Posts Tagged ‘presence’

Would Jesus Magnify His Presence Above the Word of God?

jesus-callingBy Warren B. Smith
(from his book “Another Jesus” Calling)

In Jesus Calling, “Jesus” promotes the experience of his presence above God’s Word.

Psalm 138:2 tells us:

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (emphasis added)

Because God has magnified His Word above His name, this lets us know we will never experience His presence in any way that is not totally consistent with the truth of His Word. Thus, we can know that any presence that comes calling and claims the name of “Jesus” as its own but does not line up in every way with God’s Word is not the presence of God. God will never put His name or experiencing His presence above His Word.

The true Jesus Christ tells us:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

God is always present with us—a presence that will never be magnified above His Word. If we choose to put experiencing God’s presence above His Word, we are leaving ourselves open and vulnerable to the visits of a counterfeit presence.

For the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling, experiencing His presence is everything. This is his invitation:

Open yourself to My loving Presence, so that I may fill you with My fullness. I want you to experience how wide and long and high and deep is My Love for you, so that you can know My Love that surpasses knowledge. This vast ocean of Love cannot be measured or explained, but it can be experienced.1

Taste and see that I am good. This command contains an invitation to experience My living Presence. It also contains a promise. The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.2

It is not surprising that a counterfeit presence will emphasize its own presence above the Word of God because the Word of God is where we find the truth of God. And this false Christ uses Psalm 34:8 which says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good,” to make the case for “tasting” his presence. But as we see in Psalm 119:103-104, we are to “taste” the Word of God:

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (emphasis added)

Also, we are told in the next verse of this Psalm:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

It is God’s Word that is the light of our path—a light in which we can clearly see that a presence is counterfeit. It is for good reason that God will never put His name or experiencing His presence above the light of His Word. But in Jesus Calling, “Jesus” goes out of his way to promote the experience of his presence—an experience that lets the “Light” of his presence “soak into you” as a substitute for the revealing light of God’s Word:

My Word is a lamp to your feet; My Presence is a Light for your path.3 (emphasis added)

Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me. Thus I equip you to face whatever the day brings.4 (emphasis added)

It is in the revealing light of God’s Word that the true Jesus Christ warns:

Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. (Luke 11:35)

However, the “Jesus” that comes calling as an “abiding Presence” wants to “soak” you with the light that is dark. And he says:

My abiding Presence is the best road map available.5 (emphasis added)

Begin each day anticipating problems, asking Me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter. The best equipping is My living Presence.6 (emphasis added)

You need the certainty of My loving Presence in order to weather the storms of life. During times of severe testing, even the best theology can fail you if it isn’t accompanied by experiential knowledge of Me.7 (emphasis added)

But Scripture tells us:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As mentioned, the word “Presence” is found more than 365 times in Jesus Calling. And in both God Calling [the occultic book that inspired Sarah Young to write Jesus Calling] and Jesus Calling, “Jesus” states that experiencing his presence will unlock secret teachings, new revelations, and future things to come. The “Jesus” of God Calling states:

For you, My children, I will unlock the secret treasures hidden from so many.8 (emphasis added)

You must ponder on these truths I give you. They are not surface facts, but the secrets of My Kingdom, the hidden pearls of rare price.9 (emphasis added)

And the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling states:

Instead, I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure, revealing to you things you did not know. Stay in communication with Me. Follow My guiding Presence.10 (emphasis added)

As you follow Me, I lead you along paths of newness: ways you have never imagined.11 (emphasis added)

Sarah Young wanted “more” than what was communicated in God’s Word—and “more” is exactly what she got. It would seem that “a word from God” became more important than the Word of God. This yearning for “more” is what helped open her up to experiencing a presence that is only too glad to give her its new revelations and new truths. She writes in Jesus Calling:

The following year, I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.12 (emphasis added)

The presence that came calling on Sarah Young is extending an invitation to the readers of Jesus Calling to experience his presence as well—an invitation that is depicted in the book cover’s inviting hand. Keep in mind that another invitation is also taking place. If we choose to sit “with pen in hand” waiting to hear “more” than God’s inspired Holy Word, we, too, have an inviting hand. But what presence are we actually inviting into our lives?

If one becomes dependent on a subjective presence rather than the objective Holy Bible, deception is inevitable. That is why it is crucial to compare what is taught by anyone or anything to the revealing light of God’s Word. Test the spirits of any presence that may appear in your devotions and quiet times.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Endnotes:

1. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 234.
2. Ibid., p. 187.
3. Ibid., p. 233.
4. Ibid., p. 3.
5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. Ibid., p.135.
7. Ibid,. p. 352.
8. Two Listeners; Edited by A. J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 43.
9. Ibid., p. 21.
10. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 314.
11. Ibid., p. 189.
12. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., pp. XI-XII.

Related Articles:

The 2nd Coming of the “Presence”

The Passion of the Presence and the Purpose of the Passion (and Francis Chan and John Piper’s Involvement with IHOP)

The Present of “His Presence” (and Should We Practice “His Presence”?)

The Present of “His Presence” (and Should We Practice “His Presence”?)

 Why are Christians seeking a divine presence that Jesus promised would abundantly flow in them? . . . Why do they need another voice, another visitation, or another vision? Why are some people unthankfully desirous of “something more” than what God has already given to us? Why is it that some Christians, in the depth of their souls, are not seemingly at rest? – Larry DeBruyn

By Larry DeBruyn
Guarding His Flock Ministries and Herescope Blog

Among evangelicals there’s a lot of chatter and publicity about seeking “the manifest presence of God.” For example, some musicians, singers and worship leaders boldly claim that their music can escort listeners “through the door of worship, right into the heart and presence of God.”[1]  Christian worshippers are classified as “inner court, outer court, or holy of holies Christians, each one needing a certain period of time to come into the manifest presence of God.”[2]  So it becomes incumbent upon the worship team to lead congregants into the divine dimension.

Other evangelicals talk about “practicing the presence,” perhaps by employing mood music, cultivating solitude and silence, or practicing other spiritual disciplines to experience it. Often spelled with an upper case “P,” masses of evangelical Christians are desiring to experience a divine presence in which Jesus might speak to them in an exciting new way. In his newly published book, “Another Jesus” Calling: How False Christs Are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer,[3]  Warren B. Smith points out that, in her best-selling evangelical book Jesus Calling (Thomas Nelson, 2004 ),[4]  Sarah Young uses “The word ‘Presence’… more than 365 times….” He notes further that, “the term [Presence] is also commonly used in New Age/New Spirituality.”[5]  In light of all the talk going on about contemplating or experiencing God’s presence, biblical Christians ought to know something of what Scripture teaches about God’s presence so that His Word can inform us regarding seeking after God’s presence, whether the experience(s) of it ought to be embraced or shunned, whether they are authentic or synthetic, or worse, demonic.

The Bible and the Presence 
The subject of the presence of God in heaven with people on earth is the storyline of the Bible from Genesis thru Revelation. The holy, transcendent and infinite God of the universe desires to become known by and to fellowship with finite and sinful people on earth. As recorded in Scripture, the first mention of His stated presence commences with Adam and Eve in the first book of the Bible, when after they had sinned and heard God walking in the garden, they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8), and consummates in the last book when a voice declares: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them” (Revelation 21:3). So in defining God’s presence, the Bible must be our guide.

God’s Presence—He’s Far and Near 
In knowing about God’s presence, both His transcendence and immanence must be understood with both of the divine attributes being held in tension with each other. The tension, like a rubber band, can be stretched but it must not break. By God’s transcendence it is meant that He is distant, “that God is separate from and independent of nature and humanity.”[6]  In other words, He is not present. By God’s immanence it is meant that He is near, that God is present and active “within nature, human nature, and history.”[7]  In other words, He is present.

In his dedicatory prayer for the Temple, Solomon exclaimed, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27) In his prayer Solomon pleads with God from earth that He “would hear in heaven” (1 Kings 8:30, 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49). In heaven, God is transcendent. Yet, upon that prayer’s completion, the cloud of the glory of the Lord’s presence came to fill the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1-3; Compare 1 Kings 8:11.). As the occasion of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer indicates, God’s farness and nearness were balanced. Yet some would break the band.

For example, exaggeration of God’s farness ends in deism, the view of God which distances Him so far from history that there arises the perception that He doesn’t care about what happens on earth, that He may not be good and loving. On earth, we’re left to go it alone. Amidst life’s trials, conflicts, pain and vicissitudes, we can expect no help from heaven. God is too far removed to care, let alone help. God is an outsider. He’s not a prayer away!  Click here for footnote material and to continue reading this article.


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