The Bible clearly teaches that God is omnipresent (all-present). God is present in all of His creation. There is no place that one may go to escape God's presence (Psalm 139:7–10). Space itself is a creation of God. God has not only created space but fills it with Himself. Scripture exclaims that God fills both heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24). At the same time, space cannot be said to contain or bind God (1 Kings 8:27). Heaven is God's throne and the earth is His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). God is both transcendent and immanent. He exists above and beyond space and time, and yet He fills both.
Since God is omnipresent, what is special about being in the presence of God?
Although God is present everywhere, people are not always aware of His presence and they do not all experience His presence in the same manner. Before the fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed being in the presence of God. However, after they disobeyed God, they attempted to hide from His presence (Genesis 3:8). Their attempt to do so was futile. God was, as He always will be, omnipresent and omniscient. However, because of their sin, guilt, and shame, Adam and Eve no longer enjoyed being in God's presence. Through their disobedience, they plunged the whole of their posterity (us) into a state of hostility toward God and alienation from God (Romans 5:12; 8:7–8; Colossians 1:21). It is in this sense that mankind is said to be separated from God, far off from God, etc. (Ephesians 2:13). It is not that God has ceased to be omnipresent but that man's relationship to God has changed. Sin has divided us from the gracious and loving presence of God, but not from His essential presence (Ephesians 2:14). God still upholds and sustains all His creation (Hebrews 1:3). It is still in God that all people live and breathe and have their being (Acts 17:28). However, the relationship that was once loving has become hostile. People who were created by God now suppress the knowledge of the truth even concerning His eternal nature and power, which includes His omnipresence (Romans 1:18-21). If people can convince themselves that God in not omnipresent, then they think they can hide their sin from His sight and escape judgment (John 3:19). However, no one can hide from God. "even the darkness is not dark to [God]; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with [Him]" (Psalm 139:12).
Despite mankind's rebellion against God and because of His great love and grace, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through various means (Ephesians 2:4–5; Hebrews 1:1–2). Firstly, He has revealed Himself through creation (Romans 1:20). Who has not sensed something of the presence of God when seated on a mountain's peak or a sandy beach? Do not the wind and the rain whisper to us that God is present? Secondly, He has revealed Himself through His Word (Hebrews 4:12). Throughout history, God has progressively revealed His nature to His people. Because of mankind's sin (in our present state) and God's holiness, the sight of God's full glory and presence (His face) would kill us (Exodus 33:20). So, He has condescended to us and gradually pulled back the curtain. Through various manifestations of Himself to His prophets, He has shown us His goodness, holiness, justice, and faithfulness (Exodus 33:19; Isaiah 6:1–5; Romans 9:14; 2 Timothy 2:13). Finally, in the incarnation, God has revealed Himself to us most clearly through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. However, we see now as in a dim mirror or through a dark glass (1 Corinthians 13:12). It is only when we are glorified with the saints in heaven that we will see God face to face and experience the fullness of joy that comes with being in His presence.
That being said, those who are in Christ now experience something of God's presence. His Holy Spirit has come to reside in believers as a good deposit (2 Timothy 1:14). However, while we are in these bodies, that Spirit strives and fights against our old sin nature (Galatians 5:17). Only when Christ returns and we are liberated completely, not only from the power and penalty of sin but also from its very presence, shall we see Christ as He is (1 Corinthians 13:12; Philippians 3:20–21; 1 John 3:2). Even so, we can experience a foretaste of the pure joy that we will one day have in the presence of God. David wrote, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). The presence of God is something for which we yearn.
God's presence will be revealed to unbelievers in a very different manner. God is present in heaven in a different manner than in hell. Heaven is God's special dwelling place where He reigns unopposed. Although God is present everywhere, His presence is not experienced the same by every person in every place. For instance, Christ described the Pharisees and others who refused to believe in Him as spiritually blind (Matthew 15:14; John 12:40). Although Jesus appeared before them as God in the flesh, many did not see or acknowledge Him as such. Certainly, the Devil and demons do not experience God's presence in the same way that believers and angels in heaven do (Matthew 8:29; Psalm 148:2). Those who are in Christ experience the love of God and not His condemnation (John 3:16–18; Romans 8:1), whereas those who reject Christ remain under God's condemnation and await His wrath (John 3:36).
God is everywhere present as to His essence or divinity but His gracious presence is only experienced by those who are in Christ. Nowhere is God's presence more fully seen and discovered than in Jesus Christ, God's only Son. Scripture tells us that it was in Jesus Christ that all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in bodily form (Colossians 1:19). If we wish to experience the eternal fullness of joy that exists in the gracious presence of God, we must enter by believing in Christ. Christ is the only way into the forgiving, peaceful, joyful, and loving presence of God the Father (John 14:6). We will all one day experience the presence of God, either in the manifestation of His grace and mercy, or His justice and wrath. Which will you choose?
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