy Spirit comes alongside to help us accomplish the will of the Lord in our daily life. Without His presence, we can do nothing of eternal value.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. NKJV
- The Lord Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the promise of the Father.
The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is a gift. The disciples didn’t work for the Holy Spirit to come down, and we don’t need to work for His presence in us now. In the New Covenant the Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled everything that the Father needed done. The Lord Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” and He wasn’t talking about His death.
4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5. for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” NKJV
- It is the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – that abides permanently in us.
As Christians, we are to enjoy a daily relationship with Him. To abide is to be daily nourished with the strength and the encouragement He only supplies to each of His Children.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. NKJV
- The Real Presence of the Lord is the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in every believer.
From the position of abiding, we can be filled to overflowing and help others with that which has helped us. The only hope for this society, generation, and world is a Body of Christians full of the Presence of the Lord.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. NKJV
So….. What is the Problem?
We are confusing the selfish emotionalism of this age for passion for Jesus. Any worship that does not transform the worshipper into a fully visible and publicly palpable Christ-likeness is not of God. People who are filled with the Presence of God change.
The first gatherings in the New Testament released Holy Spirit filled saints into their society. At Pentecost, a massive evangelism explosion brought thousands into the Kingdom in one day. The gathering in Acts 4 literally shook the room as they prayed for boldness to take the message of the Kingdom into their society without fear of the guaranteed suffering and persecution awaiting them. The entire event was others-centered.
What am I saying? Filled with the Holy Spirit Saints = Others Centered Saints
Listen to what most Christians say on their way to their favorite four walls. This is what I hear, “I’m going to get my praise on,” and it’s clear that they are headed to get their weekly self-centered fix.
Think about this. Why is it so important who is the “worship leader” if the One doing the filling is the Holy Spirit?
The proof is in the results. Supposed “great worship” is not transforming the participants and thus affecting our society outside the four walls. My God, it’s not even making those inside the four walls more loving and caring towards each other.
What is this Pseudo-Christian-worship doing? Ask society. They will gladly tell you what they think about these four-wall worshippers and how they act in daily walk.
You might say to me, “But Brother Jose, I know someone whose life was changed in one of those meetings.” I would say to you as my brother Steve Crosby says; “God’s Redemptive Grace is not His Approval of Spiritual Dysfunction.”
The Lord is here. He is with you, and He has nothing but the best plans for your life. He has sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen the Body of Christ. His presence is always with you, and if you take time to listen, He will guide you into all truth. The presence of the Lord is not from the outside in anymore; now in the new covenant, it is from the inside out.
Be careful what you allow in your space. In this society we must be very watchful about what we hear and what we see. The Holy Spirit is quenched by things like sin, lack of love, and consistent disobedience. Not so much to rules, but to His promptings. You are here with a purpose, and you were bought with a price. You belong to Him, and He expects you as the Body of Christ to be His hands and feet. It’s not about you anymore!
With life comes tribulation, and with tribulation comes suffering. Because we know He lives in us, we can stand when nothing around us makes sense. We trust Him. He is in control. From that place we move forward to shine brightly in a world darkened by sin and greed.
May you hear His voice and obey.
A more theological perspective on the same subject by another of our great authors please read https://godsleader.com/pagan-practice-of-seeking-the-presence-of-god/ by Steve Crosby