By Warren B. Smith
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)
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.
(This has been an extract of Warren B. Smith’s book, “Another Jesus” Calling, 2nd ed.)
Warren knows what he is talking about!
I am guilty of allowing Jesus Calling book into my life & home which was recently introduced to me. I was not aware of the new age messages in the book but I need to get rid of this book. I’m not willing to take back to bookstore for a refund! Thank you for your article of discernment. Blessings .. .
I love the Jesus Calling Devotional book. It references Scriptures from the Holy Bible. I always reference the Bible in my Devotionals. I never quote from a book unless it’s the Bible.
Experience-based “Christianity” is not Biblical Christianity at all. It is tragic that “experiencing God’s presence” has been artificially divorced from being filled with and led by His Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Moses refused to go forward if the presence of the Lord did not go with him — he also received God’s Word, was faithful to teach it to his people, and he abided in that Word throughout his life. It should not be one or the other — experiencing God’s presence OR receiving and abiding in His Word — it should be BOTH, at all times. God’s Word without His presence is dead, like the Pharisees’ dead, false religion. “Experiencing His presence” apart from His Word is a lie — if anyone does this, they are not experiencing the presence of the God whom Christ Jesus came to earth to reveal, the only God who can save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
Thank you for this great article. It is sad to see that the Jesus Calling Book is among the top 10 and disheartening to see so many falling into this deception of experienced based Christianity! Even my local church, that has an online portal to watch services, shows the countdown timer with the title ’the Next Live Experience’. I used to be on the executive prayer team for my pastor. The leader of the group kept claiming that she wanted more. I never understood what she meant by wanting more when in our lifetime we could never exhaust the Scriptures. Then when she moved, the lady who took over started with requesting seers and praying the 7 Mountain Mandate etc. I couldn’t leave fast enough!!! A neighbor, who passed away within the last year, fell into the experience of Jesus Calling. She handed out copies to all of her children and grandchildren. She passed away at home in her bedroom with her family surrounding her as they all witnessed the statue of Mary that was above her bed weeping oil. I saw the statue and indeed it did have oil coming from the eyes. Asked what I thought, I answered, for any of those who witnessed this does it push them further to seek the Lord or to just seek the experience? If it is just the experience then it is not of The Lord! Another example of a old friend who posted her reading of Henri Nouwen and when I gently tried to caution, her response was I love everything contemplative. Deception is rampant, few listen to truth!
Warren is absolutely right. I had a family member get involved with centering prayer awhile back and got all sorts of information that sounded “okay”, but was not in the Bible. Fortunately, after a couple of years of discussing Jesus at the supper table there was a change to forsake such activity. They loved the “Sarah book” and quoted it several times, but since has seen the error and now seeks out answers in God’s word.
Excellent article!! Thank you for exposing the deception of these popular books…it is sad to see so many believers clinging to these books and forsaking God’s word. Lord help us!