The Presence of Jesus Christ (With Notes on the Five Spiritual Senses)
The Presence of Jesus Christ (With Notes on the Five Spiritual Senses)
It is necessary to establish the fact that just as we have the natural five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, we as spiritual beings also have five spiritual senses of spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, spiritual touch, spiritual smell, and spiritual touch (Heb 5:14). God being Spirit can see and hear etc., we as spirits created in the image of God certainly have spiritual senses as well (Gen 1:27). Angels are spirit beings who can definitely sense the worlds around them with their senses, whether they are God’s good angels or the fallen angels (Matt 24:31; 25:41). Demons as spirits also still have their spiritual senses fully intact and functional (Matt 8:29). When we enter into the Spiritual World, our physical bodies are left on the earth to rot, but surely we will still be able to see and hear in Heaven (Matt 17:3). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 that Jesus told, He described what happened to them after their earthly lives have ended and they entered into the Spiritual Realm in Hades (note however that this was pre-resurrection, so saints who passed away now do not go into the good part of Hades but straight to the heavenly realms–Matt 27:50-53). Both the rich man and Lazarus could still see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. In fact, their senses were even acuter in the spiritual dimension (Luke 16:24). Paul sometimes call our spirits the "inner man" (Eph 3:16), or the "inward man" (Rom 7:22; 2 Cor 4:16), or simply talk about us being "spirits" plainly (Rom 1:9). Technically, we don’t just have spirits, but we are spirits, that have a soul, and live in a physical body (1 Thess 5:23; Heb 4:12). That is why Paul and Peter referred to our physical body as only a "tent" in which we, as spirits, take residence in (2 Cor 5:1, 4; 2 Pet 1:13-14). Having established this truth from the Scriptures, the reason why many cannot seem to function in their spiritual senses is because their spirits are not well-trained. All Christians, even non-Christians, can tap in the inherent ability of the five spiritual senses, but they need to be developed as just babies need to develop their natural five senses in the process of growing. However, this spiritual growth is not automatic, it can only be cultivated through prayer, meditation of the Word, worship, and impartation from other men and women of God. This is why the author of Hebrews, through the Holy Spirit, stated and exhorted believers that "solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb 5:14). The context and common biblical interpretation rule tell us that the "senses" here is definitely not referring to the natural five senses but the spiritual five senses. In fact, we only derive our natural five senses from our five spiritual senses–the spiritual always comes first before the physical (Heb 11:3; also e.g. God is Spirit and He can see, hear and smell etc., although we understand His "senses" are much different and greater than ours). Furthermore, just as many have a better natural sense such as sight over the other senses, the quality of our spiritual senses also differ from person to person in the will of God, but all senses can be developed. Some may have better spiritual sight, for some, it may be spiritual hearing. It is just different, neither sense is considered better than the other. For those who function easier with their spiritual eyesight, they tend to see visions and dream dreams. Those who hear spiritually more often, they tend to "know" or "hear" or "pick up" the voice or leading of the Lord and they don’t necessarily see all the various types and categories of visions (but all Christians can develop all the spiritual senses).
Lastly, the particular gift of discerning of spirits in 1 Cor 12:10 is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and not synonymous with the common ability of our spiritual senses to sense the Spiritual World. The gift of discerning of spirits only works as the Spirit wills, just like all the other nine gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:11). However, we can always train our spiritual senses and this inherent spiritual quality is not restricted to some but all believers who exercise their spiritual senses. It’s just like all can pray and believe for healing, but not all have the definite gifts of healings of the Spirit, which is something that was foreordained by God and not us (1 Cor 12:9, 11). The word "discerning" in the gift of discerning of spirits mean to "discern" into the Spiritual World. Those who function in this particular gift also "discern" differently. Some with their spiritual sight, some with hearing, some with other senses. The difference between this gift working and the normal exercise of our spiritual senses is in the different levels of anointing and authority. A detailed sharing on this is not the scope of this article, but a general understanding is presented here to differentiate them to help us not be confused with questions such as whether only some can sense the Spirit World. The answer is simply everyone can. The more we develop them through prayers, meditation of His Word, worship, we’ll be able to better discern spiritually. The only caution is we always need confirmations and not presume that something we sense is accurate or real. We check by the Word and time. Sometimes it could be just our heads, that would be more in the realm of soul and natural senses and not spiritual sensing. The balance is believe what the Scripture teaches and step out by faith, but at the same time keep oneself in check by God’s Word, time, and a heart that is teachable and humble. The purpose of all sharing and experiences is, of course, love.
Yesterday (June 7, ’08) during our cell group meeting, as we were worshiping and praying away, we sensed strongly the presence of Jesus Christ in our midst. Prior to our worship, our discussion and fellowship were carried out in a very loving and united way. There was a deep oneness and genuine care we had for each other as we freely shared our thoughts and sought God earnestly and honestly. During the worship and prayer, I sensed (although I see visions sometimes, I tend to hear spiritually more often) a presence of Jesus, that He was also in the room, standing on the other end of the table from us. As we continued on praying and waiting on Him, I sensed that He walked closer to us and finally He laid His hands on each of us. It was a very tangible experience. After our prayer, I didn’t mention this particularly for reasons. However, one of the brothers started sharing before I said anything on what I sensed, that he felt strongly that Jesus was in the room and laying hands on each of us during our prayer time. He said he "saw" (remember the spiritual seeing I talked about in the intro) Jesus doing all these ministering unto us. This was a great confirmation to my heart, as I haven’t shared anything and, in fact, wasn’t planning to do so. So I also shared what I sensed very tangibly the presence of Jesus, although I didn’t see, but I just "know" and "felt" (as described above, I tend to hear spiritually more often). But it was so real just like you could feel the presence of a person walking closer even though you can’t see him or her. Then another of our brothers said that he also "saw" Jesus when we were praying and waiting on Him in our midst. He said he didn’t see His face clearly, but a figure and a sense of His manifest presence. Now this was very encouraging and interesting. There was a particular reason why this presence was especially manifested for the people present there. The interesting thing is how we all experienced the very presence of our precious Lord but in a different way. It was interesting how each of us described the exactly same event but from different angles. This was a special experience that we needed for His purposes and our encouragement.
Normally, we should believe by faith that Jesus is in us and with us all the time (Matt 18:20). We should walk by faith and not by (natural) sight, meaning not depending on our bodily and emotional feelings and external circumstances, but purely on the Word of God where our faith comes from (2 Cor 5:7; Rom 10:17). However, sometimes God does allow us to have special experiences when the presence of Christ was especially manifested for His purposes. Stephen on the verge of dying saw the Lord Jesus Christ with his spiritual eyes (Acts 7:56). Saul, when on the road to Damascus, heard with his spiritual ears the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to him (Acts 9). On the other hand, after this dramatic experience, Paul did not go on only depending on similar type of experiences, but he grounded and rooted himself in the Word of God and the love of God, where all spiritual experiences are interpreted and measured against.
This little touching incident showed us that Jesus is indeed with us (and not just an old Christian cliche) whether we see Him or not (Matt 28:20). He knows all our troubles and heartaches. He is with us even right now. The more we tune and fill our hearts with His love and surrender ourselves completely to His Will, the more we will be able to sense His presence because "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8). He loves you, although I or any other person may not know or know fully the troubles that you go through, please give all your burden to Jesus. In God there is always a way, if only we can see. If only we continue to choose to love, choose to forgive, choose to bless, choose to be honest and open, choose to ask for forgiveness, choose to endeavor as much as we know how to the purpose of God for our lives, He will make our hearts glad once again. I was also reminded that the most precious thing in the Kingdom of God is not gifts, recognition or outward ministry results, but the companionship and closeness of our Lord. It breaks one’s heart utterly when you love someone so dearly but cannot be with that person. On the other end, it’s such a bliss when you can be with the person who loves you the most–and we know that Jesus is and will always be with us, He will never forsake nor forget us–never (Heb 13:5; Is 49:15). The very reason that Father God sent Jesus was so that He and us His children can be together intimately once again forever. For this reason, no matter what hardship or misunderstanding we face today, the tremendous comfort and sweetness of His presence and grace will always be able to carry us on, with songs of faith, hope, and love. You are loved and watched over by Him. He is cheering you on and always so near. Take heart and be encouraged!! ^__^
"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Jesus Christ–Matt 18:20)
"Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split" (Matt 27:51).
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Ps 23:4).
With His Love and Grace (lots and lots),
George = )
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