God’s Presence Our Portion

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[Please note, this is a supplement to the paper, “Communion with God” – if you do not have a copy it may be accessed here (on Scribd): Communion With God]

I would like to demonstrate that our portion – that which is freely given us by God – is nothing less than His presence with us in our lives, day in and day out, during our sojourn here on the earth in this life. In the life to come, this will be so much more the case, in that we will see with our very eyes, and experience with all our being, the glory and rapture of His immediate presence, in a fulness we do not know in this life. In this life we know God’s presence by faith, that is, by believing in the truth – the reality – of His words. Alexander Nisbet, who wrote a commentary on 1st & 2nd Peter, said, “it [is] the nature of true faith to make the thing it closes with spiritually present to the soul.” In other words, faith experiences – in the soul of that person – the reality of what God has said.

Here, in our 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century, we may walk with Him and be assured of His presence with us, so that He is our strength and our joy in the present moment, whatever life brings. Please note, this is not to say that we have a sensory experience of His presence, a necessarily felt experience of it, as in a sensation. Yet His presence is nonetheless a genuine experience. It is a truism that our walk – our relationship – with God is experiential, meaning it is real to us!

I suppose a lot depends on how one understands the term “experiential” with regard to the Christian’s life with God. Of course we will not have a “flat” affect – that is, no inward experience in and of it – and then again we will not be guided by sensations as a marker of the Christian life.

I am fond of saying that – with regard to our faith – we have a profound assurance in the depths of our being that God’s words are the reality of our lives. Whatever we may feel, His words are true, and they are what is real. So when the Scripture quotes the Lord as saying, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” and “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5), does this necessarily mean we have a “felt presence” of the Lord? No, although upon occasion we may be very aware of the glory of His Person, as He draws near to us. I remember R.C. Sproul, in one of his video series, talking about this unusual manifestation of the Lord’s presence, and that it does not happen often, rather, quite rarely, in his case.

But I am not talking of this that Sproul speaks of when I say “a profound assurance in the depths of our being”. There are feelings in the heart – whether you call it one’s spirit, or one’s depths – that are not of the emotions. Perhaps one could call it an essential knowing. From His word, I know that the Lord is with me (Matt 28:20; Ps 23:4; Heb 13:5; Deut 31:8) and is kindly disposed toward me (Rom 8:35-39; Jer 31:3; Prov 15:8). Now this knowing is not a mere cerebral assent or activity, but a dynamic force in my heart, such that it causes me to rejoice and sing, or to venture into danger with calm courage; this knowing (perhaps you can come up with another word) is the apprehending of God’s reality (via His word) by and in my heart, and His word is full of power and glory – and many promises – and His word moves my heart, deeper than emotions, although it may give rise to emotions.

So when I talk of “profound assurance in the depths” it is of such I am referring to. This, to me, is an experiential walk with God. I am experiencing His presence, not sensations of it, but a profound knowing of it, such that by it I could face death, fear having been overcome by His presence – His presence known but not necessarily “felt” as in sensations. It is important we become familiar with this idea of inner awareness that is deeper than emotional feelings. As I mentioned above, this awareness may well give rise to emotions, but it is not the emotions. One’s emotions may feel fear (from some threat), yet one’s awareness – one’s deep inner knowing – that God is with one right then, replaces the fear with confidence, trust, and joy. Such as David felt when he said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

This sort of communion with God is not the portion of “seasoned saints” only, but of all His children, even newly born-again ones. All that is needed is simple trust in His words, His promises. This is precisely what Peter meant when he said, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (1 Peter 1:4).

In the days I think are coming upon the church in the West – in the United Kingdom, Canada, America, the Western nations generally – times may not be so peaceful and prosperous as we once knew. And if that is the case we shall have great need of knowing our Lord intimately. Yes, this will mean having a clean conscience before Him, so we will have to live obedient and godly lives. And even if we are in peaceful and prosperous times, “normal” troubles, afflictions, persecutions, illness, relational discords, etc., all will send us to our dear God and Saviour for the comfort and strengthening of His presence. This sort of experiential life, walking with Christ on a daily basis, is a good life, and He is a good Saviour, King, and Friend. Here are some Scriptures to help:

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Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 140:13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Matthew 28:20 I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Exodus 33:14 My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour:

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Cf. Luke 7:28)

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.

Proverbs 28:14 Happy is the man that feareth alway

Psalm 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Psalm 139:7-10 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Hebrews 9:24 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 10:19-22 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Deuteronomy 32:9 For the Lord 's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Deuteronomy 31:8 And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

John 16:27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

John 17:23, 26 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. . . And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

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These are only a few Scriptures. Just going through our precious Bibles we may add many more.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
God’s promises and assurances are of great value to us especially in times of spiritual darkness or dryness. His word is true, and His heart has not changed toward us: Isaiah 50:10, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Cf. Ps 112:4; Isa 41:17-18; Mic 7:8; Ps 18:28.) Consider also Jeremiah 31:3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

However cast down we may be, through sin, or carelessness, or simply God’s wise chastening, the Holy Spirit by Paul gives us this reality, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This hymn sums the matter up well:


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!

What more can He say than to you He hath said,

You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;

In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;

At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,

As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand

Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove

My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to its foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
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I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.


Our God always “heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Prov 15:29).
 
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