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Sunday Recap: The Presence of God

In this Sunday’s message, I discussed being in the presence of God. I distinguished between the omnipresence of God (God is here and near) and the manifest presence of God. This distinction understands that God is all-present yet can (and at times does) reveal Himself in a way that is profound and uniquely evident. The manifest presence of God may not be an actual visible encounter of some kind. It may be a sense, a still small voice, a leading, or an extraordinary (supernatural) experience. 

But how do we know if something is from God or is simply a figment of our imagination? Evangelicals have a hard time telling the difference between the voice of God, the voice of Satan, and one’s own personal preference. That’s not meant to be demeaning to us evangelicals, I struggle with the same. Sometimes I wonder whether something is a work of God or my vivid imagination. Is there any help in discerning an encounter with God?  

Here are three questions that can provide guardrails to help one discern an encounter with God: 

First, does it fit with the doctrines given to us in Sacred Scripture? God will never lead anyone to do that which He has commanded against in His word. For example, God is never going to tell a husband to leave his wife and marry his mistress. That’s an extreme example, but it gets the point across. In discerning an encounter with God, it is important to first and foremost see if the experience, and the possible direction given by the experience, matches up with what Scripture says. 

Second, do other Christians in your community also think you had an encounter with God? If someone in the congregation claims God told her something, but every other believer has significant doubts, then it may not be of God. I agree that not everyone can differentiate between one’s own personal desire and the working of God; however, given that the same Spirit resides in all believers, it is unlikely that a local body will have only one spiritually discerning believer. So, listen to the community. 

Third, what do your spiritual leaders think? I recall one time having a dear brother tell me that God is calling him to lead worship. There was only one problem: the man could not sing and did not know music. Sure, God may call someone outside of their comfort zone to fulfill a task, but one can also determine the working of God through giftings. Someone that doesn’t know music and can’t sing very well may be a great addition to a church choir, but not in leading the church in worship. Church leaders can help other believers navigate the hand and working of God.  

If you have followed through with the guardrails mentioned here, and everyone (or most) affirm that something unique happened, then it is likely you had an encounter with God.

To watch the full sermon, click here.


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