Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bearers of His Presence

To [the Saints] 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.
Colossians 1:27

Did you know that you bear the presence of God? That Almighty God, the same One who created the world, parted the Red Sea and sent fire from heaven, dwells in you? So often, we as Christians affirm this truth, but yet the impact of it has yet to influence our lives.

I heard a story once of a pastor who was discipling a young man who was struggling with pornography. The pastor asked him if he believed in the omni-presence of God. “Of course,” the young man responded. “No you don’t,” the pastor replied, “because if you really did believe that God is everywhere and sees everything than you wouldn’t be looking at what you do.”

Do we really believe that God actually indwells us or is it just a nice Christian concept? Is it just a doctrine we hold or is it a reality in our life?

The Ark of the Covenant: Israel bearing the presence of God.

And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, to Kirjath Jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed. So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came to Chidon's threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God… David was afraid of God that day, saying, "How can I bring the ark of God to me?" So David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had.
-1 Chron. 13:6-14

Then David said, "No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever." And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it… And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, "You are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order." So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
-1 Chron. 15:1-3, 11-15

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel bore the presence of God, but it wasn’t on an individual level but rather corporate. God’s presence was between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant and the Levites bore it on the behalf of all the people. But God did not intend to always dwell among His people this way. In 2 Corinthians Paul writes, “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people’”. (2 Cor 6:16) The New Testament with the death and resurrection of Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit brought this prophesy to fulfillment. “You are the temple of the living God” says Paul. No longer does God dwell between cherubim but in the hearts of His people. Each of us, if we have put our trust in Christ and given ourselves to Him, receives the presence of God in return.

You bear the presence of the Son of God.

Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18) and at the end of the Great Commission promised, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20). Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless you fail the test.” We should know and have assurance that Christ Himself dwells in us and we are to test ourselves against the Word of God.

You bear the presence of the Father.

It is not just the Son that you bear though, it is also the Father. John wrote, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23). And Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).

You bear the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promised not just His presence, but the constant presence of the Holy Spirit of God: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). In Romans 8 Paul equates the Holy Spirit as being the “Spirit of Christ”: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9). The Scriptures also tell us that the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is an evidence of our salvation.

The gravity of bearing the presence of God Almighty…

If we really believed that God actually lived in us would we live the way we do? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor 3:16-17) and, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's” (1 Cor 6:19-20).

As the temple of God, we are called to “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Cor 6:17). We are not to be of the stuff of the world and entangled in its delights. Rather, as Peter writes, “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:15-19). There is a requirement to bearing the presence of God, and that is holiness. We must die to the flesh and to self, reckon the power of sin over us as nullified and present ourselves in obedience and service to God.

The GLORY of bearing the presence of God Almighty…

Paul writes in Colossians, “To [the Saints] 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” (Colossians 1:27). To think that wherever we go, whatever we do, we have the presence of God in us and with us, leading us, comforting us, directing our every step. What a privilege, what a blessing! That we might bear the presence of our Lord in our body. Thus we can say with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20)!

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